Lawyer Trying To Determine What Former Hartford Mayor Is Eligible For
April 20, 2011
Former Mayor Eddie Perez, convicted last June on corruption charges, is seeking what could amount to thousands of dollars for unused vacation and sick time, his attorney said.
In a letter to the city's director of human resources, R. Bartley Halloran said Perez was eligible for 1,216 hours of vacation time and 768 hours of sick time. Those hours were reflected on the mayor's pay stubs.
However, Halloran said Wednesday it's unclear how many hours of vacation and sick time Perez actually took while holding the city's top elected position. The figures listed on Perez's pay stubs are the total number of hours Perez was allotted, not what he actually took. Perez was mayor from 2001 to 2010, but it's not clear when he started accruing vacation and sick leave.
Perez's hourly rate as mayor was $66.88 per hour, Halloran wrote in his letter to the city. If Perez had taken no vacation or sick time, he would be owed more than $132,000.
To determine how much money Perez could be owed, Halloran has asked the city to turn over all documents relating to the former mayor's vacation, sick leave and pension. Those documents could include calendars, e-mail and letters, he said.
He has also asked Perez to retrieve any documentation he may have kept relating to his vacation and sick time.
"The difficulty of resolving this is trying to establish exactly how many days of vacation and sick time he took," Halloran said. "The issue is not over whether or not money is owed, it's how much. All he wants is what is owed to him — not a penny more and not a penny less."
Halloran said that due to the nature of the job, it's likely that Perez didn't take many vacation or sick days.
"He really didn't take much of anything. He's not a vacation type of guy," Halloran said. "He was the head of the board of education and he was the mayor. The job was his life."
Perez has been sentenced to three years in prison on five felony convictions and is awaiting appeal.
Saundra Kee Borges, the city's corporation counsel, said her office is gathering the documents Halloran is seeking. She and Halloran both said the case will probably go to arbitration, though a date has not been scheduled.
Neither Kee Borges nor other city officials could say how rules evolved that allow an elected mayor to be entitled to accrued vacation and sick time. Ordinarily, city employees are allowed to accrue unused vacation and sick days and collect payment for them once they leave the city's employ.
Kee Borges said the city pays 100 percent of accrued vacation time, but it likely pays a lesser amount for unused sick time. Santiago Malave, the city's director of human resources, said Perez has not been paid for any unused sick or vacation time.
Perez resigned a week after his conviction. Then-city council President Pedro Segarra replaced him.
On Wednesday, Segarra said he refused Perez's demand for payment because information contained in the request was "not verifiable."
"The city of Hartford, and I, as mayor, cannot afford to be misled," Segarra said in a written statement, "and that's why I have instructed the Office of Corporation Counsel to work with the Human Resources Department to review and closely analyze any and all documentation provided by Mr. Perez or his attorney and to take this matter to arbitration to ensure that the residents' interests are properly protected."
City Councilman Kenneth Kennedy said the city shouldn't pay Perez anything because of his criminal conviction.
"I think a lot of people are like, 'You've got to be kidding me,'" Kennedy said. "He had a criminal conviction. I think it would have been tasteful if [Perez] hadn't made that request."
State Rep. Kelvin Roldan, once a Perez ally who is weighing a run for mayor, said Perez "should be paid no more than what he is legally owed," but declined to comment further.
Shawn Wooden, a lawyer for Day Pitney who is running for mayor, said it is "outrageous" that Perez would "try to lay claim to any public benefits."
"He betrayed the public's trust and should no longer be entitled to public benefits, including a public pension," Wooden said. "I want to encourage the state legislature to implement a zero-tolerance ethics policy that would allow the state to cease public benefits of convicted public officials, and impose harsher fines so that we can once again restore the public's trust in our government."
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal filed a lawsuit in September seeking to revoke or reduce Perez's pension, saying that the court must consider Perez's conviction a betrayal and misuse of public office. Blumenthal could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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