When I heard many months ago that Joe Ganim had slipped into a federal Bureau of Prisons substance abuse program to shave time off his sentence I coughed up a chuckle.
Gee, could the former mayor have rationalized all that high-end wine I bought for him in the 1990s led him to tipping a little too freely? So much so that it caused a substance abuse problem? Well, I know Joe probably as well as anyone on the planet (although I’ve had no relevant contact with him in 10 years). Joe loved wine, he was certainly addicted to the good life, enough that he didn’t mind squeezing my stones if it meant many bottles of Lafite to go along with a porterhouse. But if he had an addiction to wine that qualified him for a program, now that was just another Joe moment. (See prior post for details.)
And you know what, if he could persuade the federal Bureau of Prisons that he indeed had a problem that qualified him for a treatment program to shave off a year of his sentence to get back to his family that much sooner, so be it. Joe could be back in Connecticut in less than four months. I’ve always felt his nine-year sentence was excessive. John Rowland took just as much stuff as Joe, but got a year. Rowland, of course, had the advantage of going to school on Joe, and he cut a deal.
Joe decided to roll the dice, go to trial and testify, turning down a plea offer that was in the neighborhood of 30 months. Joe didn’t make it any easier on himself when he took the stand in 2003, raised his hand and lied. U.S. District Court Judge Janet Arterton doesn’t take kindly to fibbers.
But Joe has done six years and that’s enough. Time to get out of there and back to his family. He screwed up, did his time and is just about even with the house.
I was Joe’s campaign manager, his closest political adviser. Our relationship changed over his sense of entitlement. As a result I made some idiotic decisions. But things didn’t get real bad until Joe extended so much power and authority to a young man named Paul Pinto that Joe lost sight of what Pinto could do to ruin his future. Pinto was Joe’s biggest problem, and Joe unleashed him to shake down a lot of folks to benefit Joe.
There’s some nostalgia out there in city neighborhoods for the second-longest-serving mayor in Bridgeport’s history, and lots of nostalgia from Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa. (That sound you just heard was a collective gag from Yahooy, Bob From BePo and Bob Walsh.) You talk to Mario and he’ll tell you Joe was the city’s most effective mayor … more effective than Sam Tedesco, Hugh Curran, Nick Panuzio, John Mandanici, Lenny Paoletta … more effective than his own cousin Tom Bucci, more so than Mary Moran, more than Johnny Fabs, Bill Finch, and that covers every mayor in the past 50 years. For Mario it’s Joe. That doesn’t mean Joe’s gonna make a comeback in the near future. He needs to do what’s right for his wife and children. But know this about Joe, he’s a competitor who hates losing.
OMG, Auden Grogins Must Be Thrilled
No bigger animal lover than State Rep. Auden Grogins, the blonde banshee from Black Rock. Her husband Ira, a prince of a guy, must flip coins with their dog Harold for morning biscuits. News release from Governor Rell:
Governor Rell: October 1 Law Allows Pet Owners to Set Up Trusts for Animals
Pet owners in Connecticut can now have peace of mind knowing their animals will be properly cared for if owners die before their pets as a result of a new law that takes effect on Thursday, Governor M. Jodi Rell announced today.
Under the new law signed June 29, 2009 by Governor Rell, pet owners can set up enforceable trusts to care for their animals, ensuring the animals are not neglected or euthanized if they can no longer take care of the pets.
“Kindness and love are truly the only things pets ask of us. Ensuring they are cared for after we are gone is the humane thing and right thing to do,” Governor Rell said. “Anyone who has ever loved an animal and made it part of their home and family understands that sometimes we are better humans because of the companionship of such sweet creatures.”
Senate Bill 650, An Act Concerning the Creation of a Trust for the Care of An Animal is one of several new state laws that take effect on October 1, 2009. The pet law requires that the owner designate a “trust protector,” someone whose sole duty is to act on behalf of the animal, ensuring the pet receives the proper care.
A Superior Court or probate court would have jurisdiction over the trust, which terminates when the last surviving animal dies. The trust protector can seek legal action in either court to remove or replace a trustee, the individual overseeing the fund, if the money was spent on anything other than its intended use.
Prior to the new law, pet owners could set up trusts for their animals but those arrangements were considered honorary since animal beneficiaries cannot enforce them.
Library Referendum News
Interesting piece by the Library Journal, a leading commercial library pub.
In a pathbreaking effort for urban libraries in Connecticut, supporters of the beleaguered Bridgeport Public Library (BPL) have drawn on a long-obscure law to get a referendum on the ballot November 3 that would force the city to reallocate tax revenues and spend one mil—or about 45% more than the current anemic allotment—on the library.
Library advocates, who formed the Liberate Libraries Committee to advance the measure, see it as a last-ditch effort. A quarter-century ago, the library had 101 employees, while a decade ago the figure was 68; now it is 55. In the past two years, BPL has suffered a 16% budget cut.
“We finally decided, what have we got to lose, they’re going to kill us anyhow,” board president Jim O’Donnell told LJ. “If we get killed politically and we lose, they can’t cut us any more than they have.” As of now, if a staffer is out sick, a department or branch may have to close. Further cuts will lead to loss of hours at the main library or the closing of one or more of the four branches.
The current library budget is about $4.8 million, including benefits and utility costs, which represents .69 mils. The library is asking for 1 mil, or $6.9 million, which would represent nearly $50 per capita (up from the current $34.50) for a service population of 139,000.
O’Donnell said that, in 1985, the city spent 1.25% of its budget on the library; passage of the measure would mean the library got 1.42% of the budget, but, in O’Donnell’s words, it would simply restore the library to an inflation-adjusted level.
“It would mean six days of service in our neighborhoods,” he said, and enough capital money to replace two storefront branches with full-service libraries. “It also means the possibility of Sunday hours at the main library,” he said, plus more computers and restoring the book budget.
Can a vote work?
Can the vote pass? Clearly, city officials are not happy about a measure that would hamstring their capacity to allocate funds to city departments.
Initially, the Town Clerk refused to accept the petition for a referendum, which relies on a state law regarding libraries directed to towns and boroughs. Advocates noted that Bridgeport’s city charter said it would be responsible for all the duties and obligations imposed by state laws on towns, and a Superior Court Judge agreed. Only 50 signatures were needed on the petition.
Now Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, O’Donnell said, officially supports letting the people decide. However, “They do not want this to happen,” O’Donnell said. “They believe we’re forcing their hand to fund the library in the appropriate way.” After all, he noted, a 1990 ordinance sets library funding at 2.33 mils, which has never been implemented.
“We’re in the process of identifying prime voters and library users,” said O’Donnell, noting that the public is generally apathetic, leading to low-turnout elections. The largest turnout comes not in the general election but in the Democratic primaries.
The problem: the committee doesn’t have the money to do mass mailings and instead will rely on other, less expensive forms of outreach. Those connected with other urban libraries in Connecticut are watching carefully, O’Donnell said, though they may not be able to rely on the same legislation.
Framing the issue
The referendum has been portrayed in some quarters as a tax. “This referendum will not cause your taxes to increase,” the Liberate Libraries Committee says. “A yes vote is telling the Mayor and City Council members that library services are important to you and a priority for you.”
However, it does imply a need to either cut other services in a static budget or instead raise taxes.
O’Donnell responded to a local television editorial charging the millage reallocation was a tax increase. “Politicians fought in Court against using the 128-year-old law for the first time in Connecticut,” he said. “Now the people, not the politicians, will decide the library allocation in Bridgeport. While only politicians decide what to spend for other services that may not benefit you, the people of Bridgeport now have a voice to value the Library.”