Any Engineers Out There?

This came in from an OIB friend in City Hall:

“One of the classified positions in city government that is mandated by the City Charter is the City Engineer. This position is a full-time job, and has not been filled on a permanent full-time basis since Barry Skinner retired unceremoniously. The state’s largest city filled this vacancy with a part-time ex-city employee who now works full-time at the University of Bridgeport.

“Having someone moonlighting as the city engineer does not meet the intent of, or conform to, the provisions of the City Charter. The job requires a professional engineer to be in City Hall eight hours a day and not someone working from a cell phone/answering machine, off hours out of their house or trunk or someplace else, and costing the city more on a part-time basis than it would cost if there was a full-time professional City Engineer in residence at City Hall.” 

I know Barry Skinner a little bit. He was there during my two installations at City Hall 100,000 years ago. Skinner was not a pol. He went about his business so quietly that it was nice to have a non-pol answer a question with such dispassion and professionalism that hey (I thought to myself) not everyone on the city payroll must come for the Democratic Town Committee.

So, okay, I’ve asked City Hall what gives with Barry’s replacement. Still waiting to hear back.

Toast The Post

The Connecticut Post will soon be launching a new blog feature and my old employer has asked me to contribute. Basically, they’re asking folks that know a little bit about the city and the region to share their point of view so I will oblige a couple of times per week. Why? The Post has a reservoir of readers unfamiliar with us at OIB so it’s a way to drive traffic here while sharing my take on the city’s mysterious political community with Connecticut Post web readers. The Post is not compensating me.

The model the Post is following was created by Hearst’s mothership San Francisco Chronicle, and it’s a good one, reaching out to community leaders, decision makers, professionals, etc. to generate an informational give and take about how things work in their respective niche areas.

I will still be here every weekday (and sometimes on weekends) prying open the juicy stuff with all our OIB friends. So, when you see me over there, I’ll still be here, and yes, none of what I do here changes one bit. I still expect to get my stones broken by Yahooy, Bob from BePo and Joel Speedy Gonzalez.

Hot Rocks

Hot topics in Black Rock tonight including The Chimneys zoning issue concerning the group “IDEA” purchasing the highest assessed house in the city and converting it into a home for autistic kids. will host an informational session tonight at 7 p.m. at the Norden Club. From the Black Rock Home Owners Association:

There are three strategic properties in Black Rock with development potential that will have a significant impact on our community. Join us for an open and positive discussion on the possibility for quality development at each of these sites:

1. Black Rock Art Center- City owned and located on 2838 Fairfield Avenue

2. St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church- Property borders Jetland and Brewster Streets

3. The Chimney’s- Located at the summit of Grover’s Hill. Note: A variance request to permit the establishment of a group living facility was recently submitted to the ZBA

Please take this opportunity to meet with your neighbors, share your thoughts and understand what the possibilities and potentials are for these properties. Quality development, consistent with zoning and neighborhood expectations and standards is the ultimate goal.

DATE: Wednesday, June 3rd

TIME: 7 p.m.

LOCATION: The Black Rock Library, 2705 Fairfield Avenue

Guest Participants: Nancy Hadley, former Director of Bridgeport’s Office of Planning and Economic Development. Also, a representative from Bridgeport’s Office of Planning and Economic Development.



  1. Barry Skinner was the victim of the early purges that took place when Finch first took office. He was not a direct target but when they got rid of the traffic engineer they dumped his responsibility on Skinner. The traffic engineer was the target of certain council people and other administration officials. Just so you know the traffic engineer now works for another firm that does traffic engineering work in Bridgeport.
    There were a bunch of targets in these purges. Joe Minopoli housing code enforcement chief was another along with Mike Lukas, the tax collector and his assistant. There were attempted purges to do away with the Port Authority and its leader also an attempt to get rid of the WPCA and Andy Abate; to date these moves have failed. These last two moves were attempted by the budget committee and when one looks at the recent attempts to get Monroe hooked into our sewer system and the Port Jeffersons wanting to relocate to the turbana Banana site one can see why the heads of these two departments were targeted.

