Key Courtney Campaign Figure & Special Deals With Giant Retailer

November 6, 2006

Cool Justice Report Exclusive:

Enfield Mayor Tallarita’s
Bountiful Kitchen

“I Got A Deal At Bernie’s”

Were Offers Of Gifts Or Gratuities
Tied To Official Acts?

Questions Surround System
Of Special Deals For Certain Customers

By ANDY THIBAULT and JIM BREWER
The Cool Justice Report
http://www.cooljustice.blogspot.com
Nov. 5, 2006

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com

Enfield Mayor Patrick Tallarita is presiding over a special system with Bernie’s appliances in which town employees and others can buy discounted goods, the top executive with the giant retailer confirmed. Tallarita has also bragged to visitors about a “good deal” he received from Bernie’s, according to several sources who have seen new, high-end appliances in the mayor’s renovated kitchen.

Enfield Mayor Patrick Tallarita

These findings are the result of a month-long investigation by The Cool Justice Report including interviews with dozens of sources, many of whom have known the mayor for years and / or have visited his house.

Bernie’s President and owner Milton Rosenberg — son of the founder — told us the store has “private sales” for town of Enfield employees.

“I just can’t keep track of all these sales, but we have them,” Rosenberg said. “We [also] do some for the Fire Department maybe.”

We stopped in Enfield Bernie’s recently and asked about private sales for town employees.

A sales associate said, “Sure, you want me to put you on the list?”

We tried unsuccessfully to talk to Tallarita about any deals with Bernie’s for selected customers in Enfield. We wanted to ask him, among other things, whether he accepted or rejected any such deals and whether he knew of anyone else who accepted or rejected any such deals. We also wanted to ask him whether he might be concerned about any possible appearances of impropriety or potential violations of state and federal laws.

In contrast, several other council members were easily accessible and took our calls.

When he’s not being mayor — or sometimes when he is — Tallarita, a Democrat, is also director of facilities operations for the state Department of Labor and treasurer for the congressional campaign of Joe Courtney.

In his spare time, Tallarita can also tend to the family development business. Projects in that enterprise include the Yale Court subdivision behind the Enfield Montessori School.

The Courtney – Rob Simmons race has set fund-raising records, surpassing the $3.57 million total the opponents raised in 2004. Courtney had raised about $1.8 million and Simmons about $2.5 million through September of this year for the current race in the second congressional district.

The Tallarita controversy could impact Courtney in the final hours of a very tight race. Courtney’s selection of Tallarita as a top lieutenant brings into question the quality of the candidate’s vetting process.

At one point, Tallarita considered himself a possible contender for Congress. He decided against a congressional bid for the 2004, citing family commitments and a need to focus on his responsibilities as mayor, The Journal Inquirer reported.

“He’s a guy who has too much talent for Enfield,” fellow Councilman Patrick Crowley, a close Tallarita ally, told The JI. “He’s a great leader.”

Tallarita’s state job pays about $99,000 annually. Part of his job is to formulate goals and objectives. He also selects and supervises service contractors. To get this job, Tallarita apparently had to demonstrate considerable knowledge of relevant agency policies and procedures. He was required to have two years experience in a managerial capacity in leasing, acquisition or management of property. [See job description below.]

The Enfield mayor also has a role in selecting landlords and repair vendors for local labor department offices. We understand he took an active role in discussions with top labor department officials over what offices should be kept open or closed.

Before joining the labor department, Tallarita was an employee of the state Departments of Consumer Protection and Public Works.

As a council member and mayor, Tallarita votes on local matters including whether to give certain businesses tax breaks. The town of Enfield has authorized about 20 tax abatements since 1979, according to the Journal Inquirer. These abatements have ranged in length from three to seven years. Companies granted tax abatements include Enfield Federal Savings & Loan, The Martin-Brower Co., The Connecticut Wood Group, Sterling Machine Co., Camerota Truck Parts, Bernie’s appliance chain, Hallmark, and Lego Systems Inc.

If Northeast President Rosenberg’s comments are any indication, Bernie’s appliances was very appreciative of the break.

