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Saturday, March 19, 2016

DOUBLE HOMICIDE REPORTED OVERNIGHT

On Saturday, March 19, 2016, at approximately 2:05 am, Hartford Police patrol officers responded to the area of  18 Martin Street in response to a Shot Spotter activation (#76493) followed by several citizen reports of two persons shot while seated in a vehicle. On arrival, two black male victims were located inside a black vehicle suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The victims were treated on scene by paramedics before being transported to Saint Francis ER by ambulance. Both victims were pronounced deceased at 2:40 am by the attending physician at Saint Francis.

Patrol units established and secured the crime scene in front of 18 Martin Street. Major Crimes Detectives and Crime Scene Detectives responded and assumed control of the investigation.
The investigation is on-going at this time.

Victim#1: Jeffery Vail 07/11/87

Victim#2: William Ward  10/04/82
 

Friday, March 18, 2016

SANDERS CAMPAIGN TO HOLD RALLY

Media Advisory
For an event occurring on
March 19th, 2016, 11:30 am to 1 pm
 
Advisory –  A Bernie P.A.C. Rally & Voter Registration Event
   
For more information contact Taylor Leake at (860) 670-1408 or  tleake@workingfamilies.org .

We all know how Bernie Sanders feels about PAC money, so we created a different kind of PAC. In our campaign, P.A.C stands for People of All Colors. Join State Representative Edwin Vargas and other elected leaders at the Mercado market place in Parkville, Hartford. Rep. Vargas and other leaders will tell us why they think Bernie Sanders is the best choice for president. Volunteers will also be registering voters and passing out leaflets informing people about Bernie Sanders and the upcoming primary.

** Elected officials kick off People of All Colors Rally **

What:            
Bernie P.A.C. Rally & Voter Registration Event

Who:
State Representative Edwin Vargas, other elected officials, and Bernie supporters of all colors.

Where:
La Plaza Del Mercado
704 Park Street, Hartford, CT

When:  March 19th, 2016, 11:30 am to 1 pm
 

CITY OF HARTFORD LAYOFF'S HAVE BEGUN

According to sources, layoffs have begun for City of Hartford employees. At least  four and possibly as many as seven employees in the Development Services Department were  given layoff notices yesterday.

Another source this afternoon said that supervisors were telling employees at the Department of Public Works that their paychecks were  late being delivered Friday afternoon  because layoff notices were being attached to some of them. No further information or possible number of layoffs in DPW are available at this time.

These staff cuts appear to be cost cutting measures by Mayor Luke Bronin to deal with Hartford's impending budget deficit Earlier this week, Senator John Fonfara was reportedly introducing a bill in the Legislature to establish a Financial Sustainability Commission to deal with Hartford's finances. A public hearing before the Legislature's Finance Committee is  scheduled for Monday at 11:00am at the Legislative Office Building.

According to numerous legislators I spoke with Friday passage of the legislation in its current form and with its current wording and makeup seems unlikely at this time.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

NO MORE SHORT MEMORIES, NEVER FORGET HOW WE GOT HERE


 
 
Are we really that stupid?

I seriously have to ask myself that after I saw Councilwoman Rjo Winch's Facebook page earlier today. Apparently Winch is trying to use Facebook to derail Mayor  Luke Bronin's efforts to establish the Financial Sustainability Board to deal with Hartford's finances.

According to Winch's posting on Facebook "Tell Mayor Bronin and Senator John Fonfara the residents of the city of Hartford have already elected their Financial Sustainability Commission to keep checks and balances. THEY ARE CALLED THE CITY COUNCIL. Don't let them cancel your vote by using this State take over legislation. Don't be fooled if this passes the council will have no financial powers."

Does she forget that she was Council President during possibly the most corrupt period in Hartford's recent political history? Does she forget she blindly supported Mayor Eddie Perez as he led his corrupt administration  to a Grand Jury investigation? Does she forget she was on that same City  Council as they watched Hartford's tax rate grow from about 32mils when Eddie Perez took office to the 78 mils we see today? And I am suddenly supposed to trust her  and her control over our "financial powers"?  I think not.

And we are supposed to  just trust her that she has the skills to now get it right suddenly. I am a trusting person, but I am not a fool. This is the same Council person that put in a receipt to get          reimbursed for a package of sunflower seeds she bought in an airport on one of her many political junkets, paid for by the taxpayers of Hartford.

Forgive me Councilwoman Winch, but I am not running for the phone to call anyone, because I remember history and I have no confidence in your financial skills. Oh, and by the way, what is your solution to correct this  mess. Lets hear these ideas to fix our budget problems.

I am anxiously awaiting your solutions.

A HARTFORD FIREFIGHTER'S VIEWPOINT



This letter was e-mailed to me this morning. As we approach difficult financial decisions for the City of Hartford, I think we need to keep in mind the potential consequences of some of those decisions, and the potential human impact. The letter is long, but it provides a very interesting perspective from a front line firefighter. Please take a few minutes to read it.


I am writing this letter with hope that my message could be spread further with your help than it could be on my own. I was born at Hartford Hospital and have spent my entire life living in East Granby, Hartford, West Hartford, and Windsor. I am 30 years old and at this point have spent half of my life formally involved in the fire service. My father and his father were both firemen. I earned a Fire Technology Degree from Capital Community College and have spent the last eight years as one of the many proud, passionate, and dedicated members of the Hartford Fire Department. I am telling you this because although I am far from being an expert, I have picked up a couple things during my journey thus far.
As almost all of you are aware, the city is in a bad financial place. The Mayor said, “The financial condition is dire”, and “we are in a state of fiscal emergency”. The debt is beyond my comprehension, and I will never understand how the people voted into office could let this happen. Surely there were many contributing factors that led us down this path and some key players have since been removed from office. I am not the guy to run the City nor would I want to be. I have no plan to offer to right the ship. What I do know is that the America’s fire service is in a very delicate place, and the Hartford Fire Department is no better off.
I would venture to guess that the majority of people don’t really know the intricacies involved when the Fire Department responds to a call and goes to work. My goal is to provide you with a better understanding of the life of a Hartford fireman and also bring to your attention the dangerous decisions Mayor Luke Bronin is willing to make to save money. There is a great deal of information that will help you better understand the fire service and I have only included the bare minimum. So let’s talk about fire, the history of firefighting, the Hartford Fire Department in particular, and the health and safety of a fireman.

Fire
Harnessing fire and its great power was arguably the single greatest revolution in the history of mankind. Once early man began utilizing fire as a tool the entire dynamic of human life changed. For the first time ever, fire was being used as a heat source to cook and destroy bacteria and toxins. Early man could now extend daytime with light from fire and keep predators away. Over time, controlled burning became the focal point for cooking and conversation. Man would gather around fire to tell stories and pass on important skills. Time spent by the fire was an early example of school, and by bringing people together societies began to form. Fire has been the key survival instrument for mankind for a million years.
I find this important to note because if you look at civilization today things have not changed. Heating your home, cooking, traveling in your car, and many other activities still rely on fire and combustion. Technology and the use of fire have evolved over time but will never disappear. With the ability to harness the power of fire and heat the inevitable is bound to happen, uncontrolled burning. Uncontrolled fire has been a danger to mankind since the beginning and for as long as we live we will be faced with this dangerous phenomenon.


