Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Damn, I Wish I Was a Man. Cindy Lee Berryhill Visits Middletown's Buttonwood, Friday

Cindy Lee Berryhill will perform at the Buttonwood Tree on Main Street in Middletown on Friday, August 17, 8 PM.

I've been doing a weekly radio show at WWUH (91.3, University of Hartford) since 1985.  Over those years, there have been more than a few artists who have created a lasting impression, and a lasting body of work to sustain the original impression.

Cindy Lee Berryhill is one of those artists.

Berryhill, from San Diego, sprang on the scene with a song released for an alternative compilation called Radio Tokyo Tapes (Volume 3).  When I first heard her song Damn, I Wish I Was A Man, I knew there was something special going on.  The quirky, dreamy, biting condemnation of male domination in society, was sung in a wistful yodel that made its feminist message funny and memorable.

Berryhill recorded the first album of original songs for Rhino Records, which had previously only released compilations.  With good notices for Whose Gonna Save The World in her fist, she moved to New York and helped start the anti-folk movement with other anti-folks like Michelle Shocked, Brenda Kahn and Beck.

Berryhill's second album, Naked Movie Star, released in 1989, featured a prescient protest song about a New York city real estate developer.  Trump, the song, may have been the very first of its kind written about a particular president who has come to haunt our dreams.

Back in California and several years later, Berryhill released the musically-complex Garage Orchestra, and a few years later Straight Out of Marysville, which included the poignantly autobiographical High Jump, that presaged the #metoo movement by many years.

Berryhill married Paul Williams, rock journalist, author and founder and publisher of the first rock music magazine, Crawdaddy. Their star-crossed romance was interrupted when Williams developed dementia after a brain injury suffered in a cycling accident.  Berryhill temporarily abandoned music to tend to her husband, whose illness became worse over time, until his untimely death in 2013.

After a decade of non-recording, Berryhill released Beloved Stranger, which was filled with songs reflecting the complex relationship she shared with her injured husband.  It also featured another protest song that captured a political movement that was turning Christianity on its ear.

It took nine years, but Cindy Lee's latest, The Adventurist, is a hallmark of her career, and has earned rapturous reviews.  It references the variety of styles and personas she's inhabited over the years, and it shows of depth of composition and performance that she's flirted with over her career.  Her playful lyricism belies an examination of a world that can be dark, dangerous and sorrowful, but can also provide unvarnished joy.

This is a rare Connecticut appearance by Berryhill, and her "trio" which includes cellist Renata Bratt and percussionist (including glockenspiel) Paula Luber.

Service Award Named in Honor of Environmental Leader Tom ODell

In honor of Tom ODell’s many years of environmental service in the Lower Connecticut River Valley, The Rockfall Foundation has named its Distinguished Service Award in his memory. Rockfall recognized Tom’s many contributions to the natural world in 2016 by presenting him with the Distinguished Service Award.

With Tom’s recent passing, Rockfall is honoring his legacy with the renaming of this annual award. The Rockfall Foundation has now opened the nomination period for the 2018 Environmental Awards, and is accepting nominations until September 20, 2018.

Tom served more than a decade as chair of The Rockfall Foundation’s Awards Committee and Youth Scholarship Award, as well as over 40 years as chair for both the Westbrook Conservation Commission and the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District. His legacy includes the conservation of nearly 2,000 acres in Westbrook, including the Menuketesuck Greenway, as well as Westbrook’s Barrier Islands, designated as the Tom Odell Wildlife Conservation Area. Tom was also a founding member of Connecticut Association of Conservation Commissions and Connecticut Association of Conservation and Inland Wetland Commissions.

The Rockfall Foundation is currently seeking nominations for the 2018 Environmental Awards which recognize individuals, organizations, and businesses for environmental efforts that contribute to the quality of life in the Lower Connecticut River Valley. The two categories of awards are the Tom ODell Distinguished Service Award and Certificates of Appreciation. Read more about the two awards here. Awardees will be recognized at the Rockfall Foundation’s annual meeting and grants celebration on November 1st.

