from 21 July 2014 march
From the moment Mayor Segarra stood in front of City Hall to announce his plan to relocate the New Britain Rock Cats to Hartford on the public dime, there have been unanswered questions:
How exactly would this (fully or partially) publicly-funded private business provide true economic development for the city? How many full time, living wage jobs would this create for residents of Hartford? Why were Hartford voters and residents excluded from the conversation until this was declared a “done deal” by the mayor? Why build in this location instead of at the existing Dillon Stadium near Colt Park? Why were key stakeholders in this area omitted from the secret dealings, finding out only after word of the deal reached the media? Why was a stadium not included in the Downtown North Plan and why is this able to displace the types of developments, like mixed-use residential, that had been discussed with residents for months? What kind of environmental studies have been done and how would the expected increase in traffic of this area impact Hartford’s already high asthma rates? Why did the mayor in his press release announcing that he wanted the stadium relocation agreement item withdrawn from the City Council agenda, fail to indicate that he would be making no effort to withdraw the related resolution for City purchase of 271 and 273 Windsor Street, a 2.08 acre vacant parcel considered necessary for the stadium development, a parcel that would cost the City of Hartford $1.7M?
Mary Sanders of Hartford
The meetings of people in opposition to the so-called “done deal” began back in June, with various groups gathering across Hartford. These smaller discussions merged after the first round of meetings happening over one weekend. Residents went from private living rooms to a centrally-located cultural space. Meetings went on during World Cup games, during the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, during a time of year when many are away on vacation. Those who are baseball fans have said they do not appreciate games being played when it comes to politics and tax dollars. Continue reading 'Alienated Public Demands a Voice in City Hall'»
If City Hall was worried about misinformation about the stadium before, nothing in recent days has added clarity, including Mayor Segarra’s announcement that the stadium proposal was kinda-sorta withdrawn.
On Monday, as planned, one of two resolutions related to the stadium was withdrawn, as explained by Hartford 2000:
In short, there is still a stadium resolution up for discussion at the July 21st public hearing: whether or not the City should move forward with purchasing the 271 and 273 Windsor Street parcel that has been described as necessary for this larger plan.
It can be seen on the July 21 agenda here:
The original language of both items — withdrawn and current — can be seen here (#8 and #10):
A letter from Mayor Segarra to City Council published by CT News Junkie last week is explicit in which of the two resolutions were to be withdrawn. This announcement was made on Friday. Continue reading 'Only One of Two Stadium Resolutions Withdrawn: March Still On'»
With so much talk of how the City has been spending money and plans to use bonding in relation to the proposed stadium, it’s time to take a look at how Hartford is using Capital Improvement Project funds elsewhere.
The recently re-opened George Day Park is one of those items. With new playground equipment, basketball court, garden area, and water features, this Parkville spot cost $870,000 to renovate.
In neighboring Frog Hollow, the Pope Park North/Baby Pope playground has been under construction for months. The underutilized tennis courts, broken chain link fencing, and dated playground equipment were ripped out, along with a concrete spray pool. Neighborhood kids have been, in the meantime, playing basketball and football on the first block of Putnam Street, in the roadway. Here, the City has said that the spray pool and playground construction would be completed by May, but a sign at the site says July. There is some playground equipment and picnic tables in place, but work remains to be done for the $570,000 price tag.
The Goodwin Park spray pool construction is scheduled to be completed in August: $190,000.
The carousel in Bushnell Park opened for the season at the end of June, approximately two months later than it normally does. That it has been open for more than only two days this season is an improvement over what was expected — one day in June, one day in September. The necessity of some of these renovations has been debated, but ultimately, the funds were approved. A document produced by the City lists the CIP funds for this at $900,000, yet the City Council approved $1M for it. Construction should complete in late November. Continue reading 'Speed of Capital Improvement Projects'»
Got $4000 burning a hole in your wallet?
The City of Hartford is holding a Tax Deed Sale on June 28 in the Bulkeley High Auditorium. Registration is from 8-9:45am; sale begins at 10am. You will need that deposit money in form of cash, cashier’s check, bank treasurer’s check, teller’s check, or certified check at the auction. There are other stipulations, but that, and not owing property tax yourself, are the big ones.
The property owners have been given six months notice before properties placed in auction. Winning bidders will not receive title until six months after purchase, as the owner has opportunity for redemption. Here are the properties:
Tax Deed Sale 6/28/14
If this isn’t the right time for you but you just want to see what the auction process looks like, you can still show up to watch the action.
If members of City Council have been checking their email and reading social media since the rumors of the stadium began last week, the major opposition to the project vocalized during Monday’s public hearing should have come as no surprise to elected officials.
Seventeen people spoke strongly against the stadium. There were three — two of whom are politicians — on the fence, and one business owner who seemed generally cautious. There were a total of five in favor, two of whom are politicians. Of those supporters, only three were what could be called strong supporters.
Although Segarra talked a good game at last week’s rushed press conference, we have learned that most members of the City Council only found out about this “done deal” at the same time or after the general public did last Monday.
Councilwoman Jennings said something needed to happen for Hartford’s economy to improve, but she had many questions that she wanted answers for. Monday, she asked to have her name removed from the list of those sponsoring the land transfer item.