The History of Firefighting

The concept of combating fire has been in existence since ancient Egyptian times, but really took hold during the Roman Empire. Paid fire brigades would respond to and extinguish fires and patrol the streets enforcing early fire codes. Even early civilizations knew the importance of fire protection. It didn’t take long for fire to become a major concern in the New World when America’s early settlers had to deal with fires in the Jamestown settlement that destroyed apparel, lodging, and provisions. So as you can see, the history of accidental fires dates back quite some time and continues to occur to this day.
As cities began to grow, the need for fire suppression became more obvious. A line of people filling up buckets and tossing water on a fire was an early method of suppression. When insurance companies were established many of them would have their own fire protection companies to protect their investments. The New England region fireman should be especially proud of his heritage. Modern firefighting across the World has developed from innovations brought forth from these northeast fire departments, including the Hartford Fire Department. Like everything else in life technology is ever changing and the fire service continues to adapt and develop techniques to keep up with modern fire behavior.

The Hartford Fire Department

It should be noted that the brevity of this information should be taken into account. Pages and pages of details have been omitted, but keep in mind that there are countless other details that could be added. Many important events have occurred in Hartford’s rich history, which have brought the Fire Department to its current place. In 1783 the roof of the wooden State House was burned off when citizens with fireworks were celebrating the end of the American Revolution. The first half of the 19th century saw major changes to fire protection in Hartford when early hand powered fire engines and hose were purchased, firemen were given a wage increase to $5.00 per year, and large cisterns were built to supply water throughout the city.
Many costly fires occurred leading up to 1864 when the Common Council passed an ordinance establishing the paid Hartford Fire Department which has been in continuous operation ever since. In 1867 we were the first New England department to install a fire alarm system in the street. In 1876 Hartford put into service the first self-propelled fire engine in the United States. In the late 1800’s a new water supply system was created and even today is among the best in the nation.
Over the years massive, deadly, and catastrophic fires continued to destroy prominent businesses, schools, buildings, and even the bridge crossing the Connecticut River. The tragic Hartford circus fire in 1944, the Hartford Hospital fire in 1961, and the Greenwood Convalescent Home fire in 2003 are three fires that gained national notoriety because of the changes they brought forth to national laws. This organization has continued to provide gallant service over and over again for the city of Hartford. Fires will not suddenly stop tomorrow; our service will always be needed. Sprinklers, smoke detectors, fire alarms, and fire prevention education will only do so much; they will not completely eliminate the need for the fire department.
The City of Detroit was walking a tight rope for years, and when the economy finally came crashing down the city couldn’t survive. In arguably the most technologically advanced time in human history, fire protection devices couldn’t protect the city from an epidemic of fire. Hard times are real and they are here in Hartford too. The city is 18 square miles of densely populated and closely packed neighborhoods of buildings, many of which are at least 100 years old. Vacant property scattered throughout the city has become the norm. The perfect storm of terribly unfortunate events that occurred in Detroit are not that unrealistic from happening right here in Hartford.
We not only respond to fires but any other problem you may have we show up. We are first responders for medical emergencies, consistently arriving on scene to render aid prior to any ambulance arriving on scene. Hazardous materials incidents, gas leaks, car accidents, people trapped in elevators, a boat capsizes in the river, shootings, stabbings, air plane crashes, railroad emergencies, water leaks, bomb-threats, power line emergencies, a kitten with its head stuck in a desk, I have been to them all with only 8 years on the job. The list could go on quite extensively. The Hartford Fire Department shows up for people in their time of need no matter what the problem is. I’ve been on multiple calls where people flat-out say, “I didn’t know whom else to call”.
When the blizzard of 2013 hit, firefighters worked 48-72 continuous hours rendering aid throughout the city. Our families were at home snowed in, while we were doing what we do best. And when the shift ended and we made the drive home there was a nice driveway waiting for us, ready to be shoveled. When the DPW trucks stopped plowing where were we? We were shoveling our trucks out when they became buried in snow on every call. We were walking block after block to get to people trapped in their homes who were in need of medical care. I’m not looking for an award; we were doing our job because that’s what we do. This letter is not about being recognized or getting a pat on the back, this letter is about protecting the members of this organization.
So here we are in 2016. Today’s firefighter is being challenged now more than ever to do more with less. Not only are we here to provide a laundry list of services to the citizens of this community, we are here to deliver a professional product backed by hours of training and experience to get the job done. The training never stops. At the bare minimum we annually refresh our training on our certifications just to stay current with the curriculum and State of Connecticut mandates. All of the disciplines that this job entails involve hours of training for each member.
This is a typical day in the life of a Hartford fireman. You arrive at work by 0800 at the latest and square away all of your personal protective equipment. At anytime a call could come in where a civilian’s life rests in your hands. Once you have your personal equipment in order its time to gather with the crew and hear the agenda for the day. There is no set schedule, no set breaks, no lunch hour; you will be here for at least 24 hours. No two shifts are the same. Your company officer has arrived early to review the reports from your days off. New e-mails, and notifications are read aloud.
Its 0830 and you’ve looked over the apparatus and made sure all of the equipment is in proper working order. You’re in the middle of cooking a couple eggs and the first call of the day comes in, it’s a fire alarm at the vacant YMCA building downtown. The elevator is shut down so you take the stairs to the top floor and start checking all the other floors on the way back down. Don’t forget your not wearing a pair of running shoes holding a bottle of water. If you normally weigh 200 pounds you are now pushing 300 pounds with all of your gear and equipment. Once you hit the 10th floor your really starting to feel the leg workout you did on your off day. This time it’s a false alarm, some water leaked into a smoke detector which set if off. Maybe next time you get to the top floor and find out there is a fire burning; your climb up those stairs was just a warm-up.
On the way back to the firehouse you get a call for a medical emergency so you respond and take care of business. Once you get back to the firehouse you replace the medical supplies you just used and run upstairs to eat some cold eggs. The news is running a story about last nights fire and you try and see how everything went. The TV you’re watching, the cable bill, the newspaper, and the ketchup on your eggs were all purchased with your own money. The city is not responsible for these expenses.
Every member is assigned an area to clean so you spend the next hour or so trying to get that looking good. It is Friday and that means its lawn day. You mow the grass and clean up the trash that has blown onto the lawn. You pull a couple weeds and hose down the front ramp. Just when you think you have finally knocked out your daily chores the boss comes down and says its time for drill. If the training division has not already assigned a drill for the day the company officer has some tricks up his sleeve. Of course another call or two interrupts the drill. Once you’ve sweated through your second shirt for the day you give up on putting on a clean one. It may not seem like a big deal but you will have to bring your dirty uniforms home to wash, the city does not provide any washing machines. Being exposed to nursing homes, hospitals, and sick people on a daily basis means you may be bringing home some unwanted germs.
The rest of your day goes by quick. You grab a sandwich from the local deli, go to the fuel pumps to refuel the apparatus, and go on a few more calls. While you are out of the firehouse you notice a situation that looks to be violating fire code so you contact the Fire Marshals Office. A night when you get through dinner uninterrupted is a welcome treat.
By the way, the firehouses in the Capital City are occupied 24 hours a day. There is a constant rotation of members in and out of them. Some of the firehouses are over 100 years old. Horse stables are now locker rooms, and in one house the hayloft has been converted into a gym. We, not the city, put the gym equipment there. Don’t think that the firehouses are some state of the art buildings. Steel radiators, and window unit A/C’s are still alive and well. One day a retiree visited the firehouse and said to me, “That’s the same sink that was here when I came on the job”. The man was over 90 years old and served as a fireman at the end of World War 2. I want you to know that when we go to work we are not exactly working at some multi-million dollar massive firehouse with all the bells and whistles. Rats and mice are welcome visitors to these buildings.
A big topic that a lot of people like to comment on is sleeping at work. Yes it is no secret that there are beds in firehouses. And you know what sometimes you get a few hours of continuous sleep at night. But tonight is not the night for that because the City is still awake and the calls don’t stop. More medical calls, fire alarms, car accidents, you name it, they will happen at any time of the day. The West Hartford Fire Department has a fire going on and all of their resources are tied up so they need some help. You and the crew will spend the rest of your shift covering a firehouse in West Hartford taking in their calls.
You are proud of the work you did over the last 24 hours and you can’t wait to get home. Your mentally drained and physically exhausted, a nice shower and warm breakfast are on your mind. For the single guys this will be easy to accomplish, but for those who are married and have kids to take care of, good luck. The family is happy to see you come home and they are fired up. The dog needs to do his business and the kids are shot out of a cannon today. You’re trying your best to be there for your family but you still have that one call on your mind. You are having trouble forgetting about the infant child you saw who drowned in a bathtub. That’s a tough one to get over but you do, because you have to. The people in your life depend on you. Family, friends, and perfect strangers depend on you to be on point and do your job.
