Johnny Fabs. What can I say? He’s pure emotion, and now you can see the good, bad and ugly of John Fabrizi’s four years in office in The Accidental Mayor, the documentary by noted filmmaker Larry Locke. See details in press release below.
My relationship with Fabs goes back 25 years when he was a member of Bridgeport’s Civil Service Commission. I liked him then, and I like him now. But he could be an insufferable pain in the neck with his neediness. In a strange way that’s part of Fabs’ charm.
I helped him with his first campaign for City Council, and we spoke often about positioning him for mayor someday. At the time I could not imagine the route it would eventually take. In 1996 a series of events occurred that would eventually transform the future of the city. City Council President Lisa Honey Parziale was making my life miserable. “Honey, you get nothing through the City Council without me,” she said to me. I said no to her overtures, and that was the end of our relationship. Parziale was on a one-person jihad to punish me and any client I had before the council, telling everyone willing to listen to her that I was toast. Mayor Joe Ganim and his bagman Paul Pinto knew I was vulnerable and, well, you know that story. But in between I won a battle.
How to dethrone Parziale from council leadership? Battle lines were drawn. I wanted her out. Pinto and Chuck Willinger, a land use attorney close to Parziale and major Ganim contributor, wanted to keep her in. I put my groin on the line with Ganim: push Fabrizi for council president. It was up to me to line up the council votes. There was already a growing bloc of votes on the council dissatisfied with Honey, including Bill Finch, Auden Grogins, Pat Crossin and Mike Marella. Fabrizi became acceptable.
Honey realized she did not have the votes, withdrew her name from contention and Fabs was elected council president. About six years later, Ganim resigned following his conviction in the government’s case “Operation Hardball” and Fabs, first in line for a mayoral vacancy, automatically became mayor.
The dream job for many would be playing centerfield for the Yankees. The only job Fabs wanted on his resume was mayor of Bridgeport. He had a number of successes as mayor, particularly in the area of downtown development, but testifying on behalf of a sexual offender on top of his admitted cocaine abuse was too much. Political leaders walked away from Fabs. If Fabs could do it all over again he’d have told the pols to punt, instead of opting against a reelection run. And now, Fabs isn’t looking bad at all following Finch’s first six months as mayor. Sounds like Fabs is trying to stay in play. Just three years until the next mayoral cycle. We’ll see.
(If you want to see a photo of the legendary steel-cage match between Mario Testa and Mike Rizzitelli, see previous post. You won’t be disappointed.)
Screening of THE ACCIDENTAL MAYOR to benefit Bridgeport arts organizations
The public is invited to attend a benefit screening of THE ACCIDENTAL MAYOR, a new documentary by award-winning filmmaker Larry Locke. The screening, scheduled for Monday, June 9, 2008 at 7:00 P.M. at The Barnum Museum, 820 Main Street, Bridgeport, will benefit The Barnum Museum and City Lights Gallery. A post screening reception will be held at City Lights Gallery, 37 Markle Court, Bridgeport.
Filmed from 2005 through 2008, Locke had unprecedented access to Fabrizi’s inner sanctum, capturing both the successes and failures of his dramatic four-year tenure as mayor. THE ACCIDENTAL MAYOR is a raw, compelling tale of a man whose personal struggles directly reflect those of his hometown.
In 2003, John Fabrizi became THE ACCIDENTAL MAYOR of Bridgeport, Conn. Could he live up to the terms of office? Surprising even himself, he defied expectation and helped his city believe again after 40 years of missed opportunities and broken promises. Fabrizi wore Bridgeport on his sleeve but would it be enough to overcome his personal demons? Under the glaring lights of the national media, Fabrizi takes Bridgeport on a wild roller coaster ride that leaves both him and his city changed forever. For more information, visit www.contemporarylives.com.
Tickets are $30.00 each. Proceeds will benefit The Barnum Museum and City Lights Gallery. Tickets may be purchased by credit card by calling the Barnum Museum at (203) 331-1104 or by visiting the Museum’s gift shop.