By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
Mayor Nancy R. Rossi presented Aniello Cappetta with a blue jacket embroidered with his new title, Italian American of the Year, as part of festivities marking West Haven’s 21st annual Columbus Day Celebration on the steps of City Hall on Friday.
Cappetta, who owned and operated Cappetta’s Italian Imports in Allingtown for nearly a quarter century, was showered with words of praise from Rossi for his “inspiring contributions in shaping the tapestry of our Italian American community and the narrative of our diverse city.”
At the 20-minute ceremony, Cappetta, 71, received a General Assembly citation from state Reps. Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven, Charles J. Ferraro, R-West Haven, and Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven, on behalf of the city’s delegation.
He also received an official statement from senior adviser Jimmy Tickey on behalf of Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and an Italian flag from Paul M. Frosolone, president of the West Haven Italian American Civic Association, and Josephine Matera, former president of the association’s Ladies Auxiliary.
The West Haven Columbus Day Committee recognizes an Italian resident, or couple, each year who personifies service in the city’s close-knit Italian American community.
“Thank you to the mayor; it’s a big honor for me,” said Cappetta, who lives on Pagano Court, a cul-de-sac off Jones Street near First Avenue. “Thank you, America, and thank you, West Haven!”
As the sound of Italian music filled the air during the late morning cultural event in honor of the Italian explorer, Cappetta saluted his ancestry with dozens of his closest friends and loved ones, along with an array of city officials, members of the Allingtown and West Shore fire departments, and descendants of folks from the old country clad in red, white and green.
“I’m very proud of my father,” an emotional Donato Cappetta told the crowd before exclaiming, “God bless America!”
Rossi also presented a mayoral citation to Aniello Cappetta, who, in addition to his son, was joined by his daughter Rosa Armellino and four of his grandchildren, all waving Italian flags.
Before an Italian blessing from Michael Abbott, director of ministry at Notre Dame High School, Liz Levy sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Italian national anthem, “II Canto degli Italiani.” The renditions were followed by a greeting from mayoral Executive Assistant Lou Esposito, the master of ceremonies.
Rossi then delivered heartwarming remarks about Cappetta, saying: “Your indomitable spirit and meritorious good works are a testament to the promise of America. You are living proof of the American dream!”
Cappetta, one of 13 siblings, was born and raised in the town of Acerno in the province of Salerno, Italy. He served in the Italian air force and also worked as a carpenter.
In 1970, at the age of 22, Cappetta and his wife, the former Palma Malangone, also a native of Acerno, left their home in southwestern Italy and came to America for “a better life and to start a family.”
After the couple settled in New Haven, he worked for a construction company in West Haven.
In 1972, Cappetta and his wife opened their first restaurant, Mama Lucia’s in Ansonia, becoming the first family members to open a food establishment.
The couple sold the restaurant in 1976. For the next eight years, they worked in housekeeping at the Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven while raising their four children: Luigi, Rosa, Donato and Maria.
The couple moved their brood to West Haven in 1983.
A year later, Cappetta and his wife started a new venture and opened LP Video on Route 1 in Allingtown. The store, which sold Italian American films, introduced the couple to the great people of West Haven, he said.
In 1989, the couple returned to the food service business and opened Cappetta’s Italian Imports across the street from LP Video. The business at 188 Boston Post Road started as a deli and specialized in food items from Italy.
A few years later, Cappetta’s expanded to offer pizza and other Italian specialty foods and provide catering services.
Before long, the business that Cappetta and his wife built in the heart of Allingtown became “the go-to spot” for home-style and hard-to-find Italian foods.
Although he handed it down to sons Donato and Luigi in 2013, Cappetta, whose wife passed away in 2016, still spends time at the neighborhood institution, now Cappetta’s Italian Imports Pizza and Catering.
Cappetta’s propensity for community service includes serving as an ambassador of his rich heritage.
He is a longtime member of Club Napoli in Northford and the Italian American Club of East Haven.
Cappetta’s name will join the 20 previous Columbus Day recipients on a plaque in City Hall.
City residents who are delinquent on their taxes are urged to pay their overdue taxes as soon as possible.
The “boot” program resumed on Sept. 16, and those who are delinquent on their motor vehicle taxes risk their vehicles being immobilized with a wheel-locking boot.
