Remember that neighborhood nuisance ordinance that the Common Council wanted to pass back in the summer and then they changed their minds and said they'll address the issue in the fall? Well, what happened to it? It seems like the Republican-controlled council didn't want to touch that issue until after the election and that has Dean Esposito saying "foul"
The fact a proposed volleyball law is taking months to serve up has a mayoral challenger crying foul.
Democrat Dean Esposito said Mayor Mark Boughton and the Republican-controlled Common Council are keeping a "neighborhood nuisance" law stuck in a subcommittee because it is too controversial.
In the spring, elected officials said the law would be ready by summer. In the summer, they said it would be ready by the fall.
Now the law is expected to be sent to the Common Council in December. Public hearings would then be scheduled.
"What's taking so long? If you're going to do it, do it already," Esposito said.
Boughton said the political season has forced the law to the back burner. The mayor said city officials are not side-stepping the volleyball issue. "I don't think we're ducking it. We are just doing our due diligence," Boughton said.
City officials said a "neighborhood nuisance" law would regulate — among other activities — large, backyard volleyball games that have become increasingly popular among the city's immigrant population.
The large games caused friction this summer among neighbors in some parts of the city, such as on Corn Tassle Road and Casper Street.
City officials shut down one game on Casper Street when it was discovered a portion of the volleball court was on city property.
Members of the Common Council committee studying the issue said the law doesn't concentrate specifically on volleyball. Instead, it focuses on any "outdoor repetitive activities."
When the city first proposed the law, leaders in the Ecuadoran community worried it would unfairly target them. Volleyball is a popular sport in Ecuador and many of the neighborhood games in the city are organized by Ecuadoran property owners.
Esposito doesn't support the law. He said the city already has laws and zoning rules that deal with issues such as overcrowded volleyball games in back yards.
"Like I've said, this law was just a feel good thing to make people happy," Esposito said. "Now they don't know quite what to do with it."
However, Boughton said the law would give police the ability to issue tickets when they come across large neighborhood games. As it stands now, city officials can't stop the games immediately. Instead, zoning officers issue cease and desist orders.
Boughton said even when city officials visited games over the summer, the games continued. "We didn't shut down any volleyball games. That's the problem," Boughton said.
If the volleyball problem was such a big issue during the summer, why hasn't the nuisance law been passed. Does Esposito has a point?
The Hartford Courant did an interesting piece on the mayoral race today and it's worth a read because it brings up a point which I discussed on numerous occasions, that this election could be look at as a referendum on Boughton's policy towards immigration.
Boughton is now facing Democrat Dean Esposito, a former common council member and town clerk, in a bid for a third two-year term, which would make him the longest-serving Republican mayor in Danbury since the 1960s.
But the outcome of the election could reveal more than how Republicans and Democrats measure up. It's also the first electoral test for the fledgling immigrant movement in Connecticut that, some observers say, will one day have a dominant role in the city.
And while what could be called pothole issues such as traffic, schools, development and taxes will always hold sway in Danbury, candidates say immigration is on the minds of many voters.
Wilson Hernandez, a former president of the Ecuadorian Civic Center, said the election represents an important, small step for local immigrants.
"The election will give us an opportunity to send a message to the mayor, and that message is everyone should be considered a part of the community and respected," he said.
Boughton, 41, has led a remarkable Republican resurgence in this traditionally working-class, Democratic city of more than 78,000. After serving two years in the state legislature, he was elected mayor in 2001 with a 139-vote margin over the Democrat, who had endured a tough primary.
By 2003, he had secured his political standing, winning 60 percent of the vote and leading Republicans to a 17-member majority on the 21-member common council, an exact flip of the previous common council. These days, his name is mentioned as a possible running mate for Gov. M. Jodi Rell or as a congressional candidate.
Parallel to the GOP ascendancy was another fundamental shift in the composition of Danbury. Drawn by abundant work and cheap housing downtown, immigrants from Brazil, Ecuador and dozens of other countries were flocking to Danbury.
Estimates of the number of immigrants vary widely, from 10,000 to 20,000. Some residents welcomed the influx and the vitality it brought, particularly with new businesses and restaurants in a struggling downtown.
Others were less enthusiastic, pointing to the day laborers who had taken over a small downtown park, crowded apartments and houses, and cultural clashes, such as the sometimes large and rowdy volleyball games Ecuadorians held in residential neighborhoods.
Boughton, a moderate Republican who had had good relations with immigrant communities, stepped into the breach in April when he asked that state police help enforce immigration law, a tactic employed by only a few states.
The move ignited an emotional response. Some immigrants felt the mayor was unfairly targeting undocumented workers who made a contribution to the city. Immigrant groups that previously had little to do with each other formed the Danbury Area Coalition for the Rights of Immigrants, which organized a large unity march in June.
