The phrase all politics is local is most often associated with former House Speaker Tip O’Neill, though it’s unlikely he invented it. Still, in most years (years when Donald Trump is not being introduced to a Black audience by Don King!) local elections produce the most bizarre events. This year we have two, so far: one stars Dirty Harry and the other…well it’s more of a straight-to-video deal.
The kerfuffle between Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst and Rep. David Alexander reached a crescendo recently when Herbst sent Alexander a video of Clint Eastwood as the character Dirty Harry holding a gun and, in that surly whisper, telling the bad guy to “Go ahead, make my day.” The suggestion comes after Mr. Harry’s (okay, Mr. Callahan’s) treatise on the gun he’s currently aiming at the culprit. Back in real life, Mr. Alexander took this as a threat and reported it to the Capitol police who subsequently asked Mr. Herbst not to contact Mr. Alexander anymore.
Mr. Herbst is a Republican and I’m not, so the impartiality of what I’m about to say may be clouded by my political affiliation, but I’ll say it anyway: how ignorant is Tim Herbst? If any state has the right to be offended and insulted by references to gun violence, it’s Connecticut. This is not political correctness; it’s common sense and respect for those personally devastated by it. And if anyone should grasp the tenor of the people, it’s someone in public service. As for Mr. Alexander, if indeed he’s been an acquaintance of the other for twenty-odd years, perhaps he could have been more restrained in his response. And so I suggest there be an addendum to the requirement that Mr. Herbst not contact him anymore: neither politician should contact anybody anymore until I say so.
Closer to home in Bristol, Mayor Ken Cockayne continues to be embroiled in controversy surrounding charges of sexual harassment and threatening—threatening, incidentally, without Dirty Harry. An independent report says Cockayne threatened city lawyer Richard Lacey and committed at least one “substantial act” of retaliation against an unnamed woman. The two and one-half page redacted report explains almost nothing, but a town attorney denied a Freedom of Information request to release the complete document, citing attorney-client privilege. If I lived in Bristol, I’d be screaming for that document to be released in full. (Since Cockayne is a Republican, it’s unlikely that Mr. Trump will order his Russian pals retrieve it.)
Council member Calvin Brown insists that said council consider further action against the mayor, accusing Cockayne of a cavalier attitude. I’d have the same attitude if I knew that the present charter in Bristol allows for only censure, no matter how serious the misfeasance or malfeasance. No fine. No suspension. No public flogging. Let’s hear it for job security! With little recourse the council unanimously affirmed that such behavior would not be tolerated. Very nice. How about unanimously affirming that it’s time to reexamine the present charter?
Tip O’Neill was right when he said all politics is loco...or something like that.