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Luca Brasi

Thank God City Council Doesn't Run Hartford Anymore

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The building at 110 Pearl St (where the old Police Museum was) has a developer and a concept. The only issue is that an inordinate amount of asbestos has been found in the building. So much so, that it will cost over one million to clean up. The developer (who is working without subsidy) has asked the city to clean it up since they sold what the developer considers "damaged goods." After negotiating, the city has agreed to knock off $800,000 off the price to help with asbestos remediation and continue with the planned project. City Council voted to approve, except for one member - Elizabeth Horton Sheff who had this to say:

"We don't need any more luxury condos downtown"

Another council member, John Bazzano reasoned that it was much better to discount the sale price rather than take the building back and have the city pay for the entire price of the cleanup. In addition, once the project is completed, it will bring $750,000 per year in tax revenue to the city.

I don't understand this. Is it better to have this building sit empty for another 15 years? How short sighted can you be??? Thank God this way of thinking no longer runs Hartford.

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Wow, Elizabeth Horton Sheff. Now there's a name that used to mean something. Good thing we have a strong mayor now, these councils are useless.

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The building at 110 Pearl St (where the old Police Museum was) has a developer and a concept. The only issue is that an inordinate amount of asbestos has been found in the building. So much so, that it will cost over one million to clean up. The developer (who is working without subsidy) has asked the city to clean it up since they sold what the developer considers "damaged goods." After negotiating, the city has agreed to knock off $800,000 off the price to help with asbestos remediation and continue with the planned project. City Council voted to approve, except for one member - Elizabeth Horton Sheff who had this to say:

"We don't need any more luxury condos downtown"

Another council member, John Bazzano reasoned that it was much better to discount the sale price rather than take the building back and have the city pay for the entire price of the cleanup. In addition, once the project is completed, it will bring $750,000 per year in tax revenue to the city.

I don't understand this. Is it better to have this building sit empty for another 15 years? How short sighted can you be??? Thank God this way of thinking no longer runs Hartford.

sheff should not worry about the luxury condos being built. those developers are not going to come here to build for working middle class housing. never. she should get off her chair and find developers who will develop the housing she says she would rather see, instead of carping, but then its a little late in her life for a career change.

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Sheff is a good person, I know her. I do think she sees thing very impractically a lot of the time though. Ideally, the North End would be a wealthy, culturally diverse enclave. But you can only work with what you have and what we have is a Downtown that is becoming a hot spot for development so obviously it needs to be developed. There's plenty of low income, moderate income housing in the city and it's not feasable in our current economy to build nice new things for poor people, god bless them. So, even though I can see her heart is in the right place, I think she needs to get her mind right.

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She feels that too much effort is being put into housing for the wealthy and not enough effort into "affordable" housing in Hartford's neighborhoods. She's wrong on all counts.

1. Much effort and considerable dollars over the years has been put into tearing down Hartford's housing projects and building NEW owner occupied housing instead. Most of Hartford is affordable housing.

2. She fails to recognize that a successful city has a nice blend of people from all backgrounds and all income levels as residents. That is not the case right now. When the wealthy come back to Hartford, they bring disposable dollars with them, which they will spend in their neighborhood. The need for new businesses and new jobs will pop up. As people spend more time in Hartford, they will spend more money in Hartford. West Hartford Center was nothing like it is today 15 years ago.

3. The tax revenue John Bazzano mentions is a no-brainer. That alone makes this project worthwhile.

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Short-sighted people are number on on my need-to-get-rid-of list. She's now the first official member of that list...

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I actually think that you need opposing veiw points in order for a council to actually serve it's purpose. I don't agree with everything anyone says. I don't think she needs to go. She has done alot of good things and helped bring about change and better options for school choice for thousands of poor minority children in our state. To dismiss her and her accomplishments that quickly is rather short-sighted. Was it short-sighted to bring a lawsuit against the state to get them to act decisivly in order to improve access to education? I don't think so, and hopefully neither do you. Without Elizabeth Horten-Sheff, the Hartford area may have never built magnet schools. That would be awful for us and our region. Her contributions will improve the quality of life for many for generations to come. Let's keep things in perspective. Most of us will never make as great an impact on society. Hopefully, some of us will, but let's be realistic.

