3:30 p.m. update:
Did ya listen to Governor Jodi Rell’s budget address? I liked what I heard, and so does Mayor Bill Finch judging by his statement.
No tax increase (although fees will be jacked), suspending binding arbitration for two years, eliminating state mandates on cities and towns, suspending costly in-shool suspensions, eliminating and consolidating state departments including the antiquated Probate Court system.
Rell’s budget now goes to the super majority Democratic legislature that will screw around with it until the beginning of June. Rell hit home the point that with Connecticut’s neighbor states raising taxes, Connecticut will be in a position to attract new businesses by not raising them. Makes sense to me.
But, of course, the Dems will do what the Dems do best: raise taxes. See Finch statement below:
“The Governor, and the state of Connecticut, is facing many tough decisions – many of which we have already had to face here in Bridgeport. I applaud Governor Rell for preventing cuts to ECS funding for the next two years as these funds are essential to the functioning of our City and its school system. I also wish to thank the Governor for not cutting critical funding to cities and towns. Cutting these two sources of funding would have led to massive tax increases and drastic service reductions on the local level.
“I am heartened by the Governor’s allocation of $40 million dollars to begin regionalizing municipal government services, an idea whose time has come in the state, and one which I fully support. I also support Gov. Rell’s allocation of funding for “green-collar” jobs and, the $7.5 million she plans to allocate for the Connecticut Conservation Corps initiative. Both of these initiatives are vital to providing jobs and reinvigorating our economy in the months to come. In addition, I support her proposal to expand the bottle bill law to include non-carbonated beverages like water. Revenues from that change would go to help cities like Bridgeport.
“This coming year will be a difficult one for our legislative leaders, but I, and my fellow big-city mayors plan to help in any way we can.”
Post Toast For Laska
Connecticut Post Publisher Bob Laska is saying sayonara after 43 years. That’s a heckuva a run, working his way from lowly reporter to top dog. I first met Laska when I joined the paper as an intern in 1977. The news world was a different place. Underwood typewriters, carbon paper, scary editors out of the Stone Age, composing room gorillas screaming for copy, a conveyor belt that would eat your hand if not careful.
The days of a scribe transitioning to publisher is now rare in the world of corporate journalism. Most reporters don’t have the business and advertising savvy to make the transition. Laska did it over time from reporter to editorial writer to editor to front office under Publisher Dud Thomas who was brought in by the outfit that purchased the paper from classy Betty Pfriem.
I hope Laska enjoys the retirement because he’s been running all over Fairfield County assimilating the pieces of Hearst-owned pubs into regional news sharing. Greenwich Time, Stamford Advocate, Danbury News-Times and CT Post all dailies owned by Hearst, plus a boatload of weeklies. One day you may see the guts of all papers looking the same except the front pages.
No nicer person in politics than Jacky Durrell who served as first selectman of Fairfield for 10 years. Governmentally she got a lot done, but politically she’s responsible for the election of Chris Shays to Congress. After the passing of Stewart McKinney, a special election took place to fill his term in 1987. Back then party rules required a candidate receive 20 percent support from delegates at the convention to secure a spot on the ballot. No direct primary then. Shays was short of the mark, then Durrell threw her support to Shays to get him to the magic number. He wins the primary, then the general election and stayed until he was defeated by Jim Himes in November 2008.
Jacky’s son Brad is editor of the Bridgeport News. Wonderful lady and a prince for a son.
News release from Mayor Bill Finch
City Asks Organizations to Pay Parade Overtime
BRIDGEPORT, CT (February 3, 2009) – Mayor Bill Finch today announced that the City has asked all organizations that hold parades here to help pay the bill for police and public works overtime incurred by the event.
A letter was sent last year to all parade organizations asking them to help the City’s financial situation by shortening their parade routes in order to cut costs. The City was pleased that at least one parade organization, the Juneteenth Parade, worked with City officials to reduce their parade route last year.
A subsequent letter was sent to all parade organizations on December 8, 2008 asking them to help cover the overtime costs incurred by the City of Bridgeport public works and police departments. The administration is currently in the process of meeting with the many parade organizers to reduce costs and ensure public safety.
This is one of several cost-cutting measures the Mayor has enacted, including budget cuts, freezing positions, layoffs and furloughs, and reduction of the City vehicle fleet, all aimed at helping to curtail the potential $20 million dollar budget gap the City may face at the end of this fiscal year. In addition, during the past two months, the City has negotiated contract agreements with the police union, AFSCME Council 1522, LIUNA and three other city unions. The concessions reached during those negotiations account for approximately $3.5 million of the $4.5 million goal for union savings. Other unions are still in negotiation with the City and in the process of finalizing cost-savings tentative agreements in the next few weeks.
The City incurs about $200,000 in overtime costs for police and public works personnel who work directing traffic, securing street closures and cleaning and sweeping the parade routes before and after the event.
“While my administration fully supports our city’s many celebrations of culture and history, we have to consider our budget constraints, and ask that organizations help shoulder the overtime costs incurred, for which the city currently pays.” Other cities, such as New Haven, also have begun requiring organizations pick up the cost of parade overtime in the past year.