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Hoping For Stronger Ties Between City And State

Hartford might benefit from a former mayor as governor, but -

Hartford Courant Editorial

December 16, 2010

The relationship between Hartford city hall and the governor's office might well warm up when Dan Malloy, a former 14-year Democratic mayor of Stamford, takes office as governor next month.

As Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra a Democrat and a member of Mr. Malloy's transition team put it, "It's incredible to have somebody of the same party in this role who has an understanding of urban problems from the perspective of being a mayor."

Just don't let your expectations get too high, Mr. Mayor.

Mr. Segarra said last week that "we're at the table now," and that he would push for more literacy and job-training programs.

Unfortunately, the table is bare.

Both Hartford and state government are staring at huge projected budget deficits. Mr. Malloy understands urban problems as well as anyone. But upon taking office, he'll not be in a position to do a lot about them unless he contemplates massive tax increases, or more borrowing, or sharply cutting spending elsewhere.

For the short term at least, the relationship between city halls all over Connecticut and the new state administration might best be described as partnerships in misery. The state and governments at the local level have an immediate task of working themselves out of a deep hole.

Economic conditions will get better in time. Ties between Hartford city hall and the new administration can't help but be stronger than the city-state relationship in the past.

Gov. John G. Rowland's administration more or less ignored Mayor Mike Peters and other Hartford officials as it acted as the city's de facto development office in the planning and execution of the Six Pillars projects.

Mayor Eddie Perez was often at war with the General Assembly and Gov. M. Jodi Rell too often to sustain a healthy relationship.

"We've got to cut the state budget, but we realize that we have to make a commitment to cities," Timothy Bannon, Mr. Malloy's chief of staff, said recently. That's a "no but yes" formulation that's bound to confuse people.

The real payoff from friendlier city-state relations and Mr. Malloy's well-informed urban orientation, if there is to be one, is likely to come later.

For now, he has to be a fiscal disciplinarian.

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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