Lots going on this week. Candidate endorsements, Gathering of the Vibes at Seaside Park and oh, yeah, the OIB party Thursday, 5:30 p.m. at Taco Loco in Black Rock.
Candidates for Board of Education made their pitch Sunday night at Testo’s Restaurant to 10 district leaders that represent the 90-member Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee that will make endorsements Wednesday night. Candidates addressed the district leaders individually for about 15 minutes answering questions about motivating kids, prioritizing the BOE budget, etc.
Not since Mayor Bill Finch tried to keep former Democratic Town Chair John Stafstrom in power 16 months ago has he weighed in with party regulars this heavily to wire candidates on his behalf. Finch got his ass kicked trying to save Stafstrom. The party went for Mario Testa. But this is another fight. This latest battle also pits Finch against his political godmother party Vice Chair Dottie Guman, as did the Stafstrom-Testa contest.
Finch’s relationship with Guman has soured since he became mayor–she’s not thrilled with the way he’s governed the city, nor his streak of arrogance–and the rift seems to be growing deeper in this BOE battle.
Finch is working the party to endorse former City Councilman Pat Crossin and City Councilwoman Leticia Colon. Guman is not opposed to either, but would like to see retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez–a Guman friend and steady volunteer on behalf of many BOE issues–endorsed for a slot.
Also seeking BOE support is former City Councilman Keith Cougar Rodgerson. Joe Giaquinto who waged a strong primary in 2007 against 138th City Council incumbents Bob Curwen and Rich Paoletto has decided not to seek a BOE seat.
Three Dem slots are available but one does not appear to be in contention–the seat occupied by incumbent Bobby Simmons. That leaves two with five candidates.
Guman feels that Finch’s people are unfairly demonizing Lopez who had a squabble with Finch during the Puerto Rican Parade dinner 10 days ago (see prior post for details). Finch does not want Lopez on the BOE. He sees her in the mold of outgoing BOE President Max Medina with whom Finch has had a poor relationship over budget matters.
In Crossin, Finch has a friend he feels he can work with. In Colon he has someone who has been supportive on the council aligned with South End District Leader Mitch Robles who wields clout with Finch.
In random calls to town committee members it appears Crossin is acceptable in most districts. The battle appears over Colon and Lopez. But that could change between now and Wednesday night in the crazy world of city politics.
Could there be a primary? Yes, but there hasn’t been a good BOE primary in 10 years when anti-establishment pols such as OIB friend John Soltis challenged a slate of candidates pushed by Testa who survived by the skin of his sausage intestines (yeah, I know, not the kind of image you want on a Monday). Running a BOE primary requires a citywide effort.
So far, Mario’s not pushing hard for a particular candidate, possibly trying to stay above the battle to negotiate a compromise.
Why does any of this matter? The BOE budget represents roughly one third of the overall half-billion dollar city budget.
SuBy news release
Bysiewicz: First Half of 2009 Sets New Record High for Number of Businesses Shutting Down in Connecticut
Secretary of the State Says Glimmer of Hope Seen as Number of 2nd Quarter Shut-Downs Lower than First Quarter
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz reported today that in the first half of 2009, 6,944 businesses shut down, setting a new record for the first half of any year since these figures were first recorded in 2000. This represents a 17% percent increase in the number of business failures from the first two quarters of 2008. In the second quarter of 2009, 3,467 filed papers to dissolve, just under the 3,477 to shut their doors in the first quarter of this year. Meanwhile, 6,937 new businesses incorporated between April 1st and June 30th of 2009, slightly less than the 6,941 start-ups in the first quarter. Business starts in the first half of 2009 declined 9.6% from 2008 figures.
“Obviously, this is still a difficult economic climate for our state’s entrepreneurs, but we may be starting to see the recession bottom out,” said Secretary Bysiewicz, Connecticut’s Chief Business Registrar. “While 2009 may yet set the record for most business failures, it appears the severity of both the number of closures and the decline of new business start-ups is lessening, so I see this as a glimmer of hope for our economy. Connecticut’s small businesses still need our help now to reduce costs and create a more favorable climate for profitability, particularly in areas such as health care and utilities. We also need to continue to hold down unnecessary taxes and fees, and continue to offer financial incentives to enter new areas of business such as green technologies, life sciences, and alternative energy sources.”
The monthly figures contained in the Business Starts Index released by the Secretary of the State’s Office are available online at www.sots.ct.gov. The statistics show that in April 2009, 1,521 businesses filed paperwork to dissolve their company, followed by another 929 in May and 1,017 in June. Connecticut experienced a 13% increase in the number of business failures in the second quarter of 2009 over 2008 data.
The number of new business starts declined in comparison to previous years. In the second quarter of 2009, 4% fewer businesses filed incorporation papers than in the second quarter of 2008, when 7,224 businesses opened their doors. These figures represent the lowest number of 2nd quarter business start-ups since 2003. They show that in April 2009, some 2,412 companies filed incorporation papers in Connecticut, followed by 2,152 in May and 2,363 in June.
After reviewing Secretary of the State Bysiewicz’s report, Don Klepper-Smith, Chief Economist and Director of Research for DataCore Partners LLC and Chairman of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors said, “Connecticut is still facing the headwinds from a national recession, which I believe is in the process of bottoming. Over the near-term we’ve seen the continued loss of jobs, a lackluster housing market, and a risk-averse lending environment. Business attitudes have remained cautious as a result. This data on business starts and stops confirms the overall tenor of economic growth that we’ve been seeing. Hopefully, confidence measures, which generally lead to overall economic activity, will start to improve from here, suggesting that business formation could improve in 2010.”
In her assessment of the report Secretary Bysiewicz said that, “Small businesses have created over 90% of all new jobs in Connecticut in the last 10 years and they are the engines of our economy. We owe it to the entrepreneurs of our state to make it easier for them to do business by reducing the high cost of health care and energy. This is a crucial goals we must meet if we are to reverse the economic trend we have seen over the last year.”
Secretary Bysiewicz has been a strong advocate for opening up the state employee health care plan to small businesses and non-profit organizations, an effort which would save millions for businesses. Two recent health care reform bills, the Connecticut Health Care Partnership and the SustiNet plan were passed overwhelmingly by the Connecticut General Assembly but were vetoed by Governor M. Jodi Rell.