Nomination forms must be received by September 20, 2018 by email to or by mail to The Rockfall Foundation, deKoven House Community Center, 27 Washington St., Middletown, CT 06457. Download a nomination form here or request one or more information
by calling 860-347-0340.
About the Rockfall Foundation
Founded in 1935 by Middletown philanthropist Clarence S. Wadsworth, the Rockfall Foundation is one of Connecticut’s oldest environmental organizations. The Foundation supports environmental education, conservation and planning initiatives in the Lower Connecticut River Valley through public programs and grants.  In addition, the Rockfall Foundation operates the historic deKoven House Community Center that offers meeting rooms and office space for non-profit organizations.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Lesser Wins Democratic Primary For Senate District 9 By a Wide Margin

Unofficial and preliminary results:

Matt Lesser    4749
Tony Guerrera   3816

Abrams Wins Democratic Primary for the 13th State Senate District

Mary Abrams has easily won the Democratic nomination for the 13th State Senate District.

Incomplete results:

Mary Abrams     4119
Alex Tiktinsky   1524

Abrams will face incumbent Republican Len Suzio.

Meet Your Greens at Smith Farm Thursday 8/16

On Thursday, this month's Meet Your Greens will be held at Smith Farm in East Haddam, a farm offering meaningful work to people with developmental disabilities, and providing food to the Brian House group home and the local community.

Farm Manager and Job Coach Sue Perrotti will give us a tour of the farm and discuss with us the many facets of the farm operations–the CSA, its organic farming practices, its vocational training program, and more. Afterwards we’ll have a picnic. Bring your own snacks and drinks.

Gentle rain or shine (in case of another torrential downpour we'll postpone until 8/23).

Meet at Smith Farm (60 Smith Road in East Haddam) at 5:30pm.  More details at

And for those of you not familiar with Meet Your Greens: Middletown Green Drinks, this monthly event provides networking opportunities for anyone who is interested in making connections and exchanging news about emerging environmental issues to help keep Lower Connecticut River Valley communities green and growing. An official location of Green Drinks International, this informal monthly gathering of people drawn from the community, nonprofit groups and the business world offers time to brainstorm ideas and plant seeds for collaboration. All are welcome and there is no admission fee, unless otherwise noted.

A Question from a Reader

A reader asked by email:  

Is there any update on the building of the " scaled down" boathouse?  What is the city's definition of scaled down.........20,30,40 million dollars????? What will be the cost of remediation??????? This city cannot afford this luxury!!!!!!   

As a member of the boathouse committee, I'll try to answer.  

The consultant, Tighe & Bond, is evaluating and planning for remediation work in the area of the boathouses and Columbus Point and particularly the bulkhead/sea wall in that area (sorry I don't know the cost of the work - but I think it's partly a question of figuring out how much work can be done for the state funding we already have - I know that's an unsatisfying answer but the remediation project is still being defined/studied).  

After that work is underway, our next step is to start a planning process to design a new boathouse that would serve the growing Middletown High crew team.  This new boathouse would potentially sit to the south of the two existing boathouses (picture something about the size of the Wesleyan Boathouse taking up some of the parking spaces between the boathouses and the restaurant), and then turn the existing Middletown High boathouse into a space for community rowing (and possibly rental to other rowing programs).  The Wesleyan Boathouse would stay where it is.  

After a concept/40% design is done (if we can afford one with the funding we already have), there would be a public referendum on whether to fund this school-system boathouse, plus the cost of any additional remediation and dock work that didn't fit in the first round of work.  

As far as I understand it, that's where we are in the process.  However, all this information can change - and I might have something wrong - or further study might show that the proposed boathouse location is unsuitable for some reason.  Our earlier work on the larger boathouse concept (which has been abandoned) gave us good information about the needs and costs of what a good boathouse for the Middletown High crew team would require, so hopefully that phase of design already has a head start.  There is no projection for the cost of a new boathouse for the Middletown High team, but I think it will be relatively modest - not only because it is much, much smaller, but also because it does not include any kind of event space or for-profit rowing tank facility.  However, one feature of the old plan (using the building to cap contaminated land) was actually a savings, and now we will have to pay for that remediation/restoration (primarily talking about the land on Columbus point right now), so that will be something to factor in (again, hopefully the current round of remediation and existing funding will address much of that, although it is still under study.)  

