Budget Politics, A Leap Of Faith

This is a kooky budget cycle for several reasons.

Mayor Bill Finch wants to avoid a tax increase with reelection next year and State Rep. Chris Caruso breathing down his neck for another shot at the mayoralty. The Big Wave came up a few hundred votes short in a Democratic primary against Johnny Fabs in 2003 and Finch again in 2007. We’re just a year away from a full-blown mayoral campaign. Right now Caruso is the only threat between the mayor and his reelection, although other potential candidates may step up. Finch will have plenty of dough to make his case to voters. Caruso, not a relentless fundraiser, will have enough loot to stay in play.

The mayor has strung together a budget with a disengaged lame-duck GOP governor unwilling to help the state’s largest city, a state legislature shrugging shoulders saying hey we’ve got our own problems, and an electorate wondering what the future holds.

Strategically, the mayor has submitted a spending plan I cannot recall another chief executive doing openly. Essentially the mayor is saying the budget I’ve presented is not in balance, but we’ll balance it with millions in giveback cooperation from the government workforce. The bottom line to taxpayer reaction to the budget comes when the City Council sets the mil rate in June. Until that happens the budget-submission process largely is background noise. Yell, scream, this and that. It doesn’t matter until the tax bill comes the first week of July. If it’s the same, voters are happy. If it increases to reach voter frustration they’ll mold a voodoo doll in the image of the city’s chief executive.

So there’s a leap of faith in this budget process. If government employees step up again the mayor can proclaim thank you, we’ve done this against the worst economic calamity in our lifetime. If they don’t the other way to get there is layoffs. But what departments can afford the hit? Uniformed services are scheduled for negotiated wage increases the budget year beginning July 1 after agreeing to zero increases for a couple of years. And the budget proposed assumes the Board of Education maintains flatline spending.

What happens next year when a $25 million payment comes due for the city’s bond-financed pension obligation following a two-year moratorium approved by the Connecticut Legislature in the hope the market rebounds? Can the city get another extension? Stay tuned for a similar budget process: we’ve submitted a balanced budget if we get this, this and that. If not, say hello to a built-in budget deficit that must be closed whether by the incumbent mayor or a new one.

Dick Likes M&M, news release

Mindy Myers to Serve as Blumenthal for Senate Campaign Manager

HARTFORD, CT—Richard Blumenthal’s Senate campaign today announced that Mindy Myers will serve as campaign manager. Myers will take a leave of absence from the office of U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), where she serves as Chief of Staff.

“Washington needs an independent leader like Dick Blumenthal, who fights for people, never backs down from doing what’s right and isn’t afraid to stand up to the special interests,” Myers said. “There’s a lot at stake in this election, and I’m excited to work with the Blumenthal campaign team as we build a strong grassroots campaign throughout Connecticut.”

Myers also took a leave of absence during the 2008 cycle to serve as the Obama Campaign’s New Hampshire State Director in the general election. Before taking the reins of Whitehouse’s Senate office, Myers managed his 2006 Senate race, beating a popular Republican incumbent in a race critical to Democrats taking control of the U.S. Senate. Prior to that, she served as Senior Advisor and Political Director for former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Myers served as Deputy Director for Constituency Outreach for Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000, and worked in the Legislative Affairs office in the Clinton White House. Myers will return to Whitehouse’s Senate office after the election.

“Mindy knows what it takes to win, and we’re pleased to have her leading our campaign team,” said Michael Cacace, the Blumenthal for Senate Campaign Chairman. “The campaign is off to a tremendous start – Dick had an exceptionally strong opening fundraising quarter; he’s traveling the state talking to voters about the issues important to them; and he’s continuing his extraordinary service as Connecticut’s Attorney General. He and our entire campaign staff are taking nothing for granted. With Dick and Mindy leading the charge, we will elect Dick Connecticut’s next U.S. Senator, and give the people of Connecticut something they sorely need: an independent advocate who will fight for them in Washington.”



