Hartford Mayor Bronin names Charter School Industry flack as his new mouthpiece

When Greenwich native and Malloy protégé, Luke Bronin, set his sights on becoming Hartford’s mayor last year, he promised to invest more money in Hartford’s public school system, implement new transparency and democracy in Hartford government and surround himself with a staff made up of people who understand and are from Connecticut’s capital city.

However, since taking office, Bronin has announced massive cuts and layoffs aimed at Hartford’s public schools and he has proposed unprecedented measures that would destroy local control, limit open government and undermine democracy by giving himself emperor-like status, including the authority to shred collective bargaining agreements with the City’s unionized employees.

Now, in what has now become a classic move, rather than select a Hartford resident or even someone knowledgeable about Hartford to serve as his communications director, Bronin has appointed a former charter school PR staffer and Rhode Island political operative to serve as his mouthpiece and spokesperson for the City of Hartford, all while pumping up the new guy’s salary by $15,000 over what the mayor was paying Samaia Hernandez, the Latino woman and former reporter, who held the job for the first 90 days of his tenure.

Perhaps most interesting of all, when Bronin announced the recent appointment, he misled Hartford residents and the media by failing to note that his new top aide previously worked for ConnCAN, the corporate-funded, charter school industry front group that pumped huge amounts of money into Bronin’s mayoral campaign and has spent record breaking amounts of money lobbying on behalf of Malloy’s pro-charter school, anti-teacher agenda.

As Hartford Courant columnist and blogger Kevin Rennie reports,

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin appears not to be much of a negotiator. The first-term mayor’s original spokesperson, Samaia Hernandez, lasted three months in her $80,000 a year job.  Hernandez was replaced by Democratic operative Brett Broesder, whose salary working for the Bronins is $95,000 a year.

Bronin has been struggling to explain to local residents, state legislators, and an assortment of union leaders why he should be given expanded powers to deal with public employee contracts. Someone who spent more than $170 a vote in last summer’s Democratic mayoral primary may think $15,000 is chump change. Others will disagree. Some who pay attention to identity politics will be struck by the big difference between what Bronin paid a woman to do the job and what he’s paying a man.

When announcing the appointment, Bronin’s Office wrote:

Hartford, Conn. (March 21, 2016) – Mayor Luke Bronin today announced that Brett Broesder has been named Director of Communications and New Media for the City of Hartford, Conn. In this role, Broesder will serve as the primary media contact and spokesperson for the capital city. He is replacing Samaia Hernandez, who is pursuing new opportunities.

“I’m thrilled to have Brett on our team,” said Mayor Bronin. “With his wide-ranging experience in communications and policy, he is sure to be an asset to Hartford as we right our fiscal ship and move the city toward a more prosperous future.”

Broesder joins the City of Hartford with more than a decade of communications experience. Most recently, he served as the communications director for the City of Bridgeport, Conn.

Previously, Broesder served in a vast array of senior level communications roles, including: direct mail consultant for The Baughman Company; Communications Director for the Montana Democratic Party; media relations specialist for global communications firm Hill & Knowlton, as well as Ketchum; Policy and Legislative Director for Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin; and Campaign Manager for Peter Kilmartin’s successful Rhode Island Attorney General Campaign in 2010. Broesder holds a B.A. in political science from Rhode Island College.

“I’m honored to join Mayor Bronin and his team,” said Broesder. “It’s an exciting time in the state’s capital city. I look forward to working with folks across the city to share Hartford’s story.”

While Bronin’s press release highlights – in great detail – his new spokesperson’s career going back to 2010, Mayor Bronin simply skips over the fact that Brett Broesder’s biography reveals that he served as Senior Director of Communications at the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) from December 2012 to March 2014.

In his on-line biography, Bronin’s new spokesperson brags that at ConnCAN he,

“Led the communications and marketing arms, which included developing paid and earned media campaigns resulting in over 150 key media placements, including: The Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, and Hartford Courant” and “Served as lead staffer for organization’s 501(c)4, A Better Connecticut (ABC), and oversaw the paid and earned media marketing campaigns, including a $2.3 million advertising effort.”