Some longtime residents applauded the move, and last spring a group called Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control started a local chapter, which remains the group's largest and most active.
Democrats say Boughton's plan was an ill-advised political ploy to shore up support among longtime residents.
"It was a desperate attempt, in my opinion, to appease a certain voting bloc," said Esposito, a painting contractor.
Danbury suddenly was the focus of stories carried by national newspapers, magazines and news shows, as well as Spanish- and Portuguese-language media from here to South America.
Esposito, 45, said much of the coverage depicted Danbury in a bad light, and he blames the mayor. He said illegal immigration needs to be dealt with at the federal, not the local, level.
"We had a march in this city that showed a lot of support for people living here, legally or not," he said.
When you talk to people on the street, the immigration situation doesn't get as much traction as the traffic problems, the resentment over condominium overdevelopment, the numerous issues with the police department, and lack of quality schools. Why the immigration issue is unique is because it was Boughton's creation from the start. At first, he was willing to build a depot for the day-workers who wait in the center of town for work but his conservative political base grew angry so Boughton suddenly changed gears and started a campaign against the undocumented immigrants with his state police request. Boughton whacked a bee's nest with his action that he has yet to recover. The Ecuadorian population is growing and shows no sign in decreasing so they could become an important voter bloc in the future but probably not so much right now.
Many local observers don't think immigration or the Latino vote will be the thing that turns it around, at least this year.
"Remember, we're talking about registered voters here and a lot of registered voters want something done" about immigration, said Chris Kukk, an assistant professor of political science at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. "Mayor Boughton actually tried to make things happen."
Boughton may have inspired immigrants to organize, but the percentage of citizens and permanent residents is still small compared with undocumented immigrants. Though Kukk does not think their votes will be pivotal in this election, he expects that will change in the coming years.
"It's a fledgling movement, but one with a lot of strength," he said.
Former Mayor Jim Dyer made a comment that I made on numerous occasions (but remember, Dyer is supporting Boughton and he has had his own set of problems) which is Esposito needs to get tell the voters how he would run things differently in Danbury or in other words, get his message out to the public. People are not going to come out and vote for you simply because you're a Democrat so if Esposito explained how he would deal with the immigration issue differently, he might get more support.
One seasoned political observer, former Mayor Jim Dyer, said the Democrats have failed to mount a cohesive campaign. Dyer, a Democrat who says he supports Boughton, lost his bid for a fifth term in 1998 while he was facing federal corruption charges, which he later beat.
"I haven't seen [Esposito] sink his teeth into anything that is sticking with the voters," Dyer said.
Finally, the Courant brings up an important point about Danbury, there are more Democratic registered voters than Republicans as Danbury has been traditionally a Democratic stronghold in the Republican dominated fifth district but Esposito is running behind in terms of cash on hand.
Registered Democrats still outnumber Republicans, but both are dwarfed by unaffiliated voters. In fundraising, Boughton had raised $74,064 by Sept. 30, outpacing Esposito by a 10-1 ratio.
That bring said, I think that Esposito could of used the immigration issue to rally up more support from his base if he would of explained how he would of done things differently and repeat it loudly time and time again. Esposito could also draw more votes by rallying support among the Latino population before the voter registration deadline passes and then make sure that those registered voters come out and vote. Every vote counts and with limited funds the best way to get votes is by getting your base to show up on election day.
The good thing is that getting support in the Ecuadorian population is that Esposito doesn’t can get a campaign surrogate to do this for him therefore, here are some things to consider when thinking about this election:
1. Republican support: (I talked to many Republicans who say they're simply not voting because they are unhappy with the condition of the city but won't vote democrat).
2. Minority turnout: (the Brazilian population could make a difference as this is really the first time that section of the population will come out and vote and you can be sure that most will not vote for Boughton),
3. Police union supporters: You think they're going to vote for Boughton?
4. Overall turnout: Again, many people are unhappy with the condition of Danbury and won't come out to vote because a). they're unhappy with Boughton and b.) they don't know enough about Esposito and could consider him more of the same. This could be to the challenger's advantage if he can rally up his base and get his message out there with two weeks to go. Not impossible but it's a uphill battle.
All these factors will make this election rather interesting but as I said in the past, the Democrats HAVE to get their message out there as soon as possible. I've seen progress in the last few weeks but time is running out and like Esposito said, it's all uphill from here.
He's a painting contractor who doesn't campaign during the day because he has to work.
His campaign is running on a bare-bones budget — roughly $4,000 to his opponent's $40,000.
His wife and two kids live 950 miles away.
He's a Democrat, yet he shares a house with a Common Council Republican.
Yes, mayoral candidate Dean Esposito admits, his candidacy has some rough edges — but friends say if you see him face-to-face, he'll quickly win you over.
