An Agitated Electorate, Plus: Russo In Pol Pod

A Quinnipiac poll shows lots of voter trepidation. That’s not good news for some incumbents. Fuel costs, in particular, are a stick in the eye, and state legislative incumbents that have a history of voting for the highest gas taxes in the country would be vulnerable on this one issue. Jodi Rell’s poll numbers, though still very good, dropped, with voter appeal for U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman and Chris Dodd dramatically below the governor. The good news is they’re not running this year.

In 1996 I managed Tom Ganim’s (brother of Joe) race against long-time Republican State Sen. Fred Lovegrove. For a Democrat it’s a death-valley district–Fairfield, Easton, Newtown and Monroe–where Republicans had a major registration advantage. Largely on the strength of the gas tax we had Lovegrove reeling. John Rowland, then a popular governor, hustled to Fairfield to raise money for Lovegrove, and it was just enough for Fred to respond to our attacks and keep his seat. Republicans saw Lovegrove’s grip on the district slipping away and they moved him out for new kid on the block John McKinney, son of the popular Congressman Stewart McKinney. John is now GOP leader in the state senate.

A young incumbent that will not be vulnerable to the gas tax is Rob Russo, who’s only been in office a few months. The Democratic primary Aug. 12 that will select Russo’s November opponent is shaping up more appealing than I first expected. Trumbull Town Treasurer Anthony Musto, the endorsed Democrat, is being challenged by Marilyn Moore, former legislative aide to State Sen. Ed Gomes. Musto is a young, attractive candidate that enjoys the support of the party apparatus. But Moore is proving herself a relentless campaigner, working day and night meeting voters and raising money to try to qualify for the free cash courtesy of the state’s public financing that could keep her competitive. She seems to have the fire in her belly, and she has the support of a number of labor unions and progressives that could provide bodies to turn out a vote primary day. But qualifying for the campaign cash is critical, especially someone so unknown.

Speaking of Russo, he’s in the Pol Pod. Russo won a special election in March after Mayor Bill Finch resigned the seat he had occupied for seven years. One of Russo’s campaign promises was fulfilled a few weeks ago when he announced, with the help of Gov. Jodi Rell and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, that he secured $250,000 for a comprehensive audit of the Board of Education. The ed board has endured one of the most difficult budget cycles in memory with a public demanding a full accounting of where tax dollars are going.

OIB chatted with Russo in his Brooklawn home about his first months in office, the next step in the audit process and two oversight members involved with selecting an auditing firm, including OIB friend Bruce Hubler. {running time 6:18}

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  1. Gossip Of The Rialto!

    Finch Flips Off Friends At Parade.

    Everybody loves a parade. Including everybody loving to go to Bob Keeley’s homestead on Park Ave. to watch the Barnum Festival Parade. It’s a long-standing tradition that all are welcome no matter what side of the political ring you are in.

    Several Finch supporters were on Keeley’s lawn and he gave them the bird droppings dead treatment not even smiling to them as they screamed his name. Every pol knows this house not only that is now Keeley’s, but it was also the late and great John Brannelly clan’s home. Keeley warmly welcomed some of Auden Grogins campaign supporters. Adam “Dead” Wood had even stopped by on a recon mission before the parade. And Finch gives his own supporters including JoAnn Manzo’s Mom the cold shoulder.

    This guy must be suffering from chronic Avian Bird Flu.
    Stay Terned!

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  2. Finch wouldn’t know what a friend looked like if he fell over them. I think Finch is just proving further what an opportunistic, cowardly politician he is, friend today, and enemy tomorrow. Wood is just showing his political ineptness yet again, because his strategies just worked out so well with Farrell against Shays. With Obama as President, and Nancy Pelosi doling out funds who do you think is more likely to get more money Himes or Shays? Shays won’t be able to bring back a nickel.

    Of course people are “friends,” as long as there is something in it for them. Over and over, Finch proved he is very accustomed to that philosophy over and over. The minute you are no longer useful or you cross him or Wood…off with your head. Basically, that is Finch’s Modus Operandi, “what have you done for me lately.” This is the mark of a truly stupid, short-sighted politician. It also makes me think if Finch and Bakalar didn’t work out some deal when she turned traitor. I wonder how Stafstrom feels about his two birdies flying the coop, especially after he threw a high buck fundraiser for Himes on Monday? It is hard to regain power and backing in a party when you blatantly throw yourself at another. If Finch doesn’t want to be a Democrat, let him be like his pal Lieberman and go “independent,” and see how long he lasts. Traitor then traitor now.

    Shays is a chameleon, conscientious objector when it is his ass on the line, and warmonger when it is you, your kid or spouse. Shays is a hotheaded, mean-spirited politician. Ask him why he doesn’t want the Congress Street Bridge open. It is because he fears the “wrong element” will flood down town streets. That Darien blueblood is a man of the wealthy people who only gives a damn about saving his ass, not Bridgeport or Stamford.

    There are plenty of Democratic politicians left in Bridgeport who will proudly, openly support Jim Himes. Himes should embrace them and tell Finch to fly off.

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  3. How many Mayors need to scribble notes on their palms, like they were cheating on a test, when they have lunch with a Reporter?

    For the answer read Charles Walsh in today’s CT Post.

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  4. Yes, clichebpt, there’s a lot of truth to what you’re saying about Shays. But don’t you think you would be trading a chameleon for another potential chameleon? Himes is a very rich man, living in Greenwich, who couldn’t give a rat’s a-s for the poor folks living in Bridgeport. Say what you want about Chris, he’s brought home quite a bit of bacon over the years.
    Once again, his love for and loyalty to Bush, is nothing short of nauseating, and his consequent votes for the Iraq war and Medicare D have put our country in the hands of the oil warlords and the drug companies. But often he crosses the aisle and acts reasonably.
    Himes would have to show me a lot before I would consider a vote for him.

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  5. Himes will be hummin’ the blues when Shays is done with him. And will someone please tell me (Yahooy, you out there) how the CT Post can select a new editor in a few days and Moonbeam can’t pick an economic development director in 7 months.

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  6. Well…Summer Wind…

    It seems that The Connecticut Post and Moonbeam et al are card-carrying assholes. The CT Post has been an asshole for a lot longer than Moonbeam et al so things get done faster.

