Feeling For Finch

A friend of Mayor Bill Finch emailed the other day asking me to cut the mayor some slack. I’ve been too cranky, he said. I don’t mind constructive criticism in response to my constructive criticism. So, okay, I’ll try to be positive here because despite what they might think at city hall I want Finch to succeed. Finch is on the verge of submitting his first budget to the city council. It won’t be pretty. But the mayor can do many things to show that despite some grouchy economic times, he’s focused on the priorities that will pay off for taxpayers.

It all starts with his schedule. Finch is disorganized and he must be scheduled tightly. Everything planned for him in the foreseeable future should focus on the budget, economic development, legislative issues and selling Bridgeport beyond its borders. It better be damned important for anything else to break through his schedule. Unless, of course, family needs him. Family trumps everything.

Adam Wood, Finch’s chief of staff, isn’t the most organized guy either. If Adam can figure out what Adam does best, Finch will do better because Finch trusts him implicitly. Wood’s focus should be making sure Finch’s schedule does not overburden the mayor, building bridges between the city council and the mayor’s office, media relations and filtering communications between party leader Mario Testa and Finch.

If I’m running Finch’s inner office I’d conduct a regularly scheduled weekly Wednesday press conference. Finch needs to stay visible without being dragged out to every little media event. If community organizations need to do a dog and pony show with the added prestige of the mayor present let them come to the weekly press conference. Get them in, get them out and then get on to other media business. That does not mean you do not respond to breaking news events. Kaitlin Lesnick, Finch’s press secretary, is young, bright, energetic, and she does something Wood has trouble doing–she returns phone calls.

I’d eliminate the mayor’s monthly night out event. It’s a waste of time. For the most part the meetings are bitch sessions. If city officials can’t figure out what people care about, they need to be doing something else. Employees in the mayor’s office direct or respond to issues every day. It’s called constituent service. That’s good enough.

I’d have Finch meet regularly with chief executives of regional businesses to explain why Bridgeport is a good place to do business. Someone in the business community would be happy to set up such meetings. I’d implement a media campaign, using surrogates from down county and New York, that highlight the reasons they have invested in the city. Bridgeport must market itself to Wall Street investors. How do you do that? By letting people know that Bridgeport is business friendly. A flight of radio on WCBS New York will reach those potential investors.

The city’s broke and can’t afford it? The money it invests will more than come back to pay for itself. Still not convinced? Okay, you go to the business community and say I need you to help me pay for this. A respected mayor can get that done.

Wood (or a politically savvy designee) must attempt a working relationship with Testa who understands every aspect of city government. It’s important that Mario and Finch get along. They don’t need to be blood brothers, nor must Testa be in contact with the mayor every day. He just needs phone access to know what’s going on in city hall, issues before the city council and the budget etc.

Here’s an example how Mario can help Finch. Phil Kuchma’s downtown development of Bijou Square that features restaurants, housing and renovation of one of the oldest movie houses in the country took a hit when he lost financing to finish off the housing piece of the redevelopment. Kuchma is asking the city for a tax break that will help solidify the financial picture so he can complete the housing phase of the project. City Council member Bob Walsh, a friend of OIB, opposes the tax forgiveness for several reasons. Part of Walsh’s issue (has been for years) is that city council members always seem to receive paperwork and information late when asked to consider a vote. He also thinks the city is citing the wrong legal statutes in rationalizing tax forgiveness. Still, the city cannot afford the image of a half-completed building as it tries to regain development momentum.

Council President Tom McCarthy does his best to hold votes together. But there’s no reason for McCarthy to stick his neck out every time council members don’t receive timely information from the mayor’s office and department heads to make a value judgment. Testa has relationships with a number of council members. They will rely on him when it comes to financing their races for reelection, and turning out the vote. Mario wants to see a thriving downtown. And for those of you that have the most cynical point of view when it comes to politics — yeah, the more development, the more potential for fundraising. That’s just the way it is. As long as no stick-up games are involved, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Mario could help keep council members in line to pass the Kuchma tax-break proposal. A phone call to this one or that one and it gets passed. That’s how government and politics work together. It’s not pretty. That’s just the way it works, here, there and everywhere.

And, oh yes, the mayor needs to hire a director of economic development. It’s long overdue. Your thoughts?

