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Friday, April 27, 2007

More accusations of questionable political pressure from Lieberman's favorite mayor emerge

The hits just keep coming for Connecticut's top mayoral Libercrat Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez.

A developer says that he offered to pay political boss Abraham Giles $100,000 to vacate a downtown parking lot after being told by Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez that Giles needed to be taken care of to make a real estate deal happen.

The developer, Joseph Citino, was negotiating with Hartford officials to acquire a city-owned piece of land at Main and Trumbull streets. That piece, where Giles has operated a parking lot since 1993, is next to another parcel that Citino planned to buy. He was going to build condominiums on the combined site.

Although the deal fell apart and the money was never paid, Citino said his understanding during a May 2006 meeting at city hall was that the mayor's message was that Giles had to be part of the package.

"He said very clearly: Make sure you satisfy Abe or there's no deal here," Citino said in an interview. "Almost word for word, exactly that."

Citino added: "Did he ever come out, right out, and say, pay him $100,000? No. That's what I thought I had to do."

Similar allegations are outlined by Citino in an e-mail that he sent to the mayor obtained by The Courant through a Freedom of Information Act request.

This is the latest in a series of allegations against Perez that could play a role in this year's crowded Democratic mayoral primary.

No one knows anyone knows how deep Perez's rabbit hole will go but for Perez's sake, he better hope this story doesn't have legs (which is does) and turn into an all-out political scandal (which is very likely).

In any case, the Courant's reporting on this case is setting off alarm bells throughout Hartford and for good reason.

The parking saga is unfolding against the charged backdrop of the upcoming mayoral election, in which Perez is facing a crowd of Democratic challengers.

The candidates are all vying for votes in the party's July convention, when the city's Democratic town committee endorses one candidate.

A central player in the fight for the endorsement is Giles, a former state representative who is said to control key votes on the committee and who wields influence in the city's North End.

Perez's relationship with Giles is already under scrutiny in connection with a different parking lot, across Main Street from the one that Citino was trying to buy from the city. A no-bid contract given to Giles in November 2006 to run that lot has led to an investigation by the chief state's attorney.

I can't wait to see DANGERStein explain this mess...