Local politics makes the strangest of bedfellows.
Ward 26 Alderwoman Lindy Lee Gold, a city legislator with an eye for business interests, has joined forces with local business owners like Toad’s Place proprietor Brian Phelps on a recent proposal that would limit the distribution of promotional flyers and campaign literature between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. New Haven’s policy-making Board of Aldermen will vote on the plan, which the City Plan Commission discussed on Wednesday.
Gold, a former Broadway business owner and one-time president of the York-Broadway Merchant’s Association, got the idea from her son, who plays in a band that plays shows in and around New Haven.
She said he told her that campaign workers and club promoters were handing out too many flyers and adverstisements, and club patrons do not like it.
Gold said people who go shopping downtown are unhappy with several aggressive solicitation tactics. She pointed to political supporters and business owners who post themselves outside businesses late at night to advertise and individuals who leave leaflets on the windshields of customers’ cars.
“I just don’t think there’s any reason for this kind of advertising downtown,” Gold said Thursday. “And being accosted by strangers in the dark is nothing that anyone wants.”
The proposal comes after a hard-fought mayoral primary between incumbent Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and state Sen. Martin Looney. In the weeks and months leading up to last month’s election, Looney and DeStefano supporters both accused each other of harassing residents by distributing various campaign propaganda under the cover of darkness.
But Gold, who has yet to defend her proposal before the full board of 30 aldermen, said she was acting primarily in the interests of city businesses.
“It doesn’t really have that much to do with after-dark leafleting in residential neighborhoods,” she said. “It’s more about customers and business owner.”
Phelps, who operates Toad’s Place at 300 York St., supports Gold’s idea because he thinks the proposal will reduce the harassment of his customers by the owners of other New Haven nightclubs.
Phelps called the handing out of flyers outside his club “ridiculous.”
“There have been times when they’ve stood right outside of Toad’s and handed those color postcards to people,” he said. “It’d be like if you were a lawyer and as you were leaving one law firm after an interview, the head of another law firm met you on the sidewalk and said he’d give you free cups of coffee if you signed on with him.”