If you are the company officer the burden placed on your shoulders is a heavy one. The life safety off your crew is on you. Every call requires extra attention and oversight. You have the final say over the course of action your crew will take on all of their calls today. Your crew is relying on you to provide guidance and have their back. The Hartford Fire Department is currently in a massive transition phase. 48% of the workforce has less than 10 years of experience, and 25% of the department is currently eligible to retire. The younger generation of firemen are well trained, excited to be at work, and are willing to learn; but nothing replaces experience and we are losing knowledgeable veterans of the workforce at a fast rate. Company officers are well aware of this and must take it into consideration.
I have talked to people who believe that the fire department just shows up, sprays some water, breaks some windows and then goes home. I refuse to believe that they honestly think that, but the mindset for many people isn’t far off. I want to give you a run down of what occurs when a call comes in for a report of a building fire.
Every fireman must size up each incident they respond to in order to prepare themselves for the call. This size up practice is crucial for an operation to be successful. The company officer will be performing a size up as well and will transmit vital information via a radio to all of the other incoming companies that are responding. The point I am trying to make is that everything we do, on every single call is a well-calculated move. Nothing is happening by accident, certain things that go unnoticed by a passer-by are likely to be well thought out and pre-determined, well before we arrive on scene. Something as trivial as the position of a fire truck at a scene has to be done deliberately. There’s a reason for the location of the apparatus, and the exact position it is parked. This is just one example, there are countless others. Here is an example of the size-up procedure a company officer will have to make for a report of a building fire.
Once you get dispatched for a building fire the clock is ticking. Your size up of the incident has begun. Many different things need to be considered in a very short period of time. Incredibly vital decisions will need to be made in a matter of seconds, especially when you arrive on scene. Variables of all kinds are rapidly assessed and the best course of action is quickly chosen and put into work. There is no time to sit around a table to watch what’s going on and discuss it over amongst your coworkers. The first arriving company officer is about to rely on his training and experience to set the tone for the rest of the incident.
Here is a list of some of the things that must be considered before putting your company into operation.
What type of building construction am I dealing with and how will the spread of smoke and fire damage the structure that I am about to operate in?
What type of occupancy is the building? Is it a store, a single-family home, or a high-rise building?
What do I know about the apparatus and crews that are responding? Maybe there is another call happening at the same time and the rest of the responding companies are coming from the south end of the city, this could lead to a delay in operations.
Considerations need to be made about the likelihood of there being a life hazard involved. It is critical to note the type of occupancy and time of day when determining life hazards in a building.
What type of water supply do I have? The water we bring with us in the truck will only last so long. I need to know where fire hydrants are located before arriving on scene.
Street conditions and other special considerations need to be known before over committing. A street may be closed due to construction. Responses around Trumbull St. and Pleasant St. need to be approached differently right now because of the baseball field construction project.
Weather is a major size-up consideration that should be assessed. Hot temperatures fatigue firemen very quickly requiring more resources than normal and cold temperatures may cause ice to build up. Wind can be a dangerous contributor to a fire. Recently two Boston firemen gave their lives battling a fire that was seriously affected by windy conditions.
What types of exposures are in danger of being damaged by the fire? Many times a car fire next to a house will start off small but the house will be exposed to heat and flame and next thing you know the incident becomes more complex.
What is the location of the fire in the building and what extent has it developed? Tactical decisions will be made differently for fires located on different floors of a building, especially in a basement. This information needs to be assessed and transmitted to other companies quickly, so they can formulate their game plan.
The time of day, week, month, and year all have different meaning when performing size-up. Is it rush hour? Are we responding to a school fire at 11 A.M. on a weekday or is it midnight on Sunday? Christmas time could mean that there is a dried out Christmas tree with additional combustible items inside a home.
What hazardous materials could potentially be involved? If there is a fire in an auto repair store or manufacturing building there is a good chance that some form of hazardous material will be involved.
All of these size-up considerations are equally important and must be assessed. A company officer must perform this size-up with-in seconds, and notify the other responding companies what the situation is and the course of action that will be taken to mitigate the incident. Every other fireman responding to the call will be performing their own size-up with regards to their specific job on the fire ground. The job of being a fireman is not to be taken lightly and the stakes are high.
I want to briefly touch on the topic of building construction. A fireman must look at building construction with a different approach then everyone else. We must consider the building as our enemy, and different enemies will try to hurt and kill you in different ways. The city of Hartford has quite the variety of building types. No fireman will learn them all and most often we don’t have the luxury of knowing a buildings layout before we enter it. However, trends in building construction techniques, state and federal law, and pre-planning a building layout has taken some of the guess work away.
Understanding building construction is a valuable component of this job and is an ongoing process. Buildings come and go, and building modifications and new construction are always in the works. A lot of the new light-weight wood construction (The new Nelton Court area) found in these buildings will not hold up to fire conditions very long and gives us only a matter of moments to operate inside the structure if necessary. Another challenge we face is that of illegal building conversions. These illegal conversions can prove deadly if members operating inside become lost or disoriented. In New York City in 2005, a fire proved to be fatal when members were caught in a dangerous and undocumented illegally converted apartment fire. The fire was in a building very similar to one typically found in Hartford. These situations are very real, and could happen at anytime.
As previously mentioned many of the buildings in this city are aging, pushing 100 years old or more. The most common type of residential fire that we face requires some well-placed resources in order to stop the spread of fire throughout the buildings unique structural design. A typical response to a fire in this type of building will almost always exhaust the resources that respond and will require additional resources to the scene. Every member arrives on scene and performs a job. Not a single fireman is unused. And this is for a typical fire. Throw in some unforeseen circumstances and even more resources will be needed to combat the fire. Before you know it a fire in the north end will quickly exhaust a majority of the cities resources and has left the remaining few companies quite a workload.
As I sit here writing this letter to you, considerations are being made to make cuts to the manpower of this department. This decision will have drastic consequences both for the safety of firemen and citizens. I urge you to please consider the consequences.
Mayor Bronin delivered a speech to a group of firemen on Monday and provided an opportunity for a Q and A forum. What struck me as odd was the fact that he stated that the police department was in need of adding new recruits to the force. He then stated that, “there are impending retirements and the vacancies should be refilled, and the hiring process would take upwards of one year”. I’m not too familiar with the inner workings of a police department so I can’t comment on the necessity of their staffing and the need for new recruits.
Here is what I do know; the Hartford Fire Department has the same need as the HPD, manpower. Ask any member of this department and he will tell you that the hiring process doesn’t happen overnight. The application period, written examination, oral interview, background check, a second interview, and recruit school will probably take the better part of one year. It seems to me that the Mayor has made his decision and I’m not feeling his support.
Right now the fire departments manpower is barely over minimum staffing, and 25% of the membership who have committed a lifetime to this department is eligible to retire. When staffing is this low you constantly have members working a 72-hour workweek. Working this many hours in not sustainable long term and dangerous results will follow. Although we are all trained to the same standard there is something to be said about crew integrity. Members from different firehouses across the city are now more than ever working together. These ever changing crews are just another piece of the puzzle that needs to be considered when going to work. Knowing your partners every move and how they operate is a valuable tool, and lately that crew integrity has become increasingly absent.
Over the years the fire department has lost resources. Companies that used to ride with seven and six man crews dropped down to five. And now we currently operate four man companies. Ladder Company 1 has been disbanded; Engine companies 3, 4, 6, and 12 no longer exist and two rescue companies have merged into one. This membership for far too long has been asked to do more with less and here we are again. In a time of crisis the city has come to us again asking us to do more with less. Well this time it can’t happen, there is nothing left to give. The members are being burdened on all fronts, and I don’t see relief coming.
Inadequate staffing has contributed millions of dollars to lost-time injuries, and dozens of Line of Duty Deaths. Tests conducted with the Houston, Texas Fire Department indicated that staffing below a crew size of four could over tax the operating force and lead to high losses. A 2009 study released on Fire Engineering’s website will provide greater detail on the subject. A quick Internet search for “Fire Engineering, staffing a need not a want” will get you the article. If the Mayor has his way we will be dangerously understaffed.

