Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Politicians, coffee and dry cleaners

I spent the day with politicians. First, Tom Foley's little coffee chat with the chamber early this morning at the Tunxis Bristol Campus. It wasn't especially well-attended; 20 people in the room if you count Foley, 17 men and three women, for anyone who is interested in that sort of thing. Almost half, including all the women, are employed by either the chamber, the Press, Tunxis or Foley. (He had an aide there, a young man who was easily the only person in the room under age 40.)
I'm not sure why the turnout was so poor, but Foley didn't seem to mind.
Next I went to a little press conference staged by Tom Colapietro, Bristol's senator, and Donald Williams, the state senate president. It was at Bristol Custom Cleaners and Tailors on Main Street and focused on how the Senate Dems want to improve the economy through their jobs package.
The cleaners only has one job -- the one held by the owner, Mark Policki, and he's hanging on by a thread, if you'll pardon the pun.
He's a really nice guy with a sad story to tell. He gave up his home of 17 years, an apartment he loved, to save the business by saving expenses. That's commitment. Business has to increase by at least 30 percent for him to break even. He's trying to hold out for development across the street at the city-owned, former mall site.
Mark is not only a friendly, swell guy, but he has great music (usually jazz) playing in his shop every time I stop in to say hello. He works on his store window to make it attractive (sometimes he sits there reading and watching the city go by, he told me) and burns candles to make the place smell nice. I'm not kidding when I say the guy is trying.
Today he had on a nifty hat (to keep warm, since he keeps the shop pretty cool) and what's more, it was his 51st birthday. The picture above doesn't do Mark justice. And it doesn't show his cool hat. I think a better one will be in The Bristol Press. Thanks to Gregg Davis at the Capitol for the photo!
Tom gave Mark a big fancy birthday card signed by some of the folks at the Capitol, but it didn't have a tax break inside or anything like that, though Mark seemed tickled by it all the same.
To me, it seemed a card was the least they could do for Mark while they used his nice little shop as a backdrop for their press conference about the folks on "Main Street."
So happy birthday, Mark! I hope you get a present of some new customers in the coming weeks.
If you have some dry cleaning, laundry or tailoring to do, think about sending it to Mark, who is trying to keep his business alive on Main Street.
I'd sure rather have Mark a few doors down from the Press than a boarded up storefront, but that's an understatement if I ever made one. He's a great neighbor, so I hope we can keep him in business in this community. I know I'll be looking to see if I've got any other cleaning I can bring him and I hope other people will, too.
I wrote stories about all of this for The Bristol Press, but I'm not supposed to post them here anymore. Hopefully you can see them at
Tomorrow, I get started early again with Ned Lamont at the chamber.


  1. If we are looking for reasons for poor attendance you can look no further than time of the Chambers events. Only the "professional class" can take a couple of hours off to do this kind of thing. Doing it during the day when most are working also keeps the "unwashed" from contamenating the Chamber.
    As for a lack of women at this event no one should be suprised. In the decision making positions the Chamber has always been part of the "Good old boy network."

  2. Thanks for your comment! I agree that 8 a.m. is for the birds. But I also think there are so many meetings at night that it would be tough to pick a time that doesn't conflict.
    They've been doing this stuff at the crack of dawn since I came to town in 1993, so I guess it works for them.
    I hope you got something out of my stories, at least. Today was Ned Lamont and he drew a bigger crowd with a few more women, but still only half a dozen in a crowd of about 30.

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