The city’s latest gun buy-back program, held Saturday at the Community Renewal Team headquarters on Windsor Street, brought in more than 82 firearms, police said.
Among the guns collected were two derringers, 16 pistols, 32 rifles, 16 shotguns and one assault rifle. In exchange for the guns, Stop & Shop gift cards were distributed. Organizers offered a $150 gift card for an assault rifle, $75 gift card for a handgun and $25 gift card for a shotgun or rifle.
The program, in its fifth year, began with a push from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford Hospital and St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, where physicians viewed the deaths from accidental shootings, youth suicide and street gunfire as a public health crisis. Guns not safely stored can end up in the wrong hands, they said.
Two more gun buy-backs are planned for August and December.
To view the police department’s press release about the results of Saturday’s collection, click here: 2013_05_18_CRGBBP_PressRelease_JWK Edits
Democrats on the city council have said they want to minimize the amount of money taken from the city’s rainy day fund to help balance the 2013-14 budget. Mayor Pedro Segarra’s budget proposal calls for the withdrawal of $13.5 million from the fund, which currently has about $26 million.
One council member, Democrat Kenneth Kennedy, said today that after further discussions, some of his colleagues have decided they don’t want to draw any money from the fund. When the council meets to amend the mayor’s budget Monday, they’ll likely propose $13.5 million in additional cuts to city departments, so the rainy day fund isn’t depleted at all.
Segarra’s budget already calls for $47.7 million in cuts, which would reduce 15 of the city’s 20 departmental budgets.
“I’m afraid if we take half the money out of the rainy day fund it will have a negative consequence on our bond rating, and it will cost more for us to borrow,” Kennedy said Thursday. “It’s fiscally irresponsible to take that much money out of the rainy day fund.
“You have to think about this short- and long-term. A lot of these decisions are short-term decisions. We don’t have any long-term revenue solutions.”
He wasn’t specific about which departments would face further reductions, though he did say police and fire would likely be cut by the council. Segarra has proposed increasing the police department budget by $3.4 million next year, saying public safety has remained a priority. But Kennedy said that increase would probably be reduced.
More vacant city positions also would probably be eliminated, he said, though he didn’t say how many. Segarra’s budget calls for the freezing of more than 100 vacant positions.
In the coming months, Kennedy said, he will propose that the council not approve the mayor’s memorandum of understanding with the city treasurer. The issue likely will come up later in May or in June, he said.
Segarra has said he would draft a memorandum of understanding with the treasurer that allows the city to pay about $13 million in pension contributions during the course of the next fiscal year. The rest of the contributions — about $24.3 million — are built into Segarra’s budget proposal. The agreement allows the mayor to balance the budget without a tax rate increase.
“The memorandum of understanding is irresponsible because we’ll have to take money out of the rainy day fund to pay it,” Kennedy said. “If we do it the mayor’s way we won’t have a rainy day fund left at the end of the [2013-14] year.”
Officials at city hall said this afternoon that Saundra Kee Borges, who was appointed chief operating officer by the mayor in March, has withdrawn her nomination for the position. The mayor said in statement Monday that he has named Albert G. Ilg to “serve as a temporary part-time employee to assist with the transition and to work with city council members and department heads to design the process for the permanent COO selection.”
Council members said today that Kee Borges, whose appointment as COO would have had to be approved by the council, didn’t have the support of the panel.
Kee Borges will remain corporation counsel. The mayor had nominated Juan Figueroa to replace Kee Borges as the city’s top lawyer. That nomination also will likely be withdrawn, Maribel La Luz, the mayor’s spokeswoman, said Monday.
STATEMENT FROM CITY OF HARTFORD ACTING CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER SAUNDRA KEE BORGES
— NEWS AND COMMUNITY STATEMENT—
(May 13, 2013) “I have thought long and hard about this decision and today I have asked Mayor Segarra to withdraw my nomination as Chief Operating Officer for the City of Hartford. This was not an easy decision but it is the right one at this time. I want to thank Mayor Segarra for his confidence in me and my leadership. At his request, I will stay on to assist with the transition and selection process of a permanent COO. I owe a lot to this City and it has been an honor for me to serve in this capacity.
