Be It Resolved: Jim Himes Has Juice (Hopefully), Plus: Finch Comments On Layoffs

New Year’s Eve Eve and the timing couldn’t be better for a governmental be-it-resolved list.

Congressman-elect Jim Himes, who’ll be sworn in January 6, has asked leadership in the 17 towns he represents to provide a list of projects positioned for Barack’s historic infrastructure improvement program. Mayor Bill Finch, representing the state’s largest city that produced Himes’ victory, has his list poised for action.

Over the last few days we’ve had a number of suggestions for top-of-the-list projects. OIB friend Jeff Kohut who eats and sleeps green technology tied to infrastructure improvements has ramped up a special blog commentary. See his thoughts below.

My thoughts go out to city employees who’ve gotten stuck in the crossfire of negotiations between union leadership and the administration. It sucks to lose work at any time; worse in this economic environment. Layoffs of fifty-one NAGE (National Association of Government Employees) workers could still be rescinded if union leadership in the next week or so meets the city’s giveback demands to help close a major budget deficit now halfway through the budget year. The city is still several million dollars away from closing the gap, albeit getting closer, as city beancounters begin the process to produce a new budget starting July 1, 2009. Finch’s statement regarding layoffs:

We have been working with all city unions to get the concessions we need in order to make our $4.5 million target. To date, the City of Bridgeport has achieved over $2.3 million dollars in savings through negotiations with our city’s bargaining units. Unfortunately, NAGE (National Association of Government Employees) has not been negotiating and we needed them to agree to a concession package by Jan. 1. These layoffs will save the city approximately $900,000 in six months. NAGE still has two weeks to reach an agreement on concessions totaling approximately $900,000.00. If they do so in the next few days, I remain open to rescinding these layoffs.

Jeff Kohut speaks

A context for creating a Fourth District Congressional Agenda

By Jeff Kohut

The consistent essence of the federal (Fourth Congressional District) Bridgeport Agenda during most of the post-WW II period (to the present) could be stated thusly, “Give Bridgeport whatever the suburbs and Gold Coast need …” It is under these auspices that Bridgeport has received federal “help” for the maintenance/creation/expansion of whatever is needed to keep the city’s commuting workforce available for the Gold Coast/suburbs, and its infrastructure (trash incinerators, sewage/waste-disposal/recycling plants, electric-generation facilities, etc.) at the disposal of the Gold Coast/suburbs for the expansion/maintenance of their high-end tax base–while high-end/high-employment tax base for Bridgeport is never part of the federal or state agenda for the city … *(Note that “Gold Coast” is intended to include Stamford-Norwalk along with their wealthy suburbs…)

The overall Fourth District agenda during the post-WW II period (to the present) has focused mainly on financing the infrastructure creation and brownfields remediation needed to develop the Stamford-Norwalk commercial-industrial axis, and on the development/tax-base expansion of Bridgeport’s suburbs … Bridgeport’s net share of the federal largess during this period can be expressed in terms of an on-going multi-$billion tax-base hemorrhage/transfusion into the surrounding suburbs–facilitated by the state and federal government (hence, Route 8 and the 25-8 Connector …). Besides roads (to facilitate the flight of our tax base and transport our devalued labor to the Gold Coast/suburbs), Bridgeport received additional hundreds of millions of dollars of  “help” in the form of federal housing programs to allow Bridgeport’s (staggeringly expensive) maintenance of the regional labor pool (hence our crushing tax burden!) …

The brilliant social and transportation/infrastructure engineering that has produced the economic “miracle” of the Fourth District/Fairfield County, financed in large part by the federal government, has also created the Bridgeport socioeconomic nightmare and the intimately related strangulating regional transportation gridlock that threatens the commercial viability of the entire state … Clearly, the Fourth District/Fairfield County has been directed down an economic cul-de-sac (ending on a precipice) by our District business and political leadership over the past 50 years. Obviously–irrespective of the unfolding global economic crisis radical changes in government policy regarding the Fourth District/Fairfield County are indicated and must begin with the new Congress …

