system

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…)

Election Day 2014: Results of Inquiry Published

The City Council Committee of Inquiry has released its findings regarding the Election Day 2014 debacle.
You can read the 32 page document below. Among the gems in this report: one Registrar refused to read emails that another sent, police were called to the Registrar’s Office following an outburst by the Democratic Registrar of Voters, and that same individual invoked the Fifth Amendment when questioned.

COIReportOfFactualFindings-2

To learn more (more…)

Questions Remain on Downtown North Revelopment

Downtown North Redevelopment is back on the agenda for tonight’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. This document has been prepared for the meeting:

Downtown North Redevelopment PZ 090914 V2 FINAL

Since City officials announced plans to build a stadium last June, more questions have been raised than answered. Among those questions:

  • Do all parcels hold considerable market, retail, residential, and mixed-use development potential?
  • Have all of these parcels been completely surveyed and do topographical maps exist for all parcels? How are developers able to do a proper feasibility study without designs overlaying the topo?  Can that be done without site or land surveys?
  • Did the City have a recent market appraisal done for all of the parcels?
  • Are there environmental reports on all of these parcels? Are there any underground storage tanks/sewer lines at these parcels that will need to be moved? How much will it cost for asbestos remediation at 150 Windsor Street? What is the magnitude of these potential environmental issues? Who pays for environmental remediation costs?
  • How much will it cost for the street realignment of Trumbull and Pleasant, along with the abandonment of Windsor? Who pays? How will this impact the flow of traffic with several nearby schools and colleges?
  • Are there unpaid taxes on any of these properties? What is the City doing to collect?
  • Is there a reason that the commercial developer is able to have these properties gifted? Isn’t the norm for the commercial developer to purchase the parcels they plan to develop? Is there a reason that the developers are not being asked to pay full fair market value for this land? (more…)

How to Make Schools More Integrated

The “Choice Watch: Diversity and Access in Connecticut’s School Choice Programs” report released last week suggests ways that “open choice” schools in Connecticut should work to reduce segregation across racial, linguistic, and ability lines. The report finds that most school choice programs are actually integrated as far as socioeconomic status is concerned, with integration defined quite broadly: enrollment between 25-75% minority students. (more…)

DOT Committed in Court to Building Bridge for Pedestrians and Cyclists

Glossing over the matter of safety and likening the plaintiff’s issue with the Flower Street closure to one of “inconvenience,” the Superior Court in Hartford ruled to dismiss the lawsuit against James Redeker, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Christopher Brown had sought a writ of mandamus– a resolution that would require the CT DOT reopen Flower Street for cyclists and pedestrians as DOT’s hearing officer Judith Almeida had ruled previously. With the dismissal, the DOT is permitted to leave a city street permanently closed to all forms of traffic.

Attorney Ken Krayeske said the outcome was not unexpected. “We knew going in that a mandamus presents a unique challenge: how do you prove a plaintiff has a legal right to something?,” he said.

“We understood the uphill odds, but we filed because the Connecticut Department of Transportation relegates cyclists and pedestrians to second class citizenship,” Krayeske said.

View from the “mitigation path” that goes between Broad Street and Flower Street. The broken fence between the Interstate and path adds confidence for those expecting a safe route, free of wayward vehicles.

The DOT, now backed by the court, has said that an east-west path sufficiently mitigates the closure of a north-south route. The bike lanes on Broad Street have been accepted by them and the court as another solution to the closure. The new lanes and bike boxes on Broad Street were painted in November; the paint is already nearly completely eroded in places and few cyclists use it. According to dozens of cyclists, this stretch of Broad Street is not significantly safer since the installment of these lanes. In the last month, huge potholes in the Broad Street and Capitol Avenue intersection have not made things easier for those on two wheels. Although not directly part of the Flower Street situation, a nearby stretch of the East Coast Greenway which has been identified as the responsibility of the State had gone neglected for weeks while a large sheet of ice made walking and cycling a challenge. (more…)

How Many Trips Does It Take to Vote in Hartford?

