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Did New London voters make a mistake in electing Finizio?

By David Collins

Publication: The Day

Published January 06. 2012 4:00AM

I got an email this week from one of Mayor Finizio's critics, complaining about things like the money he spent on his new office furniture and grousing that he hasn't been out meeting with the right constituents.

Gosh, I wrote back. It's been barely a month. Give the guy a chance.

And then on Wednesday, Finizio completed his latest stroke of arrogance, the final blunder that convinced me that maybe New London voters have indeed made a terrible mistake.

It was on Wednesday that the mayor declared that he is going to keep under wraps the report of the investigation into allegations by the police chief that the mayor's principal political rival in the last election, former City Councilor Michael Buscetto, was harassing her and interfering with police business.

I think maybe even corruption is not too strong a word to use here, to describe the mayor's stonewalling.

At the very least, it's outrageous that someone who promised over and over an open and transparent government would hide from the public the results of an impartial, unbiased review of an incident that most certainly played a part in his getting elected.

The mayor, who couldn't suggest, when I asked, a single harm that would come to the city if the report were released, stumbled through a tortured explanation of the reasons why he thinks it's not a public document.

This occurred during a press conference, which the mayor abruptly ended, when the questions got harder to answer.

The public certainly will prevail when the matter eventually goes before the state Freedom of Information Commission, based on a complaint filed by The Day, and before a court, if the mayor won't loosen his grip.

Finizio admitted Wednesday he never even consulted with outside counsel or anyone from the FOI commission to get a second opinion on his decision to commandeer and keep secret the results of the investigation.

The other amazing disclosure Mayor Finizio made Wednesday is that he signed a new employment contract with the police chief even as he is apparently negotiating a settlement of her claims against the city over what she says were Buscetto's alleged transgressions.

Signing a new employment contract with someone threatening to sue you? OK, I'm no lawyer, but that seems just plain stupid, unless you have another agenda.

But it's not stupidity that worries me about the new mayor. It's all the arrogance, his ignoring the law.

It began even before he took office, when he announced, more or less, that he was going to ignore the will of the people who turned out to vote on the issue of whether to sell Riverside Park to the Coast Guard. That bizarre performance even spooked the Coast Guard brass and maybe harmed the city's chances of landing a Coast Guard museum.

Then he made a series of personnel appointments that contradicted some of the essential tenets of his campaign.

For his principal hire, the city's new chief administrative officer, his number two, he chose former Mayor Jane Glover, known by some as "eminent Jane" for her support of the New London Development Corp., which so famously deployed city sanctioned eminent domain and the legal taking of people's homes.

"Winning took so long," Glover once incredibly declared in a New York Times story explaining how some residents managed to stay in their homes even after the city won its eminent domain victory in the U.S. Supreme Court.

I know Glover is a nice and thoughtful woman with useful political connections. But couldn't the mayor - who promised to abolish the NLDC and start fresh - find someone else to back him up in City Hall?

He also selected as his new law director someone from the law firm that helped represent the city before the Supreme Court.

Of course in choosing as his new law director the son of former Law Director Thomas Londregan, Finizio has been able to draw on the same talent pool for keeping documents private and expensively appealing decisions of the FOI Commission to Superior Court.

How about the directive to city police to ignore marijuana laws? He backed down when a prosecutor complained, but not without arrogantly declaring that he can still set the enforcement agenda and have police do whatever he wants.

Isn't that kind of what Buscetto was accused of?

This is the opinion of David Collins

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