Galen Wells just had to write a letter to the editor published in today’s Hour. I will post it first, and then explain just how bad this letter is making Norwalk Democrats look.
Is dumping everything on South Norwalk latest strategy for GOP?
To the Editor:
On July 22, the Common Council voted to reject the mayor’s proposal to send all of the city’s garbage to the Meadow Street transfer station. With the mayor casting the tie-breaking vote, the council approved a bid by City Carting to transfer this garbage at the Crescent Street station. In connection with debate on the latter proposal, Democratic Councilwoman Amanda Brown read from a letter from CRRA citing its proposed cost per ton of garbage if the city decided to continue with CRRA.
On July 25, Art Scialabba, the Republican Town Committee Chairman, filed a Freedom of Information request against Ms. Brown. According to the front page article in The Hour, Mr. Scialabba said, “We need to get to the bottom of this and find out why council people are having potentially independent negotiations.”
If he had bothered to ask her, he would have found out that there was no correspondence between Ms. Brown and CRRA. She was referring to a May 15 letter from CRRA to the mayor that described CRRA’s proposed costs, which were significantly lower than Mr. Alvord had stated.
Previously, on June 18, Mr. Scialabba published a letter in The Hour attacking Democratic District B Chairman Bobby Burgess concerning changes in the rules governing taxi pickups at the South Norwalk train station. The mayor had made changes in the rules governing these taxi pickups without consulting the South Norwalk community or the taxi companies. Under the changed rules, taxis were no longer allowed to pick up fares on the eastbound side of the station. The taxis had no place to wait and were forced to burn fuel circling the block. The South Norwalk community was concerned about convenience, safety and handicap access. Most people at the meetings Mr. Burgess held were his constituents from South Norwalk.
Mr. Scialabba, with no information whatsoever about the relationship of the parties, publicly accused Mr. Burgess of having a financial interest in the matter and questioned his motives. These were outrageous, gratuitous charges with no facts to back them up.
You would normally expect this kind of behavior from Karl Rove, not from a local Republican official. Is this the Norwalk Republican Party’s version of a “Southern Strategy” — dump everything on South Norwalk and accuse anyone who complains of impropriety?
Galen W. Wells
I bet, if Galen Wells had a clue, that she’d be feeling mighty foolish for making these statements about the motives of all involved if she paid any attention to Democratic politics statewide. You see, the corruption of CRRA was fairly well documented in 2002 by Bill Curry, who was the was the Democratic candidate for governor in 1998 and 2002. Curry, previously was counselor to President Bill Clinton. But let’s go to his own words, in a 2004 interview with corporate crime reporter about corruption in Connecticut and the Rowland years:
CCR: In your two runs against him, you never accused him of being corrupt, did you?
CURRY: Actually I did. It was one of the two main arguments of the 2002 race. One of the amazing things to watch now is everything I talked of then coming true. One example is the CRRA/Enron deal. I said at the time it was clear that Rowland had transacted an illegal deal to benefit a private company – Enron, if you can believe it– in exchange for campaign contributions to the Republican Governors Association, which Rowland then chaired.
CCR: What is CRRA?
CURRY: It is the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority (CRRA), a quasi public authority, operating under the state of Connecticut, then run by the Governor’s Chief of Staff, a man named Peter Ellis, who apparently as chief of staff didn’t have enough to do. Rowland assigned him this hobby, running CRRA, so he could control the authority to steer business to his own and his cronies’ advantage. And he did. The first major deal was Enron. The authority made the illegal loan of 220 million dollars to Enron just before Enron went belly up. The state never recovered a dime.
That was in 1997 to 1999. We hammered that home. Unfortunately for us, once again the Attorney General of the state, Richard Blumentahl, a Democrat allied himself with Rowland and announced that he would represent rather than investigate Enron.
He appeared with Rowland at a press conference announcing they were going to sue the accountants and lawyers in New York who they said had deceived the state. It was so much blather.
They knew the people of Connecticut would be 1000th in line going after the bankrupt Enron and its lawyers and accountants after one of the greatest corporate meltdowns ever. It was such an obvious trade of taxpayer dollars for campaign contributions to the Republican Governor’s Association.
CCR: How much did Enron put into the Republican Governors’ Association?
CURRY: Enron raised about $1 million for them when Rowland was either the number one or number two guy at RGA. The deal was a complete scam on taxpayers. The paperwork made it appear Enron was buying energy from state regulated utilities. It wasn’t. The whole thing was like a shell game with no pea. The state’s $220 million loss was the largest single financial transaction and of course the largest single financial loss in state history.