  2. TC, you are well informed. The City doesn’t have an engineer or a traffic engineer. I believe that Dave Cody, who is at UB with Estrada, is performing both jobs on a p/t contractual basis. Someone should do an FOI request and find how much we are paying him.

    Morteza, the traffic engineer’s position was eliminated from the budget due to personal reasons because he wasn’t a puppet for the administration. Barry fought to put Morteza back, even proving that the position was mandated by law and partially reimbursable by the state. Sherwood and Curwen gave the council a line of bullshit, which they believed, and Morteza was let go. Barry said fuck you and he resigned. The City lost two true professionals.

    Mike Lupkas was demoted when Finch needed to find a job for Mike Feeney. Lupkas took the demotion while he looked for another job. He soon found another job and is long gone. The Comptroller’s Office lost another true professional.

    Finch boasts that he eliminated XXX jobs during his administration. What he’s not saying is that these positions were filled by qualified professionals. The do-nothing political folks are still here. So what have we gained?

    1. *** Barry Skinner’s a nice guy but with a sense of humor like the cartoon character on Spongebob called “Squidward”. Didn’t like using a computer or sitting in meetings too long where too many questions were being asked. An old-school type of guy that was probably happy to retire away from all the political B/S @ city hall, the meetings & questions why, with every thing else that was new and coming down the pike! *** Mr. Morteza seemed to get to full of himself & started deciding himself what was important enough to get attention and what could be placed @ the bottom of the paper file ’til someone asked about its outcome! Plain English, he was not doing his job according to the city & state charter @ times! One time I had to get a reversal by the Police Board after a denial by him on adding two more stop signs @ the corner of Seeley & Cottage St. His claim for denial was not enough traffic flow or reports of auto accidents @ that intersection! The city report by Morteza was done in winter, a year after my request! At the Police Board meeting, I produced CT Post newspaper clippings of 3 major auto accidents @ that intersection the past summer and a neighborhood protest about the intersection’s safety and teen hangouts late @ night @ that site! And there were other signs & traffic issues that many other council persons were having trouble with getting some type of response from Mr. Morteza’s office as well. He did not live in Bpt. & his attitude towards city neighborhood’s traffic problems in general sometimes seemed to reflect that in my opinion. No great loss for the city or that dept. in general. *** Skinner however was okay by me, even if he was set in his old ways! ***

      1. Your statement concludes and obviously is an indicator that the traffic engineer was let go not on basis of economics but on the basis of discrimination. It is very unfortunate that the largest city of Connecticut has such uninformed and amateurish politicians that they do not know their own policies and capacity in which they govern. For you edification, the decision-making of all traffic matters according to the State Statutes is by the Legal Traffic Authority (in Bridgeport’s case: Board of Police Commissioners). The traffic engineer’s job is to apply engineering standards and laws, and to make recommendations to the Board. The Board decides to accept or reject recommendations.

        I strongly believe that you are making up your story about the studying of an unnecessary stop sign in winter by the traffic engineer, since you don’t know how to do one. Any council member and their advisers who were involved in deciding to lay off the traffic engineer should know in their conscious mind that they were unlawfully engaged in making their decision based on discriminating where he was from or where he resided. The action of the administration including all involved in the process of laying off the traffic engineer was contrary to the United States of America Constitutional laws that every governing body must live by. It was a great loss for the largest city in Connecticut to lose such dedicated person.

  3. The WPCA could use an Abate-ment. I’m all for the Port Jeffersons movin’ on up to the East End.

    Lennie–Good luck and I enjoyed your Toast The Post.
    Does this make you a “Post Toasty”?

  4. CHS: I don’t know what they are paying Cody but I do know what engineers get paid per hour. I have hired several engineers in my past life and the range per hour is $125-$200 per hour; but on average for what is required I would say the figure is $125 per hour. Not bad work if you can get it.
    Several council members were fed a lot of BS on the people I named in my earlier post and like a bunch of lemmings they went along.
    I know that all of the people mentioned had other jobs with other municipalities in short order.

