Tag Archive | "Mayor Pedro Segarra"

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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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Hartford To Hold Public Hearing On Budget


HARTFORD — The city will hold a public hearing on Mayor Pedro Segarra’s proposed budget Tuesday at Buckeley High School.

Segarra last week presented a $547 million budget, which he said does not include tax increases or layoffs.

This was welcome news for many residents, who struggle to pay the highest taxes in Greater Hartford. In some cases, taxes can be up to 18 percent.

Segarra took the helm last June after former Mayor Eddie Perez was found guilty of five felonies and resigned. At that time, Segarra said the city was in the red with a forecasted  $7 million deficit.

Last week, he said the city could end the year in the black.

To do that, the city has implemented a spending freeze and have chosen not to fill vacant positions.

WHAT: Public Hearing on Mayor Pedro Segarra’s Proposed Budget

WHERE: Buckeley High School  Auditorium, 300 Wethersfield Avenue

WHEN: 6 p.m.

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Hartford Mayor Presents Budget With No New Taxes


HARTFORD — The city of Hartford is facing no lay-offs, no tax rate increase, and no dip in the rainy-day fund.

So said Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra, who on Monday submitted his proposed 2011-12 budget to City Council.

Facing residents’ resistance to another tax increase, Segarra and his administration delivered a budget that “returns the City to the fiscal year 2008-09 spending levels.”  He said the proposed budget is $3.3 million, or .6 percent, larger than the previous year’s budget, and that increase is due to collective bargaining requirements and pension contributions.

Segarra said his budget invests in summer youth employment, economic development and job creation, and public safety by including new Police and Fire recruit classes.

The largest portion of the City’s budget, more than $283 million, is allocated to education, he said.

The deadline to adopt the budget is May 31.

A public hearing on the budget will be held on Tuesday, April 26 at 6:00 p.m. at Bulkeley High School Auditorium.

See budget here.

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Mayor Segarra Touts “Swift” Progress


HARTFORD — The city is making progress.

That was the gist of Mayor Pedro Segarra’s first state of the city address at City Hall on Monday.

In a 30-minute speech before residents, city workers and City Council members, Seggara listed his “bold and swift accomplishments.”

“We are a more transparent Hartford; a stronger Hartford, a more positive Hartford,” Segarra said.

He pointed out his achievements since June 25, 2010, when he replaced former Mayor Eddie Perez. Perez was convicted of four felonies in a corruption trial, but is credited for planting the seeds to some of the city’s progress.

The city demolished the H.B. Davis Building, also known as the “Butt Ugly” building. And a new downtown supermarket scheduled to open. The mayor also indentified a $7 million deficit for this year and an almost $18 million gap for next year.

In addition, the mayor—as a mayoral candidate—also laid out his long-term vision. His plans included investment in Hartford’s arts programs an “aggressively pursuing” economic development, a key to building the city’s image, he said.

“Hartford is the capital city,” he said. “We must look feel and act more like a capital city.”

But the mayor’s vision is lacking, according to Edwin Vargas, a mayoral candidate for the 2011 November election. Segarra failed to hit on major problems confronting the city. People want to see short-term goals like potholes filled.

Vargas also, however, credited Segarra for identifying key issues. But, he said, the mayor “is now a figure head allowing the daily bureaucracies to continue.”

The appointment of Christine Kishimoto and the board of education’s administrative bonuses, while the city cut key city employees and school programs, loomed over the mayor’s speech. In addition, the mayor did not insert in his speech stories about residents like, 41-year-old Omayra Vargas, who lost her job when Goodwin Hotel closed. She said she called the city for help, but the city could only provide limited help with her rent. Now, she’s homeless.

Segarra only hinted, by alluding to additional issues that encased the city, saying there is more to be done. In the words of Mother Theresa, he said his work was “just a drop in the ocean.”

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Hartford School Board Should Start New Superintendent Search


FEATURED LETTER

It’s unfortunate that Christina Kishimoto had to face the news that her celebratory evening had to be canceled because Mayor Pedro Segarra called for a national search for a new school superintendent.

Hello! There is a reason Segarra did that. He found out that [David] Medina was engineering news coverage to place Kishimoto in a glowing light. If that is true, how is that fair to the other candidate—or would-be candidates who already read about the apparent pick?

I think the mayor had to step in.

The school district’s press guy was advocating for Kishimoto to the press, calling her  the best qualified. Then you had parents who were supposed to be watching out for things like this, repeating the phrase “best qualified” like puppets.

By the way, those are code words. And most people who know the business of human resources understand that phrase means they had an excuse to skip affirmative action hiring procedures.

The board of education should know better. And Kishimoto should also know better and accept that the process was tainted.  That’s not how anyone should fill a vacancy in a tax-funded entity.

It’s unclear where we should put the blame. But with conflict of interest on almost all sides of this process, side deals and perceived pay offs and only two candidates available in the selection – this search deserves to be upended.

In a system filled with cronyisms and political appointments, the board should have considered the implication of having only two candidates for this important job.