The boathouse committee meetings are typically the first Wednesday of the month at 5:30 pm at City Hall's Room 208 - but they are often cancelled if we're waiting for more information on some piece of the project - so you should always check with the Town Clerk's office before coming, since changes will be reported to them.  

I'm sorry this isn't a full explanation of the project and won't make much sense if you are new to the project, but the basic answer to your question is that we haven't started on a design of a new boathouse, so there are no cost estimates at this time....and I wanted to try to give a little more detail than that!

Report Is Noncommittal On Mayoral Malfeasance

An excerpt. FULL REPORT
The Common Council met in a workshop on Monday night to receive the report it had commissioned to investigate Mayor Drew. The investigation was begun after allegations made by Michele DiMauro of unfair hiring and promotion decisions, allegations further elaborated on in a letter from the Managers Union. The report was non-committal or even narrowly exculpatory of the Mayor's actions in the original complaint, while raising significant concerns about his hiring practices and the role of the Office of General Counsel.

The questions from the Council were dominated by Councilmen Gerry Daley, who seemed to willfully ignore all conclusions of the report, while castigating its author for her work.

How did this get ordered?
Penny Mason and Dan Eliot
The report's genesis was in a unanimous vote to hire an outside legal or professional firm to investigate the Office of the Mayor, and the Office of the General Counsel. Councilmen Tom Serra and Sebastian Guiliano, and Councilwoman Mary Bartolotta were designated as a subcommittee for this investigation.

Mayor Drew created controversy, and intensified the interest in the report, when he used Facebook to post a trumpian attack on the investigation, claiming it had "devolved into inappropriate questioning ..."

The controversy and interest in the report flared further when Daley raised a procedural issue about a council meeting last week at which the report was due to be released. His efforts delayed the report's release one more week.

About 40 people gathered in City Hall on Monday evening to hear from the Attorney Penny Mason. The Mayor opened the meeting and immediately recused himself, moving to a seat in the audience between his wife Kate and his new Chief of Staff Sarah.

Deputy Mayor and Councilman Bob Santangelo chaired the meeting.

The ingredients
Attorney Mason read her report to the Council (FULL REPORT). She said she had done 29 interviews of current and former city employees, including the Mayor, 2 attorneys in the Office of the General Counsel, and 3 employees in the Human Resources Division. She stated that the other 23 interviews were with people who asked to be interviewed.

The number of people who asked to be interviewed seemed to be a surprise, and caused the investigation to take longer than expected.

Daley aggressively repeated the Mayor's Facebook accusation that the investigation had asked inappropriate personal questions. Mason replied that since the mayor himself had raised the issue, she felt free to discuss the questions she thought he might have objected to. She said she had asked General Counsel Brig Smith why he had moved to Connecticut, and asked him about a work-related allegation that was brought to her by a personal connection of his who reached out to be interviewed for the investigation. He denied that his legal work for the Drew campaign had been done on city time.

She also disclosed that she asked Deputy General Counsel Kori Wisneski about a fundraising event held at her house for Drew.

The nothingburger at the center of the plate
Mason's report did not reach a conclusion on the central claim:
With regard to the DiMauro claim specifically, several interviewees reported that the Mayor stated that she would not be getting and/or did not deserve a raise, and that he commented about her being related to certain Common Council members. These allegations were discussed with the Mayor, who denied them. We cannot conclude one way or the other that the Mayor actually influenced the process. We note that DiMauro and another employee have discrimination and retaliation claims pending with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. We therefore defer to that process to resolve those complaints. 
Several Council members were dismayed at the lack of certainty and evidence around this central complaint.  Grady Faulkner commented, "It bothers me that we don't have anything to hang our hat on."

Daley said, "I'm expecting to see evidence, substantiation, and I'm not seeing that here."