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  7. HIMES
    Born in Lima, Peru in 1966 to American parents, Jim spent his first 10 years of his childhood in Peru and Colombia while his father worked for the nonprofit Ford Foundation and for UNICEF. As an American abroad, Jim grew up fluent in both Spanish and English and was raised with an awareness of the unique position of the United States in the world – a leader in civil liberties, democratic self-government, and the rule of law, and a beacon of hope and economic opportunity for others around the world.

    Jim’s mother brought Jim and his two sisters back to the United States in time for the bicentennial celebrations of 1976. Like many Americans, Jim grew up with a single working mom in a small town in which he worked just about every job in town – mowing lawns, painting houses, working at the pizza place, the hardware store, and the drug store.

    SHAYS
    Born in Stamford, Connecticut; Shays grew up in Darien, and attended the Christian Science Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, and received an MBA and MPA from New York University. He lives in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Shays is a Christian Scientist; in September 2006, Shays said in an interview that he was questioning his faith.

    Those are just facts – Himes grew up helping people and is bi-lingual. Later his single mom with very little money raised him, he was given nothing, he achieved it himself.

    Shays born and raised in Darien with several silver spoons in his mouth. Life was handed to him on a silver platter.

    Now Con, logically who do you think would be more in touch with the “poor folk” of this world?

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  8. I would assume both Himes and Shays were both “raised with an awareness of the unique position of the United States in the world–a leader in civil liberties, democratic self-government, and the rule of law, and a beacon of hope and economic opportunity for others around the world.”

    I don’t know that Shays was raised with a silver spoon. I do know he started out as a state rep many years ago and has been consistently strong regarding Bridgeport’s interests once he got to Congress. He seems above-board and sincerely interested in good government.

    I made a statement a while back about Greenwich hedge fund guys that was not really fair and Himes does seem a good sort. (Judging by his TV commercial and this blog.)

    But from what I have seen Shays do to date and on issues I deem important, Shays remains my choice.

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  9. The Connecticut Post is the go-to paper if you’re looking for news about Milford or the Valley or to see if one of your neighbors just dropped dead. Remember their motto: The Connecticut Post: Yesterday’s News Tomorrow.

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  10. RE Charlie Walsh’s Column
    “I think that there is a feeling out there that we haven’t been doing much since I took office,” he [Finch] says, “and I don’t think that’s true at all.”
    No, Mayor. The feeling is that you haven’t done ANYTHING since taking office.
    And if the best thing that you can come up with is you are sweeping the streets and towing cars when they get in the way as another hidden tax on Bridgeport residents then you haven’t done anything since taking office. Today is your seven-month anniversary since taking office. And the only thing you can come up with is we are cleaning the streets. You should have started with cleaning out City Hall. How pathetic.

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  11. Haha, come on cliche, if you’re going to attack Shays, do it on the issues. That was the most one-sided argument. What about Shays’ time in the Peace Corps? No “poor folk” there? I think his wife still works for them. You want to make an argument about the war or his ties with Bush, you got a good point, but that’s just petty sniping.

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  12. I was addressing a remarks by Con about Himes and his upbringing. If you want me to go down the Iraq path I’ll be happy to. There are also plenty of other paths too. I just happened to be addressing the issue of upbringing.

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  13. So you know what jobs Shays held as a kid and he didn’t mow lawns or paint houses??? I was born in Fairfield and I worked as a janitor in a deli and painted houses growing up. So I don’t care about poor people? Save that stuff for the comments page on the CT Post website, that’s where you find most of that junk.

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  14. con filardi – you should have been outside enjoying this nice day instead of typing that HUGE posting on Shays. I always voted for him even tho I’m a democrat, but he turned me off big time when he started kissing up to Bush and taking those trips to Iraq that don’t accomplish a damn thing. Himes has my vote this time.

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  15. clichebpt: Since you are posting resumes here’s Chris Shays’ resume from Wikipedia. You sought to quote only the first paragraph as set forth in Wikipedia, now here’s “the rest of the story”.
    “Chris Shays
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    (Redirected from Christopher Shays)
    Chris Shays

    Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
    from Connecticut’s 4th district
    Incumbent
    Assumed office August 18, 1987
    Preceded by Stewart McKinney
    Born October 18, 1945 (age 62)
    Stamford, Connecticut
    Political party Republican
    Spouse Betsi DeRaismes Shays
    Children Jeramy Alice Shays
    Religion Christian Science[1]
    Christopher H. Shays (born October 18, 1945) is an American politician, has been a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives since 1987, representing the 4th District of Connecticut, which includes 17 towns in Southwest Connecticut.[2]
    He is the only House Republican currently serving from New England. All the others were defeated in the 2006 midterm elections.
    Contents [hide]
    1 Background
    2 Political career
    2.1 Political views
    2.1.1 Voting age
    2.1.2 Views on Iraq
    2.2 Policy
    2.2.1 Campaign Finance Reform
    2.2.2 National Security
    2.3 2006 election
    2.4 Committee Assignments
    3 Controversies
    4 See also
    5 Notes
    6 External links
    [edit]Background

    Born in Stamford, Connecticut; Shays grew up in Darien, and attended the Christian Science Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, and received an MBA and MPA from New York University. He was a member of the Connecticut state house of representatives from 1975 to 1987 before his election to Congress. He lives in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, Connecticut.[3] Shays is a Christian Scientist; in September 2006, Shays said in an interview that he was questioning his faith.[4][5]
    Shays married the former Betsi DeRaismes in 1968. They served together in the Peace Corps in Fiji from 1968 to 1970.They have one daughter.
    [edit]Political career

    In 1987, he was elected to the US House of Representatives in a special election held to fill the vacant seat of the late Stewart McKinney. Between 1988 and 2004, Shays easily won re-election each time by margins between 34,000 and 53,000 votes.[6]
    In 2004, however, Shays defeated Democratic opponent Diane Farrell, a Westport First Selectwoman, by a margin of 5 percentage points to win reelection.[7] In that race, Shays eschewed the use of negative television ads, despite pleas from some Republicans to do so.[8] The district, like the rest of the state, had swung heavily toward the Democrats in recent years; the Democratic candidate has carried the district in the last four presidential elections.
    Now in his eleventh term in the 110th Congress, Shays serves on the Government Reform, Financial Services, and Homeland Security Committees.
    Shays and his spouse are now well-known, prominent residents of Bridgeport. Prior to moving there in 2000 Shays was a long time resident of Stamford, which he had represented in the CT House of Representatives for many years prior to his election to Congress.
    [edit]Political views

