Archive for March, 2011

City Should Seek Ideas for Prime Parcel
March 31, 2011

21 years ago this week preservationists lost a battle to save this building, Hartford’s first skyscraper.    The Hartford Aetna National Bank building stood for nearly 80 years at the corner of Main and Asylum.    Its owners, the Society of Savings, wanted to demolish the building to build a 45 story tower that would become the tallest in Connecticut.   They also torn down four other historic buildings  as part of their plan.   The tower was never built, and a once vibrant corner became a parking lot.  Sound familiar? 

For a brief period in the 1990s, the lot was used as an open air market, that featured live music.  The wooden structures covering the market were torn down when a developer proposed another skyscraper for the plot, Renaissance Place.    At the time, then Mayor Mike Peters said the market could only be dismantled if construction on Renaissance Place began within a year.  He did not want to see this prime piece of real estate become another parking lot, like the site of the former Statler Parkview Hilton.   Renaissance Place, featuring a Westin Hotel, was scrapped. 

Now might be time for the city to take a good look at this site.  Is a surface parking lot really the best use for this property?  Can the city talk to the owners about their deal with Mayor Peters so many years ago?    

This Sunday at 11AM on our Face the State flashback we will air some archival footage of the Aetna demolition.  It is both spectacular and sad. 

 see also:

Senate President: $2B in State Worker Concessions will Happen
March 31, 2011

One of the key parts of Governor Malloy’s budget proposal calls for $2,000,000,000 in concessions from state workers.   Some union workers have said it will never happen.   Economist Fred Carstensen doubts it also, telling the Stamford Advocate’s Brian Lockhart there is no strategy to get it done.   However, during a taping of “Face the State,” Senate President Don Williams said it will get done.    Republican State Representative Themis Klarides was far less optimistic, arguing while the concessions should go through, she doesn’t think Democrats will let it happen.

Klarides and Williams also debated taxes, cuts, jobs, energy, tolls, and Sunday liquor store openings.

Tune in this Sunday at 11Am for Face the State.

Hillary Clinton Urged to Help Zachs Extradition
March 29, 2011

The Connecticut congressional delegation is urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to help with the extradition of convicted murderer Adam Zachs.      In a letter to Clinton,  the delegation seeks state department assistance in returning Zachs to Connecticut “as swiftly as possible.”

This Saturday will mark two months since Zachs was captured in Mexico, where he was living under the alias Ruben Fridman.   He fled the state in 1989 after being convicted of murdering Peter Carone, outside a bar in West Hartford. 

The state’s attorney’s office and West Hartford police have submitted the extradition paperwork to authorities in Mexico City, but it is anyone’s guess how long it will take to bring Zachs back.   He is being held in a prison in  Mexico City and Eyewitness News has been told a U.S. federal marshal is there to keep an eye on him. 

also read:


Gas Hits $4 a Gallon
March 28, 2011

I had a moment of insanity yesterday when I filled up on the Merritt Parkway (the Merritt has notoriously high gas prices) as  Kara, the kids and I headed to a birthday party in Greenwich.     Gas was $3.99 a gallon!    This was a bargain compared to some other nearby stations.  The Gulf station on Round Hill Road in Greenwich is selling regular gas for $4.10 a gallon.

Hartford Parking Peeves
March 25, 2011

The number one complaint I get about Hartford is hands down, parking.    People tell me parking is often confusing or expensive or both.  

On this Sunday’s “Face the State,” we talk with the CEO of the Hartford Parking Authority, Mark McGovern.     We talk about the parking rates, the best place to park, whether the city will build another garage, and if the city will add meters to streets where parking is now banned. 

Also, McGovern will discuss my pet peeve,  that is shared by many of you, some of whom first brought it to my attention.   That is…the red bags over the meters that suddenly transform a perfectly good parking  spot into a tow zone.   I can’t tell you how many merchants have told me how detrimental this is to their businesses becaused it forces customers into garages or lots where they sometimes have to pay big bucks.    Many of you have complained to me that the red bags are often left there for an entire day or more.   I blogged about this last year:

During previous editions of Face the State, HPD Chief Daryl K. Roberts and Mayor Pedro Segarra blamed the bagging on the parking authority.    We’ll hear what Mark McGovern has to say about it, and you may be surprised.
Tune in this Sunday at 11 AM for Face the State on Channel 3.