Mason reiterated, "If our investigation had turned up evidence of wrong doing, you would have seen that. But it did not."

But is there meat in those side dishes?
Mason's report raised a number of what it called themes and/or concerns, "We ... note that these concerns were raised by almost two dozen City employees, thus meriting thoughtful consideration by the Council."

A general concern, alluded to in the report and elaborated on in person, was a fear of retribution. The report notes that while the administration was given a chance to respond to some of the specific complaints, this was not true of all of them, "given that numerous interviewees had requested anonymity." To the Council, Mason said that some of the interviews took place outside of Middletown, "Some [interviewees] did not want to be seen by security cameras coming into city hall."

First on the list of specific concerns was that the General Counsel's office is too enmeshed with the Mayor's political ambitions, some called it the "Mayor's personal law firm."  This was particularly problematic, because Human Resources Department reports directly to the General Counsel, raising concerns that personnel decisions are connected to political ambitions. The report recommended separating the Human Resources Department from the General Counsel Department, and perhaps assigning a separate legal counsel for the Office of the Mayor, so that the department is focused on serving the city, not the mayor.

A second category of concern was that candidates were "'pre-selected' for open positions based on political support for the administration or on a personal relationship." No specifics were offered, the report did not mention the hiring by the mayor of Geoff Luxenberg, his campaign manager, to work for the city. The report suggested several changes in the hiring process to ensure that merit was an important consideration.

The report highlighted the extreme frustration of employees that Board of Education employees are hired, supervised, disciplined, and fired by the City, rather than by the Board of Education.

You should have asked us to prepare this.
Most of the Council members who spoke attacked the entire process of the investigation and ignored the themes raised by two dozen City employees.  Daley spoke 4 different times, peppering Mason with questions and interrupting her answers nearly as fast as she could start giving them.  He insisted on knowing if she had social relations with anybody in city hall. He asked her about nearly a dozen specific city documents related to employment and the organization of the workforce, she had read them all.

He read her the Council resolution authorizing the investigation, and later offered to read it again.

Daley also informed her of the backdrop to the investigation, "In reality this all occurred in a political environment; ... were some of these [witnesses] disgruntled employees?"

Mason answered, "I did not get that sense."

Santangelo explained to Mason that she should have come to him and to other Council members for help in identifying employees who could give a different perspective from the one given by the two dozen she did interview.

Councilman Nocera carefully explained what the proper methodology for this investigation should have been, "Best method is one called constant comparison," adding, "I hope in the future you will use that method."

What next?
Daley indicated that he wanted to get all of the details of the investigation, including invoices without any redactions of names. He claimed that if Attorney Mason was hired by the Council, as a member of the Council he was entitled to all of the information that she collected.  This appears to be another attempt to obtain the information about city employees that the Mayor is also attempting to obtain through his Freedom of Information request for city employee communications regarding the investigation.

Mason told the Eye that she would take his request "under advisement". She seemed unlikely to break the confidentiality of the interviews.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Mayor Requests Employee's Communications

click to enlarge
Mayor Drew, in response to an investigation of how he has treated employees, has now asked for all communication that any employee has had with respect to the investigation.

To the Common Council, he wrote:
Pursuant to the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act, and in light of the Corporation Counsel's ruling that an attorney/client relationship does not exist between the Common Council and LeClair Ryan, I am requesting copies of any and all e-mails, text messages, calendars, written communications in any form, un-redacted legal bills, and cellular telephone logs pertaining to this investigation between members of the subcommittee, any employee/associate/partner of LeClair Ryan, and any staff of the City of Middletown.
Responsive documents will include any written communications pertaining to this investigation from both public and privately held email and cellular telephone accounts.
Councilwoman Bartolotta and Councilman Giuliano responded to this request, "... please be advised that your request is being reviewed and further response(s) will be forthcoming in a reasonable time."

Bryan Skowra, Director of Information Technology, was included in the request for all of these communications. He responded to the mayor after having spoken to the State's Freedom of Information Commission, "I was advised that the record owners, in this case the subcommittee members, are responsible for gathering these documents."