Health and Safety
One gripe that I hear from people is that firemen have a cushy job with undeserving benefits. People think that the schedule is easy and the medical benefits are outrageous. I would like to dispel a few rumors.
The schedule is a rotating one that requires constant fire protection for the city. Four different groups work a 24-hour shift. Each group works one day on and has three days off. During the course of the month you only have one full weekend off. Three weeks of the month you are scheduled to work Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. By the way, those Saturday and Sunday shifts are normal pay; don’t think that you’re working the weekend and getting paid extra. So, for the people out there who think the schedule is great and “cushy” you may want to keep that in mind. The typical Monday through Friday employee can look forward to being home with the family to make plans every weekend, firemen won’t experience that comfort. School recitals will be missed, kids sporting events will be missed, birthdays and other special events missed. Your family will stop in to see you on Christmas and share pleasantries in between going on a couple calls.
The three consecutive days off come as a nice break after working 24-hours straight. We have already discussed what a typical day in the life of a Hartford fireman could be like. That wasn’t an exaggeration, and you could very well go into the station tomorrow morning and see that exact day play out. Lets dive into this some more. If the shift following yours is in need of some additional manpower because members are on vacation or out sick it is more than likely that the vacancies will need to be filled with overtime personnel. Since the department’s manpower is at a very low point right now it is almost a guarantee that these vacancies will need to be filled with overtime members on an almost daily basis.
Members are eligible to work overtime on an equitable rotation. If you choose to work the overtime shift, it is another 24-hour tour immediately following your normal tour of duty. So now we are talking about a 48-hour shift with two days off. Overtime pay is straight pay, no time and a half or double time like many other jobs. All of the above information leads me to my first major health and safety concern, which is sleep deprivation.
A great resource can be found by searching for a report conducted by the International Association of Fire Chiefs titled “Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Fire Fighters and EMS Responders”. Here are the main points worth considering.
Sleep deprivation studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation leads to increased risk for work-site injures, heart disease, and cancer. Interestingly enough firefighters average five times the number of work-related injuries as other trades, and we have the highest percentage of on-the-job heart attacks.
Many people in a typical workplace go home each night and have the opportunity to develop some form of a consistent sleep pattern. Fireman won’t have that luxury. We will spend at least 25% of the next 30 years away from the comfort of our own bed.
Even if no calls occur for your company during the course of the night, you haven’t really slept. Your mind and body are in a constant state of preparedness, waiting for that alarm to sound. When the alarm does sound and the lights automatically turn on you disrupt your natural circadian sleep rhythm. Constant disruption of this rhythm will break you down physically and mentally. Ongoing research shows that this disruption has been linked to cancer.
After completing your 24-hour shift, or maybe even 48-hours straight your time has come to go home. Consider this, you could have very easily just responded to anywhere from 10-40 calls or even more depending on what station you work at and other factors. The nature of these calls range in complexity. Some more demanding than others, but even the simplest and routine calls require physical exertion and/or exposure to people experiencing medical emergencies. Those calls have you exhausted and now you are ready to recover. Now instead of three days off you only have 48 hours to recover. Those next 48 hours will be seeking your attention from all angles. How well prepared are you to give your un-divided attention to being a good husband, taking care of your kids and pets, cleaning your house, mowing the lawn, cooking, and the rest of your daily routine? Most firemen will tackle this challenge head on and be great at it, but I want people to have a better understanding of exactly what it is we deal with on a consistent basis. It seems obvious now that the demand placed on a fireman and his intimate relationship could have a debilitating impact, i.e. Divorce.
The job of being a fireman is a very self-rewarding one, but it sure has its drawbacks. Studies show that the divorce rate for firemen is three times that of the general population. Lets say you work for a local company. You drive to work in the morning, have a coffee break at some point, break for lunch, and get back home for an evening with the family. I’m not saying your day doesn’t have its challenges, but the daily routine for a Hartford fireman probably looks a little bit different. The constant grind of coming to work has proven to be a contributing factor for many divorces.
If the Mayor chooses to cut man power, close firehouses, and change the shift schedule to work more hours per week I caution you that we will be treading dangerous waters. The load that will be placed on the members of this organization will be difficult to withstand, and it’s not because we are a bunch of cowards who can’t do the job. It is scientifically proven that sustaining that lifestyle will be detrimental to the safety of fireman and in turn the citizens we swore an oath to protect.
The amount of firemen being diagnosed with cancer is on the rise. Take a look at these statistics provided from the Fire Engineering article “What Every Firefighter’s Spouse Should Know”.

  • Brain cancer: 3.5 times more likely in firefighters with 10 to 19 years of experience.
  • Leukemia/lymphoma: three times more likely.
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: two times more likely.
  • Multiple myeloma: 2.25 times more likely; after 30 years, 10 times.
  • Bladder cancer: three times more likely.
  • Kidney cancer: four times more likely.
  • Prostate cancer: two times more likely.
  • Testicular cancer: 2.5 times more likely.
  • Colorectal cancer (large intestine): two times more likely.
  • Liver cancer: two times more likely.
  • Skin cancer: two times more likely.