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51 comments

  1. Please take notice of the Walsh comment 3/20/08 in the Bpt
    News that he believes Kuchma et. all are “trying to shield the
    identity of the real developer” of the Bijou Square condos.
    I am against the proposed tax break Kuchma asks for. With
    just a quick scribble of numbers and it would appear I would pay
    $3400.00 tax on my 1700′ house instead of the + $7000.00
    I currently pay should Moonbeam and his cohorts allow Kuchma
    and his unnamed partners the tax break. I can’t even get
    my $600.00 rebate from Finch and do you think I or anyone
    could ask about this in front of the city council with “Free
    speach McCarthy” in charge? It would seem to be unlikly.’
    B. Hubler was so right in his observations reguarding Scinto,
    and investment in Bridgeport, required reading for this Blog.
    Hubler should be mayor, but I degress.
    Does anyone know who these “unnamed/unknown”
    pricipals in the latest TAX SCAM are? and is it possible
    one of the names begins with D.

  2. Hey Lennie, does the mayors friend want us to cut him some slack too? If you have been too crancky, how are we being described? I wonder if the type of e-mail you got is also sent out to the Connecticut Post reporters or their supervisors. What nerve to beg you for some slack instead of writing you to tell you that some or most of your ideas and advice are good and that they will seriously consider them. I hope you don’t buy into this and allow any one to dictate to you how to run your business when they don’t appreciate you giving advice as to how they should run theirs. Lenni, allot of your posters have been very crancky towards me. Can you talk to them and tell them to be nice to Joel?

  3. Lennie, the Town Committee’s function is to endorse candidates for office and win elections if possible. It is a party elected position. Party chair and Town Committee members should never be allowed to dictate policy or interfere in the decision making process of elected officals. If Mario wants such priviledges, he should run for elected office. “That’s just the way it is.” You just described a stick up method. If Mario don’t get, what Mario wants, Mario will not deliver the endorsements to those who don’t do as Mario would like. Shoot them down, with TC votes!

  4. Let me first respond to Black Rockin’s questions and I will later get back to Lennie’s comments.
    The city is trying to walk a tightrope between illegally ignoring a valid city ordinance and claiming it has the authority to simply use a less stringent state law.
    The state law requires that the sponsors of any development project that is applying for assistance under this state law identify the members or shareholders of any partnership, LLC or corporation. And I believe this requirement can not be waived whether the city goes forward with the requirements of the ordinance or tries this backdoor means of using state law.
    I asked the city clerk on Friday, February 29th at 4:11 if a filing with this information had been made with their office as required by law. I was informed by the assistant City Clerk on Monday as of 3:32PM that no such filing had been made. March 3rd was the first time that the item was to be considered by the entire council for approval.
    As it turns out later, the item was stamped as received in the City Clerk’s office at 4:07 on March 3, 2008 but not attested to with an employee’s signature or initials.
    At this time the sponsors were identified as 323 Fairfield Avenue LLC and Bijou Square LLC. Prior to this paperwork being filed the only entity identified in the project was Bijou Square LLC. The members of these LLC’s were identified as KBH Holding LLC and Kuchma Family Company LLC. No further information was given as to who makes up these LLC’s and what their ownership rights in the project are.
    By dropping this off at the end of the day in which the council was to act on the matter it is apparent that either the city or the developers or both were trying to keep this information from the public.
    Although the developers might now meet the strictest letter of the law, I am urging my colleagues who are members of the Economic Community Development Committee as well as non-members to demand more information.
    By the same state law the developers are supposed to prove to the city that they have the financial wherewithal to complete the project. Identification of the individuals as well as their financial commitment should have been provided for the city to move forward on this application. So it is clearly that the city is not doing the job that they are supposed to or the city shielding the identities of the individuals involved. In either case it is the council’s responsibility to insist upon this information for the project to receive any further consideration.
    The games continue.

  5. Will somebody PLEASE tel Joel Gonzalez that no one, absolutely no one is interested in his baseless rantings. What a waste of good blog space.

    Joel. You lost us all when you cut off your finger in a political protest. We don’t want to represented by or guided by someone who would do something like that. I suggest you pick out your favorite of the remaining nine and stick it squarely up your ass.