A vehicle-mounted ID system that is part of the boot program uses an infrared license plate scanner to target tax scofflaws. Vehicles are released of the boot once their owners pay all delinquent taxes and the boot fee.
Taxpayers can check if they owe any back taxes and pay online by going to www.cityofwesthaven.com and clicking on Tax Collector under the Government heading. They can also pay in person in the tax office on the first floor of City Hall, 355 Main St.
This is the second in a series that will touch on the 400-plus year history of West Haven’s Green.
You think we live in troubling times? Little more than a half century after first setting foot on the shores of what they called new haven, the Puritans’ great religious adventure to the New World no longer seemed that great. The church of their grandparents proved to be so restrictive, relatively few West Haveners could call themselves full-fledged communicants. They did not even have their own church. Instead, they had to journey into New Haven every Sunday to attend services that lasted for hours. A good many West Haveners simply did not bother.
They were not alone. All across the colony, there was growing disaffection among younger inhabitants who believed their voices were not being heard by their elders. Call it a youth rebellion or maybe it was the inevitable voice of progress. The outcome was the same. Connecticut’s Puritan leaders drafted the Saybook Platform in 1708, which made it far easier to form new ecclesiastical societies. That, in turn, was music to the ears of some visionary West Haveners.
Securing seven acres from Eliphalet Bristol for the village common, a West Haven committee asked New Haven for its blessing to form a church society of its own as early as 1712. The petitioners went out of their way to stress that their request was not based on “any dislike we have for our pastor, nor distaste against any of you….”
Despite such assurances, New Haven did not approve West Haven’s church petition until 1715. The delay had nothing to do with religion. It feared losing West Haven’s tax revenue used to support New Haven’s First Church. In fact, when New Haveners finally agreed to allow for the creation of the West Haven parish, it initially drew parish boundaries that decidedly favored New Haven.
They were so egregious that the Connecticut General Assembly stepped in. By expanding West Haven’s boundaries, the General Assembly accomplished two goals at once. Its actions complied with the colony’s efforts to expand the number of Congregational parishes in Connecticut. Doing so denied New Haven of a growing source of tax revenue. And that might help to weaken New Haven’s ultra-conservative brand of Puritanism that the rest of the colony found too oppressive. It was a ruling that Connecticut’s Standing Order would soon regret.
This week’s story is contributed by Peter J. Malia, who is the author of Visible Saints, West Haven, Connecticut, 1648 – 1798, available at connecticutpress.com , Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.
Dear Eleanore Turkington:
Last year we blew a tire on the curb in front of 306 Captain Thomas Boulevard. We are aware it happens a lot. Triple A makes a comment when they hear it happens here again.
Recently, friends of ours came to visit and we went out to dinner at a restaurant at that site. Unfortunately, we forgot to mention it, so it was no surprised that the tire blew and had to be replaced.
My husband called Public Works but I am not certain anything has happened to prevent this from continuing to happen.
Dear BC Motorist:
I referred your complaint to the Councilman in your district, Nicholas Ruickoldt. Here is what he had to say, “If you could pass on the residents contact information, I will contact them directly and work with them on a satisfactory resolution. My email and personal cell phone number are located on the City of West Haven website. This is the most efficient to reach our elected officials. https://www.cityofwesthaven.com/.
I have sent these requests over to the DPW and corresponding departments. I am working on issues throughout the district and the city on a daily basis.
Thank you for what you do, and all of your help on making West Haven a better place!
Again, for the safety of our residents and to get things done as quickly and efficiently as possible, I suggest having these issues reported to the city and departments responsible directly. We also have City Council meetings, the meetings are public, with a public session. The agenda is online.
Anyone that cannot get to the right department or cannot attend a meeting for any reason at all, my cell phone is (203) 640-4809 and this is my email NRuickoldt@westhaven-ct.gov.
It is so important we take care of these issues in our city. Please feel free to give me a call anytime.”
Dear B.C. Motorist:
Councilman Ruickoldt’s response to your complaint was dated Thursday, October 10. Please let me know if the damaged curb has been repaired. Although Councilman Ruickoldt suggested my readers contact him directly there is a backside to that statement. Many West Haven residents are not in tune with which councilman or woman is representing which district. It becomes easier for them to write to Gripe Vine because it is OUT THERE!