Geen Thazampallath, who is a union representative at city hall, decried the Mayor's request for employee's communication, especially when the complaints include allegations of retaliatory action by the mayor, "That would have a chilling effect on people's ability to come forward with real information, he would be able to retaliate."

Thazampallath commented that one of the things most clear from the "me too" movement is how difficult it is to report harassment by a supervisor, "Coming forward is a very hard thing to do, the crux of harassment is when people use their power to act against employees who come forward."

Final Days of Lesser and Guerrera Primary Campaign

District 9 covers the northeastern half of our city,
it  has been represented by Paul Doyle for 11years.
The final days of the Democratic campaign for State Senate District 9 has highlighted differences between Matt Lesser and Tony Guerrera.

Both candidates have a long track record on which to run, Guerrera has served for 18 years and Lesser for 10 years in the State Legislature.

In the past two weeks, mailings from the Lesser campaign have pointed out differences that show a contrast between the two candidates.

Lesser said, "All of my pieces have been about our voting records."

The records highlighted by Lesser include votes on the rights of same-sex couples, medicare savings, local funding for the towns and cities, reproductive freedom, and the environment.

In addition to contrasting his voting record to that of Guerrera, Lesser has touted his endorsements from the Connecticut Chapter of the Sierra Club and Women's March CT. Lesser said he had over 100 volunteers working for his campaign on Sunday.

Guerrera has used his mailings differently. He has sidestepped the issues, and instead attacked Lesser as a person.

Lesser said, "He has attacked me on a personal level, because he can't find anything in my 10 years of service to attack. And I find that sad, but also in a strange way kind of flattering."

I made multiple attempts to reach Guerrera for comment, through his campaign web page, through Facebook, and through his state email; none elicited a response.
Disclaimer: the author is a supporter of the Lesser campaign.

Opinion, Part 2: Paul Doyle, Chris Mattei, and the Democratic Primary for Attorney General

The following was submitted by Jim Fellows. The Eye welcomes all signed opinion pieces.
Part 2:  Paul Doyle versus Chris Mattei

In the first installment I reviewed Mattei's claims and record in depth and compared him to Tong. I found Mattei was exactly who he claimed to be in the debate, probably a lot more, with a superior level of experience related to the job of an attorney general.

Chris Mattei is all he seems.
As a long time federal prosecutor he managed large groups of government lawyers in successful federal prosecutions as chief of their financial crimes and public corruption unit operating in Connecticut.

Mattei was alone among the candidates in rejecting donations from lobbyists. Mattei jailed two major Republican politicians and a Democratic campaign finance director and associate working for a Democratic speaker of the house. He understands ethics and the law at state and federal levels. He did the right thing knowing it would hurt his prospects for running for office in the Democratic or Republican parties.

Mattei consistently fought for the public interest throughout his adult life and built up the skills to become attorney general by doing the right thing. He did the right thing regardless of how it would affect his chance to run for any office in the future.

His record of accomplishment on the web was detailed, rich, and positive. I did not have to rely on Mattei's own campaign page at all.

Tong the candidate is different from Tong the Attorney
Tong was also well represented online and I did not need to use his campaign page either. As for Tong's career and his primary interests I found glaring disagreement between his claims in the debate about his law practice experience and who he represents and what was plainly revealed when I visited his law firm and its bio page for Tong.

Tong claimed to have extensive experience in public interest law and the interest of working families as the core of his legal work. That crumbled under the proud public record of representing CEOs, large corporations and investment firms. He is clearly a successful corporate lawyer in the state's top firm, specializing in mergers, acquisitions, venture capital,  and CEO interests.  I dismissed him from consideration at that point as he never mentioned this in the debate and repeatedly claimed to be a representative of the working people's interests - not true -- unless those working people happen to be the most powerful CEOs.

If anything, Mattei's criticisms of Tong were understated, though Tong sniped at one point, 'Next you'll want to examine my long form birth certificate.' Tong had also characterized news reports on contradictions between his own claims and his actual work as 'a smear campaign.' I let his own corporate bio speak for itself. There will be more of that should he, god forbid, prevail in the primary.