Mayor Segarra has asked Albert G. Ilg to serve as Special Assistant to the COO as a temporary part-time employee to assist with the transition and to work with City Council members and Department Heads to design the process for the permanent COO selection. Mr. Ilg is a long-time City Manager, most recently in Windsor and in Hartford in 2002.
“I sadly accept this withdrawal,” said Mayor Segarra. “Sandy is an exceptional manager. She’s detailed, driven and one of the most professional individuals I have worked with. She is a true believer in the City of Hartford”
Mayor Pedro Segarra stopped in to several businesses along Capitol Avenue Friday morning to talk about the city’s decision not to oppose the closure of Flower Street to pedestrian and bicycle traffic, officials in his office said.
Residents of the Asylum Hill and Frog Hollow neighborhoods say the CTfastrak busway is splitting the city and hurting businesses by shutting off Flower Street, a north-south connector between the insurance office buildings on Farmington Avenue and the merchants of Capitol Avenue. They had been counting on Segarra to fight the state’s plans to cut off pedestrian and bike traffic and expressed frustration when he abandoned the battle earlier this week. Motor vehicle traffic has been blocked off on Flower Street since December.
“He acknowledged that it wasn’t handled very well,” said Virginia Iacobucci, who owns the La Paloma Sabanera coffeehouse on Capitol Avenue. “He said he’s very mindful of how it’s going to affect us, the businesses, here on Capitol. He said previous [Hartford] mayors have been criticized for not working more closely with the state, and he had to make a comprise somewhere. He did promise me that the businesses here can meet with [city Development Director] Thom Deller to see how we can at least minimize the damage done by closing Flower Street. We’re supposed to meet sometime in coming week or two.”
“I felt better that he came by,” she added.
The state department of transportation has insisted that it had studied every possible way of getting pedestrians through the busway crossing at Flower Street, but couldn’t come up with a safe and affordable answer.
Wedged between the Aetna property and the Hartford Courant’s building, the right of way for Amtrak and the busway is too narrow for a traditional crossing like one that will exist less than 2 miles away, where the busway crosses Hamilton Street.
A stream of buses and trains will pass through the Flower Street crossing every day, and there’s no practical way to install crossing gates as well as a safety island for pedestrians, the DOT said.
A decision on the closure of Flower Street will likely be issued by May 20, officials said. The DOT has said it wants to close Flower Street access for a month this spring during construction, and then shut it down altogether in the fall.
The city council will introduce legislation Monday calling for an audit of city-issued credit cards to be referred to the chief state’s attorney’s office.
The audit, completed by the city’s internal audit commission, recommended better oversight and enforcement of spending policies, and urged a ban on use of the cards for dining and entertainment. It also found that the city had more than $30,000 in unaccounted for charges at the end of fiscal year 2011-12.
The council’s legislation, drafted by Democrat David MacDonald, would refer the audit to the chief state’s attorney’s office to determine if any of the purchases or the process for reviewing them were criminal, members of the panel said Wednesday. The legislation also calls for the audit to be referred to the city’s ethics commission — to seek an opinion on whether a New Year’s Eve dinner (attended by the mayor, his chief of staff and six others) violated the city’s ethics code. The dinner — which cost about $700 and was placed on Chief of Staff Jared Kupiec’s city purchasing card — has since been reimbursed by Mayor Pedro Segarra and Kupiec.
The measure would also authorize the hiring of an attorney to pursue reimbursements for the $30,000 in unsubstantiated charges, council members said.
At least one member of the council (who is an attorney) said Wednesday that use of the purchasing cards does not appear to be criminal. But the legislation could still gain the support of council members, who have been critical of city spending practices recently.
Segarra on Monday proposed banning use of the credit cards for business entertainment related purchases.
Update, 12:50 p.m.: Audit Referral Resolution
H. Patrick Campbell, the city’s chief auditor, sent an e-mail Tuesday to police Chief James Rovella asking him to revoke Jared Kupiec’s access card for the Hartford Public Safety Complex, which Kupiec has apparently been using to get into the facility’s gym for workouts. Kupiec is Mayor Pedro Segarra’s chief of staff.
