An evenly split city council Monday voted down a proposal to rescind the city's layoffs, but council members did vote to give back $1,000 of their individual stipends in an effort to help balance the city's budget.
In an hourslong meeting that was largely devoted to 10 resolutions submitted by Councilman Pedro Segarra, chairman of the budget committee, the council again showed that it is a body wrestling with its role in city government.
Many of Segarra's resolutions, he has said, were aimed at compelling greater responsiveness and accountability from the administration of Mayor Eddie A. Perez.
In the end, some resolutions that originally included forceful language directed at Perez and his staff were softened. Much of that work was done by the council's leadership — President Calixto Torres, Democratic Majority Leader rJo Winch and Councilman James Boucher.
Last month, Perez announced that the city would shrink its non-public safety staff by 132 people and that it would eventually lay off 56. Segarra wanted to turn back the clock and start the process over, but Torres said that layoffs are the mayor's job, not the council's.
In the end, the council voted down Segarra's resolution to rescind the layoffs with a 4-4 vote. Five votes were needed for approval. Councilman Matt Ritter was not present. Votes on several of Segarra's other resolutions were postponed, and the council unanimously approved a resolution that each of its members give the city back $1,000 to help balance the budget.
But the tensions on the council are becoming more apparent.
"It became very clear to me that the leadership had a game plan and that they were going to stick to it," Segarra said Tuesday. The council's leadership didn't care "if people would perceive them as being the lackeys of the mayor. They were willing to run the political risk."
"We don't do everything through the mayor's office. We do independently think," Winch said. But, she said, the council's six-member Democratic caucus has some internal politics to discuss. "I don't want to say that [the caucus] is breaking up, but I think that we have some issues we need to address."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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