Doyle is authentic
Paul Doyle, like Mattei, seems to be exactly who he claims to be. Doyle was my favorite going into this race because of name recognition around Middletown where he served as senator for the 9th district for years.

Doyle describes himself as a Democrat who does not always vote with his party.  That claim seems fair and accurate and does not bother me at all. I am not interested in legislative experience except to tell me what his core values are. For this job application I am interested in management of lawyers, inter agency negotiations, experience running large or groundbreaking investigation, standing up to the most powerful and not flinching, and the vast field of corporate crime,  prosecution of politicians,  and corporate or government overreach against us and the public interest. This is not the job for a fairly typical local politician.

Unlike Mattei and Tong I had to rely heavily on Doyle's own campaign web page for information. Wikipedia did not mention his law firm nor that he was running for attorney general. I got some basic information from balletopedia that confirmed his own statements in the debate. I found a few news stories outside of his legislative pages and the report of his tackling of the bank robber. Otherwise I had to rely on his campaign page.

On his campaign page I found a (misspelled) reference to his law firm, and was able to track it down here:

As you can see, it is a typical small town law firm of three lawyers with an office in NYC as well as a home office in Rocky Hill. In order, they list their work as:

  • *Family law, marriage and divorce
  • *Personal injury
  • Civil Litigation
  • *Real Estate
  • *Business law
  • *Probate, Estate, and trusts
  • Criminal Law
Those marked * had additional information on the case results page.

Although the business law entry listed mergers and acquisitions there is no mention of anything like what I found on Tong's page. This is a small town lawyer working with small businesses and other 'working people' and raised no red flags.

Doyle has experiences with "ordinary people", not the necessary high-level experiences
Had he not been running for Attorney General there would be no problem here. His experience helps him understand ordinary people and the type of individual legal services they need in life. It does not reflect the tectonic forces of global enterprise and empire, powerful corporate agendas, the vast complex of federal agencies sometimes under the influence of corporations or powerful individuals, all on a daily assault on the unprotected citizens of our state caught in the middle and vulnerable in ways they have not experienced before. This is not a time to divide but to unite.

I could not find any evidence that he has experience that is directly applicable to running investigations, supervising and delegating large teams of lawyers, prosecutions, class action law, government regulation, federal law, jurisdictional expertise, public interest law, collaboration with or opposing other government agencies, financial crimes and public corruption investigations, weapons violations, coordinating with ATF, DEA, FBI, or other high level investigations. But, if he was running as senator in district 13 he'd have my vote!

For attorney general I would have voted for him only to block Tong and his corporate agenda if Mattei wasn't in the race. But it would have been a reluctant vote in the absence of someone with the experience to actually do this job.  I am slightly concerned about his decision to run against Mattei.  It blocks a clearly appropriate candidate and is not in the best interest of voters to split the opposition to Tong. This works to Tong's advantage and for the party machine that wantscto keep Mattei out.

When it comes to attorney general, Mattei offers everything Doyle does plus the skills to be incredibly successful at a time when we need the strongest possible person in this position. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Opinion: Chris Mattei For Attorney General

Submitted by Jim Fellows. The Eye welcomes all signed opinion pieces.
Inside Connecticut's Primary Campaign for Attorney General: Part 1
(August 11th, 2018, by Jim Fellows, Middletown voter)

After watching the Democratic Attorney General debate this week it seemed all three Democratic candidates are claiming to be tireless champions of working families with outstanding levels of experience.  Some of these claims were challenged in the debate, so I decided to do some fact checking. Are these all great candidates for progressive voters, as they claim? 

Mattei is Authentic, Fighting Against All Corruption (Not just Rowland)
First up was Chris Mattei. His claims about experience and his focus on public interest law were easy to verify and well documented in the media, the public record, and on wikipedia; the biography on his current employer's page agreed. If anything, his claims in the debate seem understated and too humble.

First, according to Wikipedia, he is the only one who did not accept donations from lobbyists, and yet was first to qualify for public financing. I don't recall that was even mentioned in the debate and should have been, as it would set him apart from other candidates in the election.