  6. Mons yahooy:
    Je ne sais pas qu’est plus dommage: Mons. Gonzales cut off his finger with un knife … ou tu cutting off your genital avec your words …

  7. That’s it. I’m in a ball busting mood and there are too many easy marks on the blog today. Ta Ta, dilitants. I think I’ll step out and enjoy the good weather and take a safe walk on the streets of Bridgeport. Oh, wait a minute. There are no safe places to take a walk in Bridgeport.

  8. Monsiur Yahooy

    Je pense que c’est un grand idee que tu faire un promanade dans la rue. Essaye cette manoeuvre: Prendre 50-60 pas en arrière. Prendre plusieurs souffles profonds. Sprinter en avant à toute vitesse. Faire un triple saut périlleux en l’air et disparaître dans ton propre cul!

  9. Good Grief!

    Again, half the posts over yesterday and today have been as trustworthy as Lucy’s helping me punt in football or Peppermint Patty’s heterosexuality (or Chris Caruso’s for that matter.)
    Anna–if the red-haired girl down the street won’t give in to my amorous advances then you are the one for me.

    Claude Balls–I hate the French. I once received a mysterious letter from a girl in a Chateau. Didn’t work out well. The Baron was scary anyways.

    I am glad that BptFinest has stopped extolling the “virtues” of Andres “I’m going to resign when elected State Rep.” Ayala. As I mentioned before: Good grief!
    “Bpts Finest” says he’s not Andres…so BptFinest must be Jeanette Foxworth Elliot doing him a well-paid-for favor for the 11K in no-bid contracts he gave her while he was Council President. I didn’t know they allowed blogging in the Federal pen. Andres is a crook. Brings a smile to my face that he got cold-cocked in his own district. Oh wait…I forgot…he doesn’t live there. He lives with his voter-registration-form-destroying witch girlfriend in the North End…

    Local Eyes: Unless an OPIC is locally taxable then ix-nay on the OPICs-way!!! Bridgeport needs ax-tay oney-may!

    Bob Walsh: You shouldn’t be touching Claude Balls’ baguette!

    John from Black Rock: If you are going to work hard for Bob Keeley then you might want to ask him to do the same for you. He’s been a bit lackluster at his little-show $70k a year D.S.S.D. job and New Haven and Hartford still dance circles around this buffoon and the rest of our delegation. Besides getting a paltry amount for Ellsworth to save his own ass tell me WHAT HAS HE TO SHOW FOR A QUARTER CENTURY IN THE STATEHOUSE? Besides, Keeley’s mama voted for Mario Testa and Keeley banked everything on the off-chance of Mario saving his lazy ass. Auden “waste of space” won’t win. Besides, my dog Snoopy thinks her dog Harold is a bitch (he schtooked his wife at the wedding Auden set up.)

    Joel Hater: I used to kind of like your posts but lately they are as sloppy as my buddy Pigpen. Drop the exclamation points and shit-slinging.

    Captlst Propaganda (2nd worst tag on this blog to date, BTW…yahooy is #1): Keeley is a 24 lb. paper gorilla. If his mama can’t get him elected like she had time and time before then he’s a dead man. The Lyons’ work just as hard as Hennessy and very well may remove that masseuse from the State House. Frankly, Caruso will drop him like a stale cannoli the second he gets challenged. Re: Russo…McCarthy hasn’t been Finch’s lapdog quite exactly and will give Russo a run for his (daddy’s) money. PS-You are a moron.

    Joel Gonzales: You are right some of the time, wrong much of the time, and absolutely crazy almost all of the time. Republicans??? Go fly your Sopwith Camel in some other town with the last of your fingers.

    Bruce Hubler: You should buy Bridgeport and make it better.

    Aboost: Caruso is the reason why Scinto isn’t here…not because of Mario Testa. You claim to not be the Great Fat Bullshitter in disguise…yet you share his same approach when it comes to bending the truth of matters. As I suggested before…Go find an Italian parade in Fairfield to help him rob. We in Bridgeport have had enough of his destructive, truth-relative band of wackos. If Caruso is honest then I’m the great pumpkin! Testa: BOE :: Caruso: Columbus Day Parade. One of them doesn’t lie about it. Guess which one that is…

    Caruso running the city works out about as well as my trying to fly a kite. If Caruso cared about corruption he would have spoken out against Ernie Newton. He didn’t and now no thanks to the Great Big Fat one he is playing piano alongside my pal Schroeder in the federal pen (sorry Schroeder…)

    GOOD GRIEF B-PO!

