Begging For Union Bucks, Plus: ‘Tis The Season For Shameless Plugs

Sporting your negotiating booties? I hope Mayor Bill Finch has his pulled up because this is a telling week as he begins earnest discussions with labor leaders to place a tourniquet on a city budget spewing red ink across the city.

Do you recall back in January and February my rantings (and OIB reader commentaries) urging Finch to pay attention to city business immediately because it only gets worse with time? No, instead he was more interested double-dipping paychecks until the editorial board of the Connecticut Post shamed him into dropping his state senate seat, working triple time twisting arms of city employees on the Democratic Town Committee to keep John Stafstrom titular head of the party and kicking in the teeth Dottie Guman, the woman who did more to advance his political career than any pol on the planet. The result, Mario Testa’s rise from the ashes, Dottie as party vice chair and a city hemorrhaging so much loot that my friend at the Connecticut Post Managing Editor Michael Daly and a boatload of OIB readers have called for the return of a financial oversight board.

Meanwhile, how many of you have run into Finch when he uttered the following declaration: “I didn’t know the job would be this hard.”

Let’s see now, hizzoner spent eight years on the Bridgeport City Council, another seven in the Connecticut State Senate and he had no clue about the difficulty of managing the state’s largest city?  Had he trumpeted the disastrous financial horn after his election–that he is doing today–things wouldn’t be great but they’d be better.

Now here this: Finch is far from perfect, but at his core he is decent, caring and optimistic. If he fundamentally decides to govern the way he wants, screw the politicians (okay, some of them), reach out to experienced hands at negotiating union contracts and spread around the pain he has a chance. What does that mean?

It means it’s going to be hard for Finch to sell the desperation of the city’s financial condition to unions unless he shows the balls to eliminate a selected group of party pols from the payroll. Not all of them, not a lot of them, but some of them.

This is a hard call for a candidate that promised to cut your taxes $600 and then raised them $600 on the schizoid reversal that he didn’t know how bad things were. Finch feels loyalty to folks that busted their butt for his election, and realistically there’s not a large enough patronage payroll to come remotely close to closing this budget deficit.

But I don’t expect union leadership to cry uncle unless Finch pinches a few of his discretionary appointments.

In the end, I don’t think he’ll do that. Where will that leave him nearly five months into the budget year? Ouch. Stay tuned.

Support My Friends

Hey, we’re entering the holiday season. Time to promote local books (beyond mine) and artwork by friends. Don Harrison, the gifted scribe that produced the Bridgeport Light sports section for me when I was publisher of the legendary Bridgeport Light community weekly (yes, it’s been about 20 years) has authored Connecticut Baseball: The Best of the Nutmeg State, loaded with pages and photos of the best Major Leaguers from the Nutmeg State including all the boys from Bridgeport such as Phil Nastu (Bassick), Angel Echevarria (Bassick) Kurt Kepshire (Central) and let’s not forget our Hall of Famer Jim O’Rourke.

Published by The History Press. Buy a whole bunch of copies at

My old pal from The Connecticut Post Charles Walsh is just as talented (and twisted) with his artwork as he is with his column. He’s finally juiced up the urge to take his work public. The image below the press release about his work looks something like me after Charles nearly drowned me on a fishing trip on the Housatonic River years ago. Charles can write and fish but he’s definitely nautically challenged.

Connecticut Post Columnist Charles Walsh to show photographs in Black Rock Insurance Agency

Most people in Fairfield County already know Charles Walsh from his years as a columnist and reporter for the Connecticut Post newspaper, but behind that Walsh has been producing evocative original artwork for many years. In December Walsh will show his works on paper at the Gallery at Black Rock Insurance Agency, 2861 Fairfield Avenue, in Bridgeport. Walsh’s illustrations have been featured in the Connecticut Post and The New York Times. Art has been a passion for Walsh for over 40 years and this show will feature pieces spanning much of his art career.

The rapid growth of both the art and business scene in the Black Rock area prompted agency owner Michael Murren to create a unique coupling of art and business. “The connection between the agency and the local art scene is a refection of the community we serve,” said Murren. “Many of our customers are local artists and it seems like a great way to showcase some of the amazing talent that we have locally. This show will be the first in our new gallery space that will give the Artists a better showcase for their work.”

