Politics and personalities can be a big pain in the ass. All you have to do is look at Mayor Bill Finch’s relationship with the City Council.
The Connecticut Post has caught up to a story that OIB has been following for a few months–selection of bond counsel that advises the city on a variety of financial matters. Pullman & Comley, the law firm that employs former party chairman John Stafstrom occupies that position. Finch wants to reward Stafstrom for helping his election last year. Pullman also happens to be qualified to do the work.
Finch created a selection process for the work solely as cover to avoid criticism that he’s keeping in place someone that raised a boatload of dough for him. The process didn’t make any sense to me. If Stafstrom’s firm is already there and you want status quo, just let things be. But as we know the mayor is smart and I’m stupid, so now Finch is wasting a lot of time trying to deliver the firm because the council wants to seek approval of the bond counsel hiring. City Attorney Mark Anastasi says the city charter and state statute gives him broad authority to hire outside law firms. Opponents to that position such as Councilman Bob Walsh say that only applies to civil litigation and not an entity that provides advisory consultation on financial issues.
Anyhoo, the missing piece to the Post story is what role City Council President Tom McCarthy plays in this issue. Finch alone cannot deliver the votes to prevent the council from intruding on this issue because his relationship isn’t strong enough with the legislative body. The mayor is lucky to have three or four votes on any one issue. He needs McCarthy to make it work. McCarthy and Stafstrom haven’t been warm and fuzzy since McCarthy threw his support to Mario Testa, instead of Stafstrom, for Democratic Party leadership in March. My sense is McCarthy, a lawyer, believes Anastasi’s on the side of the angels, and probably won’t make a big deal out of it.
Testa has reached out to Finch in the past couple of weeks, and Finch has done the same. The day after OIB did a Pol Pod interview with the town chairman, who didn’t exactly give the mayor a ringing endorsement, Mario was escorted to the mayor’s office for a meeting with Finch. The mayor wasn’t pleased with what Mario had to say in the interview. Finch has asked Testa to raise money to help retire his legal debt from the court action State Rep. Chris Caruso brought following his primary loss to Finch last year. And Testa showed up at the ceremony last week in which the mayor honored his gracious dad, a World War II veteran, to highlight the need to raise money for a war memorial downtown.
Testa has a lot of support on the council so Finch will make life a lot easier for himself if he has McCarthy on his side. And it’s also easier for McCarthy if Mario and the mayor aren’t fighting.
Hey, it was good to see Democratic State Senate candidate Anthony Musto banter with OIB posters the other day. It can be intimidating for candidates to jump into exchanges knowing a verbal salvo may be forthcoming but Musto did a nice job. Check out his campaign website, under construction, www.votemusto.com.
Just two weeks left until Tsunami Tuesday primary day. Let the predictions fly.
Finch Announces Appointments
Mayor Finch announced two key appointments today, Charlie Carroll to head Public Facilities and John Gomes to lead the CitiStat Program. I wonder where this leaves Brian Williams, the long-time deputy CAO. See mayoral press release below:
Mayor Bill Finch today named Charles M. Carroll, currently the director of parks and recreation, as Bridgeport’s newest director of public facilities; and John Gomes, a former executive at Nestle, USA, as the first director of Bridgeport’s CitiStat program.
Carroll, a lifelong Bridgeport resident, will fill the vacant position public facilities director position effective immediately.
Gomes, whose primary residence has been in Bridgeport since 1981 when he emigrated from Cape Verde, will head the much heralded CitiStat program designed to make each city department accountable for their actions in order to save money while improving their services for Bridgeport residents and taxpayers.
“I’m very pleased with both these appointments,” said Mayor Finch. “Charlie Carroll is definitely the right person to direct the Public Facilities Department. He not only understands the workings of city government well, he also knows our streets, parks and public buildings, all of which he will be responsible for. He has proven successes in the Parks Department and has demonstrated he can manage and mobilize his employees. And John’s experience in the private sector will prove very valuable as we strive to save the city and its’ taxpayers money while improving customer service through CitiStat.”