Campbell wrote in the e-mail that providing Kupiec with access to the complex and its gym raises issues of fairness, since other city employees do not have the privilege. He said some police officers have also been concerned about discussing sensitive information about cases in front of Kupiec.
Campbell said police should grant Kupiec access on an as-needed basis, but discontinue the gym privileges.
Kupiec said Tuesday that he had asked Rovella for use of the gym because he works out at night, when other city gyms are closed.
“I did ask for an access card. I’m regularly there for storms — [working in] the EOC — and I did ask for permission to use the gym,” he said. “It’s a gym purchased with city tax dollars for city employees. If they choose to restrict that access, they choose to restrict that access.”
Kupiec said he received a call from Rovella Tuesday — following the commission’s e-mail — asking for the access card back. He said he would return the card Wednesday morning.
Former city Police Chief Daryl Roberts told my colleague Steven Goode today that he has been unable to work out at the new public safety complex because retirees are not allowed. Retirees instead work out at 50 Jennings Road, he said.
“I find it ironic that retirees are not allowed to use the facility but that [Kupiec] is allowed to receive that benefit,” Roberts said.
Here’s the e-mail:
CC: SEGAP001@hartford.gov, KEEBS001@hartford.gov, CLOUA001@hartford.gov, City_Council@hartfordschools.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: 05/07/2013 4:40:08 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: Access to the Public Safety Complex and Gymnasium
This is to follow-up on our previous correspondence regarding the matter of Jared Kupiec’s access to the Public Safety Complex (PSC) and gymnasium. As previously noted this was brought to the attention of the Internal Audit Commission based on an anonymous tip. Our concerns regarding this matter are as follows:
1. Providing Mr. Kupiec access to the PSC gymnasium raises the issue of fairness in that it is granting this privilege to one, albeit high level City of Hartford employee, while excluding others. It was also brought to our attention, through the tip, that certain officers are concerned about discussing potentially sensitive case information and other Police matters in Mr. Kupiec’s presence.
2. There is also a question as to the need for Mr. Kupiec to have a separate key card to access the PSC. We understand that the front desk of the PSC is manned on a 24 hour, seven day a week, 365 day a year, basis. As a result, Mr. Kupiec could reasonably be granted access to the PSC on an as needed basis by the officers at the front desk.
In light of the above, we recommend that you discontinue granting gymnasium privileges to Mr. Kupiec. In addition, unless there are reasons that we are unaware of for Mr. Kupiec needing his own access card to the PSC, we recommend that you deactivate his access capabilities and recover his card.
Please let us know your plans and timeframe for addressing this matter. If you have any questions regarding this request or the above please let me know. Thank you.
Educators at Opportunity High School, Betances STEM Magnet School and the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology at Hartford Public High School have been named finalists for the 2013 Hartford Teacher of the Year competition.
Joseph Battaglia is an English teacher at the alternative Opportunity High; David Mangus, the lead science teacher at Academy of Engineering and Green Technology, also mentors the school’s Birds of Prey robotics team; and Mario Marrero, who teaches fourth grade, is the lead science teacher at Betances STEM. Marrero previously taught at Milner Core Knowledge Academy before it became part of the state Commissioner’s Network.
A panel of school curriculum directors, union leaders and past honorees chose the three men out of 44 nominees across the district. The finalists will submit written answers to essay questions and will be videotaped Tuesday instructing their students.
The district plans to announce the winner May 23 during an evening banquet at the downtown Marriott.
Along with receiving $1,000 worth of gift cards, the city’s Teacher of the Year becomes a nominee for the statewide competition. The finalists’ bios are here.
Keith Sevigny, a teacher at Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School, is the 2012 district winner. In 2011, math instructor Marilyn Jack-Ortique of University High School of Science and Engineering was awarded Hartford’s top teaching award.
The Courant today received a copy of the itemized receipt for a New Year’s Eve dinner attended by the mayor, his chief of staff and seven others, which has drawn criticism.
Mayor Pedro Segarra has said he reimbursed a portion of the dinner, and his chief of staff, Jared Kupiec, said today that he would reimburse the remaining cost. The dinner, which cost $707, was charged to Kupiec’s city credit card.