The agency will host an opening on Thursday December 4th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. The Artist will be available to discuss his work. The opening is free and open to the public refreshments will be served. Community members are welcome to stop in and see the art during normal business hours Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

"Green Man" by Charlie Walsh
"Green Man" by Charlie Walsh


  1. Here is what is going to happen …

    Finch will demand each Union to make concessions and threaten them with layoffs and FRB, which they apparently don’t want either …

    My prediction is, if he doesn’t approach them nicely, which his approach is normally not very nice, they will stick it back at him …

    Then he’ll announce more layoffs, refusing to release the list, while they TRY to figure out exactly who they can put on the list that can’t bump … So I anticipate a lot personnel manuvering in the coming days …

    If he survives this, which I HIGHLY doubt, he will have a strong political future …

    If I were Mayor, I would do the following
    – Consolidate All Finance Functions into one (OPM, Finance, Treasurer, Comptroller)
    – Eliminate CAO office
    – Combine all Inspection offices such as blight, health codes, zoning, building codes, etc. … So that one person oversees all inspectors and even combine some of the inspection roles into one …
    – Would have put together a Charter Rev Comm on Jan 1st, in order to combine HR, Grants Personnel, Civil Service, Labor Relations, etc.
    – In Charter Rev, would have also combined Town Clerk and City Clerk into one function and make it a hired position as opposed to elected
    – Eliminate the deadweight in City Attorney’s office (i.e. the PT Attorneys that never work and are paid close to 6-figure salaries known as Assoc City Attorneys …)
    – Consolidate all City Operations and Staff to one building
    – Update all IT, making everything computerized, eliminating half of the City’s clerical workforce, especially in the PD, Health Dept, etc. … And that way there is no need to search for typewriters

    I think with all of this, I have cut the budget expenditures by at least 25% …

  2. Almost forgot, the biggest part of my Mayoral intents
    – Beg the state to put the BOE under City control so that the Supertintendent reports to the mayor … And instead of a 9-Member Board of Ed, all matters relating to the School System that need major approval would go through the Council’s Education Committee
    – I would also look at the list of the City’s Boards and Commissions and combine or eliminate as necessary

  3. The Oracle of Omaha Steaks

    Don’t forget The Taste of Black Rock this Thursday evening from 5:30-7:30. For more info please go to www

    Warren will be signing his book featuring soap opera gourmands entitled “As The Tables Turn”. A juicy tell-all of the edge of tables co-authored with Soapy Sales.

    Happy Birthday Shout Outs to MCAT (today) and a belated birthday wish to our old OIB buddy gone, but never forgotten Envoy5.

  4. NOW HEAR THIS: Mayor Finch resigned his state senate position as soon as his legal and political position was decided and certified by the court. Patience was forced upon him. Check the archives. He won the primary twice! He was not seeking personal gain but rather legal certitude.

  5. Local Eyes // Nov 17, 2008 at 7:43 am

    NOW HEAR THIS: Mayor Finch resigned his state senate position as soon as his legal and political position was decided and certified by the court. Patience was forced upon him. Check the archives. He won the primary twice! He was not seeking personal gain but rather legal certitude.”


    Finch gave up his Senate seat ONLY when it was POLITICALLY expedient to do so and only upon the advice and consent of the political hacks who control his life.

    LOCAL EYES … you are a consummate fart head.

  6. More on the subject of FRB and saving money:

    If the council did its job in producing and following a true and accurate budget we wouldn’t need an FRB. But they don’t and haven’t so we DO need an FRB.

    Finch needs to ax positions at the top as well as the bottom. No more deputies or assistants. No more press people. No more double-dippers.

    Temporarily suspend elected officials from working for the city. Ask all employees to sign a statement to voluntarily refrain from holding an elected office.

    Look at each city department. If it produces revenue increase the staff to maximize the potential. If it spends money, evaluate its need and staff it based on productivity.

    Where do our reps and senators fall on the issue? They should be telling Finch and the council to create a plan in 20 days or they will approach the governor to implement the FRB.

  7. Local Eyes regarding Finch certification I have to concur with yahooy. Your eyes must be turning brown from all the shit you are ingesting from Bull Finch.

