For those not up with the news over the weekend, here’s your required Monday morning reading.
First, the Courant’s Jon Lender reports that the digging done by allies of former Mayor Eddie Perez on current Mayor Pedro Segarra has yielded political fruit – Segarra hasn’t disclosed years of federal rent subsidies to his spouse, Charlie Ortiz, on city ethics forms. Potentially worse, though, is the suggestion that Ortiz could be barred from receiving federal rent payments at all because his spouse was, first, a city councilman and, then, mayor. Or is it just because he’s mayor? I’m unclear there. Looking for some insight on both from federal housing law experts. Anybody got any?
Second, the reaction. Predictably, state representative and potential mayoral candidate Kelvin Roldan pounced. I say predictably because it’s an FOI request from of one of his former Perez-mates that got the ball rolling. So, again, there’s Roldan — the former Perez guy — calling Segarra out for ethics and suggesting, this time at least, criminal intent. It’s getting to be a trend. And Segarra responds by saying he’ll amend his ethics disclosures and seek a legal opinion, but he pretty much thinks the whole thing is bunk. That said, he is the guy who bills himself as the transparent alternative to Perez. (As the Hartford Advocate tells us, this is the second amendment Segarra has had to make of late.)
Quick bit of context. You’ll recall that Perez never got building permits for the work done on his house. At the time, that was a big deal because the lack of the permits left open the question of whether Perez was deliberately trying to hide the fact that he was getting free work done on his home by a city contractor. He’s since been found guilty on corruption-related charges dealing with the home improvements.
Also, don’t forget that Segarra and his spouse, Charlie Ortiz, had a permitting issue of their own when they forgot to get city permission to build a fence. At the time, Segarra said that what distinguished that from the Perez work was that the work wasn’t done by a city contractor. And, for the record, state investigators didn’t seem to come knocking. That issue also came up right around the time that Perez was first arrested and that Segarra was trying to oust Perez ally, Council President Calixto Torres. It was a tense time.
All of this is to say that this kind of feels like familiar rhetorical ground between two old foes juiced up by the possibility that HUD’s conflict of interest guidelines could have implications for Ortiz.
I’ll have more tomorrow.