Once upon a time Lawrence Alibozek was Connecticut Governor John
Rowland's deputy chief of staff. While serving, "Larry" was
steering state contracts in return for graft. As the year 2000
approached, Larry had millennium fears of computer driven banking
chaos and preferred bid rigs paid in gold. Contractors made like
magic dwarves and spit gold coins. Alibozek buried the booty in
his New Bridgeport backyard. But the gold bug came back to haunt
him when the feds, in the process of digging into Connecticut's
public contract practices, disinterred his cache. At first,
speculation the federal investigation would reach out and touch
Governor Rowland was greeted with cries of no way Jose. But after
months of revelations even fellow Republicans are urging Rowland
to resign. And the specter of impeachment looms.
Around Christmas, the Governor's wife Patty did a Lucy Ricardo
and set out to "help" her husband. She rewrote "The Night Before
Christmas" and read her version to the Middlesex Chamber of
Commerce. In it, Santa is simpatico with the misunderstood
Rowlands and agrees the newsmedia, particularly the "boys and
girls" at Connecticut's Hartford Courant, deserve coal in their
stockings. Patty chimes in: "Oh Santa, that's sad I agree.
They've acted like Grinches who've stolen our tree". Proving
himself inferior in judgement to Ricky Ricardo, Rowland didn't
say "OhbuhPatty" but instead encouraged his wife. Saying
something like-- Go ahead Honey, they can't do anything else
to us. In early January, Governor Rowland received a federal
subpoena for his personal financial records. A historic first
for a Connecticut governor. Rowland's status in the federal probe
has been upgraded from "witness" to "subject" and on January
14th, the Connecticut legislature announced it will form a bipartisan committee to consider impeachment.
Until recently, Rowland didn't have to depend on the kindness of
Santa. His many friends, most of whom are public contractors,
state employees and political cronies were free with their time
and money. They swarmed over Governor Rowland's summer cottage
like elves on a caffeine jag. One had a hot tub installed in
the backyard. Another got the ceiling repaired. Some fixed the
gutters and drainage. Larry Alibozeck chipped in for heating
improvements and a water heater. A highway contractor popped in
a patio. Peter Ellef, Governor Rowland's co-chief of staff,
provided a stepping stone for the stoop. Ellef, who was Larry
Alibozek's boss and personal friend, at one time served as
chairman of the state's trash authority. But Ellef toppled from
that pinnacle when the agency lost 200 million in an Enron deal.
Ellef is now under federal investigation. As are the assorted
state contracts of the Tomasso Group, prominent Connecticut
contractors active in a number of northeast states. The Tomassos
not only helped with the Rowland cottage rehab, but gave the
governor dirt cheap rates at their luxo Vermont resort. Then
there are the boats. And the vintage Mustang presented to Rowland
during his birthday fete at a Tomasso owned golf course. The
boats and Mustang have tangled sales records leading to another
Rowland friend-- Vincent J. DeRosa, Connecticut's homeland
security director and Rowland's former state police driver.
After the feds and newsmedia started poisoning the well of his
friendships, Governor Rowland clarified matters. Saying his
friends had no expectations of quid pro quo. He also denied some
gifts were gifts, claiming he'd paid for them. A lie revealed
by reporters who fact checked financial records. Apres lie,
public sentiment in Connecticut started running against Rowland.
Other Rowland transactions (see development deals and fund
raising) are looking soiled. A number of Connecticut state
agencies are awash with subpoenas. Those rousted from the Rowland
administration under a dark cloud held major positions. Along
with Alibozek and Ellef there was Paul Silvester, the X state
treasurer convicted of taking kickbacks for placing state pension
funds. A top dog can only say underlings betrayed him for so
long. Ask X-Mayor Joseph Ganim of Bridgeport. Now doing 9 at Dix.
Speaking of Ganim Da Greedy, the clamor for Rowland's resignation
comes from a public who've recently seen a bi partisan parade of
corruptoids. More may come down the pike. If the move to impeach
the Governor continues to gain support from Connecticut's
political representatives, Rowland is allegedly threatening to
tell the newsmedia about other folk's "gifts". The very same
reporters slated for coal at Christmas now might get Valentines!
One last word about Santa. Earth to John and Patty: Santa doesn't
do payback for pols. And he doesn't clean cottages either.
Talking strange notions, it's amazing how little job performance
affects political careers. Consider former Mayor Al Jurczynski
of Schenectady, New York. As the New Year dawns, Mayor Al is
leaving office but not public service. After 2 terms of
Jurczynski's fiscal management, Schenectady's bond rating has
received Moody's kiss of death. Only 11 other municipalities in
the entire country are equally basement. In 2002 the NY State
Comptroller audited Schenectady and found the Jurczynski
administration was tossing all the city's funds, regardless of
earmarked purpose, into a bucket for day to day operating
expenses. During the Jurczynski years, Schenectady's police
department was the target of a federal corruption investigation.
