Posted on Monday, January 5 2009 by Heather Brandon
Update 1/5: Sarah Barr of Mayor Eddie Perez’s office announced late today that calling hours will be held from 3:00 to 8:00 pm on Wednesday, January 7 at the D’Esopo Funeral Chapel, 277 Folly Brook Boulevard in Wethersfield. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, January 8, 10:00 am at St. Augustine Church, 10 Campfield Avenue in Hartford’s South End. Burial will be at Cedar Hill Cemetery, 453 Fairfield Avenue, also in the South End.
Former Hartford Mayor Mike Peters passed away last night at the age of 60, after suffering from liver damage, getting a transplant in October, and then enduring kidney problems. At about 9:00 pm, City Councilperson Luis Cotto announced on Twitter, “bumming…mike peters just died!”
Two hours later, WFSB aired a memorializing summary of Peters’s time as mayor from 1993 to 2001, for its 11:00 pm news broadcast:
Under the Peters administration, the city cracked down on gangs and beefed up police presence with substations. Soon, the streets were cleaner and drug-infested housing projects were torn down.
Voters responded and re-elected Peters by landslides in 1995, 1997, and 1999. In 1996, Peters was named one of the top ten public officials in the nation. However, 1997 brought the lowest point of Peters’s administration. The state lost its only major-league sports franchise – The Hartford Whalers.
Still, Peters never gave up his hopes of bringing professional sports to Hartford. In fact, he got the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to tour the city in 1996, and the New England Patriots considered moving to Hartford twice.
Anchor Dennis House added that viewers could stop by his blog to leave their thoughts about Peters; so far there are three comments. The Courant made available a guest book for the purpose of paying respects; a few dozen entries have been created so far.
Some of the city’s bloggers have weighed in today with stories about Peters. Helder Mira at ¡Mira! Hartford recalled his days as a cameraman for the public access station putting in time at City Hall, becoming friendly with the mayor in his last two-year term of four in all. Peters personally gave Mira, and offered to autograph, a copy of Bob Steele’s large, glossy, hardcover book (pictured, photo by Mira), Hartford: New England Renaissance, published in 2000, featuring the mayor prominently.
Recently-laid-off-from-WTIC columnist Colin McEnroe described Peters in his blog as having “an inexhaustible charm and quite a bit of energy. Those two things could get him in almost any door and buy him some time to make his pitch.” Laurel blogger dubymcd wrote that Peters had a big heart and a small ego, and provided a nostalgic photo of an interview with Peters on the day after he was first elected to office.
Reporters Edmund Mahoney and Jeffrey Cohen wrote an article for today’s Courant in which many significant features of the Peters administration were touched upon. From the piece:
[Peters] began Mayor Mike’s Companies for Kids to expand after-school activities, and it raised $1 million for youth recreation programs in the city. He pushed for a state takeover of the non-performing Hartford public school system. And he backed a six-month, city moratorium on new social service facilities, such as half-way houses and group homes. Some city neighborhoods were at risk of becoming social service malls.
Peters fought to get the Crown Palace movie theaters and the new Stop & Shop on the city’s west side, as well as facade improvements on Park Street and the Veeder Place and ArtSpace projects.