Category: Community News

Bronin Nominates New Haven Housing Official For Hartford’s Top Development Post

Johnson replaces Sean Fitzpatrick, who resigned in January amid a controversy over his residency. Department heads are required to live in Hartford.

Johnson was most recently the senior director of strategy, policy and innovation for the New Haven Housing Authority. From 2010 to 2015, he worked as the executive director of New Haven’s Livable City Initiative, and after that he was vice president of development at the National Community Renaissance Corporation in California.

Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from Trinity College and a master’s in city and regional planning from Morgan State University in Baltimore. He is a New Haven native.

Erik Johnson is a seasoned, highly regarded economic development professional with extensive experience, and I am excited to bring him on board,” Bronin said. “Erik has worked in New Haven for almost a decade and in cities around the country for most of his career, as well as in the private sector. He has helped create the kind of public-private partnerships that are key to Hartford’s continued economic development.”

Johnson is expected to begin work with the city on Oct. 2. He will be paid $148,000 annually. The city council must approve his appointment.

Kiley Gosselin, who has served as interim development director since Fitzpatrick’s departure, will return to her role as deputy director.

“I’ve watched the beginnings of a revitalization take root in Hartford, and I am thrilled to help lead economic and community development in the capital city,” Johnson said in a statement. “I’ve worked to bring residential and commercial development projects to life across the country, and I think Hartford is in a strong position to build on the growth we’ve already seen.”

Fitzpatrick listed the address of a Hartford social club as his residence on city forms. He also owned a home in Simsbury.

The social club, in Hartford’s Asylum Hill neighborhood, normally rents rooms to its members on a short-term basis and is not zoned as a residential property.

The city requires department heads and other non-union employees to move into Hartford within six months of their start date.

Prior to his resignation, the city’s internal audit commission began an investigation into Fitzpatrick’s actual residency. Howard Rifkin, Hartford’s corporation counsel, issued an opinion in January finding that Fitzpatrick’s address met the requirements of the city’s residency mandate.

“I told you at our first team meeting two years ago that we public servants shouldn’t expect to be thanked very often,” Fitzpatrick wrote in an email to his staff upon resigning. “Baseless scandal-mongering needn’t be part of the deal however.”

Artists Collective Needs Firm Hand, Fiscal Plan


Dollie McLean is a passionate, admired, inspirational soul. Together with her husband, Jackie, she turned a remarkable idea into a state-of-the-art facility, the Artists Collective, on Hartford’s Albany Avenue in 1999. But, the nonprofit’s new headquarters was doomed from the start.

It took the Artists Collective funders 20 years to realize the organization was undercapitalized, lacking experienced administrators and existing without a fundraising strategy — a perfect recipe for failure. But now, help should be paramount, starting with proper and strong governance from the board of directors.

To turn this valuable asset around and support the incredible outcomes it can achieve, the board should be firm in asserting its duty of care, requiring a reassessment of the purpose, operational plan and feasibility of the organization including, most important, a financial projection on revenue generation that goes beyond “If you build it they will come.”

Millions of dollars are being requested by the Collective, dollars that could be used more effectively by other organizations with equally remarkable ideas and appropriate strategies and operational acumen. In order for the Artists Collective to prove its case, it needs to focus not only on its historical program success, but on its business plan for sustainability, specifically philanthropy.

A nonprofit must have a balanced strategy for philanthropy, to ensure it can weather the economic, social and political storms that are sure to arrive. This balance is designed through policy and through professional leadership. If an organization’s executive director doesn’t have the expertise, then a professional needs to be hired.

Contributions from individuals, starting with the board and some invaluable high profile alumni and supporters, are paramount. Relying on corporate and government funding as the sole development plan is a death knell.

As early as 2003, the industry was sounding the alarm to the more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the US: seek individual giving for sustainability. Nonprofits must identify individuals who find their purpose and mission valuable and then prove their worthiness for support. Stewarding those donors is essential to a nonprofit’s success. This means personally inviting them to visit the organization (please, no letters), showing them the accomplishments and demonstrating that the administration can be trusted to perform in a fiscally prudent way. That is the key to philanthropic sustainability.