After the Enfield Town Council granted Bernie’s a tax abatement, the store offered a special deal for selected customers. Sources said these customers included town employees, contractors and town officials.

“The whole council got a special thank you,” a town official familiar with various offers told us. “One deal was cost plus 10 percent.

“When you’re a public official,” the source commented, “you have to decline that.”

Indeed, state and federal laws prevent public officials from accepting gifts or gratuities that are tied to official acts.

Town council member Scott Kaupin, a Republican, said he heard about a coupon, letter or invitation from Bernie’s, and that “some actually went through with it.”

“That’s an ethics violation — no quid pro quo for any tax abatement,” Kaupin said. “I brought it to the [former] town manager [Scott Shanley] and he was unable to substantiate it. I don’t remember seeing or getting a coupon — I never got any offer from Bernie’s.”

Kaupin went on to say he bought an air conditioner from Bernie’s and paid full price.

Council members Doug Maxellon and Red Edgar, both Democrats, told us they were unaware of any special deals.

Shanley, who was fired in a power play by the current town council after serving Enfield for 10 years, now works as town manager in Manchester.


Scott Shanley

“I’m not doubting Scott Kaupin,” Shanley told us, “but that [special deal inquiry] doesn’t ring a bell. I don’t recall that.”

Shanley said he was very happy to be in Manchester now, adding, “I wish the community [of Enfield] well.”

Tallarita is a busy guy who likes to have meetings at his house. And why not? By all accounts, it’s a great place. Sometimes he even shows movies on a big screen. Whether it’s a Democratic Party caucus, an interview with a town manager candidate or just a gathering of pals, anybody who is somebody is there.

We tried to each Tallarita at his job and at his house for about a week.

State Labor Department staff said Tallarita was not in Tuesday and Wednesday. Tallarita did not respond to a message left with staff or voice mail on Wednesday and Thursday. Staff said he was at work on Thursday.

On Friday, staff said Tallarita was on another line. His office then transferred our call to a labor department lawyer.

Tallariata did not return calls to his house over the weekend. On Saturday we left him a message saying we were running a story about special deals from Bernie’s for selected Enfield customers, and that we had spoken with Rosenberg. On Sunday, after we left another message, a woman at the Tallarita residence said, “We don’t know what you are doing or who you are.” She then advised Thibault not to call again.

Enfield police officer Doug Montas followed up with a call to Thibault, advising that Jeannette Tallarita had made a formal complaint. Jeannette Tallarita, a nurse, is Patrick Tallarita’s wife and a partner in Ridgewood Homes of Connecticut LLC, developer of the Yale Court subdivision behind the Enfield Montessori School.

“If you call again, you will be arrested,” Montas told Thibault.

Threat of arrest also followed our attempts to question Tallarita’s political ally, Planning & Zoning Chairman Anthony DiPace, in this ongoing series of stories. In addition, police routinely show up when we go to town hall to view or pick up public records. On one occasion, four police cruisers stopped Brewer and detained him for about 30 minutes.

Sources told us Patrick Tallarita routinely boasts of the fine appliances he got from Bernie’s for his house.

“It’s all top of the line stuff from Bernie’s,” one visitor said. “He [Tallarita] said it was from Bernie’s … When you go into his house, it’s obvious who took advantage of it.”

Some of the various appliances have been described as a commercial quality stove and oven, a high-end dishwasher and a wine cooler refrigerator. What kind of a deal was it? Maybe Tallarita was proud to say he found the new store in town to be a great place to shop. Terms of the transactions for these goods were not immediately available.

“It’s stainless steel, top of the line,” another visitor said. “He [Tallarita] bragged about a good deal at Bernie’s. He’s narcissistic.”

Yet another visitor said Tallarita remarked, “I got a deal at Bernie’s.”

We asked Rosenberg of Bernie’s: “Did your company sell appliances to Mayor Patrick Tallarita at or below cost?”

Rosenberg responded, “I can’t comment on that … I am having trouble hearing you.”

