Governing Hartford under any circumstances — especially during a budget crisis — is a tall order. But multitasking? Mayor Eddie Perez says he and his team can do it even while he's defending himself in a corruption trial that begins next week with jury selection.
That's hubris. If the mayor were thinking rationally, he would step down from his job during the trial. He can't do his strong-mayor job justice, thus cheating Hartford taxpayers.
Anybody would be distracted under these circumstances. A mayor facing bribery and extortion charges, fighting for his reputation and freedom in a trial that could last up to 10 weeks, will be extraordinarily distracted.
But Mr. Perez has a Superman complex. Apparently the mayor, who doesn't delegate well, thinks he'll be able to do all he needs to in exercising his considerable executive powers and responsibilities when the trial breaks for lunch each day.
City councilman Kenneth Kennedy says it will be "difficult if not impossible" for Mr. Perez to defend himself and still be mayor. Council President Pedro Segarra says he doesn't see how Mr. Perez can do both. Surely those votes of no confidence echo throughout city hall.
Being distracted by having to answer criminal charges in court is only one reason the mayor should step aside.
The other, no less important, is a matter of symbolism. For weeks to come, Hartford's mayor will be sitting in the dock, defending himself against charges of participating in seedy deals. That image will be a blight on Hartford, a city that desperately needs better.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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