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Perez: Maintain Momentum

Mayor Offers Few New Ideas In State Of The City Speech

By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer

March 11, 2008

Hitting on familiar themes of reducing crime, improving education and jump-starting the city's economy, Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez gave his state of the city speech Monday to a capacity crowd in the city council chambers.

Perez's speech, which was accompanied by little of his usual fanfare and met with only occasional applause, did not offer many new ideas for achieving his goals.

Instead, Perez emphasized the need to continue his administration's plan to hire more police officers, revamp the city's school system, build homeownership, reduce blight in city neighborhoods and build a new arena downtown.

Repeating an idea he trumpeted in his re-election campaign last year, Perez said the city must "maintain the momentum we created over the past six years."

"This is the goal to grow Hartford by continuing to build on our momentum," Perez said. "As you can see by our long list of accomplishments in a short period of time, we've come too far to turn back now."

The mayor said the city welcomed more than 100 new businesses last year, cut crime to what he described as a "historic low," and paid millions in wages to city residents who found work in the school construction program "especially women and minority-owned businesses," he said.

Perez said he had asked the federal government for $2 million toward a program to provide "worker housing" homes or rental units predominantly for young professionals with moderate income, he said.

The money, if delivered, would be used to secure property rights on sites that can be developed for that purpose, he said.

"This will help maintain and grow Connecticut's workforce, especially in the financial and insurance sectors," he said. "The worker housing will allow companies to recruit and retain their workforce."

Perez also said the city is working to develop a program to help "hard-working families" who have been the victims of subprime loans to refinance their loans and keep their homes, although he offered few details.

And although Perez's speech highlighted what he describes as the work he has accomplished, some who heard the speech were his staunchest detractors.

Michael J. Lupo, chairman of the city's Republican town committee, said after the speech that he and several GOP colleagues did not believe Perez's assertions of progress made under the mayor's administration.

Whether Perez is touting numbers that suggest crime is down, that homeownership is up or that businesses have opened their doors Lupo said he'd like to see proof.

"Show us the supporting data," Lupo said. "This is just a fantasy story Eddie's fantasy land."

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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