Then, he hung up the phone.
#

BACKGROUND:
Search prior posts including

How To Make Two Lots Out Of Zero Lots, October archives,
and
Greed & Power The Enfield Way, September archives.

Andy Thibault, author of Law & Justice In Everyday Life and a private investigator, is an adjunct lecturer of English and a mentor in the MFA writing program at Western Connecticut State University. He also serves as a consulting editor for the literary journal Connecticut Review. Website, http://www.andythibault.com and Blog, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com
Jim Brewer, a former civil rights litigator, is a photojournalist and a contributing writer for The Justice Journal and Inquiring News. Brewer served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, commanding a military police unit at a nuclear weapons site in Germany, and as a prosecutor in New Jersey. Both writers are members of the Society of Professional Journalists.

  • Find the Book:
    Law &Justice In Everyday Life by Andy Thibault at Amazon.com

    Barnes &Noble

  • Andy Thibault

  • BERNIE’S COMPANY HISTORY
    http://www.Bernies.com

    In the beginning…

    Bernie’s was founded by Bernard “Bernie” Rosenberg, in 1947. An enterprising gas station owner, Bernie, had many friends in the community and after the war, realized the opportunity to help people purchase their first television set. Initially, he sold televisions and radios from his gas station and as customer demand increased, Bernie opened his first showroom, Bernie’s TV and Appliance, in Bloomfield, Connecticut in 1953.

    Bernie, with the help of his son Milton and other family members, continued to grow and expand the business. Bernie’s is now New England’s largest family-owned Audio, Video, TV, Appliance and Bedding retailer. Bernie’s son Milton Rosenberg, the current President, now owns the company.

    Continued dedication to Customer Satisfaction, combined with broad selection, competitive pricing, incomparable service (including 7-Day a week normal delivery) and an alert, enthusiastic and professional sales force are the philosophies that created Bernie Rosenberg’s success. Quite simply, Bernie’s success revolves around taking care of customers in extraordinary ways and the pride that each and every Bernie’s associate derives from this.

    Today, Milton continues to carry out his father’s legacy through his commitment to leading the business based on the values of Caring, Quality and Integrity. Although low pricing is part of the Bernie’s approach, the broader focus is on service to ensure customer satisfaction in order to develop a strong repeat business. Bernie’s demonstrates this commitment to customer satisfaction with a long-standing excellent rating from the Better Business Bureau. The company’s delivery capacity includes up to 400 daily deliveries with 75 installations in over 250 communities, 362-days a year, 7-days a week throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

    JOB DESCRIPTION
    Director of Facilities Operations
    State Labor Department

    PURPOSE OF CLASS: In a state agency this class is accountable for directing staff in the management, operation and/or maintenance programs of state buildings and grounds (including leased buildings under department jurisdiction).

    SUPERVISION RECEIVED: Receives administrative direction from an administrative official of higher grade.

    SUPERVISION EXERCISED: Directs lower level staff as assigned.

    EXAMPLES OF DUTIES: Directs staff and operations in the areas of building services and contract compliance; formulates goals and objectives; develops or assists in development of related policy; interprets and administers pertinent laws; evaluates staff; assists in preparation of section budget; maintains contacts with individuals both within and outside of section who might impact on program activities; prepares reports, correspondence and procedural manuals; administers a quality control and compliance program; prepares and reviews plans and specifications for building renovations and/or alterations; selects and supervises service contractors; may direct staff and operations of trade shops and grounds sections; may develop and maintain a preventive maintenance program; performs related duties as required.

    MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED KNOWLEDGE, SKILL AND ABILITY: Considerable knowledge of relevant agency policies and procedures; considerable knowledge of relevant state and federal laws, statutes and regulations; considerable knowledge of state of the art building operations and maintenance procedures and techniques; considerable knowledge of trades including building, custodial and grounds; considerable knowledge of energy conservation methods and techniques; knowledge of and ability to apply management principles and techniques; knowledge of tenant agency requirements; considerable interpersonal skills; considerable oral and written communication skills; skill in prevention of deterioration, obsolescence and destruction of buildings and operating equipment; considerable ability to prepare plans, specifications and cost estimates for equipment, services and repairs.

