Beginning Monday if you stop by Hartford City Hall and stop by the Mayor’s office, you will be told “the Mayor is not in.” You’ll get that answer for about 6-8 weeks That’s because Mayor Eddie Perez will be several blocks away, standing trial for bribery and extortion.
So who will be running the city? The Mayor says he will be in charge, even though he will be behind closed doors in court, where cell phones are not allowed and judicial marshals will be on hand to make sure there are no interruptions. The Mayor says he will conduct business, including managing a huge budget crisis and recruiting desperately needed new businesses, during lunch breaks and at night. Mayor Perez has ignored all calls for him to step down temporarily, even from city council members, and the state’s largest newspaper.
City Council President Pedro Segarra and other council members could take action to remove Perez, and might do so if the city should suffer during the Mayor’s prolonged absence. During a taping of “Face the State” I asked Segarra if he felt Perez should stay on the job during the trial. “I wouldn’t do what he is doing if were mayor,” Segarra replied, adding that he loves the city.
The corruption scandal and trial make up a dark chapter in city history. Segarra is a soft spoken former city attorney who would become Mayor is Perez is convicted. He told me is “as prepared as he could be” to take over the reins of city government.
You will hear from the potential future mayor this Sunday at 11AM. Channel 3’s Len Besthoff, who has been covering the Perez scandal for two years, is our guest reporter.