    BTW- Did Finch ever donate his double-dip earnings from the state to the Zoo as promised? That promise must have flown the coop with his $600.00 tax deal.

  8. From the archives: October, 2007

    Oops I spilled the beans on my last post.

    envoyCat. Welcome back. You are right on about Steal Point.
    It’s a land bank scam. The developer has no economic reason to do anything ’til they flip the deal.

    Most deals have penalties for non-purrrformance. Eg; an option to buy usually has a monetary condition to the deal. No purrrrformance within the stated period of time you lose your down payment. This deal has been flipped so many times they should bring back the ’60s show Flipper.

    Also, the land disposition agreement allows the developer to do the minimum. Meanwhile, everybody is talking about job anticipation, tax anticipation based on the max. Well what are the numbers for the min.? How do those numbers equate to the 190 mil TIF.
    Like I said in an earlier scratching post. You get 50 acres for $5mil. Go to the Pequonnock Yacht Club and sell them back their land for $4.75 (the amt. the city is giving them) and then go flip the deal to a real developer for $20 million.

    I don’t like Mazola. I prefer EVOO.

    PS. Remember what I said about Electile Dysfunction? Posted by Tom Cat on 10.18.07 at 7.

  9. It’s more than a wee bit amusing (bemusing?) that politicians campaign on a platform of “change” only to be elected to high office to learn (the hard way) that change is not so easily accomplished when there are other elected officials holding lower offices. Said politicians holding these lower offices have their own constituencies and special-interest groups to deal with. The special-interest groups in particular may feel that these elected officials OWE them something, a return on all of those votes and campaign contributions for example.

  10. Not that Mayor Finch is beholden to any special interests. More than a few bloggers have tried to claim that he is. This is a great place to start unfounded rumors. There is so much baseless paranoia out there, and too many people with too much time on their hands. So all they do is sit around in front of a computer terminal, peering betwen the slats of the drawn window shades, wondering if the black helicoptors are coming today?

    Maybe, just maybe, Mr. Finch doesn’t want to be Mayor of Bridgeport for more than one term. The city is on the verge of bankruptcy and no one gives a damn. He’s trying to fix problems that have existed for years. Is he geting any credit? No, no, hell, no. The criticism is being heaped on, though. All of the know-it-all armchair hacks in town are too quick to point out what they perceive as Finch’s fuckups, never once considering that he inherited a bunch of crap from previous administrations.

  11. Bpts Finest:

    My reference to Ayala is made because he was on the council when our money was being squandered. He has been mentioned as a possible candidate for Mayor. And as a state rep, he should be commenting on the problems we have, as should the rest of the delegation. I’d like to see all the state reps and senators Musto and Gomes comment on the concept of a new FRB.

    Tell me, don’t you find it amazing and amusing that bloggers and editorials can address an FRB but the elected jerks who put us in this bind are all running for cover?

  12. Indy … as a state rep he represents a small portion of the people of the city … when he was running a few months ago for the primary no one showed up except for the Ffld County Weekly to cover a press conferance he held … I don’t imagine anyone would be listening if he were to speak up today as it isn’t newsworthy in the local media’s opinions … and there isn’t anything as a state rep he could do in my opinion.

  13. Hi Bpts Finest, I’m always interested to hear what members of the city’s legislative delegation have to say, especially since they impact the amount of dough the city receives from the state. Please encourage Andres to check out OIB. I understand he is not a fan of blogs, but he’s always welcome here.

  14. The city was going up in smoke when Finch inherited it. However sincere he was, he was misguided and made it a bonfire. He should have put politics aside, absolutely not tolerated any infighting, made a large umbrella of people who knew the City and hired people based on qualifications not payback.

    This is why public campaign finance reform is so important. The candidate can stop, excuse the phrase, whoring around for money. The fundraisers supply a steady line of Johns who want something in exchange for their dough. Then the threats of not raising money unless the candidates cooperate will go away. Finch was trying to please several factions and he ended up with a bunch of people who either didn’t get along or were unqualified.