Bronin’s latest public relations play also fails to note that while his new aide was overseeing a $2.3 million television advertising campaign in support Malloy pro-charter school plans, Bronin spent a portion of that period as Malloy’s Chief Counsel where he worked to help develop and push Malloy’s ongoing efforts to divert more than $100 million a year in scarce taxpayer funds to the privately owned and operated charter schools that later turned around and provided Bronin with a massive influx of campaign donations for his campaign to become Hartford’s mayor.

More about Bronin’s new spokesperson can be found online including from Rhode Island’s The Phoenix newspaper that in 2010 reported,

Brett Broesder – a graduate of Rhode Island College (RIC) and former president of the RIC Democrats – will serve as the Manager of Communications, Research and Public Affairs {for Pawtucket Representative and attorney general candidate Peter Kilmartin.] He will also serve as a spokesperson and media contact. Most recently Broesder has worked in Washington, D.C. as a public-affairs consultant for Hill & Knowlton and Ketchum – two of the world’s largest public-relations firms. In addition, Broesder has served on several political campaigns, including Sheldon Whitehouse for U.S. Senate and Barack Obama for President, as well as others in Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

For more about Luke Bronin’s power grab read:

Hartford Council Breaks With Bronin On Finance Bill (Hartford Courant)

Union Members Crowd Monday Hearing On Hartford Finances Bill (Hartford Courant)

Hartford Delegation Won’t Back Bronin Bill As Written (Hartford Courant)

Unions Pan Hartford Mayor’s Bill To Change Financial Oversight (CTNewsjunkie)

HPD UNION RESPONSE TO SENATE BILL 464 (We The People)

As Malloy calls for record cuts to minority teacher programs – Robert Cotto Jr. asks – Where did Black & Latin teachers in Hartford go?

Governor Dannel Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and their administration are proposing record budget cuts to Connecticut’s Minority Teacher Incentive Program, as well as, to the state’s institutions of higher education – which include Connecticut’s teacher preparation programs.

As Connecticut faces the need for additional talented, dedicated and prepared public school teachers, Malloy and his advisers are cutting vital teacher training programs while promoting the use of inexperienced, unprepared and transient Teacher For America recruits.

Meanwhile, Robert Cotto, Jr, the Director of Urban Educational Initiatives at Trinity College and a Lecturer in the Educational Studies department highlights the very real problem facing Connecticut’s school districts as he investigates the disturbing failure to recruit and retain Latino and African-American teachers in Hartford.

In Where did Black & Latin@ teachers in Hartford go?, Robert Cotto Jr. writes;

Several months ago, former Hartford school board member Dr. Shelley Best posted a photo of herself with a handful of white teachers and an administrator in the background. Dr. Best, a Black woman, took the “selfie” photo at a district workshop about the “achievement gap”. In the caption of her Facebook post with the photo, she commented, “In a room full of folks talking about us (and the educational achievement gap) that don’t look like us … hmmmm …”

The Hartford Courant wrote a story months after the event and focused on one of the white teacher’s hurt feelings about being captured in the photo frame and Dr. Best’s protest. This led to a brief, but intense, flurry of essays about teacher diversitywhite folks missing the pointpersonal defenses, and a reprimand of Dr. Best. Looking at some basic staffing data, an important question adds to Dr. Best’s concern – where did the Black and Latino/a teachers in Hartford go?

When Dr. Shelley Best wondered where all the Black educators were during the workshop several months ago, she was on to something troubling. The Hartford Public Schools has steadily lost Black and Latino/a teachers over the last decade, while adding white teachers during the same period.

cotto

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: CT State Department of Education, 2015

Public staffing data provided by the State Department of Education (CEDAR) shows that the Hartford Public Schools lost a substantial percentage and number of Black and Latino/a teachers from 2004-12. In 2004-05, 15% of all Hartford teachers were Latino/a and 15% were Black. In 2012-13, roughly 10% of all Hartford teachers were Latino/a and 10% Black. In other words, a net total of 155 Black and Latino teachers disappeared from HPS, while the district added 95 new white teachers. As a result, the proportion of white teachers in the whole district rose from 68% to 77% from 2004-12.

