NORWALK, Conn. – District C Democratic Common Council nominee John Metsopoulos responded Friday afternoon to comments and quotes from Republican Town Committee Chairman Peter Torrano, saying “That’s politics,” and “I knew they’d come at me with this, I just didn’t expect it so soon.”
“This” is two arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol and one for “evading responsibility” for a traffic accident.
“Interesting to me that they would put somebody up for office without fully vetting him and finding out about his past criminal record,” Torrano said.
“It’s a shame that Mr. Torrano wants to do personal attacks,” Metsopoulos said. “I have nothing to hide. I am not proud of my DUI but everybody makes a mistake in life, and I paid my judgement. I think Mr. Torrano needs to vet some of his own candidates, including the former mayor.”
Wednesday, Metsopoulas reported being the victim of an egg assault Aug. 8 on East Avenue, claiming one of the attackers yelled “You’re going to lose” after the egging. Metsopoulas, who said he was walking home from work at Harbor Lights at the time, went to the Station House, where he knew friends were working.
That brought a response from Torrano, who expressed doubt about the story.
Torrano said there “was at least one person in the Station House” when Metsopoulos came in and, “According to them he was egg free when he walked in the door.”
He declined to identify who the witness was.
“I have some serious doubts that this actually happened,” Torrano said. “I think it’s a pitiful attempt to gain sympathy and get votes and I think it’s an embarrassment to the Democratic Party.”
The Station House bartender backed up Metsopoulos’ story, and, after the news report appeared, at least one more egg attack was reported. Norwalk Police stopped an SUV with four under-aged youths and an unlicensed driver and found a box of eggs. According to a police spokesman, police are looking for a second vehicle.
Torrano left a comment on that story on this site with non-specific referrals about past incidents involving the Democratic candidate, who is running in a field including incumbent Republican Michelle Maggio, Republican Mike Demo and fellow Democrat and incumbent John Kydes.
“If readers are interested they can check on other interesting facts about Mr. Metsopoulos by looking up stories and editorials printed in the Fairfield Minuteman regarding his behavior. His arrest records are also available. The one when he struck a woman’s car from behind and fled the scene is a good one to start with.”
The DUI charges are from 2008 in Fairfield and 2013 in Florida.
The traffic accident was in 2003. Metsopoulos, a former Republican who served 10 years as a state legislator and four as a Fairfield selectman – two as first selectman – said he paid a fine and the accident was expunged from his record. He said it was a minor rear-end collision and he stopped and spoke with the woman in the car he hit. He said they agreed to not involve police or insurance companies, but that she changed her mind later and called police. According to the news story dated Oct. 28, 2003, “a witness was able to write down his license plate number. Metsopoulos turned himself into Fairfield police Friday morning.”
As for the DUIs, he said he was guilty, and admitted that driving while intoxicated is a serious offense.
“I apologized,” he said. “I made a bad decision and handled it poorly.”
He said he brought up the incidents as soon as he was approached to run for the Common Council.
Torrano, in his comments on this site and as quoted in another publication, alluded to an editorial in The Minuteman in October 2001, along with a front-page story, but not the subject. NoN could find no record of an editorial, but found the story on Oct. 8, 2001. The story concerned a so-called “feud” with the Fairfield Fire Department union over volunteering at Ground Zero in the immediate aftermath of the World Trade Center terror attack and over contract and budget decisions made months earlier.
The story led with the 9/11 spat:
‘The latest clash involves Metsopoulos’ decision to temporarily prevent firefighters from volunteering in New York after the Sept. 11 events, and accusations that the first selectman loudly criticized firefighters in public on Sept. 12.
“At a press conference last Wednesday, Metsopoulos presented a fax from Connecticut’s Office of Emergency Management dated Sept. 12, which stated, ‘NYPD emphatically requests no resources be deployed/sent to New York City.'”
Metsopoulos lost his re-election bid in 2001.
“I understood their feelings very well,” he said of the firefighters, who he said wanted more money in the negotiations and who were eager to help in NYC. “But I was First Selectman, and in negotiations I was committed to balancing the needs of the firefighters with the need to keep the budget under control.” He said several municipal unions were negotiating new contracts and everyone wanted more.
Metsopoulos said that, during his tenure, Fairfiield held spending to a minimum and maintained a Triple A bond rating with a positive outlook from all the agencies. This was, he said, despite having to bond “a quarter of a billion dollars” to build and renovate schools.
“What happened in the past happened and I won’t try to hide it. I’m not proud of it. But I want to run on my record as a legislator and as a selectman, “ he said.
“Am I going to run away because I made a mistake in my past life?” Metsopoulos asked. “What political candidate has not had something in their past that they are not proud of?”
Metsopoulos added a final thought: “They must be doing this because they’re afraid I might really win.”
(NoN will take a complete look at Metsopoulas’ achievements and those of all cooperating candidates prior to November, starting with the primary candidates.)