  5. This is a little scary:
    “Hot topics in Black Rock tonight including The Chimneys zoning issue concerning the group “IDEA” purchasing the highest assessed house in the city and converting it into a home for autistic kids.”
    This could not happen under the old zoning rules and regs but amazingly it is allowable under the new ones. And the architect of the new regs, Nancy Hadley will be speaking about how wonderful this proposal is.
    Things like this don’t happen by accident in this city.
    First of all a taxable piece of property will immediately be taken off of the rolls.
    Although it is difficult to imagine how a startup not-for-profit can manage to purchase this expensive piece of property but since the owner will be ridding himself of the tax burden and will be able to play games with the value and the taxable deduction that the old owner will receive for selling at less than market value and the fact that very well connected politicians are involved with this group and we will have to see how much money the state of CT and the city of Bridgeport will eventually commit to this project just to make sure it will happen.
    Stay tuned.

  6. Bob: The new zoning regulations are not in effect and have not reached the final approval vote yet. So this project is coming up under the old zoning regs.
    I agree with you, enough of the non profits, churches and the like. One does wonder where the purchase price comes from and are they really non profit as they will be receiving generous monies to care for these kids. Why are we the caretaker for Fairfield county?

  7. Rest assured The Chimneys zoning issue will be monitored, scrutinized and appropriately responded to by those affected the most: the immediate neighbors and the entire Black Rock community.

  8. Beware Bruce,
    The woman heading up this non-profit is a former chairwoman of the Connecticut Democratic State Party.
    She and friends and relatives had bought a building downtown. Held it for a decade. Didn’t pay taxes. Didn’t do any work. And then got the city to forgive taxes and buy it back from them. All with the help of a politically connected attorney from the Black Rock.
    And I warn you that Bill Finch is very, very friendly with this family.
    ‘NUFF said. Good luck.

  9. All of this chatter about the Congress Street Bridge being fixed and I can’t help thinking that tearing it down will quickly have people stop thinking about it.
    We know that Finch and the BRBC don’t want to spend a dime on a new bridge. They would rather build their road to nowhere than to fix that thing up. So tear it down, don’t do any more work and hopefully out of sight out of mind.

    1. That bridge IS a road to nowhere. It rightly belongs to the legends of the Devil’s Bridges. The Congress Street Bridge is a bridge to somewhere, in this case the East side of town. Since it is in Bridgeport, though, it is a bridge to hell, causing every elected official in Bridgeport (!) to become a silver-tongued devil spouting promises of repairing it in the future.

  10. *** Grin, Joel the Ripper is right, ’cause there’s not enough monies for tearing things down, cleanup and then replacing the Bridge completely again! There are far more important projects Finch & the B.R.B.C. have in mind for downtown Bpt. & the east side of town’s easy access downtown & back is not one of them. *** Forget about it! ***

  11. I’m sure the city already has plans for the above-mentioned properties. The meeting is merely a formality, let a few concerned citizens gas off about what THEY think should (not ought to) be done with the property. When is the fat lady going to sing so this bad soap opera will end?

    1. Kid you may be right about the City having their intended plans. However, the city is dealing in Black Rock where there is an active and involved community–they are not dealing in the West Side, East Side or East End.

      I attended the meeting at the Black Rock Library and spoke briefly as a parent of an autistic child. The Chimneys proposal is a bad idea. In order to begin to simply understand autism, I believe that you must have an autistic child. My six-year-old is one of them. The most dangerous part of this proposal is its location across the Sstreet from the Sound. My daughter like most autistic children is fascinated by water. When I bring her near water–whether it’s a pool, the ocean or a fountain–she goes for it immediately and won’t give up trying to go in. A home for autistic children must have an alarm. Most autistic children are hypersensitive to sound, light, touch, smell and taste. The high pitch of an alarm causes her to become disoriented. I can go on and on. Autism is relatively a newly diagnosed condition and every child demonstrate mild to severe levels of their conditions. The idea of a home for autistic children sounds to me like the equivalent of a convalescent home for autistic children with the only intention of making money. If one day my wife and I can’t take care of our autistic daughter, I feel that the best person to take care of her would be a family who has an autistic child of their own. It’s not the same to send an autistic child to a boarding home as sending a mentally healthy one.


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