With this limited information, it’s not entirely clear why HPS has lost so many Black and Latino/a teachers. The state’s public staffing data does not tell us about the on-the-ground factors that might “push” and “pull” teachers of color into and out of the profession (Irizarry & Donaldson, 2012). The public staffing data doesn’t reveal whether these Black and Latino/a teachers in Hartford experienced layoffs, were pushed out/fired, retired, found other more lucrative or fulfilling work, or were promoted to other positions in Hartford or elsewhere.

In the case of the Hartford area schools during this period (2004-12), there were also unusual policies and factors that could have led to this steep disappearance of teachers of color. These unusual events and policies included the great recession, expanded public school choice programs in the Hartford region, and assorted neoliberal education reforms. These factors could have impacted the entry and exit of Black and Latino/a teachers from the Hartford Public Schools.

The great recession, caused by the near collapse of the banking industry, resulted in teacher layoffs/reductions in force through the capitol region. These school districts in the capitol region included 35 town-operated school districts around the City of Hartford, which is associated with the Hartford Public Schools. The largest declines in the number of teachers of all racial/ethnic groups in these districts happened from 2008-09 to 2009-10 and from 2009-10 to 2010-11.

Interestingly, the capitol region school districts never rebounded in terms of adding back lost teachers (from 2004-12), but Hartford did rebound and in a very different way. After the banking collapse, HPS added white teachers even as it continued to lose Black and Latino/a teachers. On the other hand, the other 35 capitol region districts added a smaller number of Black and Latino/a teachers (mostly the latter) even while continuing to decline in overall, particularly in the number of white teachers after the great recession. Despite adding a small number of Black and Latino/a teachers; the 35 capitol region districts’ percentage of Black and Latino/a teachers remained level from 2004-12. (See chart at: http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/2016/02/23/where-did-all-the-black-and-latinoa-teachers-in-hartford-go/)

As the enrollment of students in public school choice programs has increased, so has the number of teachers working in interdistrict magnet and charter schools. (See chart below) This rapid growth is one clear result of State policy increasing funds and policy supports for public school choice programs that are operated by separate, non-traditional school districts such as CREC and charter districts. In the case of magnet schools, the growth has come as a result of implementing the Sheff v. O’Neill desegregation settlement.

The Capitol Region Education Council (CREC), a regional district that operates interdistrict magnet schools, and the Hartford-area charter school districts added to their numbers of teachers in all race/ethnicity categories from 2004-12. In fact, the CREC magnet school district and Jumoke, Odyssey, and Achievement First – Hartford charter school districts more than doubled their (general education) teacher force from 2004-12. In addition to white teachers, the racially segregated Jumoke Academy and Achievement First-Hartford added several Black and Latino/a teachers over the last decade, thus increasing their combined proportion of these groups of teachers. (See chart at: http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/2016/02/23/where-did-all-the-black-and-latinoa-teachers-in-hartford-go/)

Over the last decade, Hartford started (and ended) programs and neoliberal policies such as school closures, staff reconstitution, principal “autonomy”, privatization, hyper-accountability, reduced economic security for teachers, preferential hiring for inexperienced and mostly white Teach for America participants, intradistrict and interdistrict school choice. Any number of these initiatives could have impacted have impacted the hiring and retention of teachers of color during these years.

Final Thoughts

At this point, and with the limited data available, it’s hard to untangle which single policy or event made the most impact. Did Black and Latino teachers in the Hartford Public Schools quit, retire, leave to other schools, or get forced out? If so, why? The short answer is that we don’t know.

The idea that some Black and Latino/a teachers left HPS (for currently unknown reasons) and took up work in other school districts in the region as HPS faced layoffs and other districts, magnets, and charters added staff is one possible explanation of where they went. The numbers invite this explanation as a possibility, but the data does not entirely confirm or explain what’s going on. We don’t have enough information yet to make a conclusion.

Combining the losses and additions of Black and Latino/a teachers for all public school districts (capital region, CREC, Hartford, charter schools), there is still a net loss of 27 Latino/a teachers and 39 Black teachers from 2004-12 within the capitol region. In other words, the Hartford Public Schools lost more Black and Latino/a teachers than were added in other local districts, including the magnet (CREC) and charter schools during this period.

