Monday, April 19, 2010

Good Police Chief, Bad Mayor

Nestled between New Haven, CT to its West, and Branford, CT to the East is a town called East Haven. It’s a unique kind of place. It’s not a destination point you will see in any travel magazine, nor is it particularly famous for anything outside of the immediate area.

The town has characteristics reminiscent of both its book end neighbors. New Haven has graced the place with its urban influences on the West side and Branford; a beautiful coastal suburb with lots of money, history, and tourist attractions give East Haven an interesting confluence of culture and population towards it’s West. It even has a beach area; think Jersey Shore only a little poorer.

What East Haven lacks in sights, culture, and history it makes up for in the proud people who live there. The town has become a caricature of Italian American stereotypes due to its once largely Italian American population, a demographic that has been changing over the last 20 or so years. Unlike most of the towns around it, East Haven has been slow to gentrify and proudly so.

The citizens seem to almost relish in the guido and mob jokes set upon them by morning DJ’s even to the point where there is a traditional song parody called Christmas time in East Haven played during the Holidays. Check it out, it’s funny as hell and gives you a great perspective on the place.

I said it has been slow to gentrify, but for a while it had been attracting a wealthier crowd during the late 1990’s on up until a couple years ago. People interested in locating deeper into New England either from New York or what is known as the “gold coast” of Connecticut saw East Haven as a more economically feasible place to land than the wealthier towns to the East.

This was thanks to a Mayor who was the perfect embodiment of the essence of the Town itself. Joe Maturo was a former firefighting, master electrician, working class guy who served the town for six terms. He was wildly popular and worked tirelessly to get his town as much attention as he could. It was easy for him because he had no problem getting the attention of people with his easy charm and ability to do exactly what his constituents wanted him to.

When Joe was elected, he put together a crack team of Town officials committed to the same goal he had; making East Haven a place people wanted to come to while maintaining it’s proud heritage. He was a force.

Enter Lenny Gallo, veteran police officer retired from the New Haven Police Department. Lenny became Joe’s Police Chief. Lenny is old school for sure and in East Haven, CT that is the only kind of cop to have.

Joe and Lenny became almost legendary. They worked their asses off and they played their asses off too. They were as popular out on the town as they were in the town. Even when they socialized they were talking about initiatives and how great the town was and what they were going to do next and so on and so on. They lived and breathed East Haven. The dedication was like none I have ever seen.

The amazing thing was; beyond the cursory need to belong to a party, Joe really didn’t play politics much. Of course, he played it a little; everyone in Government has to, but not to the point of any real scandal. Like any successful politician Joe had friends on both sides of the aisle.

Why am I talking about some guido town in Connecticut from my comfy home in San Diego? I’ll tell you why.

21 votes booted Joe out of the Mayor’s office in 2007. 21 votes. Hardly a mandate, although you would think it was by the way the winner of those 21 votes acted.  The victor, a nobody, known as April Capone Almon is a truly despicable human being who upon winning the Mayor’s office by such a slim margin declared Joe to have been a demon sent from Hell, and the people who worked for him his minions.  She made no secret that she would disband the “old boy’s club” that Joe had allegedly formed including Lenny Gallo. Of course she would be an expert on such things given her experience as a part time disc jockey and salesperson at Verizon, the extent of her life experience. Sounds like a President I know!

Fast-forward a year into her term.

One fine day at the beach aforementioned, one of Lenny’s officers was ticketing cars to be towed away that were parked illegally. It is important to note this officer is a Republican; the Mayor is a Democrat. The Mayor happened to be in the area (hopefully not in a swimsuit) and took issue with the officer having the cars towed. She got on the phone with the police dispatcher and asked to speak with Lenny. Lenny wasn’t available so she basically lost it using language any sailor would be proud of, (or me for that matter) and demanded that the cop call off the tow trucks stating she was the Mayor and her power superseded the Chief’s. Can you say “power trip”?

Well, the Mayor got arrested for that little incident and the true war began. She alleged the Chief arrested her based on purely political motivation since the officer was a Republican and this happened to take place during an election year. I honestly don’t know what party affiliation Lenny is. The police and prosecutor who issued the warrant maintained the Mayor was arrested because she broke the law by interfering with an officer. To the right is her mug shot. Purdy isn’t she?

Here is the dispatch audio tape. Great Stuff!

The charges were eventually dropped but you can imagine the outcry on both sides and she did win her re-election. What a fiasco. The woman is so clearly into aggrandizing herself it is unbelievable. Her speeches and media manner are so transparent it is painful to watch. Seeing her makes you want to shower, but then listening to her, or reading her quotes makes you want to pull your skin off altogether. 

Hell-bent on revenge, Capone Almon took advantage of an incident that happened on the Chief’s watch where his officers were accused of racial profiling. The Department of Justice was brought in due to a complaint lodged by the folks alleging the profiling. Capone Almon was more than happy to oblige an investigation into Lenny’s department.

Any small town police department investigated by the DOJ is going to suffer some scalding critiques. There is just not enough money in the budget of any town in this country to have a perfectly systematic police department. Ok, maybe that is a generalization. In some towns where there are new agey renaissance chiefs, more effort may be put into sensitivity training, but East Haven ain’t one of them.

