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Unions, Taxpayers Want Data

By Jeffrey B. Cohen

May 11, 2009

A committee of the city council met this afternoon for what amounted to another - albeit shorter - public hearing on the city budget and Mayor Eddie A. Perez's proposed tax increase.

There were folks there who came to talk about preserving funding for the arts, as well as at least one small business owner - a car dealer - who said he may be forced to take his business out of the city if the taxes go up as proposed.

There were also representatives from the Hartford Public Services Coalition - a largely union-based organization whose members haven't seen eye to eye with Perez on the budget. The coalition came armed with the mother of all Freedom of Information Requests - a list of 27 data requests that touches on political hot points like lists of city paid-for cell phones to city contracts for the former head of the city's Democratic party to a listing of all consultant contracts.

They say they recognize they'll likely not get all the information they've asked for in time for it to be useful for the budget. And even though they've yet to put on the table just what it is they'd be willing to compromise to help save the city money, the coalition says that the FOI request makes a point.

"At least we're delivering the message that there are other ways to save money," said Matt O'Connor, a spokesman for the coalition. "We'd consider a candid conversation. We'd like to sit down and have real dialogue."

Cityline will post the coalition's letter when we can.

Reprinted with permission of the CityLine blog of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the CityLine at http://blogs.courant.com/cityline/ and the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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