Breathing smoke, and absorption through the skin are the common ways to be exposed to deadly toxins. A typical fire can expose a fireman to Carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, phenol, benzene, hydrogen chloride, hydrochloric acid, methane, and hydrogen cyanide. Many reports document a direct correlation between firefighter exposures with these toxins and the increased risk of cancer. I will stop this very short but just know that there is increasing research out there providing a lot of good information about this topic.
Some other risks we are exposed to on any given day include operating in adverse weather conditions, exposure to extreme heat and cold for extended periods of time, heavy lifting, performing work with cumbersome and heavy equipment, exposure to hazardous materials and terrorist threats, dehydration, heat exhaustion, constant exposure to diesel fuel exhaust, trip and slip hazards, contact with sick and contagious patients, operating on ladders, electrical shock hazards, weapons violence, exposure to depressing and traumatic events, and exposure to traffic and distracted drivers while operating on roadways especially I-91 and I-84.
We know that firefighting is a strenuous job and can be very physically demanding. During firefighting operations studies show that our heart rate can reach almost 100% of its maximum. 164-183 beats per minute is common, and for a 31-year-old fireman this correlates to about 86.8%-97% of our maximum heart rate. We can measure another way. One MET (Metabolic equivalent of task) is the amount of energy/oxygen that your body uses while sitting quietly. Expect to see firemen expending an energy level of 12 METs while performing normal firefighting operations. This is just about the equivalent of running an 8-minute mile while at a 1% incline.
While performing firefighting operations you can expect the conditions to raise your anxiety level substantially. Every fireman will react differently and it takes experience and willingness to remain calm under pressure. Increasing your heart rate due to anxiety-induced moments can have devastating effects. At 60-80 BPM your heart rate is normal, but as it increases to 115 BPM and then to 145 BPM you will see fine motor skills deteriorating and then complex motor skills, which are required of you to perform normal firefighting functions. At 175 BPM cognitive processing deteriorates and tunnel vision sets in. Loss of depth perception and near vision is setting in. Your are in a dangerous place now because above 175 BPM irrational flight or flee, freezing-up, submissive behavior, and even uncontrollable bowel movements and vomiting may take place.
A combination of the topics covered in this letter and even more that weren’t discussed all contribute to the number one killer of firemen, heart disease. Heart attacks occur at an alarming rate in the firefighting community. Some contributing factors of heart disease and heart attacks are exposure to traumatic stress, exposure to toxic fumes, sleep deprivation, and fatigue. A decrease in manpower will expose the remaining members of this department to even more of these contributing factors. On average 100 firefighters in United States will die in the line-of-duty every year. The leading cause of death is heart attacks. If the Mayor is serious about protecting the safety of his firemen he needs to reassess his game plan. The Hartford Fire Department is already close to operating at its minimum staffing level, cutting manpower and closing firehouses is not an option!
This letter has no official support from the Hartford Fire Department or I.A.F.F. Local 760. I wrote this letter on my own without their blessing. However I am certain that the other members of this organization are passionate and dedicated to this profession and are willing to stand up and fight for their rights. Mayor Bronin is considering making changes that will directly impact my safety and the safety of Hartford citizens and its guests. We will be at the front line prepared for battle at 1100 Hrs. on March 21st. Come join your Hartford firemen at the Legislative Office Building where Mayor Bronin begins his pursuit to cripple our rights as a collective bargaining unit. If Mayor Bronin succeeds in this endeavor the consequences will have a harsh impact.

Andrew Beliveau
3/17/2016

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

HOW DID WE GET INTO THIS MESS?

 
Photo from the Courant
 
 
Here is just one more example  of why Hartford is in the financial mess it is today. This is unsustainable and makes me wonder how many other  Huertas-esque  type payouts there are on the payroll books?

Check out this story from Jenna Carlesso at the Courant http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-hartford-carlos-huertas-payout-0317-20160316-story.html

THE FINAL BILL: FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY COMMISSION FOR HARTFORD

The draft bill was first posted here last night, here is the final bill which is now ready to move forward. The bills passage may be a tough fight according to several Legislative sources though.

 One source referred to the bill as "putting the fox in charge of the hen house", referring to the Commissions proposed makeup. I have to agree. Can we really count on at least four Hartford politicians to correct the problems created by Hartford politicians. I understand that for the most part it is a new freshman class of politicians.

As an example though, do you think Council members will really make the call to cut their own assistants?  $50,000 each times 9 , plus benefits is a large amount of money. This is one cost we can no longer afford. It is a small amount in the grand scheme of things, but it will set the tone that everyone is doing their part in the "shared sacrifice".

Do you think the Council would move to end their own pensions or medical coverage? It is a part time job, the Hartford City Council is one of the few similar bodies in the State of Connecticut  that actually get paychecks. I guess we could see who really wants to be there if we eliminated the pay for Council people.  Symbolic , but necessary, cuts are a necessity for the part time Council if we are going to see any mutual trust between the Union's and the Commission and we ask them to be part of the tough decisions.

The cuts need to be felt all the way from the top to the bottom. Can we really afford a videographer in the Mayor's Office? Can we really afford pensions for Council people after 5 years of service. Name me one other part time job that offers a pension after 5 years.

I could go on more about this, but if we are talking about cutting Union jobs to the bone, it has to also be fair and done across the board. I think we really need fresh unbiased eyes looking at the full picture, ready to make tough decisions and no one should be thinking about repercussions for the next election. That is what got us here in the first place.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

THIS IS GETTING TIRING

I must be in the mood for beatings tonight, but here goes. I really am getting of tired of people that love to blame our budget problems and everything else to do with money on the City Treasurer . The City Treasurer is really the glorified keeper of the checkbook for the City of Hartford.( Sorry Adam)

The definition of the Treasurer's position is below, directly from the Hartford City Charter. No where will you find in there that he is responsible for the City's  budget, allocating money to departments(other than paying their bills when properly  requested) or any other financial responsibilities. I am sure he can (and probably does) make  financial  recommendations, but no one is bound to accept them. That is the Council's function as the fiduciary body for the City. Probably one of the largest and most important roles of the Treasurer is managing the Pension fund and heading the Pension Commission.

You may not like the Treasurer, but read the section below before commenting on so called " wrong doing"

Sec. 1. - City treasurer.    There shall be a city treasurer, who shall have the powers set forth in this Charter, or as otherwise provided by law. (a) Duties. The city treasurer shall have the following responsibilities, as well as any others set forth in this Charter, the General Statutes or by ordinance: (1) Custodian of city funds. Except as otherwise provided in or pursuant to any of the provisions to which reference is made in subparagraph (4) below, the city treasurer shall have custody of, and shall disburse, all funds belonging to the city and shall deposit the same in one (1) or more authorized public depositories. For purposes of this chapter, an "authorized public depository" shall be any bank and/or trust company that qualifies as qualified public depository under and pursuant to the General Statutes to the extent the same has been designated as such by the council on the recommendation of the mayor, following consultation with the city treasurer. (2) Treasurer of town deposit fund and capital improvement funds. Investment responsibilities. The city treasurer shall have custody, and shall be treasurer, of the town deposit fund and the capital improvement fund as well as any trust or like funds which are established by or under this Charter or the General Statutes for any eleemosynary purposes by or for the benefit of the city of Hartford, its residents or any of its public parks, buildings or other improvements. In that capacity, the city treasurer shall have authority to invest and reinvest the assets of all such funds in cash, securities and other investment instruments and/or vehicles which are legal for the investment of trust funds under the General Statutes, consistent with the fiduciary and other standards set forth in the Connecticut Uniform Prudent Investors Act. Nothing herein shall be construed to prevent sinking funds and trust funds from continuing to be managed by the trust companies managing them at the effective date of this Charter, unless the appointment is revoked by the council for cause. Whenever a vacancy occurs in the management of any trust fund, or any trust fund is hereafter created, the council shall have power, on the recommendation of the city treasurer, to designate one (1) or more authorized public depositories to manage the same, which designation shall continue until revoked by the council for cause. (3) Disbursements. The city treasurer shall make no disbursement from any funds of the city except by check or electronic transfer signed or authorized by the city treasurer. Each check or transfer shall be based upon a voucher or payroll duly audited by the director of finance. Before signing any check or authorizing any transfer the city treasurer shall be satisfied that such check or transfer represents the payment of a duly authorized obligation of the city. The city treasurer shall keep such books and records as the director of finance shall prescribe. The city treasurer's official bond shall be a surety company bond in an amount sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the General Statutes and the ordinances. (4) The role of the city treasurer with regard to city pension funds. The city treasurer shall have the specifically delineated responsibilities pertaining to the care, custody and investment of the assets held in various of the pension and retirement funds that are maintained on behalf of current and/or former city employees and their beneficiaries, and such powers incident to such responsibilities (including the power, upon approval of the pension commission, to invest and reinvest the same and to enter contracts with qualified custodians, investment advisers and life insurance companies) all as and in the manner referred to in Chapter XII of this Charter.