Funders begin to balk when nonprofits hit the rocks. The hard truth is no one wants to fund a sinking ship no matter how remarkable it is, which is one reason to avoid crisis campaigns for donations. It’s like telling potential donors, “I need a year’s worth of mortgage payments because I bought a house that was too big for my budget, and even though it’s a temporary fix, I’d like you to consider giving me money for it anyway. I’ll figure out how to keep it funded later.”

Instead, the strategy for a turnaround is to develop a solid and justified business plan with financial models showing what is possible with donor support, when it can be realized and who will be in place to lead it.

I believe in the Artists Collective. I think the founders’ idea is remarkable but the organization needs help. Fortunately, the Hartford region has a broad pool of qualified executive directors, experienced board members and successful consultants to guide and bring the Collective back to a stable financial base and become the whole and balanced asset the region needs.

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A Letter From Matt Ritter Regarding The Route 44 Press Conference

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hosted Governor Dannel Malloy, Mayor Luke Bronin, Sen. Doug McCrory, Hartford Council President T.J. Clarke and Council members rjo Winch and Larry Deutsch, as well as the state Department of Transportation (DOT), at an event showcasing the $30 million investment in the Albany Avenue corridor in Hartford.

You can watch the press conference on Facebook.

Improving Safety

The goal of the project is to improve pedestrian and vehicular safety along Albany Ave. and improve the overall aesthetics of the streetscape. There will be more signalized crosswalks and the addition of sidewalk bump-outs which decrease crossing distances.  There will also be new dedicated left-turn lanes at intersections to increase traffic safety.

This is an important investment in Hartford. A walkable city is a livable city. I want to thank the hard work of Senator Doug McCrory, the entire Hartford Legislative Delegation and our incredibly dedicated residents and merchants for their commitment to the Albany Avenue corridor.

Creating Jobs

The project is generating a local job fair. DOT will hold a job fair for the project onMay 24th, from 2-6 p.m. at the Artists Collective theater on Albany Avenue.

DOT is hosting a public information meeting on May 18, from 5 -7 p.m. at the Chrysalis Center, 255 Homestead Avenue in Hartford.

Construction is anticipated to commence in mid-June. The Albany Avenue Reconstruction Project is being funded by a state/federal partnership.

More info is available at

As always, please contact me if I can ever be of any assistance.  I can be reached at, on Facebook @RepresentativeMattRitteror by phone at (800) 842-1902, if you have any questions or concerns.


Matt Ritter
House Majority Leader

Upcoming Construction Bid Opportunities

December 1, 2016: West Hartford, Kennedy Park Pool Filter Installation.
Project #6542F Contact: Rick Hyman at
Click for Bid Details

December 2, 2016: UCONN Gant Building Renovations, Storrs, CT.
Project #901803 – Submit Pre-qualification package no later than 2:00PM to and
Click for Bid Details

December 2, 2016: Vernon Housing Authority Renovations.

Project #Pitkat12-2-16 Contact: Jeffrey Arnemail:

Click for Bid Details

December 6, 2016: Canton, Window Replacement & Related Work.

Project #120616 Contact: Robert Skinner at
December 6, 2016: Milford, West Shore Middle School Alteration & Expansion.
Project #1645 Contact: The Color Company for specs & plans at (203)624-0440 or Paul Jorgensen for technical questions at
December 6, 2016: Fairfield, Internet Portal Telephone System.
Bid #2017-07 Contact: Phillip Ryan at
December 7, 2016: Operational, Safety and Streetscape Improvements on Albany Ave.
Project #63-633 Contact: DOT Contracts at (860)594-3390 or
December 9, 2016: UCONN Student Recreation Center Infrastructure Upgrades – Phase II. Bid #902075 Contact: Maryann Bigda at (203)712-6070.
December 16, 2016: UCONN Student Recreation Center Project, Storrs, CT.
Project #901332 Turner Construction Company is currently pre-qualifying contractors, to be granted access and to receive an email with the link to the FTP site contact Maryann Bigda at (203)712-6070.
Click for Bid Details
December 16, 2016: Norwalk Traffic Signal System Upgrade.
Bid #102-360 Bidders must submit letters of interest to Michael M. Yeosock, PE – Assistant Principal Engineer, Norwalk, CT Department of Public Works.