Where did the Black and Latino/a teachers in Hartford go?  Hmmmm…

More of Robert Cotto Jr.’s articles can be found at: http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/category/blog/

Please Note:  Comment function is not presently working – trying to get it fixed ASAP

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.

Campaign Finance Violations will follow Bronin (Win or Lose)

Call it Pay-to-Play or Play and Pay…

Greenwich native and Hartford mayoral wannabee Luke Bronin has not only run the most expensive mayoral campaign in Connecticut history, but his campaign that has made a mockery of Connecticut’s Campaign Finance Laws.

Win or lose, Luke Bronin will be facing the State Elections Enforcement Commission to address his significant and far-reaching violations of the State’s laws about who can donate and how campaign donation’s must be reported.

As part of his unprecedented effort to buy the Hartford Mayor’s Office, Bronin and his political operation violated numerous provisions of the Connecticut’s election laws including the failure to properly disclose contributions from lobbyists and from companies and individuals who have contracts with the City of Hartford.

As Bronin’s campaign finance reports indicate, his campaign failed to accurately identify more than 80 percent of the lobbyists who donated to his campaign and well over 100 individuals who have contracts with the City of Hartford.

The reports suggest that Bonin and his campaign have also violated even more significant provisions of the law.

Any issues that have not already been raised in complaints to the State Elections Enforcement Commission will be included in a wrap-up complaint that will be filed with the state authority in the next couple of days.

Interestingly, while the breadth of campaign violations are obvious, the Hartford Court chose not to cover the issue at all.

The following are some of the Wait, What? posts about Bronin’s campaign, others can be found on the Blog;

Do I hear $170 a vote? Going Once, Going Twice, Sold to the man from Greenwich

Billionaires for Bronin

Bronin reports another $174,000 collected with seven days to go until Election Day

Once home to WFSB Channel 3 – the upscale apartment project is now a source of campaign donations for Luke Bronin.

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

Luke Bronin and his campaign know – Campaign Donation Limits are for Losers

Luke Bronin the “outsider” is looking more and more like an “insider” – the Carlos Lopez Story

Outside money turns Hartford Democratic Town Committee into a Luke Bronin slush fund

Will City of Hartford take a stand on Bronins’ ethics problem?

The Wait, What? post on Saturday, October 31, 2015 was entitled – Stadium Developers give big to Luke Bronin – Sarah Bronin responsible for approving big changes that Stadium Developers want.

In recent weeks Hartford mayoral candidate Luke Bronin has taken tens of thousands of dollars from the developers of the Dunkin Donut Baseball Stadium despite that fact that Luke Bronin’s wife, Sara Bronin, is the chairperson of the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission and the developers are seeking approval to make major changes to the scope of the Stadium and DONO project.

With a Special Meeting of the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commissioner scheduled for Wednesday, November 4, 2015 -the day after Election Day – to approve the changes the developer is seeking, the immediate question is whether City Officials will act on the Bronin’s conflict of interest and remove Sara Bronin from her position as Chair of the Hartford PZC?

The following is the repost of the Wait, What? article on the Bronins’ and the Stadium.

Stadium Developers give big to Luke Bronin – Sarah Bronin responsible for approving big changes that Stadium Developers want

The City of Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 260 Constitution Plaza, Plaza Level Conference Room, Hartford, CT 06103 at 6:00 p.m. on the developers plan to modify the DoNo Hartford Development Project.

Sara Bronin, wife of Harford mayoral candidate Luke Bronin, is the Chair of the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission.

The contact 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).

The conflict of interest that Sara (and Luke) Bronin face is obvious.

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, the Greenwich native who moved to Hartford and now wants to be Hartford’s next mayor revealed in his latest campaign finance report 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 contractors hired to build the DONO project including the new baseball stadium.

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.

Four of the leading companies involved in the DONO Development Project are owned by lead developer Bob Landino who is a former member of the Connecticut House of Representatives.  The developers are represented before the City of Hartford by the law firm that is led by Tom Ritter, the former Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives.

While Luke Bronin’s flip-flop on the stadium issues is newsworthy on its own, the immediate and more incredible news development may very well be that the developers of the Hartford Stadium donated to Luke Bronin at the exact same time that the stadium developers are seeking to modify the project after having failed to break ground, as required, on Phase II of the DONO project.

