Baker Heats Up Budget, Plus: Kohut Tees Off On Tiago Appointment

Things are getting a little scratchy between some members of the City Council and Mayor Bill Finch as the city’s legislative body moves forward with the budget process.

Bob Curwen, co-chair of the Budget and Appropriations Committee and committee members including East End councilman Andre Baker have identified some potential cuts that are a little close to the mayor’s office. Baker told OIB he wants to eliminate the office of Chief Administrative Officer Andy Nunn, the government-efficiency CitiStat program, and one of two deputy director positions in Public Facilities. That, he says, would save a cool $1 million or so.

What gives? Baker said  he wants the mayor to spread around the financial pain to mayoral discretionary appointments in light of  city unions stepping up to the plate to provide serious wage and benefit concessions to balance the budget. Budget committee members would also like to knock off another mil from the 39 mils proposed in the mayor’s spending package.

Baker argues that responsibilities in the CAO’s office can be absorbed by the mayor’s immediate inner-office staff.

That scream you just heard came from Andy Nunn and Chief of Staff Adam Wood. Nunn, who did an efficient job when he served as chief elected official for the town of Monroe, is chief of all department heads supervising day-to-day governmental activities and operations. He’s not a Bridgeport pol.

Wood, Finch’s closest political adviser, is chief of the mayor’s immediate staffers whose responsibilities include scheduling, constituent services, legislative and community outreach, and media relations.

The budget committee is scheduled to meet tonight to review potential areas to cut and then vote on them later this week before the budget goes to the full council for a vote, and then back to the mayor for final review, and then back to the council for a final vote and setting of the mil rate. Out of breath?

The mayor has strong veto power should he need to use it. The council would need a two-thirds vote to override him. It’s hard to imagine the council coming up with enough votes to blowtorch complete city departments. (Do I hear Councilman Bob Troll Walsh sharpening his teeth?) Should it go that far however, I don’t see the mayor allowing the gutting of Andy Nunn’s department or the CitiStat program that he has ballyhooed for efficiency.

But it would put to a test for the first time as mayor Finch’s veto pen.

Hey everyone, where are all the parties for Stinko D My Oh? Let me know.

Zoning  Controversy

OIB asked Jeff Kohut, a member of the city’s Ethics Commission, to write a special commentary regarding Jose Tiago’s appointment to Planning & Zoning. See his comments below:

The situation of the approval by the City Council of someone with absolutely no record of civic involvement or public service, such as Jose Tiago, to one of the most important and demanding municipal commissions should give the public great pause … The situation of the approval by the Council of such an unqualified candidate in the face of accusations of lying to the Ethics Commission and misleading the Miscellaneous Matters Committee during his pre-Council screening process is one that should cause great consternation and outrage among the citizens of Bridgeport–who will have to live with the results of this “decision” by the City Council …

Indeed, examination of the records of the Ethics Commission for the December 2008 and January 2009 meetings, and those of the Miscellaneous Matters Committee for their April 2009 meeting, would bear out the accusations of Mr. Tiago’s having lied to the Ethics Commission in regard to having no unresolved matters with the Planning and Zoning Commission as well as the accusation that he misled the Miscellaneous Matters Committee when he said that he “wasn’t pursuing” a legal contest of the P and Z action against him over the illegal use of his Seaview Avenue property for non-zoned uses (his contest/court case with the P and Z is still in play–as is the P and Z cease-and-desist order against his illegal use of the property in question …).

The “decision” by the City Council to approve Mr. Tiago to the Planning and Zoning Commission was anything but that. A “decision” implies a logical process and the use of pertinent information; in the case of the City Council approval of Jose Tiago to the P and Z Commission, it was obvious that the councilpersons who spoke and voted in favor of Mr. Tiago were acting in lockstep, in one accord, having been given their marching orders by some influential entity; none of them presented anything resembling a rational argument in refutation of the accusations made against him, nor did any of them construct a rational argument for his approval as a P and Z Commissioner based on background or experience … The arguments by the 12 councilpersons who voted for Mr. Tiago’s appointment were based not on evidence or logic supported by fact, but on the denigration of the journalistic integrity of the Connecticut Post and on simple, indefensible denial of the accusations against the integrity of Mr. Tiago (which can be substantiated by examination of the aforementioned records of the Ethics Commission and Miscellaneous Matters Committee).

Truly, the support for Mr. Tiago at the Council meeting appeared staged and rehearsed–from the distracting, irrelevant (if not absurd) arguments of City Attorney Anastasi (who focused only on Mr. Tiago’s legal right to be a P and Z Commissioner and on the inviolate secrecy of Ethics Commission executive sessions …), to the sequential presentations by the supporting councilpersons who spoke only of Mr. Tiago’s forthrightness and the lack of journalistic integrity of the Connecticut Post.