That is a dangerous message to send, no matter who feels Kishimoto was the best qualified. And stop talking about the economy and the need to skip corners. The board found $15,000 for a proposed nonprofit parent group. Saying the search would be cost-prohibitive is only an excuse to skirt the long established process—put in place for a reason.

The Hartford school system is unique in that it is segregated from its suburban counterparts with more than 95 percent black and Latino students. It’s also the home of the school desegregation case, Sheff v. O’Neill. It is notorious for turning away qualified black and brown teachers and administrators, including me.

The whole process needs to be scrapped and start over again. The school board should forget perceptions at this point and really think about the students, who include my nieces and nephews.

Arlene B., East Hartford

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Hartford Hosts ‘Brazil Trade Day’


HARTFORD —  Mayor Pedro E. Segarra welcomed a delegation of Brazilian government and business officials yesterday to Hartford, as they gathered with more than 100 businesspeople from throughout the Northeast during a day-long roundtable on Global Exporting.

The “Brazil Trade Day” conference was hosted by the law firm of Shipman & Goodwin LLP in conjunction with the Connecticut District office of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“My administration and I are taking a proactive approach to trade and exports to better connect our local businesses and entrepreneurs with counterparts throughout the world…. We must continue to act locally and think globally by sharing our products and ideas,” Segarra said.

Included at the conference were representatives from U.S. aerospace component manufacturing, medical technology, IT, environmental technology, and general manufacturing companies. Brazil is the 8th largest economy in the world and the biggest in South America.

The purpose of Brazil Trade Day was to provide American businesses with information about how to export their products and services to Brazil and other countries in order to become more successful.

In featured photo: Atty. Scott L. Murphy, Managing Partner, Shipman & Goodwin LLP; Anne Evans, District Director, U.S. Department of Commerce; Hartford Mayor Pedro SegarraAmbassador Ronaldo Dunlop, Consul General of the Consulate of Brazil in Hartford; Pedro Murilo Ortega Terra, Deputy Consul General of the Consulate General of Brazil in    New York; and Paul Johnson, Honorary Consul of the Consulate of Brazil in Philadelphia, Pa.

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Gov. Dan Malloy Sets Tone For Incoming Administration


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — In his first speech after being sworn in on Wednesday at the Armory, Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy pledged to leave the state better than when his administration found it.

He added that the state was at a “cross roads of crisis and opportunity” but with much work and sacrifice, there could be “shared prosperity for everyone in Connecticut.” He also highlighted aspects of the state’s economic crises, including an estimated $3.5 billion budget deficit, unfriendly employer environment, and schools saddled with inadequate educational resources.

Connecticut’s 88th governor vowed to focus on the building an economy for the 21st century by engaging in “shared sacrifices” by the next generation that is here. And that gave Mayor Pedro Segarra hope.

Before the 21-gun salute outside the armory, Segarra said he was optimistic about Wednesday’s transfer of power to the first Democratic governor in 20 years.

Mayor Pedro Segarra

“I’m very hopeful. It all starts with the desire to do good,” Segarra said. “He invited me to his transition team. There’s a dialogue. Now, it’s a matter of doing the hard work…the collaboration to make things happen.”

That air of collaboration is already noticeable by Imam Kashif Abduk-Karim of Muhammad Islamic Center of Greater Hartford, who gave the benediction at Malloy’s inaugural ceremony.  City Council invited the Imam to pray before its meeting but then rescinded the offer after what City Council President r jo Winch said was an overwhelming response to the news: numerous emails laced with racist and islamaphobic comments. That was apparently not an issue for Malloy’s administration.

Karim said he has faith in Malloy’s governance.

Imam Kashif Abduk-Karim

“Malloy has good moral character,” Karim said. “He’s someone who appreciates diversity and is willing to work with the community. He did it during his campaign.”

Malloy also made good on a few campaign promises. In an effort to set the tone for his administration, he signed three executive orders that are aimed at fiscal responsibility and honest budgeting, and transparency in and continuity of government, according to a press release moments after his address to the joint house in session in the General Assembly.

“These executive orders will open this new chapter in our state the right way,” Malloy said. “By signing an order mandating that our state begin to transition into Generally Accepted Accounting Principles – the same standard used in other states, Fortune 500 companies and required of municipalities – we will begin to move toward honest budgeting and fiscal responsibility.

And although there were not many specifics on just how the hard work and sacrifice would unfold, Malloy gave a few hints in his speech to the General Assembly.

“It will require us to think differently. To compare how things have been done in the past, and to take a different path forward,” he said.

He added that I was not going to be easy. But he was confident “people are willing to make sacrifices…sacrifices with a purpose.”

Photos by Andrew Williams.

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City Begins Destruction of Blighted Building


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — The Claw. Aaargh. Who-ooh! Yeaah.

Those were the audible sounds heard as city officials gathered Thursday to say goodbye to the H.B. Davis building, a symbol of Hartford’s stagnant and scandalous past.

The now infamous building, otherwise known as the “Butt Ugly Building,” is one of the many blighted buildings that will soon be banished from sight and–what city officials hope–memory.

Flanked by city Councilmembers, staff and other interested parties, Mayor Pedro Segarra’s opening statements pronounced the claw crunching ceremony part of an ongoing effort to prepare for Hartford’s future.