That being said, with the exception of the creation/enhancement of rail-freight capacity (and bridge repair and maintenance), money used on *surface transportation infrastructure in the Fourth District/Fairfield County will reap negative gains in the short- and long-terms and should be avoided. Infrastructure spending outside of Bridgeport should be focused on housing creation and housing-related infrastructure to accommodate the creation/expansion of locally based (non-commuting) workforces for the Gold Coast municipalities and Fourth District suburbs. Infrastructure spending in Bridgeport should be focused on brownfields reclamation and infrastructure upgrades pursuant to massive job creation and tax-base expansion (including harbor/shipping-channel dredging and the creation of harbor rail access) focused on “green” renewable/alternative-energy equipment manufacturing. The aforementioned measures will unclog the Fourth District/Fairfield County transportation system while at the same time redirecting Fourth District/Fairfield County development in a sustainable direction (the current direction of District/County development is not sustainable and is definable in terms of socially, economically, and environmentally destructive trends–specifically, the creation and concentration of poverty pursuant to suburban sprawl …)

*(Considering the space limitations of the present boundaries of Sikorsky Airport in the context of the space limitations of the municipalities of Bridgeport and Stratford, it would seem that the “reach” of the airport as an economy-boosting facility will always fall short of regional needs/ambitions … We shouldn’t waste time, energy, and money pursuing an impossible dream for this airport, but should develop our harbor/port capacity and rail facilities, together with innovative applications of the helicopter, to accomplish the goal of a complete “Bridgeport transportation hub” … Innovative uses for the helicopter could provide an additional manufacturing opportunity for Bridgeport … We should also push for improved rail-freight infrastructure serving the entire NYC Metro region …)

To recap: Make no mistake. If dire socio-economic consequences are to be avoided in the Fourth District/Fairfield County over the short- and long-terms, Bridgeport’s tax-base and related poverty/unemployment problems must be ameliorated … Commuting to down-county (Gold Coast) jobs–especially in the context of an employer’s market–cannot reverse Bridgeport’s socioeconomic (and literal) decay. If Bridgeport’s desperation continues to worsen, the District/County will ultimately find itself unable to sustain an adequate labor force; flight from Bridgeport and its inner-ring suburbs–away from the spreading problems and prohibitive taxes/cost-of-living of Bridgeport, its suburbs, and the rest of unaffordable Southwestern Connecticut–will create an unsustainable labor situation for lower-Fairfield County (Gold Coast). Likewise, to sustain economic prosperity in Fairfield County and Connecticut as a whole, Fairfield County gridlock must be ameliorated, or labor and business will begin seeking “greener” pastures that require less time and fuel (less $!)–and less stress–to access … Thus, the key to the sustainability of the Fourth District/Fairfield County economy/lifestyle is Bridgeport’s wholesale renaissance; the ultimately unavoidable consequence of this will be the necessity for the Gold Coast/suburbs to accommodate sufficient, non-commuting–local–labor to replace the Bridgeport workforce …

Now is the time–with national/regional unemployment soaring and with the US preparing to launch a major, trillion-dollar stimulus/works program–for a massive, Fourth District/Fairfield County socioeconomic/infrastructure/political transformation to be planned, funded, and implemented. The conditions providing the impetus for massive federal funding, labor availability, and political momentum to accomplish the massive housing creation/infrastructure upgrades (and permanent workforce recruitment) for lower-Fairfield County’s (Gold Coast) transition to workforce/labor-needs self-sufficiency, and for Bridgeport’s recruitment/development of “green-age” industry capable of re-establishing Bridgeport’s tax-base and creating the tens of thousands of local, living-wage jobs needed to sustain a condition of full employment for Bridgeport residents–is a once-in-a-century opportunity that must not be wasted…