With no construction taking place on the grocery store, housing and other elements of Phase II (Parcel E), Luke Bronin’s wife will be convening a Special Meeting of the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday – the day after Election Day – to approve changes that release the Stadium Developers from their commitment to begin Phase II and to make significant changes to the scope of Phase II.

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.

So now 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.

What has occurred over the last few weeks is that the developers have become a major source of campaign donations for Luke Bronin’s campaign for Mayor and, the day after Election Day, Bronin’s wife will be chairing the Commission that is supposed to hold the developers accountable for their failure to produce as promised.

Hartford parking lots a Goldmine for Luke Bronin

Operating pay to park garages and lots in Hartford is extremely profitable and campaign finance reports indicate that parking garage and lot operators in Hartford have been lining up to give Greenwich native Luke Bronin large donations for his campaign to become Hartford’s Next Mayor.

LAZ Parking, owned by Alan Lazowski, operates at least 12 major pay to park garages and another 5 pay to park lots in Hartford.  Lazowksi also owns that LAZ Fly Economy Airport Parking at Bradley Airport.  Lazowski, his wife and other corporate officers and employees have donated at least $7,000 to Bronin’s campaign.  Lazowski has kicked in two $1,000 checks, one before and one after the September 16 Democratic primary, while his wife, the company’s COO and other executives have donated thousands more.

While LAZ Parking dominates the parking garage market in Hartford, ProPark Inc. is the leader in the lot market with 11 pay to park lots and 2 garages.  Owned by John Schmid of Litchifield and other ProPark Inc. management team have dropped at least $5,000 on Bronin.

The story of Hartford’s Connecticut Parking Services owner Carlos Lopez was featured in the Wait, What? post entitled, Luke Bronin the “outsider” is looking more and more like an “insider” – the Carlos Lopez Story.  CT Parking Services operates a garage and lot in Hartford.

Lopez, who is a Farmington, Republican gave Bronin $1,000 and donated another $2,000 to the Hartford Democratic Town Committee to help with Bronin’s Get-Out-The-Vote effort. Lopez’s family, associates and employees gave Bronin an additional $5,000 on top of that.

The lucrative parking garage and lot contracts are handed out by the Hartford Parking Authority, a five member commission appointed by the Mayor.  The Chair of the Hartford Parking Authority is none-other-than state lobbyist Paddy LeShane, who along his her husband Patrick Sullivan run one of the most influential lobbying firms in Connecticut.   Both LeShane and Sullivan have become generous contributors to Bronin’s political aspirations.

Bronin has also collected checks form other parking companies including Park Ride Fly USA, Roncari and Park New Haven.

Companies that contract with the City of Hartford have proven to be among Luke Bronin’s biggest sources of campaign cash.  According to his campaign finance reports, at least sixty-six (66) companies with large city contacts have donated to his campaign, some having donated tens of thousands of dollars.

Calculating the full amount of money Hartford City contractors have given to Bronin is impossible because more than 100 donations from contractors are not coded as such, a major violation of Connecticut’s campaign finance law.  One of the problems with the Bronin for Mayor campaign finance reports is that the reporting errors are so prevalent that one might guess that they are miscoded to cover-up how much contractor and lobbyist money has flowed into his campaign war chest.

Stadium Developers give big to Luke Bronin – Sarah Bronin responsible for approving big changes that Stadium Developers want

The City of Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 260 Constitution Plaza, Plaza Level Conference Room, Hartford, CT 06103 at 6:00 p.m. on the developers plan to modify the DoNo Hartford Development Project.

Sara Bronin, wife of Harford mayoral candidate Luke Bronin, is the Chair of the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission.

The contact 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).

The conflict of interest that Sara (and Luke) Bronin face is obvious.

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, the Greenwich native who moved to Hartford and now wants to be Hartford’s next mayor revealed in his latest campaign finance report 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 contractors hired to build the DONO project including the new baseball stadium.

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.

Four of the leading companies involved in the DONO Development Project are owned by lead developer Bob Landino who is a former member of the Connecticut House of Representatives.  The developers are represented before the City of Hartford by the law firm that is led by Tom Ritter, the former Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives.

