City Council To Act On Blackwell Settlement, Catholic Center Proposal

The appointment of former State Rep. Hector Diaz to the Board of Police Commissioners, settlement of pending federal litigation with city police officer Lonnie Blackwell and resolution regarding a grant application authorization for school construction work at the Catholic Center on Jewett Avenue are among the agenda items for Monday night’s City Council meeting. For more on Catholic Center see here.

The Blackwell issue stems from a federal discrimination lawsuit filed more than three years ago in which Blackwell, former head of the Guardians minority police organization, claims he was “subjected to harassment, ridicule and unfavorable employment practices.”

See council agenda here.

See council agenda addendum here.



  1. What the hell is going on here? A few nights ago the council is filled with angry parents wanting more money for the BOE. Today on OIB I see we want to buy the catholic center for $50 million. Why? because 2 classrooms have to walk across a street? BFD. First off the church never paid the city a dime in taxes and should just hand over the building to the city. The BOE says there is never any money well keep buying buildings and that will happen.
    This is a bull shit deal that screws the parents of kids going to school in this zoo

    1. The law does not allow the School board to own real estate. Paul Ballad added 7th & 8th grade to Classical Studies Magnet Academy with no long term plan for a permanent location.

      The BOE should NEVER pay lease costs because that funding is taken out of our operating budget and NOT used to directly impact student achievement.

      The original CCMA is housed in a building over 100 years and then we have some grades in the outdated diocese building. This also increases labor costs such as security, custodial, nurses, and administrative.

      Moving into the Jewett Ave. location will significantly reduce costs in our operating budget which can be redirected to classrooms.

      The City has three obligations to our true public schools:

      1) Appropriate Funding
      2) Provide the real estate needed to carry out our statutory responsibility of educating students
      3) Public Safety

      Purchasing the Jewett Ave. Building will free-up at least $200,000 Per year in our operating budget which benefits students and families.

  2. The city is already renting space at a dilapidated diocese building now. Classical Studies is one of the best schools in Bridgeport, and the students and staff deserve to be in one building. Right now the annex is in a building that needs substantial repairs that the diocese will not be fixing. The upper grades are in a building that is about 115 years old with out a suitable area for outdoor play and/or instruction.

    The state will pick up the majority of the purchase.

    The disinvestment of our kids needs to stop.

    1. DISINVESTMENT of our kids really. You want to spend this money on two classes of children. Where is the money going to come from for the rest of the BOE. Stop using the kids as bait.

      1. There are significantly more than two classes in the annex building. This purchase helps free up money in our operating budget, not one dollar of BOE funds will be used to purchase the Jewett Ave. property.

  3. The “other” option is SHU housing. But this may be the plan one way or the other… The Diocese and the Bishop don’t want to be linked to Bridgeport’s SHU parasite/quality of life/public safety problem, so they convey the property to Bridgeport with the “understanding” that Bridgeport will use the property for “education” purposes, but knowing that the actual intentions of the city are to use a little piece of the property for expansion its illustrious magnet school program and selling the rest directly to SHU or to a developer that will create rental housing for SHU use… Either, way, the Jewett Avenue neighborhood gets the nasty end of the stick… The FAIRFIELD SHU leech grows bigger and fatter, and more destructive by the hour in Bridgeport… We must remember that SHU is a creation of the Bridgeport Diocese even tough they have been strategically separated from the auspices of the Dioceses because of their controversial, harmful relationship with Bridgeport… Their hand is still at play… The Bishop is giving the commencement address this year, even though he is no longer on the BOD, SHU and the Diocese having realized that SHU’s relationship with Bridgeport was alienating the large Catholic population of Bridgeport fro the Diocese…

    SHU housing will expand on Jewett avenue on the Diocesan site one way or another, and Michelle Lyons knows it… The City has bent over backwards to accommodate SHU — think city parkland and bent zoning rules — and this will be one more instance… And non-taxpaying, FAIRFIELD based SHU is responsible for a big chunk of BPD overtime needs…

    Beware North End… Michelle Lyons isn’t upset over the possibility of a few Bridgeport school students and a couple of school buses coming to the neighborhood; she knows all too well how the SHU leech undulates its slimy way through Bridgeport neighborhoods… What is needed is a special spot-zoning regulation change ensuring that the diocesan property in question, once conveyed to another party, can only be used as Bridgeport school or park land… (Watch SHU and diocesan representation maneuver to block anything of that sort… Watch the Diocese quickly withdraw the sale offer and announce the construction of more “senior” housing…)

    1. More busing, more traffic and more noise. In wont be long before someone else will want another school built for a special group. BTW why not approach UB

      1. there is a classroom(?) building at UB that was used as a swing space as schools (Roosevelt come to mind) in the district were being renovated, did the city/BOE pay for the renovations there? and why can’t that building be used as classroom space rather than buying AND renovating the Catholic Center??

        1. The “swing space” on the UB campus was used when schools were being renovated. Once again, Paul Vallas opened Bridgeport Military Academy without any long term plan.

          We opened Fairchild Wheeler Magnet with the 9th grade as did the BMA 9th grade. As Fairchild Wheeler expanded grades, BMA had to be relocated to another Diocese building on Boston Ave. It was permanently relocated to the UB swing space last school year.

          This has created a major issue because we have no swing space to relocate an entire student body as new schools are being built or renovated. The Longfellow students had to be separated into three separate schools for three years which is NOT right for students and families. Siblings had to be separated into different schools and was challenging for parents, i.e. report card conferences.

          Central is in the midst of a $72,000,000 renovation while the students are in the building. It has been a disaster and the renovation has impacted students and staff negatively, significantly increased the length of the renovation, and some estimates are that the costs have tripled due to the building being occupied with students.

  4. I’m confused, we can’t support the existing schools and the BOE operating budget, how and where does money/financing come from to support this effort? On another note, I’m happy to hear of the recommendation of Hector Diaz as a police commissioner. He’s knowledgeable and fair, he’ll be a positive addition.

    1. Lisa, the state of CT will pay for 78% of the purchase and renovation. The City of Bridgeport has to bond for 22%. Not one dollar comes out of either the City’s or the BOE Operating budgets. It will be funded out of the Capital plan.

      1. Who is going to pay for the houses on Glendale that eventually will be taken because having just one entrance and exit on a busy street will not work. I don’t care who pays for this someone is making a lot of money besides the bishop.

  5. I agree with Lisa. Why is the City always ready to acquire more property for schools when the operating budget is neglected year after year?
    Bishop Frank has likely done more consulting and analysis of his real estate assets, maintenance and operation expense, longer term needs for Church operations than this City has done at top levels with everybody at the table from City and BOE side. Perhaps this does not need to be acted upon so quickly? Especially if there is another “plan behind the obvious” that includes SHU students and neighborhood transformation?

    And we continue to catapult from pillar to post with very little available to the taxpaying public in terms of assumed need, considered alternatives, initial costs and who is available to afford them, and operating expense into the future. Why are these issues so unimportant? And the City Council has nearly $90,000 each year for professional services yet elects to spend only $5400 near the end of the process, and what will it buy?
    +Answers to all the department budgets that earn revenue but where Revenue projections show NOT APPLICABLE?
    ++An explanation to the City Council for the disappearance of $950,000 to the OPED Capital budget in Finch’s last month that was transferred to an entity outside the City budget with no Council approval for transfer and no info to the taxpayer?
    +++An explanation for where various revenues paid to the City show up in monthly reporting…like parking meter fees, parent fees to Lighthouse for after school or summer programs…and why a youth may be billed for services received from such a program more than one year previously?
    ++++A fiscal comparison showing annual contributions (for the duration of a bond) currently to the City pension liability where State approval has been sought to float a new bond issue? Bonds must be paid each year, with far less flexibility than the Ganim and Finch administrations have used with actual pension payments. Does this action fulfill the Police overtime expense never shared with the public in a simple transparent way? Is that what $80 Million will fund? Time will tell.

  6. Honesty is one thing that Ganim and his helpers fail miserably. John I don’t care how much you show what they have done or will be doing it does not matter to these dumb asses that live in Bridgeport.
    The city now is screwing us again because they want to buy the catholic center for a few little shits that are now at St Peters. Why not rent sections of UB just as we did for Roosevelt school rebuilding why are we wasting money on this purchase. It was my unde4rstanding the original price was $35 Million and now its $50 Million who is getting the extra $15 Million. People can shake there heads but someone is making money under the table. BTW is the Bishop using this money for the pedophile fund?

    1. Has anyone mentioned that eventually houses on Glendale will be taken over eventually so that there is more than one entrance and exit into this circus. How many people are making big bucks on this deal

  7. The Diocese is a gorgeous parcel on Park like grounds. It will be an assault to the neighborhood with traffic and leveling the trees for parking. This spot would have been perfect as a Senior/Convalescent ?Nursing home, but lets face it – this is Bridgeport and people would oppose that also. With so may derelict properties on the East side and West end you would think that a new school would be a nice shot in the arm to help improve the neighborhood, much like the Claytor School instead of a slap in the face to a nice suburban neighborhood. Maybe include the Classical academy on the Harding High site. Surely there is plenty of room.

    Andy, the Diocese is backed into the Glendale Condo — not private homes. It will be a mess. Not totally against the Classical Academy plan. Just not 100 percent for it- traffic and congestion and a burden on the homeowners .

  8. So apparently it is fine to put CSMA on the East Side or West Side where the majority of residents are Black & Hispanic, but it is a horrific for the North End with a significant White population.

    If CSMA moves into an existing building, the state will pay 78%. If a school is built from the bottom up the state will only pay 60% of the cost.

    Has a traffic study been conducted? Has a plan showing trees would be knocked down for parking been presented? I am on the School board and have not received a traffic study or plans for a parking area.

    1. I know there are schools that are not full and some that are only half full. Why not combine 2 of these schools into one grammar school and used the empty school for this afore mentioned program

  9. I beg to differ Andy, it is a Black and white issue. Any time you talk about Bridgeport children and education it’s a black and white issue because the school system is predominately black and Latino. One is left wondering if the Bridgeport school system was predominately white would money still be an issue in the education of its youth. Unfortunately we’ll never know.

