Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


The last few days I have fielded several phone calls from Hartford residents claiming that our City's change several years ago to "strong mayor" government has been a mistake and should end.

I disagree.

We always enter the first few months after an election with high hopes that the "new mayor" will succeed. We did it with Eddie Perez, he was going to be the savior for Hartford after years of City Managers and "weak", ceremonial Mayor's We all know how that ended up. His arrest after a Grand Jury investigation brought us to our next, unelected "Strong Mayor", Pedro Segarra. And we all also know how that ended up. A near Bankrupt City with a $63 million dollar plus unfinished baseball stadium sitting empty.

The next strong Mayor, Luke Bronin was also welcomed as the successor that was going to turn things around. It will be at least three and a half years before we really will know how this political saga ends, but so far it has been a very short honeymoon period with many already talking about a divorce.

Let me say right up front, the deck has been stacked against Bronin. But let me also say Bronin knew that when he ran for the office. Bronin's management style has been a disappointment up to this point. In a crisis situation, consensus and partnerships will do more to solve the problem than Bronin's "scorched earth" type style. Unfortunately we are seeing the scorched earth decision making repeatedly. Once or twice could indicate a bad day, but this looks more like a pattern of behavior.

 Bronin's first major test was a bill be tried to move through the legislature to address Hartford's "dire" financial crisis. Senate Bill 464 was a major blunder for Bronin and whoever was (or is) advising him. It was almost like the newly appointed King had spoken and his loyal subordinates were going to accept the bill....or else.

We were told that talks had taken place between the Kingdom's stakeholders ( The Unions). Apparently those talks were more of a short conversation where the unwilling stakeholders were told what they were going to get rather than discussing a solution. That didn't work out well and Luke Bronin's first major task was a huge public failure

Next up, or somewhere in the mix with the Senate Bill mess, were talks for finishing a Stadium mess that Bronin inherited from an outgoing Segarra There may have been hope for the light at the end of the tunnel. All of the parties came together and a deal was hammered out to cover over ten million dollars in cost overruns. It wasn't the optimum deal for a project that many thought should have never begun in the first place. But, we had it, so we had to make the best of it.

Just as a side note, in order to have the Stadium shoved down our throats, the previous Mayor concocted a plan, or used a legal loophole, to take away the resident's right to a referendum to possibly vote the Stadium down.. Segarra created the "Hartford Stadium Authority" which could issue bonds to circumvent the financing and bonding requirement outlined by Hartford's Charter.

Mayor Bronin could have changed the make-up of the Stadium Authority, if for no other reason than I.Charles Matthews and the other members of the Authority were asleep at the switch and had been extremely poor stewards of the public trust and funds. Did $10 million dollars of cost overruns just happen to creep up and no one noticed? Did several critical deadlines for completion just jump out and no one realized the dates were unrealistic and unobtainable?

I have said it before, and I will say it again , the entire Stadium Authority should have been replaced by a competent group of people that have even a slightest idea of why they are there.

But again, the King has spoken. The stadium project has been shut down and most likely will tie the project up for some tie in court battles and extended litigation. Could no one have seen that baseball in Hartford was not going to happen this year, for whatever reason. (and I am sure there are many reasons which will eventually come out before a Judge)

Was throwing Centerplan off the result we wanted. Why not just swallow our pride and admit Hartford wouldn't be seeing a first pitch at Dunkin Donuts Stadium this year. If Centerplan or DoNO or whatever the name is sent an e-mail saying it was going to be another 60 days to complete, then deal with it.

And if there is more that we are not aware of, then tell us. We are not required to obey the King because he tells us to. Transparency in a democracy  demands that we make our decisions based upon facts and circumstances laid out before us

Is throwing the developer off the project going to shorten that time period and get baseball being played quicker .An ultimatum to Centerplan to get it done in 60 days, no more nonsense, no more money, no more extensions might have been a better step. It is called making the best of a bad situation. But I think in the long run, the King has made a bad situation much, much worse

The King also has to think more about his Kingdom.

What about the 400 people that were planning on jobs at the Stadium this year. No one was going to get rich, but I just wonder how many of those 400 people may have turned down other jobs for summer employment based upon assurances that they would be employed at Yardgoats games

I don't think there are many Hartford small business people working on the Stadium, but even the handful that may have been, are we now forcing them out of business because their payments will be tied up  in complex litigation for months or years now?

Maybe it is time for a reminder that a small percentage of people in Hartford ( a VERY small percentage) voted for a Mayor, we did not coronate a King  or royal family.


Anonymous said...

I disagree. On both issues. The results of 3 strong nayors since charter revision have been dismal failures. The abuses to what once was a clean government no matter who the "people" voted in (like Carrie Saxon Perry) kept Hartford from suffering the same fates of Bridgeport and Waterbury.