    Shays is interviewed in a charity facility. In the far background is U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman; in the middle is Curt Welling, president of the charity (AmeriCares).
    Described in the press as a social liberal in the style of a “Rockefeller Republican”,[9] Shays labels himself a fiscal conservative.[10] US News & World Report says that analysis of Shays’ voting record reveals that he is a moderate, having voted historically more often with liberals than with conservatives, although it notes he voted with Congressional Republicans 80% of the time in 2002.[11] Shays has listed former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich as his political inspiration, saying “Newt Gingrich is my hero.”[12]
    Shays is labeled by his supporters as a “maverick”[13] and “independent thinker”, while conservative detractors regard him as a RINO (“Republican in name only”).[14] Shays is pro-choice on abortion and although he voted for the 2003 ban on partial birth-abortions, he had voted against the bill numerous times prior to that along with most other restrictions on the procedure. [13][15] Shays was endorsed by the Brady Campaign for his support for gun control and was one of only six Republicans to vote against banning lawsuits against gun manufacturers and distributors in 2005.[16]. Shays generally votes with the Democratic Party on matters affecting gays and lesbians; he has voted against the federal marriage amendment and co-sponsored a bill to overturn the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. He is one of the few Republicans to oppose amending the constitution to ban flag-burning. In 1999 he was one of 20 Republicans to vote against an ultimately failed bill to ban physician assisted suicide. The Congressman has long been known for environmental regulations,[10] and was endorsed in the past election by the League of Conservation Voters.[17] He also advocates humane treatment of animals[18] and ending discrimination in the workplace.[19]
    In April of 2005, he broke with most of his party over House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s alleged ethics violations. This made Shays the first Republican to say DeLay should step down from the Majority Leader post. He fought to maintain the Republican Party rule that requires an indicted leader to step down — the rule that ultimately resulted in Tom DeLay’s resignation. Shays stated that he should resign, saying, “Tom’s conduct is hurting the Republican Party, is hurting this Republican majority and it is hurting any Republican who is up for re-election.”[20]
    Shays is a member of or supported by the Republican Main Street Partnership,[21] The Republican Majority For Choice,[22] Republicans for Environmental Protection,[23] It’s My Party Too,[24] and the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus.
    [edit]Voting age
    In a documentary entitled 18 in ’08, Shays said, “I think we made a mistake lowering the voting age to 18. I think it happened basically out of guilt, that we were sending people off to war. And we said, well, if they’re old enough to die, then they’re old enough to vote.”[1] When questioned about this, the film’s director and producer, David Burstein, responded, “I think what [Shays] was trying to say was that there was a lot of work that went into getting young people the right to vote. There was a constitutional amendment passed for it. And young people have not lived up to what the potential or the expectation or the hope was at the time when politicians passed the amendment.”[2]
    [edit]Views on Iraq
    Shays voted in favor of the 2003 Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. In 2003, he was the first U.S. Congressman to visit Iraq after the outbreak of war and he has traveled to Iraq 14 times overall, more than any other U.S. legislator.[25]
    From 2003 until August 24, 2006, Shays was a “stalwart supporter” of the War in Iraq, and of a continued US military presence there.[26][27] Shays has faced a continued political challenge to his views in a district where recent polls show a solid majority of voters disapprove of the 2003 US decision to invade Iraq.[28]
    On April 10, 2003, Shays told the Connecticut Post that “The war plan has been nearly flawless.”[29] On August 19, 2004, Shays told reporters, “We’re on the right track now.”[30] On June 24, 2005, Shays said “We’ve seen amazing progress [in Iraq].”[31] On July 27, 2005, Shays said on a local radio program that he was optimistic about the future of Iraq, and that he opposed any timetable for troop withdrawal.[32]On June 11, 2006 Shays told the Hartford Courant that his position on the war was a matter of principle and he was not going to stop talking about it.[14]
    Upon returning from an August, 2006 Iraq trip, Shays explained that his previous views on Iraq had changed, and Shays became the first Congressional Republican to call for a timetable for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.[26] Shays said he is still a supporter of the war, but supports a timetable in order to “encourage some political will on the part of Iraqis”.[33]
    Shays has angrily disputed media claims that he has flipflopped his position on Iraq.[34] “I am not distancing myself from the President,” he told the Los Angeles Times on August 25, 2006.[35] That same day, he told other reporters, “I totally support the war.”[36]
    On February 16th, 2007, Shays voted against H. Con. Res. 63 (which disapproved of increasing troop levels in Iraq) [3] claiming that “The resolution sends the wrong message to the President, to our troops, and to our enemies” [4]
    On July 13, 2007 Shays called on Congress to approve withdrawing virtually all American troops from Iraq by December 2008. “I believe we need a timeline. I believe the president’s wrong,” said Shays. Shays’ latest plan marks the first time he has specified dates.[5]
    On April 13 2008, Shays defended President Bush’s Iraq policy to a town meeting in his home district, telling them, “I support the President on Iraq.”[6]
    [edit]Policy
    [edit]Campaign Finance Reform
    Along with Representative Marty Meehan, a Massachusetts Democrat, Shays cosponsored the Shays-Meehan bill, which was signed into law as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. The American Civil Liberties Union “believes that key elements of Shays-Meehan violate the First Amendment right to free speech because the legislation contains provisions that would violate the constitutionally protected right of the people to express their opinions about issues through broadcast advertising if they mention the name of a candidate and restrict soft money contributions and uses of soft money for no constitutionally justifiable reason.”[37] The Supreme Court upheld the law (McConnell v. Federal Election Commission). Shays introduced legislation in the 1990s advocating forced universal national service (draft)
    [edit]National Security
    After a series of leaks from within the FBI, CIA, and NSA regarding the disputed legality of surveillance Shays chaired a hearing on National Whistleblower Protection[38] This hearing was largely opposed by the Republican leadership and the Bush administration, which was attempting to strip intelligence employees of whistleblower protections. The witness list included members of the military, the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA who had come forward about such issues as warrantless eavesdropping and the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq[39]
    [edit]2006 election
    Main article: Connecticut 4th congressional district election, 2006

