March 16, 2008
By Ken Krayeske • 1:45 PM EST
This has got be a new record in audacity: Mayor Eddie Perez appears in 19 of the 21 photos printed in the latest edition of the Mayor's Update, that expensive, four-color glossy taxpayer funded advertisement for the city's chief elected official.
And in a new development, the Mayor's wife Maria is prominently featured. Look, there's the mayor with his wife three times, there's the mayor at three different ribbon cutting ceremonies, there's the mayor with a hardhat, there's the mayor on patrol with two cops, there's the mayor wearing a Starbucks barista apron, there's the mayor appearing to teach a young African-American boy, there's the mayor wrapped in the flag, there's the mayor taking the oath of office, there's the mayor taking a bribe.
No, woops, sorry. We don't have a picture of that last one, but certainly, the grand jury investigation down in New Britain is trying to develop an image of any wrongdoings that may have occurred on Eddie Perez's watch.
Of course, the latest in the collect-them-all series of "The Mayor's Update" makes no mention of the Mayor's legal battles. This frank features a consistent message about the massaged crime statistics "Lowest Crime Rate in 30 Years," something we all know is not the truth.
However, it starts off with the message that the Mayor is "honored and humbled by the trust you have placed in me to serve as your Mayor for another four years. Together, we have ushered in a new era of hope, inclusiveness and progress."
I don't know where to start with the Mayor's double-speak in that one. There he is trying to swipe the language of hope again. There he is saying he is inclusive, which, when you study his machinations, the only people he includes are those who help him (Abe Giles, Carlos Costa, etc).
Sure, he won the most votes in the last election, but wasn;t that a foregone conclusions based on the fact that he outspent his closest competitor by a margin of nearly 5-to-1 (one in five, no one here gets out alive). But do we really place our trust in him? I don't. And I know many others don't either. But such is life when you try to create a reality in the Bushian sense, where the world is falling apart around you, so let's go ahead and pretend it's all good.
Then there's the full page dedicated to the Mayor's inaugural ball (doncha know it raised $20 thou for charity?). And the classic centrist headline: "Hartford is open for business!" And the Mayor is for sale. Tell us something we don't know.
But it does prominently and curiously feature the Mayor's wife Maria. There she is standing by his side at the swearing-in ceremony. There she is posing with Perez and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.
There she is in the biggest photo of them all - we see her face and torso, but only the mayor's profile. It was taken by Andy Hart - my editor at the Hartford News - at the inaugural ball. It is reproduced above. However, the caption indicates that the interested citizen can go to the city's website and see more pictures by Rob Thompson and Jeffrey Teitler. A little strange, but not as intriguing as the concept of Maria stealing the show.
During the past week, the Northeast has been treated to much discussion about the spouses of powerful politicians standing by these fallen men in moments of corruption and scandal. Clearly, this piece was ready for print before the whole Eliot Spitzer mess. Nor am I about to give Mayor Perez's crack staff of more than 30 people credit for this much thought - i.e. - positioning Maria Perez prominently in order to deflect future heat in the event of a Perez indictment.
Or is it in order to create a political career for her? She has a heroic story of overcoming illness, and just maybe, she could have ambitions of her own.
So I wonder - if it isn't conscientious, is there some sort of unconscious manipulation happening within the Perez camp? Never before has she appeared in so many photos in a frank. But then again, we've never been treated to the sight of City Councilor rJo Winch's shaved armpits.
Oddly enough, Working Families Party councilman Dr. Larry Deutsch appears in this chorus line of elected Democrats. Deutsch obviously had no control over his placement in the brochure, but one would hope that he or his fellow WFP councilor Luis Cotto publicly rebukes the mayor for such largesse and self-serving publicity, particularly when a cloud hangs over the Mayor's office and the rest of the city is suffering serious economic hardship.