No fan of Bronin here. IMHO he's a carpetbagging scorched earth type who when given the opportunity to put his money where his mouth is and show some leadership with his budget he pandered to the council that has a collective IQ under 100. He puts his wife's pals in city positions just like his predescessor. Has anyone seen his paystub to verify he took a lower salary like he promised?

But he did the right thing getting rid of Centerplan and needed to do so in order to increase the city's chances with the bonding company and the lawsuit that was coming anyway. Unfortunately he didn't go far enough and kick the Authority out as well.

For some of us, the honeymoon was over before it began.

concerned hartford citizen said...

Great review of things Kevin - yes obviously the Stadium authority was not paying attention to details - so yes they should have been replaced. Mayor Bronin has no idea how to negotiate, compromise and get to a win win; and he is zero on transparency so far. I know it has not been easy but I had hoped for better after all his campaign promises; and to think his own democratic team (or Dibella's team should we say) did not stand by him on the state idea just shows how little he knows about back room politics - i wonder who is advisors are? Hopefully not just Thea since she has zero experience. Well Mayor Bronin, time to learn from your mistakes and get advice from experience people ;Judge killian would be good for starters.

Anonymous said...

Let me tell ALL OF YOU what an A$@hole Bronin is and what a class act The Hartford Fire Dept is. There was a legit serious fire on Laurel St the other night . A$@hole Bronin shows up for some UNGODLY reason at the fire scene ,keep in mind he wants to close firehouses,increase contributions to pension/medical benefits,increase weekly hourly schedule for same salary,cap cash in on unused sick and vacation time,ability to minimize manning on certain companies,eliminate maternity /paternity leave ,eliminate last 3 raises,etc.etc. NOW HERE'S THE RUB FROM THIS A$@HOLE,,,,,he goes up to firefighters coming out of the building that in no doubt saved lives and puts out a hand out for a "shake" . And you know what these guys do? They showed the respect "THEY" deserve BY SHAKING HIS HAND!!!!! I really don't think I would have been able to do the same. BRONIN,IF YOU READ THIS BLOG ,NEXT TIME PLEASE SHOW SOME RESPECT FOR HFD AND STAY HOME WARM AND COZY IN YOUR BROWNSTONE LOOKING OVER BUSHNELL PARK AND YOUR FORMER DIGS AT "THE CASTLE "( THE CAPITOL)

Anonymous said...

Kevin, you said "Transparency in a democracy demands that we make our decisions based upon facts and circumstances laid out before us."

I'm not ready to say I made a mistake voting for Bronin. Like the current Presidential election, our options weren't many and he seemed to be the best of the lot.

BUT I'm incredibly disappointed in the total and complete lack of transparency; the total and complete lack of communication with the people to give us an idea about the facts and circumstances and the reasons for his decisions; and the total and complete lack of innovative thinking. Add to that the political appointments of long time hacks who helped get him elected, despite their proven lack of above-average, or even average, competency is enough to make one want to move out of the City. Failure to replace the Stadium Authority in its entirety made it pretty clear that he's just placating us with his words - that was an obvious common sense first step immediately upon election.

Whoever is advising him (Sarah??) is doing a terrible job. He needs to get on every week and do a 20 minute message to the people about where we are, where he wants to go, and how the people can pitch in to help. Get this City vested in his success, and at least pretend to care about the residents of this City, and maybe we'll start to make progress.

Right now, seems to be a new driver, but the same bus to disaster / bankruptcy.

I regret to say I don't think Bronin has / had any intent to actually change anything except his national standing so he can get back to D.C.

peter brush said...

The City is out of control. I remain opposed to the strong mayor charter, but we have to acknowledge that Pedro didn't embark on the stadium fiasco without approval from the Council. We could have gotten the same bone-headed play our city manager government. We need less democracy and more prudent management understanding that the City is not self-sufficient in any case; can't possibly be with all the mandates put upon it by the State. I'd go for a control board like was put in and still operates in NYC, perhaps, or a bankruptcy trustee as in Detroit. If we could get rid of the elected government, or at least of its grossest excesses, and if we could get rid of the State's School District, the town would over time become much more liveable.

Alyssa said...

KEVIN!! Great analysis about mechanics of stadium situation. We both called it 2 years ago with the phony Authority and bonding scam; failure to get competitive bids from experienced stadium developers; impossible building schedule; bad parcel to fit a stadium; extra $11 million in road/utility work, you name it.

BIG error in not calling bond back in January so insurer would have paid $10 million in extra project costs. Now, bigger error for throwing out CenterPlan for just 60 more days. Surety insurer is probably going to bring them or their same subs back to finish up, to keep costs down. A deal should have been made with insurer before stopping job.

We are STUCK with this thing, and now need to turn it into a PERFORMING asset ASAP so taxpayers and Hartford are not dragged down further in debt and abysmal city image.

Maria Segarra said...

Bronin's braintrust,such as it is .....Sarah,Connor,Dannel,Roy,Bonnie,Marc and Thea....and they have given him real shitty advice this past 6 months.