While Luke Bronin’s flip-flop on the stadium issues is newsworthy on its own, the immediate and more incredible news development may very well be that the developers of the Hartford Stadium donated to Luke Bronin at the exact same time that the stadium developers are seeking to modify the project after having failed to break ground, as required, on Phase II of the DONO project.

With no construction taking place on the grocery store, housing and other elements of Phase II (Parcel E), Luke Bronin’s wife will be convening a Special Meeting of the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday – the day after Election Day – to approve changes that release the Stadium Developers from their commitment to begin Phase II and to make significant changes to the scope of Phase II.

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.

So now 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.

What has occurred over the last few weeks is that the developers have become a major source of campaign donations for Luke Bronin’s campaign for Mayor and, the day after Election Day, Bronin’s wife will be chairing the Commission that is supposed to hold the developers accountable for their failure to produce as promised.

Do I hear $170 a vote? Going Once, Going Twice, Sold to the man from Greenwich

Hartford Courant columnist and fellow blogger Kevin Rennie has reviewed candidate Luke Bronin’s campaign finance reports and has discovered another disturbing fact.

Not only has Greenwich native and political newcomer run the most expensive mayoral campaign in Connecticut history, but Bronin ended up paying a truly shocking amount of money for each vote he received in his successful effort to be crowned the Democratic Party’s nominee for Mayor of Hartford..

In a post entitled, Democrats Will Be Outraged: Bronin Spent $170 a Vote in Primary Win Over Segarra, Kevin Rennie writes;

Democrat Luke Bronin spent more $872,625 to garner 5,110 votes in his September 16th primary victory over incumbent Pedro Segarra in their race for mayor of one of the state’s poorest communities, according to campaign finance reports. That’s $170.76 a vote, a figure that will evoke howls of protest from the traditional voices of campaign spending restraint. Those voices were curiously muted as Bronin rolled over Segarra in their showdown.

Bronin’s last campaign finance report before the primary showed the Greenwich plutocrat spent $673,821.75. That reporting period included expenses from July 1st through September 7th. Bronin’s post-primary report shows an additional $198,804 in payments made up to and including primary day.  It includes more than 100 payments of $125 for primary day field work. The largest expense was a $53,224.77 payment for commercial broadcast time.

Rennie article, strengthened be a great complementary video, can be found on his blog at: http://www.dailyructions.com/democrats-will-be-outraged-bronin-spent-170-a-vote-in-primary-win-over-segarra/

Readers may remember that it was Kevin Rennie who broke the story about Luke Bronin’s wife, Sara Bronin, having used her state employee account in support of Bronin’s campaign for Mayor.  (See: Sara Bronin Has a Primary Request–and Sent It From Her UConn Email Account.  Followed by Wait What?’s Luke & Sara Bronin and the “Laws are only for the Little People” Crowd)

It is unclear whether the State Auditors have begun an investigation into Sarah Bronin’s illegal use of her email account, but in the past state employees have lost their jobs or been put on lengthy periods of unpaid leave for using their state email accounts for political activities.

 

Billionaires for Bronin

Hartford voters can thank Connecticut’s 4th wealthiest resident for helping provide Luke Bronin with the money he wanted in order to run for Mayor of Connecticut’s Capital City.

In fact, as Greenwich native and Hartford newcomer Luke Bronin eagerly awaits being elected Hartford’s next Mayor, he will need to thank many people for funding his record breaking $1.2 million mayoral campaign.

Among those who deserve “special recognition” are all of those on the extensive list of Greenwich residents who, taken together, donated nearly $100,000 to fund their hometown guy’s dream of leading the City of Hartford and its residents.

And first among all of those equals is real-life Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II whose net worth exceeds $4.6 Billion, making him the 108th richest American and placing him in the number 352 on the list of wealthiest people in the world.

Jones resides, at least some of the time, in a 13,000 square-foot Greenwich mansion that includes a 26-car garage.

Earlier this year, Paul Tudor Jones made news when he gave a TED talk in Canada condemning the “unsustainable” wealth gap between the rich and everyone else.   While stating that he was not only an extremely success but a “proud capitalist” Jones observed that when it came to the reality of wealth inequality, the world was on a “disastrous” path and that if this path was left unaltered, it would lead to revolution.