“By demolishing this dilapidated building” Segarra said. “We connect the progress of our downtown to our neighborhoods, enhance our arts and heritages venues, and provide better scenery for our residents and visitors.  This will be very inviting for future developers.”

One city developer agreed.

“This is yet another important step in the economic development of Hartford and in enhancing the beauty of the City,” said Mark Wolman, Principal of Waterford Group. Wolman is one of the chief developers in championing development in downtown Hartford, including the Six Pillars development that includes the Convention Center and the Sheraton Hotel.

City officials plan to have the building demolished by Nov. 15.

Segarra said his preference for the now vacant 100 acres of land on prime real estate acquired by the city is to see it filled with mixed-use buildings with apartments, shopping centers and businesses.

Mayor Pedro Segarra is flanked by citycouncil members and city staff

The former department store building at 1161-63 Main St., now with a decrepit façade and cracked windows, was built in the 1920s. About 10 years ago, Chapel Equities, LLC and Edwards Development, LLC bought the building and has been “sitting on it” for years, officials said.

But recently, the city negotiated a price and the owner apparently agreed to release his grip.

But why now?

Well, the building is the centerpiece in the corruption trial of former Mayor Eddie Perez. In the summer, city developer Joseph Citino testified for the state prosecutors that Perez asked him to “take care” of North End politico, former state Rep. Abraham Giles. The deal, according to Citino, was for Giles to get a $100,000 payment from him to vacate the parking lot adjoining the building, so he could begin a commercial and residential complex. That plan faltered.

After a jury in June found Perez guilty of five felony corruption charges, including extortion and coercion, he resigned. Prosecutors charged Giles with first-degree attempted larceny and first-degree conspiracy to commit larceny.

The city’s redevelopment in August secured a deal with Chapel Equities and Edwards Development for $625, 000, officials said. It cost another $312,000 to demolish it.

The city has been trying to negotiate with the owner for about 10 years, said project developer Mark Swiatowitec.

It’s unclear why the owner agreed to sell the property. But if he didn’t agree, the city was prepared to move to the next phase: eminent domain.

That’s because the building is sitting on prime real estate, the gateway to downtown Hartford and right next to I-84. And it was blocking progress on the city’s plan for the “Downtown North Project,” officials said. The project includes development in the Clay Arsenal neighborhood that abuts the north side of downtown.

Indeed, it was a joyous moment for many who were present on a gray and drizzly day in Hartford, said one onlooker as she watched the orange Manafort claw clutched the mangled steel frames that held dilapidated walls together. The sound of the iron creaking above traffic zooming by was the culmination of a “monumental task.”

Segarra basked in that moment.

“There’s a lot of pessimism in the city,” Segarra said. “This is a way to move toward optimism.”

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HDTC Seeks Candidates To Endorse For Segarra’s Council Seat


HARTFORD — A couple of lawyers, several civil servants and one resident with a criminal record were among the interested persons seeking to fill Mayor Pedro Segarra’s council seat, vacated when he became mayor in June.

Each candidate fir the position gave a five-minute speech at a Democratic Town Committee meeting on Monday at Hartford Public Library.

The meeting was a high-profile push toward transparency in the city’s democratic process under Segarra’s administration. For years, the DTC process has been cloaked in secrecy and filled with cronyism among different ethnic group members, who do little outreach to residents left out of the process. According to a recent Yankee Institute study, many high-profile DTC members are city or state employees and are relatives of someone who works in the public sector.

At yesterday’s meeting of familiar faces in city politics, there were few “new comers.”

Arnaldo Jose Seirra, a local lawyer who self identifies as half Puerto Rican and half Irish, vowed to give Hartford residents “all the fight he has” in him if he were to be selected. Alexander Aponte, another lawyer born in Puerto Rico, distributed his resume and gave a polished yet subdued speech about his abilities to be a councilman. He is a former city staff attorney in Hartford and New Britain.

In contrast, Marita Ayala, an Afro-Latino who moved from Puerto Rico to Hartford in 1968 was unpolished but passionate about her desire to serve the city on the council. And Hartford Police Department employee Naima Shabazz has first-hand experience seeing city’s budget in action. When asked how she would balance the city budget, she said she would ask departments not to spend “left over money” at the end of the fiscal year on matters such as educational trips or furniture “just to spend up the money”  at the end of the fiscal year, so they can get the same amount in their budget the following year.

Then there’s Raul DeJesus, a former mayoral candidate for Hartford. He was 20 in 2007 when he took up that challenge. Now three years later, he wants to “give people access to city hall” as a member of the city council. 

Board of Education Vice Chair David McDonald (at the microphone in the photo) said he has demonstrated his capabilities on the school board, and this experience should prepare him for sitting on the city council.

A Hartford resident and close friend of former Mayor Eddie Perez, Victor Lula, began his five-minute speech by dispelling rumors that he had a criminal background.

“It’s a misdemeanor,  not a felony,” he said as he distributed copies of his criminal background report from the city police department.

The DTC is expected to grade each candidate and make a decision soon, said former Councilman Lou Watkins. 

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