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Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin Launches Reelection Bid, Cites Progress


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin wants a second term in office.

On Tuesday, he and his supporters stood on the steps of Hartford City Hall and launched a reelection campaign, touting accomplishments since 2016.

Since Bronin entered office, he has tackled the city’s budget, moving the city from the brink of bankruptcy to what he calls stability. He negotiated with the state and received a $550 million bailout and a five-year financial plan, which averted bankruptcy. In return, Hartford officials ceded some power to run the city.

He has also followed up on his promise to address blight. So far, he hired a full-time blight director who runs a blight remediation team that has revitalized 137 buildings.

And he is not done yet.

“We’ve got lots of work left to do. But we’ve got momentum and can’t afford to slow down now,” Bronin said.

Bronin, 39, will face Stan McCauley who launched his bid in November 2018, and Aaron Lewis who launched in December. 2018. Also rumored to run are State Rep. Brandon McGee and State Sen. Doug McCrory.

Bronin is vulnerable in his run for mayor, though. That’s because two years after he entered office, he launched a bid for governor. He was widely criticized by his opponents and encouraged by his supporters.

He also wrestled with the unions over concessions, leaving some dissatisfied. And some residents have complained about garbage and rodent problems that consume the city.

The challenges remain and Bronin said he has his performance in the last three years to build on.

“With crisis behind us, we’re going to focus relentlessly on those basic quality of life issues that matter in every neighborhood,” Bronin said. “But we have a path, and we have a plan. And I’m asking for your help to keep Hartford moving.

Bronin, who served as the legal counsel to former Governor Dannel P. Malloy, raised almost $1 million during his first bid for public office. He defeated the incumbent Mayor Pedro Segarra.

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Urban League of Greater Hartford Hires New President


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The Urban League of Greater Hartford has a new president: David J. Hopkins.

Hopkins, a primary care executive from Pittsburgh, was selected after a nationwide search. His first day was Jan. 15.

Urban League Board Chair Paul Dworkin said the search committee was fortunate to have recruited Hopkins from a large and extremely talented pool of national and local candidates.

“All who met with him were impressed by his leadership qualities and experience, his knowledge and educational background, his personal qualities and interpersonal skills and his passion and vision. We look forward to introducing David to our community.”

Hopkins is the former CEO of Primary Care Health Services, Inc, which is based in Pittsburgh, PA. At PCHS, he managed a $12 million budget and a staff of 150. He also worked as Senior Vice President at PNC Bank, where he financed projects for public entities.

He received his BA in Economics from Guilford College and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Pittsburgh’s Point Park University, where he is majoring in community engagement, advocacy and policy.

Hopkins said he was “humbled and honored to have been selected.”

“For more than 100 years, the Urban League has been esteemed for promoting economic, political and social equity, while boldly advocating for the empowerment, inclusion and interests of African Americans. I am excited to be a part of this work and look forward to joining the staff, partners and stakeholders in fulfilling our mission to reduce economic disparities in Greater Hartford.”

Hopkins replaced Adrienne Cochrane who served the League from 2010 t0 2018.

 

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Hartford Land Bank Receives $175K Grant to Address Blight


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Blighted properties in Hartford are scheduled to get some much needed attention.

Thanks to a $175,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. The grant will help the Hartford Land Bank to assess about 400 vacant and abandoned properties in the city.

“The Hartford Foundation is proud to support this collaborative community effort that will help to revitalize the City of Hartford to improve the quality of life for residents, attract new businesses and create jobs,” said Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams.

The Land Bank is a new arm of city hall that has the power to buy, manage and dispose of blighted properties in an effort to revitalize the city. It was created in 2017 with the help of a $5 million state grant.  The Land Bank is also a resource to assist vulnerable property owners, including the elderly, by providing resources they need to maintain their properties.

Laura Settlemyer is the enforcement director for the Blight Remediation Team that works with the Land Bank. The remediation team already consists of inspectors and enforcement officers. However, the city plans to hire national experts to survey properties in the city.  They will collaborate with the city’s Office of Community Engagement, Hartford GIS Services and the Hartford Youth Service Corps.

At a town hall meeting in October 2018, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the city has been looking at how it can be more effective in dealing with blight in the city.

Blight is a public health issue. According to a 2017 study by the Urban Institute, families living near vacant homes, abandoned buildings and vacant lots saw lower literacy scores for pre-k children and higher rates of chronic illness, stunted brain and physical development.

Other social impact include decreased property values and increased crime.

“Blighted properties have plagued our neighborhoods for decades, and that’s why we made it a priority from the very beginning to combat blight in an aggressive and systematic way,” Bronin said. “The Land Bank will help us accelerate that work and this generous funding will give us and all of our partners a more detailed roadmap for the entire city.”

Since 2017, 137 of blighted properties have been fixed up, officials said. The plan, they said, is to “use every tool we can.”

Bronin said the team is willing to work with property owners.

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Hartford Public Library Receives Grant to Address Opioid Overdose


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Hartford Public Library recently received a grant to arm staff with a lifesaving opioid reversal drug: naloxone.

Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Cigna Foundation. The grant comes amid a spike in opioid-related deaths in the state. According to officials, more people are dying of accidental overdose of opioid than from homicide, suicide and motor vehicle crashes.

In 2017, 1038 people across the state died from opioid overdose. Hartford had the highest number of fatalities, 58.

Library officials took steps to join other city workers, including firefighters and police officers, to combat the problem. Police officers and firefighters are already armed with naloxone, which reverses the effect of opioid overdose.

“As a public institution, we see that our entire community is impacted by the opioid crisis; it was clear that a rapid and robust response to the problems caused by opioid drug crisis was imperative,” said HPL CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey in a statement. “Hartford police, fire and ambulance personnel have been wonderful in helping us deal with overdose situations, but we also want to be ready for instances when emergency services cannot arrive in time.”

The money will help train staff and provide naloxone and CPR supplies. Library officials said they will also provide opioid abuse awareness materials in all libraries across the city. They will also work with the Greater Hartford Harm Reduction Coalition to host workshops and forums.

“Libraries like HPL are increasingly innovating around health education. We are proud to support this potentially life-saving initiative and commend HPL for its efforts to battle substance use disorders in our communities,” said Mary Engvall, executive director of the Cigna Foundation.

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Sen. Beth Bye to Resign to Join Ned Lamont’s Administration


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — State Sen. Beth Bye will resign to take a job with Gov. elect Ned Lamont’s administration.

Lamont picked Bye to lead Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood, which was created in 2013. She will help to develop a cohesive early childhood care and educational system.

“Beth Bye has devoted her entire professional career to helping to build a more progressive and equitable early childhood system in which all children, regardless of their parents’ socio-economic status, can grow, learn and develop,” Lamont said. “It’s clear that the formative early childhood years are jey to providing children a solid educational base and platform, and I know Beth is the best person to take the helm of this critical agency.”

Bye is a Democrat who represents the 5th Senate District, which includes West Hartford, Bloomfield, Burlington and Farmington. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2007 and then moved to the Senate in 2011. There will be a special election to fill Bye’s seat because she was reelected in November.

Currently, Bye is the executive director of Auerfarm, a Bloomfield-based community farm that hosts 15,000 student trips annually. Prior to that, Bye led Great by 8, a community partnership to develop a program that supports optimal health and educational outcomes for children ages birth to eight. She also worked as Early Childhood Director at the Capitol Region Education Council and was Director at Trinity College Community Child Center and the University of St. Joseph School for Young Children.

She will earn $155,000 in her new job.

“I am grateful to begin this next chapter in my career, leading an agency I helped to spearhead and create,” said Bye. “Connecticut’s children—all of them—represent  the future of our state, and deserve to have the tools and support necessary to develop, grow and thrive.”

 

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Ned Lamont Picks James Rovella for Commissioner


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD —  Gov. elect Ned Lamont has nominated a former Hartford Police Chief to be a commissioner.

Lamont tapped James Rovella, 60, to be the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s Commissioner.

Rovella has selected Regina Rush-Kittle of the Middletown Police as Deputy Commissioner for Emergency Management and Stavros Mellekas of the Connecticut State Police as State Police Colonel.

“James, Regina and Stavros are experienced law enforcement officers, having dedicated their lives to keeping our streets and communities safe in Connecticut,” Lamont said in a statement to the press. “I am proud to welcome these three dedicated public servants to my administration’s leadership team.”

Rovella began as a patrol officer with the Hartford Police Department. He was then promoted to homicide detective before he served 12 years for the office of the chief state’s attorney, where he became chief inspector and oversaw all medicaid fraud, financial and statewide criminal cases. In 2012, Rovella returned to Hartford to become its interim chief of police. He was then appointed permanent chief in August 2012. Rovella retired in February 2018.

“I thank Gov. elect Lamont for the trust he has placed in me to lead the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection,” Rovella said. “My decades in public safety have been guided by a commitment to building trust between law enforcement personnel and the local communities in which they serve. That priority will remain a focus as I work to make this state a safer home for all of our residents.”

Rovella will begin his duties on Jan. 9 and will make $183, 340. His nomination will be sent to the General Assembly for consent.

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Ebony Horsewomen Secures Grant for Cowboy Museum


HARTFORD — Ebony Horsewoman Inc. of Hartford is among a dozen cultural organizations to receive grants from the state.

The Department of Economic and Community Development’s Good to Great initiative funds projects that link art, history and tourism in ways that enable cultural and historical sites to enhance visitors’ experience. The funding is targeted for small to medium-size cultural organizations.

The list of $3 million in grants includes $50,000 to Ebony Horsewomen to build a barn and create a mini Black Cowboy Museum.

The funding can be used for a variety of needs, including construction, exhibit design and installation, planning and marketing. Recipients must provide a 25 percent cash match.

Other recipients include the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol with $150,000 to install a new energy efficient, air handling system with humidity control to protect the museum’s collection and improve visitors’ experience. The Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor also received $50,000 to complete its restoration.

