I was somewhat surprised when I received an e-mail from former State Representative and former Hartford resident Art Feltman on Tuesday.
The header on the e-mail was "Keep a Perez pawn out of the State House".The body of the e-mail is copied below:
Subject: keep a Perez pawn out of the State House!
Date: Jun 7, 2010 8:03 AM
> Sen. John Fonfara, my mentor, is being challenged for his seat in a D
>> primary by union leader Ed Vargas, who organized El Jefe's successful
> field operation when we challenged Perez for mayor- although Eddie has
> one foot
>> in the jail house, he wants to put the other in the State House: he
>> to qualify for public financing, John is hosting a fundraiser this Wed.
>> 9th, 5 to 7 p.m. at Casa Mia restaurant at 381 Franklin Ave. (there is no
>> min.)- donations from any address in Hartford or Wethersfield (both of
>> which he represents) up to $100 makes his campaign eligible for public
>> financing- contributions from elsewhere help, too- please send a check,
>> payable to Fonfara 2010, to Alex Rodriguez, 81 Cromwell St., Hartford,
>> 06114- if you can, stop by that p.m., too
>> please give John the chance to present his side to the voters- if you
>> support me, please support John at this critical time: Eddie is down,
>> not out
>> thank you
I was even more surprised when I received a phone call later that evening from Art Feltman asking me to support John Fonfara and reconsider my support for Ed Vargas. Just to clarify a point, I have not decided to support either candidate, but it is safe to say it will not be John Fonfara. I really do like the Republican candidate Barabara Ruhe and potentially think she would be the best candidate, but that "R" after her name makes her candidacy an effort in futility.
I am not a fan of John Fonfara, and each year observing him I become less and less of a fan. Has he done positive things for Hartford and the State? I guess you would have to give him some credit and say yes.
Does he listen to the concerns of his constituents? Absolutely not. The major criticism I have of Fonfara is the same that many have for their elected officials. John is not accessible and does not return phone calls. This is just not my observation, but numerous people I have spoke with have voiced their dissatisfaction with Fonfara's not having the common courtesy to return calls.
It is also not acceptable to pay attention to your constituents only when you are facing a serious election challenge, or in the couple months before an election when you are soliciting donations and votes.
But back to the e-mail from Art Feltman. I found it interesting that Feltman referred to Fonfara's potential challenger Ed Vargas as a "Perez Pawn". I'm not overly friendly with Vargas, I do know him though, and I would not consider him a "Perez Pawn". I think at one point Vargas was friendly with Eddie Perez, and like many people has realized the error of his ways and has now distanced himself from Perez.
I had spoke with Fonfara shortly before his last re-election bid and told him I hoped a serious challenge would be a wake-up call for him. I had said that no one is entitled to an elected position indefinitely and any politician had to earn their seat everyday of their term. We spoke about the return phone call issue as well as others.
The one thing you may notice is that Senator Fonfara never seems to miss a photo opportunity with Mayor Perez. I brought that up to Feltman when he was claiming that Vargas was a Perez pawn. Art had no answer for that and I even mentioned that Fonfara marched shoulder to shoulder with Perez in Sunday's Puerto Rican Day Parade. Along with Fonfara and Perez was State Representative Kelvin Roldan.
I pointed out that if ever there was a Perez Pawn, it was Representative Roldan and I asked Feltman if he was supporting Roldan in his re-election bid. Feltman said he would "never support Roldan" and it just seemed ironic to me. In fairness, I am working with Roldan's challenger, Angel Morales as his campaign manager. Art wouldn't answer if he was going to support Morales.
In looking at Fonfara's campaign filings for his 2007 election bid, it seems that he has paid several Perez "pawns" thousands of dollars to work on his own campaigns. Among them Evelyn Mantilla who has benefited quite well from her alliances with Perez as well as David MacDonald who serves on the Board of Education as a Perez nominee and works for Fonfara at the Capitol.
We don't need more negative campaigning, the facts are the facts. To see who John Fonfara was paying during his last campaign, his last filing for the 2008 Campaign is below. The actual pay-outs begin on page 18.
Fonfara Seec30 January 10 Filing 3451