Tag Archive | "Mayor Pedro Segarra"

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Whitey’s Towing Should Be Topic of Concern at Hearings on Hartford’s Parking Problems

Updated April 23, 2014, 4;00 p.m.

As part of its efforts to improve parking accommodations in downtown, Mayor Pedro Segarra and his administration recently held a kick-off meeting at the Hartford Public Library to get feedback about downtown parking. Stakeholders, including residents, business owners and visitors, were invited to give input.

Here’s our input.

For years, Whitey’s Inc. has been known for its predatory towing tactics. And year after year, the city of Hartford gives this company unconditional support by turning a blind eye to the mountain of complaints to out-of-touch politicians, who have special parking spaces at the downtown library and other compounds.

editorialbannerthumbFor years, Whitey’s would hook up people’s cars, some of which were parked legally, and towed them across town. And car owners would be charged a fee of more than $100 to retrieve each car.

For years, Whitey’s would target the most vulnerable populations in the city. And the workers seemingly relish doing so because of the company’s contract with the city of Hartford and their support from the Hartford Police Department. The company seemingly has carte blanche access to people’s cars.

 Reports of cars that were legally parked and then got towed have been mounting over the years. And Whitey’s still have a contract with the city.

tow_trucks_003On March 20, 2014, Whitey’s towed a 2013 Silver Subaru Impreza from a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot on Washington Street, across the street from Hartford Hospital after a Hartford Guardian editor went inside to get coffee and sat in there for about two hours before walking across the street to do business. When she returned, the car was gone.

We have done a brief survey, including checking in Avon, where the owner of that Dunkin’ Donut shop lives. And we have yet to find a these parking policies in Avon and other surrounding towns. We understand this kind of behavior if these parking lots were full to capacity by non customers, and other customers had nowhere to park. But no. In this case, the parking lot was half-empty.

But our run in, though costly, is minor in comparison to the horror stories we’ve heard over the years–since the 1990s. And if you live, work or play in Hartford, you’ve been a victim. Or you have friends who were victims of Whitey’s and the company’s tactics. Most of these victims, unfortunately, are black people.

There are also cries of racism when these victims interact with the all-white, working class drivers at—gosh darn it–Whitey’s. They are known to prey on Hartford residents and visitors with its “trespass tow” spiel.

A casual survey of the Better Business Bureau’s site on the number and nature of complaints about Whitey’s and the company’s attitude toward customers who shop in downtown and other parts of the city cannot go unnoticed.

One woman wrote a detailed report of her painful ordeal with Whitey’s. And like many other victims of this particular company, she felt targeted. She writes: “I am writing this complaint because I was treated horribly and possibly discriminated against.”

How many more complaints does the city need to take decisive action? Why is this contract in place for so long to further oppressed already oppressed people? And why are these towing policies by Dunkin’ Donuts only in Hartford?

These and more questions should be addressed soon, Mayor Segarra. The city can find the issues laid out in the mountain of complaints that already exists.

Otherwise, the city’s gesture will only serve as a pretense to assuage the latest victims.

So before the city spends thousands of dollars on marketing campaigns that invite people to shop downtown, it should focus on making sure they can park without worrying about their cars being towed if they cross the street to visit another shop or business.

Who wants to get into a car to drive across the street–just to do business? Think about it.

If city officials really care about people’s concerns about parking downtown or other parts of Hartford, it would seek first to end its relationship with companies such as Whitey’s.


Photo: Wethepeople.com

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The Kennard Ray Episode Is No Reason to Change Ban-the-Box Policy

It’s foolhardy to believe that Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, a lawyer by trade, did not know his recent hire had a criminal background. And we hope the mayor does not use this episode as an excuse to change the city’s ban-the-box policy, a measure that the Hartford City Council passed in 2010 and which prevents the City from doing background checks until individuals are hired. The aim is to hire people based primarily on their qualifications.