    EXPERIENCE AND TRAINING: General Experience: Two (2) years’ experience in a managerial capacity in leasing, acquisition or management of property.

    Note:
    Managerial capacity is defined as full time managerial responsibility for major programs. Incumbents will have supervisory responsibilities but the emphasis should be on management activities: planning, organizing, directing and controlling resources of a major subdivision at an agency or organization.

    SPECIAL REQUIREMENT: Incumbents in this class may be required to travel. This cancels the existing title of and specification for the class of Public Works Director of Facilities Operations in the same Salary Group MP 65 approved effective June 19, 1992.

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    11 Responses to “Key Courtney Campaign Figure & Special Deals With Giant Retailer”

    1. Anonymous Says:

      So the mayor has a big TV and some nice electronics. So do I. Hell, I even got a couple items at Bernie’s. What does that prove?

      Oh, and I got a deal at Kohl’s last week. They were having a big sale, 40% off. Does that make me a bad person?

      I don’t know about everyone else, but I couldn’t take the time to read through this long article. I skimmed it and basically all I saw was speculation and allegations followed by more speculation and allegations. Got any proof Thibault, or are you just trying to spread slanderous lies based on your own “intuition”?

    2. Anonymous Says:

      This post raises several questions.

      Did Rosenberg actually say Tallarita is “presiding” over a special discount system for town employees? If so, then why isn’t he quoted directly? If not, then you’re putting an awful lot of words in his mouth. Did he specifically name Tallarita? If so, did he name other town officials or employees who have taken advantage of the “private sales?”

      Unidentified sources say Tallarita boasts about the good deal he got on appliances at Bernie’s. This doesn’t tell us anything other than that the mayor might have had a good experience shopping at Bernie’s.

      An unnamed source says its obvious Tallarita took the offer because the mayor has a kitchen filled with high-end appliances from Bernie’s. This proves nothing.

      Is there any hard evidence that Tallarita took advantage of a special offer? Any receipts? Any hidden camera footage of Rosenberg delivering a new stove to Tallarita’s house with a big red ribbon attached?

    3. Anonymousfield lover Says:

      If there isn’t anything going on and Pat Tallarita is so pure then whey does he refuse to comment and instead have his wife call the police?

      Seems like plenty of proof Especially all those admsissions to other public officials. He told at least three officials visiting his home that he got a “deal” (violation if he regulates them, ie tax breaks) on appliances from Bernies, couple that with the Bernies Sale staff putting people on “the list” for Enfield Town Employees(a violation in and of itself) and the confirmation and then evasive responses from Bernie’s owneer and there is plenty of what you call proof!!

      Now Chief Carl Szfrazza and his buddies, incuding Tallarita and DiPace, from the Mt.Carmel Society will have to discuss the Mayors’ “appliance” lust at the next meeting. I heard the recent boat ride was very choppy.

      Word of caution to you corrupt Enfield town officials, when you talk on your phones you may have some company. I heard that the FBI is on to this rampant corruption.

      Lesson learned. Should have left the Nuns alone.

    4. Anonymous Says:

      I am getting a bit impatient reading and not understanding why the newspapers that carry the Enfield news have yet to write anything. It’s remarkable that many people are commenting, talking outside etc. and not one thing is being investigated on the inside or is it?

      As a resident in this town, I’m finding much of this disturbing that my taxes keep going up at an alarming rate while some are evidently reaping some nice benefits. Maybe every person in our council, chairs of committees, developers tied or linked to political agendas need a thorough check of their background to include: personal, financial and business dealings. If they aren’t squirming now with all that’s been noted or implied this might make them run. It’s an opportune time for all residents to take notice and stop paying for the misdeeds of those who have chosen to take advantage of all of us. This is a wake up call to start getting involved in what’s happening in our town!

    5. Anonymous Says:

      hey Cool Justice, what about that guy whose too good for Enfield, Tallarita, and the crematorium. what say you follow the footprints in the sand at the beach in Narragansett….