It is incumbent upon Congressman-elect Himes and the political and business leadership (as well as the entire electorate) of the Fourth District/Fairfield County to create and advocate for a federal agenda that addresses the long-term needs of the entire District/County–an agenda that resonates with the Obama agenda of change … It is Bridgeport’s time, but the changes necessary for Bridgeport’s redemption, although painful in the short term for the rest of the District/County, will also assure the socioeconomic viability of the entire District/County for the long term. It is vital that the Gold Coast/suburbs embrace these necessary changes with circumspection and an eye to the future … It is even more important that Bridgeport and its political and business leadership aggressively pursue the opportunity provided by the current national/world crisis and set, and stand behind, a bold Bridgeport-centric agenda for presentation–with bold expectations–to Congressman-elect Himes and the rest of our Congressional delegation.

The time of Bridgeport’s fate being decided “down-county” is over …

An assertive, proactive “prosperity agenda”/federal “wish list” for Bridgeport (using a $1 billion agenda-budget–an approximation of the cost of Mayor Finch’s federal “wish list” …)

  1. $125 million to fund the establishment of a sustainable-energy technology institute (at the University of Bridgeport?) for the training of all levels of scientists/engineers/technologists/technicians/workers pursuant to the establishment of Bridgeport as the leader in green-energy technology/manufacturing …
  2. $50 million to establish an institute of land-reuse science/engineering (at the University of Bridgeport?) to train all levels of scientists/engineers/technologists/technicians/workers in brownfields remediation/land-reuse engineering/hazardous materials handling and disposal …
  3. $100 million to partner with GE to remediate/retrofit their Boston Avenue facility for “green” renewable/alternative-energy equipment manufacture …
  4. $100 million to partner with DuPont to refurbish the Remington Arms complex for “green” renewable/alternative-energy materials manufacture …
  5. $100 million to reclaim brownfields sites throughout the traditional industrial core of the city (to be used in manufacturing) …
  6. $100 million to expand Bridgeport’s rail-freight capacity (including necessary links to northern/eastern routes) and to build a rail spur/create rail access to the harbor, with rail spurs to the major (refurbished/reactivated) manufacturing sites (GE, DuPont, et al.) …
  7. $50 million to dredge the harbor and shipping channel and dispose of (or remediate and re-use) the polluted material removed as part of the dredging process …
  8. $100 million for bridge repair–Congress Street, et al …
  9. $100 for citywide flood-control measures …
  10. $100 million for school-infrastructure improvements at the city’s three high schools …
  11. $25 million for a citywide, Internet-accessible public-safety video surveillance system–with the gamut of remote-sensing apparatus/software …
  12. $50 million to acquire the Remington Woods as protected open space and complete the necessary environmental remediation …

News release from Mayor Finch

Mayor Joined by Police and Fire Officials to Promote Safety Awareness on New Year’s Eve
Free smoke detectors and gun locks available through fire and police departments
BRIDGEPORT, CT (December 29, 2008) – Mayor Bill Finch, together with Acting Police Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. and Fire Chief Brian Rooney, today discussed New Year’s Eve public safety issues, and outlined some simple steps residents could take to stay safe during the holiday season and beyond.

“Safety is our number-one priority during the holiday season, and throughout the year,” said Mayor Finch . “Here are two New Year’s resolutions everyone should make: make sure your home or apartment has a working smoke detector, and, if you own a gun, please secure it properly by getting a free gun lock from the police department.” City Council members Maria Valle, D-137, Leticia Colon, D-131, and Michelle Lyons, D-134, also joined the Mayor and the chiefs at the press event held at City Hall Annex.

Gun owners can come to police headquarters, or to the Community Services office at 1395 Sylvan Ave. at the corner of Old Town Road to pick up a free gun lock, no questions asked, according to Acting Chief Gaudett.

Chief Gaudett also cautioned New Year’s revelers to drink responsibly. “Our police officers will be out in force on New Year’s Eve, keeping the streets safe and on the lookout for drunk drivers. Please be sure to have a designated driver,” he added.