I agree that Bronin has failed so far and I would grade him a D- at this point. The Rhodes Scholar has failed to live up to his billing so far and walks around with an air of arrogance.

He ought to tell his wife to stop coming into city hall every day and running the government like a social experiment.

I also do not understand calling Oedro recently in the function room at the opening of the PR Parade " a great mayor..." im gonna vomit..

The City will be bankrupt so enough and the Trustee will render Mayor Arrogant and the Council as mere figureheads....thank god...

Anonymous said...


I beg to disagree with you, Captain. The politican species is not of the human variety. It is more closely allied to the reptile species. Oh, they aspire to be pretty iguanas with skins that change color according to the tree branch color they perch on. But by and by, most of them are under-rock dwelling snakes. In this sub set, some are vipers and others are rattlers. Both have poisonous bites. Some snake politicians are common garden variety garter snakes. Their bite is not poisonous. And yet the slither through the high grass unnoticed until they meet up with other snakes in order to snake it up and develop a scheme to take what doesn't belong to them.

Now take Mayor Bronin, for instance. I believe that he aspires to leave this reptile group and slither on up the tree of success. But his snake mates keep pulling him down and it remains to be seen if he will make the great transformation out of the reptile class into the flying squirrels. We'll see.

J. Stan McCauley said...

Hartford has a very big problem!

The general idea when fixing anything is: Do No Harm!

Worse (The Bronin Administration) is never an option when trying to fix broken or damaged (The Segarra Administration). It would have been far better to fix the last administration by holding them accountable than to implode the city by installing an Emperor and Empress with no cloths. Luke's plan was painfully obvious from the beginning and he is on a mission to RUN HARTFORD INTO BANKRUPTCY.

Hartford has the government it deserves. Luke and his wife are a manifestation of the voters. The strong Mayor is not the problem, a constituency that does not want to do any heavy lifting - AKA - their civic duty is the real problem. It is not enough for the residents (the people that actually vote for their city leaders) to throw a temper tantrum when they don't get what they want.

The voters actually have to work day to day, week to week, and month to month on maintaining their governing agents. Voters must attend meeting, demand investigations by their city council, work with state reps. and senators, they must act like the parent and not the child. We are the government and they are the Governing Agents we send to do the work of governing.

When the electorate allow those we elect to operate as though they can not be disciplined until the next election you get what you now have in Hartford.

Christopher Lyons retired HPD said...

The last Mayor that was any good was Mike Peters. He wasn't perfect but Hartford was the #1 thing for him and he put forth a good persona for the city.

Hartford needs a new attraction to get something positive going in the city. Elizabeth Park's Rose Garden, the Mark Twain House, the XL Center are all good but are too small to bring too much business into the city. The loss of the Whalers destroyed downtown business and was a huge mistake by the City and State to have allowed to happen.

The Baseball stadium despite its problems could be something that transforms the area it is in into something good for the entire city. The jobs it would generate might be seasonal but that is better than nothing. Just walk through the city and you will see the same persons walking around as they have done for years with nothing to do . Get some of them jobs and maybe positive stuff will happen.

Our elected officials seems to hinder the city and some of the political names I see in regard to the stadium make me wonder how they continue to get such jobs and how the city can ever recover from their presence.

Anonymous said...

Anytime a police officer can retire from the city after stealing ammunition an misusing over 400K in tax payers money an there's absolutely no imvestigstion dome about clearly says what the Hartford Municipality is all about . Many people lost jobs based on the city claiming they have no funds but somehow that individual was able to collect a pension an ride off into the sunset. But the media decided to do a story on school spending 60K to take a trip down to Florida. Now you tell me what's more dangerous serious an alarming the fact that no one knows where all those bullets ended up they could be on Albany Ave for all we know when bankruptcy strikes the city an all the retired an current police officers an fire fighters pensions an pay take a huge pay cut get ready for a episode right out of The Walking Dead to hit the streets smh

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lyons,Do you remember when Mayor Peters and most of the hierarchy at city hall embraced a "sister city" in China? It was reported to boast one of the seediest "red light" districts in all of China. Mayor Persona and the rest of them went there on our dime under the the false guise of "exchanging " ideas. That was also the period in time where Hartford had a surplus of money. Mr. Lyons do you remember when Sandra Bourges raided the rainy day cookie jar of over 20 MILLION DOLLARS AND PROMISED TO REPLACE IT IN A YEAR????!!!! I remember all of that and then some. Things were worse than a "little imperfect " as you remember.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, I think Mayor Bronin is counting on the insurance money to complete the stadium and I believe he also thinks the insurance will cover the added 10 million in cost overruns he inherited. The only way to get the insurance money was to take the first step to terminate CP and DoNo. I believe his actions are deliberate here. Time will tell if that blows up in his face similar to the rest of the strategies he and his cronies have tried pushing through. The gamble remains the time this adds to finishing the stadium as this bobs and weaves through pending litigation, a painful but necessary choice to get access to the money. He should be more transparent with his tactics.