    Shays at a political debate held at Fairfield University in October 2006
    In 2006, Shays was in “the fight of his political life”,[11] facing a strong challenge for reelection from former Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, his opponent in 2004. According to U.S. News & World Report, “With money pouring in from the district and from national groups (Farrell expects to raise close to $3 million, Shays a bit less) and unregulated political interest groups targeting Shays with automated calls and negative telemarketing designed as polls, this one already has the odor of ugly.”[11] According to the US News report, Farrell says that, in 2002, Shays voted in support of Bush’s post-9/11 agenda 80% of the time, but other analyses of his voting record reveals that historically he voted more often with liberals.[11]
    Despite the strong challenge from Farrell, Shays was re-elected to Congress in the 2006 election by a slim margin of 6645 votes (3%). Shays lost Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Weston to Farrell, but her margin in those communities was insufficient to overcome Shays’s lead in the more Republican towns in the district.
    After the defeats of Nancy Johnson and Rob Simmons, Shays is the only Republican member of the House from Connecticut, and the only Republican from all of New England. There are, however, four Republican U.S. Senators still remaining in New England, (Judd Gregg and John E. Sununu of New Hampshire, and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine), as well as three Republican governors (Don Carcieri of Rhode Island, Jim Douglas of Vermont, and M. Jodi Rell of Connecticut).
    [edit]Committee Assignments
    Oversight and Government Reform Committee
    Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs (Ranking Member)
    Subcommittee on Domestic Policy
    Financial Services Committee
    Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises
    Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity
    Homeland Security Committee
    Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment
    Co-founded the Congressional National Service Caucus
    Co-Chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus
    Co-Chair of the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus
    Co-Chair of the Nonproliferation Task Force
    [edit]Controversies

    Shays outside the Capitol in June 2007
    In December 2003 Shays urged New Year’s Eve revelers not to attend celebrations like the one at Times Square saying it was irresponsible for officials to make people think they don’t need to avoid packed crowds like Times Square because of the nation’s heightened terror alert. Shays told WVIT-TV he wouldn’t go to Times Square “for anything.” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded that extra precautions were being taken to keep revelers safe adding that Shays should show more confidence in the “world’s greatest police department” and that Shays could use an infusion of courage.
    During the 2006 Congressional election, a week after Ted Kennedy had campaigned in Connecticut for Farrell, Shays was questioned about the Mark Foley scandal. Shays said, “Dennis Hastert didn’t kill anybody,” referring to the 1969 Chappaquiddick incident involving Senator Kennedy.[40] Farrell criticized Shays for making this claim noting, “This is symptomatic of Chris losing his composure in a tight race.” A spokeswoman for Kennedy said, “This just makes clear the real need for change in November. Beyond that, I’m not going to dignify such a desperate attack with a response.” Shays has since apologized.[41]
    Regarding Abu Ghraib, Shays stated, “It was outrageous, outrageous involvement of National Guard troops….who were involved in a sex ring and they took pictures of soldiers who were naked, and they did other things that were just outrageous. But it wasn’t torture.”[42] Later, Shays clarified his remarks, saying: “It was torture because sex abuse is torture. It was gross and despicable … This is more about pornography than torture.”[43]
    In 2007 Shays raised his voice to a Capitol Hill policeman, and touched the officer’s badge to read the number for not letting tourists through a doorway. “I take full responsibility for this incident and want to ensure it does not reflect negatively on the officer in any way,” he added.[7][8]
    In November 2007 the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality,endorsed Shays as a “Powerslate Candidate” for the 2008 elections. Shay has long been an advocate for the GLBT community by defeating the Federal Marriage Amendment, cosponsoring ENDA, and voting against the codification of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. [9]
    Shays has issued the House Republican leadership an ultimatum–unless he is promised the ranking Republican slot on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, he will retire and not seek re-election in 2008. Most pundits believe that if Shays retires, the 4th will almost certainly be taken over by a Democrat. The fact that Shays is the only Republican congressman from New England has given him additional clout as the Republicans struggle to hold onto seats in the 2008 elections.[10]”

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  16. Black rockin – and we are not alone, a lot of people are voting against Shays this time out. Himes is a decent guy and I think he would be a good congressman. He’s a self-made guy, nobody handed him anything, he worked for it. I can’t wait to see the whole Bush administration out of the white house, they are ruining this country. They shafted the poor and middle class citizens, all they want is for the rich to get richer, and they did a damn good job of it.

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  17. More from Charlie Walsh
    Schools: “I’d really like to have more control over education spending. As long as I am going to be blamed for the poor schools, at least I should be in a place to be able do something about them.”
    OMG. Just think of the mess that the Birdman could do here. Just like Ganim and Fabrizi, they never talk about fixing the schools just getting their hands on the money.

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  18. This just in, more from Charlie Walsh
    Parks: “We should not be called the Park City anymore; we are the city that builds schools and firehouses in its parks.”
    Maybe this is because the Director of Parks and Recreation is a former electrician before he was named Fabrizi’s CAO. Building trades is all he knows. If Finch doesn’t like this, get rid of him and quit whining.
    So what does the Birdman want to do? Buy the land in Trumbull that DiNardo owns and put a Bridgeport School up there? That was part of the Fabrizi master plan. So sad. So, so sad.

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  19. Grin Reaper, I agree with you. It is sad and the Bridgeport taxpayers don’t know the half of it. There is NO ONE in this or the former administration with any leadership qualities or vision whatsoever. It is very frustrating to be a career employee and watch these clueless people call the shots.

    The Parks Director is a joke. His idea of managing the dept. is to follow the guys around all day in his car and watch them work. He’s not qualified to do anything else. I don’t even think he can use his email. He has his girlfriend (CAO’s overpaid secretary) read and respond for him. Fortunately there’s a good parks staff who carry the load.

    Tom Sherwood: My entry would be longer than Con’s #13 if I started about him. Devious. Spiteful. Revengeful. Unprofessional. Liar. Power hungry. Fabrizi-spy.