4 officers were convicted. Jurczynski stood behind his police
chief all the way. Meanwhile, drug trade decimated decent
neighborhoods and the murder rate climbed. Schenectady, a city
with few jobs, limited public transportation, a small police
force and a shrinking yet majorly gouged tax base, absorbed an
influx of New York City's most troubled social service clients.
How and why this relocation of an underclass occurred has never
Schenectady is a small city with some 60,000 residents. Its
architecture speaks of the high times of American cities.
Schenectady's overall decline is certainly connected to the
larger issue of industrial withdrawal. General Electric was once
the major employer: when GE sent thousands of jobs elsewhere it
ripped the rug out from under Schenectady. But GE wasn't in
charge of the city budget for the last 8 years. Nor was it
responsible for public safety. When Mayor Al Jurczynski left
office at the end of 2003, his own assessment of his performance
was that he did a good job "considering what I had to work with".
Apparently Governor George Pataki agrees since he just nominated
Al Jurczynski as Deputy Chief of the Governor's Office of Small
Cities (GOSC). GOSC is New York State's administrative agency for
the federally funded Small Cities Community Development Program.
A HUD baby authorized by Title 1 of the Housing and Community
Development Act of 1974. Jurczynski will be collecting a salary
of 90,000 federal dollars a year, plus state benefits worth
roughly $30,000. Mayor Al will be using his fiscal expertise to
help dispense (from a bucket perhaps?) $50 million annually in
federal funds across New York State-- to cities, towns and
villages with populations of less than 50,000 or counties with
unincorporated populations of under 200,000. Many (though not
all) of the eligible areas are essentially small town, suburban
or rural. Though Jurczynski's urban experience may go underutilized, he'll no doubt do his personal best to help HUD
achieve its stated Small Cities national objective of "aiding
in the prevention of slums and blight."
Only a few miles from Schenectady lies New York's capital city of
Albany. Another beautiful old city. Population roughly 97,000.
On New Years eve at 4:30 in the afternoon, in the downtown
neighborhood of Center Square, an innocent bystander was shot
to death by a police officer in the process of a car chase.
Police described the car which sparked the chase as behaving
erratically and as having plates that didn't match the vehicle.
The chase took place mainly in a neighborhood akin to a miniature
Greenwich Village. First Night events had already begun. A marathon race meant certain streets were blocked. Streets
in the area are narrow. When events draw crowds, they spill off
the sidewalks. The car chase came to a halt at the neighborhood's
central intersection of Lark and State Street, when the driver
became boxed in by a number of police cars. Pushed up on the
sidewalk, the driver threw his car in reverse. By then several
pursuing officers had jumped out of their patrol cars. At least
one was behind the reversing car. Two officers opened fire. At
first there was talk the driver had a gun. Later it emerged the
officers believed the driver was trying to run one of them over. Using
his car as a "deadly weapon". Eight bullets were fired by the
officers. Some as the car reversed and some as it pulled away.
The car eluded pursuit and was later found deserted. The driver,
who had a DWI record, was traced and arrested the next day
without incident. But at the intersection, neighborhood resident
David Scaringe, age 24, had been fatally wounded. And Shawn
Brozowski, a waiter at a nearby restaurant out sweeping the
walk, had been grazed by another bullet.
In the days following the tragedy, official versions of events
twisted and turned. Police brass say they tried to call off the
chase via radio but heavy signal activity from already responding
patrol cars scrambled their message. An internal police
investigation is in progress, as is one by the Albany District
Attorney's office. A grand jury is expected to review the results
of the DA's investigation to determine whether the shooting was
justified, negligent or reckless. Albany's civilian review board,
which possesses no subpoena powers, employs no investigators and
has so far supported few complaints, will also be looking into
the matter. A call for an independent investigation and/or
prosecutor has been made by newspaper editorials, columnists and
citizens. City hall remains in typical bunker mode.
Two nights after the shooting a candlelight vigil for David
Scaringe was held at Lark and State Street. It was organized by
Shawn Brozowski and his wife Jody. Shawn said Jody did most of
the work. Maybe Jody Brozowski knew she could have lost her
husband as easily as the fiancÚ of David Scaringe lost her
husband to be. Candlelight vigils can be exercises in bathos.
This was not. Little was said. Roughly 150 people gathered
quietly on the corner beneath a streetlamp still decorated with
a Christmas wreath and a banner proclaiming: First Night/Last
Run. The foot of the lamp post was heaped with flowers. Candles
flickered gently in an almost windless night. Jody Brozowski read
a eulogy for David Scaringe, a poem by Christina Rossetti called
"Paradise: In a Dream". Though her voice occasionally broke,
it carried like a clear sweet bell: "I heard the songs of
Paradise/Each bird sat singing in his place/A tender song so
full of grace/ It soared like incense to the skies".
On January 5th, when David Scaringe was carried to his burial,
mourners in the procession covered a mile of Central Avenue.
One of Albany's main arteries.
Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
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