So, I got an interesting e-mail from a reader who saw a column of mine and called Hartford's help line to find out if the city had finally stepped up to help the wood-strapped Open Hearth.
The community liaison who eventually called back dismissed his concerns:
Don't believe everything you read. That Helen Ubinas; she's got an ax to grind.
To borrow a line from Sarah Palin: You betcha I do - especially when the city wastes time on petty bull.
Reason No. 3,752 Hartford doesn't work: It's leaders don't attack problems. They attack their enemies.
It's a lot less work.
Just look at the latest out of City Hall. Mayor Eddie Perez and Councilman Ken Kennedy are knee deep in their very own smackdown, abusing their power just to stick it to one another.
In case you missed it, Kennedy introduced a change in the ethics code that would force city officials convicted of a crime related to their job to give up their pensions.
For all his protests, the obvious target there is Perez, whose administration is under state criminal investigation on allegations of corruption.
Back atcha Ken. Perez and council President Calixto Torres responded with their own addition to the code that could force Kennedy to admit he's got a child out of wedlock.
Kennedy had been trying to keep that skeleton in his closet for a while now, but Torres insisted it had nothing to do with payback, just open government.
Right. If that was the case, they could have saved a lot of time and just sent people to a computer, because that information is public already.
Look, it's not as if sniping hasn't long been part of politics, but this round was dirty, even for El Jefe and the rest of this lot.
You might think they had nothing more pressing to worry about.
But Hartford's a mess. The city is facing an $8 million deficit, the downtown building boom is fizzling and, just as the school system is beginning a major reform, a whole slew of job and program cuts is being considered.
Friday, some of the casualties of the crisis were slowly making their way out of City Hall, after 56 city employees were laid off, nearly half of them Hartford residents.
Josephine Williams packed 26 years of service into four plastic bags and headed to her car.
"I think I'm still in shock," she said when we spoke in the parking lot.
Williams held a mid-level job in the city's finance department, one she slowly worked her way into after graduating from secretarial school.
She didn't have big plans for retirement. But at 56, she and her husband, who holds a modest job in retail, were starting to see the end of the line. More time to spend together and with the 7-year-old granddaughter they're raising.
What galls Williams is that her job gave her a front-row seat to how the city wastes money. If they'd only tightened their own belts, she said, maybe stopped throwing money at questionable projects, there may have been fewer cuts.
But that would have actually taken effort. And who can be bothered with saving jobs when there's revenge to be had.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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