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Hartford Councilman Acknowledges Trying To Make Colleague 'Uncomfortable'

HARTFORD

JEFFREY B. COHEN

October 28, 2008

City Councilman Kenneth Kennedy wanted council President Calixto Torres to know "in the strongest terms possible" that Kennedy was unhappy.

So Kennedy walked into a meeting of Hartford's council Democrats Friday carrying a cane, which he normally doesn't use, and he sat in Torres' chair, which he normally doesn't do.

Kennedy was upset that Torres was suggesting a change in the city's ethics code that could force Kennedy to publicly disclose a well-known personal secret that he has a child out of wedlock.

But he wasn't physically threatening Torres, Kennedy said. Instead, "I was making Cal think twice," Kennedy said. "It was intentional, and I'm not going to say it wasn't."

"He has crossed the line and I wanted him to know that," Kennedy said. "I'd be almost inhuman if I went into the room and shook his hand. I intended to make him uncomfortable."

In a story in The Courant that morning, Kennedy said that Torres and Mayor Eddie A. Perez had introduced the ethics code change one that would force Kennedy to disclose a lawsuit the state brought against him for child support, and therefore disclose his child out of wedlock as political payback. A couple of weeks back, Kennedy introduced a plan to make anyone convicted of a crime while in public office lose their pension. Perez is under state criminal investigation.

Torres denied knowing his ethics code change would affect Kennedy.

"I said, 'Cal, if you didn't do anything, if this wasn't your intention, why are you so nervous? Why are your hands shaking?'" Kennedy said, recalling the Friday meeting. "There are certain things you don't do, and he's done them all."

At least two others were at the meeting. City Councilman Jim Boucher would not comment. Democratic Majority Leader rJo Winch confirmed part of Kennedy's story including the part that he sat in Torres' chair. "I was there, I witnessed the behavior, and that's as far as I'm going to go with it," she said.

Torres said he was not considering filing any complaint against Kennedy with police.

"I've known Ken for a long time, he's a decent human being, he cares very much about his family, and he's a loving father," Torres said. "It's just sometimes a little misplaced anger, that's all. Nothing major."

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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