Hartford Branch Reopenings Delayed as Officials Squabble

Hartford Branch Reopenings Delayed as Officials Squabble

Officials now say two shuttered Hartford (Conn.) Public Library branches will not be reopened August 25 as planned, due to a continuing squabble between the city council and Mayor Eddie A. Perez.

After the council voted unanimously August 11 to restore $200,000 to the library’s budget, the library board announced that the Mark Twain and Blue Hills branches, closed July 3 to address an $870,000 budget shortfall for FY2009, would reopen on the first day of school. However, the Hartford Courant reported August 21, Perez sent council President Calixto Torres a letter August 20 stating that the body did not follow proper procedure when it allocated the funds without indicating where they would come from. Perez claimed that because the action violated the city’s charter, he needed to take no action on it.

“They can say whatever they want to say, but we’re not opening,” said board President Geraldine Sullivan. “We cannot operate in a deficit.”

“We were planning a celebration for Monday,” said Susan Hood of the Laurel Corner Neighborhood Association. “What a slap at the citizens of this city. This is political posturing on [Perez’s] part and the result is punishing neighborhoods and punishing children.”

Majority Leader Jo Winch said that the council could resolve the matter by identifying where the money could come from, which could happen when Torres returned from vacation August 24. “I hope they’re still going to open on Monday,” she told the Courant. “I’m going to call a couple of the board members to ensure that the council is still keeping their word and that we just need to find the funds and let the administration know where those funds would come from.”

Posted on August 22, 2008. Discuss.