Who gets the credit for vanquishing Jodi’s Jail? State Rep. Chris Caruso who led the initial opposition? Mayor Bill Finch who joined in when the neighborhood chorus against became ear-splitting, and put city lawyers on alert for a lawsuit? Jodi Rell herself for realizing that the state’s largest city has enough prisons?
Plenty of credit to go around, and hopefully Rell will do something nice for the city before she leaves office. How about turning over the state-owned property on Virginia Avenue to the city for a private sector development?
Statement from Mayor Finch:
I’d like to thank Gov. Rell for her commitment to finding an agreeable solution to the relocation of the DCF facility originally slated for Virginia Ave. I and my staff have been in constant communication with the Governor’s office as we worked together to find an acceptable compromise to this matter. I appreciate Gov. Rell’s open-mindedness and willingness to respond to the concerns of people of the Virginia Ave. neighborhood. I have opposed locating this facility in this residential neighborhood from the beginning. I would also like to congratulate our entire state delegation as well as our local Councilmen Richard Paoletto and Robert Curwen for working in collaboration with me and my staff to get to this point. Most of all I’d like to thank and congratulate the citizens of Bridgeport, particularly those who live in the Virginia Ave. neighborhood for coming together to make their voices heard.
James Botti has a big fat mouth. So says his attorney Willie Dow who knows a little bit about creating doubt in the minds of jurors.
Botti boasts about this, brags about that, but much of it is puffery, according to Dow about client statements captured on court-authorized recorded conversations. The Botti trial in New Haven is intriguing on several levels. The government accuses Botti of greasing Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, his childhood bud, in exchange for help on development projects. The government makes these cases stick when the facts persuade jurors of a quid pro quo. You do this for me, I do that for you. The law states this is a must for a bribery conviction. Now here’s the fuzzy part. Lauretti’s not there to defend himself because he hasn’t been charged. Why not? Because Botti wouldn’t fold. If Botti enters a plea and cooperates with the government he becomes the key witness for the prosecution. Instead, he’s on trial, and Lauretti’s nowhere in the courtroom. The feds won a tax conviction of Botti in a prior trial, but he still wouldn’t fold. Maybe a second conviction changes his mind?
The government’s case against Lauretti is thinner without Botti. As Dow told the jury in opening arguments: “While the government claims Mayor Lauretti took bribes, you’ve still got James Botti sitting alone in this courtroom.”
Dow doesn’t dispute Botti did favors (the government call them benefits) for Lauretti such as paying for home improvements, but he says his client wasn’t expecting anything in return. Lauretti, he says, pushed for Botti developments because they were good for the city. That’s what a mayor does, promote good developments, no? It’s a crazy case. Does the government call Lauretti? Why would they, unless they think he’d be dumb enough to perjure himself. It would be shocking if Lauretti doesn’t plead the fifth against self-incrimination, if called to testify.
But would Willie Dow call Lauretti as a defense witness to bolster his claim there was no quid pro quo? If he testifies of course he’ll say there was no funny business, but then he’ll be fair game on cross examination by the government. But what if the government doesn’t secure a conviction of Botti in this case? Makes the case against Lauretti even weaker.
This case has to be eating away at Lauretti. This was the former Barnum Festival ringmaster’s year to run for Congress or governor. Now he’s stuck wondering if he’ll be charged.
How About A New School
State legislative leaders are visiting Harding High School today. Harding has lots of great kids and first-rate principal Carol Birks. Why does Harding have an achievement gap? Could one reason be a crappy building in an archaic learning environment? News release below:
STATE LAWMAKERS TO TOUR BRIDGEPORT’S HARDING HIGH SCHOOL TUESDAY
Bridgeport School Tour TOMORROW – Tuesday, March 9, beginning @ 1:30
State lawmakers from the Connecticut General Assembly’s Black & Puerto Rican Caucus, led by State Rep. Jason Bartlett (D-Danbury), State Rep. Don Clemons (D-Bridgeport), and State Sen. Edwin Gomes (D-Bridgeport), will be touring Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport on Tuesday, March 9, to view a normal day of activity at the school as the lawmakers continue their debate over legislation to close the state’s achievement gap between white and minority students.
Last month, the Black & Puerto Rican Caucus introduced a comprehensive legislative proposal on the achievement gap that targets schools in situations similar to Harding High School, which is one of 185 schools currently on the state’s “failing schools” list. The legislation is currently being considered by the Education Committee.
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and other members from the city’s legislative delegation have also been invited to attend the tour.
Immediately following the tour, the lawmakers will host a roundtable discussion at the school with students and parents to hear their thoughts about what can be done to close the state’s achievement gap. At the conclusion of the roundtable, the lawmakers will hold a news conference to discuss their legislation and how it would impact schools similar to Harding High School .