Next came his claims of years of experience as a federal prosecutor leading a team of lawyers investigating and prosecuting financial crime and public office corruption. His career as a federal prosecutor and director of its Connecticut investigations and prosecutions of financial crime and public corruption were  well documented in the press, in the public record, and on Wikipedia; that record contained notable victories that I do not recall being mentioned in the debates.

He was also an "equal opportunity prosecutor" of public corruption, going after both Republican and Democratic party targets.

Not only did he prosecute and jail former governor John Rowland. He also prosecuted and jailed  former GOP party leader George Gallo, who plead guilty to bilking his own party's candidates  and the taxpayers who support the public election financing fund. In that scheme Gallo sent Republican candidates to a Florida campaign mailing contractor who overcharged by 10% and kicked back the money to Gallo as the GOP chief.

How did the Democratic Party fare under Mattei's watch as a federal prosecutor? Ask Christopher Donovan, whose five year career as Democratic speaker of the house (2009-2013) ended when Mattei prosecuted and jailed his campaign's financial director and another partner in crime.  Although Donovan was never charged, his career never recovered from the scandal.

I think I now understand why this extraordinary investigator and public-interest prosecutor was not his party's obvious choice for endorsement.

In my eyes this adds tremendous credibility and I believe it would resonate with voters of both parties in the election. The public is desperate for a non-partisan voice against the corruption and resulting frustrations that impact our lives every day.

Mattei: From Teaching On A Navajo Reservation To Powerhouse Lawyer For Civil Rights
What has Mattei been up to since leaving his career prosecuting Wall Street, politicians, and other criminals including gun traffickers running illegal firearms into CT cities? Here is the bio on his current law firm's page explaining the work he is prepared to do at Koskoff, Koskoff, & Beider PC:

"Chris Mattei is a trial lawyer. His areas of focus include civil rights, products liability, whistleblower actions, securities fraud and election law. Over the past several years, Chris has been called upon to handle some of the highest profile trials in the State of Connecticut. Described by one New York Times reporter as an "incredible powerhouse lawyer," Chris's practice is devoted to protecting individuals and the public from corporate and institutional abuse. Chris joined Koskoff in October 2015."


Okay, that sounds like the same guy who started his career as a teacher on an Indian reservation, something that was also not mentioned in the debates. Apparently he cares about the actual Americans as well as those of us who took their land.

Tong: Counselor to Venture Capital, Private Equity, and Corporate Mergers
Next up was his main rival, the State Democratic Party's endorsed candidate, William Tong, who also claims to have tremendous experience tirelessly defending working families and unions. He is also the Working Families Party candidate, which Tong made a key point of emphasizing repeatedly in the debate. He also has a great smile, though he became petulant when Mattei attacked the veracity of his claims, quipping, ' you'll ask me for my long form birth certificate.'

So who has he been fighting for in his job as a CT lawyer? The Wikipedia page on William Tong linked me to his legal career, which interested me, since it was a hot topic in the debate, with Mattie repeatedly challenging Tong's claims of serious legal experience in public interest law inside of actual courtrooms.

If I tell you what I found, you probably won't believe me, so I'm going to ask you to look at his page for yourself. Here is a link to Tong's resume page at Connecticut's self-proclaimed  'tier-one Corporate Mergers and Acquisitions leader, Finn, Dixon, & Herling':

I hope you have now read that for yourself.  I am surprised it has not yet been updated, but it is honest, for which I give Tong credit. I made screen shots of what I found on August 11, 2018, should it become less candid as the election proceeds.

This is the guy who characterized his legal work as tireless in support of working families and unions. I'm not sure the voters will agree.  While he is promoted by his employer in the field of corporate law mergers and acquisitions as the go to guy in CT for corporations, CEOs, and venture capitalists, he portrayed  himself quite differently when talking to voters at the Bethel AME Church in New Haven.

If Tong was running as a business-friendly candidate who was annoyed by government attempts to regulate Wall Street he would be a very formidable candidate whose record would shine in support of that claim. As a supporting document for a candidate claiming to work for progressive causes and working families -- not so much.