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Latinas and Power Picks Keynote Speaker


HARTFORD — Latinas and Power, New England’s largest and most influential networking and professional development symposium for Latinas, recently announced its 2019 keynote speaker: Dr. Betty Uribe.

Uribe is a banking industry veteran, celebrated author, and nationally-renowned speaker. She will address the 16th Annual Latinas and Power Symposium, which will be held on May 16 at the Hartford Marriott Downtown at 200 Columbus Boulevard.

As an Executive Vice President for California Bank & Trust, a division of Zions Bancorp, Uribe runs the Greater Southern California Division, which is a $3.5 billion business line covering retail and business banking.
During Uribe’s tenure as Executive Vice President at CB&T, the financial institution has been named “Best Bank in Orange County,” for three consecutive years by the voting readers of The Orange County Register.
“I selected Dr. Betty, because when I met her at a Latina event in Mexico recently, I was immediately taken by her authenticity and ability to connect with people,” said Latinas and Power Symposium Founder Marilyn Alverio. “The Latinas & Power Symposium is all about identifying Latinas that are out here representing and articulating the important issue we face in today’s world. Her optimism is contagious. After reading her book #Value, I knew she was the right person to bring to Hartford, CT for our 16th annual symposium.”
As a significant thought leader in the financial and banking industry, Uribe is a recognized authority on the psychology of leadership, turnarounds, organizational structure, and peak performance. Her work is regularly featured on all forms of international, national and local media.
As an author, Uribe wrote #Values: The Secrets to Top Level Performance in Business and Life, which was selected by Inc. Magazine as one of the Top 60 Books on Leadership and also received an endorsement from the Vatican.
She has been honored consistently for her strategic intellect and humanitarian endeavors. Among the many honors bestowed upon Uribe are: First Woman in History to join the Rose Bowl Foundation Board; Fortune Magazine’s Top 50 Most Powerful Latinas in Business (2017 & 2018); and Pepperdine University’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award.
Registration and other speakers for Latinas and Power Symposium 2019 will be announced in the coming months.
For more info, visit: www.latinasandpower.com.

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Ned Lamont Selects Paul Mounds as First Chief Operating Officer


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Gov.-elect Ned Lamont selected a Hartford native and  public policy veteran to be the state’s first chief operating officer, one of 38 in the nation.

Lamont tapped Paul Mounds, 33,  to be the point person for all the state’s commissioners. Mounds will report to Ryan Drajewicz, Lamont’s chief of staff. The role aims to “enhance cross-agency collaboration and efficiency.”

Lamont, who is filling his cabinet to take the helm on Jan.9, made the announcement on Friday at the State Capitol.

“Paul is a relationship builder and someone who understands how the executive branch agencies can best be leveraged to create lasting and impactful change on behalf of the people of Connecticut,” Lamont said. “I welcome Paul back into state service and look forward to working closely with him particularly as we build our agency leadership teams and take on the challenge of building a more efficient, responsive government.”

Mounds currently works as vice president of policy and communications for the Connecticut Health Foundation. He informs and educates policymakers on issues related to health equity. He previously worked as the senior director of public policy and government relations for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Mounds began his career as an intern at the State Capitol. He worked as a press assistant and federal grants coordinator for U.S. Rep John Larson and a deputy director of outreach with Sen. Richard Blumenthal.  Moreover, Mounds was a member of the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Competitiveness.

He also serves as a Commissioner on the Connecticut Judicial Selection Commission and on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.

A graduate of Trinity College, Mounds was born in Hartford, raised in East Hartford and lives in Glastonbury with his wife and child.

“I am honored to join Gov. Elect Lamont’s administration and look forward to working collaboratively with agency commissioners and their teams to implement programs that will help support businesses and Connecticut citizens alike,” Mounds said. “In particular, using metrics and data to measure success will allow us to evaluate programmatic effectiveness on behalf of taxpayers.”

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Hartford to Hold Gun Buy Back Program This Saturday


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The Hartford Police Department will hold its annual “Gun Buy Back” program on Dec. 15.

The event will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Community Renewal Team 555 Windsor Ave.

Unwanted fire arms will be exchanged for Stop and Shop gift cards of up to $250 for assault rifles, $100 for handguns and revolvers and $25 for shot guns and rifles.

This will be the city’s 10th year in its initiative to help curb gun violence.

The effort is a part of the Capitol Region Gun Buyback Coalition’s initiative to bring awareness about gun violence prevention. Partners for the event are the State’s Attorney’s Office, Hartford Hospital, St. Francis Hospital and the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

In 2017, the city received 68 firearms, including 3 assault rifles, 1 machine gun, 25 pistols, 20 revolvers, 8 rifles, 8 shot guns and 3 Derringer.

Police said the guns must be delivered unloaded in clear plastic bags and ammunition must be delivered in a separate bag.

The guns will be destroyed after the event unless forensic testing shows that it was in a crime.

Guns can be turned in anonymously.

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