Hours after forming an exploratory committee to run for his old job of mayor in 2015, Democrat John Fabrizi’s personal judgment is again under fire.
Fabrizi, who did not seek re-election in 2007 after admitting he had a drinking problem and used cocaine while in office and also after speaking out for a convicted sex offender/family friend in court, last weekend attended a party behind Ruby’s II.
The strip club on Fairfield Avenue in the Black Rock section of town is owned by Richard Cellar of Fairfield, whom Fabrizi called a friend and someone who is involved in his community.
Rumors about Fabrizi visiting Ruby’s began to surface late Tuesday, with sources contacting Hearst Connecticut Media and also posting on the Only in Bridgeport website.
“And what’s he done to show us how circumspect his behavior has become?” wrote one OIB reader. “Hit Ruby’s strip joint for a party with his wife. Please.”
If Fabrizi had second thoughts about the decision, he did not show it Tuesday night.
He called Cellar a “dear friend” and said he has been a regular at the annual birthday party, held in Ruby’s backyard.
“I’ve done that every year for the past ten years,” Fabrizi said. “I think Mary (Fabrizi’s wife) and I passed by for 20 minutes last Saturday night, something like that … That was in the backyard, not through the main entrance. I never entered the main entrance. I went by and said ‘hello’ – about 20 minutes – and left.”
Fabrizi said the “naysayers” will do anything to try to discredit him.
Following the interview Fabrizi in an email felt the need to get more off his chest: “The detractors and naysayers, have they ever stepped up to the plate in Bridgeport? Have they volunteered for anything? Have they served on a board or commission, and do they have the stamina to run for any type of elected office? It’s very easy to criticize and throw stones but what have YOU done for the city of Bridgeport? But for decades I devoted my professional and volunteer time to the city for people’s quality of life in living here, working here, raising a family here and investing here in Bridgeport. Let’s make this race about getting back to business in Bridgeport, not about personalities.”
Mary-Jane Foster, a Black Rock Democrat who has battled adult establishments in Bridgeport and has not ruled out running for mayor in 2015, said she likes Fabrizi and knows he loves the city.
But, Foster said, “It’s irrelevant where or for how long John Fabrizi and his wife were at a party at Ruby’s. The question it triggers is his judgment, and his lack of judgment and control was the issue that ran him out of office. So this occasion raises the question, what lessons has John Fabrizi learned? How has his judgment changed? How have his values changed that make him a great candidate for the next mayor?”
Hobnobbing with strip club owners seems like the kind of thing a politician might want to avoid, unless he or she figures the average voter will give them credit for appearing to be “real” people and sticking with their friends, critics be damned.
Democratic Mayor Bill Finch, the guy Fabrizi and possibly Foster are gunning for, at one time – according to this Only in Bridgeport piece from a few years back – accepted the support of another strip club owner, Gus Curcio.
Lennie Grimaldi, a veteran of Bridgeport politics who runs OIB, wrote at the end of the above-referenced piece, “Bridgeport politics is not a breeding ground for Boy Scouts. It’s also not a place for self-righteousness.”