An itemized receipt of the dinner shows that the attendees ordered caviar (for $110), oysters, rack of lamb and cheesecake, among other things. You can view the receipt here: p_20130506115732
The dinner was for eight people, Segarra has said, including himself; his spouse; Kupiec; a female guest of Kupiec’s; Chief Operating Officer Saundra Kee Borges; two members of the Hartford Police Department who were providing security for the mayor that evening; and an eighth person whom he could not recall. The meal was put on a city purchasing card because the group was working at First Night in Hartford, he said.
You can read more about purchasing cards here.
At the recommendation of the city’s internal audit commission, Mayor Pedro Segarra on Monday said he would ban the use of all city-issued credit cards for business-related entertainment.
The audit commission, after reviewing more than 400 purchases made with city-issued credit cards, recommended in a report released Friday that officials provide better oversight and enforcement of spending policies, and urged a ban on use of the cards for dining and entertainment.
“In accordance with the recommendation by the internal auditors, I am eliminating the use of any and all [purchasing] cards for ‘business entertainment,’” Segarra said in a prepared statement Monday. “The finance department will remove all applicable merchant category codes for dining and restaurants effective immediately.”
Segarra said he supports the audit and looks forward to working with the finance department, the audit commission and others to implement changes and improve oversight.
“I have always tried to do what is right for Hartford including investing in arts, education and economic development opportunities that have improved the overall quality of life in our city,” Segarra said. “I want the people of Hartford to know that I am out there on their behalf every single day and will continue to be in the months and years ahead.”
Segarra’s chief of staff, Jared Kupiec, said Monday that he would reimburse the city $457.21 for a New Year’s Eve dinner charged to his city credit card (for $707) that has drawn criticism. Segarra has said he reimbursed a portion of that dinner as well.
The charge stemmed from a dinner for eight people, Segarra has said, including himself; his spouse; Kupiec; a female guest of Kupiec’s; Chief Operating Officer Saundra Kee Borges; two members of the Hartford Police Department who were providing security for the mayor that evening; and an eighth person whom he could not recall. The meal was put on a city purchasing card because the group was working at First Night in Hartford, he said.
“Over the last few weeks much has been made about a New Year’s Eve dinner that was partially paid for with my city of Hartford purchasing card,” Kupiec said, also in a prepared statement. “Because of the distraction that it has caused, and after speaking with the mayor, I will be immediately reimbursing the city of Hartford in the amount of $457.21.
“There are too many other more significant matters that leadership in the capital city needs to focus its attention on. Those in public service should and need to be held to a high standard and I truly apologize to city staff, residents and anyone else who has been unfairly consumed with this issue.”
(Above Photo: Courtesy of City)
Khara Dodds has joined the city staff as the new planning director, replacing Roger O’Brien. O’Brien was terminated in August on the heels of a comprehensive review that the city performed of his department. City officials have not said what specifically led to the termination (though he has not always been in the news for positive reasons).
Dodds, who most recently served as director of planning and economic development for the town of Plymouth, Conn., began work with the city on Aug. 22, according to the mayor’s office.
“As the head of the land use department, she managed planning, zoning, economic and community development initiatives for the town,” city officials wrote in a prepared statement, referring to her work in Plymouth.
Prior to that, Dodds worked as a principal planner for the Burlington County Economic Development and Regional Planning Department in New Jersey and as a regional planner for the New Jersey Office of Smart Growth. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Rutgers.
“For the past three years, Khara has served on the executive committee for the Connecticut chapter of the American Planning Association and currently serves as committee secretary,” officials wrote in a press release. “Khara Dodds is a resident of the city of Hartford where she lives with her husband, J. Evans Dodds and daughter, Angelique.”
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- Gun Buy-Back Nets More Than 82 Firearms
- Council Members Say They Don’t Want To Raid The Rainy Day Fund
- Kee Borges Withdraws Her Nomination For COO
- Mayor Visits Businesses Along Capitol Avenue Friday
- Council To Introduce Legislation Calling For Purchasing Card Audit To Go To Chief State’s Attorney’s Office, Ethics Commission
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