    Mike Feeney has instituted a computer program where the accountants have to sign in and out everytime they go to the bathroom. Don’t know what this program costs but thank God we have it in case someone tries to steal an extra minute or two during break. Come on Mike. We are dealing with professionals here. Why can’t you show a little respect?

    Andy Nunn seems like a nice guy but no one ever sees him. No management meetings. No staff meetings. No interaction with the employees whatsoever. How do you have your finger on the pulse of the city if you stay in your office all day and NEVER interact with the employees?

    Labor Relations is a dumping ground for overpaid politicians. Finch is expecting huge givebacks from the unions this year. But instead of Labor Relations sitting down and negotiating with the unions, they hired a high-priced consultant to do their job for them. Now as a dues-paying union member myself, I ask you, why is there no money for the workers yet there is money to pay a consultant? Why doesn’t Finch MAKE Labor Relations earn an honest day’s pay and do their own negotiating. And if there is no one in there qualified then get rid of them and bring in people who are willing to work.

    If I seem angry and frustrated it’s because I am. Like many other employees, I see the waste everyday and it makes me sick. These so-called managers and department heads are some of the least qualified we’ve ever seen. And good people like Rina and Barry get fed up and leave. We are losing all the talent and getting stuck with the dregs. We were all hopeful that Finch would get rid of the old Fabrizi people and bring in the best and the brightest. We’re still waiting.

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  20. Here’s an idea. Bring back Dennis Murphy, Ned Winterbottom and Mike Freimuth. And when is Joe Ganim getting out? Bring him back too. The City ran much better when these guys were running the show. And Lennie – you can come back too!

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  21. Listen to Russo’s interview about the Board of Ed audit. Love the phrase “low hanging fruit.” I will use it from now on when referring to the Fabrizi leftovers.

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  22. Political Addict: You called some pretty straight shots in your observations. I see them as well. I don’t like to blog in my career position, because if they find you out, they come for you, but at this point, how much worse can it get. Career Civil Servants have been stripped of protection and benefits. Those things are now for the politcally motivated and connected. Serving the public for the right reasons no longer carries any merit.

    It strikes odd to me, that Mr. Feeney, who so wholeheartely represented the town of Stratford on the Airport Commission during his City Manager position of that town, can now sit on that commission in full benefit of the city of Bridgeport by virtue of his Finance Director position. He must be a most extraordinary person to be able to disconnect himself now from Stratford’s best interests, where he lives, and vote wholeheartedly in the best interests of the city of Bridgeport. Miraculous indeed. Or else, could it be, a conflict of interest? Hard to tell, after all he is a most extraordinary man.

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  23. check out the front page story in the Post about Shelton getting a $2 million grant from the State to do infrastructure improvements for an economic development deal. The developer, John Guedes, Bridgeport developer mind you, is doing a $250 million development in Shelton. So the State puts up their third installment matched by Shelton bonding $2 million.
    Now where is the Bridgeport delegation? Ah yes, I remember, $500,000 for the lights and field at Ellsworth Park. Where is Keeley? Where is the State delegation? For over a year, the Canyon Johnson $250 million deal, the Downtown North III $80 million deal, and the 333 State $20 million deal has been waiting for the State to put $10 million at CHFA to match the GE MONEY. OVER A YEAR. So where again is the Bridgeport delegation? So where again is Keeley? Ah yes, lights for Ellsworth park. We need a strong delegation. We need bright intelligent people who learn to work the Hartford system. In the Pol Pod, Russo admits it takes time to learn the Hartford process, but at least he is learning and delivering in the short time he is up there. Sure he is Republican and so is the Gov. but good for Bridgeport, we are getting some state bucks coming our way.

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  24. By the way, an earlier blogger complimented Keeley for fighting the jail on the river. Have you gone down Water Street lately? That ‘jail’ is now a pretty nice looking court complex that looks like a school campus. The crappy environmental pollution is gone and that court campus is going to help those kids that have been suffering in that rat trap on the other side of town. Take a ride down Water Street and see for yourself. It is quite a positive change for the City to be proud of. Instead of fighting with the State, maybe a compromising position would be more effective. Now where is our State delegation again? Where is Keeley? Ah yes, throwing stones and daggers when we should be working on building positive coalitions.

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  25. I find it odd now Mr. Grimaldi, that my post of 9:14 pm is delayed and still in moderation whilst others after mine are available for public view. Have I touched on something you personally would prefer not be public? While reading the blog, I did not think it was censored, but I have to wonder now if it is, and how well connected you still are to the inappropriate goings on at city hall. One would think lessons would be learned along the way. I have stated nothing but “facts”. Nothing made up or dramatized. Of course, I’m sure there is a perfectly logical explanation for the delay of my posting…blah blah blah. Soft spot for Feeney?

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  26. Mr. Grimaldi: Thanks for the Welcome. I had to get that off my chest. It just bugs me. Amidst a myriad of other things, that one really eats at me. Thanks for the posting. I’ll sleep better now. Said and done, I sure hope someone cares. If not, I’ve at least said it.

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  27. countdown

    You raise some fair points. BUT!

    You advocate taking earmarked money for Congress Street Bridge for GE match. Juvenile Detention Center does look nice although one would hope that we could have had a better location providing some economic spinoff. Canyon Johnson has not even gone through the zoning process. 333 State Street was held in abeyance by a flawed process that allowed Greenfield Development to bail out. Mark Anastasi said we were going to own that property for a minute. No Offense Mark, but the clock is still ticking.

    Many of the projects you are talking about sans Shelton infrastructure work are in double jeopardy with collapse of credit markets. Even John Guedes is going to be challenged in this economic environmnet. Don’t forget last time I checked the Governor is a republcan.

    Give me a break regarding Downtown North III. Anderson and his Urban Green are in deep shit and Ginsberg has taken over some of the day to day operations. You can make book on this bet. Downtown North III will be like the Congress Plaza redevelopment plan, 1967 and still waiting.

    You can blame Keeley all you want. The State delegation is not charged with creating economic development policy for the city. The Mayor and his team are the ones with that responsibility.

    Speaking of infrastructure. Does Bridgeport even have an Infrastucture Study on the books. Look at the lack of infrastructure at the 7-11 Firehouse in Black Rock. Oh yeah, by the way, bonding money will be coming from Keeley for that house any day now.

