Does New Canaan have a culture of "political petribution?"
No less than the health care of an Irish-born Wheaten Terrier has torn asunder the political status quo for some in town.
"It's upsetting that people in town have to watch what they do and say, but when the tax man comes to my house and my business, I have to pay up!" said Paul Potenza, owner and chief veterinarian at the New Canaan Veterinary Hospital.
He was referencing a note from Maureen O'Hora, wife of Republican Town Committee Chairman James O'Hora, that has made the email rounds among some of the town's political players. In a July 22 letter to Potenza, Maureen O'Hora wrote:
"Thank you for your service to Molly over the last year and a half. After careful consideration, I will be moving Molly to Grove Street Vet, and she will no longer require your services."
"Fellow citizens who have read about the blunders and scandals involving the misuse and waste of public funds over the last several years would also do well to give him their support," the letter to the editor reads. "He has been instrumental in exposing these near fraudulent activities in spite of false accusations about his professional credential."
Abramowitz ran for a seat on the council twice in 2013 on a platform of sharp criticism over the town's financial dealings and transparency. He withdrew his name from consideration in the January special election to fill the seat of Tom O'Dea, who was elected state representative, after speculation over his accounting credentials was emailed around the Town Council the afternoon of the voting. That speculation turned out to be a misunderstanding of one of Abramowitz's claims. Abramowitz sought the Republican nomination for Town Council in July, finishing last of seven candidates, with 165 votes.
Potenza said he doesn't think that's the way a political party ought to operate, in terms of the note.
"It's almost a double irony because I'm a conservative. I don't think it's worth hiding that fact except perhaps I'll rethink the way I act in the future since I've lost a client for supporting someone," Potenza said. "It's very upsetting to me that I have to fear voicing my opinion. This precedent is concerning. My business is word of mouth. We get clients and patients based on our reputation."
For her part, O'Hora said Potenza's letter made her question the vet's judgment. She also noted that it was a private note between her and the doctor.
"I feel there are far more important things in this town and the world than who Molly's vet is," O'Hora said in an interview Monday night. "The fact that Potenza appears to have violated a code of conduct by giving business communications to a third party underscores that I made the right decision."
Standing in sharp contrast to the political in-fighting that characterizes its care, Molly is an affable and affectionate dog, the O'Horas confirm.
According to the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America, the breed is characterized as such:
"The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was bred as an all-purpose farm dog and family companion in his native Ireland. Sharing a common ancestry with the Irish Terrier and the Kerry Blue, the Wheaten is distinguished by his soft, silky coat and merry disposition. The mature Wheaten should exhibit a gently waving jacket with color varying from pale beige to shimmering gold."
James O'Hora declined to comment for this article.
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