NEW BRITAIN - The Democratic majority of the Common Council failed Wednesday to override Mayor Erin Stewart’s veto from last week preserving the name of Paul Manafort Sr. Drive.
By a vote of 9-6, the veto override failed. The council needs 10 votes to override a mayor’s veto. The name of the street running through Central Connecticut State University will remain Paul Manafort Sr. Drive.
In September, the Democratic majority on the council voted to change the name of Paul Manafort Sr. Drive to Ebenezer D.C. Bassett Way in honor of first African American graduate of CCSU, which was then called Connecticut Normal School.
In her initial veto letter, the mayor said Manafort Sr. served the city for decades on multiple boards and commissions. Stewart referred to the testimonies of former mayors Bill McNamara, Don DeFronzo, Lucian Pawlak and Tim Stewart, all of whom were against renaming Paul Manafort Sr. Drive.
Others, though, have brought up the alleged wrongdoings of Manafort Sr. while he was in office. Manafort Sr. was investigated for corruption and his ties to organized crimes following his time as mayor. According to a profile story on the Manafort family published in The Atlantic in March, Manafort Sr. was charged with perjury for testimony he provided in a corruption investigation surrounding the city. Ultimately, Manafort Sr. was never convicted of anything and a statutue of limitations prevented prosecutors from filing charges against him for alleged wrongdoings.
Alderman Carlo Carlozzi said the mayor’s veto was filled with lies and inaccuracies. Among other things, Stewart’s veto said that this was all the Democratic majority has been focusing on for the past few months and called the name change attempt a “political maneuver.”
Without naming anyone, Carlozzi insisted that the mayor’s veto message was written by somebody attempting to use Kellyanne Conway-esque rhetoric, a reference to President Donald Trump’s adviser.
“I was shocked, I was saddened and I was outraged that the mayor would sign this. I know these are not her words, this is not how the mayor speaks,” Carlozzi said.
Alderman Kristian Rosado, who is unaffiliated but caucuses with the Republicans, said the city should stop dividing itself by participating in tribal politics. He said most of the residents he’s talked to are against the name change.
“The voters in society today are much more open-minded than we give them credit. There are people who can vote for a Republican mayor and a Democrat city council – they cross party vote and can think for themselves,” Rosado said.
Though Alderman Brian Keith Albert voted in favor of overriding the mayor’s veto, the alderman said he has a serious problem with what’s happened. “I’m upset because a black man who served this city, who was the first black person to graduate from Central, has to receive a hand-me-down – that is disgusting,” Keith Albert said. “To hell with this Manafort thing, he should have his own building.”
According to a member of the Ebenezer D. Bassett Memorialization Committee, people at CCSU are fighting to name an academic building after Bassett.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.