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Hartford Mayor Gives Bonuses While City's In The Red

Hartford Courant

September 01, 2009

Mayor Eddie Perez of Hartford must think he's the top dog at AIG, the way he's handing out bonuses while his "company" teeters on the brink of economic disaster.

Yes, we know: AIG, the ruined insurance giant, paid out bonuses totaling hundreds of millions of dollars while Mr. Perez has distributed bonus checks adding up to only $214,000 since early last year.

But the mayor's generosity with bonuses is troubling nonetheless. He doesn't get the picture.

One of the 51 bonus recipients is Matt Hennessy, Mr. Perez's chief of staff since 2001. He has resigned and his last day will be Sept. 14. Mr. Hennessy will receive a bonus check of $11,450, or 10 percent of his six-figure salary (plus a tidy $17,615.20 for unused vacation time).

Mr. Hennessy is getting the bonus for doing things that seem to be part of his job description like helping to bring federal dollars to the city and developing the mayor's arts stimulus plan for which no bonus payments should be necessary. The mayor's office notes that Mr. Hennessy hasn't had a raise since 2005. So?

Welcome to the world, guys. It's a world of layoffs, furloughs, frozen or reduced salaries, tattered benefits and foregone bonuses. There are thousands of your fellow Hartford citizens who haven't had a raise in some time. People are lucky to have jobs.

Mr. Perez has presided over a huge tax increase and Hartford faces a $15 million deficit. And it's bonus time? Mr. Perez acknowledged Monday that there is another arrest warrant out for him, so he might have more pressing problems than the bonuses. Nonetheless, the bonus procedures should be tightened up.

Councilman Matt Ritter says the city council should have input and sign-off power over bonuses to city employees. That seems like a good idea to us. And Councilman Larry Deutsch called the bonus granting "unseemly, inappropriate, undeserved, and it's an affront to working people and taxpayers." Enough said.

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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