Ken Krayeske photo

Mayor Eddie Perez will announce his official bid for re-election at some
point in the future, he said Monday night after delivering his state of
the city address to an overflow crowd in Hartford City Hall Monday evening.

“I haven’t made a definite decision as to how we are going to do it,” he
said, but made clear it will happen. “Today is about the state of the
city.”

And the state of the city is fantastic, where not a mistake was made or
a bad thing happened, according to his speech, which – minus the
minor-league oration – sounded like a re-election stemwinder.

But Council President John Bazzano argued that the speech wasn’t about
presentation.

“We don’t worry about delivery, it’s content,” Bazzano said. “It was all
things important to the city: housing, police, education, quality of
life issues.”

The ever-loyal Bazzano gave Perez an A.

And for past mistakes, those are for Perez to admit, said Council member
Jim Boucher. “It was a positive, strong speech,” Boucher said.

“Together, we proved the doubters wrong,” Perez said in the first three
sentences. Then he co-opted union organizing language “Together we can
say ‘Si se puede!’ That means ‘Yes we can!’ And Hartford, together, yes
we will!”

From a podium in the center of Council Chambers, Perez juxtaposed
achievements with future goals. Reading the text (which was provided to
the press beforehand), Perez repeated sentences, jumbled words and
stumbled through lines.

But he knew when to pause for applause.

He highlighted the creation of the Office of Youth Services, then said
he would throw another $2 million at it for after school programs.

He discussed the efforts of police to curb crime, then unveiled an
ordinance to allow Hartford’s Corporation Counsel to sue gun owners who
who fail to report a lost or stolen weapon that is used to commit a
felony in Hartford.

He talked about the creation of more than 2,100 housing units in
Hartford, and the transition of 1,350 renters to home owners. Then he
promised $50 million in capital funds to provide middle-income rental
housing.

He bragged about spending $360 million on building schools, and
committed another $232 million towards school construction in the future.

The speech was a C-plus, according to Council member Elizabeth Horton
Sheff, because she had several questions about Perez’s numbers.

“I’m not sure what’s real and what’s Memorex,” Horton-Sheff said. “How
much of that $360 million is money from the Sheff settlement. He talked
about 5,000 new jobs. How many of those are already filled? Out of the
apartments, how many are luxury and how many were created by the
Hartford Housing Authority.”

Council member Bob Painter said most of the speech was exciting, but for
Perez’s pitch for a new arena.

“I can’t stand the idea,” Painter said. “To think a stadium is
significant for economic development, it hasn’t been borne out in other
cities.”

Right after the rink line, at the end of his presentation, Perez offered
that his government would start a citizens’ task force to review the
impact of charter changes and determine whether or not a new charter
revision should occur.

“The government works best when it listens,” Perez said. “Good
government is by the people, for the people.”

The speech was energetic, Republican mayoral contender J. Stan McCauley
said.

“I think the mayor now realizes that he needs to listen to people,”
McCauley said. “But he’s pulling an old Joe Lieberman. ‘I hear you. I
hear you.’ It was almost too late for Lieberman. Let’s see if it works
for Perez.”

More pointedly, McCauley wondered why only one member of Hartford’s
delegation to state legislature was present.

“Notably absent was Hartford’s delegation,” McCauley said. “The absence
speaks to the gulf between the city and the delegation.”

State Rep. Kelvin Roldán, the recent beneficiary of city largess, is a
proud acolyte of Mayor Perez.

“I’m here because I support the Mayor 100 percent,” Roldán said. He
refused to speculate on the absence of his colleagues. “That is for you
to infer, not for me.”

No one else in the mayor’s camp would hazard a guess as to why the other
seven members of the delegation were missing.

“The main discussion was about key issues that affect the city and
state,” Councilor Boucher said, but pled ignorance as to the absence.

As did Council President John Bazzano and mayoral press aide Sarah Barr.

After the speech was over, while audience members nibbled on crudité
platters, chocolate chip cookies and sliced fruit trays from the $1,500
Myles Catering buffet paid for by taxpayers, Perez did a few short
interviews.

Barr made clear that the evening was not for the p-word after Courant
reporter Dan Goren asked Perez about his critics.

“No politics, just celebrate,” Barr interjected.

But when some of the crowd gave Perez a standing ovation and chanted
“Four more years,” it was hard to ignore that neighborhood activists
Bernadine Silvers and Hyacinth Yennie remained seated.

And former Mayor Thirman Milner, part of the standing room only crowd,
remained motionless with his arms folded while the throngs clapped loudly.

“It’s campaign time,” said Milner, who is considering a mayoral bid. “It
is no less than I expected. My concern is about what hasn’t happened. He
addressed some things, but there is more to be done.”