Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Eddie Perez probably won't be going on "The View" and talking over his legal troubles with Barbara Walters. But it appears he's going to take a page out of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's book nonetheless, filing his most urgent appeal in the court of public opinion.
This is a time-honored tradition for politicians facing legal peril. When they come under indictment, as Perez did today, the first step they take is either to blame their prosecutors in an attempt to deflect blame for their own misdeeds, or dismiss the charges as no big deal. "At the end of the day, a lapse in judgment is not a crime," Perez told the Hartford Courant .
In some communities, this actually works. Corruption is not only expected but accepted. Politicians receive forgiveness if they're seen as getting the job done, even if they're caught with their fingers in the till. Here, I'm thinking about former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci, awaiting his next post-prison comeback as a talk radio host.
But in Connecticut, Perez's misdeeds - accepting bathroom and kitchen renovations from a city contractor - sound uncomfortably familiar to a populace sickened five years ago by similar charges that brought down Gov. John Rowland.
And it's hard to argue that getting your kitchen redone courtesy of a contractor who's done millions of dollars worth of work for your city somehow served the public good.
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