  10. Also: Don J. Thank you for your enlightening posts. I’m sure Obama will reward you with a cabinet level position in his administration as your postings are an invaluable asset to his campaign and he wouldn’t make it there without you.

    Ditto for Himes.

    Good grief!

  11. charlie oh please this is a democratic blog. If you want to hear about republicans like Shays please go to another blog like in Darien ok. And for the last time this is a democrat blog so get used to it.

  12. This is a Democratic blog???????????????????????????????!!!!

    I think you are confusing Only in Bridgeport with My Left Nutmeg (in your mouth-BTW)

    If this blog is Democratic then Peppermint Patty doesn’t like Mounds.

  13. Ho hum. Lots of bovine fecal matter, as perusual. The more things change, the more they stay the same. As for the democratic presidential nomination, I’m voting for the foul-tempered siamese on “Get Fuzzy.”

  14. Hey Claude stick your French where the sun don’t shine. Nobody likes the cowardly ungrateful French. Plus it is ignorant to speak in a foreign language when everyone else speaks English.
    Donj who told you this was a democratic blog? Whoever did was wrong. This is a blog for Bridgeport. The whole city and all its residents Republican, Democrat and Independent plus unregistered. Himes is looking for someone to run the copy machine; go apply and give us a break from your juvenile BS.

  15. Let me just remind some of you French haters that the Coneheads were from France.
    Everyone loved the Coneheads.
    Put that in your pointed heads and smoke it!

    Consommez les quanities de masse !

    And in the words of Marcel Marceau…

    PT

  16. Charlie Brown….I’m loving your postings. the French thing has gotta go…their wine does suck and they hate Americans. Coneheads or not, they can stuff the Eiffel Tower where the sun doesn’t shine. donj…whatever gave you the idea this blog is strictly for Democrats, albeit a few Democrats on here are beginning to sound like Republicans an awful lot as of late!

  17. sun cat because since I’ve been on here from the Fairfield County Weekly days it’s been about all democrats. And you’re right it sounds like republicans since Lennie made his own blog. And if this was not a democrat blog, there would be barely nobody on here so yeah it is a democrat blog…I can sure tell you that Lennie is a democrat…for crying out loud this is a democrat city.

  18. Only a philistine would remark French wine “sucks.” Would you really compare a vintage St. Emillion Bordeaux with a young Napa Valley Cabernet? Of course you would. You drink Tequila Rose AND you are a Democrat.

  19. To be honest and objective, there is really no hope for positive movement in Bridgeport under a Finch regime.

    There is virtually no real talent or motivation to work with… Out-of-towners with no talent, much less real love for Bridgeport, such as Adam Wood or Andrew Nunn, can’t be expected to accomplish anything that might come close to jsutfying their salaries. Ditto for the Bird Man, who will be back in Trumbull as soon as he resigns as Mayor of Bridgeport…

    Lennie’s formula for the self-managment of a mayor and successful management of his cabinet and staff staff can’t be applied to the present Peter Principle brigade of lackeys that occupy Bridgeport City Hall…

    Finch is a great paid talker and glad-hander for tainted lobbyist causes, but he doesn’t have the motivation, focus, resolve, or creativity to labor effectively for an ailing city such as Bridgeport…He’s only mayor here because he can be counted on to do the bidding of the Testa-DiNardo-D’Addario-Scinto-Motinho-Timpanelli sextet as their bought-and-paid-for stooge.

    As far as a better relationship between Finch and Testa: Finch is a Testa-Ganim creation who takes his orders from Mario and the Sextet — always has and always will… Obviously Testa doesn’t respect Finch. How could he? But then, that doesn’t matter — Finch will always do what Mario tells him to do…

    Really, a well-run City Hall and well-managed Bridgeport can’t happen under present management…

    Please resign, Bill and Company, before you’re forced…

  20. Yes, right on both counts aboost…I am a staunch Democrat and I drink Tequila Rose, no question about that, but with wines, I favor a Spanish or Italian red, Sangiovese, Sangre de Toro. Montepuliciano or Pinot Noir, are favorites. French wine is not nearly as soft or well-rounded as the above-mentioned. I am hardly a philistine because I prefer other wines, but you are certainly entitled to pick your own poison. yahooy – I agree about donj, but you aren’t selling me on French wine! And fact is, I don’t like to support a country like France because their opinion is that all Americans are philistines, plus they need to bathe more often.