OVERSIGHT BOARD LEGISLATION DRAFTED FOR HARTFORD, READY TO BE INTRODUCED

One the heels of Mayor Luke Bronin's first State of the City Address last night, Hartford's dire financial condition is becoming more evident by the minute.

Draft legislation has been formulated to institute an oversight board for the City of Hartford and its finances and related operations. This is also clear vindication for "We the People" a some in the mainstream media doubted my sources last week when I first broke the story of the possibility of a State takeover or oversight board for Hartford


Twitter feed from the Hartford Courant's Rick Green

According to sources, the bill is expected to be introduced by Senator John Fonfara, passage is not definite .
otentially b a tough sell to once again bail out Hartford.

HARTFORD TREASURER RE-APPOINTS ATTORNEY BRUCE RUBENSTEIN TO AUDIT COMMISSION

Hartford's City Treasurer Adam Cloud today re-appointed Hartford Attorney and resident Bruce Rubenstein  to another four year term on Hartford's Audit Commission.

Rubenstein has been an aggressive member of the commission in his first term, helping to expose and investigate corruption and waste throughout City government. Rubenstein is one of three members on the Commission

HARTFORD POLICE UNION RESPONDS TO "TRUMP"

Sorry for the quality of the posting, but I am not on the HPD Union favorite persons e-mail list.

The Hartford Police Union today responded to the incident involving a "TRUMP" sticker inside a HPD cruiser.

You can read the full original posting by clicking  here


UPDATE 5:00PM: The HPD Union actually forwarded m a clean copy of the release, below.


COUNCIL PUBLIC HEARING MONDAY

OFFICE OF THE CITY CLERK
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT
PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE
MONDAY MARCH 21, 2016
Councilpersons; Concepción, Deutsch, Gale, Jennings, and Sánchez will represent the Council at a Public Hearing to be held in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building at 7:00 P.M., Monday March 21, 2016.
1. RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE CITY TO ENTER INTO A LEASE WITH THE CONNECTICUT CHILDREN'S MEDICAL CENTER FOR OFFICE SPACE LOCATED AT 379-381 WASHINGTON STREET. MAYOR BRONIN
Referred to Planning and Zoning Commission
2. ORDINANCE TO IMPLEMENT THE CHARTER PROVISION AUTHORIZING THE APPOINTMENT OF REGISTRAR OF VOTERS. (COUNCILMAN GALE)
Referred to the Operations, Management, Budget Committee and Government Accountability
3. ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 22, MOTOR VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC BY ADDING THERETO ARTICLE IV, OBSTRUCTING INTERSECTION, OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE. (MAJORITY LEADER CONCEPCIÓN) (COUNCIL PRESIDENT CLARKE II) (COUNCILMAN GALE) (COUNCILMAN SÁNCHEZ) (COUNCILWOMAN THAMES) (COUNCILWOMAN WINCH)
Referred to the Quality of Life and Public Safety Committee
4. RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE CITY TO SELL AND ISSUE UP TO $85 MILLION IN GENERAL OBLIGATIONS REFUNDING BONDS. MAYOR BRONIN
Referred to the Operations, Management, Budget Committee and Government Accountability
Attest: John V. Bazzano
City Clerk
For more information on committee meeting date please contact the following:
A regular Quality of Life and Public Safety Committee meeting will be held on the third Tuesday of each month at 5:30 P.M. in the Council Chambers.
Kevin L. Murray 860-757-9563
Kevin.murray@hartford.gov
Kristen Squillante 860-757-9567
Squilante.Kristen@hartford.gov
A regular Operations, Management, Budget and Government Accountability Committee meeting will be held on the third Monday of each month at 5:30 P.M. in the Council Chambers.
Juan Hernandez 860-757- 9570
Juan.hernandez@

