Mayor Domenic Sarno is left in an awkward position after an article in today's Springfield Republican, questioning his role in the eviction of a well-known downtown hot dog vendor.
The vendor, John Verducci III, recently received a letter from city officials ordering him to shut down his Worthington Street stand, after years of feeding the drunken club-goers who pour out of the area's bars and restaurants after last call in need of a little dose of dogs. Sarno says the move was prompted by a desire to class-up the area, and came after complaints from local business owners.
But as reporter Stephanie Barry notes, Verducci wonders if the mayor was really responding to the complaints of one business owner in particular: his cousin, Patsy Izzo, who recently opened an Italian restaurant in the area. Verducci described his eviction as "nepotism at its finest"; Sarno and Izzo both say the move was completely above board ("Domenic has never been a person like that," his cousin offered in his defense. "He always does the right thing.")
Barry—who dubbed the scuffle "wienergate"— contracted a number of other restaurant and bar owners in the Worthington Street area, who voiced their support of Verducci.
Meanwhile, we suspect at least one person who's deriving some satisfaction from the dust-up. Stayed tuned for the inevitable press release from City Councilor Bud Williams (Sarno's challenger in this fall's mayor's race) stating his deep and unequivocal support of hot dog vendors everywhere.