It was just amazing how only 6 of 18 councilpersons saw fit to revisit the accusations of Mr. Tiago’s lying to the Ethics Commission and deceiving the Miscellaneous Matters Committee in their decision to postpone–if not deny–his approval to the P and Z Commission. This fair-and-sensible-six essentially sought–even in the face of the aforementioned accusations–only to see Mr. Tiago’s process deferred/restarted from step 1 following resolution of his legal matters with the P and Z … But the 12 supporters were so hell bent to fast-track the process that they refused to hear any real argument for adherence to logic and circumspection in the process …

This latter situation (and the obvious orchestration of the Council approval process) has a really bad Bridgeport-at-low-tide-at-the-old-burning-Seaside-dump smell to it … Something really smells fishy in Denmark! Why does this particular unqualified, lacking-in-integrity individual have to be inserted into the P and Z process at such a critical juncture? Who are the individuals behind his “installation”? Why has the City Attorney become so obsessed with secrecy on city boards and with minimizing public knowledge and input in regard to board appointments and land-use issues?

On a final, serious note, I can only say that I am truly disappointed and disgusted by what I have observed in regard to the screening and approval process of Mr. Tiago … Bridgeport has taken a giant step backward at a time when we can least afford it … I can only hope that the Mayor will intervene and rectify this situation by removing Mr. Tiago form the process before he is sworn-in and actually becomes a P and Z Commissioner … I know many people of real integrity and ability who have served their city diligently, albeit quietly, who are far more qualified than Mr. Tiago to serve on the P and Z … (If it were the Ethics Commission’s prerogative to screen candidates based on qualifications, I wouldn’t have voted for Mr. Taigo’s approval by my commission–however, by the Bridgeport Ethics Commission Ordinance, we are charged only with screening for ethical conflicts, not on the basis of qualifications … Based on the information provided to us on Mr. Tiago by the Mayor’s Office and by Mr. Tiago, we really had no choice but to refer him on to Miscellaneous Matters …)

News release from State Rep. Auden Grogins


Representative Auden Grogins (D-Bridgeport) has joined with members of the Bridgeport Legislative Delegation to restore proposed funding to Beardsley Zoo and the Discovery Museum that was cut in the governor’s budget. The proposed budget cuts funds to both the zoo and museum by 50 percent in 2009 and removes funding altogether in 2010 and would put both at risk for closing.

The zoo attracts more than 275,000 tourists annually from around the state and nation. It features an educational center that serves more than 50,000 Connecticut residents and provides a valuable curriculum on endangered species as well as education concerning the ecosystem.

The Connecticut Zoological Society, a nonprofit support group for the zoo, purchased the zoo in 1997 from the city and continues to run the zoo as a private, nonprofit institution with assistance from the State of Connecticut and the City of Bridgeport.

The Discovery Museum is an educational museum dedicated to science literacy. It provides over 60 educational programs to student visitors from all over the state and provides 2,500 hours of outreach education to Bridgeport public and parochial schools annually.

The Appropriation Committee’s sub-committee on tourism, at Rep. Grogins’ urging, restored the funding for the Discovery museum and adds an additional $20,000 to the zoo to bring the total funds to $400,000.

Among actions taken to support the zoo was a meeting to discuss funding cuts and restoration by the Black Rock Community Council, an organization in Bridgeport. A group letter has also been drafted to the governor in support of the funding.

An event, hosted by cablevision, entitled “legislators day at the zoo” on April 25th was attended by more than 27 local and state elected officials that support continued funding and highlighted this excellent attraction in the City of Bridgeport.

“I would like to thank sub-committee on tourism chairs Representative Terry Backer (D-Stratford) and Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk, Darien) for their support. The Beardsley Zoo is a very significant and important educational vehicle and tourist attraction for Bridgeport as well as the State of Connecticut,” Rep. Grogins said.  “The zoo attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year form across the country and it is imperative that we continue our support to ensure the survival of this valuable state asset.”

“Beardsley Zoo is a wonderful asset of the state and needs to be protected with adequate funding to keep its doors open to the public,” Rep. Jack Hennessy said.



  1. Council Tiago appointment a split decision
    By Bill Cummings
    Staff writer
    Updated: 05/04/2009 11:50:00 PM EDT

    BRIDGEPORT — A divided City Council Monday night appointed Jose Tiago to the Planning and Zoning Commission despite concerns that he may have misled the city’s Ethics Commission over a pending zoning appeal.

    The council voted 12-6 to appoint Tiago over strong objections from some members and a Connecticut Post story on Monday which reported allegations that Tiago failed to disclose a pending appeal of a zoning decision regarding his construction business at 1581 Seaview Ave.