On Tuesday City Hall announced two new staff appointments, one of which was a political and legislative director for the Working Families Party of Connecticut, 32-year-old Kennard Ray. On the next day, a newspaper ran a story about Ray’s criminal record.  Ray, a Hartford native, was to begin his job in the mayor’s office on Dec. 2 as a liaison to the city council, community organizations and city residents. In less than 24 hours, that changed because Ray “withdrew his name from consideration.”

Ray’s background check revealed a conviction in 1997  for the sale of narcotics, in 1998  for possession of narcotics, in 1998 for carrying a pistol without a permit and in 2004 for criminal possession of a gun.  The city’s policy is to conduct background checks on candidates by their first day of employment. Officials said they were now looking to change that policy.

On the surface, it seemed like many people at city hall want the mayor to look incompetent. The mayor, however, is not incompetent. Besides, Segarra has command of the police department and has access to legal databases with extensive court records. He could have—and might have—done his own homework. Therefore, The Hartford Guardian is slow to believe this was a political blunder.

editorialbannerthumb Nevertheless, we are quick to say that the mayor should not reverse the much- needed policy change that impacts structural inequality in the city. He should keep the ban-the-box policy. Here’s why: Because the seeds planted decades ago, there are stark inequities firmly in place today to keep people oppressed and excluded. It’s only now we are beginning to see attempts to address those disparities. Let’s continue forward—not backward.

Also, given the state of police and community interactions in the city and the state, where many police officers have actually lied on their incident reports, this should have been context for a story like Ray’s. It’s also one reason why the ban-the-box policy, a tool for removing the barriers to hiring, had been implemented across the nation. The policy helps to chip away at many of the obstacles for a segment of  society that has double the unemployment rate of white America.

Consider this fact: black and brown people are disproportionately targeted, searched and arrested by police. In some cases, research has shown that police fabricate stories, and courts rubber stamp them with outrageous sentences for these crimes.

But even if Ray was not a victim of this common history, he–like  former Gov. John Rowland and other white individuals with criminal records–should have been given a second chance.

Rowland is a convicted felon. Yet others have found a way to explain Rowland’s redemptive qualities and his qualifications. And they gave him a very public job.

Besides, research shows that because of blatant discrimination, a white man without a college degree and with a criminal record is likely to get hired rather than a college educated black person without a criminal record for comparable jobs.

Good grief to that, too.

Onlookers see this as another chapter in the book of double standards.  And they should.

The mayor should have refused Ray’s resignation, and Ray should have had more gumption to argue his own case.

If anything is to be learned from this latest episode at city hall, it is this:  Segarra should realize that the people who wrote the article that spurred this recent episode have different realities than most of his constituents–no matter how many black friends they have on Facebook. Segarra’s obligation—first and foremost—is to his constituents. And if Ray would have served them well during this position at city hall, there should have been no room to equivocate on his hiring. None.

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Hartford Mayor Selects Agency For Police Search

HARTFORD — Hartford moved closer to hiring a new police chief by announcing the agency selected to do a national search

Mayor Pedro E. Segarra on Wednesday announced the selection of the Strategic Policy Partnership to conduct the search for a new police chief for the Hartford Police Department. The former chief, Daryl Roberts retired in December after 30 years of service with the department.

Segarra said he was pleased with the agency chosen to shepherd this search.

“After an exhaustive process, I am pleased to announce the selection of the Strategic Policy Partnership,” Segarra said. “I look forward to working with Strategic Policy Partnership to implement a search process that not only brings the best candidates forward but also respects Hartford’s community policing philosophy.”

The Strategic Policy Partnership is a group of public safety and public policy experts who assist police and government agencies with policing strategy development and personnel selection.  The Strategic Policy Partnership is the chaired by Robert Wasserman, who has an extensive career in law enforcement, and served as a senior executive in Boston, MA, and other large cities.

A total of five firms submitted Requests for Proposals.

City officials said the search process is expected to take several months.


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Science Center Offers Free Access To City Residents

HARTFORD — One nonprofit organization is giving back to city residents.

The Connecticut Science Center and the City of Hartford are partnering to make science learning and summer fun opportunities available to all residents this August and creating a special science experience through city youth organizations.

