Left to right:Mayor Eddie Perez, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, and state Rep. Marie Kirkley-Bey.Christine Stuart photo
Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez publicly endorsed New Haven Mayor John DeStefano in his bid against Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and joined him Tuesday in criticizing Rell for not being tougher on gun crime and more supportive of youth programs. “Mayors across the state have told Jodi Rell that she’s dead wrong,” on these issues, Perez said. He said her budget proposed no funding for youth employment, no increased funding for local law enforcement, no new funding for the state gun trafficking task force, and no meaningful post-release services to reduce recidivism.
“The state is spending $102 million on youth in Hartford with most of that money going to prosecution and detention and not prevention,” Perez said. “She’s spending the money in the wrong places.” In February, DeStefano, Perez and a dozen other mayors wrote Rell about the increases in youth and gun violence they were seeing in their cities. What we “got was a nice letter back saying the state was doing enough,” DeStefano said. Despite promises to the contrary, “what we got was one meeting, on one day with one press release.“However, after being pressed on the issue, Rell did agree to support legislation to impose a penalty on gun owners who failed to report their gun lost or stolen within 72-hours. But in the last few days of the legislative session the Democratically controlled House of Representatives failed, after three-hours of debate, to pass it. Dan Levine photo
Rell’s campaign spokesman stuck out his tongue and blew at the mayor’s attempt to paint Rell as a “big softie.” Rich Harris said Rell did support that legislation and will support it in the future. But DeStefano said Rell should have been a leader in getting the legislation passed this past legislative session. “She had no trouble claiming credit for the transportation bill,” that she didn’t even propose, he said. He said she shows no “sense of urgency to accomplish an agenda.” DeStefano pointed out that as a legislator in 1993, Rell voted against a bill that placed a ban on the sale and possession of assault weapons and in 1994 voted against a bill that would have established rigorous background checks on new handgun owners. Harris said he’s surprised the two mayors would even try to throw punches when “Hartford can’t even deal with gun violence on its own,” it needs the help of the state police. And New Haven has seen 18 homicides this year. While DeStefano is digging up 14-year-old legislation, 14-year-old kids on bikes are getting shot, Harris said. But DeStefano said it’s more than crime statistics. The crime statistics are just the result of bad public policy the past seven years, state Rep. Marie Kirkley-Bey, D-Hartford, said. An example is the lack of social service funding for kids and families. Rell’s budget didn’t include any money for summer youth employment, DeStefano said. However, her budget did include more money for prosecution. Rell added three additional prosecutors and dedicated one judge in each of the three Superior Court’s in Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport to preside over all offenses involving firearms. Harris said she’s also increased outreach for the HUSKY health care program, an insurance program for uninsured or underinsured children in the state and increased funding for the Department of Children and Families. These programs have all been approved, Harris said.