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.

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.

Luke & Sara Bronin and the “Laws are only for the Little People” Crowd

For weeks, Hartford mayoral candidate Luke Bronin was breaking Connecticut law by accepting a significant in-kind corporate contribution from the New York public relations firm that had hired Governor Dannel Malloy’s former spokesperson.

By using Andrew Doba as his own Press Secretary and Communications Director Bronin was violating two of Connecticut’s most important campaign finance laws, a prohibition on corporate contributions and a prohibition on contributions in excess of $1,000 when running for mayor.

It was only after Wait, What? reported on the Bronin campaign’s violations that Luke Bronin finally saw fit to end the illegal maneuver.  Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission has yet to fine Bronin’s campaign.

And yesterday, it was attorney and UConn Law School Professor Sara Bronin whose activities violated both Connecticut’s campaign finance law, and of even greater consequence, the Connecticut State Statutes that prohibits state employees from utilizing state resources to engage in political activities.

Fellow blogger and commentator Kevin Rennie revealed the latest chapter in the Bronins’ stunning and wonton disregard for the laws related to state employees and campaign finance in an article entitled, “Sara Bronin Has a Primary Request–and Sent It From Her UConn Email Account and published yesterday on his Blog, Daily Ructions.

In 2007, a similar violation by a Department of Transportation employees who was also a South Windsor Republican office holder and candidate led to punishment that included a 6 month suspension and unpaid leave that cost her $8,160 a month in her state salary.

As for Sara Bronin’s action, Kevin Rennie writes;

They are throwing everything they have at befuddled incumbent Pedro Segarra in his Hartford Democratic mayoral primary with Greenwich Brahmin Luke Bronin and Company. Below is an email Sara Bronin, the candidate’s abrasive spouse, sent today to University of Connecticut School of Law community from her UConn email account.

From: Bronin, Sara <[email protected]>
Date: Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 8:18 AM
Subject: Election Law Monitoring 9/16
To: [email protected]

Hi everyone,

Putting on my Hartford resident hat, rather than professor hat for this community listserve announcement:  For those of you who may not know, there is a municipal election happening in Hartford this Wednesday, 9/16, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.  One of the Democratic candidates is seeking law student/attorney poll monitors to ensure that the election runs more smoothly than last time.  (It was so bad that the State mandated a monitor to oversee the City registrar…)  For those of you who want to get some hands-on experience in election law, now’s your chance!

If you’re interested, please get in touch with Laura at 860-318-5279 or [email protected] and she will provide further instruction.  If you speak Spanish, please let her know.

Best,

Sara Bronin

Of course, as Sara and Luke Bronin must certainly know, the Connecticut state laws prohibiting state employees from using public resources to further a political campaign or engaging in political activities on state time could not be clearer.

And those laws have been regularly enforced…

In a similar situation in 2007, the focus was on Janice Snyder, a South Windsor Republican and DOT employee.

On November 3, 2007, the Hartford Courant wrote;

The chairwoman of the board of education, a Republican up for reelection Tuesday, has been placed on paid administrative leave from her job at the state Department of Transportation after local Democrats asked for copies of e-mails sent to and from her work e-mail account.

Janice Snyder, who has worked 32 years for the state Department of Transportation, was placed on leave Monday. Judd Everhart, a DOT spokesman, said Snyder would remain on leave “pending an internal investigation of the use of her computer.” Snyder is an assistant director of purchasing for the DOT.

The e-mails came to light after a member of South Windsor’s Democratic Town Committee sent a request under the state Freedom of Information Act to DOT Commissioner Ralph Carpenter.

While Snyder was eventually allowed to return to work, her punishment for violating Connecticut law was significant and costly.

Lets face it…Claiming ignorance of the law won’t be a good defense, especially since both Luke and Sara Bronin received their law degrees from the prestigious Yale University School of Law.

Perhaps even more relevant is the fact that Luke Bronin, who served as Governor Malloy’s chief lawyer from 2013-2015 and collected nearly $400,000 in taxpayer funded salary and benefits knows, or should have known, all about Connecticut’s ethics and campaign finance laws.

And there is certainly no excuse for Sara Bronin, who as a law professor at the UConn School of Law, has collected, over the years, a publicly funded salary and benefits in excess of $780,000 from the University of Connecticut.

The truth is that when other state employees and candidates have violated Connecticut State Law they have been held accountable.

It will certainly be interesting to see whether these two key allies of Governor Malloy are treated differently than everyone else has and would be treated.

Maybe, in the end, the Bronins are right…  Maybe when you travel in the “right” circles you get to play by a different set of rules because, when all is said and done, the laws really are only for the Little People.