Beginning Aug. 1, all Hartford residents will have access to free general admission to the Science Center in Downtown Hartford during the month of August, by picking up free Science Center passes at any Hartford Public Library branch.

“My office and the Connecticut Science Center believe very strongly that we must connect all of our residents, especially our youth, with the best assets and opportunities that our community has to offer,” said Mayor Pedro E. Segarra. “We hope that many of our residents will be able to take advantage of this exciting, educational and inspiring experience at the Connecticut Science Center during the final month of summer vacation.”

Free Science Center admission is only available through passes received at Hartford Public Library branches. Passes will be awarded to residents providing library staff with proof of residency, which may include current driver’s license, library card or recently received US mail showing current name and address.

Residents will need to show proof of current Hartford residency at the library location and at the Connecticut Science Center. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Movie tickets are not included in the coupon. Certain restrictions apply.

City Youth Science Initiative The City and the Science Center also announced a new science education initiative to reach young people served by youth organizations in Hartford. The Science Center, with the support of City of Hartford funding, is organizing field trips to the Science Center for about 460 youth through organizations city-wide, and outreach science education programs for approximately 14 youth programs representing another 350 children.

“We are extremely pleased to partner with our home city of Hartford to expand access for our closest neighbors,” said Matt Fleury, president & CEO of the Connecticut Science Center.”

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To Some, Wooden’s Withdrawal Is No Suprise

By Ann-Marie Adams, Op-Ed Columnist

Shawn Wooden is a curious fellow.

Not long after giving an impassioned speech about plans to be Hartford’s next elected mayor, he mysteriously quit.

The recent news of his withdrawal from the mayoral race was strange, even within the context of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s intervention. It was also shocking to some, but not to those following the machinations of Hartford’s political underbelly.

Wooden, a prodigal son of Hartford, returned from New York several years ago and recently began pursuit of his long-held political ambition: to be the third black mayor of  Hartford.  Thirman Milner was the first in 1981 until 1987. Carrie Saxon Perry was the second in 1987 until 1993. Wooden was Perry’s assistant and a rising political star.

To some, Wooden had the mayoral timber to be “the next one.”  Had he continued on as the top contender to Mayor Pedro Segarra and won, he would have defied naysayers who said there will never be another black mayor in Hartford. Instead, Wooden raised then shattered the hope of many.

So for some residents, he still has some explanation to do.

But to others, an explanation isn’t necessary. Wooden’s political pivot was inevitable.  Perhaps the essence of this inevitability lies in Wooden’s past in Project Concern, a school program that bussed Hartford students into the suburbs.

Wooden, while in Manchester High School, said he learned how to navigate his way around stereotypes about blacks. He apparently developed what some would call “engaging characteristics” appealing to suburban whites.  His experience exposed him to other children, (usually whites) who “expected to succeed.” This was a touted benefit of the program that began in 1966.

But few talked about the  psychological harm to some impressionable black teenagers in an all-white world perceived as ideal, especially ones without a solid foundation in their own history and thier people’s contributions to society. Was Wooden affected in such way? I don’t know.

But this much I do know: Wooden walked away learning how to negotiate a white world, but failed to learn how to navigate the old neighborhood he left behind.  So when he went knocking on doors there, few people warmed up to him.

As the story goes, Wooden left the neighborhood to achieve for himself and his family. And as one resident said: “He didn’t achieve for us.” Hey, I have yet to hear a story of Wooden doing pro bono work as a lawyer in his old neighborhood.

In addition, his wife was supposedly adamant about not placing their sons into the Hartford Public School system. So to some, it was like this: “If your kids are too good to be in school with our children, you don’t need to be my mayor.”

While Wooden racked up record amounts of money for his mayoral campaign, his letter-writing campaign to solicit support from several Democratic Town Committee members resulted in naught.

And although he had the inside political connection, his campaign message lacked appeal to those outside city hall. His message was mostly tailored to corporate Hartford and to the suburbs rather than to Hartford residents. He also sent his press releases to media houses that cater to suburbanites, rather than to local neighborhood and ethnic press focused on Hartford.

