It’s always nice for a mayor to leave the legislative body a little wiggle room to cut the recommended budget in an election year.
Mayor Bill Finch is not up until 2011, but the City Council will face voters this year. It’s a lot better when they can say we reduced the mil rate beyond the mayor’s recommended budget, decreasing the tax burden, while restoring some cuts and saving jobs.
Council members will not know the full extent of the mayor’s budget until the weekend when they can absorb all the details, although the first council budget sessions are now underway.
The mayor is a political animal, so is Chief of Staff Adam Wood. If they can help council members a little bit, it helps them to govern and be positioned for reelection. And my sense is that the mayor (unless there’s a skunk in the budget) will come out of this budget process smelling much better than last year when his proposed budget took a large chunk out of the library system and raised taxes.
The mayor is gaining traction after a poor start and with revaluation in play a small number of homeowners will receive a small tax cut, a larger middle ground will receive a small increase or nothing at all while some homeowners will get swamped such as Black Rock and his home district Upper East Side. (Has the mayor taxed two high-voting areas beyond their breaking point?)
City bean counters (Budget Director Tom Sherwood, Finance Director Michael Feeney and Chief Administrative Officer Andy Nunn) tend not to be so politically inclined; nor should they, unless the mayor tells them to leave a little wiggle room for the council.
Andy Nunn comes from a unique perspective having served ably for several terms as chief executive of Monroe where voters trudge to the polls multiple times per year to vote on the budget. How much can we cut, and get this thing passed, without cutting too much?
Council members always play around with the recommended budget, but this year they’re running on their own. And although a bunch of Democratic primaries do not appear on the horizon for September that may depend on how this budget shakes out.
For example, Finch and City Council President Tom McCarthy would not look forward to long-time city pol Andy Fardy taking a seat on the council. He’s been talking about running in the 138th council district occupied by Rich Paoletto and council budget co-chair Bob Curwen.
Paoletto has given signals that he may not seek reelection. Fardy would be a big pain in the ass to both Finch and McCarthy, providing another consistently critical voice along with Bob Troll Walsh. Fardy is not happy with the way Finch bounced his wife Pat from the zoning board.
Fardy has lived in that district his entire life so he knows a lot of folk. But Andy’s indomitable personality also grates on a lot of pols as well, including Finch and McCarthy. If Paoletto doesn’t run can they find a candidate to replace him? If so, will Fardy run a primary? See his response under Town Comittee in comments section.
(Footnote to budget: the city’s fund balance is now below $10 million. The city is still looking at a roughly $5 million deficit for this fiscal year, unless the Board of Education comes up with savings. If that doesn’t happen the city’s looking at draining most of the fund balance that was $50 million 10 years ago.)
When a Democrat is married to a Republican it always makes for crackling conversation and especially true when Mary-Jane Foster goes tit for tat with her husband Jack McGregor, a Republican who served in the Pennsylvania state senate, whom legendary political consultant David Garth describes as the most attractive candidate that he ever handled and that includes John Lindsay, Ed Koch, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.
Every good politician now and then must do a little acting so maybe it was Mary-Jane’s early career in acting that has helped her to successfully navigate political waters in the state’s largest city.
Mary-Jane was born and raised in Denver, Colorado where she enrolled in children’s acting classes. She studied drama at the all-women Bennett College in upstate New York. After living in Manhattan for 10 years, she commuted from Fairfield County to New York City where she shot roughly 200 television commercials for clients such as Kodak and Johnson & Johnson.
If you turned on General Hospital or One Life To Live you saw the face of Mary-Jane: the nun, housewife, friendly neighbor next door.
In the mid-1980s she was introduced to McGregor, then chief executive of Aquarion. Mary-Jane’s searing sense of humor complements Jack’s relentless quest for perfection, especially when it comes to the written word. (full disclosure: I recently completed an anecdotal journey of Jack’s life and it was a remarkable experience.)
In January 1993 she and Jack married (they now live in Black Rock). Within a few years they started a development company based on their common love for sports–Jack was the co-founder of the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL franchise–that was the driving force behind creation of the Bridgeport Bluefish.
Mary-Jane infused energy and enthusiasm into the city’s business community, but she also made lots of time to give back to causes such as the United Way and Center for Women and Families. She supports all things Bridgeport.
And oh yeah, Mary-Jane has two engaging kids from a previous marriage, DeVer and Margaret. And she even found time to graduate from Quinnipiac University School of Law.
Mary-Jane and Jack sold their interest in the Bluefish last year to Frank Boulton, entrepreneur of the Atlantic League, who’s building upon the goodwill they share with the city.
What’s next for Mary-Jane? Whatever it is, never boring. Mary-Jane Foster … the Best of Bridgeport.
Catch The Fish
Okay, on the subject of the Bluefish, I’ve got two slammin’ seats for you to the Fish vs. York Revolution, Friday April 24, 7:05 at Harbor Yard. These aren’t just any seats. They are, for my taste, the best in the house, situated in the Harbor Club elevated behind home plate. You can watch the game from your seats or watch from inside the temp-controlled club. Bring your spouse, your babe or your kid.
I’ll make this easy as a giveaway, the first OIB reader to email me at email@example.com who promises to scream to a friend “I love OIB” will enjoy the game. Many thanks to Fish General Manager Todd Marlin for making this happen. Let’s get out and support the Fish.