Manus in hot water over Facebook post
STRATFORD — No one ever said that Stratford politics was for the milquetoasts out there, but a Facebook posting by outgoing councilwoman Tina Manus left the most thick-skinned political veterans in town shocked and disgusted.
“The State House Hooker is here! Oh goody!” Manus, a Democrat, posted to her Facebook page while sitting on the stage of Stratford High School Monday evening. At the time she was in her final minutes as the District 10 councilwoman, soon to be replaced by Republican Laura Dancho.
Monday’s largely ceremonial session was the final meeting of the outgoing Town Council members and the first meeting of its newly elected members. It also included the swearing-in of the new mayor, state Rep. Laura Hoydick. The event included songs from the Stratford High School choir.
The posting drew disdain from all corners of the political scene in town. Even Stephanie Philips, the Democratic Town Committee chairwoman who lost her bid to become mayor to Hoydick, said that she was upset by it.
“Crude statements have no place in our society whether they are from a local person or from our president. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a flyer, Twitter, Facebook; nor by a Democrat or Republican,” said Philips, who has been Manus’ closest political ally.
“Her remarks seem to be directed toward the minority leader of the state House of Representatives (Themis Klarides), who came to Stratford to participate in the mayor’s inauguration,” said outgoing council chairwoman Beth Daponte, also a Democrat. “Her cyberbullying and inappropriate name calling is an embarrassment, not only to the town, but to all Democrats.”
Klarides, R-114, who represents Derby, Orange and Woodbridge, was at Monday’s ceremony to deliver the oath of office to Hoydick. It’s expected that Hoydick will resign her 120th district House seat in the coming weeks.
Republicans in town said that they were aghast at the posting, too.
“I can tell you that if any one of my RTC members said anything like that, they absolutely would be called to the carpet and I would make the committee force them to apologize or they would be censured,” said Lou DeCilio, chairman of the Republican Town Committee.
Many assumed that Manus was referring to either Klarides or Hoydick — as both are House members and both were on the SHS stage when Manus made the posting.
But Manus, in a lengthy text message to Hearst Connecticut Media, insisted that the Facebook posting was directed at herself, and not Klarides nor Hoydick.
She said that it was a “joke” that stemmed from a flyer that the RTC mailed to District 10 voters in the fall of 2015, when Manus was running for council., The flyer had an undignified photo of Manus that was found on social media, picturing her wearing a baseball cap with the word “SLUT” on it.
Later, she said, she was considered as a possible candidate for the 120th House seat.
“So when folks started asking me to run (for the House), I said: ‘So the Stratford slut becomes the State House hooker?’” Manus said. “I was the ‘Stratford Slut’ for two years. And I want to make one thing clear — I was not referring to Themis or Laura.”
But whether others in town will buy the explanation remains to be seen. Klarides and Hoydick both declined to comment.
Manus, in her short two-year career as the District 10 council member, has been in controversial straits before. Most recently, she’s the defendant in a slander and libel suit brought by a developer for comments she made to him after a Zoning Commission meeting. That case is still in its early stages, and the town is required by law to pay for her defense.
“Politics is a dirty business,” Manus said. “I’m glad I’m out of it, and now free to speak my own mind.”