    This City has no vision. It has a jump on the bandwagon mentality (housing) and has not attracted a major employer in years. I’m talking major league jobs. Jodi Rell announced today tax credit money for GenRe in Stamford to move to smaller headquarters in Stamford. I don’t care about GE’s pissy 25 million. It’s insulting that we allowed Zurich Re to pay us off for 10 million not to come to Bridgeport. I want them and other companies to be mandated by the State that if they want to build and create jobs with tax credits that it must be developed in Bridgeport. With the high energy costs and transportation issues, we are well positioned to market our location to these type companies.

    Housing is great and expensive. We need real buildings with real jobs, and real taxes. Do that and everything else will fall into place.

    Too many people in city planning have never had to make a payroll and grow a business. They have sniffed too much glue from all the models they have built. I have lived here for 28 years and we are still talking about the same old bullshit. Intermodal, Harbor, Steal Point, Seaview Avenue, and on and on and on.

    Still no Economic Development Director and it’s July and a policy that is like Paul Timpanelli’s BRBC and his singing group’s name, YesterYear.

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  28. Tom Kelly quote:

    “I have lived here for 28 years and we are still talking about the same old bullshit.”

    Tom imagine living here 38 years and we are still talking about the same old bullshit.

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  29. Lennie:
    It sounds as if another Public Servant is trying to extort you.

    Great second Pol Pod interview with Rob Russo. You hear how much smarter Russo sounds when compared to Cheese Mac on the first Pol Pod “poor” performance?

    It’s bedtime!

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  30. Grin Reaper: I could not let this one go. What parks were sold to build a firehouse and a school. None!!! Engine 10 was built on the former site of 3-story, 6-family tenements that were burnt out and then demolished. Fences and grass were planted to stop the illegal dumpers and to make the site look clean. It was not a park. There are many of these sites around the city and all were former tenements and derelict commercial buildings that were torn down. Two examples of this are the Kuchma project on Fairfield Ave and Walgreens on Fairfield & Park Ave both will be providing much needed tax revenue. Charles Walsh is full of it and did a typical CT post reporting job.

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  31. Tom Kelly:

    Great comments and an accurate take on Bridgeport’s seemingly unshakeable malaise

    At the risk of oversimplifying Bridgeport’s problem(s), let me suggest that as in most aspects of human endeavor, it’s the quality of the people (individually and collectively) that makes the real difference.

    Name any organization you like. Business, government, education, athletics or politics… anywhere where accomplishment or failure can be measured… and you’re likely to find three categories of people: those who make things happen; those who watch things happen; and those who WONDER what happened.

    Now draw your own conclusions about which category is home to the greatest number of Bridgeport politicians.

    And that’s why it’s the same old BS year in and year out.

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  32. Regarding building schools etc on parkland, the current Central High School was built in what was known as Beech’s Woods, the City is negotiating a lease with Discovery Museum to build a magnet school on Veteran’s park land (and the Discovery Museum is built on park land) and there is a proposal to build a school on Farichild Park (land in Trumbull owned by Bridgeport) and a fourth high school to be built in Rogers Park (Frenchtown Road and Old Town Road) I’m not sure if Blackham School was built on park land)

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  33. I’ve been here for 58 years and am still waiting. I can remember nearly every election cycle when the architectural drawings for a new project would be presented by the incumbent to tout a “Brand New Bridgeport.”

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  34. A BRAND NEW BRIDGEPORT:

    one where politicians and elected officials are not on the city payroll

    one where developers are welcomed and encouraged by paid staff not greedy officials

    one where a difference of opinion is accepted so long as all parties can keep their cool

    one where a republican or independent can serve on a board and the democratic majority doesn’t get their noses out joint

    one where the FBI doesn’t need a permanent office

    one where big shots pay their taxes

    one where the mayor appoints people who care about the city and the citizens

    one where our history, environment, and cultural diversity are protected and enhanced.

    I’ve been waiting 57 yrs; have been here, left and came back…and still waiting. I expect to eventually be waiting when I’m in St. Michaels.

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  35. Independent Soul

    Sounds like you are talking about Stamford.

    Wouldn’t it be great to get the MORONS out of Bridgeport politics so that influential CEOs would consider our town an attractive place for relocation?

    Can you imagine the CEO of Pitney Bowes sitting down with a guy like Finch?

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  36. Yahooy:

    It could be something like Stamford. I do have a lot of personal experience and knowledge of the place, but it also is like every other place that gets the action when Bridgeport is constantly bypassed (no thanks to the local and state elected folks).

    BTW, why did Finch budget for more planners when he hasn’t filled the top job and the the planning staff we have can’t get a crane in the air? In the corporate world, their productivity would get them the boot out the door.

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  37. Good question. You know who has the answer? The bullshitter and Harvard-trained Ethicist…Kieth Rodgerson. Moonbeam hired him at a measly $25 an hour, a payback for a political accommodation.

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  38. I spent a quarter of a century intimately involved with developing Stamford and when I try to get involved with my home town of B’port I’m not given an iota of consideration. I know it’s all political. I’ve come to the realization that things will never change. My friends and family were all correct when they began to bail out of here. I guess the handwriting is on the wall.

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  39. I tell a story about the time, in 1972, when I took my wife from our home in Greenwich to the movie theater in downtown Stamford to see The Godfather. As I pulled into the parking lot I decided that there was no way I was 1: going to park my car in such a slum and 2: I was not going to endanger my wife nor I by walking across the street just to get to the box office. Today, I often spend $35 to park in that same lot so that I can cross the same street to see some of the fine theatrical and musical perfomances in one of the most beautiful, desirable and “safest” neighborhoods in the area.

    Wake up “Machinists”!!! Take a hike. Let guys like Hubler run this town and watch the same thing happen to Bridgeport.

    The apathetic voter community in Bridgeport are hereby anointed Philistines of the Week for allowing the bums to keep their seats in office thereby keeping Bridgeport from developing like the surrounding communities. Shelton is a prime example.

