Ghosts of Hartford's past power brokers hover over insurers' $50M pledge
The recent $50 million pledge to Hartford from three major insurers headquartered in the city recalled a time generations ago when the civic, economic and cultural interests and future of the city and region were in the powerful hands of a few business leaders.
Known as the "bishops'' or the "bosses,'' those dozen or so men — and a handful of women who also played a role — intervened as necessary, either through their businesses or the then-influential head of the local chamber of commerce and local and state politicians, to bring to or get done whatever the city needed.
The financial pledge from The Hartford, Aetna and Travelers, to be spread over five years, comes as the city struggles to close deficits in its current and future budgets. With the state also grappling with financial pressures, the three major regional employers' gift to the city, which would help fund, among other things, the Hartford Public Library, public safety and recreation centers, would appear to be timely.
However, the insurers haven't said precisely what they expect in return for their pledge, other than being "part of a comprehensive and sustainable solution for Hartford," which the CEOs declared in a published op-ed.