Disgraced Public Official Can Learn From Others Like Him
July 22, 2010
A little advice, offered with love, to former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez. Or at least as much love as anyone could be expected to muster for a guy who threw everything away for some home repairs and an aging ward boss.
Forget the appeal.
Seriously, Eddie, stop wasting money you don't have on high-priced lawyers and just do your time.
Chances are it won't be that much, and what's a short stint in prison to a former gang member, right?
Because here's the thing — the sooner you go in, the sooner you get out and become instantly eligible for membership in the brotherhood of disgraced public officials. (BDPO, for short. Membership, free. And unlimited post-prison perks.)
Just this week, former Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, finishing up a seven-year stretch for handing out city contracts in exchange for bribes and kickbacks, walked out of a Hartford halfway house and into the welcoming arms of his 9-year-old-son. Ganim told reporters that he was looking forward to spending time with his family and beginning his road to normalcy.
Oh, my guess is that he can, and will, do a lot better than normal. Especially since he's already looking to get his law license back.
Just look at former Gov. John Rowland, who found God during his year and a day behind white collar bars for corruption, and who is now making deals in his old stomping grounds of Waterbury — at least when he's not giving motivational speeches or hosting a radio show.
And in case you think only the big names get second chances, consider Hartford pastor-turned-pimp Henry Price, who popped up at an anti-violence rally in the North End of the city last week. Who would have thought that guy would have the nerve to show himself around these parts again? But there he was, a ghost of the past returned. Turns out he's been out of prison since 2008, first at a halfway house, then on supervised parole until July 8, when he officially became a free man.
Seriously, disgraced public figures and officials can come back from just about anything. (Short of abusing children. No way former Waterbury Mayor Phil Giordano will ever join this fraternity.)
We have this remarkable capacity to welcome them back even after they've taken our trust and money, and abused them both.
And, Eddie, with your resume, I have no doubt you'll land on your feet.
You could go the Rowland route and become a motivational speaker, specializing in heartfelt stories about overcoming the gang life — and dyslexia. Double the obstacle. Double the pay.
Or how about going to work for your old pal and chief of staff, Matt Hennessy, who left your administration miraculously unscathed and is now a consultant and executive director of a gaming coalition? You took care of him all those years. I'm sure he's ready to return the favor.
Eddie, there's a whole world out there just waiting for you. But first, to repeat an old phrase, you have to 'Let go, Let God' and accept your fate.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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