Fire Chief Rooney urged city residents to take advantage of the free smoke detector program. “The City of Bridgeport has an exceptional program. All Bridgeport residents have to do is call 335-8835 to receive a smoke detector and have it installed. This device, in addition to carbon monoxide detectors, can help save lives.” Rooney cited how working smoke detectors prevented an even greater tragedy during a recent fire on Central Avenue that left five adults and five children homeless.

Major fire safety points are below, and police safety points are attached.

Fire safety guidelines outlined by the Bridgeport Fire Department:

Kitchen Safety– Never leave cooking unattended.

Space Heaters– Keep all space heaters at least 3 feet away from combustible items.

Matches and Lighters– Store matches and lighters locked up high, away from children.

Electrical Cords– Keep out of traffic areas and don’t risk breaking the wires by pinching them behind or under furniture.

Candles–Keep candles away from anything that will burn. Blow candles out when you leave the room or go to bed.

Plan your escape–Make a home escape plan with the family and practice it.

Christmas Trees–Always make sure that trees have plenty of water.

Smoke Detectors–A smoke detector is required on every floor and outside of sleeping areas. Call – 335-8835 for free 10 year smoke alarm with free installation.



  1. You see it every time you take 95 and now it will be taken down by the city: the O’Rourke House. Say goodbye or try to save it! After all, the Steel Point project may never come.

    WHAT: O’Rourke House and Steel Point will be discussed tonight on “Bridgeport Now”
    WHEN: 8pm Ch 77
    WHO: Host Rob Foley, John Bolton
    Special guest, historian Charles Brilvitch

    Special topic: Madoff bailout fundraiser.

    Henry O’Rourke is Connecticut’s most famous and forgotten ballplayer who braved anti-Irish prejudice and is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

    Steel Point is a development project that would bring approx $4mm to Bridgeport city cash starved budget and it’s long overdue or will never happen. Find out.

    Is the Henry O’Rourke in Bridgeport’s East End worth saving? You see it every time you take 95, it’s the last house standing. Why tear it down, as the city wants, if Steel Point is not going anywhere and may never?

    No cable TV?
    “Bridgeport Now” LIVE Tuesdays at 8pm on Ch 77


    Seen in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Stratford, Woodbridge, Orange, Millford.

    Barack’s historic infrastructure improvement program: Congress Street Bridge

  2. Update “Bridgeport Now” on tonight at 8pm Ch 77
    Guest update:

    Bob Walsh – Bridgeport City Council
    Bob Halstead – Former City planner
    Charles Brilvitch – renowned historian

    John Bolton unable to appear.


    “Bridgeport Now”, making a difference, where other media have failed us.

  3. *** Last time I looked, none of the North-East coast appeared Gold-like to me, maybe in past history. Jeff’s article sounded very much like a future “green” socioeconomic dream that could very well have the makings of a fairytale-type novel in which talking of it always sounds good! *** “Bpt. Now” guest list has a replacement for John Bolton tonight which should be watched by those interested in starting a green garden!(Wink) *** O’Rourke house has been sitting in blight limbo for years, now when the economy is bad & plans made for positive development @ that site are on temp. hold, it’s time for the history buffs to yell, “save the O’Rourke house”, give me a break! *** Don’t you just love the P/R safety awareness for the holidays show put on by Finch & some of the council members, etc. “Happy New Year” & don’t forget to check for a pink slip in your mail.*** Will the city worker’s union step up to the plate to avoid more layoffs & is Himes’ list nothing more than a wish list? *** Inquiring minds would want to know? ***

  4. ***#8- Your obsession with President-Elect Obama & everyone that knows him, past or present, seems to be quite of interest to you! Why don’t you just break down & buy his #2 published books & learn more about the man instead of reading the Sun-Times Tabloid Newspaper. ***


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