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Hartford City Council Shouldn't Have To Beg Mayor For Financial Information

Hartford Courant

August 18, 2009

Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez and members of the city council face daunting fiscal challenges a $15 million budget deficit, for instance. Isn't it apparent that overcoming the challenges would be much easier if the mayor and the council were on the same team?

It's obvious to everyone else, maybe, but not to the elected officials, who always seem to be at one another's throats.

In the latest flap, councilman Pedro Segarra, chairman of the budget committee, asked city department heads to appear before the panel to discuss Hartford's precarious finances, but they ignore his requests.

Mr. Perez's pledge of better cooperation from his department heads, channeled through council President Calixto Torres, fell on deaf ears perhaps because there has been more than one pledge. "The administration has made several promises before for cooperation," said Councilman Kenneth Kennedy. "It's always gone back to the same old pattern of 'We'll give you the information when we feel like it.'"

So last week, the council mustered a majority of the nine members to vote to give itself the power to compel employees to show up at council meetings and provide information on the budget.

Corporation Counsel John Rose says the council doesn't have the power to subpoena city employees. But the real question is, Why should they have to try such a desperate move?

The council has a crucial part to play in putting together the city's annual budget. If the mayor's aides won't provide information, that's bush-league government.

Hartford's residents may be used to this kind of in-fighting, but they deserve better.

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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