Bronin says win due to door-knocking not benefits of $1.3 million or White Privilege

Attributing his political success to his door-knocking efforts rather than the record breaking $1.3 million he raised from city and state contractors, lobbyists and donors from his hometown of Greenwich and out-of-state or the advantages of White Privilege, Luke Bronin’s dream of becoming leader of Hartford has come true.

During the campaign Bronin said he would save Hartford by reducing crime and expanding programs, all while promising not to raise taxes.  The solution, according to the political novice, was more state funding and the wealth that would come with the wave of people moving into the new luxury apartments in the City’s Downtown.

Flanked by Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, Bronin claimed victory Election Night but warned residents that “there will be no easy answers.”

In his successful effort to unseat one of the nation’s highest ranking Puerto Rican Mayors, Luke Bronin spent the primary attacking Pedro Segarra for not getting enough money from the Malloy administration, raising taxes and supporting the controversial Dunkin Donuts Baseball Stadium that is being constructed as part of Hartford’s DONO Development.

With his primary victory in hand,  Bronin flip-flopped on the Stadium issue taking tens of thousands of dollars from the Stadium’s developers while remaining quiet about the developers failure to fulfill their contractual obligation to begin construction on the project’s promised grocery store and other elements of Phase II (Parcel E).

As Bronin’s campaign finance reports revealed, not only did he break the record for the most money spent on a mayoral campaign in state history but he funded his political aspirations with campaign donations from nearly 70 city contractors, more than 80 registered state lobbyists and dozens of state contractors.  In the process of raising and reporting those contributions, Bronin and his campaign violated a number of provisions of Connecticut Campaign Finance law, a move that will undoubtedly result in a full-scale investigation by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Of particular note is that while pledging to support Hartford’s Public Schools, Bronin relied heavily on donations from the Charter School and Corporate Education Reform Industry, collecting huge amounts of money from charter school advocates and Greenwich residents Jonathan Sackler and Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II, as well as employees, board members and lobbyists for Connecticut’s charter schools.

Bronin will take office in January 2016.

Special Meeting to approve Stadium Developer’s changes suddenly canceled

Lo and Behold, the not quite time for prime-time players have canceled the Special Meeting of the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission that was scheduled for tomorrow – Wednesday, November 4, 2015.

In recent weeks, Luke Bronin has taken tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the developers of the Hartford Dunkin Donuts Stadium and the DONO Hartford Development Project.

Sara Bronin, Luke Bronin’s spouse, serves as the Chair of the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission and had announced that the Hartford PZC would be holding a Special Meeting to vote on the developers request to get a major waiver from their contract, including permission to push off the construction of the promised grocery store that they promised would be under construction by now.

According to Hartford City Hall the meeting has been canceled, but that hardly solves the underlying problem.

Phase II (Parcel E) including the grocery store;

As reported previously, the contract between the City of Hartford and the developers of the Dunkin Donut Baseball Stadium and the entire DONO Downtown North Development Project required that construction on Phase II (Parcel E), which includes the desperately needed north-end grocery store, was to begin no later than November 1, 2015.

However, the developers failed to fulfill that responsibility and now want permission from the City of Hartford to delay and modify the construction plan related to Phase II (Parcel E).

To get that change the developers need Sara Bronin and her committee have to give them permission to delay Phase II and make major changes to the contract that they had signed.

As reported in a Wait, What? post on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 entitled, Bronin reports another $174,000 collected with seven days to go until Election Day, Bronin’s latest campaign finance report that revealed that he had raised another $11,750 from the developers of Hartford’s new Dunkin Donuts Yard Goats Baseball Stadium and the DONO Project.

The latest bundle of stadium money comes in addition to the thousands of dollars Bronin had already collected from those whose who are directly benefiting financially from the stadium contract.  (See: And now Luke Bronin is collecting big bucks from developers of the Hartford Dunkin’ Donuts Stadium)

Having sharply criticized the stadium project earlier in the campaign, Bronin waited until after the reporting deadline for the September 16, 2015 Democratic primary to start collecting a large amount of campaign money from the DONO project contractors.

In recent weeks, Luke Bronin has raised tens of thousands of dollars from a number of the DONO contractors including Centerplan Development, Centerplan Construction Company, JCJ Architecture, Freeman Companies, BETA, McDowell Jewett and Greenskies Renewable Energy.

While the developers have sought to trivialize their change in plans, their failure to follow through on their commitments concerning Phase II has a profound impact on the project and the credibility of those behind the entire Hartford Downtown North Development scheme.

The Hartford Courant reported on importance of Phase II this past summer in an article entitled, Developers To Break Ground On Downtown North Grocery Store In October,

City officials and developers of the Downtown North project, which includes retail, housing and a baseball stadium, said Wednesday that they will break ground on a parcel that includes a grocery store by late October.

Yves-Georges A. Joseph II, vice president of development for Centerplan, said the developers don’t yet have a supermarket operator on board, but they are in conversations with operators.

Joseph, who attended a forum on the Downtown North project Wednesday at the city’s public library, said the deadline to begin construction is Nov. 1.

The area, known as Parcel E, is the first phase of housing and retail in the project. The parcel, which would include 328 apartments, a grocery store, a fitness center, other shops and parking, would be located across Main Street from a 9,000-capacity minor league baseball stadium.

