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Hartford Mayor Segarra Strong On Ideas, Weak On Results

Helen Ubiñas

June 26, 2011

At one point late in Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra's press conference Friday, he went into rose-colored glasses mode.

People need to be more upbeat about the city, he said. About what works.

"We have to celebrate the positive."

And there it was. If there's one consistent rap against Segarra, it's that he's proven to be more booster than businessman, more caretaker than manager.

More cheerleader than leader.

Maybe he's right; maybe we are a self-loathing bunch. (Mind you, I consider us a rather realistic lot frustrated by a city and leaders that can and should be better.)

But the reality is that we can't rah-rah ourselves into success.

We've heard a lot about what Segarra wants to do. Friday's press conference marking his one-year anniversary was testament to that. The man's got lots of ideas.

He's got a plan to deal with blight, to create jobs and improve roadways.

The latest rash of violence that I've criticized Segarra and the city's top cop about not dealing with? Segarra said, rather defensively, he's got a plan for that, too. He just won't say what it is exactly, at least not until another press conference this week.

Fair enough. But plans aren't results. And it's results that Segarra is light on.

Not surprisingly, Segarra takes issue with that. His first budget didn't require layoffs. He touts demolishing the Butt Ugly Building, cleaning up city parks — at least until they're trashed again. He's especially proud of a popular skating rink at Bushnell Park during the holidays. Accentuating the positive means forgetting last year's embarrassing Festival of Light, I guess.

To his credit, Segarra's doing a good job of trying to rebuild bridges with state leaders that former Mayor Eddie Perez charred with his ego and arrogance.

And, speaking of Perez, Segarra doesn't miss an opportunity to say he's been saddled with the previous administration's mess.

To a point, sure. But that's become way too convenient of an excuse for a guy who wants to be mayor.

And people have noticed that. If my conversations with city residents and officials these past few months are any indication, the reaction to Segarra's reign can be summed up in one sentence: Is that all you got?

No doubt Segarra's a smart guy. Even less doubt that he's a nice guy — and a visible mayor. If there is a baby to be kissed, a hand to be shaken or a mechanical bull to be ridden anywhere in the city's 18 square miles, chances are Segarra is there.

But talk, and glad-handing, is cheap, and Segarra isn't going to win voters over by going down the road of "if people were just more positive about Hartford, they'd suddenly realize things aren't so bad."

It's a nice thought from a nice guy. But we all know what happens to nice guys.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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