When former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci was booted out of office the first time for extinguishing a cigarette in the eye of a guy he thought was having an affair with his wife, he took to the radio airwaves as part of his rehabilitation. His gift for connecting with the electorate paved the way for a comeback that started a city renaissance in the 1990s. In 2002 Buddy was convicted again, this time on federal racketeering charges, did five years and now is back on the airwaves.
Now pushing 70, Buddy says he’s done with public office, but you never know.
On Wednesday I listened to former Mayor John Fabrizi’s fill-in gig on WICC and wondered if this was the start of Fabs’ comeback. For sure, he wants his old job back after he was pushed aside by pols, in favor of Bill Finch, fearing a Chris Caruso mayoralty following revelations of drug use and testifying in court on behalf of a sexual offender. Fabs bleeds Bridgeport, and judging the early missteps of the Finch administration voters may be feeling nostalgic for Fabs’ optimism and focus on economic development. Fabs sounded peppy on his first radio gig, inviting his former Chief of Staff Charlie Carroll, the city’s parks director, in the studio to discuss the upcoming Gathering of Vibes concert at Seaside Park and good things happening at the city’s golf courses.
A screening of Larry Locke’s docudrama, The Accidental Mayor, was viewed by nearly 300 Monday night at the Fairfield Community Theater to benefit the Burroughs Community Center in Black Rock, according to Burroughs Director Kevin Simmons.
The best way for Fabs to immunize himself from voter angst over his past conduct is to stay visible and be heard. Radio gigs will help accomplish that. People like comeback stories.
It’s not beyond possibility that in 2011 Bridgeport will look at a Democratic primary field that includes Finch, Fabrizi and a Ganim. Joe Ganim, who’s served nearly five years (that’s a long time) following his corruption conviction in 2003, will be getting out of the joint that year, but it’s clear that younger brother Paul, the city’s judge of probate, is making the rounds in anticipation of a run.
So, I ask, if you had a vote would it be for Finch, Fabs or Ganim?
I’ve worked with all of them, in one form or another, so I’m titillated by the match-up possibilities. I can already imagine the fireworks!
Finch is in the process of fundraising to pay off legal bills as a result of Caruso’s court challenge of last September’s primary results. If Fabs is serious about staying in play, he should begin raising money right after the presidential election. Campaigns are all about MOM – money, organization and message. Raise money, stay visible and make friends (and hope the timing is right).
A Message From Mayor Finch
Mayor Bill Finch is wishing all the residents of Bridgeport a happy and very safe Independence Day.
“The Fourth of July is a joyous time. It marks the founding of our great country and I would like to wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July,” said the mayor. “However, it’s also a time when we sometimes become somewhat over-exuberant in our celebration. I urge everyone to be very careful this weekend. Pay close attention to any type of fireworks so that no one and no property gets burned. Stay alert while swimming or watching your children swim. And keep your cool even as the temperature gets hot.”
Bridgeport Fire Chief Brian Rooney agreed and urged parents to monitor their children closely.
“One of our largest concerns is not just for exploding fireworks, but for sparklers and smoke bombs. Sparks from these can easily come down on dry grass and start fires. Rockets are another problem. They can be shot skyward and land on someone’s roof, starting a fire,” said Chief Rooney. “We’ve had it happen before.”
Police Chief Bryan Norwood echoed Chief Rooney’s call that parents watch their children closely this weekend, particularly in city parks like Beardsley and Seaside Parks that have water.
“People should be mindful of the traffic. Bridgeport police will be on hand throughout the city to make sure everyone obeys the rules of the road,” said Chief Norwood. “And I would ask everyone to tolerate each other because the weather is supposed to get extremely hot, which could in turn cause tempers to also get hot.”