New London GOP disses its former mayor

It was odd the way New London Republicans this week chose some political unknowns as well as some problematic candidates for their slate for the fall City Council race.

At the same time, city Republicans strangely rejected Martin T. Olsen, a proven vote-getter who has won three council elections and served as both ceremonial mayor of the city, before it was a full-time job, and deputy mayor.

Olsen told me this week he will petition for a primary and is confident he will obtain the 66 signatures necessary to force one.

One of the problematic candidates nominated by Republicans is Marie Friess-McSparran, the Democratic city councilor whom the Democratic Town Committee declined to endorse for a second term.

That's right. City Republicans chose a rejected Democrat over a Republican who has proven to be one of the party's more successful candidates over the years.

McSparran, who has made obstructing the Democratic mayor a centerpiece of her campaign, is also well-known in the city as the person who tried to move the city's popular St. Patrick's Day parade out of town, to any other town that would take it. None did.

Another political newcomer on the Republican slate, attorney Gordon Videll, did actually succeed in moving his office out of town, from a downtown office building on State Street to Waterford.

Videll is also an odd choice in that his wife, also a lawyer and part of the two-lawyer law firm the couple runs together, is representing police union President Todd Lynch in his pending lawsuit against the city and the police chief.

It seems unlikely that Lynch's lawsuit, with its long, whining complaint about how the police chief treated him as an employee, will generate much in the way of damages.

But it's certainly possible that Videll's law firm has an agreement - pretty typical in civil lawsuits - to take a share of any damages that arise out of the Lynch lawsuit. If that's true, Videll needs to disclose it to voters.

It seems bad enough that city residents have both a police chief and a police union president suing the city. Why would they want a city councilor who stands to personally profit from the discord?

Videll was a call-in guest recently on a conservative Ledyard talk radio station, helping channel complaints by the city police union that city management is not being forthcoming about how, they claim, crime has soared in the city.

Videll has also complained about my criticism of the controversial police K-9 program managed by Lynch. A City Council vote on proposals to add more dogs is expected to be taken soon.

The increasingly shrill discussion on air this week about city crime rose to a suggestion by one of the radio station hosts of an out-and-out boycott of the city, as he told people from the suburbs they might want to stay away. (You wonder what the station's city advertisers might think of that.)

One other thing city voters might consider with a Videll candidacy is a two-and-a-half-month suspension of his law license in 2011. A Connecticut Judicial Department representative said the law license was suspended because he failed to pay a $110 annual payment required of all lawyers for a fund that reimburses victims of theft and misconduct by their lawyers.

Former Mayor Olsen told me he believes that Republicans rejected him in part because of a letter against his candidacy by former City Councilor George Sprecace, a one-time Democrat whose son, Adam Sprecace, is a popular GOP councilor who chose not to run again this fall.

Olsen said George Sprecace was mad at him because he won the last ceremonial mayor position, instead of Adam Sprecace.

George Sprecace denied that in the letter asking city Republicans to reject an Olsen candidacy because the former mayor broached party discipline.

"This is not personal. This is principle," George Sprecace wrote.

It's also, I would guess, part of a losing strategy.

This is the opinion of David Collins.


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