HARTFORD CITY COUNCIL ACTIONS FOR MARCH 14, 2016

PREPARED BY THE OFFICE OF HARTFORD'S TOWN AND CITY CLERK , JOHN BAZZANO. DISTRIBUTED BY SIXTO LAZU

MEETING OF THE COURT OF COMMON COUNCIL
March 14, 2016
The minutes of the regular meetings of February 8 & 22, 2016 were approved without objection.
ACTION TAKEN
COMMUNICATIONS
1. MAYOR BRONIN, Presentation State of the City Address.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________Received
2. MAYOR BRONIN, with accompanying resolution authorizing the City to accept HIV
Prevention Grant funding from the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
______________________________________________________________________________-______________________Consent
3. MAYOR BRONIN, with accompanying resolution authorizing the City to accept a grant from
the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environment Protection (DEEP) Community
Garden Grant Initiative for improvements to the Neighborhood Community Garden located at
122 Enfield Street.
______________________________________________________________________________-______________________Consent
4. MAYOR BRONIN, with accompanying resolution authorizing the City to enter into a lease
agreement with Club Car, LLC., for leasing golf carts at Keney Park Golf Course.
___________________________Referred to the Operations, Management, Budget and Government Accountability Committee
5. MAYOR BRONIN, with accompanying resolution authorizing the City to accept funds from
the Emergency Management Performance Grant from the Connecticut Department of
Emergency Services and Public Protection.
________________________________________________________Referred to the Quality of Life and Public Safety Committee
6. MAYOR BRONIN, with accompanying resolution authorizing the City to enter into a two-
year contracts with four service providers as part of the Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration
and Healthy Homes Program.
______________________________________________________________________________-______________________Consent
7. MAYOR BRONIN, with accompanying resolution concerning the appointment of four
individuals as regular members and three alternate member too the Zoning Board of Appeals.
_____________________________________________Referred to the Planning, Economic Developmen and Housing Committee
8. MAYOR BRONIN, with accompanying resolution authorizing the City to apply for and
accept a grant from the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) Highway Safety
Office for enforcement of Distracting Driving offenses.
______________________________________________________________________________-______________________Consent
9. MAYOR BRONIN, with accompanying resolution concerning the appointment of various
individuals to the Tree Advisory Commission.
___ _________________________________________ ______Referred to the Public Works, Parks and Environment Committee
10. MAYOR BRONIN, with accompanying resolution authorizing the City to accept a three-year
grant from the Connecticut Department of Health to address a variety of public health needs.
______________________________________________________________________________-______________________Consent
11. MAYOR BRONIN, with accompanying resolution concerning the appointment of various
individuals as members to the Hartford Parking Authority (HPA).
Replacement________________Referred to the Operations, Management, Budget and Government Accountability Committee
12. MAYOR BRONIN, with accompanying resolution concerning the appointment of Marilyn
Cruz-Aponte as Director of the Hartford Department of Public Works.
March 28, 2016 @ 6:00pm
_____ _________________________________________ ___________________________Referred to the Committee of the Whole
13. MAYOR BRONIN, with accompanying resolution authorizing the City to issue a $665,000
loan to RBH Group to assist in financing an approximately $20 million mixed use
development at 370 Asylum Street.
___________________________Referred to the Operations, Management, Budget and Government Accountability Committee
14. MAYOR BRONIN, with accompanying resolution authorizing the City to sell and issue up
to $85 million in General Obligations Refunding Bonds.
HEARING DATE - Monday, March 21, 2016
___________________________Referred to the Operations, Management, Budget and Government Accountability Committee
15. MAYOR BRONIN, with accompanying resolution authorizing the Mayor to accept an
Enhanced 911 Capital Expenditure Grant from the Connecticut Department of Emergency
Services and Public Protection.
______________________________________________________________________________-______________________Consent
16. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE, Communication concerning updates
from the Department of Health and Human Services.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________Received
17. PUBLIC WORKS, PARKS AND ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE, Communication
concerning the MDC/Niagara Bottling proposal and fact finding visit to Flint Michigan.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________Received
REPORTS
18. PLANNING, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING COMMITTEE, with
accompanying resolution concerning the appointment of Adrian Texidor to the Hartford
Stadium Authority.
______________________________________________________________________________-______________________Consent
19. PLANNING, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING COMMITTEE, with
accompanying resolution authorizing the City to enter into a Construction Agreement and an
Operating Agreement with the Hartford Public Library at 500 Main Street.
__________________________________________________________________Action postponed until March 28, 2016
FOR ACTION
20. Ordinance Establishing Hartford as a Sanctuary City.
______________________________________________________________________________-______________________Consent
PROPOSED ORDINANCES
21. (MAJORITY LEADER CONCEPCION) (COUNCIL PRESIDENT CLARKE II)
(COUNCILMAN GALE) (COUNCILMAN SANCHEZ) (COUNCILWOMAN THAMES)
(COUNCILWOMAN WINCH) Ordinance Amending Chapter 22, Motor Vehicles and Traffic
by adding thereto Article IV, Obstructing Intersection, of the Municipal Code
HEARING DATE - Monday, March 21, 2016
_________________________________________________________Referred to the Quality of Life and Public Safety Committee
22. (COUNCILMAN GALE) Ordinance to Implement the Charter
Provision Authorizing the Appointment of Registrar of Voters.
HEARING DATE - Monday, March 21, 2016
Replacement________________Referred to the Operations, Management, Budget and Government Accountability Committee
RESOLUTIONS
23. (COUNCIL PRESIDENT CLARKE II) (MAJORITY LEADER CONCEPCION)
(COUNCILWOMAN WINCH) (COUNCILWOMAN THAMES) Acceptance of
contributions from the City of Hartford Employee Retirement Fund to create a City Treasurer
Internship Program with the purpose of providing stipends to students participants of the
program from Hartford Public High Schools.
______________________________________________________________________________-______________________Consent
24. (COUNCIL PRESIDENT CLARKE II) (COUNCILWOMAN JENNINGS) (COUNCILMAN
SANCHEZ) The Court of Common Council hereby appoints Council President Thomas J.
Clarke II as a member of the School Building Committee.
______________________________________________________________________________-______________________Consent
25. (MINORITY LEADER BERMUDEZ) Support by Court of Common Council for the
passage of House Bill 5370, An Act Increasing The Minimum Fair Wage.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________Withdrawn
26. (MINORITY LEADER BERMUDEZ) Support by Court of Common Council for the
passage of Senate Bill 221, An Act Concerning Paid Family and Medical Leave.
Replacement__________________________________Referred to the Planning, Economic Developmen and Housing Committee
27. (COUNCILMAN SANCHEZ) (MAJORITY LEADER CONCEPCION) (MINORITY
LEADER BERMUDEZ) The Court of Common Council recognizes September 15, 2016
through October 15, 2016 as Hispanic Heritage Month and encourages the participation of
individuals of all cultural backgrounds to participle in this annual homage.
Replacement __________________________________________________________________-______________________Consent
28. (COUNCILMAN SANCHEZ) The Hartford Court of Common Council endorses and
supports the Hartford Veterans War Memorial Park-Over Deck project and request to initiate
the required park over deck design process that is necessary to obtain state and federal transit
oriented development funding already identified for constructing the project.
Replacement _________________________________Referred to the Planning, Economic Developmen and Housing Committee
Attest: John V. Bazzano
City Clerk

Monday, March 14, 2016

MAYOR BRONIN'S STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS

MAYOR BRONIN DELIVERS FIRST ‘STATE OF THE CITY’ ADDRESS
 
— NEWS AND COMMUNITY STATEMENT —
 
(March 14, 2016) Today, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin delivered his 2016 State of the City address at Hartford City Hall.  Below are Mayor Bronin’s full remarks as prepared.
Council President Clarke, Members of the Court of Common Council, Treasurer Cloud, Members of Hartford’s Delegation to the General Assembly.
Thank you for your service to our city. It’s a privilege to work in partnership with you.

To the citizens of the City of Hartford, thank you for allowing me to serve you as your Mayor.

To our local businesses, small and large, to our non-profit partners, to our faith-based leaders and community volunteers — thank you for your commitment to our great city.

And to the hardworking employees in every city department, thank you for everything you do, every day, for the people of Hartford. I’m proud to work alongside you.

Finally, to my wife Sara and our three children, thank you and I love you.

---

Our city is the economic and cultural heart of this region.

It is the capital city, home to cultural institutions that outshine cities much larger than ours. Home to a business community that includes world-class, global companies, and small, creative local entrepreneurs.

Home to residents who work so hard, who serve their community and who persevere.

One Hartford, diverse, resilient. With a downtown that is increasingly vibrant. With distinct neighborhoods that remain the true soul of Hartford.  With magnificent architecture and parks, a legacy of our proud history.

And so, I can with confidence report that the state of our city can and will be strong — if we face our challenges honestly, with clear vision and with an unflinching willingness to do the difficult things those challenges demand.

I stand here as a new mayor. You have put your faith and trust in me, and in this new city council, to lead our city forward. I will honor that trust by being forthright with you, always.

And so I must also report, as directly and as plainly as I can, that while our city is strong, the state of our financial condition is dire.

We are in a state of fiscal emergency. How did we get here? Part of the answer is that, for too long, Hartford failed to make tough choices.

Past administrations borrowed liberally.  To make things easier in the short-run, they refinanced debt, pushing payments into the future. The bill is now coming due.

This year, the amount we will pay for debt service — the equivalent of mortgage payments on a home — was $10 million. Next year, it will be close to $30 million.  By 2019, it will be nearly $50 million. That’s if we don’t borrow another dollar, which isn’t realistic.
Past administrations promised benefits that Hartford’s tax base cannot support.

Our annual contributions to the pension fund have gone from under $10 million in 2010 to more than $40 million this year and next. And our healthcare costs rise dramatically year after year.

The City of Hartford administers more than sixty different health insurance plans for retirees, a costly burden that defies logic, but is required by past negotiations.