His claims to be a champion of working families would only seem true if your definition of 'working families' is limited to CEOs, CEOs involved in lawsuits, venture capitalists,  and corporations navigating the problems of  SEC and other government regulation. Apparently Tong lives in a very different neighborhood of 'working families' than I do, and this reminds me of another politician from Stamford.

Clearly Tong has some explaining to do. As for Mattei's charge that Tong's record of actual courtroom experience needs an independent investigation to verify, I would say Tong needs to present us with an actual  list of the cases he has tried in court.  I cannot make that determination without a better understanding of the language used in corporate law on his resume. I will leave that for others to determine.

After this first round of fact checking I am having trouble believing anything Tong says without evidence to back it up.  His work at Finn,Dixon, & Herling makes me wonder if Mattei has prior experience investigating this firm when directing the financial crimes unit. They certainly don't promote themselves as a public interest law firm. Here is their welcome page for prospective corporate clients:

Did Mattei Lose Working Families Endorsement Because Of His Prosecution Of Donovan's Campaign Financial Director?
As for the Working Families Party endorsement, I noted that Christopher Donovan had that same endorsement before his campaign ended in scandal and defeat. I am afraid Tong is in for tough criticism should he make it  into the election season. This is not an experience Democratic voters need to repeat.

 I will have to update my understanding of the Working Families Party for Part 2.

 I began to see why Tong won the endorsement of the Democratic party, rather than Mattei, and I am not a happy voter! I will be supporting Mattei over Tong in this campaign.

As for Tong as an Attorney General:  he does not pass my basic test of honesty in campaign claims much less being a person I would want defending the public interest against corporations and financial bigwigs.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Investigating Attorney Will Reveal Report Monday, August 13, at Special Common Council Meeting

Council member Gerry
Daley asking if last Monday's
meeting was legal.
A report by investigating attorney "Penny" Mason will be released at a special "workshop" Common Council meeting at 6 PM on Monday (August 13).

The report was supposed to have been released at a Common Council meeting on August 6, but the Committee assigned to conduct the investigation was thwarted when Councilman Gerry Daley asked the corporation counsel Attorney Dan Ryan whether the call of the meeting was legal.

Investigating attorney Mason
at last Monday's meeting.
Ryan declared the call of the meeting illegal, and the meeting sputtered to an end after a debate on the legality of the meeting.

"We checked again, after that meeting, with the staff attorney at the state FOI (Freedom of Information) office," Council member Seb Giuliano said.  "And we were told that once the mayor declares the call of the a 'legal call,' and declares the meeting 'a legal meeting' then it can't be undone.  He did declare the meeting legal.  You can't unring that bell, and the meeting should have been held."

For the upcoming meeting, the report on the investigation will be held in public, while at the previous meeting it was planned to be held in a private executive session.  In both cases, by meeting's end, the public would be informed of the content and substance of the investigation.

"It's the Council's privilege to hold a public meeting," Giuliano said.  "The mayor wants it presented in public and I have no problem with that.  I don't think were going to find out anything that was going on that shouldn't be made public."

There is a "public hearing" on the agenda, so members of the public will be allowed to offer comment after the report of the investigation is made by Attorney Mason.

Since the meeting-that-wasn't-a-meeting last Monday, Common Council members were notified in a FOI (freedom of information) request from the mayor that all Council members involved (Giuliano and Council member Mary Bartolotta) must make communications between them, and the investigating attorney available to the mayor.  The committee has indicated that those communications are considered confidential under attorney/client privilege.  The mayor's request claims that the attorney/client privilege does not exist in this case.

"The mayor sent out the FOI, and it targets me and Councilwoman Bartolotta," Giuliano said.  "We have four days to respond, so I'll be responding on Monday."

Giuliano indicated that as a Council member he and Bartolotta are entitled to legal representation in the matter, and because the City Attorney's office is being investigated in the report, the City Attorney cannot represent them because of a conflict of interest.

"The counsel is of my choosing," Giuliano said.  "I will be seeking counsel, and it's on the city's dime."