Besides that political blunder, there was the issue of his hiring “an Indian from Ohio and a white girl from Kansas” to run his campaign, said Butch Lewis, who said he’s supporting Segarra.

“They couldn’t even find their way from downtown Hartford to Mahl Street,” Lewis said.  “He met with us and told us we’re not ‘intelligent enough’ to run his campaign.”


If that was actually true, Wooden showcased the same arrogance espoused by his friend and former mayor of Washington, D.C., Adrian Fenty. Fenty was perceived as someone who snubbed D.C.’s black community. He was reportedly insulting to D.C. taxi drivers, who on election day, galvanized. From sun up to sun down, taxi drivers volunteered to take people to the polls for free—all in an effort to vote out Fenty. Apparently Fenty forgot that these “foreign” taxi drivers were also citizens who could vote.

Here in Hartford, some African Americans had already decided they wouldn’t give Wooden a chance to get in as mayor—no matter how much money he amassed. Wooden’s decision to withdraw from the mayoral race may have been calculated several weeks ago. The questions Wooden had to face then were: how and when.

But the question he will face as he continues on as candidate for the Hartford city council is: why?



Ann-Marie Adams, Ph.D.

Ann-Marie Adams, Ph.D. writes a bi-weekly column for The Hartford Guardian. Follow her on Twitter and FacebookSend letters to The Editor : editor@thehartfordguardian.com

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Hartford Announces Shooting Task Force

HARTFORD — Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra today announced the reinstatement of the Shooting Task Force and the investment in the ShotSpotter camera system.

Segarra said the Hartford Police Department partnered with the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office, as well as state and federal agencies to prevent “future acts of gun violence and help bring resolution to open cases.”

The Shooting Task Force will be composed of the Office of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Hartford, the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, the Connecticut State Police, the Department of Correction and the East Hartford, Manchester and West Hartford police departments. It will work with the Violent Crimes Bureau and the Witness Protection Unit in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney and in conjunction with the Central Connecticut Cold Case Task Force.

Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane said that this partnership will build on a “successful collaborative approach that we have utilized to solve cold cases.”

Anyone with information can contact the tip line at 1-866-623-8058, by mail at P.O. Box 962, Rocky Hill, CT 06067 or by email at cold.case@po.state.ct.us. There is also Hartford’s anonymous tip line — Hartford Crime Stoppers:  (860) 722-TIPS (8477).





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Hartford Adopts ‘Ban the Box’ Policy

HARTFORD — Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra announced Wednesday a change in the city’s recruitment and application policy that makes it more inclusive and more competitive.

According to a statement issued on Wednesday evening, the measure was “effective immediately.”

The statement went on to say that Hartford is instituting a policy change that will mirror what other cities in Connecticut are doing to best implement the “ban the box” initiative.

With the exception of Public Safety positions, this change eliminates information collection regarding criminal convictions and records information at the earliest stages of the recruit process.  Instead, this information will be obtained only when a candidate is extended a conditional offer of employment.

“I support this change because it eliminates the stigma of a wrong choice or bad decision and promotes a quicker avenue for positive re-entry.  It will also provide many otherwise very qualified candidates a second chance and an opportunity to be a productive resident in our city and in our society,” Segarra said.

However, other reports already have Hartford listed as having banned the box since 2010.

According to a July 2010  report from the National League of Cities (NLC) and National Employment Law Project (NELP), an increasing number of cities have decided to “ban the box” and remove questions on job applications asking about criminal records.

The report – “Cities Pave the Way: Promising Reentry Policies that Promote Local Hiring of People with Criminal Records” – features 23 cities and counties that have chosen to “ban the box” on their job applications that asks about an applicant’s criminal record, and defer the criminal background check to the final stages of the hiring process.

The report states that since San Francisco chose to “ban the box” from job applications in 2004, 22 other cities and counties have enacted similar ordinances or policies. The report notes that five cities – Bridgeport, CT; Hartford, CT; Kalamazoo, MI; Memphis, TN; and Worcester, MA – have joined the “ban the box” movement.