    Council member Robert Walsh, D-132nd, led the opposition to Tiago’s appointment, citing the Post story and saying Tiago is not fit to serve on the PZC.

    “I read with great interest the story in the Connecticut Post, and I was surprised by some of the comments that this should not bar him from service. Are we going to trust this individual to uphold the zoning regulations he thumbed his nose at,” Walsh said.

    Walsh’s rebuke of Tiago drew harsh reactions from other council members and complaints that the Post story was “slanted.”

    “I don’t think we should be dictated to by the Connecticut Post,” said Council member Warren Blunt, who voted for the appointment. “He admitted he made some mistakes and showed remorse.”

    The dispute revolves around what Tiago told the Ethics Commission when he was interviewed as an appointee by Mayor Bill Finch. The Post story reported that commission member Jeff Kohut believed Tiago “lied to us” when asked if there were any pending matters involving his appeal of the zoning decision regarding his business.

    Tiago Construction has been in a legal battle with zoning officials since 2007 over the Seaview Avenue construction business, which authorities assert was illegally established. The company specializes in excavations, remediation, demolition, concrete and paving work, as well as construction equipment rental.

    Tiago was issued a cease-and-desist order by the city several years ago for his failure to obtain a special permit or coastal site plan approval for a construction yard on the site, which borders the Yellow Mill Channel. In 2007, Tiago went before the PZC seeking to legalize use of the property, but was denied.

    Several council members said Taigo was forthcoming when interviewed by a council committee about his appeal, which they pointed out is his legal right to pursue.

    “He answered every question we had, including the lawsuit,” said Council President Tom McCarthy.

    “This property is in an industrial area, and he’s now trying to sell the land. I know Mr. Taigo and I heartily recommend we appoint him.”

    Still, Council member Daniel Martinez, D-137, said Tiago told the council committee he was not pursuing his appeal.

    “I’m a little concerned about the existence of the court case. We should not encourage this selection.”

    The Finch administration contends Tiago misunderstand the question posed by the Ethics Commission and that a pending zoning appeal does not disqualify Tiago from serving on the PZC.

  2. Nunn did an “efficient” job in Monroe. Is he doing an efficient job in Bridgeport? This is a man who doesn’t have a clue what most depts do, who the employees are, and what the problems are. This is the man who suspended CitiStat John Gomes because he asked Lisa to make copies. This is the man who disciplines good employees while he allows Lisa to hang out with Charlie all day. Baker is 100% correct. Eliminate the CAO and his Admin Asst. But let CitiStat stay. Give them a chance to implement some of their recommendations without political interference. And shame on Mayor Finch for raping the unions and allowing his political appointees to remain.

  3. One more comment: Of course McCarthy and Blunt agreed with the appointment of Tiago. It’s called job security. McCarthy earns $93,000 as Deputy Director of Labor Relations. Warren works at the Health Dept and is in line to take Dr. Evans’ job. Do you think they’d dare go against the mayor when their jobs are on the line? To steal a line from Mojo: Forget about it.

    1. Don’t underestimate Dr. Evans. She isn’t going anywhere. Have you seen Warren lately? Brother is a candidate for a coronary. Morbidly obese. Can you see him leading the health dept? What’s wrong with this picture? Seriously, he needs a major life change, gastric bypass or something.

  4. City Hall: You are right on the money with this Tiago appointment. Like I said yesterday the soldiers have been lined up and the vote was preordained. I am going to guess here because I don’t know how everyone voted but my guess would be the no votes are 1. Bob Walsh 2. Michelle Lyons 3. AmyMarie Paniccia 4. Sue Branelly. I can’t guess the other two.
    This is all part of Finch’s makeover of the P&Z. This is the group that the developers and zoning lawyers wanted. After all who are his biggest contributors? Lawyers & Developers.
    Couple this with an ever-compliant city attorney’s office and the city neighborhoods are about to get screwed.

    Look at the changes they are putting into the zoning rewrite and master plan. This was a 2-1/2 year process with many public hearings and training sessions. Now with this new group they are making selective changes to selective properties and want no public input. It’s called SPOT ZONING. Perfect example is the proposal by Gail Solis to change the zoning on a heretofore single-family plot of land at the foot of Summit St. She has proposed that it be changed to multifamily zone. This would in effect allow condos that were previously voted down by P&Z to be built without a public hearing. The list goes on and on.
    To the 6 that voted no Thank You for standing up. To the 12 yes votes shame on you for lying down.

    1. To set the record straight, voting against were myself, Michelle and Amy, my council partner Evette Brantley, Danny Martinez and Andre Baker.

