Filmmaker Larry Locke had a strange, and amazing, vantage point during the John Fabrizi years, shadowing the mayor’s every detail–the good, bad and ugly. His work behind the camera will be unveiled publicly for the first time Monday night when we’ll all have a chance to see his finished product The Accidental Mayor at the Barnum Museum.
The docudrama tells the story of Fabs’ unconventional journey as chief executive following Mayor Joe Ganim’s conviction on corruption charges. Fabs, ever compulsive, did not disappoint the filmmaker. Locke and I had an email exchange on Wednesday about his experience. See below. If you want to attend Fabs’ Film Fest contact the Barnum Museum. See link at left under Perfect Pearls. The event benefits the Barnum and City Lights Gallery.
Q. In a strange way, although you may not have known Fabs well, was there a prescient desire to do this film like you knew Fabs is the kind of guy prone to stub his toe even when things are going well?
Locke: I had no sense that Fabrizi was so self destructive. And I had no previous experience with politicians. So in the early days I was just shooting and not really understanding what I was shooting. That is not uncommon. Editing is always a revelation. That’s when you say, “so that’s what they were up to.” Caryn (Kaufman, Fabs’ press aide) was, I think, much more worried that I would get more than I bargained for. She never told me until later that she assumed I would get either Fabrizi the man who had learned to control himself or I would get Fabrizi the suicide bomber. In a way I got half and half.
Q. You were provided amazing access. Can you think of the times Fabs, or a staffer, said okay, Larry, time to turn off the camera?
Locke: There was one time I was asked to leave the room and that was the day the sex offender thing broke. It was between Charlie (Carroll, Fabs’ chief of staff) and Fabrizi and it was more about how mad Charlie was at him than any secret. It was more friend to friend.I left a lot on the cutting room floor. During the cocaine thing he was on the phone with his lawyers and I obviously didn’t include that. But there were no bombshell secrets in their conversations. Fabrizi’s dealings with the feds are well known by people like you who cover politics in Bport.
Q. I always thought that Fabs could survive the cocaine revelation. There’s a Ralph Kramden sort of appeal to him. Walking into the courtroom to ask leniency on behalf of a convicted sex offender was a different story. When did you first hear about the court appearance and what were your initial thoughts?
Locke: I agree about him surviving the cocaine thing. As you know, they had everything lined up for his re-election. It’s amazing but true. To understand how I learned about the sex offender thing you have to understand how my access worked. No one ever called to tell me something was up. Nor did they deny me access. I had to learn and then show up. There was a ground breaking the afternoon he testified and I was there to shoot it for the BRBC (Bridgeport Regional Business Council). I could tell Caryn was really upset about something, but she didn’t say what it was.
The next morning it was in the Post. I saw that and showed up at the Annex at like 7:30. So I was there when they all realized how big this was and what it was going to mean. The scenes in the film from that day are really powerful.
Q. Is it possible for this film to enjoy a life outside of a Bridgeport market?
Locke: As for an outside audience, I certainly am aiming it that way. As I am an outsider, I tried to steer the film’s discoveries in the same path as my own. If it’s a surprise that the cocaine thing busts in the film, it’s because unlike all of you in Bport I didn’t know about all the rumors. I didn’t know he had an alcohol problem. The film slowly unwinds all these stories. It also covers his successes like City Trust and Steelpointe and appointing (Police Chief) Bryan Norwood. As you know better than most, John Fabrizi is a very very complex man. He is a reflection in many ways of his city.
I just can’t wait to make a film about the 2011 election. Think about it–Tom McCarthy versus John Fabrizi versus Bill Finch versus Joe Ganim. One thing I’m sure you wake up thinking every day is even if Bport politics are sometimes mean, sometimes petty, sometimes even stupid, they sure are never boring.
Golden Hill Ribbon Cutting
Speaking of Fabs, one of the benefits Mayor Bill Finch enjoys is cutting ribbons for projects started by his predecessor. See Finch news item below:
Mayor Bill Finch will attend the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Golden Hill Apartments with Urban Green Builders and its partner, Ginsberg Development Company, Friday at 1:30pm.
Urban Green Builders and Ginsberg Development Company have converted the former historic Golden Hill office complex into a modern mixed-use apartment building now available for leasing. 144 Golden Hill Street boasts 36 modern one- and two-bedroom apartments, 8 storefront retail/restaurant spaces, and 2 office spaces on the building’s 2nd floor. Bamboo flooring and energy efficient stainless steel appliances, featured in each apartment, represent a “cleaner and greener” approach to living. The building is within walking distance to Metro-North, making renting at Golden Hill an ideal choice for those looking for the ultimate downtown experience.
“Downtown Bridgeport is really becoming more and more lively all the time,” said Mayor Finch. “With new apartments, condominiums and restaurants appearing each month, downtown is very much the ‘place to be’ in Bridgeport right now. I want to thank Eric Anderson from Urban Green Builders for his vision and his determination during what have been at times difficult endeavors. These projects have been tremendously successful and we welcome all the new downtown residents to Bridgeport.”
News Release From Congressman Chris Shays
Moran, Shays Introduce Farm Animal Anti-Cruelty Act
Washington, D.C. – Representatives Jim Moran (VA-8) and Christopher Shays (CT-4) introduced legislation today to make it a federal offense to without justification, kill, mutilate, disfigure, torture or intentionally inflict pain or suffering upon an animal raised for food or to fail to provide food, water and shelter.
“Abuse and torture are wrong, regardless if it involves a pet or an animal being raised for food,” said Moran. “All sensate creatures deserve humane treatment, whether in the home or on the farm. This legislation will make those who might inflict pain and suffering on living things to think twice.”
“This bill is just one step, but an important step, in addressing how our society treats farm animals raised for food, and it reflects our core values of compassion, decency and mercy,” stated Shays, Co-Chair of the Friends of Animals Caucus.
The Farm Animal Anti-Cruelty Act, which has been endorsed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), is a common sense approach to protecting farm animals. The bill compliments state anti-cruelty statutes as well as providing national anti-cruelty standards in those states that do not currently provide standards. The threat of federal prosecution will act as strong deterrent to the mistreatment of animals.
Those who violate these standards are subject to fines ranging from $500 to $100,000 or up to a year in prison.
Conroy Case Verdict
A Superior Court Jury has found former Mayor Joe Ganim, and United Properties owners Al Lenoci Sr. and Al Lenoci Jr. liable for more than $300,000 in developer Alex Conroy’s claim that they submarined his efforts to develop Steelpointe. Additional punitive damages are possible, but that’s a separate issue that must be weighed by the jury, or a judge in lieu of time constraints by the jury which has endured three months of evidence. Attorney Chuck Willinger and his law firm, as well as Joesph Kasper, who had owned the Kasper Group, an architectural/engineering company, were cleared. The jury has not made a final determination on city liability. It appears the jury is deadlocked on the city, also a defendant in the case. The amount awarded by the jury is dramatically lower than the plaintiff had hoped to receive. Juries have discretion in what can be awarded.