East Haven’s police department is run just fine and the town is not subject to anymore or less crime than a town of equal size and demographics. In other words, Lenny does the kind of job you would expect from a 40-year police veteran and he is perfect for East Haven. The Mayor however, is not.

Consider this; the DOJ sends the Mayor a preliminary report stating very predictable deficiencies in the department. In fact, it could have been a form letter sent to just about any department in the United States. Read it here: 

Upon reading the preliminary report, this dirt bag Mayor puts Lenny on paid administrative leave, the first disciplinary action in his career. Police Chiefs are protected by State Statute and cannot be fired or suspended without cause. There was no causality stated in this report; there is no cause to discipline Lenny. However, the Mayor and her equally stupid Town Attorney decided this was the best course of action. Any guesses as to how much this is going to cost East Haven taxpayers to litigate?

On the very same day, there is a story in the paper about the Mayor donating one of her kidneys to someone she doesn’t even really know from Facebook. Aw, isn’t that sweet? Want to know when she started chatting with this dude? Right after the incident at the beach. Interesting. That is probably one of the most twisted publicity stunts I have ever heard of. It seems farfetched, but not for this person.

The bottom line is; it is a sad state of affairs when a person is so insecure she has to run for office to get acceptance and then recklessly drag down people who actually care about what they do. I wish Lenny all the luck in the world. And, to that thing that calls herself the Mayor; karma is coming to get you.

And, here is a little tip Mayor; if you want to be in the public spotlight so much, spend less time on Facebook and more time with a stylist.


  1. I share your sentiments about Joe Maturo. joe is a friend of the family and a dedicated public servant, on top of being an all-around nice guy.

    I don't know Lenny Gallo very well, but I have met him at a Police Commissioner's Association meeting and know of him through my many friends in the New Haven PD. A stand-up guy of there ever was one.

    Finally, I think you went too easy on Al Capone - er - ah - April Capone-Almon. (I get confused, she and Al look so much alike.) This really should be her final term in office, and a sensibel person put in to replace her.

  2. Joe was voted out for a reason and don't think we should put him back. While he kept taxes low, he also went back on promises involving the airport. Maybe he's a nice guy, but he lied to me personally one of the only times I met him. A real scumbag. I'm also not happy with Capone for wasting our tax money recently. But you have to remember that the Police department here in East Haven have always been against April Capone from day one. It was a political decision to arrest Capone for that beach incident. And now it's probably a political decision to go after the Police Chief now. All in all it's just a waste of my $5000/yr property tax.

  3. I can't believe how many typos I made. I was in too much of a hurry I guess.

    Anyway, yes, bring back Joe!!! ;-]

  4. Pizza-Vino,

    I completely understand where you are coming from.

    But, I can tell you this from an insider's point of view: you are safe with Lenny, you are NOT safe with the Mayor; for what that's worth. Maybe it is not worth the $5000., I am not smart enough to know. But, you should know the truth, should you not?

    Thank you for he comment. I wish you well, you have the right idea in mind.


  6. I as a taxpayer read this with interest.We of East Haven are proud people and yes we did have affluent folk move into town for a period in time (I am a rel estate agent and primarily sell in East Haven) How ever your blog is riddled with truth name calling should not take place....Once in public office your life becomes an open book but should not be the reason you vote or don't vote for someone...Results should be a determing factor and the results I see in town have not been very good... I have been a Democrat my whole life but changed to Republican because of what is happening in town.The spending (while everyone is tighting their belts) is out of control.Our mill rate is going up the legal limit (without referendum)and that won't even cover the debt we are in...So games are being played.As far as the police department goes they were behind April when first elected but needless to say they are not happy with her today! Its ashame as I really thought a woman in office would do a good job but have been proven wrong by the woman(girl) we put there...We definitly need a change here and it can't come soon enough!

  7. While I feel that Mayor Capone-Almon may have been premature in suspending Chief Gallo, and that she should wait until the full DOJ investigation is complete, to say that the letter from DOJ could have been sent to any small town police department is ridiculous. To also say that the EHPD is run just fine is also incredible. The letter makes six or seven points about outdated practices, lack of re-training, lack of internal investigations, etc. It does not cost tons of money to keep up to date with current practices and to make sure your reports and record-keeping are accurate and timely. It's obvious this police department has not been run well. And yes, both parties are playing politics, I agree. But, as someone who grew up in East Haven when it was known as the "Lily White Town", it's obvious that many of its citizens do not like the fact that people of color are now living there. I'm sorry, but there should be no room for racism in this dialogue.

  8. I have to tell you Anonymous. To further check up on myself, I looked into a bunch of Police Departments who received the VERY SAME letter. Seriously, no kidding. It is a form letter that only seems to serve the purpose of showing the public the DOJ is doing something. The more in depth reports aren't much better.

    Also, if you delve further into the blame game with the Police Department you will find that Lenny did request training budget increase as well as personnel increases and was denied by the very person arrested recently for illegal weapons possession, Ralph Mauro.