Would we even recognize Election Day in Hartford if it weren’t for the near-ritual of shenanigans?

As of mid-afternoon, CT News Junkie reported a low, even by our standards, voter turnout of 2.2% in the city. This number may deceive one into believing that each voter’s experience would be positive, as there’d be no rushing folks away from the voting tables and out the door. (more…)

¿Ausente? Indeed.

(L-to-R) Charles R. Venator-Santiago, Olga Delarosa Moya, Victor Quinones, Ana-Maria Garcia, Madelyn Colon, y Evelyn Mantilla

The gymnasium of St. Anne / Immaculate Conception Church on Park Street was the venue for a true community dialogue about the history and current state of the Latino vote in Hartford. The dialogue did not dwell in the past, nor did it center on the panelists’ contributions, as audience members readily joined in.

Evelyn Mantilla, who served as the event’s moderator, explained that of the approximately 54,000 individuals registered to vote in the city, 38% are Latinos. Of the small number who voted in the 2012 primary, only 13% of those voters were Latino.

“Why don’t more Latinos vote in Hartford?” was the question that held this conversation together. Everyone had theories.

Panelist Victor Quinones said, “we are not educated politically.” People will vote all Democrat instead of thinking about the individual candidates.

“There is also the hours,” he said. Very few people stop by the polls between 6-9am, and then people work all day. He said the polls should open and close later. (more…)

Constituents Sold Out in “Agreement” on Flower Street

Van Norden, making an appearance to read a letter

Following the latest hearing at the Connecticut Department of Transportation, one community member asked, “How much does Hartford’s Deputy Corporation Counsel Van Norden get paid to do nothing more than show up and read straight from a letter the Mayor wrote?”

The same could be asked of all ConnDOT representatives, aside from Judith Almeida, the Department of Transportation’s staff attorney and only employee appearing prepared for Wednesday evening’s first of two Flower Street Closing reconsideration hearings.

How could anyone have been prepared to respond to the City of Hartford’s 180° pulled minutes before the beginning of the hearing? This reversal, issued by Mayor Segarra, has been viewed by some in the community as a betrayal to residents and businesses, as a show of spinelessness, and one more poor decision in a stream of recent questionable choices.

In late April, officials from the City met with residents and stakeholders to discuss how to best move forward with the situation. The majority view was to keep pushing back against the DOT and not settle. This is what was supposed to be relayed back to Mayor Segarra: the neighborhood won’t settle. It wants to fight.

The few who did think having some settlement between the City and the DOT was a practical option insisted on having everything drawn up in writing to give it teeth. If it were to settle, the City, as of April, was going to include in its demands having the DOT commit to spend $30 million on Capitol Avenue improvements, look at making Sigourney Street safer for cyclists, alter State policies regarding affordable housing in Hartford, and more.

Throughout that meeting, the consensus was that nobody wanted a $6 million ramp built over the busway that would likely need to be removed in a few years when the viaduct is removed.

What also emerged in that meeting was the deep distrust everyone at the table — including City of Hartford employees — have regarding the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Thomas Deller, the Director of Hartf’ord’s Department of Development Services said he was “appalled” by how CTfastrak has done its planning, categorizing it as “haphazard.” A resident said, “the City has been victimized by the DOT for decades.”

By all accounts, it seemed that the City was going to fight the best it could for its residents and business owners.

Instead, Mayor Segarra effectively threw Hartford under the busway. (more…)

When Every Vote Doesn’t Count in Hartford

In Hartford, the Working Families Party has displaced Republicans as the minority party on City Council. We have three Registrar of Voters because of the strength of this third party.

Knowing this makes Hartford’s recorded results from November’s presidential election seem unlikely. How can a city with a sizable progressive-minded population only have two votes for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, and none at all for Stephen Durham, the Freedom Socialist Party candidate for president?

It can’t. (more…)

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