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Not a Good Week for Italian American Politicians - Good Week for Italian American Chefs


Last Monday, former N.Y. State Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno was convicted on two federal corruption charges. The testimony and evidence introduced at his trial suggested that he used public institutions and resources for private gains. "The prosecutors and agents involved in this case take no pleasure from what the trial revealed about the culture of the N.Y. State Senate under the leadership of Joseph L. Bruno," said U.S. Attorney Andrew Baxter. Bruno, 80, was born in Glens Falls, Joseph BrunoN.Y., and was first Italian American elected to the N.Y. Senate in 1976.

On Tuesday, in Massachusetts, Michael Capuano, a member of the House of Representatives, sought to win the Democratic primary for Senator Kennedy's vacant seat but pulled in only 28% of the votes. He was not the only Italian American in the democratic primary. In fact, with the exception of the winner, they were all Italian Americans. Stephen Pagliuca, owner of the Boston Celtics, brought up his Italian American roots during his campaign; he got 12 % of the votes. The third candidate, Alan Khazei, who takes his last name from his Iranian father, played up the fact that his mother was Italian. He received 13% of the votes. If they had all agreed to support one Italian American candidate, that person would likely have won. Instead, the three-way split left Martha Coakley with 47% of the votes and a ticket to the U.S. Senate.

On a more positive note this week, Italian American brothers, Michael and Bryan Voltaggio showed America what good cooking is all about! Michael, a chef in L.A., took the top prize on Bravo's TV show Top Chef. Bryan, owner of Volt restaurant in Frederick, Md, ranked in the top three. The Voltaggios grew up in Frederick, the sons of a clerical worker and a state trooper whose moonlighting in hotel security apparently got them into the Holiday Inn kitchen as teens. According to the judges, Michael's fried broccoli was the highlight of the final meal. For those of us who grew up in Italian families, where fried broccoli were a delicacy, it was a fitting season ending.

One final note: on Friday, John Mancini, editor-in-chief of Newsday, "resigned" after 20 years at the paper. Rumors are that he was pushed out by Cablevision, the paper's owner, after a reputed tussle with the company's head.

(Pictured above, Joe Bruno)


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