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Claiming Dyslexia Is A Poor Defense Tactic For Eddie Perez

Eddie Perez Reading disability is not an obstacle to being a strong mayor

Hartford Courant

June 15, 2010

If Mayor Eddie Perez is dyslexic or has other reading problems, as claimed by staff members in testimony at his corruption trial last week, the disability certainly hasn't kept him from performing the duties of his office.

Whether or not you admire his leadership style or agree with his policies and decisions, you must admit Mr. Perez has been a hands-on executive, a strong, engaged mayor. Mr. Perez seems to have meshed his disability with the functions of his job as successfully as current Democratic-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy, who also is dyslexic, did when he was the longtime mayor of Stamford.

In fact, Mr. Malloy's dyslexia has not been a drawback, and the story of how he has managed it may even be a political plus.

That's why it was so disappointing to hear the defense in Mr. Perez's bribery and extortion trial raise his dyslexia as a reason that he might not have read an e-mail crucial to the prosecution's case.

The March 5, 2007, e-mail that developer Joseph Citino sent to the mayor indicated that North Hartford political boss and parking lot operator Abe Giles was, with the mayor's knowledge, demanding $100,000 to vacate a parking lot that Mr. Citino wanted to buy from the city and turn into a condo and shopping complex. The state alleges Mr. Perez tried to help Mr. Giles get a payoff in exchange for the latter's support in that year's municipal election.

Mr. Perez denies he had knowledge of any payoff to Mr. Giles and has said he never saw the e-mail even though records show there was a flurry of telephone calls from the mayor's office to Mr. Citino on the day the e-mail was sent and on several days thereafter.

Last week, Perez staffers testified that the mayor's dyslexia is a reason the mayor might not have seen the Citino e-mail. Because of Mr. Perez's reading difficulties, witnesses said, city hall staff members try to keep his reading to a minimum by screening e-mails and giving him printouts of summarized versions of the most important messages.

It's doubtful that Mr. Perez would have missed any message this important, one that accused him of being complicit in a payoff. The mayor is, to put it kindly, a control freak. His staff knows he would want to see such a message.

Mr. Perez and his lawyers were grasping at straws to use dyslexia as a defense.

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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