Finch To Herbst: Hey Neighbor, I Need Your Help!

Gushing manhole cover

If Stratford is Bridgeport East (and it is), Trumbull is Bridgeport North. Thousands of Bridgeporters through the years have moved to Stratford and Trumbull. That doesn’t mean the communities always get along. Sometimes it’s a bareknuckles battle for control of land, sludge and money.

On two fronts Mayor Bill Finch needs Trumbull to further his reelection chances, and in both cases Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst may decide if what’s good for Trumbull happens to be good for Bridgeport. The first front is a proposed regional water pollution control authority that would pipe poop from Monroe (which doesn’t have sewers and wants to open up development for new tax revenue) to Trumbull (which has sewers, but not a sewage treatment plant) to Bridgeport which has the mothership to accommodate both towns. But at what cost?

Finch wants the deal for his reelection budget. Essentially the three towns would create a mini municipality that would purchase the wastewater infrastructure from the city providing a one-shot revenue for Bridgeport of roughly $40 million that Finch could use to offset a tax increase. Herbst wants to make sure that whatever deal he cuts stabilizes long-term user fees for Trumbull ratepayers. If this deal is going to happen Finch needs Herbst to act quickly so the regulatory approval process can begin in time for Bridgeport’s 2011 budget window in the spring.

Herbst’s point man on this is John “Bucky” Marsilio, Trumbull’s Public Works director who had the same job in Bridgeport for a decade. Bucky knows everything there is to know about treatment plants, costs, environmental impact, etc.

Item number two for which Finch needs Herbst’s support is a proposed $126 million regional science high school for which the state has authorized funding, but the land for the school includes Fairchild Memorial Park, deeded to Bridgeport more than 80 years ago, along Quarry Road in Trumbull and requires Trumbull land use approval. Seventy percent of the students would come from Bridgeport, the rest from regional towns. Finch wants to tout the school in an election year as “the greenest building the state’s ever built.” Some Trumbull residents wonder about the traffic strain a new school would place in their neighborhood and Trumbull’s Fire Chief Edward Gratrix has raised numerous concerns about school design safety including … “this proposed facility as designed, does not adequately account for the safety of either the  proposed occupants or emergency responders.”

In a recent email Finch complained to Herbst about delays that could jeopardize state funding: “If I were Gov and I had such an incredible project delayed by such footdragging, I would think about all the money I could save at the expense of those who could not perceive their own best interest!”

But whose best interest? It has to make sense for both communities. In the end it comes down to Finch persuading Trumbull why it should do these deals. Can Finch sell it? And how does he do that?



  1. When Lennie doesn’t have a topic related to Bridgeport only, he talks shit. Talking about underground matter, my underground connection has tipped me off about this:

    In a desperate move to draw more Democrats to the OIB Christmas Party on December 9, 2010, Lennie decided to have a special guest to sing at the next Christmas Party. Who is it? Well, take a look here:


  2. Herbst is a nasty Republican, no? Marsilio working for him? Deals with Finchy? Herbst hangs at the Calimari shack on Madison Ave? If I were in Trumbull or Monroe I’d be very careful of this allegiance to the Bpt mob.

    1. Mr BPT // Nov 30, 2010 at 8:14 am
      To your posting

      When you have named it so well, no other words are needed.

      Tell me if you think a Mayor with no connection and no allegiance to anyone other than Bridgeport’s 137,298 citizen could do a better job for Bridgeport in handling this sewer treatment fiasco.

  3. I wouldn’t assume all is well in Monroe either. We have very inexperienced leadership and the town is deeply divided over any type of expense and that includes bonding. Sewers are necessary to have Monroe develop and expand its tax base in any meaningful way. Monroe must understand that a deal will not be possible unless it is fair for all parties. Fairness includes continued payments as the sewage will run downwards in perpetuity. I am a veteran of the “let’s make everyone scared of Bridgeport” war. We have continued letters to the editor, campaign propaganda about the evils of the people who work in Bridgeport (I’m in the group) and I can’t picture Monroe agreeing on this issue anytime soon. The town also suffers from a bit of an identity crisis, torn between those who are stuck in the past wanting to prevent development and are lost in fantasy thinking this town is still rural and those who want to plan for the future, develop the town to expand choices, increase tax base and fund education. Monroe is mired in minutia and burglar-alarm ordinances. Monroe’s leader does not have a handle on the complexities of this issue and will therefore be in lockstep with Herbst. However, currently the First Selectman’s office in run by a small group of people who aren’t wild about development and tend to be very shortsighted. Monroe is currently short on leadership, knowledge, backbone and direction. The minority party and actually most of the town council is shut out and bi-partisanship is non-existent. So Finch’s battle expands beyond Trumbull.