Carroll has been parks and recreation director for a year, following a four-year tenure as the chief administrative officer and chief of staff for then-Mayor John M. Fabrizi. In his new position as public facilities director, Carroll will continue to oversee the Parks and Recreation Department, which reports to the Department of Public Facilities.
The Parks Director position will remain unfilled due to budget constraints. Steve Hladun a Parks Special Projects Coordinator and Andy Valeri a Parks Manager will assume additional responsibilities. In public Facilities Bobby Kennedy will move into the Deputy Director of Public Facilities position. Ted Grabarz will also continue his work in Public Facilities overseeing the Mayor’s municipal consolidation and sustainability efforts. John Cottell will return to his previous position as Utilities Director in Public Facilities.
Gomes, who will also have the title of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, is a product of Bridgeport Public Schools. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Connecticut in 1993, and a master’s degree in international business from Southern New Hampshire State University in 1997. He began working for Nestle following graduation from UConn and received several promotions that led to his selection as team leader for sales in the five boroughs of New York City. In 2002 he became an entrepreneur, creating JG Restaurant, LLC, with a focus on real estate acquisition and restaurant development in Bridgeport.
CitiStat is a program used in Baltimore, MD.; Providence, R.I.; New York City; and Somerville, MA, to make city government more accountable and improve services while simultaneously saving tax dollars.
Hey, this is a hoot, Bird Man and Keeley on the same page. Who says Birdie is supporting Auden? A press release from Do It Downtown. Check out the banner head above or click refresh until it pops up.
Mayor Finch and Downtown Special Services District Promote “Do It Downtown” Marketing Campaign
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch joined with the Downtown Special Services District (DSSD) today to champion the restaurants, attractions and retailers in the city’s central business district that are featured in a new marketing campaign, “Do It Downtown.” The $20,000 campaign, which is funded by the Downtown Special Services District, encourages the public to take advantage of all the new and existing establishments in downtown Bridgeport.
“It’s time for us to let the region in on one of the best kept secrets around – good things are happening in downtown Bridgeport,” stated Finch. “We have something for everyone – whether it’s family-friendly entertainment, sports, museums, theater, live music, or great dining. There’s plenty of parking, it’s easy to walk from one venue to another, and most importantly, it’s safe. I guarantee that if you come downtown, you’ll have a good time and you’ll come back again.”
The campaign, which launched in early July, has been well received by visitors throughout Fairfield and New Have counties. Elements of the campaign include 10,000 pocket-sized map and guides and a radio, billboard, and print advertising campaign, with support from media sponsors the Fairfield Weekly, STAR 99.9, and Lamar Advertising. In addition, a Web site, www.DoItDowntown.net, features audio and video promotions as well as a downloadable version of the map and calendar, and a MySpace page has been created, www.myspace.com/doitdowntown.
The ‘Do It Downtown’ campaign captures the spirit and excitement of the best of downtown Bridgeport,” explained Robert Keeley, executive director, DSSD. “We want to encourage visitors of all ages to rediscover all that our emerging downtown has to offer.”
Attractions participating in the promotion include: The Arena at Harbor Yard, Barnum Museum, Bridgeport Bluefish, City Lights Gallery, Downtown Cabaret Theatre, Housatonic Museum of Art, Klein Memorial Auditorium, Playhouse on the Green, and Two Boots of Bridgeport. Also contributing to the downtown schedule of events are the Black Rock Art Center, which sponsors the Summer Sounds of the World August concert series, and the Gathering of the Vibes, taking place at Seaside Park July 31 – August 3, 2008.
Restaurants participating in the campaign include: (full service): Avery’s Bar & Grill, Café Roma, Carmelina’s, Joseph’s Steakhouse, Metric Bar & Grill, Miss Thelma’s, Parc 1070, Ralph ‘n’ Rich’s, Roberto’s Restaurant, State Street Bistro, and Two Boots; (pubs, delis, and fast food): Avalon Café, Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins, Flowers and Flour, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Krazy Joe’s Café, McDonald’s, Murphy’s Law, Take time Café, The Grand Deli, Quizno’s, and Subway.
The campaign was conceived and implemented by Caryn S. Kaufman, strategic communications consultant, and Rowena White, principal, White Light Advertising.