Of course, readers can call City Hall for information, or attend meetings, etc., I have found over these past 16 years of writing this column, readers have discovered prompt action when writing to Gripe Vine at the West Haven Voice. From experience reporting problems directly to city departments results in no response, delayed responses or referrals to another individual. Notifying reader’s complaints directly to the mayor’s office was, also, little, or not productive.
Dear Eleanore Turkington:
There used to be a sign prohibiting beach parking at Seaview and Ocean Avenue. What happened to it?
Dear Curious Neighbor:
I have written to Council Woman Tracy Morrissey with this issue. She contacted the Traffic Division State of The Department of Transportation (DOT) and was told that DOT has to replace the sign. DOT said they don’t have a timeline at this time. Council Woman Morrissey referred me to Dorinda Borer who is the Connecticut State Representative for West Haven, indicating Representative Borer would be the individual to receive the missing stop sign gripe. Representative Borer has received this complaint. I will produce her response in Gripe Vine as soon as it is received.
You can submit your gripes, comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Gripe Vine c/o West Haven Voice 840 Boston Post Road, Box 4. Please include your name, address and phone number kept in strict confidence with me. You can also submit through our online form.
By Rich Lowry
Little did Dr. James Naismith know when he invented the game of basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891 that, more than a century hence, it would become beholden to its Chinese overlords.
The NBA disgraced itself kowtowing to Beijing after the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, tweeted his support for Hong Kong protesters. The words he associated himself with — “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong” — would seem uncontroversial. Who doesn’t hope for the best for plucky demonstrators trying to advance democracy against an overweening imperial dictatorship?
Morey, though, failed to adequately account for the feelings of the dictatorship. “I was merely voicing one thought,” he said, in a groveling tweet after deleting his original offending one, “based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.”
The “other perspectives” are those of people supporting a regime that is determined to crush Hong Kong underfoot, maintain a one-party state that stifles all internal dissent, brutally repress Uighur Muslims, grab the South China Sea, build up its military with an eye to a future confrontation with United States and rewrite the rules of the international order to its liking.
But who’s to judge?
In its own lickspittle statement, the NBA said that Morey’s views “have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable.” It appears that the Chinese-language version was even more craven, saying that the league is “extremely disappointed” in the GM’s “inappropriate” tweet.
If you follow the NBA and missed the part where Red China stole the league’s soul, it’s only because you haven’t paid enough attention to the international business. China is a huge and growing market for the NBA. When Chinese sponsors and partners of the Rockets began to pull out, the team and the league buckled.
The joke of it is that here at home the league flaunts its woke social conscience. The NBA used the leverage of its All-Star Game coming to Charlotte to force changes to a North Carolina bathroom bill, in the name of “equality.”
One would think that reeducation camps for a million Uighurs is much worse than any choice North Carolina makes about its restrooms. The NBA should be repelled by China’s policies, which run counter to everything that the NBA purports to stand for.
This episode exposes the league’s gutless hypocrisy. So long as social activism is costless, the NBA is all about its values. As soon as there is any price, it is willing to salute smartly at the dictates of one of the most cynical, self-interested regimes on Earth.
Of course, any profit-generating enterprise is going to care about its bottom line most of all. That shouldn’t efface all sense of decency and self-respect, though. James Harden, the Houston Rockets star, has grown very rich and famous playing an American game in an American league. His reaction to Morey’s tweet was unequivocal: “We apologize.”
He thus neatly encapsulated the willingness of a segment of the American business elite to express a kind of national loyalty to a nation that isn’t its own.
Rich Lowry is editor of the National Review.(c) 2019 by King Features Synd., Inc.
NBA, corporate greed undermine our nation
We will take America without firing a shot. We do not have to invade the U.S. We will destroy you from within.”
Those of us old enough to remember the Cold War, and maybe even the time that the above quoted General Secretary of the Russian Communist Party said these words, remember the derision they received at the time. The United States knew who it was, and knew that it was important in preserving the American Experiment.
A half-century later, the United States of 2019, being at relative peace for about 40 years has turned itself inward, navel gazing. Elites, particularly those “educated” in Ivy League institutions, but not limited there, now condemn the civilization that gives them the very freedoms they believe are so much at risk. While they are willing to throw the word “fascist” at anyone who disagrees with their worldview, they are more than willing to excuse nations that have objectively worse records of human rights abuses.
