When Hartford ward boss Abe Giles needs a lawyer, he chooses from a roster of political contacts.
In 2003, North End political boss Abe Giles got in a dispute with the City of Hartford over acquiring the former Hal’s Diner property. He hired state Sen. Eric Coleman (D-Hartford) as his lawyer. Giles has long pulled votes for Coleman on Election Day, most recently during two bitter primaries in the last three years against Windsor Deputy Mayor Timothy Curtis.Last year, Giles faced a state Elections Enforcement Commission complaint for making an excessive contribution to a political action committee that backed his son’s city council candidacy. His attorney? Former city councilman John Kennelly, who never would have made it onto the council in 2001 without Giles’s backing at the Democratic Party’s nominating convention that year. Kennelly also ran on the same slate as Giles’s son in 2003.Giles returned to court last week, filing two tax assessment appeals on property he owns on Windsor Avenue. This time, Giles selected attorney John Gale, of the Hartford-based firm Gale & Kowalyshyn. Gale once ran for state representative in the West End and served as an officer in the city’s Democratic Town Committee, though he no longer holds a seat there. During the heyday of Mayor Michael Peters’s reign, the mayor’s political support rested on a town committee coalition that included Gale’s West End constituency, Peters’s South Enders, and Giles’s North End machine. How does Gale reconcile working for a figure with whom he has had a political relationship?“It would be uncomfortable if someone hired me, and then in another sphere we were opponents,” Gale said. “I can’t say I ever confronted that situation. I never confronted it with Abe.“Giles did not return a call for comment.In the ultimate irony, former city councilman turned state marshal Steven Harris served Giles’s tax appeals on the city. Harris belongs to a different North End political camp than Giles, and the two men were once bitter political enemies. Harris charged $86.50 to serve the two complaints, according to court documents. Giles will be billed for the expense, Gale said.