The Hartford Foundation for Public
Giving hosted a fiscal forum on behalf of the City of Hartford that came about
as a result of ongoing discussions we’ve been having with city officials. The
panelists were exceptional in their ability to talk about the nuts and bolts
of municipal bankruptcy and what the implications might be for the City of
Hartford, the potential impact to safety services, or to the housing market for
citizens who were looking to buy or sell a house in the city of Hartford. We were
able to talk about the implications to the public school system. So these were
issues that were raised by the residents, that were priorities of the residents. So
to have them hear directly from individuals who had first-hand
experience was something that the feedback that the residents gave us was
exceptionally valuable. This was not intended to be a one and done. This is
going to be an ongoing series of conversations involving residents and
other stakeholders. Because whether or not the city of Hartford files for
bankruptcy or ultimately has some form of state assistance and intervention it
is critical to understand that these are structural problems that won’t be fixed
by a band-aid and the mayor made that very clear. That we have to move the city
of Hartford from solvency to stability to ultimately strength. These have to be
sustainable solutions but they can be done. It will take the collective will
and leadership, very difficult decisions will have to be made, but at
the end of this process, this community is much more informed and prepared and
equipped to not only participate but to understand what would be needed after to move the city to success. Having held the initial discussion, people are asking
what’s next. The Hartford Foundation is going to be engaging with other
community foundations, specifically the Kresge Foundation. I’ve had an
opportunity in the past to talk to Rip Rapson, who is the president of the
Kresge Foundation, who laid out for me a very thorough and compelling case as to
Kresge’s role in Detroit’s bankruptcy. So there are potential lessons that the Hartford Foundation can consider as it works with
the city of Hartford as it goes through its process, whatever it happens to be. So
we’re excited about the prospect of convening additional conversations, about reaching out to other community organizations and
other stakeholders to make sure that whatever happens here in the city of
Harford, it is one that involves key stakeholders, it is one that is well
informed, and that we are prepared for a better Hartford at the end of this
process. As Harford goes, so goes the region. And that was made very clear by
the panelists, it was made very clear by the fact that stakeholders showed up
from the city of Hartford and across the Greater Hartford region. So again, thank
you for the participation, the commitment and concern. This will absolutely be a
process that impacts, but more importantly involves all of us.