Two Examples Public officials take advantage of their positions
Hartford Courant editorial
October 27, 2010
Just because former Mayor Eddie Perez has been convicted on felony corruption charges and sentenced to three years in prison doesn't mean city government in Hartford has been completely disinfected.
An internal police investigation found in August that Officer Hector Robles knowingly falsified time cards and bilked the department out of more than $9,000 in overtime. A disciplinary hearing concluded last week, but Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts has yet to decide on a punishment.
Termination has been recommended. That's what he should get, since Mr. Robles has neither the pride nor conscience, apparently, to resign either as a police officer or from his other job of public trust, state representative from the 6th District.
Mr. Robles raises the "everybody does it" defense, claiming that 11 other officers are falsifying their overtime records too. Has he told the chief who they are?
This case should be referred to the state's attorney.
Also last week, city councilwoman Veronica Airey-Wilson was granted accelerated rehabilitation, a special form of probation that will allow her record to be expunged if successfully completed. She had a city contractor — the same one involved in the Perez corruption case — install a granite countertop in her home. She was accused of tampering with evidence to show that she had paid for the installation even though the contractor, Carlos Costa, testified that he did the work for free.
"My biggest regret is that I guess I'm so open and trusting of everyone and in my choice of selecting someone to do the work in my home. I didn't recognize the flaws," she told Judge Julia D. Dewey Thursday. She's got to be kidding. Didn't "recognize the flaws"?
Mr. Costa certainly recognized the flaws of mixing personal and city business. The contractor, whose $5.3 million contract with the city was plagued by delays and shoddy construction, testified that he installed her countertops for free, at her request, because "she was a councilwoman and she was in a position to help me."
Ms. Airey-Wilson's attorney said his client will continue to serve on the city council during her probationary period. She should resign to spare Hartford another embarrassment.
What are Hartford's children to think when a police officer and a council member — let alone a mayor — use their public positions to profit and then won't take ownership of what they did?
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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