A buddy of mine during lunch on Tuesday was underwhelmed by all this attention focused on replacing the Congress Street Bridge that would reconnect downtown with the East Side.
This is not to let the air out of the sails of Mayor Bill Finch and Congressman Jim Himes who conducted a press conference to announce that a couple of million is now in place to take down the stuck-open eyesore. That’s a nice start, but the reality is who’s going to cough up the $40 million to replace the structure? Bridges cost a fortune, particularly when dealing with the uncertainty of river bottoms. Lots of crap to deal with down there.
My friend’s suggestion, don’t waste energy on replacing the bridge, just take down what’s there. The biggest problem with the dormant bridge isn’t the handful of small businesses denied immediate access from downtown, it’s Fire Department headquarters located right next to it slowing response time to the East Side. Fire personnel must cross other city bridges to reach the East Side.
Okay, what to do? Relocate Fire Headquarters, he said. Rather than trying to secure $40 million to replace the bridge why not just take down the existing eyesore and relocate Fire Headquarters to accommodate East Side response time? Makes sense to me.
The question is where to relocate Fire Headquarters? And what would that cost? Peanuts compared to building a new bridge. Plus, if you move Fire Headquarters you have a nice piece of waterfront property to market. (Let’s not place a prison there, okay?) This must be done, of course, keeping response time in mind for downtown, etc.
So let’s start a campaign. Forget the new bridge. It’s not going to happen. Take down the existing bridge. Is there enough money in place to remove the bridge and relocate the fire house? If not, it would be a lot easier for Finch and Himes and the city’s legislative delegation to skunk out the dough to relocate it.
Let’s relocate Fire Headquarters. Suggestions?
Ferry Debate Tabled
Speaking of relocation, a City Council committee on Tuesday debated a non-binding resolution to move the Bridgeport Port Jefferson Steamboat Company ferry terminal from downtown to the other side of the harbor. East End councilmen James Holloway and Andre Baker made the pitch to the committee overseeing economic development. Ferry officials support the move. Most business interests want to keep the ferry terminal at its current location. The issue was tabled for further study.
The Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce Mary Pat Curran Healy as our new Executive Director.
Mary Pat is no stranger to Bridgeport. She has extensive knowledge of the Bridgeport community and has been actively involved as a board member in numerous non-profit organizations. Most recently, she served as the community relations and government liaison for AT&T. Mary Pat has a passion for the well-being of Bridgeport’s children and families and the issues that have long engaged members of BCAC.
Mary Pat brings to BCAC deep knowledge and experience in fund development and community relations. She is well-known in the business and non-profit communities in Bridgeport and the region and will build on the foundation and community respect established under Marilyn Ondrasik’s leadership.
The BCAC Board would like to thank Barbara Edinberg for serving as our acting director for the past four months. Barbara will continue to work hand-in-hand with the new Executive Director by continuing to conduct research on the current issues and moving the Action Agendas of our Task Forces forward. Mary Pat will begin working with Barbara and the rest of the staff on the transition process and will join the organization full time early in February.
News release from union coalition
Business, Education, and Healthcare Advocates Join State Public Service Workers to Oppose More Budget Cuts to Public Services
At a press conference on the steps of the State Capitol today, members of the unions in the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) joined business, labor, education and advocacy groups to decry Governor M. Jodi Rell’s latest round of proposed cuts. The conference was organized by District 1199/SEIU, a member of the coalition.
In addition to the wide array of cuts the Governor has already enacted, she has proposed even deeper cuts to services that serve the elderly, children and the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Speakers who took the podium highlighted the shortsightedness of the Governor’s plan, and showed that slashing funding for vital services will further endanger Connecticut’s recovery and prolong the pain felt by so many across the state.
District 1199/SEIU President Carmen Boudier said “The Governor’s plan won’t make people’s lives better; it will make them worse. That’s why our members are standing up for the people we care for, night and day, all across Connecticut. This is about protecting the services our mothers, our grandmothers, our sisters, our aunts and everyone we serve depend on.”
In addition to the impact felt by those who use the services, the Governor’s current proposal will add to the jobless rolls indiscriminately. Her proposal will cost another 5,000 jobs, on top of the approximately 30,000 jobs that have been lost due to previous budget cuts.
CT Association of Health Care Facilities Executive Vice President Matthew Barrett put it even more bluntly, “The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right name. This deficit mitigation plan has a right name, and it is ‘job killer.’ It also undermines and jeopardizes the quality of care in CT nursing homes.”
In February of this year, SEBAC leaders delivered an open letter to Governor Rell warning of exactly the cycle that is occurring — specifically that drastic cuts to balance the budget would lead to a slower recovery which would lead to a new budget crisis and prolonged hardship for the people of the state. The letter including the following statement:
“[C]utting public services in this economic crisis would only make the problem worse for everyone. Connecticut’s people deserve more from their government than simply joining in the cycle of spending reductions, cutbacks, and layoffs. They deserve a government that invests in its people and infrastructure even more in difficult times, and so helps to spark the process of turning the economy around.”
“We were amazed when we saw that the governor proposed cutting the LPN Training Program — when the best social program is an opportunity to be trained for a good job. Our message to the Governor is: if this is the plan you want us to accept, we are here to say we need a better plan for the residents of CT,” said Alex Johnson, the Chief Operating Officer for Capitol Workforce Partners.
The Governor’s latest proposal also includes $84 million in cuts to towns and cities for local services, exacerbating the already frayed safety net that so many Connecticut residents need to get back on their feet. Public statements from SEBAC have pointed out that a solution based solely on spending cuts is untenable and that increases in revenue from those most able to pay is the only feasible next step.
The Governor has cut enough. Cutting funding for kids with Autism, people with AIDS, reducing heating fuel aid, funding to nursing homes and people with Alzheimer’s is not the way to close the budget gap. It is time to take a serious look at what Connecticut needs to recover. SEBAC leaders call on the Governor to begin a positive cycle of reinvestment, hope, and renewal, rather than a vicious cycle of cutback, despair, and decline.
District 1199 is one of thirteen unions in the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC), which serves to unite approximately 50,000 Connecticut State Employees to address issues of common concern. To learn more about the coalition’s campaign for a fair budget and a livable state with great public services visit www.InThisTogetherCT.org.