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Familiar Face For Hartford's Top Lawyer

Saundra Kee Borges: New mayor goes with who he knows for corporation counsel

Hartford Courant Editorial

July 22, 2010

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra reached into the past Thursday in picking Saundra Kee Borges to be city hall's top lawyer.

We had hoped the mayor thrust into office last month after the conviction of ex-mayor Eddie Perez on corruption charges might look to the future and find new blood for high-profile jobs in a municipal bureaucracy that needs to be reinvigorated.

Ms. Kee Borges comes with some baggage mainly, a middling tenure as city manager during Mike Peters' last years as mayor and Mr. Perez's first year.

She began drawing a lifetime city pension of about $73,000 annually at age 44 and would continue to receive those pension payments plus her pay as corporation counsel a form of double-dipping unless she elected to rejoin the pension plan.

In that case, the pension payments would be put in an escrow account and she would collect them later.

Still, there are several arguments in favor of her appointment.

First, she has Mayor Segarra's confidence, and that could prove invaluable as he assumes strong-mayor powers after a traumatic time in the city's history. She has a wealth of institutional memory about the operation of city government.

Further, she is coming back as corporation counsel, not city manager. She got high marks as a top lawyer in the corporation counsel's office before she became manager. She has been in the private practice of law since leaving city hall nearly eight years ago.

Ms. Kee Borges is not a partisan. She can be expected to render opinions without regard to political influence or misplaced loyalties.

The field is fairly limited at any rate. The corporation counsel must be a resident of Hartford and must have been in the practice of law for at least 10 years a stricture that disqualifies many bright young lawyers in the city.

We hope Mr. Segarra and Ms. Kee Borges, unlike their immediate predecessors Mr. Perez and outgoing Corporation Counsel John Rose are committed to the principles of open government and don't waste the city's money defending secrecy.

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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