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Hartford City Council May Vote Tonight To Oust Torres

JEFFREY B. COHEN

February 03, 2009

Members of the Hartford city council intent on stripping council President Calixto Torres of his leadership role tonight say a legal opinion issued by the city's attorney will not get in their way.

On Monday, Corporation Counsel John Rose circulated an opinion that says Torres is entitled to a "due process" hearing before the council votes on whether to take away his title of president. Rose does not appear to say whether tonight's scheduled meeting satisfies his reading of the law.But the city charter says nothing about due process rights. In fact, the only things necessary to remove Torres from his leadership position are six of the council's nine votes, according to the charter.

"I disagree with the analysis and I disagree with the conclusion," said Councilman Pedro Segarra, who would like to be the council's next president.

The city council is set to meet at 5 tonight to decide Torres' fate. Some on the council have called for his ouster, citing his allegiance to Mayor Eddie A. Perez, who was arrested last week on charges of bribery in connection with allegedly discounted work done on his home by city contractor Carlos Costa.

Several members of the council said last week that Torres had agreed to step down from the presidency and to support Segarra's bid for the seat. But by Friday, Torres had apparently changed his mind, telling the council that he had done nothing wrong and that he intended to serve his entire term as president.

Rose's five-page opinion, citing case law from three other states some of which did not appear analogous to Hartford's situation concluded that Torres has a right to a hearing.

Councilman Kenneth Kennedy called Rose's opinion "comical." Segarra said he thought the mayor's office had influenced Rose. Rose said otherwise.

"That doesn't happen to me, in my office, not to me," Rose said. "My opinion is based on law and research, lots of it."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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