Several advocates, including two City Council members, showed up to a parks board Zoom meeting Tuesday night to pitch cricket, a popular international sport, for access at Seaside Park. By the time the meeting was over the din of the virtual meeting turned to … well … crickets.
It became quiet quickly. Next on the agenda …
Tuesday night was a lesson in lack of homework, ill-conceived presentation, little detail dealt a blow by a deft neighborhood lioness who protects her cubs, in this case arguably the finest public beach in Connecticut.
Here’s the agenda item for the meeting:
Viceroy Cricket Inc. requesting to develop a cricket field at Seaside Park and secure a 35-year lease agreement for the Casino Bathhouse with an option for renewal through the Bridgeport Parks Department, Christy Duffy, Lakshman Bennabattula, Alfredo Castillo, Councilman, 136th District, and Jorge Cruz, Councilman 131st District.
It did not go well for the presenters.
Kate Rivera, in what she describes as a neighborhood “collaborative” effort, picked apart the proposal with a fury of concerns shared with her constituency contacts that raised questions about the motivations.
Council members Castillo and Cruz backed the idea passionately to swell opportunities for young people. Rivera saw it as a land grab shrouded in secrecy that could hurt low-income children. She spread the word. The board dispatched the request unanimously.
If Rivera had not raised the storm clouds would the meeting have turned out sunny for team cricket? Could be.
Rivera’s statement prior to the meeting:
“Low income kids can play several hours of soccer four times a week fall and spring for $30 a season. Plus the adults leagues. Also, if this is so great why is everything such a damn secret from the community? How much will the city potentially make per year from this “deal?” Or are we giving away beachfront property and screwing over taxpayers again like the UI “deal.
“Why did our council people who should represent us bring the cricket guy and his architect on a tour of the bathhouse before telling the community? Why are our council people and Duffy listed as (contacts) at the end of the power point proposal?
“As I told Jorge our council people have this ass backwards. They work for us. They represent us, not the developer, and they need to get feedback and answer questions from the community first, not get approval of the parks department and then let the community know after that is done and we have no recourse. We decide if we want this in our community if this benefits Bridgeport.
Who’s Kate Rivera? She’s a mother, social justice advocate and a fierce voice on behalf of her core values. You may not agree with her but she’s an urban warrior who makes compelling arguments.
She was the Board of Education member in 2015 who raised the specter of Christopher Columbus’ colonization, now a passionate movement revisiting the contributions of figureheads. In 2019 she shocked the political establishment, waging an extraordinary race as an outsider to fill the special election State House seat of the late Eziquiel Santiago. She won the walk-in votes covering four precincts, but it was the mighty absentee ballot operation of the city’s political organization in a large senior citizen district that carried Democratic-endorsed Antonio Felipe to victory.
In 2020, she had contemplated a run for State Senate against Dennis Bradley, then COVID struck requiring a second look at a run.
When it comes to activism with a potential run for office, Rivera’s an outlier who travels to the toot of her own trumpet. She’s not moved by political ambition. An issue requiring a course correction is a different story.
On Tuesday Rivera was a reminder–if you think people aren’t paying attention, think again. They may just rise up to quiet an ambitious meeting into the sound of crickets.
Thank you Kate for taking the lead for the taxpayers in this matter..Also,as a taxpayer,I would sleep a little better at night if some others on the council can check in with Jorge every now and then to help guide him on matters like this.I suspect the Cricket organization contacted Jorge because they knew he would be easily swayed,and be all in on this ridiculous proposal…When Jorge said”they will spend their own millions to fix up the bathhouse”,my first thought was,how does a small cricket organization like this even have millions??,..also when Jorge said” he supports the idea but wants to see more specifics”..I was wondering how can he support it if he doesn’t have any specifics??..Jorge may mean well,but he shouldn’t be the city’s rep on any matter..
The actions of Kate Rivera should show all you disciples of Maria that you can get things accomplished without being mean-spirited and obnoxious. She saw a wrong and handled it in a professional, business like manner to the benefit of the residents of Bridgeport. Bridgeport needs more Kate’s.
Congratulations to Kate Rivera and the folks who work with her from the diverse neighborhood in which she resides. A proposal to increase cricket sport in BRIDGEPORT (already active elsewhere in the City) by ceding major public beach area to a small group for 35 years or more met a “STICKY WICKET” perhaps? If you go by the Bridgeport precept, “Follow the money.” Where was the demonstration that necessary millions would appear to upgrade and be responsible for property that may literally be underwater itself before the terms of the memorandum of understanding was complete?