  1. To assume the city unions will be open to more givebacks is a big leap of faith. The unions gave back the last budget cycle only to see the administration continue to hire politically connected friends and family.
    Why does the administration feel they can get more givebacks from the unions? There are a number of reasons.
    1. Many of the city unions leadership group are in the mayor’s pocket and are there at the expense of the union members.
    2. There is a National assault on public employee wages and benefits. The mantra being sung is in these hard economic times public service employees are paid 24% more than their private-sector counterparts. There is very little sympathy out there for the public service employees. The public feels they are a bunch of overpaid dilettantes who drink coffee and generally don’t work. BTW I disagree.
    The unions need to put aside any differences they may have and join together. They need to educate the public and start a public-service program that destroys the taxpayer image of them. They need to educate the public.
    If the mayor is predicating his budget on givebacks let me suggest he and his administration start by setting an example;
    1. All appointees should take a 5 or 10% pay cut.
    2. Really enforce the taking home of city vehicles by a select few. Hiding behind reregistering these take-home vehicles fooled no one.
    3. Stop hiring political friends and allies.
    4. Strictly monitor employee overtime; stop the favored few from doubling their salaries.
    5. Look into privatization in some areas.
    6. Defer step raises for management employees, if true. How does one health inspector get a $13,000 raise when employees are asked to give back?
    Let’s stop the bullshit and let everyone feel the pain. Will it happen? NO.

    1. My sources tell me when the mayor had his big pep rally with union leadership last week, the Police and Fire Union representatives didn’t even show up? So what’s the deal there? Are they already cutting a new deal knowing they have the mayor over a barrel?
      And to CHS, the city privatizes and still keeps the same number of employees?
      Look at the tax collector. People can pay over the internet, the city sells tax liens in bulk, the city liens real estate and personal property and sends state marshals out to execute the liens and still there is no cutback in personnel and no flexibility with the hours the office is open.
      Look at the Tax Assessors office. We pay over a million dollars for a full assessment that isn’t really done, the private firm is supposed to handle all tax appeals and yet there is no cutback in staffing.
      The city contracts with a private firm to do work for Economic Development to analyze tax deals, developments deals, financing for development since this firm is supposed to have the expertise and yet there is no new development, there are no cuts to the Planning and Economic Development personnel and there is no major development for at least two years.
      In Bridgeport privatization usually means bringing in someone from the outside to do the work no one on the inside is capable of doing or wants to do and yet everyone on the inside keeps their job. Also see Iris and Veronica.

  2. Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors, that is what the past three mayors have done with the City’s budget.

    There will be NO check in the mail to the mayor to help, there will be NO give-backs from fire and police and if Mayor Finch goes for layoffs of fire and police it will be on Mayor Finch’s back of endangering the health and safety of the residents of Bridgeport.

    “town committee” has listed a number of things suggested to the City for years but the mayor’s main concern is to get reelected by “smoke and mirrors.”

  3. When do the police get their negotiated raises of 5 & 6 percent over a two-year period? We need to use a scalpel when cutting and the surgeon needs to start in his own operating room. If employees can be furloughed then they can be laid off. Then get a vet and send the horses packing.

    1. The old gray mare,
      She ain’t what she used to be,
      Ain’t what she used to be,
      Ain’t what she used to be
      The old gray mare,
      She ain’t what she used to be,
      Many long years ago.

      Many long years ago,
      Many long years ago,
      The old gray mare,
      She ain’t what she used to be,
      Many long years ago.

      Wilburrr, get me some oats Wilbur.

  4. You want to balance the budget and keep from raising taxes let me offer this up. Get the BOE out of city hall.
    Close the annex offices and have the departments presently there move back to city hall. Have CC move to the new Public Facility Building or back to the park department.
    If we own the annex building sell it. If we are renting the space stop paying rent. Having 2 city halls is crazy and financially irresponsible.
    Stop remodeling office space every time we bring in a new manager. Please make do with the office furniture we have.
    BOE instead of renting or buying another building close one of the underpopulated schools such as Hall, Edison, Dunbar, Sheridan and make them the BOE offices. You already own the building and won’t have to pay rent or pay an inflated purchase price.