    1. I never thought of it that way but you may be right. Don I will say this as long as we have gutless politicians running this city and the BOE our kids will get screwed. At a time when school enrollments are decreasing Bridgeport is still building schools. Are we making our kids smarter NO but we are teaching them to find their inner peace and I they cant find it they can go out into the hallway and look for it.

      1. Bridgeport public schools has increased its student enrollment by 700 students over the last 5 years. We have experienced no reduction in enrollment.

  10. Money has been an issue in Bridgeport education forever — but especially since the ascendancy of the suburbs in the 50’s, when it became increasingly pronounced a la the abolition of county government which put Hartford firmly in the hands of suburbia… The fact that we are now predominantly-minority school system just makes it a little easier for the burbs to vote against the interests of the poor kids in Bridgeport. But the base issue is more about poverty than color (but not without a color component)… In the 21st Century USA, more-so than at any time in our history, green is the most important color in anyone’s lineage (as the last presidential election so clearly indicated…).

  11. Jeff you had until you said, “But the base issue is more about poverty than color (but not without a color component)…” Are you now saying that Poverty and Color in America are not mutually exclusive?

  12. Congratulations to Michelle Lyons and Amymarie Vizzo-Pannicia for educating the council and all of the council members that supported them. Great speeches by Mary McBride Lee, Eneida Martinez , Jeanette Herron, Denise Moye-Taylor, Katy Buckowsky etc. They touched on all of the obvious points one of the most important, Let there be a public hearing in the 134th so the constituents can discuss this..

    There were only 6 that supported the project. Very disapointed that Anthony Paoletto didn’t think the constituents needed to be informed or allowed their input. Maybe he has redeemed himself with Maria Pereira. I doubt it. James Holloway was just absolutely outrageous. His assaults on the North End . Stating everyone here wants to leave Bridgeport Everyone in the 134th. The constituents would be happy to have their houses taken by eminent domain. Seriously Mr.Holloway, could you have possibly sounded more ignorant and insulting to Councilwoman Lyons and Pannicia. The good news, the majority of thoughtful, educated and experienced heads prevailed. We all want the best for Classical Studies Academy. It is one of my favorite schools in the city and was great to see so many students there this evening. They will get a state of the art facility. After the city takes care of schools that are already in desperate need.

    Disappointed in Paoletto and Holloway was just plain embarrassing.

    I am sorry the Principal of CSA did not get a chance to speak as she was not made aware of the speaking portion . In the end. It didn’t matter. Her testimony would nt have changed the opinion of the council tat was clearly well thought out!

  13. A waste of more money that the city don’t have, good luck to Hector on the P/Commision and Lt. Blackwell should of been fired a long time ago behind all the B/S he’s been involved with! ***

    1. Mojo, you said, “Lt. Blackwell should of been fired a long time ago behind all the B/S he’s been involved with! ***” Well, what is all of that B/S he’s been involved with?

  14. Every City Council member has parents, grandparents, and aunts, uncles, etc. of Classical Studies Magnet Academy.

    Now we need to contact EVERY CSMA parent, educate them on what Michelle Lyons did, and inform the respective constituents of how their city council representatives voted.

    The role of the 20 City Council members is to serve the needs of THEIR constituents, not to serve the needs of Michelle Lyons.

    These families have been separated into two separate, antiquated buildings for years. The eleven City Council members who voted against this basically slapped these children, parents, and staff members across the face.

    Now the grassroots organizing begins…

  15. Did you forget to praise Nessa Smith and Anthony Paoletto? Will your grass roots let their consituents know? Ithink the 14 council members did their due diligence and Michelle Lyons took care of “her ” constituents stating obvious problems. Maybe your grass roots can find a more appropriate facility or property. The Diocese just wasn’t that. Perhaps they would like the Stop and Shop Property that has been vacant for 10 years on Madison Avenue? Maybe take some derelict properties by the new Train station . Help inject life into a lifeless area without impacting the lives of homeowners. BTW this is not a Black and white issue. Most of the area is beautifully integrated and Black people were more than 50 percent of the signatures on the petition. I know , surprising right, imagine minorities in the area also share the same concerns as their white neighbors. Go figure!!!!!.

  16. Education in Bridgeport is certainly a Black and white issue just by virtue of the racial make-up of the school system. One thing we’ll never know is if the Bridgeport school system was predominately white would a lack of funding be as big a problem as it is today.

    Secondly you have no idea if half of those that signed that petition are black or any other ethnicity. I have family and friends that would be impacted by CSMA moving to this location and not one said they were asked to sign and they wouldn’t have signed had they been asked. In fact one friend said an elderly white neighbor told her they came to her house and was asked to do sign and when she started she would rather not. She said they skipped the next two houses because she felt that because they were black and Latino they won’t sign.

  17. *** Not to mention some bogus O/T per the Lt. ;That’s been questioned. I believe there was the matter of sanctioning a bogus racial letter that was supposed to have been written and sent by the Emerald Society to a certain rouge cop with the names of certain Black Guardian Members on it that we’re on their so-called list? *** That’s just the tip of the Rumor Iceberg. ***

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