Where was the Mayor’s office on this issue? Or where is it on any of that neighborhood/district issues. What is going on with the University of Bridgeport in general? Who can and will speak to City actions for land acquisition for Bassick? Where on the CIty website are ACTUAL MINUTES of City SchoolBuilding Committee maintained? One Council member found the Agendas but not the MINUTES. Oversight? Time will tell.
The heading states “A Lioness Roars,” no, it’s not “A” but three lioness. Kate’s daughters are two of the hardest workers that you want to see when their mother takes up an issue. They enjoy being with their mother when Kate at a meeting or out campaigning and passing out flyers, I would questioned them on why I should take the flyer and beleive what the flyer said and they would take the time to explain as I wouldn’t believe what they were saying but they would be stay on their talking points. They are so charming and energetic, Kate keep it up, “A Lioness Roars.”
understanding that it is sometimes difficult to navigate OIB, the following was posted on the page that Mr. Christy initially asked for a public apology from me.
Please provide me with what you or your attorney consider the offensive language.
I said potential corrupt activity.
I did not accuse you directly of corrupt activity.
I am looking at the facts and said that a deal including council members has the potential too be corrupt.
This is an opinion.
So again please provide with with more specifics as to what you would like me to apologize for.
Thank you. And i do not reqire a timeline for this additional information.
And Mr. Christy,
You chose to try to do business with the city of Bridgeport.
You should have done your research.
You are dealing with a Mayor who was sentenced to 10 plus years for corrupt activity along with numerous private contractors.
Two high ranking city officials have pled guilty and awaiting sentencing to violating the law in hiring what would be considered a not qualified individual to Police Chief, The person who is supposed to protect the city cheated in order to get the job.
I would suggest that you do a better job vetting your partners in future ventures.
Let me say this about Kate. During Marilyn Moore’s campaign, I was circulating a petition in Seaside Village and Kate came up and introduce herself to me. It seems that her mother was an old neighbor of my family in Bport’s South End. Her roots are strong in Bridgeport. The Irish was she is ‘of’ Bridgeport not just from Bridgeport. And this is another example of her fighting for Bridgeport. Her roots are here and not just a passing fancy.
She still has children in school in the city and her number one commitment is to them. But when ever Kate is ready to pursue politics in the city, I’ll be there to help her. Or even when she is looking to take on a fight that she believes in, I’ll be there.
She is a rare find and well worth any assistance WE can give her.
I am not to sure how the Parks and Recreation Board is structured or how the rules by which they operate are written but I would recommend to Kate and any one else who is interested that they should have a rule that states before a long term lease, capital lease, the sale of any park land or assets or swap of the same that the item must be presented to the board in final contract form and sit before the board for a minimum of 45 days.
Then and only then can this be considered for action. This should include any government or private party. This should also included some form of public notice.
That would be a start.
There is a Parks Commission in Bridgeport whose details can be found on the City Department Directory. (Recreation is not in the name of the group.) Rules are simple (though primarily ignored by the Mayor,)
**Eight members total but there are only 6 listed. Two vacancies also.
**Mayor appoints two members to four year terms every December- not this year??
**No more than 4 members from any one party. Current 4 Democrats, 1 Republican and 1 Unaffiliated.
**Members serve until a successor is appointed and has qualified. A review of the current 6 members indicate expiries on 12-31- 2007, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. The Ganim safety net is maintained by having some 70 or more current board and commission members continue to serve, or exist in name, while Ganim2 dithers.
I have written about this corrupt “administrative practice” frequently on OIB but folks do not seem to get upset. Do you expect comfortable commission members to look for better ways to serve the broad public needs? If one does that, do they end up getting removed? Has anyone observed that phenomenon in any of the Boards and Commissions? Time will tell.
This goes back to Mary Moran. She could not or would not appoint people to boards and commissions and fell into disarray due to a lack of a quorum.
Mayor Joe, when he took office, put forward a charter change that said members of boards and commissions would continue to serve until their successor is approved by the council.
Now if you believe Joe was the reincarnation of Machiavelli then you would believe that this was part of a long term plot to do gain complete control of boards and commissions. If instead you believe it was a mistake that should now be corrected, well then, correct it.
That’s it. Plain and simple. Let’s see how you would correct it. Right now.
You have two thoughtful council members from the Black Rock. Show them your proposed language to correct this short coming and work with them to correct it.
Put forward a solution and work with the council to get it approved.
The Ganim safety net is not having 70 expired terms. The Ganim safety net is having a city of 140,000 that do not really care. So instead of blogging away on OIB or standing up in front of the council lecturing them what they should do, why don’t you try working with them and trying to accomplish some thing possible or run against them in the fall and knock them off.