The Governor denied ever having met with Enron, but it turns out that he met with Ken Lay himself and had numerous meetings with Enron officials.
And then there was the massive bid rigging. For this scam, Rowland arranged to have changes made in state statute regarding competitive bidding. Ella Grasso, Connecticut Governor in the mid-1970s, had brought us into the modern age with competitive bidding statutes. Under that law, you could forgo competitive bidding only in a real emergency.
“Emergency” was carefully defined. If water was coming over the levee, and you needed more sandbags, you didn’t have to go out to bid. Otherwise, you had to play it straight. Rowland went from that standard, to one where the commissioners of his departments could just
declare an emergency.
In our campaign, we looked at those projects, and it turned out the commissioners had only declared emergencies where the contractor was the Governor’s largest donor, the Tomasso family from New Britain and their associated companies. No other emergencies had apparently arisen with respect to any other contractors.
We took those contracts – I believe there were four at the time totaling over $100 million – and we brought them to industry analysts who said they had come in 15 to 20 percent over what was then the going rate in our market. That’s 15 to 20 percent over a normal, reasonable profit. That somewhere between $15 million and $20 million into the pockets of that one family just for those projects.
This is the same family that bought the Governor a car, provided many of the free vacations and travel, provided the free improvements to the cottage he got at the private sale with a subsidized mortgage from a nature conservancy. I held a press conference on September 24, 2002 and laid out the scheme.
Isn’t the part about competitive bid corruption really interesting? So Galen Wells would have you believe that the Norwalk Republicans are just out to “get” little ole Norwalk Democrats with “outrageous, gratuitous charges with no facts to back them up.” Well I think the facts, portray a completely different story. The problems with CRRA, go far beyond the political parties, and into the shady world of political insiders, lobbying, and influence. Those activities bring us right to the door on bid rigging.
And as it happens, up in Danbury we have a federal racketeering investigation that mostly explains just how a bid can be rigged. From the announced plea deal:
Judge Burns sentenced GALIETTI at the high-end of the federal sentencing guidelines range of 37 to 46 months, stating that GALIETTI was an “important cog in the Galante machine.” In arguing for a sentence of 46 months, the Government noted that GALIETTI used his contacts in law enforcement to attempt to ascertain if he was under investigation, convened meetings with competitors to quell potential price wars, had competing carters “locked out” of transfer stations, bullied customers seeking to obtain more favorable rates, threatened non-compliant carters with violence and, in one instance, damaged the property of a competitor.
When he pleaded guilty, GALIETTI specifically admitted that from approximately June 2004 to August 2005, he agreed with others to improperly control the trash hauling industry in Connecticut by having participating carters respect a fellow carter’s claim to a customer, either by not competing for that customer or, when solicited by the customer, declining to pursue the opportunity or collusively bidding at a prearranged price designated to lose the contract.
For those interested, here is the town by town breakdown of trash haulers in the affected Connecticut territory.
Maybe Connecticut will get better about investigating corruption. Maybe not. It will perhaps be up to the Feds to look into this more closely. It’s not like they have to start from scratch. On June 30, 2008, Amanda Brown received a letter from Enviro Express, about the bidding process and the contract. You can view it here: page1 and page2. Enviro Express has a certain problem that the New York Office the State Comptroller identified in September of 2005. I’ll quote the relevant bits here, emphasis added:
Worth/Enviro Joint Venture was a business created between Worth Construction and
Enviro Recycling, which was a division of Enviro Express, a Connecticut waste
hauling company. One of the partners in Enviro Express is Tommy Milo, the known
member of organized crime and convicted felon noted above.
The above bit referenced?
Pontoriero was a partner in Equities of 47th St, along with three other individuals,
Gerald Fiorino, Vincent Vigliotti and Tommy Milo. Fiorino and Vigliotti were
subsequently indicted by the NY County District Attorney for Enterprise Corruption,
and Tommy Milo has been identified as a known member of organized crime and is
also a convicted felon.
According to Morris and Brown, apparently what’s not good enough for the State of New York is apparently a-okay for the City of Norwalk. Enviro Express, btw, is the trash hauler that Norwalk currently has under the expiring contract with CRRA. CRRA does not haul trash, Enviro Express does, and that is how they are linked.
Morris in today’s Alexandra Fenwick’s Advocate article said he wants the council to reconsider the vote and then send the issue back to committee. Really? Is this really in the best interest of Norwalk? Galen Wells would have you believe it is. So would Amanda Brown. I suspect that this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and that once again the good ship Norwalk Dems is full steam ahead when they really, really, should be learning from past history.
source: Corporate Crime Reporter 18 Corporate Crime Reporter 3(8), January 19, 2004