"Dean's strength is clearly one-on-one. Who you see is who you get," said former Mayor Gene Eriquez. "He is an honest, forthright individual of great integrity — and he is extremely personable."
Eriquez also pointed out that anyone who thinks Esposito is a political neophyte better look twice. He has won five elections, which isn't easy.
Esposito served on the Common Council from 1989 to 1991 and then from 1993 to 2003. He also served briefly as town clerk, filling out the term of Michael Seri, who retired.
His grandfather was president of the Danbury Hatter's Union. His father was a state representative. Esposito caught the political bug early, when his family would pile into a station wagon and go door-to-door, passing out political flyers to neighbors.
"If you ask any politician why they do it, I don't think they'll have an answer. It's just been in my system to do it," said Esposito, 45. "I guess it's just in my blood."
Esposito grew up on Mountainville Road, the middle child of eight children.
He graduated from Danbury High School in 1979, where he was voted class clown. The News-Times/Chris Ware Mayoral candidate and painting contractor Dean Esposito works on a business in New Milford.
Friends used two words again and again to describe Esposito — loyal and honest.
Just how committed is he to Danbury?
Esposito wakes up each day at 6 a.m. Joe DaSilva Jr., his 35-year-old campaign manager, usually calls a half-hour later to talk about the day's campaign events.
Like Esposito, DaSilva is a political junkie having been raised in a political family.
Esposito, however, has to put in eight hours of work each day before he campaigns.
At debates, he is at a clear disadvantage to Boughton, a former school teacher who prepares methodically for each appearance.
"This guy (Boughton) has all day to prepare. He shows up with a white binder that looks like the Bible," Esposito said. "He flips open the book, he's got things highlighted. Half the time I'm yabba dabba dooin' it," he said, jokingly. "But I know the issues — and I've seen the city run better."
For the past few weeks, Esposito has been painting a 22,000-square-foot, two-story wooden office building on Route 7 in New Milford.
He often keeps a suit in a spare room in the building in case he has to change clothes to go to a political event, such as a luncheon at the Rotary Club.
"If he's up on a ladder painting a house and you stop by to ask him a question, he'll get down off the ladder and talk politics," said Prybylski, a long-time buddy.
In fact, that happened as Esposito was painting Thursday. A volunteer fireman from Germantown drove up to chat with Esposito just before lunch.
Esposito and the man talked for 10 minutes. They finalized a time for Esposito to visit the volunteers this week.
Esposito has some history with the volunteer firefighters in the city. He took lots of heat from them when he was on the Common Council, after asking for more detailed accounts of how the volunteer departments use city funds.
At one parade, a firefighter refused to shake Esposito's hand, he recalled.
"They thought I was out to shut down firehouses, which wasn't true," Esposito said. "It was all right, though. It's part of the job."
During his time on the Common Council, Esposito chaired a number of budget committees, including the group that analyzed money going to the police and fire departments.
"He has a passion about certain issues," said Eriquez, the former mayor. "He's someone you can hand things off to and you know he will follow through."
Eriquez is Esposito's political mentor. He offers advice when asked and has helped the candidate write a speech or two.
Esposito said he's not the most polished politician — and he doesn't want to be.
He recently stuttered and stammered his way through an appearance sponsored by the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce.
"I bombed at that appearance, in my opinion," Esposito said. The problem was working from a prepared statement. Esposito said he prefers to talk from the heart.
"If I know the issue, I'd rather just talk to people, not at people," Esposito said. "I started talking at that group, and I got rocky."
It's that kind of honesty — combined with his popularity — that will win over the average Joe, DaSilva said.
"He's not somebody who makes a distinction between who he's talking to. He's going to tell people what he thinks, whether it's a waiter or a doctor," DaSilva said. "He's just a regular guy."
04.25.22 (RADIO): WSHU Latino group call on Connecticut lawmakers to open a Danbury charter school
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On September 26, 2007, ten plaintiffs filed suit in response to an arrest of aday laborers at a public park in Danbury, Connecticut. Plaintiffs amended their complaint on November 26, 2007.
The amended complaint states that plaintiffs sought to remedy the continued discriminatory and unauthorized enforcement of federal immigration laws against the Latino residents of the City of Danbury by Danbury's mayor and its police department.
Plaintiffs allege that the arrests violated their Fourth Amendment rights and the Connecticut Constitution because defendants conducted the arrests without valid warrants, in the absence of exigent circumstances, and without probable cause to believe that plaintiffs were engaged in unlawful activity. In addition, plaintiffs allege that defendants improperly stopped, detained, investigated, searched and arrested plaintiffs. Plaintiffs also allege that defendants violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights when they intentionally targeted plaintiffs, and arrested and detained them on the basis of their race, ethnicity and perceived national origin. Plaintiffs raise First Amendment, Due Process and tort claims.
Plaintiffs request declaratory relief, damages and attorneys fees.