I am not sure if those failures are because of inexperience or attitude, or a combination of both. The "sky is falling" mantra by Bronin worked in the beginning in drawing attention to our problems as a City, but you can only play Chicken Little for so long before it becomes tiring as well as ineffective.
Although Bronin's first move was to slash City jobs through lay-offs, many of those laid off were some of the lowest paid employees, and the ranks of high priced management positions, some of them actually residing in the Mayor's Office and throughout City Hall, have continued to grow.
Claims of inviting the Union's to the table to be part of the solution seemed as though those invitations got lost in the mail, and aside from a new Fire contract, nothing much else has changed. It doesn't appear as though Hartford has made any moves to restructure cost associated with employee benefits such as moving to HSA's as the City of New Britain recently did.
Although Bronin did promise hiring of Police and Fire personnel to reduce overtime costs, none of that has happened . The October Police Academy class that was promised has never happened and the January recruit class that was promised isn't even any where near close to happening, and the attrition draws the numbers at HPD lower everyday.
Luckily, even with a thinly stretched Police Department, it is still functioning and Hartford saw one of its best years in lowering Homicide numbers in a few decades. Hartford finished the year with 14 total Homicides for 2016 compared to 31 for 2015. Those reduced numbers though had very little to do with the current Administration and more with the creative efforts of HPD and its leadership under Chief Rovella, although I am confident a press release will be out any day by the Bronin Administration taking credit for reduced crime.
Those efforts still include the results of the Shooting Task Force and the creation of C4 under Rovella's creativity. C4 is the acronym for the Capitol City Crime Center, which has blanketed the City with technology to reduce crime, including cameras, Shot Spotter technology and license plate readers scanning for criminal activity. Imagine what could be accomplished with the additional Police Officers promised by Bronin if he only came through on his promises. The efforts of C4 have been very successful in reducing crime and identifying violent criminals on our streets
The Bronin promise of hiring 45 firefighters also appears to be a pipe dream of broken promises. Although Bronin had held a dog and pony show last fall to proclaim his plans to hire 45 fire recruits, he knew, or should have known at the time of his announcement that his request for the FEMA grant for the hiring had been rejected and no money was available for the 45 new hires.
And just as a thought, can we also push for regional cooperation and tell our neighbors that they are not eligible to apply for our Fire Department if they aren't Hartford residents. That sounds a little hypocritical. Lets find the best candidates we can, no matter where they live, and then make it inviting for them to move into Hartford if they wish
Now I know that Bronin inherited a mess, including the baseball stadium, but after a year of failed or poor decisions, Bronin now owns all those messes. Where are the solutions? What is the plan besides the "sky is falling"?
Regionalism? Good idea but we need partners to buy in on that. Bronin may actually have the right idea moving in that direction, "as goes Hartford, so goes the region" . The problem being, I would expect more from an attorney who should know he needs to make his case first. Bronin seems to be going around asking for the Jury's verdict before he even has laid out his case as to why the Jury needs to rule in his favor. It isn't working and the script never changes.
Walk out to the podium , take off the suit jacket roll up the sleeves and start proclaiming "Hartford is broke" . Where is the leadership by example? Build the case that the tough decisions are being made and Hartford is on a path to tightening its belt and becoming financially responsible and we want our suburban neighbors to buy in as equal partners. We haven't done that yet and shoving our MDC responsibilities down the throats of our suburban neighbors isn't going to help.
The cutting needs to continue in every corner of City Hall and nothing should be off limits, if that means bankruptcy to get at Union contracts and benefits , then do it, and shut up. Stop leaving our employees in a state of suspended animation as they await their future. They will get out of here at the first chance they have if they are kept in the dark and we can't afford to lose any more good employees.
I personally don't think bankruptcy is the solution as business as usual remains the same at City Hall and it would take us years to recover from a bankruptcy filing. I think we now have half the members of the Hartford County Bar collecting paychecks from their jobs at City Hall and I have to ask if that is money well spent?
We all know the State of Connecticut is probably in worse shape than Hartford, and we can't count on any financial help from the Capitol. We also know that City hall didn't campaign for our next President, so that might be a tough sell to get Washington to open their wallet for us. ( Elections have consequences)
We elected a Mayor to bring leadership to City Hall during what we knew were going to be difficult times, now it is your time to come through with a plan and some workable solutions and put aside the Chicken Little act, it is wearing thin.