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Perez's Power Play On Zoning Panel Transparent

Hartford Courant

June 13, 2009

It's not always easy to engender sympathy for Michael McGarry, but Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez has managed. Mr. Perez has attempted to remove Mr. McGarry as an alternate on the zoning board of appeals.

Mr. McGarry is a former city councilman, where he headed the housing committee, and the current GOP town chairman. He can be brash and disputatious at times, but is clearly qualified to serve as a zoning board alternate. His term ran out several years ago, but he is serving until he is either replaced or reappointed.

Mr. Perez sought to oust him by naming a Democrat, Michael Downes, to replace him. Mr. Perez could have named Mr. Downes to either of two empty alternate positions. His decision to appoint him to Mr. McGarry's post suggests Mr. Perez is indulging a petty vindictiveness, a politics of recrimination, and not for the first time. Perhaps this is why Mr. Perez could not get the five council votes needed to affirm the Downes appointment.

When asked why he was trying to remove Mr. McGarry from the zoning board, the mayor said through a spokesman that it may be time for new blood and new ideas. That is lame. There are two other empty seats. If he cannot find fault with Mr. McGarry's performance on the board, he should reappoint him.

Mr. McGarry pointed out that two board meetings had to be adjourned this year for lack of a quorum. In a city in dire need of economic development, Mr. Perez should focus on getting all the seats filled.

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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