Read more here





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Greater Hartford Mayors React to Malloy’s ‘Plan B’ Budget

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — While many have blasted Gov. Dannel Malloy’s switch to a so-called “Plan B” budget, at least two mayors have applauded this move.

That’s because so far, Plan B hasn’t shifted more tax burdens onto municipalities, as they have been accustomed to in the past, according to two mayors from Greater Hartford.

Hartford, East Hartford and West Hartford mayors on Wednesday briefly discussed the statewide debate over Malloy’s decision to begin 4,742 layoffs after talks with the state employees’ union stalled Monday night. Malloy is asking the union to concede $2 billion over two years. And he chose the to lay off employees instead “shifting the burden on municipalities. For these mayors, it’s a “wait and see situation.” But, they said, they know one thing.

Scott Slifka

“Gov. Malloy finally brought a perspective of a mayor to that office,” said West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka at a gathering in Hartford Wednesday. “And he [proposed a budget] exactly as a mayor would.”

Republicans are calling for no more tax increases and have pointed to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cumo. Both men went against raising taxes. Slifka said they solved their budget problems by shifting the burden of tax increases onto towns.

“Those two solve their budget problems on the backs of municipalities,” he said. He added that their choices were either to decrease services or increase taxes.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said he was pleased with Malloy’s proposed budget and his Plan B choice, so much so that he plans to give Malloy the fourth key to the city.

“There’s just no way we could switch that kind of burden on tax payers in the city,” Segarra said.”

Marcia Leclerc

Although, Malloy had pledged not to hurt cities, East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc expressed concerns about state aid to towns, especially the payment in lieu of taxes or, PILOT, which is a big chunk of most town budgets.

Mayoral candidate Edwin Vargas via phone said laying off state workers would also be hurting municipalities. Those state workers, he said, live in towns and cities. If they get laid off, they would have to tap safety net services in cities.

Up to 5,000 state workers could be laid off if the union and the governor’s administration fail to reach an agreement. Other cuts proposed in the Plan B budget include the closing the Commission on Human and Opportunities, 17 vocation technical high schools, state library and prisons.

In a New York Times report, a union spokesman, Larry Dorman, said Malloy’s $40.1 billion budget demands are too much.  He added: “like all middle class families, are already paying 10 percent of our income in state and local taxes, while millionaires are only paying 5 percent of their income and some of our largest corporations are paying little or no taxes at all.”



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Mayor, Other Officials Discuss Black and Latino Male Academic Retention

HARTFORD — Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and CCC President Dr. Wilfredo Nieves were two of the panelists at the 2nd annual education/legislative forum at Capital Community College.  The discussion focused on the importance and the impact of Black and Latino males graduating from college.

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Holocaust Documentary Informs the Present With the Past

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Never again.

It’s a saying many Jews know very well. But the meaning of this phrase has rarely echoed beyond the Jewish community.

One Emmy award-winning film director intends to change that with his documentary, The Rescuers.  Former Hartford resident Michael King delivers an exquisitely crafted 90-minute film that sets out to pay tribute to 12 diplomats, who defied their government. They risked lives and careers to save thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.

Simultaneously, the film attempts to unpack the mystery of the words “never again” and to make the past meaningful in the present as it follows British historian Sir Martin Gilbert and Rwandan human rights advocate Stephanie Nyombayire (in featured photo with Michael King and Britain’s Prince Charles) on a gut-wrenching journey that traces past crimes against humanity and explores the mystery of goodness.

King and Joyce Mandell, the film’s executive producer, attended a private reception and screening Friday at the Avery Memorial Theatre of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.

The event was a part of Hartford’s tribute to the National Days of Remembrance from May 1-8. Mayor Pedro Segarra gave the opening remarks of what will be a weeklong display at the Hartford Public Library. The theme, “Justice and Accountability in the Face of Genocide:  What Have We Learned” marks the 65th anniversary of the first Nuremberg trial and the 50th anniversary of Adolf Eichmann Hitler.

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