Chris Powell: Of a Confederate flag and a corrupt former mayor

MANCHESTER, Conn. For a few days last month Connecticut’s Democratic state headquarters tried to make a scandal out of the Confederate flag being flown by a member of the Republican State Central Committee at his home in Berlin.

The man maintained that he flew the flag as a protest against political correctness, not as support of racial oppression. But Senate Republican Minority Leader Len Fasano, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, and Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, among other leading Republicans, quickly condemned the gesture.

It was a tempest in a teacup, or a thimble, really, since a single member of the state committee of a political party that holds no statewide or congressional offices is of little consequence. The issue was just an excuse for Democratic headquarters to proclaim that since it had located a nutty Republican, all Republicans in Connecticut are nutty -- as if the state has no nutty Democrats.

Infinitely more remarkable is the silence surrounding former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim's candidacy for mayor again despite his extensive corruption in office, for which he served seven years in federal prison before his release in 2010.

Of course Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, facing Ganim in the Democratic primary in September, argues that his challenger's corruption should disqualify him. But all other leading Democrats in the state seem to be silent about Ganim. Thus the Democratic Party is suggesting that a bitter old crank's flying the Confederate flag is more of a disgrace to his party and more of a threat to society than someone who took bribes and kickbacks while presiding over the state's largest city and who may get the chance to do it again.

Last week, in a distressing irony, the ex-convict candidate was endorsed by Bridgeport's police union, apparently in the expectation that as mayor again Ganim would go easier on city employees than the incumbent.

Gov. Dan Malloy could quickly resolve the Bridgeport issue in favor of integrity in government by announcing that his administration would not cooperate with a Ganim administration and that if Bridgeport holds so little respect for itself and the state, it will be on its own. The governor's "second-chance society" initiative to rehabilitate nonviolent offenders, welcome as it is, doesn't rationalize degrading public office.


A Connecticut Superior Court judge is being criticized for declining to issue a protective order to a woman whose boyfriend later threw their baby to his death from the Arrigoni Bridge, in Middletown. At a hearing the judge concluded that the evidence presented to him didn't support the request -- that the evidence showed that the couple's relationship was "chaotic" but not imminently threatening.

Maybe the judge was wrong about the evidence, but at least he reviewed it, while no one bothered to review it before criticizing him. Rather, the advocates of women against their crazy boyfriends and husbands simply presumed, as they always do, that a woman's accusation should be considered valid without any inquiry at all.

Lately these advocates have been making this argument in regard to guns owned by men against whom wives or girlfriends seek a protective order -- that such men should be required to surrender their guns before any hearing and finding, that simple accusation means guilt, and that ordinary due process of law is dispensable.

In the recent hysteria over gun crimes, even the governor and many state legislators, while sworn to uphold our constitutions, have also supported discarding due process.

But Connecticut can have due process and public safety in the normal way -- with formal criminal accusation, arrest, and speedy trials. Until Connecticut provides speedy trials in domestic cases, the state will be left with these calls for "Alice in Wonderland" justice: sentence first, verdict afterwards.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn.