Editor At Post Is Toast, Plus: Drinking The Kool-Aid, And Bill Means Business

James H. Smith, whose tenure as editor at the Connecticut Post was punctuated by an insistence to publish the names of jurors in criminal proceedings, left the newsroom abruptly today.

I sent an email to Connecticut Post Publisher Bob Laska asking for a comment. Word spread quickly through the newsroom of Smith’s departure and it’s unclear about a replacement. A freedom of information hawk, Smith had added a liberal bent to the paper’s editorial pages in the few years he served as editor. For instance he was a proponent of same-sex marriages. These are unhappy times for newspapers in general. Budget cuts, staff eliminations, consolidation of staff with sister publications has realigned hardcopy publications for a hopeful future as web-based news organizations. The Hartford Courant, for instance, just announced 60 job eliminations to its news division.

I know Smith a little, and we exchanged emails when I got my back up about the paper’s coverage of this issue or that. He always responded to my questions. He was a stubborn supporter of printing the names of jurors in criminal court cases, and it’s here that the paper arguably received the most heat from its readers. Smith claimed the public’s right to know about the background of jurors trumped the potential for harassment or threats to personal safety.

Smith had a better relationship with reporters than his volatile predecessor Frank Keegan who was fired after a series of confrontations with staff and management.

Kool Stuff

I served as media advisor for two mayors, and a boatload of candidates for public office. It’s one of those jobs that necessitates serving two masters–balancing the needs of news-seeking hungry seals while trying to make the boss look good. Caryn Kaufman had that role under former Mayor John Fabrizi until–as captured in the film The Accidental Mayor–announcing that only the people drinking the Kool-Aid could stay.

Caryn became frustrated with the job dealing with the ramifications of Fabs’ cocaine admission and then his testimony in court on behalf of a sexual predator. Fabs suffered a gut-wrenching case of buyer’s remorse and thought about running for reelection after announcing he would not. Caryn, never enamored with the political aspects of the governmental job, did not want Fabs to run. Fabs wanted people around him wedded to his wishes. Caryn was shown the door.

Sometimes it’s the mayor that’s drinking the Kool-Aid. I call it sipping too much Pequonnock River water. I have admiration for anyone serving as mayor, including Bill Finch. When my name is floated in the mayor’s company these days he’s prone to uttering prehistoric noises. OIB gets under Birdie’s feathers. The truth stings, even for a guy that doesn’t want to face it.

When I write here, I observe from the perspective of a strategist. Finch and I have been friends for a long time. Wonderful parents, terrific kids. But I won’t shill for a guy that lies blatantly to get through an election, tries to double-dip two pay checks, throws under the bus Dottie Guman, the Mother Goose of the city’s Democratic Party, who looked after him like a mother, threatens the jobs of 100 career public servants then has the audacity to protest the Board of Education for doing the same thing, involves himself in petty political skirmishes when he should be governing, spends the first seven months without a director of economic development. (Hey, I’m just warming up.)

Still, I run Finch’s press releases verbatim because I want his point of view represented, even when I know some of it is bullshit. And I want him to succeed. If he succeeds, the city does well. The mayor is operating on the basis that he has three more years to turn things around. He doesn’t. He has another year, perhaps 18 months to turn around an electorate that sees him as another disingenuous pol. Talk to the candidates doing door-to-door campaigning and they’ll tell you what the electorate thinks of hizzoner. At some point the electorate turns off a public official beyond rebuilding confidence. Finch has never received a job in the last 15 years that did not come as a result of his political contacts. There’s nothing wrong with that except when there’s no safety net.

Kaitlin Lesnick, one of the folks who tried to serve as a governmental safety net for Finch, leaves city service today. She and her husband are relocating to Washington DC where I hope she enjoys happy and healthy times. Kaitlin had no practical experience as a mayoral press secretary, but performed her job well under the circumstances. She was responsive, truthful and performed admirably, if naively, within the limitations of what she could feed the media.

Finch’s Deputy Chief of Staff Ruben Felipe, a good guy, will fill the press role for the time being. Hey, Ruben, can’t wait to run your first press release! Okay, here it is:

Mayor Finch Announces Progress of Minority Contracting in Bridgeport

BRIDGEPORT, CT June 26, 2008 – Mayor Bill Finch (D-Bridgeport) today was joined by Director of the City of Bridgeport’s Small and Minority Business Resource Center Deborah Caviness, Director of the Southern Connecticut Black Chamber of Commerce (SCBCC) Josh Grant and a number of local small and minority businesses at the City Hall Annex to announce the recent progress of minority contracting in Bridgeport as well as a collaboration between the City’s Small and Minority Business Resource Center and the SCBCC.

The Small and Minority Business Resource Center, which officially opened its doors in April 2008, provides small, minority and women-owned businesses with the information and training necessary to successfully pursue and obtain construction, commodities, architectural and engineering contracts with the City of Bridgeport. Although it was opened officially in April of this year, Ms. Caviness has been developing the office at Mayor Finch’s direction since December 2007.

“I’m very pleased to announce today that, since the Small and Minority Business Resource Center began its work in January of this year, the City of Bridgeport has awarded $1.5 million in contracts to minority business enterprises,” said Mayor Finch. “In addition, more than $5.6 million has been awarded to minority contractors in school construction contracts. That’s progress that I think we can all be proud of.

“We are here today not only to applaud the progress made by the Small and Minority Business Resource Center for minority contracting in Bridgeport, but also to announce that the Southern Connecticut Black Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the City to increase certification, training and networking opportunities for our local minority businesses enterprises,” the Mayor added.

“The Southern Connecticut Black Chamber of Commerce will partner with the City of Bridgeport’s Small and Minority Business Resource Center to help ensure that all local minority businesses are certified by the Black Chamber,” said Josh Grant. “The SCBCC serves as a one-stop resource for purchasers who are looking for certified minority business enterprises to provide goods and services. We are happy to offer certification for all minority businesses associated with the City’s Resource Center at a highly discounted rate.”

Small and Minority Business Resource Center Director Deborah Caviness added that any local small, minority or women-owned business interested in securing contracts with the City or in obtaining the discounted Black Chamber of Commerce membership should contact her office at (203) 576-8473.

Press release from Jim Himes’ campaign

Labor giant endorses Jim Himes, calls him best for workers
BRIDGEPORT, CT – At the Connecticut AFL-CIO convention in Hartford yesterday, the state labor federation voted to endorse Democratic nominee Jim Himes for Congress in Connecticut’s 4th district. Himes made the following statement in response to the endorsement:

“I am so proud to have won the endorsement of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, which represents over two hundred thousand workers who know that we desperately need a change in Washington,” said Himes. “AFL-CIO members know that I will be there for them on the issues that matter, like achieving universal healthcare, creating new jobs, strengthening our schools, and ending the war in Iraq.”

“Jim really understands the issues facing working families,” said James Parent, Connecticut State Council of Machinists President and AFL-CIO Vice President. “Jim knows that we need to create good jobs and fight for the manufacturing jobs that we still have, to find real answers on healthcare and education, and to get out of Iraq. I’m convinced Jim will be a tremendous ally for working families, and we look forward to doing all we can to get him elected.”

“I’m proud that we endorsed the right candidate,” said Ray Soucy, of AFSCME Local 387, representing corrections officers. “When Jim came to speak to us, he spoke from the heart and you can tell he believes what he says.”

“We believe Jim Himes is the best candidate for working families,” said Sal Luciano, Executive Director of Council 4 of the American Federation of State, County, and Muncipal Employees (AFSCME) and Executive Vice President of Connecticut AFL-CIO.

“Working families are rallying around Jim’s campaign,” said Maura Keaney, Jim Himes’ campaign manager. “Our growing team of supporters knows that Jim will be a fighter for the issues that matter most to working families, like universal healthcare, good jobs, great schools, and ending the war in Iraq.”



  1. One of the best commentaries I’ve read in my short time reading this blog. Straightforward and to the point. I hope the current administration takes heed of what you said. This city can’t afford not to be positioned to take advantage of the next economic upswing…and I’m hopeful it comes soon. A leader is only as good as those closest advisors. Finch needs to ask himself what his REAL goals are and be honest with the public. Or else I believe he’s doomed as a one-termer.

  2. I’m currently reading a novel, Shadow of Power by Steve Martini, and there is a passage that really jumped out at me as I believe it reflects the plight of the Bridgeport voter. “Short of revolution, which (Thomas) Jefferson urged take place at least every twenty years, the average citizen is left pounding sand by casting a largely empty vote to replace the devil-in-office with the devil-in-waiting and hope that the caustic nature of power to corrupt can somehow be neutralized.”

  3. The State labor unions support Himes gee what a surprise. Labor unions would endorse a ham sandwich if it ran on the democratic ticket. If you want to talk about political machines labor unions qualify.
    Here is a post from a Himes press release and this is why I won’t support Himes: “Working families are rallying around Jim’s campaign,” said Maura Keaney, Jim Himes’ campaign manager. “Our growing team of supporters knows that Jim will be a fighter for the issues that matter most to working families, like universal healthcare, good jobs, great schools, and ending the war in Iraq.”
    There is not one bit of truth in these statements. Where are the good jobs going to come from? Where is the money from the Feds going to come from to improve local schools? They forced us to take the no child left behind law with no funding. Yes I know it was a republican initiative but supported by both sides. Ending the war in Iraq just how will he do that? Universal health care? Please just look at the Canadian universal health care system and you will know why this is not a good idea. Most poverty-level people are covered by Husky all they need do is apply.
    Himes would be a freshman legislator with zero input and his campaign promises I listed are no different than Finch’s $600 rebate.

  4. If you want to talk about political machines labor unions qualify.

    This is SO TRUE! We are all experiencing this within the COB. The Unions are part of the machine! They are not for the workers!

  5. I’m wondering what Wondering is trying to say here.
    He’s supporting Shays because the AFL-CIO is supporting Himes?
    That makes a lot of sense.
    Wondering is a rock solid Republican that’s for sure.
    He wants to know where all of the money will come from?
    From the Department of Defense when we stop pissing away billions of dollars in Iraq. That’s where.
    And obviously Wondering believes that the only people in America without health care are those who live at or below the poverty level who are too stupid to apply for the Husky program.
    I’ll bet Wondering is probably covered by some union negotiated or government financed health insurance program. He’s got his so the hell with everyone else.
    I think Wondering post just help Himes pick up another 5% in the public opinion polls.
    And this is the person who came to Mario Testa defense yesterday. Talk about a machinist!

  6. Gee or is it Eddie Gee.

    Maybe Ruben can find some time to send out a press release in between helping Clemon’s campaign with other members of Finch (mis) trust on city time.

    Danny Roach has opened up a Kool Aid Stand in front of his bar on Fairfield Ave. All his followers are drinking from the bottom of the barrel and are ready to take the poison like they did for Jim Jones.

    Gathering of The Vibes are taking the lead from Mayor Green Genes for energy sustainability. They are going bi-solar for the event and changing the name to the “Gathering of The Vibrators”.

    Organic mushrooms to be the order of the day. No Portobello’s served here. It’s going to be a mushroom cap and trade environment. “And if you’re to tired to chew, pass it on.” Fabrizi will be trippin’ all over himself.

  7. Lennie: I take from your blog the following which so perfectly sums up Moonbeam’s administration so far:

    “I won’t shill for a guy that lies blatantly to get through an election, tries to double-dip two pay checks, throws under the bus Dottie Guman, the Mother Goose of the city’s Democratic Party, who looked after him like a mother, threatens the jobs of 100 career public servants then has the audacity to protest the Board of Education for doing the same thing, involves himself in petty political skirmishes when he should be governing, spends the first seven months without a director of economic development. (Hey, I’m just warming up.)”

    However, I truly believe that he took a bold brave step in trying to furlough a given number of employees, although he went about it in the wrong way. It should have been an across the board furloughing of a certain percentage of employees in every department rather than zeroing in on the Library and nurses. The private sector is contracting by the thousands to account for a poor economy.
    I believe you’d be backing me up on this one if you were a City taxpayer.

  8. Con
    Key words, “every department”. All his staff got away unscathed. Don’t worry about Lennie’s taxes. Bill O’Brien, the asshole assesor, charged with driving business out of town, will somehow find a way to garner taxes on Lennie’s old Honda in his erstwhile life in Bridgeport.

  9. Let’s not forget that while laying off all of these low-paid workers, he created new positions for his office and also filled UNION positions with political appointees. At the same time booting people’s cars that owe LOW taxes and forgiving his friend DiNardo for over $16 million owed.

  10. The City Council Ordinance Committee in its infantile wisdom approved the other night two new positions for the new call center; a director and deputy director. These were among the $550,000 in new management positions put through in the Finch budget.
    The new director is a half a grade below the Chief of Police. The Chief is a grade 7, the new Director a 7A. His deputy is a 6. The difference in pay ranges is somewhere in the $10,000 range.
    The Chief oversees a department of approximately 500. The new Director is responsible for a department of 50.
    The new Director reports directly to the CAO so as to make it a political appointment. The current management of the 911 center reports to uniformed police and fire officials.
    By reporting directly to the CAO, Bridgeport’s emergency call center has been removed for civilian oversight by both the Boards of Police and Fire Commissioners.
    I am asking Mr. Filardi to relinquish the moniker of Con because there is only one true con in the city and that is the city.

  11. Grim Reaper; here you go again shooting from the lip. Did I say I was supporting Shays? What I said was that the unions are supporting Himes and they basically agree with his campaign promises. I bet that none of these leaders have even spoken to Himes. Reaper just so you know I am a registered Democrat who has actively worked for many of the candidates and in the same token worked against some. I know this may be hard to fathom but I tend to vote for the person and not the party.
    Here is another surprise for you I do pay for my medical coverage which is medicare.
    If you think universal health care is the answer take the time to read about the Canadian universal health care system and then maybe you will think differently.
    As far as candidates promises go: are you trying to say you believe a candidate that says he will improve education? You believe someone that says he will bring in more jobs but has no specifics? Just how is a freshman legislator going to end the war? It is all bullshit.
    How about addressing the big issue of oil pricing and the housing finance mess. Himes did not do that.
    BTW if the war ended in the AM it would take 2-3 years to get the troops home but guess what we will always have a presence there. Did you know that the Dems are floating a plan to lease the Iraq oil fields by american oil companies with us getting the oil.

  12. Why does every dept need a Director and Deputy Director? There are too many chiefs and not enough indians in COB and BOE! Maybe DiNardo will get one of those positions since he is bankrupt!

  13. Carlos Silva combines a number of traits which make him an ideal candidate for the state legislative office. He has been elected to the Bridgeport City Council for the last six years as a non-payed public servant.
    “We need a change, Carlos is that change but with solutions”
    -C. Fidalgo

    Carlos answers every constituent’s calls promptly (he responded to over 800 calls last year) and works hard to solve their problems. Carlos is an excellent communicator who is thoughtful and focused on bringing positive changes to his district.

    The current representative is a controversial and divisive figure who has been more interested in running for mayor than assisting the people who elected him, you. Carlos would never sue the city and its elected officials costing the taxpayers over $250,000 in legal fees that added to our tax increase.

    We all set standards we want to achieve and Carlos Silva wants to extend the accomplishments of his district to a higher level. Carlos is a facilitator who will build bridges and relationships to help bring money from the State to Bridgeport. It’s time for a change and Carlos Silva is the people’s choice.

    Oh by the way, Carlos voted against raising your taxes!!!

  14. Carlos Silva was born in New York but moved to Bridgeport when he was six months old. Carlos attended Barnum and Saint Charles Elementary schools. He then attended Kolbe Cathedral High school where he was class treasurer and played basketball and baseball all four years.

    Carlos graduated and went to work right out of high school in which he became the youngest site supervisor for a security company operating NASDAQ’ main computer center. He then married his high school sweetheart and moved to Florida where he became a police officer for the Tampa Police Department. Family issues arose in which needed his attention, so he decided to move back to Bridgeport in which he stayed and raised his family.

    Carlos started to work for Handy & Harman as well as a police officer for the Fairfield Auxiliary Unit. After many years of dedication to both these jobs, he decided to become a private investigator for insurance company. He also drove limousines as well. While driving limousines he decided to open up his own business, one being a Limousine Company as well as a small café. After years of hard work growing his businesses he decided to sell both of them and go back to work at the corporate level. Carlos currently works for Career Resources which is a non profit organization as an Employment Specialist. His duties are to help individuals who have been incarcerated seek employment.

    In 2003, Carlos decided he wanted to help make changes to the city of Bridgeport. At this time he put a campaign together and ran for City Councilman in the 136th District. Now five year later Carlos has become an asset to the City Council as well as the City of Bridgeport by being apart of numerous committees such as the Budget and Ordinance committees. Carlos also belongs to many organizations such as: The Black and Hispanic Caucus for Bridgeport, The Connecticut Hispanic Democratic Caucus, The National League of Cities where nationally Carlos is the Vice President of the Hispanic Elected local Officials (HELO) and is also a member of the National Black Caucus for Elected Officials (NBCLEO) and also sits as a member of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO). By being apart of these national organizations it has prepared Carlos Silva to take the next step in becoming State Representative.

  15. Eddie Palmieri is Carlos Saliva or Carlos Saliva’s wife because no one else knows that much about Carlos Saliva. Forget State Rep, Hartford is too small for Carlos Saliva. Carlos Saliva for Congress!!

  16. I am a little perplexed by the mayor tooting his horn over the expansion of the role that MBE’s and WBE’s are playing in the city of Bridgeport.
    At a recent council meeting I question the awarding of a contract for auditing services because it did not include a provision for subcontracting to minority owned CPA firms. The city’s response was that they had included language to this extent in the RFP but, alas, none of the bidders bit. I had urged my colleagues to reject the proposed contract with the firm belief that if we did so, the firm scheduled to receive the contract would have agreed immediately to this provision. I was able to convince a number of my fellow council members to vote with me but unfortunately fell short of a majority.
    I am planning on attempting a similar push for the coveted “bond counsel” contract.
    If the mayor and his administration are committed to significantly increasing minority contracting then it needs to go further than inclusion of language in the bid process. It must be inclusion of minorities in the final contract.
    Excuses are easy to find. Solutions are far more difficult.

  17. First Time Blogger…Hello everyone!

    Well another week in City Hall and another professional career employee bites the dust. This time its the City Engineer, Barry Skinner. And here’s why:

    Barry was angry because OPM Director Tom Sherwood and Budget Chair Curwen conspired to eliminate the position of Traffic Engineer from the budget. There was some kind of personality conflict there. They didn’t like the guy so in fine Sherwood fasion, they eliminated his position.

    Now just about everyone, except obviously Sherwood and Curwen, know that BY LAW you have to have a traffic engineer. You can’t have any development unless the Traffic Engineer signs off. So without this position, there can be NO DEVELOPMENT and no state or federal grant money.

    Barry knew this and tried to bring it to the attention of the almighty powers: Sherwood, Curwen, Finch, Wood and Nunn. And in fine Finch fashion, he was promptly ignored. Many times. So the Feds came in and pulled several MILLION in grant dollars because the City doesn’t have a TRAFFIC ENGINEER.

    Barry got so mad that he abruptly resigned and told the city to take his money and restore the traffic engineer. Barry’s last day is tomorrow. The traffic engineer’s last day is tomorrow. Stay tuned…

  18. Stop The Presses!

    Carlose Silva’s Drool Cup Runneth Over. Laska Licks ‘Em. Smith Leaves Post Haste. Finch Rolls Over For Shays.
    Timpanelli Plays Ebony & Ivory Chamber Music. Urban Green Turning Red. Peep’s Pipe Organs Set To Play Park City. Joel Yanks Yahooy Off.

    Who needs Kelly.

  19. Lennie thanks for sending all your listeners a pair of Q-Tip swabs. Folks here haven’t realized (Lennie included) the important revelation given by Council President McCarthy in his Pod cast interview with Lennie Grimaldi.

    For all you poor listeners, I ask you to listen to the most revealing 16 seconds in the interview. Start listening at 11 minutes and 40 seconds into the interview up to 11 minutes and 56 seconds. I quote Tom McCarthy as follows.

    Start 11:40
    “I mean it is a different mind-set from Hartford and he (Finch) has been in Hartford for a while and it is a different mind-set than coming back and running a City.
    But, what I like is the fact – and this is what a lot of people don’t like, is that he (Finch) was willing to come in and make some very though decisions in an awful financial environment and I give him credit for that.”
    End 11:56

    This 16 seconds of the recording reveals that Finch knew coming into the Mayoral race that the City was “in an awful financial environment” as your heard it. Why is Bill Finch blaming Fabrizi for what he knew he had to face coming in. This revelation proves that Bill Finch intentionally lied about the $600 tax refund as he knew that the City was in an awful financial environment. Now Lennie you have the smoking gun and I hope that you show some journalistic principles and build on the statement of Tom McCarthy. If you let this opportunity pass you by, we shall all be dissapointed.

  20. Political Addict

    Six months into his administration Finchy seems to be doing a bang up job! NOT!!! Of course Sherwood seems to have his own personal agenda…and it’s not for the benefit of this City. Morale is at an all-time low with the employees. Every memo that comes from Feeney ends in threats of disciplinary actions if it is not followed through. Also, the employees are tired of Sherwood and his evil ways. City Official’s girlfriends who have secretarial jobs that pay 65K and up! Sure, why not cut the traffic engineer, and keep hiring planners in OPED. Fabs might have had his problems, but he was making progress as far as development in his short time. Give this guy another 3 1/2 years and Bridgeport will be a ghost town. You can’t afford to live here, your average city employee is paid below poverty level, crime is at an all-time high — why would anyone want to develop here anyway??? All Finchy talks about is keeping the city clean and green — picking up trash and recycling…he needs to get rid of the trash starting with Sherwood! Those who can remember Mount Trashmore — remember what an eyesore it was — that’s nothing compared to the heap of trash you have running this city!!!

  21. Political Addict (friend of fab?) Unionless and what to do:

    Welcome on board! Shit, where in hell were you guys six months ago. I’m glad to see more former or current city insiders coming here to share the facts as we have seen it or continue to see it. At first most folks here were obviously fooled by all these cats in City Hall and the act they put up. I served 6 years in the City Council 1995 to 2001 and I’m still shocked at how low these wanna be leaders will go to get things done their way. This is a criminal racketeering enterprize consisting of Latinos, Blacks and Whites all feasting on the backs of the weak and ignorant. Keep your names as they are and try not to give clues as to your identity, especially if you work for the City and your position can be cut. Every dog and bitch has their day. Those at City Hall shall have theirs too. Keep coming and get involved.


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