General Bill Cugno Dead At Age 63

                        Story and Photograph By John Murray

   General Bill Cugno, a prominent figure in Waterbury politics under the administration of former mayor, Philip Giordano, died unexpectedly last week in Naples, Florida. He was 63 years old. Cugno burst on the political scene in Waterbury in early 1996 when he was appointed Giordano's chief of staff. His impact was immediate, and high octane. Cugno was responsible for the daily operations in the city, and used his extensive military background to organize the Giordano team.

Local Writer Joan Lownds Tackles Honeymoon Cruise Murder, And Billion Dollar Cruise Industry, In Her New Book, "Man Overboard"

Journalist Joan Lownds, of Naugatuck, CT, took on the billion dollar cruise industry while researching her book "Man Overboard". 

                                        Column By John Murray

   Harrison Salisbury was one of the greatest journalists in American history. He was the first American journalist to report on the Vietnam War from inside North Vietnam. Salisbury had been invited to North Vietnam by the Communists in 1966, and his dispatches from Hanoi shook the world. While the United States insisted it’s bombs were micro-targeted to military posts and ammunition factories, Salisbury documented that errant U.S., bombs had destroyed schools and orphanages. Salisbury took considerable heat from President Lyndon Johnson for reports the U.S., government called treasonous, but Salisbury’s dogged reporting triggered opposition to the war, which pressured our eventual withdrawal.

O'Leary Considering Backing Charles Stango For Board Of Education President

Charles Stango

                         Story and Photographs By John Murray

   Republican Charles Stango has been mentioned by mayor-elect Neil O'Leary as a strong candidate to serve as the next president of the Waterbury Board of Education. O'Leary, a Democrat, said he is unfazed about crossing political lines to find the right individual to help move Waterbury forward. "I don't care about political party so much as who can get get the job done," O'Leary told the Observer on Saturday. "Charles Stango is the elder statesmen on the board right now and I think he would do an excellent job as board president."

Waterbury Police To Crack Down On Seat Belt Use


Waterbury Police Lieutenant Scott Stevenson. Photograph by John Murray

   Seat belts save lives.

   Yet, too many motorists – especially those at night – are not getting the message. That’s why the Waterbury Police Department will join with thousands of other law enforcement officers, highway safety officials and safety advocates across the country in support of the Thanksgiving holiday “Click It or Ticket” mobilization from November 14th-27th. During this campaign, officers will fan out across Waterbury, cracking down on motorists who fail to wear their seatbelts, especially those who fail to seat belt their underage passengers. “Children, teens and young adults who fail to buckle up are at an increased risk of dying in a crash, as motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death for young Americans,” says Waterbury Police Lieutenant Scott Stevenson. “Seat belts provide the best defense against impaired, distracted and aggressive drivers, but a seat belt can’t save even one life if it’s not used. This is where enforcement comes into play.”

Sculpture Unveiled In City Hall That Honors Grief And Sacrifice Of Gold Star Mothers

Mary Kight of Waterbury gestures towards the new Gold Star Mothers Memorial that was unveiled Friday night in City Hall. Since 1917 there have been 529 men from Waterbury that have lost their lives in service to the country and the new memorial recognizes the sacrifice and sorrow endured by their families. Kight's son, Michael, died in Vietnam attempting to evacuate injured soldiers from the battlefield. Kight was a pilot in the US Army, 336th Air Helicopter Command, and died May 19, 1967. Kight said the emotion on the statue's face captured the shock and pain a family experiences when they lose a  family member. Standing behind Kight are Bob Dorr and Doc' D'Occhio, the two members of the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee that drove to Philadelphia and transported the statue to Waterbury. Committee. Photographs by John Murray

Band Of Brothers Rocked Waterbury's Election

Waterbury Police Chief Mike Gugliotti, left, embraced Waterbury's mayor-elect, Neil O'Leary, in a private office two floors above O'Leary headquarters moments after the bruising election had been decided. O'Leary had been the Waterbury police chief preceding Gugliotti and the two have been close friends for nearly 30 years.

                            Story and Photograph By John Murray

    Mike Gugliotti was in a tough spot. One of his best friends on the planet was campaigning to unseat his boss, Waterbury mayor Mike Jarjura, a man Gugliotti had a tremendous working relationship with.

   "I'm not a political person," Gugliotti said, "and it was difficult to watch these two good men go at it these past five months."

Larry De Pillo May Be Bringing His Watchdog Talents To City Hall After All

                     Story and photograph by John Murray

   During a post election interview Wednesday morning on WATR radio a caller told Independent Party mayoral candidate Larry De Pillo he had run a terrific campaign, and the city of Waterbury owed him a huge thank you for his decades of public service. Then the caller predicted De Pillo would return to the political arena, "You're like poison ivy," the caller chuckled, " you may not see it for a while, but you know it's coming back."

Inside Independent Party Headquarters On Election Night

                            Photographs By Antonio Gruttadauria

Fran De Pillo watched intently as her husband, Larry De Pillo, checked the numbers coming into Independent Party HQs on election night inside the Franco-American Club in the East End of Waterbury. This was the 8th straight municipal election in Waterbury that Larry De Pillo has placed his name before the electorate. This year the Independent Party ran a shoe-string campaign on $20,000 (1/15th the budget of the Democrats) and still managed to snare 20% of the vote.