  5. I hear that the council wants to get rid of either Ruben, Tyron or Chris too. Also, why do we need to pay a Communications person $85K? Caryn Kaufman made around $65K and she did a 100% better job. I agree, give CitiStat and John Gomes a chance to work without the political interference. Just my two cents on Lisa, she isn’t worth two cents. Her day consists of coffee with Charlie, lunch with Charlie, 15 minutes of typing and answering the phone, then home or off on vacation with Charlie. Charlie works hard, but he is carrying dead weight. It was interesting to see who lost the battle of Lisa/Charlie and a former city official in the grants dept. At least the grants person made money for the city.

    Why do we still have Sherwood who cooked the books for Fabrizi? He must know where the bodies are buried to still be there. What have we heard from Eversley–how much money does his high figure income pull into the city? Why don’t we get grant writers and economic development people who work on commission instead of salary, you might see a bit more motivation.

    I have never heard the name Adam Wood mentioned in anything other than a negative way. For such a young guy he has created so many enemies. I wonder who will fall first, him or the Mayor. My cliché of the day … if you give a person enough rope, they hang themselves.

  6. This whole mess with Tiago doesn’t pass the smell test. I honestly thought better of Bill Finch. I guess it really is about corruption after all. Can anyone spell FBI?

  7. Here it is 2:10 pm and only 3 comments as they relate to the highjacking of a land use board. I know that many people read this blog and don’t post here. It is time for the people of Bridgeport to express their indignation at what this bought and paid for council is doing. Walsh, Lyons, Paniccia, Martinez, Baker and Brantley are the only council people that voted NO. People wonder why Ann Barney and I are running for the council; this is just one of the many reasons. Damnit stand up and be counted. Even if you have never posted here before do it now let them know you are watching and have had enough.

  8. Town Committee
    You are right again. The approval of Tiago was paid for by Finch and his crew. How can a person be issued a cease-and-desist order by the city, ignore it, appeal it, still be denied and continue to operate a business? And now he is on the very board that tried to stop his craziness.

    From Connecticut Post:

    “Tiago was issued a cease-and-desist order by the city several years ago for his failure to obtain a special permit or coastal site plan approval for a construction yard on the site, which borders the Yellow Mill Channel. In 2007, Tiago went before the PZC seeking to legalize use of the property, but was denied.”

    The people of Bridgeport have to band together and stop this political corruption.

  9. Business as usual; another Testacrat hack bought and paid for. Can the DiNardo/Moutinho asphalt plants in the East End and South End be far behind?

  10. Jose Tiago is Maria Hoffman’s cousin who works in Labor relations, also cousins with John Adao; get the picture same shit as always in Bridgeport.

    1. Maria has relatives all over the city. Her cousin Gisela was just moved to OPM with a large salary increase. She was in Community Development with Alanna but was going to get bumped by a more senior person who was getting laid off. Alanna and Tom Sherwood created a new position in OPM and transferred Gisela there. She is doing the same work but earning much more money and the other poor guy lost his job. Another example of politics at its worst. It is rampant all over the city. The worst administration ever.

  11. At the very least the City Council should have tabled the Tiago appointment and sent it back to committee for further research of the facts. How does the Mayor appoint a property owner who has been in flagrant violation of the zoning regulations for years? The East End has the highest asthma rates for children in the State. It can be traced in large part to the overabundance of open-air contractor yards in that part of Town. The PZC has been vigilant in the past in shutting down those operations that are polluting the air. Mr. Tiago has one of those open-air yards and should have shut down his business years ago. Instead he petitions the PZC for reconsideration and is denied in 2007. Then he sues the City to overturn the very board he wants to now serve, the PZC. It makes absolutely no sense for the Mayor who wants to ‘green’ this City to support this type of property owner. It makes no sense for the Council to approve him. It is an outrage and a true disappointment. I encourage the Mayor to reconsider and not swear in Mr. Tiago. The Mayor must hold true to his environmental values. Mr. Tiago is still in violation of zoning.

    1. Excellent point about the asthma rates in the East End. Who are the councilmen in this district? I know one is Jim Holloway. Shame on them. And Finch goes green only when it is convenient for him. Hypocrite.

  12. *** Community Rally to SAVE THE FOUNTAIN! ***
    Join the Community & Westside NRZ to rally for the restoration & to keep the present site of the Historic Mermaid Fountain @ Park Ave. & Fairfield Ave. intersection. As well as installation of our “Neighborhood Pride” signs and extra trash receptacles at designated areas of the West Side. ***
    Tuesday, May 12 @ 5:pm / St. John’s Episcopal Church / corner of Park & Fairfield Aves. (Bring a sign or white balloon if possible) *** Also, there are still a few Commemorative Bricks Available for the WWII Vets. Memorial Sidewalk; call Ed Mastrone, Office of Vet. Affairs Bpt. Ct. for more info. ***


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