In another interesting turn, Shawn Wooden, who spoke in favor of the stadium in the capacity as Council President at that press conference on Wednesday has revealed that his firm (Day Pitney) represents the seller of that land: Rensselaer. Monday night, he recused himself from voting on the land transfer item. Continue reading 'City Hall Dominated by Voices Against Stadium'»
In recent months, the entire Weaver High School community has been mobilized by the Hartford Board of Education’s poor communication about the school’s temporary move to the Lincoln Institute and the plan to eventually rehabilitate and rebuild the north end school. Tuesday night’s Board meeting once again found students, teachers, and Weaver families demanding action and answers from the Board. There were few to be found, but much talk of “due diligence.” The uncertainty and anxiety among the Weaver community was palpable, as too was the growing mistrust of the Board and its hollow words. Speakers, including Principal Tim Goodwin, admonished Mayor Segarra, who was not in attendance, for suggesting that Weaver’s low enrollment could affect the school’s reconstruction. Goodwin demanded that enrollment issues be taken off the table and not be a part of the discussion. He cited the school’s continued improvement according to multiple metrics, including decreased disciplinary referrals. Through the years, Weaver High has been especially hampered by the breaking up of Hartford’s traditional high schools and the “school choice” reform scheme. Lastly, it was clear Tuesday night that Michele Rhee’s privatization front group StudentsFirst had attempted to glom onto Weaver’s struggle, going so far as to blindly hand out as many of their unrelated t-shirts as possible to students.
Since the Board’s failed attempt to hand the Clark School to the Achievement 1st charter school corporation two months ago, Clark was entered in to the Commissioner’s Network of schools in need of “turnaround.” A “turnaround committee” of parents, teachers, and the State Department of Education has been meeting to develop a plan for Clark. Parallel to this, HART was contracted by the Board to garner support among the community for another charter takeover of the school. This time a charter school corporation called Friendship Charter School of Maryland has been identified as the favorite by the Commissioner of Education. As has been reported in Real Hartford, the Clark community is unwilling to be bullied, bought off, or threatened into this deal. During Tuesday’s meeting, Superintendent Kishimoto blamed outside interests for the problems with the committee. In her report on Clark, she warned of parents being “lobbied heavily by organizations placing pressures on parents on matters beyond the immediate and urgent needs of Clark School students.” She chided these mysterious groups and mentioned that parents were complaining to her personally about the “pressure.” Continue reading 'Hartford Promises'»
This morning Mayor Segarra gave a dizzying account of changes and projects that are underway, from “nodal development” along Albany Ave to the $500,000 that he said has been secured for environmental remediation of the former Swift Factory. The new public safety complex on High Street, which has its opening ceremony scheduled for Wednesday, was called a “catalyst” for the development of North Downtown. By all accounts, Segarra views Hartford as moving in the right direction. Continue reading 'Optimism Reigns in Update on City'»
Who pays for the Black Friday steals?
Nearly every major retailer opens its doors before dawn on the day after Thanksgiving. Last year, a Connecticut Kohl’s employee said he had to cut short his time with family on Thanksgiving so that he could nap in order to take on a a Black Friday shift which actually required he arrive late on Thursday. This year, Walmart employees are being told to come in on Thanksgiving, as stores are slated to open on Thursday at 8pm.
With this dismal economy, workers know that they are more disposable than ever. Not showing up for a shift can mean job loss; as one Walmart employee in central Connecticut explained, had she called out during a snow storm when the governor had warned motorists to stay off the roads, she would have been fired.
To protest the practice of what the Corporate Action Network is calling retaliation against workers “for speaking out for good jobs with decent pay, regular hours, affordable healthcare and respect,” there are strikes and demonstrations planned at Walmart stores nationwide, with many occurring on November 23, 2012.
Here in Hartford, there are plans for a solidarity demonstration at the Walmart on Flatbush Avenue. Festive caroling and leafleting is scheduled to begin around 11 a.m. at the front of the store. The public has been invited to join in. Continue reading 'Solidarity Action at Hartford’s Walmart on Black Friday'»
Candidates for state office discussed a range of pressing issues facing the city of Hartford this past Monday at a forum held at the Hartford Public Library. Some of the candidates were long-time veterans of political campaigning and public policy, while others were running for the first time. Generally, the issues remained consistent; however, more than once, the conversation turned to the topic of Connecticut’s tax structure and its disparate effect on cities like Hartford.
The forum, moderated by the Hartford Courant’s Tom Condon, highlighted that Hartford is over-reliant on property tax for revenue. Several factors play into this. As the Capitol city, Hartford has several public buildings that are exempt from paying the tax. As a result, the burden falls on businesses and homeowners. Furthermore, as an urban area, the city must provide for more publically funded services for residents on a greater scale than its non-metropolitan counterparts.
Every candidate present agreed that over-dependence on property tax amplified several of the city’s struggles, such as financing education, closing the achievement gap, and improving the climate of the city in terms of attracting businesses and jobs. While there was consensus that property taxes are an underlying structural problem, each candidate had a somewhat different solution. Continue reading 'Hartford’s Property Taxes in the 2012 Election'»
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Hartford between 2006-2010 was $28,970; the average per capita income for the same period was $16,798. People living below the poverty rate: 32.1%
Knowing that the rate of concentrated poverty is one of the highest in the nation, it may seem as if something is out of place when the Superintendent — who makes decisions for a student body, most of whom are eligible for free or reduced school lunch — through her lawyers, makes demands for a bonus which is more than what many families in the school district earn in one year.
Though Dr. Kishimoto backed down after receiving criticism for demanding a $15,450 bonus following a failing performance review, the language of her messages to the press indicates a sense of entitlement to a possible $30,000 bonus, regardless of the quality of her work.
But the amount of money being doled out in the form of bonuses does not end with Kishimoto deciding not to pursue one through her lawyers. Continue reading 'Hartford Schools: The Bonus Round'»