    6. Anonymous Says:

      I’ve got a kitchen chock-full of appliances, too. A stove, toaster oven, microwave, even one of those fancy new gadgets kids call a “refrigerator.” Can you believe that? What is this world coming to! Next, I was thinking of adding a dishwasher, if you can believe that.

      Boy I remember the days, must’ve been a good six or seven years ago when people would cook their dinner over an open flame. Ah, sure, they’d just light a fire in a trashcan, put a couple of hot dogs on some sticks, and char them to a crisp. Yummy.

      All jokes aside, let’s be real here. There’s no proof Tallarita got any special treatment from Bernie’s or any other store. He said he got a “good deal,” that could mean a few different things. Most logical people would assume he bought an appliance on sale, but hey, if your mind jumps to more radical conclusions, what’s the harm in shouting them out for the whole world to hear? Oh right, there IS harm in that. My bad…

    7. Anonymous Says:

      I hear Tallarita’s road gets plowed first when it snows. I hear his wife got 25% off a Kohl’s purchase with a ‘special’ coupon she cut out of the paper and that paper was ‘delivered’ to their house by a “special carrier”. I heard his children get to “go” to Enfield Schools. I heard he “mowed” his lawn last week and the week before. Where did he get those leaves in his yard? Did he get some special favors? He has some nerve taking advantage of the fall season like that.

      Puleeeeeze bring something credible out to people who can make a difference (and you of all people know who they are) or bring this to an end. If there is corruption, make a case. If not, put your energies and your pursuit of the truth and justice into something that can make a difference. So far I see nothing here and that just causes you to lose credibility.

    8. Anonymous Says:

      I hope everyone that blogs here will actually go out and vote. How interesting would it be if, rather than the same voters again and again, we get a huge turnout and hear from the thousands of voices who love to give opinions. Lets hope huge numbers are reflected at the polls so we can be confident that Enfield’s majority is not being dictated to by a minority.

    9. Anonymous Says:

      As a citizen, I never stop being amazed at the ridiculous anonymous postings that are clearly from Tallarita and his gang.

      Anyone reading these articles will see that they are factual, “proof” as they complain about is right in front of us all! Documents, statements etc. are all PROOF!

      It is time for us to take back Enfield from these thugs. They try to discredit anybody who shows them for what they are, corrupt!!!!

      Call your local FBI or Chief State’s Attorney and ask them to look into all this. Similar corruption happened in the 80’s and it was prosecuted. Seems like it is happening again. It is time to stop it.

    10. Anonymous Says:

      I’m no fan of Tallarita’s. But I honestly haven’t read anything on this blog that proves corruption has occured.

      Insinuations and conjecture dominate these biased stories.

      It is not corrupt for the mayor’s wife to develop property. Property rights extend to mayors’ wives. The subdivision was approved with bipartisan support by the PZC.

      It is not corrupt for a bank to hire the mayor’s sister, even if it looks a little suspicious. The bank can hire whomever it wants. Its tax abatement was approved unanimously by the Town Council — a fact that didn’t find its way onto this blog.

      While it’s strange that the president of Bernie’s apparently admits to cutting deals for town employees, nothing in the latest post proves Tallarita took advantage of a special deal. It’s just rumor spread by people who lack the courage to put their names to their accusations.

      I’m not saying Tallarita is a saint. I’m just saying this blog draws conclusions too quickly. It’s wrong to use public office for personal gain. It’s also wrong to drag people’s names through the mud with unsubstantiated claims of corruption.

    11. Anonymous Says:

      Why do I get the feeling that it is the same person defending the corrupt officials,no facts in defense are offered instead just immature name calling. How can you defend trying to run nuns and their school out of town? Enfield needs to wake up, and rein in their corrupt leaders and residents. It has been a widely known fact for years that this exists, and thank god Andy has devoted his time, and courage to finally expose it. I just wonder why the republicans sit by complicitly and watch it happen, those who know and do nothing to stop it are just as guilty.


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