Neil O'Leary's Big Jump

   Fifteen hours after getting elected mayor, Neil O'Leary went down to WATR radio on Broadcast Lane for an election retrospective, and a peek into the future. WATR host Larry Rifkin posed blunt questions about O'Leary's plans to deal with John Rowland (to be discussed face to face with Rowland), and which high profile city employees would he retain in his administration (there is tremendous talent in place). When the hour interview concluded, O'Leary came outside to discover the Waterbury Observer waiting to wrap up its election day documentary project. A short interview later, Observer publisher John Murray discovered his battery was dead, and he needed a jump. Murray's car battery had died while he was sitting in the WATR parking lot listening to Rifkin's interview with O'Leary. Chelsea Murray used her left hand to hold the hood from clunking O'Leary on the head, and her right hand to photograph Waterbury's next mayor connecting jumper cables to her father's 300,000 mile Ford Explorer. The revitalization has begun.....

The Sweet Kiss Of Victory

Ten-year-old Maggie O'Leary was hoisted into the air and kissed by her father, Neil O'Leary, after he captured the mayor's seat in Waterbury last night. The Observer spent the day shadowing O'Leary, and a chunk of his day revolved around talking to Maggie's class at Blessed Sacrament School, taking Maggie to Kennedy High School where she bubbled in his name for mayor, and scrambling to pick her up at the end of the school day. The image above was made as O'Leary made his way through a raucous crowd of supporters towards a stage. Half way through the crowd O'Leary spotted his daughter, picked her up in front of hundreds of supporters and journalists, and gave her a kiss that neither one will ever forget. The Observer will publish an in-depth feature article about the day with dozens of other images from the 2011 municipal campaign in the November issue of the newspaper next week. Photograph by John Murray

Neil O'Leary Knocks Out Opponents To Win A Bruising Mayoral Election In Waterbury

Neil O'Leary fist bumps Waterbury Police Chief Mike Guggliotti in celebration after defeating five-term incumbent Mike Jarjura, and Independent Party candidate, Larry De Pillo, in a bruising and painful mayoral race. The Observer shadowed O'Leary from 6 AM until midnight to document his historic day. The newspaper will be publishing an in-depth feature article about the experience in next week's edition, and will post dozens of images from the campaign trail on this website. Stay tuned.......photograph by John Murray

Hispanics Are Wild Card In Tuesday's Mayoral Election

Less than 10% of the registered voters in the 75th District voted in the last municipal election. The largely Hispanic population in the South End of Waterbury has historically voted Democrat, but this year both the Republicans and Independents look to take their own cut. The woman above was photographed at an Hispanic rally for Neil O'Leary on November 2nd at the Portuguese Club on Baldwin Street.

                                      Story and Photographs By John Murray

   The 2011 mayoral campaign in Waterbury has been a battle, but the trench warfare that has erupted in the South End has triggered an Hispanic awakening that might decide which of the three candidates emerges victorious tomorrow night. The controversy in the South End centers around four-term incumbent Democrat State Representative David Aldarando, and the influence he holds in the 75th District. The district is dominated by Hispanics from a wide array of Spanish speaking countries, including: Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Columbia, El Salvador and Guatemala. And contrary to main stream popular opinion, these groups don't all like each other. Aldarando won re-election in 2010 by winning twice the number of votes as second place finisher Paul Nogueira, and appeared comfortably entrenched in a safe political seat.

Jarjura Has Waterbury GOP Charged Up For Election Day

                                 Photographs By John Murray

Five-term incumbent Mike Jarjura re-energized the Republican Party in Waterbury after he severed his 25 year tie to the Democrat Party in May, and unexpectedly joined the GOP. Jarjura is pictured above during a Sunday afternoon GOP rally at Jarjura Headquarters in the East End of Waterbury. In the photograph, from left to right, is Lynette Piombo, Steve Giacomi, Jarjura, Fred Luedke and Jason Van Stone. The Democrats cancelled their traditional rally to focus on intensive door to door canvasing, and the Independent Party will hold their rally Monday evening at Hopeville Cafe in the South End of the city.

Aldermen Told They Are Nicer Than Mayoral Candidates

                                                Photographs By John Murray

Fifteen of the 26 candidates for the Board of Aldermen showed up at Walsh School in the North End of Waterbury, Saturday afternoon, for a hastily rescheduled debate about issues facing the city. From left to right are Independent Party candidates Luis Quince Jr., Robert Petro III, Cicero Booker Jr., Lisa Lessard, Michael Simpson, Vincent Martinelli and Republicans Jerry Padula and Steve Giacomi. 

New Sculpture Honoring Gold Star Mothers Installed At Waterbury City Hall, Dedication 11/11/11

                                     Photographs By John Murray

Three Waterbury firemen and three Waterbury police officers carry a sculpture of a Gold Star Mother into City Hall Saturday morning.  The sculpture,  by Andrew Chernak, of Pennsylvania, is one of three in America honoring the sacrifice of parents who have lost a son or daughter in the service of the country. This memorial will be donated to the City of Waterbury from the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee on Veterans Day, November 11, 2011, at 7 P.M., in Waterbury City Hall.

Sculpture Honoring Gold Star Mothers Debuts In Waterbury City Hall, November 11th, 7 PM

   The sculptor, Andrew Chernak, at the Laran Fine Art Foundry in Chester, Pennsylvania, with his creation honoring Gold Star Mothers. This Memorial will be donated to the City of Waterbury from the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee on Veterans Day, November 11, 2011, at 7 P.M., in Waterbury City Hall.

   Bob Dorr is down getting the sculpture and bringing it back to Waterbury, Dorr says, "From 1917, to 2011, 529 men from Waterbury died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. They all had parents that loved them. This Memorial is for those they left behind."

Root Cause Of Taxes Centerpiece Of WATR Mayoral Debate

                                      By John Murray

Larry Rifkin and WATR radio provided a tremendous community service by hosting a two-hour live debate between the three mayoral candidates in Waterbury. Coming just six days before the November 8th election the debate was thoughtful, probing, substantive, and during commercial breaks - hilarious.