5 p.m. update: If you saw a throng hanging out this afternoon at the commuter lot on Jefferson Street, the artery that runs along the Merritt from the GE headquarters in Fairfield to the city line on Park Avenue, that was VP Joe Biden, Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Jim Himes talking about stimulus loot improving the parkway.
Anyone go? When the parkway was constructed in the mid 1930s it serpentined just outside Bridgeport proper. Maybe the feds can make up for this directional indiscretion by building … a new freaking I-95!!!
Power of incumbency is a nice thing sometimes. Dodd, in particular needs these kinds of media hits as he fends off a field of Republican challengers who’ll not be short of money taking shots at him. Dodd will have plenty of financial firepower to fire back as the 2010 election cycle kicks into high gear.
Dodd seems like he’s won back the Dems. Now he has the more difficult job of winning Connecticut-dominant independent voters.
Himes will get a double dose of action out of this, free media hit plus a fundraiser in Greenwich featuring Uncle Joe.
Is There Love In Liberia?
A couple of items today: one involves smooching and making up (I think) and the other a community group’s continued eye-gouging of Planning & Zoning commissioners.
Mayor Bill Finch and Charlie Tisdale, executive director of the city’s anti-poverty agency ABCD, announced today a settlement regarding foreclosure of two historic homes in the “Little Liberia” district. The city’s action has been opposed by neighborhood preservationists.
The Freeman houses were named after sisters who constructed them in the mid-1800s among the earliest homes for free black families in Connecticut. ABCD owns the homes and claims its nonprofit status makes them tax exempt. The city claimed not so and demanded $116,000 in delinquent taxes going back many years.
OIB friend Charlie Brilvitch, an expert on Bridgeport architectural history, filed this report:
Went to this thing this morning and still can’t figure out why it warranted a press conference. Finch gave a speech extolling the concept of day care at length (had me scratching my head), and then began talking about African American freedom and how it was embodied in the Freeman Houses (some of his historical discourse made me wince at its glaring inaccuracy–didn’t anybody so much as look at my book???) It wasn’t until Brad Durrell (Bridgeport News) asked a question at the conclusion of the remarks that we learned why we were all there–an ‘agreement’ had been reached with regards to ABCD’s back taxes.
So that was it–no restoration plans announced, no couple-thousand-dollars put up to stabilize the structures, not even $150 to put a blue plastic tarp over the roof to keep any more water from getting in. Wish I had better news to report back!
Only in Bridgeport.
Gaga Over Communications
A public hearing on the city’s proposed zoning map which has been in the works for years and subject of heated exchanges between the Committee to Ungag the People and city officials will take place Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. in City Council chambers on Lyon Terrace.
I always find it appropriate that City Hall is located on Lyon Terrace. Someone is always lying, or accused of it, on Lyon Terrace.
The Committee to Ungag the People has been a big pain in the ass to Planning & Zoning Commissioners on a number of fronts. Commission members in return say the community activists are grandstanding demagogues. The latest salvo comes from Ungag which sent a letter the other day to Planning & Zoning Commission members Jose Tiago, Carl Kish, Melville Riley Jr., Reginald Walker, Barbara A. Freddino, Gail Solis, Robert Morton, and alternates Anne Pappas-Phillips and Thomas Fedele. See letter below. View the city’s website page showing current and proposed map changes here:
UNGAG THE PEOPLE!
746 Westfield Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06606
October 2, 2009
To: Planning and Zoning Commissioners
From: Committee to Ungag the People!
Cc: Mayor Bill Finch
Re: Zoning Crisis
Dear Bridgeport Planning and Zoning Commissioners
Reference is made to the Connecticut Postarticle dated September 25, 2009, in which it is reported that City Attorney Mark Anastasi advised you that our recent invitation to each of you to discuss our zoning concerns would have violated Connecticut’s FOIA laws by constituting an “illegal P & Z Commission meeting”. Attorney Anastasi unequivocally proves the point we have been trying to make. His advice most certainly would have to equally apply to the ex partecommunications that have taken place between certain members of the PZC, on the one hand, and with certain developers and special interests, on the other. Per Anastasi’s advice, ex partecommunications by some of you were and are illegal due to the fact that such communications did not take place as part of a public hearing process as required by the FOIA.
Both from our observations of conduct by some of you and by the Associate City Attorney, Greg Conte, at Planning and Zoning meetings and hearings, as well as from the very record of such meetings and hearings, it is clear that some of you have had ex parte communications with developers and/or special interests about pending zoning matters either directly or through their counsel. We know who you are.
Moreover, while the general public (comprised of taxpayers and concerned citizens and neighbors) has only been given 5 minutes each to speak on vitally important matters at hearings, it is apparent to us that developers and special interests have gotten much more time than that to speak to some of you about matters of concern to them that are or have been before you.
We are therefore respectfully demanding that those of you who have had ex partecommunications with developers and special interests recuse yourselves from voting on the zoning matters before you and that the hearing process begin again with only members or alternates of the P & Z who have not been tainted by the illegal actions of developers and special interests that border on corruption. These developers and special interests have gained persuasive, professional, undue influence over you from an authoritative source (i.e.,P & Z counsel), and this has caused there to be an inequity of access to P & Z voting members that raises the bar for those who play by the rules, puts them at unfair disadvantage in defending and protecting their properties, and violates the State’s FOIA laws. We were simply trying to correct this injustice by calling for a meeting to level the playing field for residents and taxpayers and dull the blade of corruption and lawlessness that now pervades the P & Z process on the matters at hand.
If you do not do the right thing by recusing yourselves to the extent that you have acted illegally, we will be forced to see that our rights and our neighborhoods are protected in other ways and by other means including legal action, law enforcement, and other legal paths for recourse against the aberration of due process and the trouncing of the rights of Bridgeport residents to protect their neighborhoods through the due process of law that shouts out of our constitution for just and fair treatment of all.
THE COMMITTEE TO UNGAG THE PEOPLE!
Michael T. Voytek, Esq., Chairman
Eugene Allen, Neighborhood Captain
Mark Eigenbrodt, Neighborhood Captain
Cesar Cordero, Neighborhood Captain
Dee Manento, Neighborhood Captain
Gloria Carbone, Neighborhood Captain
Mary Beth Watson, Neighborhood Captain
Auden Grogins event
MAJORITY LEADER DENISE MERRILL, REP. AUDEN GROGINS TO HOLD INFORMATIONAL FORUM AT BLACK ROCK LIBRARY IN BRIDGEPORT
Majority Leader Denise Merrill (D-Storrs, Mansfield), Representative Auden Grogins (D-Bridgeport), will hold an informational forum in conjunction with Black Rock Families for Excellence on the current and future state of education in Connecticut.
The event will be held at the Black Rock Library at 7:00 p.m., 2705 Fairfield Avenue and will focus on the impact of the state budget on the Bridgeport educational system.
Among the topics that will be discussed are:
— 2009-2010 Legislative initiatives
— Overview of current state education budget
— Overview of the budget process and how to advocate for your schools
— Federal education stimulus dollars
— Charter school application process
— New regional Discovery magnet elementary and high schools
— School construction
WHAT: Informational Forum on the State of Education
WHEN: Tuesday, October 6, 2009
WHERE: Black Rock Library
2705 Fairfield Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06605
TIME: 7:00 p.m.