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Praying That Perez Vigil Was A Bad Dream

Helen Ubiñas

March 05, 2009

And here I thought politicians in a pinch waited until after they went to prison before finding God.

Not El Jefe.

Mind you, Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez has always been the impulsive type, and maybe he's just thinking ahead here.

But even after his appearance at Superior Court in Hartford was postponed Tuesday, he and a couple dozen supporters called on the big man up there to take care of the little man down here.

"God doesn't give you a cross you can't carry," Perez solemnly told supporters.

Or kitchen countertops you can't afford, apparently. But that observation didn't make anyone's prayers.

When I heard about the prayer vigil the night before, I hoped it was somebody's idea of a bad joke.

What, there's not enough to pray for in this city that we're going to waste time praying for the soul of a selectively pious politician in hot water?

Do you miss the limelight so much, I asked the Rev. Cornell Lewis when I found out he'd helped organize the spectacle, that you had to resort to this?

Shouldn't we be praying for the hungry, the homeless, maybe those who've lost their jobs over the past few months?

And if people are suddenly so overcome with the need to worship on cold city corners, here's an idea: How's about joining the Rev. Henry Brown, who's lucky if he can draw a quarter of the crowd who showed up for Perez when he's out there praying against violence.

Lewis was unapologetic. You don't understand, he told me. Perez and his family need support. The man's being attacked.


Being attacked is when someone throws a rock through your window because you're black and the good ol' boys think you're living in the wrong neighborhood. Being attacked means you've been targeted for no good reason.

Perez isn't being attacked. He's being criticized for a problem he has absolutely no one to blame for but himself.

So why drag God into his mess?

Feel for Perez's family, sure. But aim the blame at the man himself. Perez and his bad decisions are the cause of all his troubles. And now the guy's pulling every card to get out of it — the victim card, the race card and now the God card.

Careful, Jefe, there's only so many cards in a deck.

Look, there are lots of times and places where invoking God makes sense — but not when all you're trying to do is save your hide. And it's beyond appalling for those who took part in this sham of a service to try to elevate Perez's self-inflicted troubles to some spiritual plane.

This isn't a matter for the heavens. This is as base as it gets, people: The mayor of Hartford traded his office for cut-rate marble. The state says he paid a city contractor $20,000 for home renovations worth twice that, and only after investigators started sniffing around.

The courts will eventually decide if Perez is a criminal but, one way or another, it's clear that integrity and ethics left city hall a long time ago.

But back to God.

I'm no theologian, but I'm pretty sure that before you can expect anything from God, you have to get right with him — meaning that before El Jefe prays for any more divine intervention, he's going to have to confess and repent his sins.

Here's hoping that God has screeners who triage the millions of requests that flow in every day.

Because this is one that shouldn't get past the pearly gates.

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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