    1. Without a tax increase???
      What about the one mil increase the city says is not their fault but the fault of the voters who approved the library referendum?
      A tax increase by any other name is still a tax increase. See you and Lennie already fell for this illogical argument.

  5. This whole budget thing would be funny if it weren’t so sad. We are being managed by a group of totally incompetent liars and self-indulgent politicians.

  6. TC:
    You make it sound like a slur to call the administration “totally incompetent liars.” I think you are happy they are not good liars.
    All the things we are reading today, after all, were predicted long ago on this webzine. Those concerns were dismissed. But those concerns keep coming back. A competent liar reasonably should be able to paper this over a while longer.
    The mayor cannot get around the fact these are his budgets. These were his contract negotiations that lead to these salary projections and pension obligations.
    In good faith, TC, I don’t think you meant to slur the administration by calling them “totally incompetent liars.”
    I would like to humbly and respectfully suggest that you meant to say “totally incompetent administrators.”

  7. enlightened: Maybe I overdid it a bit but let me present my evidence. The city unions were told everyone needed to tighten their belts and give back pay and take time off without pay so the city would not have to raise taxes and such.
    The union gave back and what did the administration do? They continued to hire politically connected people regardless of the budget problems. Politically connected continued to get raises or the newly hired were hired at a high rate.
    The administration fired department heads at will they trumped up charges and when lawsuits were threatened they made large cash settlements. The charges for the most part were bogus thus lies.
    The word liar is too strong in your opinion so I will change and use the words totally incompetent players with the truth.
    For the most part the career city worker is hardworking, loyal and does care about the city. They deserve better than they have gotten from this administration. The city was in trouble and when asked to step up they did. Did the administration step up? NO they went on a hiring binge that rivals nothing I have seen in all my years in the city. “Liars.” Let the people be the judge at election time. BTW I am still waiting for my $600.

  8. I apologize. Part of doing this right is backing up your work. I did and discovered the BETA version of Bridgeport’s site is being updated (already).

    Return later. Here’s the good part: your acquired data has just been updated.


  9. Oh enlightened one, riddle me this …
    Are you suggesting they are not incompetent?
    They are not liars?
    Or are you suggesting they are both incompetent and liars but are very competent when it comes to lying?

    1. Grin, the shit these morons are spreading around is a lot more than white lies. It is total unadulterated bullshit. Never has a mayor asked the unions for concessions two years in a row. He must think the employees are stupid. They took no raises and gave huge concessions in health benefits. They did this to save the jobs of fellow union members and to help the city they love. Then they watched the new hires, increases to the DTC members and office renovations for the likes of Charlie and Lisa.
      I don’t speak for the employees but those I know are totally pissed.
      I say call Finch’s bluff. Who is left to lay off? The only reason the city is marginally functioning is because the qualified employees still outnumber the appointed morons. You lay off any more of the actual workers and you might as well shut and deadbolt the doors.

  10. *** Wonder how the Census Tee-shirt giveaway went this past weekend? Saw a few grade kids with Census-2010 tee-shirts @ the park but doubt if they actually were the ones filling out the form? *** Talking about the park, seems like Parks & Rec. is going to need much more sand for West beach to level off the beach and bring up the sand levels high enough to fill gaps & cover some of the crumbling seawall so it’s better protected from the elements. Slowly but surely some of the damage is being addressed; wonder if the city’s applied for any grants or damage-related seashore fed. stimulus-type funds, if any actually exist? The city must try harder to preserve gems like our parks & golf course in Bpt. *** And last but not least, I wonder if there are any leads into the chainsaw tree debacle @ St. Mary’s? Seems like recording hidden cameras is the way of the future when it comes to trying to protect city property in general as well as crime & public safety. This way negative crime events & people can be recorded for ID & prosecution purposes. After all, “fire” seems to be the Devil’s only friend? ***


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