Hartford Vacancies Qualified candidates found, but it was a too-lengthy process
Hartford Courant Editorial
January 31, 2011
Since June, the five-member Hartford Parking Authority board had been limping along with just three members; since November, with only two.
In fact, the authority was sued when the two members voted in December to end a contract with a vendor — because the Municipal Code requires that a majority of at least three be present to vote on an issue.
This is no way to run a government agency.
It took until last week to fully restock the board because, Mayor Pedro Segarra said, he had trouble finding qualified candidates who want to serve. That doesn't speak well of a city of Hartford's size and illustrious history of civic engagement.
But it looks as if the three that Mr. Segarra finally found to fill the seats will be good additions to a board that is one of Hartford's most important. The parking authority finances and operates city parking garages and lots. It also regulates and collects revenue from on-street parking kiosks and meters.
The new parking authority commissioners, subject to city council confirmation, are Rex Fowler, executive director of the Hartford Community Loan Fund, an independent lending agency; Jose Rene Martinez Onofre, an assistant state attorney general; and William Breetz, a lawyer with the Levy & Droney law firm. All are Hartford residents.
The council has had its own problems with vacant seats. Personality conflicts and political considerations kept two vacancies from being filled as early as they could have been. Names were kicked around for several weeks before appointments were made last week. It's best if transitions are as seamless as possible.
Finally, Robert Painter and Corey Brinson were appointed Monday to replace the two council members who left: One was Matthew Ritter, who was sworn in early this month as a member of the state House of Representatives. The other was Veronica Airey-Wilson, who in December, at age 57, took the city up on its early-retirement offer from her elected position before voters could decide whether to retire her for her criminal record. She had been charged with a felony in the scandal surrounding former Mayor Eddie Perez, but was granted accelerated rehabilitation last year.
Both new members have something to add to the council: Mr. Brinson, 30, Ms. Airey-Wilson's nephew and an attorney, his more youthful perspective, and Mr. Painter his experience gained as a former long-time council member.
But the process was further marred when the majority of members who decided on the appointees failed to notify Working Families Party members Larry Deutsch and Luis Cotto of the names until just a few minutes before the vote. Why so disrespectful to Messrs Cotto and Deutsch? And why does it take so long for the council to get its act together?
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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