A few weeks later the Billionaire hedge fund manager purchased a $71 million Mediterranean-style 7-bedroom, 18-bathroom property on the coast of Florida that sports a tennis court, movie theater, swimming pool and gym.

Paul Tudor Jones also owns the Grumeti Reserves in Tanzania’s Western Serengeti. His Sasaskwa Resort, which is located in the Reserve, has been repeatedly rated the #1 hotel in the world by Travel & Leisure Magazine.

According to the campaign finance records, Paul Tudor Jones’s donation to Luke Bronin was hardly his first foray into politics.  The Billionaire donated $200,000 to Mitt Romney’s campaign for President of the United States, although he also hosted a 500-person fundraiser in 2008 for then candidate Obama at his Greenwich home.  Others who have received campaign checks from Paul Tudor Jones include Hillary Clinton, John McCain, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, John Boehner (The immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives), Linda McMahon and a long, long list of Republican and Democratic politicians.

On the policy side, the Luke Bronin supporter may be best known for his unquestioning commitment and dedication to charter schools, the Common Core and the Corporate Education Reform Industry.

Not only did Paul Tudor Jones create the Excellence Charter School, the first all-boys charter school in the country, but he has been one of the most significant financial supporters of the charter school front group called Families for Excellent Schools.  Families for Excellent Schools (FES for short) has organized rallies in support of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In a successful effort to persuade Connecticut legislators to support Malloy’s initiative to divert scarce state funds from public schools to charter schools, Families for Excellent Schools even bussed in charter schools students and parents from as far away as New York City and Boston to attend a rally in Hartford last year.  The Connecticut spokesperson for Families for Excellent Schools, who happens to have been Governor Dannel Malloy’s spokesperson is also the spokesperson for Luke Bronin.

Meanwhile, Paul Tudor Jones is not only an outspoken supporter of the Common Core, but in a moment of extreme rhetoric, he even claimed that the move to the “Common Core” was the modern version of John F. Kennedy’s “call to put a man on the moon.”

Interestingly, Jones himself has opening trashed the quality of the education he received.

That said, when the Billionaire was asked how public schools could be improved, he told Forbes Magazine that the solution was longer school days and years, better teacher and principal training and true evaluation and accountability.

Jones added that real culprit that caused the problems in the nation’s urban schools were the teacher unions.  Jones observed,

“What’s happened in the last 20 years in many of the large cities in the U.S. is that the educational system has been dictated by the unions.  They have failed. They get an ‘F.’ What we have now is a failure in the way the teaching corps is organized, administered and deployed.”

But if there is one thing that Luke Bronin has made clear in his campaign for mayor, (it even cost him the endorsement of the Hartford Teachers Union), is that money from Paul Tudor Jones and the other corporate education reformers is far more important to his candidacy than any support from teachers and their unions.

Finally, while Paul Tudor Jones’ pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, anti-teacher agenda has generated its share of controversy, it all pales by comparison to the excitement generated by his remarks about the role of women on Wall Street.

In May 2013 the Washington Post reported on a University of Virginia conference that Paul Tudor Jones spoke at in 2012.

Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones told the audience “that it is difficult for mothers to be successful traders because connecting with a child is a focus “killer.”

As Jones explained;

“’As soon as that baby’s lips touched that girl’s bosom, forget it,’ Jones said, motioning to his chest during an April symposium. He was talking about two women who worked with him at a stock brokerage in the late 1970s — two women who married, had children and, according to his account, no longer had the laser focus needed for the intense world of macro trading.”

And as to the possibility that more women will be able to break into the male dominated Wall Street environment Jones added;

“If you told me that this woman was not going to have a baby — certainly can get married but not going to have a baby — then I think it would be a completely different panel 20 years from now,” Jones said. “Assuming that she’s not going to have a baby.”

So Voters of Hartford!

If Luke Bronin wins on Election Day 2015, perhaps he can be convinced to invite Paul Tudor Jones to his inauguration so that the people of Connecticut’s Capital City can meet and personally thank Paul Tudor Jones and Billionaires for Bronin for helping the City’s new leader come up with the cash to run a winning campaign.