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I understand and respect your point Tycoon, but I'm not a fan of hers. I have read of many instances like this over the years where she fails to see the big picture. I have seen her speak on public access tv.It seems that there are some people who want every resource in this city to go towards social services and we both know that certainly is no way to build a flourishing city.

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I agree that when it comes to economic development that she is failing to see the big picture, we need to gentrify the city and get some new money in here. I just feel that someone on the council needs to be an advocate for those who otherwise would be voiceless. We cannot focus all energy on Downtown while ignoring the need for social services in the city. We all know that Hartford has problems that no amount of gentrification will fix. My point is simply that we need people there who will stir the debate and represent both sides. We NEED more afterschool activities, community centers, and job readiness programs. We NEED more violence prevention initiatives and maybe even a handgun BAN. We need independants like Sheff who are not going to merely vote along party lines but on principle. I can say that she is a woman who stands by her principles, whether you agree or disagree with what those principles are.

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I have to join LB's side on this one. Sheff always seems opposed to any project, any initiative that actually aims to diversify Hartford and improve its economic position by focusing on anyone other than the poor (and nonwhite).

Cmon, have five or six decades of public housing, welfare, anti-violence programs, after-school programs, job preparedness programs, etc., done anything to improve the lives of Hartford's poor? I contend that no, they merely support and entrench a dependant lifestyle. What's needed is a world view that says education matters, hard work matters, and if you focus on those than success will follow (and if you don't, no one will be there to support your ass -- so failure is not an option!).

Heaping on the welfare benefits and social services and afforable housing have only served to make Hartford a warehouse for the poor and needy -- more of those programs will not solve or even help poverty, they only sustain it and make it a viable way of life.

As for the Sheff vs. Oneill lawsuit, it is undoubtedly well-intentioned but I don't know if it has demonstrably "improved access to education" as HT suggested. The magnet schools (most of them are still in their infancy, of course) have demonstrated slightly better test scores than the Hartford Public Schools, but there is a lottery system to get into them, and aren't they just siphoning off the best urban students anyway? Leaving the rest of the urban public schools even worse off?

In the end, a strategy that continues to focus all of Hartford's resources on "helping" the poor will only keep the city poor. In complete contrast to what Sheff believes, I believe Hartford needs all the luxury condos it can sell.

BJE

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In the end, a strategy that continues to focus all of Hartford's resources on "helping" the poor will only keep the city poor. In complete contrast to what Sheff believes, I believe Hartford needs all the luxury condos it can sell.

BJE

I believe that we need all of the luxury condos we can sell as well. I just know from experience that leaving people to completely fend for themselves when they come from situations worse than anything you can imagine is not a good strategy to help improve the lives of urban youth. Like I have said before, life experience does influence world view, mine is more similar to Sheff's than to your's I would suppose, so It's really to be expected that our positions fall as they do. There are populations in this courtry who have suffered from government sanctioned policies to keep them poor, ignorant, illiterate, uneducated, and self-hating for the better part of this nation's history up until the 1960's. To say that the government should have no role in improving the situation that they created simply does not make sense to me. Do you really expect that less than 50 years after the end of legal segregation blacks and other minorities would be caught up with our white counterparts? I wrote my thesis on the Disparities in Inter-generational Wealth Tranfer between whites and minority groups. The median wealth of blacks is less than 1/8 of the median wealth of whites. This is no doubt a result of 300+ years of not being allowed to accumulate wealth and actually being considered "wealth" to others. I'm not trying to stir anything up, but we see the world from 2 different realities I guess.

To me success is counted 1 person at a time. If a magnet school, or voucher/ scholarship to a prep school helps only a few kids who may have otherwise fallen through the cracks, than it's worth it to me.

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