Brass City Brawlers To Play For National Title

The Brass City Brawlers were deliriously happy after capturing the New England Championship 27-12 against the Southern New England Rage on October 25th.

                           Story and Photographs By John Murray

   The Brass City Brawler football team is the best sports story in the city. It’s not because the Brawlers are East Coast champions in their division of semi-professional football. It’s not because they’re playing for the national championship in Orlando in January against a team from Michigan. No, the football accomplishments are great, but the Brawlers are the best sports story in Waterbury because they really aren’t about football.

  The Brawlers are about redemption and second chances.

Lawyer Hired To Oversee Aldermen By District

Daniel Casagrande of Cramer & Anderson. (Photo from Danbury News-Times)

                                        Story By John Murray   

   There is not much time for city leaders to implement aldermen by district for the November 2015 election, but Mayor Neil O’Leary said there is no choice. The process is moving ahead at a vigorous pace and an outside lawyer was hired yesterday to oversee the historic change in municipal government.

   “The voters spoke loud and clear on Election Day that they want aldermen by district,” O’Leary said, “and we’re going to give it to them.”

   But it’s no easy task.

Aldermen By District Creates Uncertain Future

                                           Story By John Murray

    The impact of the historic alderman by district vote continues to ripple through the political power structure in Waterbury. During its first meeting since the November 4th election, the Democrat Town Committee met at the Portuguese Sports Club in the South End of Waterbury and during the 45-minute meeting there were more questions than answers.

Smith, Wallace, Lamb, Buck Enter Waterbury Hall

Webster Bank CEO Jim Smith and Baltimore Oriole pitching coach Dave Wallace.

  The Waterbury Hall of Fame inducted four new members at a ceremony inside the Mattatuck Museum this afternoon; Daniel Buck the co-founder of The Waterbury Clock Company, Gerald Lamb, the first African-American elected to state office in American history, Dave Wallace, right, pitching coach of the World Champion Boston Red Sox in 2004 (and currently pitching coach of the Baltimore Orioles), and Webster Bank CEO Jim Smith (left).

Job Rumors Swirl Around Mayor O'Leary

                                               Story By John Murray

   The whispers started before Election Day. If Governor Dan Malloy won re-election Neil O'Leary was going to step down as mayor of Waterbury and join the Malloy administration. We disregarded the speculation until a close political insider said it was true. "If Malloy wins, O'Leary is gone."

Concerns About Implementing Aldermen By District

   The Waterbury Observer just received a letter from Raechel Guest about the the challenges the city faces implementing aldermen by district in the coming months. Guest was a staunch supporter of electing aldermen by district and wrote this open letter to the 15 current aldermen who are tasked with executing the will of the people.

Dear Aldermen,

   After listening to Mayor O'Leary on WATR, it is my understanding that the boundaries for the new Aldermanic Districts will be drawn up by an outside consultant, guided by a commission to be selected by the Board of Aldermen. It is also my understanding that final approval of the plan rests with you.

Waterbury, The Dalai Lama and the F-Bomb

   A message to the citizens of Waterbury from John Murray, the Publisher and Editor of The Waterbury Observer......

   There has been a lot on my mind the past few weeks as the Waterbury Observer has risked its objectivity to champion systemic change in Waterbury municipal government. I’ve published the Observer for 21 years and the newspaper has never endorsed a political candidate for public office. It was our original intent to provide information to our readers and encourage them to vote. At various times in the past two decades we have been referred to as the Bergin Gazette, a Democrat rag, in the tank for John Rowland, too close to Phil Giordano and a Neil O’Leary mouthpiece.

Plea For Help Illustrates Need For Electing Aldermen By District In Waterbury

                                   Commentary By John Murray

   We received a text message the other day that simply said, "Can we get together and talk about this?" Not familiar with the number, or what we'd be talking about, we responded with, "Who are you?"

   It was community activist Steve Schrag and he wanted to get together to discuss the need for a stop sign in the South End of the city. We were on deadline of publishing blockbuster stories about an interview with a juror from the trial of former Governor John Rowland, and a huge commentary about our take on aldermen by district, and couldn't get our minds around the minutiae of a stop sign request.

Aldermen By District Empowers Neighborhoods

                                   Commentary By John Murray

   In the past four months Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary has been successful in leveraging his influence on the local political scene to help secure $35 million dollars in state and federal aid. This November voters in Waterbury will be asked if they want to elect aldermen by district, or whether to keep the current at-large system in place. The idea of electing aldermen by district has been kicked around since 1994, and while much of the debate has been defined by ethnicity and skin color, it really is an issue of fairness and equal representation.