  21. You know what you are right. The French suck and stink. Screw them. I have quite a few bottles of the French in my cupboard. Once their gone it’s back to a good old democrat wine…..ripple.

  22. Capitalist The one problem with your scenerio is that Mario Testa & Finch dont get along. this was illustrated during the fight for TCC when Finch went all out for Stafstrom. he lost.
    Until Finch gets a tough person in his office he will not move forward. His staff is weak,inexperienced and do not know how to get things done. A perfect example is They have not replaced the Economic Development Director so far and it has been a few months. Why ask for someones resignation when you dont have a replacement, One more example They still cant name a head for Public Facilities Department.

  23. aboost…..forgot about Ripple, a flashback to younger years! Think I’ll pass on it, unless they run out of Tequila rose or my aforementioned wine favorites. Why support the French? sure as hell they don’t support this country!

  24. Lennie: Regarding your opening comments… that’s a prescription for medicine (changing behaviors) the patient will not take. How do you help someone who’s unaware ( clueless) that anything is wrong or that there’s a better way to act, manage or lead.

    This “disease”, the inablity to govern or accomplish anything meaningful, will have to become far more debilitating before the patient MIGHT be ready to listen.

    I’ve seen it before in businesses large and small. But there, a leader’s INABILITY TO LEAD, hurts the shareholders, the workers and the customers. In government, that weakness hurts you and me. Whether it’s Bush, Rell or Finch, it’s the citizens who benefit or suffer.

    Choose your leaders wisely. You’ll have no one to blame, or to applaud, but yourself.

  25. Bruce…

    Your are absolutely correct. He has shown no ability to govern because he is not a leader and he never will be. I don’t believe that leaders are “born”. I believe that leaders emerge from necessity. There are 12 qualities and 24 characteristics an effective leader must possess in order to succeed. I have yet to see Finch demonstrate any.

    Indeed, he was jammed down our throats being hand picked by the same old same old that has been in power for the last thirty years. We almost came close to ridding ourselves of machine politics. Caruso certainly was not a fully qualified candidate, BUT he would have done a more credible job then Finch thus far.

    The reason we are stuck with Finch is simple. People did not get out and vote. There is a band of voters in Bridgeport that will vote any way Mario tells them to. They get up and they get out and they vote. Over and over and over the hand picked are elected because of that.

    You are the right man to succeed Finch. You are a successful man. You are a good man. And, you have the vision to see what needs to be done to return Bridgeport to the prominence that awaits. BUT, you will not win unless you can find a way to get more people interested in voting. Start now!!

  26. Again, why are so many people just waiting with baited breath for Finch to fail? Now that Mario is town chairman, I’m certain that he will put him on track. I for one, am willing to help him succeed any way I can. Come on everyone, he’s the mayor, try to be a little supportive!

  27. Who is Bruce Hubler. He’s the guy who will bring Bridgeport to the prominence that awaits and that we deserve. Politician? No. Civic minded? Absolutely. Capable of delivering a promise. Just look at what he has done with his life.

    I first knew him from Notre Dame HS where he was a member of the Class of 1964. Formidable student and a great wrestler. he went to college and I went to college so I lost track for a while. Heard he was doing some great things in Human Resources then on to Wall Street where he achieved great success. Now retired, he pays attention to what is going on in his home town AND he pays a fortune in property taxes. Certainly he could figure out a way to minimize his and our expense in that regard when he becomes mayor. But, Bruce can do much more. He achieved all of his success without the hint of any impropriety. He owes no one a thing and scoffs at any suggestion that “pay to play” is good for this town. With Hubler at the helm, I am confident that he will surround himself with like minded professionals who know how to do things. Confidence in our town will swell and I think that we will see the likes of Trump, Scinto, Foxworthy, Cipriano and McMartin lining up to develop in this town. These men are renowned for the greatness they achieved in Miami, San Diego, Chicago and NYC. All disavow political pressures in any venture. With Hubler in charge it’s bye bye machine. We need him.

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