money

Meet Your City: Worse Than Panhandling

As a native New Englander, I understand why anyone ever trying to talk to another person is alarming. Leave me alone, let me do my own thing, definitely do not make eye contact, and you might hear from me if I need help getting my tractor out of a ditch.

But seriously, it can be annoying to be approached by random strangers, whether they are trying to scrape together money for whatever or they are handing out booklets promising hellfire to those who don’t repent. The latter, for some reason, do not inspire so much anger from the peanut gallery. The calls to “do something about panhandlers,” almost never means addressing the root causes of poverty or addiction. These are attempts to get police involved in nuisance crimes when their talents could be better used elsewhere, such as enforcing traffic laws which when broken, are likely to cause personal injury. (more…)

Meet Your City: (Almost) Free Love

A friend recently cited expense as a reason to refrain from dating; there are many legitimate reasons for this choice — unwillingness to compromise, lack of interest in other people, enjoying one’s own company — but money is not one of them. Not when with some creativity, people can go out without having to empty their wallets.

Free — Always or Sometimes (more…)

IDEAS FOR 50 MILLION CARROT STICKS

This is a reader-submitted piece by Miguel Jose Matos, Hartford resident of twenty years. This fits in with our Suggestion Box series and addresses the recent pledge of $50 million over five years to the City of Hartford by Aetna, The Hartford, and Travelers.

by Miguel Jose Matos

by Miguel Jose Matos

 

Three of our local corporations have stepped up as committed partners to back Hartford to the tune of $50 million dollars over five years, if the City can get its financial house under control and come up with a workable plan for a viable future.

Funding the money hinges on the City putting forth a comprehensive and sustainable set of solutions for Hartford. The key piece of language in the corporate announcement was to be “part of” a plan, this was the clue. But based on media reports, the “when and how” have not been clearly spelled out, so it’s a great carrot but as yet no one is sure how long the stick is, and what will it take for our community to come together. A little over three million a year from each company is a great start.

“Push the corporate folk to drop their dime, while the City hammers out some fixes, use their dimes now to fund fixes; that without money remain unfixable”.

$10 million over 5 years is a good first step when having to climb out of a sinkhole fifty million dollars deep. But to get grounded we must back into the numbers, because the City is crippled with debt and limping with weak cash flow. It will be difficult to concoct a financial plan strong enough because of the City’s weak cash position, only making it harder to satisfy the conditional $50M Corporate Offer.

Corporate leaders are good community folks doing their part, protecting their investment and their workforce, but they understand risk and do not want to throw good money after bad. This narrative puts the City in a tricky position.

This point in time is a good opportunity to show the local corporations that the City has a plan that can be funded bit by bit with the corporate funds that are being offered. A project-by-project funding process based on a pay for performance system may mitigate some the upfront risk that has tied these moneys with a tough condition.

This tactic has relevance because it is not meant to only address the corporate funding offer, but to serve as the foundation for an annual Business Challenge Fund. Let’s get back to the corporations and be as corporate in approach as they are. Corner their attention by putting forth a recovery plan that is based on a return on their money and their participation. The approach is in many ways how corporations look at investing themselves. (more…)

Pay to Play

It used to be highly controversial to ask families to pay for their children to participate in public school sports, but the visceral anger has more or less dwindled as practicality has won out. In the same way, some of the “freebies” in Hartford that have become traditions — parades, summer movie nights, ice skating — have been revealed as costing more than is fair to pass along to the taxpayer in a time when important services have been slashed.

The reactions have varied. Some did little more than create a hashtag. Others have taken more vocal and fruitful actions.

In April, Real Hartford suggested that events like Envisionfest and Winterfest charge a modest admission fee for out-of-town users. No word on if anyone will take up that suggestion, but it stands. Meanwhile, those hoping to hang on to Winterfest activities, like ice skating in Bushnell Park, have started a crowdfunding campaign. As of publication, it has collected $200 toward its $200,000 goal.

Bronin Releases Recommended Budget

The mayor’s 300+ page proposed budget can be reduced to one sentence: The party is over.

For years, certain parades and festivals had been held despite their organizers failing to pay for associated costs in full. This is one of Hartford’s open secrets. Even when the events may not have been well-executed or marketed, the City of Hartford continued to pick up the tab. Cultural events like festivals and parades could draw money into Hartford, but a single glance at the food trucks present for many of these events shows this not to be the case. How, then, can the strain on the HPD traffic division and on the DPW (for funsies, visit Bushnell Park at end of day following one of the major festivals before the crews come out in force to remove litter, empty the trash, and hose everything down) be justified if negligible revenue is created? Should Mayor Bronin’s proposed budget be adopted, we could still have parades for days, if we pay for them without help from the City. (more…)

Suggestion Box: Patching the Budget Hole

How we got here

The City of Hartford’s economic problems did not just happen. They did not spring up when Mayor Bronin was sworn into office. They did not emerge last year or even the year before that. (more…)

Bronin Shoots Straight in State of the City Address

“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,” Mayor Luke Bronin said in his first State of the City address on Monday in City Hall.

Even with the predictably depressing remarks, residents walked out of City Hall with respect for the no bullshit, factual assessment of where Hartford is, how we got here, and what we are going to do about it. (more…)

Community Bicycle Shop Coming to Park Street

After a few months of riding a bicycle from Connecticut to Indiana, and back, it is only natural for one to launch a membership and fundraiser campaign for a community bicycle shop days after returning home.

Natural, that is, if you’re Tony Cherolis, who has been instrumental in getting BiCi Co., located at the Center for Latino Progress, up and moving.

BiCi Co. may not be the easiest concept to understand. but if you know what a maker space is, then it’s like that, but with bicycles and the ability to buy them.

Bike education classes were provided for youth there over this past summer, as a first step and as part of a summer youth employment service learning project. Thirty teens were paid for learning some safety and repair basics; they went on to fix up bikes for CRT’s Generations program. (more…)

Family and Zoning in the R-8

It appears that Mayor Segarra may have something in common with the residents of 68 Scarborough.

Pedro Segarra and his spouse, Charlie Ortiz, live in a home on Prospect Avenue within the R-8 zone. This is the same zone where it is not permitted for more than two unrelated individuals to live together. In terms of regulations, this is the strictest zone in Hartford.

While the family at 68 Scarborough has been fighting its legal battle publicly, garnering international attention, Mayor Segarra has been quiet on the matter, saying little as the Scarborough Street family has been sued by the City of Hartford. (more…)

Conversations with the Candidates: Impressions

“Why isn’t the mayor here?”

That was the first question asked by an audience member, before the official time for questions began — before anything really began — at the Business for Downtown Hartford’s “Candid Conversations” event. (more…)