Rowland Juror Speaks Out About The Verdict

                           Story and Photographs By John Murray

   During jury selection for the trial of the United States of America versus John G .Rowland prospective jurors were handed questionnaires and asked to fill them out. Bob McCormack was in a crowd of more than 100 candidates, and when he read the first question he was sure that would be the end of his day in federal court. The question was, “Do you know John Rowland?”

   “Yes,” McCormack wrote. “Rowland was a 1975 classmate of mine at Holy Cross High School in Waterbury.”

"Billy's Law" Reintroduced In U.S. Congress

 

Billy Smolinski Jr. and his dog Harley before he vansihed in 2004.

 Today, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), as well as U.S. Congressmen Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) introduced Billy’s Law, also known as the Help Find the Missing Act – legislation that would close loopholes in our national missing persons systems.

$14.4 Million Flows Into The WATER Project

An artist rendition of a revitalized Freight Street with a Greenway trail on the right.

   United States Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that the City of Waterbury has been selected as a recipient of a $14.4 million TIGER VI (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

Decade Of Anguish For Smolinskis As They Press For Answers About Their Missing Son, Billy

                                                           By John Murray

   Ten years after his 31-year-old son vanished from Waterbury, Bill Smolinski Sr. uncorked a raw emotional speech last night during a Missing Persons Vigil held on the Naugatuck Green. When Billy Smolinski disappeared on August 24th, 2004, his family had trouble getting the Waterbury PD to take the report of a missing adult male seriously. Frustrated, the family had little choice but to search for Billy themselves. The results have been nightmarish.

Waterbury Leaders Iced For ALS

    Photographs By John Murray, Chelsea Murray and a GoPro Camera

   Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary reacted as a bucket of ice water was dumped on his head today in Library Park as part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. O'Leary and 30 department heads and supervisors in city government participated in the event during the annual Back To School Rally in downtown Waterbury. O'Leary was challenged last week by Board of Education commissioner Jason Van Stone, and accepted in honor of his first cousin Carl Carlson, who was diagnosed last month with ALS. It was Van Stone and Carlson who doused O'Leary with the ice and water. 

FBI Probes Role Of Waterbury Police Department In 2011 Municipal Election

Neil O’Leary, right, and Michael Gugliotti embraced on Election Day 2011 moments after O’Leary knew he’d ended Michael Jarjura’s 10-year reign as mayor of Waterbury. Gugliotti was the police chief at the time, and a close personal friend of O’Leary’s. The FBI is investigating whether the 200 Waterbury police officers that volunteered on Election Day for the O'Leary campaign were compensated, or used city assets. Both O'Leary and Gugliotti clearly state no city assets were used and the police and firemen who volunteered all took vacation days or used personal days.

                      Story and Photographs By John Murray

    For the past 18 months the FBI has been investigating a complaint about the large number of police involved in the 2011 municipal election in Waterbury. The core questions of the investigation are a) whether city employees were paid for working on Neil O’Leary’s victorious campaign, b) did the police use city vehicles or assets in the campaign, and c) were police compensated at a later date for volunteering on Election Day?

   So far lots of questions, and no answers.

Dramatic Shift In Healthcare in Waterbury

   Saint Mary’s Hospital (Saint Mary’s) and Tenet Healthcare Corporation (Tenet) today announced plans for Saint Mary’s to be acquired by a subsidiary of Tenet, a leading healthcare services company which operates 79 acute care hospitals and 189 outpatient centers in 16 states. The transaction, which is subject to the execution of a definitive transaction agreement, state and federal regulatory approvals and other conditions, represents an opportunity to provide continued access to comprehensive healthcare to the Waterbury community by an organization that has been serving the community for over one hundred years.

Dramatic Shift In Healthcare in Waterbury

   Saint Mary’s Hospital (Saint Mary’s) and Tenet Healthcare Corporation (Tenet) today announced plans for Saint Mary’s to be acquired by a subsidiary of Tenet, a leading healthcare services company which operates 79 acute care hospitals and 189 outpatient centers in 16 states. The transaction, which is subject to the execution of a definitive transaction agreement, state and federal regulatory approvals and other conditions, represents an opportunity to provide continued access to comprehensive healthcare to the Waterbury community by an organization that has been serving the community for over one hundred years.

A Reflective Moment In Waterbury

An image of Waterbury Fire Chief Dave Martin was reflected on the police and fire monument in front of Waterbury City Hall last night during a ceremony honoring the members of the Waterbury Fire Department and Waterbury Police Department who died in the line of duty. Photograph by John Murray