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  40. The Stamford Mayor and delegation did it again. Today, the Post is reporting that it’s a $9 million state loan and $19 million in State tax credits to keep General Re in Stamford by moving them to the old Xerox headquarters on Long Ridge Road. I’m sorry to beat this horse again but Russo seems to be positioning himself to help Bridgeport and knows how important it is to build respect and coalitions. I know he is a republican and at this time, in this place, that is a good thing for Bridgeport. I know the Keeley and Auden G race also hits a hot button with lots of people but it seems to me that a practicing lawyer on her way to earning the stripes to be a judge would need to be effective in Hartford. That could be very good for Bridgeport. Sure there is a past to everyone but for each candidate running for primary and office, the litmus test is do they have the personality, smarts and skills to get Bridgeport positioned to bring home the state resources. Put emotion and baggage aside. How about a little logic and expectation for excellence? If her motivation is to one day be a judge, gee a job for life, just maybe her motivation will be to work even harder for Bridgeport. This City deserves the best and we need to figure that out starting with this election.

    As for that Black Rock firehouse, I sure hope Keeley, Chief Rooney and the Mayor are on the same wavelength … that new firehouse should be built fronting on Fairfield Avenue where those houses burned. The old station should be torn down and the property sold for a taxable use after the new station is built. Knowing Keeley’s behavior, I bet he hasn’t figured out the details and whatever does materialize will be a half a loaf. But maybe I’ll be surprised. That firestation needs to go right out on Fairfield Avenue to decrease their response time. When Fairfield Metro is built that area of town will be very very busy.

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  41. COUNTDOWN STOLE MY THUNDER!!!

    STAMFORD RETAINS GEN RE

    STAMFORD — One of the reinsurance industry’s major players, and employer of 800 people here, has decided to remain in the city, but it will be moving into a new home.

    General Reinsurance Corp. has negotiated a 20-year lease for nearly 300,000 square feet at 120 Long Ridge Road, a property occupied by GE Energy Financial Services, and owned by Building & Land Technology, a Norwalk property developer.

    The GE unit plans to move in 2009 to the former Xerox Corp. headquarters at 800 Long Ridge Road, also owned by the Norwalk company.

    “I never imagined them going anywhere else. I’ve been involved in these negotiations for about a year,” said Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy. “They looked at other locations, but these folks have a fondness for Stamford. They have a large investment in Stamford. We run a city that companies and individuals want to be in.”

    HEY Finch! Negotiated with any $Billion CEOs lately?

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  42. I also noticed that GE Capital is moving to bigger space WITHIN Stamford. Great municipal management…just Great!

    Finch…you couldn’t pull something like that off in a million years.

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  43. New poll out and Obama up 21 points in Ct. According to the latest Quinnipiac University poll Obama defeats McCain 56-35%. This is bad news for Shays

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  44. Countdown; I agree with much of what you have said in your last post except for the Auden Grogins part. Listen she has had ample opportunity to prove herself. She has served on the common council and has been the president of the BOE. She did a miserable job on the council and was Pat Crossin’s clone. While President of the BOE she allowed for runaway spending and no accountability for the BOE administrators.The only thing she will be working for if sent to Hartford is herself.
    I’m no big fan of Keeley either. Someone with his seniority should be bringing big bucks back to BPT, he really is not doing that.
    This goes back to what Yahooy and others have expressed we are sending morons to Hartford and electing them in Bridgeport.
    Having said all that I guess I support the moron with seniority over the I don’t have a clue moron trying to unseat him.
    BTW this and the other primaries have Finch and Stafstrom fingerprints all over it.

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  45. Sorry to point this out again but you’ll remember when Moonbeam was running for mayor he said “we’re on the five yard line”. So why not give the guy a chance. He’s now in a huddle with his teammates and they are trying to determine whose five yard line they’re on. My understanding is that they have just received a penalty for delaying the game. – Is it a touchback?

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  46. Black Rockin I agree. If Obama wins by 21 I don’t see any way Shays can win. I really feel this year is the year he loses. The Reason is Bridgeport will have record number of people voting. My second reason is Stamford and Norwalk will vote for Himes big this year. Usually Shays loses in those cities but he makes them competitive. The results from 2006 from Stamford Farrel 16,589 53% Shays 14,043 46%. Now Norwalk Farrel 10,905 49% Shays 10,726 49%. So do you see my point is that these two cities will at least give Jim Himes a 5,000 vote lead this year just because Obama is on the ticket.

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  47. countdown

    I don’t think Keeley or anyone else is against relocation and new house for 7-11 in Black Rock. Keeley doesn’t even have a say where that firehouse should go. It’s a city decision and property. He can only assist and has in getting money.

    Finally, the Stamford Delegation had nothing to do with GenRe’s money. Hate to give you a political science lesson but the Lt. Governor Mike Fedele is from Stamford.
    They have the goods and we don’t in more ways than one. As many people have pointed out ad nauseum, we don’t even have an economic development director.

    10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1…Blastoff! Bridgeport we have a problem.

    I don’t think you can position that firehouse at the location, where the burned-out houses are, that you suggest. The better location is next to Ted’s Bait and Tackle with 3 multi-families that in the rear abut one of Sal DiNardo’s properties on Monroe Street. Perhaps the Traffic Engineer that no longer works for the city could comment on that. Grin Reaper for unearthing that piece of info.

    Listen Auden is smart. She can kiss her ass goodbye for a Judgeship. Maybe she’ll next want a Probate Judgeship. When she was on the City Council she voted every year against the budget based on the cost of education. This was a smart political move to pander to her electorate in Black Rock. Then she runs for BOE all of a sudden and is the education maven. She in her leadership positions should be held accountable for the Board’s lack of accomplishments.

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  48. There’s no need to relocate the firehouse. It’s perfectly located right where it is and all it needs is some shoring up and possibly some refurbishment. – We’ve got enough debt already. This city has a debt of $694,000,000 (that’s almost 3/4 of a billion) and the interest alone amounts to $71,000,000/year.

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  49. Gossip Of The Rialto!

    “Bump And Rind”

    Various news outlets are reporting of the beneficial qualities of the rind of the watermelon. It is said that it possesses many of the elevating qualities of Viagra.

    I love going down on a good piece of Watermelon, but the rind sounds like the pits to me. I think all I would get would be a stiff………

    Neck!!!

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  50. Countdown,
    Let me see if I’ve got this right. The voters in Bridgeport should elect an attorney as state rep because she wants to be a judge for life.
    And somehow if we do this, Bridgeport will get tax breaks and tax credits like Stamford does to keep and expand businesses that don’t exist.
    Simply amazing logic there!