Joseph said Wednesday that if developers don’t reach a deal with a supermarket operator, “we as an organization will own or operate a supermarket.”

The Hartford Courant’s June 2015 story ended with,

Panelists at Wednesday’s forum, sponsored by Hartford 2000, expressed skepticism about the developer’s ability to bring in a supermarket.

Denise Best, a North End activist, said many promises have been made and broken by city leadership.

October has come and gone and there is no sign of any construction related to the grocery store, or the associated housing, fitness center, shops and parking.

The developers now want retroactive permission to delay and modify Phase II of the project.

With the cancelation of tomorrow’s Special Meeting of the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, the question now becomes what will the Bronins do about their conflict of interest regarding the Stadium and the entire DONO project.

And now Luke Bronin is collecting big bucks from developers of the Hartford Dunkin’ Donuts Stadium

In the weeks leading up to Hartford’s Democratic Mayoral Primary, Greenwich native and political newcomer Luke Bronin repeatedly attacked incumbent Mayor Pedro Segarra for his support of the minor league baseball stadium that is now under construction in Hartford.

Luke Bronin told the Hartford Courant,

“I had real concerns about it. I still have real concerns about it and our ability to fund it.”

But despite Bronin’s “real concerns” about the stadium, the moment Luke Bronin got past the deadline for making his campaign contributions public prior to Primary Day he started loading up with money from the very developers who were given the extraordinary contract to build the stadium.

Connecticut State Law required that Bronin and any other candidate running for municipal office file a special campaign finance report exactly one week before the September 16, 2015 Primary Day.

However, although the filing date for the report was Wednesday, September 9, 2015, only contributions received by Monday, September 7, 2015 had to be listed on the report.

On Tuesday, September 8, 2015, only hours after a contribution reporting deadline had passed, Luke Bronin received eight $1,000 checks from individuals associated with the stadium developer.

And as Bronin’s latest campaign finance report reveals, the $8,000 collected on September 8, 2015 was only the beginning.

In the following days, the Bronin campaign pocketed additional $1,000 checks from the corporate executives of DONO Hartford LLC, CENTERPLAN DEVELOPMENT COMPANY, LLC, and CENTERPLAN CONSTRUCTION LLC.

Michael Lomardi, Jason Rudnick and Yves Georges Joseph each dropped $1,000 into Bronin’s coffers.

Michael Lombardi is President of Centerplan Construction and Comptroller of Centerplan Development.

Jason Rudnick is President of Centerplan Development and the agent of record for about 20 other companies owned by Centerplan Construction and Centerplan Development’s CEO Bob Landino.

Joseph is Vice President of Centerplan Development.

In September 2014, the City of Hartford selected DoNo Hartford LLC to develop the stadium.

The companies included in DONO Hartford’s plan included Centerplan Development, LeylandAlliance, Centerplan Construction Company, JCJ Architecture, Sports Contracting Group, Urban Design Associates, Freeman Companies, BETA, McDowell Jewett and Greenskies Renewable Energy.

Bronin has now collected campaign contributions from executives and employees at JCJ Architecture, Freeman Companies, BETA and Greenskies Renewable, in addition to the money from the companies directly owned by Centerplan.

DONO Hartford LLC, Centerplan Development, Centerplan Construction and Greenskies Renewable Energy are all owned by former State Representative Bob Landino who also formed BL Companies, a successful engineering firm that is also working on the stadium project.

Greenskies Renewable Energy was incorporated into Landino’s “CenterPlan” operation in 2009.

According to the company’s website, Stadium developer Bob Landino serves as Greenskies’ Chairman, Jason Rudnick is Vice Chairman and the three other board members are the company’s original founders, Arthur Linares, Michael Silvestrini and Andrew Chester.

Greenskies’ Arthur Linares serves as a Republican member of the Connecticut State Senate.   Senator Linares’ brother, Ryan, who also served as the senator’s campaign manager, is listed as an Associate for Centerplan Development, according to that company’s website.

The renewable energy company received a lucrative “economic development” package from Governor Dannel Malloy’s corporate welfare program.  In return for hiring four new employees, Malloy gave Greenskies Renewable LLC a $100,000 grant and a $250,000 forgivable “incentive loan” in the spring of 2012.  Greenskies now has the contract to equip the new stadium with solar power panels.

While the stadium developers and contractors may have made additional contributions to Bronin’s campaign as well, a review of the candidate’s campaign finance reports show that despite the “real concerns” that Luke Bronin has about the Dunkin’ Donuts Yard Goat Stadium project, his campaign has collected nearly $15,000 from the executives and employees of the companies directly associated with the construction project.

Of course, even before the checks arrived from the stadium developers, Luke Bronin had already ensured that his campaign was the most expensive mayoral campaign in Connecticut history.

As of September 7th, 2015, two months before Election Day, Luke Bronin had already broken the $1 million barrier with $947,628 raised into his own campaign and another $88,000 into the Hartford Democratic Town Committee fund that was helping to pay for a portion of Bronin’s get out the vote effort.

Footnote:

Bronin also took a $1,000 check last month from Dillon Stadium co-developer James Duckett, the CEO of Black Diamond Consulting group whose company is now caught up in the federal investigation into overbilling with that Hartford project.