Much Ado At The Q

Veterans of all sides of more than four decades of impassioned New Haven Democratic Party politics converged on the Quinnipiack Club to pay tribute to a man who is leaving the stage.

Paul Bass PhotosThe occasion was a retirement party Thursday evening for Superior Court Judge Thayer “Ted” Baldwin (pictured).

At 73, Baldwin is stepping down as a Superior Court judge after 13 years on the bench. He began his law career in 1965, eventually going into practice with pre-U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Like Lieberman, Baldwin spent much of his time in local and state politics and government service, starting out with reform Democrats who took on the party establishment out of a storefront called the New Politics Corner (at the corner of Elm and Church, until someone firebombed it during the famous May Day weekend). Anti-Vietnam War Democrats supported an ultimately unsuccessful Baldwin challenge to longstanding U.S. Rep. Bob Giaimo, in 1970. Baldwin was a prominent part of the team that defeated the old Barbieri Machine in electing Frank Logue as mayor in 1975. He served as Logue’s corporation counsel from 1976-8. He ran for attorney general as part of a reform Democratic primary ticket headed by a state legislator named Ernie Abate. He returned to City Hall as Mayor John DeStefano’s corporation counsel from 1998-2001. In between all those years, as an attorney and party activist and eventually elder statesmen, he worked with people from all Democratic factions (which in one-party New Haven means working with people of all races and ideological persuasions), as evidenced by the turnout at Thursday night’s Q Club reception.

“It’s 1976 all over again!” DeStefano exclaimed during the pre-speech cocktail hour.

“Nineteen-seventy,” corrected former state Rep. and City Hall lawyer Al Onorato (pictured with Rose DeMatteo), as he launched into stories about “Teddy Baldwin screaming” at conventions in “the good old days.”

Longtime Baldwin pal and former state Rep. Bill Dyson emceed the formal presentation portion of the evening.

State Sen. Martin Looney, who served as justice of the peace for Baldwin’s marriage 28 years ago to Barbara Geller, praised him for his “humanity, generosity, understanding of human nature” as a judge, and for serving as a “mentor to so many people in politics.”

State Rep. Pat Dillon (pictured schmoozing with Dyson) presented Baldwin with a state proclamation of congratulations and credited him with hatching the idea for the state Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program to reimburse cities for revenue lost on tax-exempt property.

Fire Lt. Teo Baldwin (pictured with Susan Baldwin) declared, “There’s no other dad I’d rather have than you, and I’m proud to be your son” ...

... while guests like Lindy Lee Gold, Esther Armmand ...

... City/Town Clerk Sally Brown, the housing authority’s Bethany Watkins, retired Rosa DeLauro aide Stanley Welch ...

... political scientist Chris Arterton and city development chief Matthew Nemerson listened on ...

... or sampled the Q Cub’s trademark meat ...

... and veggie trays.

Marlene Woodman, a main organizer of the event, made sure all went according to plan.

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posted by: citoyen on May 30, 2014  11:19pm

Ted Baldwin is a class act.  A fine gentleman, a fair-minded champion of liberal politics for whom no one is an enemy, and everyone is a potential friend.  A big celebration could not happen to a more deserving or nicer guy.  It has been a delight and a privilege to get to know him a bit in recent years, which is a happy event I could not have predicted, and for which I will always be grateful.  Congratulations, Ted! and may you keep up the good work for many years to come.