A Little Help For Friends, Plus: Best Of Bridgeport Mary-Jane Foster, And Fish Tix

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.)

Fostering Relationship

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.

Mary-Jane Foster
Mary-Jane Foster

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 lenniegrimaldi@onlyinbridgeport.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.



  1. Mr. Whipple used to exclaim to Mary-Jane; “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin!”

    Bridgeport and the Probate Court System could use some “Foster Care”!!!

    “Adopt Foster and Care!!!”

    1. Gossip of The Rialto!

      The Gossiping Gourmet observing at the Woods End Deli found Hugh Hallinan, the drop-dead-good-looking Executive Producer of the Downtown Theater discussing “The Roar of the Greasepaint” with owner Fred Kaskowitz. Hallinan was one of the region’s most eligible bachelors ’til he found his wife Cheryl on Match.com. Talk about a “Perfect Match”! Fred’s wife is Bridgeport Nightingale Maureen Hamill. Fred also runs Greystone Catering.

      Hallinan is happy that Smokey Joe’s is sizzling and preparing for “The Man in Black” set for mid-two-weekends in May. The Kingston Trio is booked for August 22, two shows, book now. The Trio had a six million hit in 1958 with “Tom Dooley”.

      Richard Stone, the mild mannered director of the Inner-City Foundation for Diocese of Bridgeport and hoop fan has been named the “Official Ombudsman” for Woods End Deli.

      Continuing the Ecumenical theme were the Lost Tribe of Israel dining at Fred’s. If Austin K. Wolf isn’t breaking Matzoh, he is usually breaking up his table with his dry wit or just plain breaking balls. You can catch their Borscht Belt act at the Woods End every noontime.

      Happy Passover and a Holy Week to all. I’m joining Warren All U Can Buffet today for one of Fred’s knishes.

      They are better than Shlomo’s in the Lower East Side and you won’t have to Cross Delancey Street for one of Fred’s crunchy pickles. As my Bubby used to say; “They’re to die for!”

      Next week’s review may be on the Bridgeport bar scene. Would that make Harry the Gossiping Gourmet? I like my ice cubes well marinated.

      Chow for now!

  2. Until I can get my screen name changed I will post under town committee.
    I plan on running for the council in the 138th district. I decided to run when Rich Paoletto expressed the thought of not seeking reelection due to a job promotion.
    I have all of my support staff lined up and a campaign strategy in place.
    I will seek the nomination from the district town committee. Early indications are positive.
    My run for this office has nothing to do with Finch’s decision on my wife’s zoning appointment. I will address this in this way. It was not the lack of reappointment that was upsetting it was the callous way it was handled. It was the liesFinch put forward when speaking to my wife.
    The reason I am running is to offer the people of my district an alternative. I will be critical of Finch when it is warranted but in being critical I will offer alternatives.
    I am not looking for a job, my family is not looking for jobs and I do not need a job. I will finance my own campaign and will not use city money (stipend) for my expenses.
    I have lived in this neighborhood for 65 years and have watched politician after politician ignore my neighborhood. Flooding problems have been ignored, street paving has been ignored and communication from the mayors office is non-existent.
    Nine armed robberies in a year and no increase in police protection.
    Lennie you are right I know a lot of people here I coached many of the older residents’ kids in Little League and Babe Ruth and now I just finished my 35th year of coaching and I have coached a second generation of kids whose parents came back to the neighborhood.
    The one thing Finch & McCarthy have to worry about is they will get an honest answer to any of their questions. They may not like the answer to their question but it will be an honest answer.
    I am ready and the residents can count on me being available. My only agenda will be to look after the people of my district and the people of Bridgeport.
    It’s time for some straight talk we have had enough BS.

  3. I worked with Andy Fardy as a rookie firefighter and I thought he was a good officer but we never agreed on almost anything until the alarm sounded. I would hope that he gets into the race in the 138th council district.

    The article stated, “Fardy is not happy with the way Finch bounced his wife Pat from the zoning board,” hey I respect any man who defends his wife.

  4. Is the implication here that Andy Fardy will retaliate against Finch for bouncing his wife Pat from the Zoning thing? I too respect anyone who takes a stand in defense of a spouse. But if Fardy is going to interfere so that he can “get even” with Finch, then he should not seek any level of public office.

    1. A position in public service should not be used to get even with anyone. This is so true but this IS Bridgeport! It is a way of life in this City. Ask anyone over in the Public Facilities Dept. Ted goes away with the Navy Reserve and all his subordinates are on crusades against other employees. I would consider these actions to be criminal! You don’t know who you can trust. Can’t go to Charlie, can’t trust him. Labor Relations is a joke. Finch knows what is going on but no action yet. What else is new? I feel a person should be terminated immediately for any personal vendettas while serving in the public interest.

  5. Completely unrelated, but I want to mention that there is a job fair being held in Beacon Hall at Housatonic Community College today from 9:00-2:00. Be there or be square, unless you’re already a square or already have a good job.

  6. So, it looks like Fardy is “Town Committee”. That’s a good thing. Things are looking up when a guy like Fardy enters politics seemingly without a personal agenda. Watch out Machinists!

  7. Yahooy I am town committee. I have not been able to change my screen name. I am pissed with the way Finch handled my wife’s non-reappointment. I can assure you that vendetta is the farthest thing from my mind.
    I am now retired and do not coach baseball any longer and have a ton of free time. So I figured it was time to put up or shut up.
    If Finch is right I will say so if he is wrong I will say so and point out where I think he was wrong.
    I do know that my neighborhood has been getting shortchanged on city services for years and I plan to work on improving that one way or the other. People call me now when they have a problem so why not run?
    Ron thanks for the honest response but I am sure there is something we must have agreed on. I am a Yankee fan and a Giant fan, do we agree there?

  8. Andy,

    My comment was directed more to Mackey. He was the guy implying that your candidacy was retaliatory. For the record, I am delighted that “Town Committee” has decided to seek a post on the Council. I am familiar with and agree with most of “TC”s postings. While I am less familiar with Andrew Fardy, what I have heard would leave me to be confident that your service on the Council would, indeed, serve the people well.

  9. “yahooy,” For the record, in no way was I implying, or saying that Andy Fardy’s candidacy was retaliatory. In fact my remarks were very clear. Andy, you are right about the Yankees and Giants.

  10. “Town Committee”: someone WITH character, not just ANOTHER character, running for City Council.

    Sounds like progress to me … with added applause for Mary-Jane!

  11. Now if the wizard is a wizard with a gizzard the three of you can ask for a brain, a heart, and some courage (the kind that isn’t brewed and bottled by Anheuser-Busch).

  12. *** He’ll have to get Mario’s blessing first! Also, Rich’s uncle may want to come back to the council. If that’s the case, Rich may step down soon with the district t/c’s blessing & the go-ahead to fill the vacancy with his uncle. That move would favor his uncle come endorsement time, leaving other interested candidates running against the machine, so to speak! *** Cappuccino anyone? ***

  13. Mojo, Mojo, Mojo. I don’t need Mario’s blessing and as a member of the 138th TC I think I have a pretty good handle on the endorsement vote. If by some small possibility and I do mean small what you say happens I am geared up for that possibility and I am ready for a primary challenge.

  14. Mojo remains The Cool Dude bar none. His thoughts are uplifting, enthusiastic and full of hope. Mojo has more talent in his little pinky than what’s-his-name has in his whole body < -- third-party validation.


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