A volunteer with Mayor David Cassetti’s re-election campaign apologized Wednesday after a video surfaced showing him pestering a downtown business owner about her political signs.
The video was posted Sept. 10 and had been viewed more than 900 times before it was taken down for a short time Wednesday after a reporter started asking questions about it.
It appeared again Wednesday afternoon.
The video, which is edited, was recorded inside Lisa’s Beauty and Barber shop on Main Street. The video is taken from a security camera inside the shop.
The timestamp on the video says it was recorded Sept. 8.
A short clip from the video is posted at the top of this story. Click here for the full video on Youtube’s website.
In the video Edward Musante, a political gadfly, complains that a Mayor Cassetti campaign sign he had dropped off at the business was not displayed, but that signs for Fourth Ward Aldermanic Candidates Richard Kaslaitis and Ed Norman were.
In the video, Musante says Mayor Cassetti wanted to know why Norman’s and Kaslaitis’ signs were up.
Musante says something about the mayor calling the business’ landlord. Parts of the video are unintelligible, and loud music drowns some of the back and forth.
But Musante eventually says, “We’ll find out in a little while. He’s calling the landlord.”
Renee McFarlin, the salon’s owner, is surprised, and tries to reason with Musante. She asks him not to cause trouble with her landlord over the sign.
“If I put Donald Duck in my window, nobody should come in here and say anything,” she says.
Update: a reader pointed out landlord and property owners have the legal right to limit their tenants signs, political and otherwise.
“Dave said he’s going to call the landlord,” Musante replies. He is shown leaving the shop as an employee asked whether he should call 911.
The Valley Indy reached out Wednesday to McFarlin, Musante and Mayor Cassetti.
McFarlin, a longtime Main Street business owner, said she was shocked by Musante’s visit.
“I couldn’t believe he did that,” she said. “I said to myself ‘I wonder if he’s doing that at other businesses?’”
Musante said he shouldn’t have made the threats.
“I shouldn’t have went in there. I just felt offended because I put Dave’s sign in there and they were all psyched to put the sign up, then two weeks later I go by there, I felt offended because Dave’s sign was down,” Musante said. “That’s the way it went.”
McFarlin disputed Musante’s version of events, but said the signs in her window are her prerogative regardless.
Musante Gets Scolded
Mayor Cassetti said Musante should not have spoken on his behalf or attempted to throw his weight around.
“I don’t even know who the landlord is,” the mayor said. “That’s Ed putting signs up.”
He said Musante acted without his knowledge. The mayor said he spoke to Musante.
“I told Ed, ‘Just refrain from doing that.’ He took it upon himself to do it. I had nothing to do with it,” Cassetti said.
As Cassetti spoke to a reporter in his office at City Hall, Musante walked in. The mayor chided him for his behavior depicted in the video in front of a reporter.
“That’s not right,” Cassetti told Musante. “You should never have done that.”
Minutes later, as a reporter was speaking to McFarlin outside her business, Musante walked up, apologized, turned around, and walked away.
That moment was also caught on video, albeit briefly:
“I’m sorry the way that went about,” Musante said. “I’m sorry.”
“OK,” McFarlin replied.
She said she didn’t think Musante actually followed through with having the mayor call her landlord.
“I’m fine if he apologized,” McFarlin said.
It’s not clear who posted the video to YouTube.
McFarlin said she wasn’t sure how the video was posted to the Internet. The person behind the YouTube account would not reveal his or her name.
The video itself was edited, though Musante did not dispute its content.
People in the comment section under the video on YouTube argued over whether it was political mudslinging.
Also, Alderman Richard Kaslaitis, a regular customer of the business, was actaully getting a haircut at the time and is shown in the video sitting in a barber’s chair.
He didn’t know how the video went public, but said Musante’s behavior was “immoral.”
“You shouldn’t be strong-arming somebody and telling them what to put in their window,” Kaslaitis said. “Behavior like that should not be conducted.”
The sign drama took place as the Ansonia campaign heated up.
There is a rift in the Ansonia GOP leadership between the mayor and Phil Tripp, the president of the Board of Aldermen.
Kaslaitis, an incumbent, was endorsed by the Ansonia Republican Town Committee to run for office again in the November election — as was Ed Norman.
But Cassetti and his GOP supporters pushed for incumbent Martin Dempsey, an incumbent who the RTC dropped from the ticket.
Dempsey, Kaslaitis, and Norman participated in a Fourth Ward GOP primary Tuesday to see who would get the two GOP spots on the November ballot.
Last we heard Dempsey, the “Team Cassetti” candidate, won a spot on the GOP ballot — but Kaslaitis and Norman tied, which is supposed to prompt a recount.
Election Day is just 55 days away.