Monday, September 13, 2010

The Network: Getting it Over With...

So you've been reading about this network of individuals who are involved in the businesses of working with the government. Their trades have included legal and financial services, political advice, electronics, construction, waste management, casinos, one detention facility caught up in a bribery scandal and possibly a strip club.

Then you noticed, "Hey! Three out of these dozen or so guys have the same last name!"

Then you remembered how your newspaper kicked off the entire reporting affair:

Mr. Kostovny was changing bulbs outside the school a few years back when a black SUV pulled up beside him.

A man got out, said Mr. Kostovny, "And he said, 'Who are you, and what are you doing?' "

Mr. Kostovny, who had done electrical work for the district in which he lives for two decades, told the man that he was changing bulbs

"And he said, 'We'll see about that!' and drove away," said Mr. Kostovny. (P-G, Lord & Niederberger)

Then suddenly you thought of a certain state Senator's brother recently stating, "What happened was Kramm was warning the girls about the background into the Zappala family, whatever the heck it is." And finally, as though you're not already halfway mortified, you remember Cyril Wecht.

And you thought to yourself, "Oh no! They titled that initial profile article, the Man with Connections! Could the Post-Gazette have possibly been telling us... no, it couldn't be ..."

Could it really be?


Is there enough out there for suspicious investigators, editors and bloggers to generate theories?


With no further ado, Mike Ference of Yardbird:

Newspaper keeps facts from readers

There's something today's readers of the Post-Gazette weren't being told by their newspaper about this fascinating chapter in Pittsburgh lore, I'd learn. And it wasn't because the Post-Gazette didn't know about it. Readers weren't being told the surprising role Zappala family members played in events surrounding the murders of the Volpe brothers and the retaliatory killing of John Bazzano.

A search of public records in the Allegheny County Courthouse reveals only a few clues. Yellowed records disclose that Frank Zappala, Sr., the father of the future state supreme court chief justice, and grandfather of today's Pittsburgh DA, handled the estate of John Bazzano following his mob killing, and represented Bazzano's widow in probate. (

Ference, with more strands of data, goes on to describe the one-time Zappala family patriarch as most probably having been a certain formal type of close functionary to reported criminal magnate John Bazzano.

Longtime Comet readers will remember Mr. Ference for a notable comment left on this blog over a year ago:

Nice job on the article. I've written it beofre and I'll write it again, the Zappala's are Sicilian scumbags. They have done more to detroy this country, like so many other Sicilian scumbags. They are the terrorists. With all due respect to the victims and their families, what happened on 911 is nothing compared to what the Mafia has done to destroy this country. Take a look at the corruption in PA, many are Italian, most are Catholics and all are democrats.
Come and get get me scumbags.
Mike Ference, aka The Mon Dawn
817 Worthington Avenue
Clairton, PA 15025
P.S. You will not defeat these bastards until you show them you have no fear of the mob. To read more of my posts google Mike Ference Zappala (Comet Archive)

Personally, I think the fact that Ference is still standing and posting on the Topix forum is pretty solid evidence that the main gist of his theory is probably bunk -- and the direction of his animosity is evidence that his blog may not be the most neutral source. Even still, there are kernels of portions of facts out there. It's a small universe.

I would imagine that the habits and wisdoms of hard work, relying on family, trusting in a close circle of good friends and dependable contacts, and pursuing opportunities is something which is oft-inherited through family and culture, and has been passed along since long before the 1930's or even the 1830's. It likely contributes towards explaining the many triumphs and some travesties of many close-knit communities. Whether aspects of the Network constitute a constructive or subversive example of this trope is an interesting question, but extravagant comparisons to brute criminality are unnecessary and unnerving -- even when delivered sotto voce.


  1. On your sidebar, is Shanghai a verb? If so, who?

  2. Actually, just noticed they're visiting Seoul too. No puns intended.

  3. Let me know if they go to Takethefifth, Wales.