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No Time To Send Perez Packing

HERNAN LAFONTAINE

October 04, 2009

Now more than ever, Hartford needs the experienced and effective leadership of Mayor Eddie Perez. Any objective assessment of his performance in office since he started will reveal an ongoing and quantifiable record of accomplishments benefiting the citizens of Hartford at all economic levels.

The mayor's arrests on charges of bribery and extortion cannot be ignored because they represent serious challenges to his record of ethical behavior and his sense of good judgment. Unfortunately, vocal opponents continue to take every opportunity to chastise, to judge and to find him guilty before he has truly had his day in court. The extended investigation of almost two years and the repeated delays in court proceedings are tantamount to extreme legal harassment that would likely not occur if he were an average citizen.

The cries for the mayor's resignation and the incessant rumors and allegations against him represent a level of political persecution that has not been seen in Hartford in 30 years.

A rush to judgment in the public forum does not take into account the mayor's ability and continuing value to Hartford as demonstrated by the city's forward movement during his tenure in office.

New and improved housing in various neighborhoods, the growth of the police force to appropriate levels, increased economic activity in the form of a convention center, and a new hotel and a world-class science center are some of the signs of substantial urban progress generated by the mayor's stable leadership and clear focus on success in municipal government.

As much as the mayor was vilified for assuming the presidency of the board of education, it is obvious that his participation was a vital element in laying the groundwork for what is now emerging as significant improvement in the school system and especially in the students' academic performance.

This is a record that cannot be dismissed, even though many critics prefer to ignore it and continue their facile reactions and demands for the mayor's resignation. What an easy bandwagon to jump on: The mayor is in trouble, drag the mayor down.

With the dire and profound financial crisis we are facing as a nation, this is absolutely not the time to change leadership and risk bringing in novices with little experience and with questionable agendas.

Mayor Perez has already proven to be one of the most conscientious and dedicated public officials in government. His schedule has become legendary as he extends his work week into weekends and holidays. Staffers are not surprised if he calls on them on a Saturday or Sunday to ensure the completion of a task. His stamina and enthusiasm for resolving large city problems are matched by his compassion and sensitivity when he offers assistance and support to families or individuals. He is without any doubt the people's mayor.

Those of us who have had the opportunity to witness Mayor Perez conducting his everyday work at the highest level of professionalism know that he will continue to withstand the pressure created by the irrational demands of his detractors.

We believe he will thrive and succeed in his performance as he has always done. And Hartford will be the better for it.

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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