First things first, congratulations to new State Senator Rob Russo, sworn in by Gov. Jodi Rell on Friday. Russo will represent residents in Trumbull and parts of Bridgeport and Monroe. He’ll be on the ballot again in November. The campaigning never stops. Enjoy it for a few months Rob!
The skunk fight continues in Waterbury Superior Court. That’s where lawyers for developer Alex Conroy claim that development plans for Steelpointe were torpedoed by Joe Ganim for the chosen ones Al Lenoci Sr., and attorney Chuck Willinger.
It’s almost like this case is about who’s the bigger skunk, Paul Pinto, Ganim’s shakedown concierge or Willinger, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Ganim case, accused of stonewalling Conroy’s deal to wire Steelpointe to his clients.
The odious spray in the courtroom will require heavy doses of tomato juice and lemon.
Pinto characterized Willinger a liar on the stand. Willinger had likewise words for Pinto in a news statement afterwards.
Pinto will stop at just about nothing to get what he wants and it’s like he’s relishing his testimony against a bunch of players that paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars because he thinks they owe him more. Pinto has a sub-zero conscious level when it comes to greed, bribery and vindictiveness. He was the worst guy in the Ganim case. You’d think that after spending two years in the joint he’d come out, stay quiet and move on with his life. No, one of the first things he does is accuse the Lenocis of owing him money. What a soap opera. Lenoci built an eight-foot high fence on his Easton property to avoid seeing Pinto’s home that Lenoci helped him build. What a crazy trial.
Mayor Bill Finch is burning up the phone lines urging Democratic Town Committee members, many of them city employees, to keep John Stafstrom in as party leader. I spoke to six DTC members that received calls. Some feel pressure, some don’t, and it appears the mayor’s calls may have swung a vote or two. But is it enough to keep Stafstrom in power? We’ll keep an eye on this. We’ve had some chatter about the prospects of Mario Testa returning as Democratic town chairman. I can shed some light on what the government thought about Mario and efforts to nail him. The FBI wanted Mario sitting at the defense table with Joe Ganim. They spent years on him. They thought he was dirty. They did not charge him.
The government asked me lots of questions about Mario. Here’s what I told them: Mario gets heavy-handed about fundraising (so do a lot of pols), he played around with absentee ballots (so did a lot in Bridgeport), but I never saw an instance where he had his hand out for himself. I never saw him use the town chair position to enrich himself. He never came to me and said–unlike a handful in the city–Grimaldi, if you want this you have to grease me personally. For the most part, he broke balls (mine too) on fundraising on behalf of his candidates and town committee accounts.
Mario’s old school, work hard and play hard politically. You work for the team, you get rewarded; you don’t work for the team, you don’t. That’s how the political system works. He does not apologize for it. Some of this stuff is on the edge. That’s the fine line you walk in this game.
Mario knows how to play power politics as well as anyone in the city. That means understanding all aspects of government from the city council to department heads. Bill Finch does not. So Finch as mayor and Mario as town chair is an interesting dynamic that Finch wants to avoid. Don’t allow Mario’s lack of command of English fool you. He’s a cunning son of a gun who knows how to exploit weaknesses. But he’s not so stubborn that he’s unwilling to compromise.
I’m not saying anything of this is good, bad or ugly. It’s just the way it is. (Now tell me, can you get this stuff in the CT Post!)
Hey, don’t forget to check out guitar slinger The Bridgeport Kid Tuesday nights at the Acoustic Cafe on Fairfield Avenue in Black Rock. Starts around 9 p.m. with $3 cover, and according to the Kid they know how to make girly drinks.