Below is a letter submitted to the Eye from Councilman Phil Pessina. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the of the authors of the Middletown Eye. It is posted as a courtesy to the readers, facts and opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the author, Councilman Phil Pessina.
Note: This letter is in regards to the cartoon done by Mr. Bob Englehart. Welcome to Middletown, appeared in the Hartford Courant on Oct. 20.
To Mr. Bob Englehart I am very upset and disappointed with your choice of cartoon characters concerning the recent developments involving our former Acting Police Chief and your lack of sensitivity towards our city's Catholic residents and our beloved Patron Saint 'Saint Sebastian'. Your pen has struck a direct insult to both our residents of Italian descent and our parishioners of Saint Sebastian Church. I am perplexed that with all the political nonsense and the problems our state is facing, which our lives are filled with on a daily basis, at all levels of our country's government including the economic situation, people out of work and especially at a time when a community is trying to make sense out of the actions or inactions of an individual, that you would be so insensitive towards our City of Middletown and a large population of a particular faith community. Your insinuation that our town is all "screwed up" is unfounded and based upon your personal feelings. Just because we have a challenge to deal with in our city government, it doesn't give you the right to besmirch our community. Our city has been recognized for its diversity, economic growth, its Main Street scape with some of the finest restaurants in the state; all of which are protected by the men and women of our Police and Fire Departments. Your reader poll comparing an individual and a saint, is very disturbing and a direct insult towards the parishioners of Saint Sebastian Church who have a deep, devote faith in their patron saint who was put to death because martyrdom for the Christian people. I am in a unique position within our city, as a second generation Italian who proudly served for 33 1/2 years in our police department, ending my career as its Deputy Police Chief. I dedicated my career to youth education and community policing with our residents and was the catalyst for arriving at positive solutions towards negative problems. Presently, I am a current 2 term member of our City's Common Council and a very spiritual person dedicated to my faith and Patron Saint of St. Sebastian; to include service to my faith community of St. Sebastian Church as a Eucharist Minister and Lector, to include over 25 years on our St. Sebastian Feast Committee. My suggestion to you Mr. Englehart is that in the future when you are about to put your artistic talents to work on a political issue, that you do so with a much greater sensitivity towards your readers, our state's faith communities and take a much more positive approach towards our state's city and towns. Remember, that when communities are facing challenges, especially during these tough economic times and high unemployment, we need the print media to be more supportive and bring hope to their residents and the issues they are dealing with; not a negative tone with an insensitive drawing, which strikes a blow to a community's heritage which becomes part of the problem not the solution! Therefore, I am respectfully requesting a retraction of this cartoon and your apology to the Italian population in our state and our City of Middletown, especially towards the parishioners of Saint Sebastian Church who have done so much to make our City of Middletown what it is today; a Community to live in, invest in and educate your children in!
Thank you, Philip J. Pessina Councilman, and Parishioner of Saint Sebastian Church.