City mayors describe inequality with suburbsPosted: April 30, 2014 Two mayors of Connecticut cities and one former mayor commiserated on Tuesday about the economic disadvantages of the state’s urban areas. They spoke at a conference focused on economic inequality in the state, sponsored by the online news outlet the Connecticut Mirror.
Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said for the most part, Connecticut is a liberal state.
“I just think that when it comes to protecting people’s wallets, we’re a lot more conservative.”
Segarra said the fiscally conservative suburban towns aren’t willing to step in to help the state’s larger cities. Former New Haven mayor John DeStefano said Connecticut’s three biggest cities have nearly three quarters of the state’s affordable housing stock.
“The choices made 100 years ago and the choices that many of the communities of CT continue to make about who they zone out, has resulted in a separating of populations and concentrations of poverty and wealth in the state.”
That poverty is also concentrated in some of Connecticut’s smaller cities, like Norwich. Norwich Mayor Deb Hinchey, said the cities all wind up fighting for a finite amount of money.
“And where I become concerned about the inequalities is where that finite group of dollars isn’t disbursed evenly throughout the state.”
Hinchey said the state needs to reform its tax laws to be more fair. DeStefano, who retired last year after 10 terms in office, laughed at that, and said he could tell she’s new to the job.
DeStefano said cities in Connecticut need to take action to reduce their own economic inequality, rather than waiting for the state to take steps. Segarra challenged DeStefano on that, suggesting Hartford has a harder time making changes to impact the economic health of the city. Here’s their exchange.
Segarra said his administration is working on building housing to attract those higher-income people to live in Hartford. In New Haven, DeStefano provided incentives for Yale University employees to live in the city. Yale is the city’s largest employer, and provides more than $15 million a year in payments to support city services.