That navel gazing, along with what has become a greed to open up large markets makes the late General Secretary’s words all that more frightening. There is no doubt the elites of academe have taken a “socialist” bent over the last several decades, beginning between the wars, and expanding in the last 50 years. Perhaps, that is what Kruschev meant when he uttered those words. Or, maybe he knew that corporate greed – the desire to make uncounted millions would be the dissolution of the nation, and the freedoms it enjoys.
The National Basketball Association’s recent behavior as it relates to China is an example par excellence. The NBA, which considers itself among the most “woke” of the professional leagues, is very quick to criticize, condemn and marginalize anyone that inches away from the liberal orthodoxy on any given issue. The two-week controversy over its relationship with China is at once disturbing and revealing.
It chastised an official of a team for siding with Hong Kong in its desire to maintain its independence from the Communist mainland. Then, it shutdown reporters, who asked questions regarding the policy, while ejected fans, who had signs supporting the island. Finally, it banned access to its players during its exhibition tour on the mainland.
The NBA isn’t the only culprit. While business owners and executives have complained vigorously about China’s predatory policies concerning patents and intellectual property, the investor class — as well as the foreign policy elites — has been reticent to move on the issue for more than two decades. This is not a new issue. Yet, the business leaders of the nation lament the Trump Administration’s hardline policy in trade talks.
In both cases, the reason for the behavior is money. The NBA sees the 1.5 billion Chinese as a large market to be exploited with new capital. There are many licensed items to be sold and shoe makers see a market for sneakers. The business investor class sees the loss of intellectual and real property as collateral damage in exploiting the burgeoning Chinese middle class.
Meanwhile, we disparage our own institutions, and condemn our history, all to the detriment of us as a nation. Perhaps Kruschev was right. The internal rot of academe and business will bring us down – if we let it.
After years of defending itself from accusations of shoddy protection in the abatement of asbestos in the West Haven High School reconstruction project, a new study by the American Federation of Teachers has put to rest any fears the public might have. That was the assessment of city officials and the chairman of the WHHS Building Committee with the publication of the report.
“This completely exonerates us and puts all those accusations to bed,” said Ken Carney, chairman of the building committee. “The union did the study after getting complaints, came in with the attitude something was wrong, and then sent this report.”
Since the project began more than three years ago, various parents and activists have complained the city and the Board of Education were not following protocols on the removal of the asbestos. Those accusations included charges of allowing asbestos to hang in open spaces, and that air quality samples were not up to standard.
According to Carney, the AFT sent a survey to teachers at the school asking about the health and safety practices during the reconstruction. Forty-four percent of the respondents said they were experiencing health issues, and some attributed them to the project.
A team of professionals from the Union Leadership Institute of the AFT came to the school on Oct. 1. They toured the school and recorded their observations. The tour included officials from the local school system as well as project managers. The report was written by Amy Bahruth, the ULI’s assistant director.
“The AFT team came into West Haven saying, ‘This is a sick building,’ and were looking for things to prove it,” said Carney.
One of the common complaints was the recurrence of dust all over the building that might contribute to respiratory problems. The report found otherwise.
“During the walk-through we observed no nuisance dust in either of the buildings (new or old). In fact, the buildings all were extremely clean and orderly,” the report said. It saw that protocols were in place, and its recommendations included a reporting protocol should a staff member experience some type of difficulty.
As far as the protections for staff and students from current construction zones, the report was just as positive. It noted that students moving from the old building to the new were protected by fencing that kept them away from construction areas. It recommended the current measures be maintained.
Asbestos was sprayed on the beams, in the floor tiles and in wall paint, the report noted. On the matter of abatement, the observations of the committee were seen as vindication by officials.
“The administration has followed all the proper protocol (sic) for asbestos abatement regulations and has even had the EPA regional office in Boston in for consultation on the demolition of the old building. From our observations, the asbestos in floor tiles and on the walls were well maintained and not in a friable condition,” the report said. It did recommend that any further abatement be done when the school is vacant, such as the summer.
On a complaint concerning storage of construction materials, the report said the team found no indication of “improper storage.” It was just as positive concerning construction-related odors and the complaint that there were visible signs of mold. In both instances the report was negative to those points.
“The new building is truly a state-of-the-art facility and showcases the best of new technologies in design and environmental considerations. The district even went so far to conduct an air stream study so that wind patterns could not determine the best location for air intakes and exhaust on the new HVAC systems that will be installed building-wide. While the construction and renovation phase of this project is not ideal during school hours, we feel that the necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of all building occupants is being taken seriously with the utmost responsibility by the school district and the construction contractor,” the report stated.