Tolls are Returning; but Gas Tax Could Fall
March 25, 2011


It is not official yet, but tolls are coming back to Connecticut highways.    That’s the word from State Representatives Tony Guerrera (D) Rocky Hill, and Pam Sawyer, (R) Bolton.    During the taping of this week’s Face the State, both predicted a toll bill will be passed by the legislature and Governor Malloy will sign it into law.    Guerrera is for tolls and even though Sawyer is against them, she says there aren’t votes to stop the resurrection of tolls, although the form in which they will return is still being debated.

On Sunday you’ll see both representatives presenting good arguments for and against, and Guerrera explaining how his plan for tolls would work.   Hint:  if you are looking for a job as a toll taker, you’re out of luck.     

Those who were of age in the 1980s will remember that tolls were a daily part of Connecticut driving.    Then in 1983, a truck driver plowed into the Stratford toll plaza killing seven people in a fiery disaster.   That led to an escalation of talks on getting rid of the tolls.

On Face the State this Sunday, we’ll take a quick look back at the debate over tolls that dominated the headlines nearly three decades ago.   State senators Tom Scott and William DiBella were our guests on Face the State on March 30, 1984, discussing the pros and cons of tolls.   A year later the tolls became history.

Also this Sunday, the Hanging Shad’s Patrick Scully is here to talk about his findings regarding possible legislative excess.    The Democrats lost seats in the legislature this year, so why is the legislative staff bigger?   Tune in this Sunday at 11 AM for Face the State.    Pat also writes about Face the State right here:

Face the State Flashback: 1992 Connecticut Presidential Primary
March 22, 2011

This past weekend  on Face the State our flashback brought us back to 1992.    19 years ago this week, Jerry Brown shocked Connecticut and the nation when he defeated Bill Clinton in the Connecticut presidential primary.

Brown campaigned in Hartford and New Haven just days before his big victory.    Here is an Eyewitness News report by Deborah Kent we dug out of the archives for Face the State.

Oops! Woman Calls Malloy “Rowland”
March 21, 2011

“Good evening, Governor Rowland.”   That’s how a state worker in a union t-shirt addressed Governor Malloy tonight at the town hall meeting in Hartford.  There was a loud “ooh” from the crowd, but the governor laughed and then pointed to Lieutenant Governor Wyman.  “Jodi, you take of that.”  

The crowd laughed and then the woman apologized to Governor Malloy, saying she was nervous.

With Election Looming, Mayor Segarra Focusing on New Business
March 18, 2011

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is one of our guests on Face the State this weekend, and during the taping we got right down to business by talking about business.    One of the major problems in the city is the shrinking tax base, that impacts everything from public safety to education.     You don’t have to be an economist to understand it ; all you have to do is look around at empty storefronts and empty lots that used to house companies.   Next month Hartford will get more tough news when one of its landmark skyscrapers is mothballed.    Bank of America is moving to Cityplace, and a new tenant has not emerged for the tower, that has been a fixture in the skyline since 1971.

The loss of big taxpayers in the past five years (ING, Mass Mutual, MetLife and WFSB) is  clearly not the fault of Mayor Segarra, but it became his problem when Mayor Eddie Perez resigned last summer.   Those  departures put a big  dent in the tax revenue, and the burden has been shifted to residents and merchants, none of whom are happy about it.    Since then, Segarra has taken the lead in recruiting new business.    There is still much work to be done, but during the taping Segarra pointed to some recent successes, namely a downtown grocery store, a movie theater, and new housing.   

I also asked Segarra about the city’s population crisis.   Once a city of of 177,000, it is now fallen to124,000.   The city’s population has shrunk by more than 50,000 people since 1950.   Segarra talked about efforts to build more housing, and a new tax structure that would attract business and new residents.     

Segarra is running for his first full term and the election is just over 7 months away.   So far three of Segarra’s fellow Democrats have announced they will challenge him.    I also asked the mayor if his party is really the best choice for the city, considering they have run it for the past 40 years.      No Republican candidate has yet emerged.  

We also talked about getting more city employees to live in the city. 

You can watch the entire interview with Mayor Segarra this Sunday morning at 11AM on Channel 3.

Denise D’Ascenzo Celebrates Her Silver Jubilee at WFSB
March 18, 2011



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