    Finance reform won’t get rid of the thugs though. Those oh so clever extortionists who threaten jobs (and sometimes limbs) in broad daylight. I know it is hard because jobs can be on the line, but can people just report this stuff to the FBI or state ethics, elections enforcement? Skip the official Bridgeport route and go out of the jurisdiction.

  15. Lennie … As I’m sure you know there are many bloggers who will blow out your candle thinking theirs will burn brighter … and being the unhappy souls that they are they will attack no matter what is said and will find fault no matter what is done, good or evil … but … I’ll see what I can do … lol.

  16. I’m reading some of these postings and it’s nice to see that a few people aren’t ripping their co-workers and the mayor into little pieces. This is one of the reasons I don’t even post anymore; some of it is too mean for my liking. Bpts Finest and Bridgeport Kid sound like decent people; too bad there aren’t too many like them. They make good points and don’t insult people. My prayers are with Bridgeport and the mayor; this is a terrible time to have gotten stuck with all this mess and all these people dissing him doesn’t help anything.

  17. Feds make Booty call in Shelton.

    The FBI arrested Shelton real estate developer Jim Botti this morning at his home in Shelton. Grand Jury charges are to be unsealed this afternoon at New Haven Federal Courthouse.

  18. Kitty … don’t let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch girl … we aren’t going to solve the world’s problems here … but maybe a few in our beloved Bpt … keep postin’!!!

  19. Thanks Warren for the well wishes. In reading the previous posts, I can only say everyone on this blog is guilty of a little venting, finger-pointing and blame-throwing. However that doesn’t mean we don’t move on.

    As to the state delegation, please don’t everyone throw up their hands and say what can we do. I know what the delegation can do when all eight come together. This year there are 8 members of the majority party. While there will be cutbacks and money is scarce it doesn’t mean you can’t have a meaningful voice in where the money goes. They need to all come together and work on a legislative agenda that will support what Bridgeport needs. Check any egos at the door, do the research to find out what has worked in other states, look for regional solutions and incentives. An FRB is an expensive, lengthy process and the state may find that giving the City a little attention now may save dollars in the long run. We need to make the State look at the big picture here.

    Prevention legislation is much more cost-effective than Crisis Legislation. What has worked in other states is when there is an accountability component put in the ECS. You may lose a little control but the additional dollars are worth it.

    Good luck to all the newly elected officials and the ones who have been fighting for what they think is right. At least you are fighting for what you think is right, even if people disagree with your policies. It will be a tough year or three and those that govern need all the support they can get.

  20. You are right Bpts Finest, but it’s boring and depressing to read the same old gripes over and over. It’s like they made their point, how many times do we have to read it? Then if you don’t agree with them, they start insulting your intelligence. I guess I’ll just have to take my chances.

  21. #1 & #2- Points well taken, however many of your (things to do) list would take quite some time. For instance any charter revisions or changing of city, union or state labor laws or contracts, etc. Also the changing of elected part-time positions to civil service city jobs will probably “not” be cost savings nor something that the Mayor alone could change in #1 budget year! But for the most part it was wishful thinking on your part. *** Also, since you seem to advocate so much in favor of Mr. Ayala being Mayor someday, I’m surprised you feel that because he’s a State Rep. that represents 1/8th of Bpt. there’s really nothing he could say or do concerning the city’s budget? But then again, I don’t hear anything coming from any of the other elected officials either; maybe silence is golden! What’s Celia, Eddie, Cesar & Bpt’s Fin. have to say on the subject? Probably the same, you think? ***

  22. *** I’m not much of an art critic, however if the rest of C. Walsh’s art paintings look like the green man you posted @ the begining of this forum, “forget about it”! ***

  23. MCAT

    Gimme a break. Bridgeport’s sorry legislative delegation is about as weak and ineffective as they get. How much have they produced for Bridgeport? A lot of hot air and not much else. Seems that the only thing that they are good for is stroking their own inflated egos.

    Celia Cruz

    Good luck fixing civil service. The last time they tried to clean up that mess (back in ’91 or ’92) people got run out of town. Remember Lennie?

  24. MCAT … MCAT … MCAT …

    Will you never cease your quest? He is simply not the man who can solve the financial crisis. He never was and he never will be.

    I pray to God that we will not go so far under on his watch that we can never recover.


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