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Segarra Needs To Stop Acting Naive

Helen Ubinas

April 13, 2011

You can only play naive new kid for so long in any job.

And if anything comes from this past weekend's drama over Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra's failing to disclose his spouse's HUD rent agreement, it's that it's time Segarra stop playing that card.

Right now, it's unclear if Segarra's failure to disclose the deal on city ethics forms was an innocent mistake or just plain shady.

Segarra said he would amend the paperwork and seek a legal opinion about the situation. The city's ethics commission said Tuesday that it will investigate.

Whatever its findings, here's what's perhaps more troubling.

This is the second time that Segarra's had paperwork drama — and more troubling, the second time he's pleaded new-guy ignorance.

When the Hartford Advocate wrote that Segarra, who is running for mayor, failed to disclose that one of his campaign donors is a major city contractor, this was his reaction:

"Now I'm a full-time mayor; I can't be a full-time treasurer and everything else," said Segarra.

When my colleague Jon Lender asked him about his spouse's Section 8 deal, he went back to familiar territory:

"I'm not used to thinking like that because I don't have a corrupt mind," he said. "I have to start learning how corrupt people think so I can protect myself."

That comment was so precious, it almost hurt.

Consider this: Segarra took over after convicted former Mayor Eddie A. Perez was nailed on corruption charges. And yet it didn't occur to him that residents might be a wee bit hypersensitive to their next leader's ethics? And even more important, one of the former mayor's most ardent supporters is considering a run against him, and he doesn't ensure not to give Perez allies even the least bit ammo against him?

Clearly this was about politics. If anyone had even a sliver of a doubt, WNPR's Jeff Cohen's latest blog entry is a must-read.

In part, it states that campaign finance documents filed recently show that state representative and possible mayoral candidate Kelvin Roldan has been billed nearly $16,000 by Tremont Public Advisors. That's the firm of Matt Hennessy — Perez's former chief of staff and, many were convinced, city hall puppet master. Looks like he's pulling some new strings.

Roldan also forked over $5,000 to Derek Donnelly, another Perez ally who not so coincidentally happened to file the initial FOI request that sparked the Segarra ethics disclosure issue.

Considering how much traction this slip has gotten, Roldan's gotten his money's worth.

Dirty politics? That's what many readers wrote me to say. And maybe it is. But to play off a popular phrase in today's parlance, hate the player, not the game.

And the bottom line is that Segarra didn't disclose something he should have — again. Even more frustrating is that if he had, it looks as if it wouldn't have been a big deal.

Bottom line: He should have known better. And if he really wants us to believe that he didn't, then perhaps we should be wondering if he really should be mayor.

Helen Ubiñas' column appears on Thursdays and Sundays. Read her blog, Notes From Hel, at courant.com/helen and follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NotesFromHeL.

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.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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