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  51. Countdown,
    Praises the jail for juveniles on the river. Singing the same chorus as the BRBC. Commends the state for building such an architectural tribute to some small-minded juvenile courthouse judges.
    Yet does countdown remember that it was the corrupt Ganim administration that selected the site because they were offered money not to build it on another site further away from downtown. And it was the corrupt Rowland administration that steered contracts for the building to pay back his political pals.
    And the incompetent development staff of the Fabrizi administration had the chance to send this idea down the river but instead plowed under a potential development site and compounded that problem by building a big-ass bus stop on the adjoining land.
    This is why the state of Connecticut doesn’t give us money. We are stupid enough to think that this is good economic development while Stamford understands that jobs are what work not prisons.
    Countdown wants a fire station on Fairfield Ave. How insane is that? Where was Countdown when the city vacated the fire house and left Black Rock with no fire protection? And she is now concerned about quicker response times? Let’s take valuable property on the only main avenue in Bridgeport that is showing any real development potential and put a firehouse there for when Fairfield develops their new Metro Center. I nominate Countdown for Finch’s new Economic Development Director. With birdbrain ideas like this they should get along swell! Next to the firehouse let’s put in the new girls juvenile detention center. Bridgeport development geniuses like the idea of firehouses next to detention centers. Instead of another train station we can put in another bus station and then we can have a Countdown to Finch’s final days.

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  52. Here is a good smelling story about a local young man making good.

    Daniel Schofield-Bodt was the Barnum Festival King about 6 years ago. A Shelton High graduate, Dan went on to the hallowed halls of Harvard. He was featured in Harvard’s 50 Best Entrance Essays for his essay on being selected the King of the Barnum Festival. You may google this to read an excerpt of his essay.

    Dan graduated in ’07 and during his undergraduate days with a partner started a Harvard campus tour. It became so succesful that Harvard gave him and his partner a tough time on use of Harvard name.

    Creative and not to be denied they now use the branding name of HAHVAHD. A great example of good old Barnum Ballyhoo know-how and the use of creative capital. If you ever get up to Cambridge check him out at www .UnofficialTours.com.

    By the way Dan’s dad, Brian Schofield-Bodt, is the Executive Director of the Greater Bridgeport Council of Churches, and the former shepherd of downtown’s landmark Golden Hill United Methodist Church.

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  53. Greetings, one and all. The Kid is back in town. How about that Bob Keeley, huh? That ol’ wascally wabbit, getting ticketed for violating a law that he sponsored. Talking on a hand-held cell phone is an infraction in this state. A lot of people do it, but that doesn’t create an excuse for others to do it, least of all the sanctimonious schmuck that pushed for passage of the law in the first place. And there is are no exceptions for reduced vehicular speed, in spite of Mr. Keeley’s claim that he was going “only two miles an hour.” Yeah, yeah, tell that to the police officer you nearly ran over.

    And how ’bout that no-show job at DSSD? Ol’ Bob is getting a $65,000.00 annual paycheck for alledgedly “coordinating” DSSD activities. To maintain the job–and the paycheck–ol’ Bob needs a four-vote majority from the seven-member DSSD board of directors. He was shooed in for a couple of terms, but at least one of the four board members voting in favor of tossing more green goods to this overfed and lazy careerist political hack has been having second thoughts. Ol’ Bob felt that his livelyhood was threatened–he might have to get a REAL job. So he threatened to withhold state funding for DSSD unless they approved his continued employment as their “coordinator.”

    My next entry on this subject will include information on the kickbacks ol’ Bob has been getting.

    Ta ta for now!

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  54. What does one do when the whole city is corrupt? It is all throughout the politics of great old city hall. The honest employees who work there just have to put up with all of the b.s. they witness. The economy is bad and people need their jobs. But everything comes to an end. Even if it is three years away.

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  55. New poll out finds Connecticut voters disapprove 78 – 19 percent of the job President George W. Bush is doing. Only 14 percent are “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied”. WOW that’s bad news for Shays

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  56. I do a fair amount of business in this area and I’m grateful for this blog. It helps me understand why my clients that are AARP eligible are so uptight. You guys need to relax, the political soap opera will never change. Take a trip to Florida, rent a scooter and relax on the beach. Lay off the Gin and have a Margarita.

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  57. FedUpWithCityHall–If a certain person was never caught selling Nose Candy to John Fabrizi I guess Fabs would still be Mayor and Fabrizi would have been stuck with the Shitty economy. One can only WONDER!!!

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  58. I pay taxes, and that being Moonbeam’s income, he has done nothing to warrant a paycheck so I want a refund and it’s more than $600.00
    He is a disaster.

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  59. The greatest problem Bridgeport faces is not political corruption, it is political inertia. Too many career politicians up in Hartford promising us the sun, moon and stars, only to deliver a load of bollocks, as the Brits call bullshit.

    There is so much attention focused on the shenanigans in the council chambers of City Hall that real problems and real social issues are overlooked. There is racism in this city, but the biggest problem facing minorities is not that. It is poverty and a culture of dependence fomented by a broken and outdated social welfare system. How ’bout doing more than just talking politics? How ’bout doing something to enable promising high school students from underpriviledged homes? Self-interested “community activists” like Lyle Hassan Jones would have his followers believe that Ernie Newton was sentenced to five years in the cooler because he’s an African American. How conveniently he overlooks the fact that Joe Ganim, a preppie-faced honky if there ever was one, took a nine-year sentence.

    Until and unless the issues of employment and education are transformed into something more than idle blog chat, all of the freedom-of-speech being excercised here is just so much hot gas.

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  60. Donj; great numbers for the president but what you conveniently did not enter was the fact that the democratically controlled house and senate got even lower numbers.
    Your mantra should be we need a change in Washington as nothing is getting done there. Incumbents should be replaced as they helped get us where we are today.

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  61. As a long time Democrat I would vote for Russo if in my district. The Dems. could use more like him up in the state capitol! It’s time to start thinking, “what individual is right for the job”, not “what party I’m in”! That’s part of the reason the Bpt. Dem. Party is in turmoil. And it all starts @ the local level and works its way up the political ladder.

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