Copies of the report were sent to West Haven Federation of Teachers President Kristen Malloy-Scanlon, School Nurses President Sandra McCauley, and Co-Presidents of the WHFP Georgina Dini and Marilyn Halligan.
“This report was better than we could have expected,” Carney said. “We hope it puts to rest the allegations some have made regarding the protocols followed by the school system.”
By Josh LaBella
The developers of the Havens project have not been good neighbors, according to Republican mayoral candidate Michele Gregorio in a press conference last Friday.
In a statement Gregorio gave on the corner of Water and Center Streets, the Republican challenged the lack of progress made on the project during Mayor Nancy Rossi’s administration.
The economic development project aims to see a luxury outlet mall built in West Haven by developers The Haven Group, LLC, and The Simon Group. It is anticipated to be give a major economic boost to the city.
Gregorio said the results of the developer’s lack of concern for the city have been devastating, adding that Mayor Rossi has “simply dropped the ball.”
“On her first day in office, the mayor should have called the developers in to inform them that leaving abandoned buildings deteriorating on this site will not be tolerated,” said Gregorio. “The lack of security is not acceptable. Why did it take fires breaking out on the property to get any kind of security here?”
According to the candidate, even the current security is not adequate. Among other issues with safety, Gregorio pointed to children seen playing at the Bilco site, squatters, drug activity, crime and local residents’ inability to sell or refinance their homes.
Gregorio questioned how many more years the city would have to wait before real construction begins. She also brought up a meeting between the mayor, the developer and the state delegation that she said happened two weeks ago.
“After not receiving funds that were previously promised to them, the developer is putting a new proposal on the table,” said Gregorio. “The developer is looking to the state for a special district that will allow them to receive credits on sales tax collected from retail tenants of the Havens project.”
The candidate said West Haven’s delegation to the General Assembly will have to present this proposal during the 2020 session. She said if the agreement passes, construction would hopefully begin in 2021 with completion coming the following year.
“So, in contradiction to a statement made from this administration only a couple of months ago that we will be shopping at the new mall in 2020, hopefully, we will be shopping there in 2022,” she said. “Hopefully.”
Gregorio said transparency and communication are critical in this project and others. She asked why the mayor had not informed the public of the supposed meeting. She also questioned the fact that citizens were not informed that the first deal for the sale of the Thompson and Stiles Schools had fallen through until after the September primary.
The Republican candidate said, if elected mayor, she would “hold the Havens developer’s feet to the fire” by enforcing fines for blight, insisting on better security for the area and improving communication between all stakeholders.
“West Haven residents deserve to understand the status of this project,” said Gregorio. “Closed-door meetings, resulting in no progress, and zero transparency, only make things worse. Are we really looking at 2022 or beyond for completion? We can only continue to wonder what will happen in the meantime.”
Mayor Nancy Rossi did not reply to inquiries for comment by press time. She said she will have a response for next week’s edition.
As part of an effort to give Fisher House’s a dedicated child-friendly space, Gold Star mother Cynthia Garcia and Comcast partnered to devote a corner of the West Haven Fisher House common room as an “Adam’s Corner.”
According to a press release to the Voice, Cynthia Garcia’s son Adam was serving in the U.S. Army in 2005 when she was notified by Army officials that he was seriously wounded in Baghdad. Adam was transported to Germany for treatment and the family’s travel and lodging costs were covered. They stayed at a Fish- er House.
Fisher Houses are living facilities built around the world which “offer a home away from home at no cost for military and veteran families while their loved one receives medical treat at Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs medical centers.”
As Adam’s condition did not improve, he was transported to a medical facility in Bethesda, MD to say goodbye to and “prepare for Adam’s passing.” It was during her time in these Fisher Houses that Cynthia realized there was no spaces for young children.
“She found it difficult to occupy her young daughter while she and her husband dealt with ‘grown-up stuff,”’ the release said.
To honor the memory and service of her son and bring a bit of comfort to other military and veterans’ families, Cynthia worked to have a dedicated space for young children called Adam’s Corner at two Fisher House locations in Texas.The project has grown and is now a joint initiative for Comcast and their Veteran’s Network chapters.