When some employees leave service, they receive six figure payouts of sick and vacation time. And when some employees retire today, they retire with annual pensions that far exceed their base pay.

I don’t say this to disparage our hardworking city employees, who earned their benefits under the contracts they negotiated. I believe that those who serve the public deserve good benefits and a safe retirement.

But the reality is that for too long, the City of Hartford made promises that are not sustainable.

And, of course, past administrations raised taxes. Again and again. Today, Hartford’s small businesses pay the highest taxes in the state, more than twice what they’d pay in most neighboring towns.

Those tax increases raised money in the short term, but they drove businesses out and made it harder and harder for Hartford to grow.

Facing big deficits, past administrations bought time with one-time revenues — selling parking garages, raiding employee benefit reserves.

If you look at the budgets of the last few years and take out the one-time revenues, our city has been running tens of millions of dollars in deficit year after year.

Today, we are in a full-blown crisis and we cannot avoid it, we cannot ignore it, and we cannot solve it unless we all make very difficult, very painful decisions.

On June 30th, we will finish this fiscal year millions of dollars in deficit, and will draw down nearly half of the city’s reserves.

This year’s problem is small in comparison to next year’s problem — and the years beyond. Without painful changes, we will soon face deficits so big that even eliminating our entire police department and our entire fire department would not close the gap.

We’re like a household that’s taken out a second mortgage, maxed out the credit cards, and borrowed money from family and friends to keep up with the payments.

While we made some changes in the household budget, we didn’t make enough. As long as our expenses are higher than our income, the problem will get worse.

In years past, we might have hoped for relief from the State of Connecticut. Today, the State of Connecticut faces its own crisis, and the best we can probably hope for is to avoid getting cut.

We can’t expect any bailouts from the State. What can we expect?
There must be cuts in services and there will be layoffs. Difficult cuts that no one wants to make, and that in better times we wouldn’t even contemplate. Cuts in services that are important. Not cutting fat, but sacrificing things that matter.

There must be significant changes in labor contracts even with those layoffs, because we have no choice.

We must consider decreasing our pension contributions. Not because our pensions are fully-funded, but because a city in our financial position doesn’t have the luxury of fully-funding pensions in the near-term.

There must be help from our tax-exempt institutions. Institutions that are a vital part of our city — as employers, as centers of excellence, as points of pride. Institutions whose financial help we still need.

We must have a conversation with our largest property owners. These companies pay large tax bills already — and their philanthropic giving supports countless organizations serving Hartford residents. But we must nonetheless ask them to do more.

We may need changes in state law to achieve some of these things, and we will seek whatever changes we believe are necessary to put Hartford on a sound foundation, working in partnership with our outstanding Hartford delegation.

I’ve been blunt about the mistakes that got us here. I’ve been blunt about some of the steps that we must take. But let me be equally blunt in saying this:

Over the long-term, we can’t do this on our own here in Hartford.

The deepest cuts, the most painful concessions, the elimination of services, and even the most generous help from partners in Hartford — all of that will only get us part of the way toward closing the gap in the years ahead.

Because while part of the problem was a failure to make tough choices in the past, part of the problem is beyond the direct control of any Mayor or City Council.
Our city is less than eighteen square miles. Property taxes are our only real source of local revenue, yet more than half of our property is tax- exempt — because we’re home to institutions that serve the region and the state, but which pay no taxes to the City of Hartford.

We live in a region that is among the most affluent in America, yet we shoulder the responsibility of serving neighborhoods that are among the poorest in the nation.

We shoulder a burden that we cannot sustain alone, and that must be shared more broadly.  Not just for Hartford’s sake, but for the region and for the state.

This region needs a strong, healthy urban center at its core.

If we allow Hartford to fall into a cycle of crisis and decline, the impact will be felt not just in Hartford, but in home prices, home sales and unemployment numbers in West Hartford, Simsbury, Windsor, Glastonbury, Bloomfield, and every surrounding town.
If, on the other hand, we position ourselves to compete with the Austins, the Pittsburghs, the Louisvilles of America, the entire region will reap the rewards in jobs, in home prices, and in a virtuous cycle of innovation and growth.

In the long run, aside from getting our own house in order, there are three parts to the solution, all of which require us to build a consensus for change well beyond Hartford’s borders:

One is greater support from the state, despite the state’s budget crisis. Hartford is the state capital, and we all share an interest in — and responsibility for — Hartford’s success.

Another is to stop talking about regionalism and start regionalizing.

Regionalizing can take many forms. Sharing of services. Sharing of revenues. Or, as nearly every successful metro region in the country has done, actually breaking down boundaries.

Let there be no mistaking this reality: if we collectively cling to our New England provincialism too long, we will — sooner rather than later — find ourselves mourning the loss of the New England we love.

And a third part, which rests in the hands of the broader American electorate, is for the federal government to make real investments, once again, in state and local government — in transportation, in infrastructure, in education, in public safety, in research and development, in youth employment. The kinds of investment that helped make America great in the first place.

I have spoken at length tonight about our fiscal position. I will continue to speak publicly, in town halls and in community meetings, where residents have the chance to ask me questions directly.

This administration will tackle our challenges head-on, regardless of the political cost.

But this administration will not be defined by crisis alone. Even as we work hard to make the changes we need to survive, we will fight for our priorities.

We remain committed to doing everything we can to make our streets safer, and our neighborhoods stronger. By recruiting the next generation of police officers as so many Hartford police prepare to retire; by modernizing law enforcement, using cameras and other technology; and by engaging our community more effectively.

We embrace the principle that small things matter. Blighted properties, empty lots and litter can weigh a neighborhood down, and fixing those small things can change a whole community.

We will use every legal tool available to us to combat blight, and transfer chronically blighted properties into productive, caring hands.

We will continue to seek private resources to help put our young men and women to work — with a particular focus on building a Youth Service
Corps that gives our young people a chance to earn a paycheck while working for their community.

And I will advocate tirelessly for changes in our criminal justice system that will help make Connecticut — and Hartford — a true second chance society. That means lobbying private employers to “Ban the Box.”

That means reforming pre-trial detention, so that jail time has more to do with your crime and less to do with ability to make bail. And that means continuing to reform the pardon and parole process.

Most important of all, we will do everything we can to recruit and retain employers, small and big. We will help build a city that fosters innovation, incubation and entrepreneurship, because that’s what drives real, long-term growth — not expensive buildings or baseball stadiums.

When I launched my campaign for Mayor a year ago, I said that Hartford is at a moment of tremendous challenge and tremendous opportunity. Today, I believe that more than ever.

Next year, the University of Connecticut will open its doors downtown. In 2018, we will see commuter rail service linking New Haven, Hartford and Springfield.

The Capital Region Development Authority, which has fueled the residential development in downtown, now has capital set aside for investment in our neighborhoods.

There is increased interest in developing in Hartford, and a renewed excitement about Hartford in our surrounding towns.

The opportunities are real, and they are near. The challenges, too, are real. And they’re already here. The only way to seize our opportunities is to confront our challenges.

Tonight, I ask all of you to join me in securing Hartford’s future by confronting its financial challenges boldly.

We will not accept a future of decline for our city.

We will build Hartford on a sound foundation, so that what we build will last.

We will do whatever it takes to ensure that sometime in the future, a mayor will be able to stand in this chamber and declare that the state of our city is as strong as it has ever been.

Thank you all. May God Bless the United States of America, the State of Connecticut, and the great City of Hartford.