    1. Boy, that election defeat has left you disoriented and confused. You have totally described Bridgeport.
      “… I am a veteran of the ‘let’s make everyone scared of Bridgeport’ war …” If it wasn’t a description of Bridgeport, aren’t you trying to make everyone scared of Monroe and Trumbull?

  4. Ahhh the sweet smell of sewage in the a.m. *** the suburbs cash infusion ain’t gonna save the Birdman’s job *** deals with the devil (Herbst) is not gonna change the opinions of the Bird hunters ~~~ forgetaboutit.

  5. Maybe we need to look at this matter from a different angle … isn’t Monroe the land of homes with 2 1/2 baths? Again, TWO AND ONE HALF BATHS! AGAIN, TWO AND ONE HALF.

    Enough said?

  6. Regarding the multi-town sewer proposal:
    Some people are suspicious of town regionalism. There is a group called who has pushed this and paid lobbyists sit on their board.

    Merging facilities may save money for some, but it does not have Bridgeport’s needs as a top priority, and the payment is also one-time, finite and not recurring. The only sewer issue Bridgeport should be doing is completing infrastructure updates to separate the combined rainwater and sewage lines which are 60% combined now. Again, the payment side of this deal is not good, note no recurring fees in the future and Bridgeport gets a bad deal.

    Speaking of bad deals, democracy means you need to have elections, according to Wikipedia, and if your vote is not counted then we don’t have democracy. The ballot shortage is a great chance for the city to show it is transparent. On the Bridgeport Now TV show tonight, to discuss issues, is the town chair of the Republican Party. at 8pm.

    Then at 8:30, Thanksgiving blues. What’s the real story about what happened here in Fairfield County regarding the native Americans?

  7. If we are the “only” municipality that’s been or will be used in this manner (manure? you choose), then we should not do it. Isn’t it Bridgeport’s turn to develop (notice I didn’t write re-develop)? Right now what Bridgeporter gives a damn about Monroe being able to re-develop? We have been waiting far too long.

    1. “… Indianapolis is an example of a large city where many of the city’s neighborhoods are still on a separate septic system …”

      What’s your point? Must we follow the steps of New Haven and no one else?

  8. There is not much wrong with regionalizing a water authority accommodating the surrounding communities. The Bridgeport system capacity will have to be increased with the surrounding communities bearing the proportional expense associated with advanced planned utilization analysis. Thereafter, the surrounding communities will bear the cost applied to actual use. 100% of the cost is distributed equitably throughout the member communities using the facilities. Bridgeport cannot be expected to assume more of the cost than is appropriate. The initial suggestions of compensation that I have been hearing are pure nonsense and full of political machinations. When it is suggested to your current administration that competent consultation be employed the mayor smugly asserts that he and his people will figure out how to implement a program. I am afraid a decision of this magnitude is way beyond your mayor’s loftiest assessment of his own capacities as it is futile to think that anyone in the Finch administration is capable. It will be criminal to allow the plan to go forward in its present species. Once implemented the damage cannot be reversed and the people of Bridgeport will add to their already smothering tax burden costs that could have distributed more fairly to the suburban users. It is further troubling when one considers the aspirants to the mayoralty. None … not one … do I feel can effect a proper deal, in this regard, that will ensure equal cost for equal utilization. Do not allow your Mayor to accept a one-time payment regardless of how desperately he needs the money to cover up his reckless fiscal management outrages.

  9. In the front-page, 9/27/10, Connecticut Post article by Keila Torres “Regional approach proposed for WPCA”, the proposal by the Finch Administration to “regionalize” Bridgeport’s sanitary sewage-management facilities was presented in significant detail.

    Truly, from Bridgeport’s perspective, this deal stinks to high-heaven! It is an insane, no-win situation for Bridgeport. This proposal is nothing more than an addendum to the unholy compact signed between Trumbull and Bridgeport during the corrupt Tedesco Administration of 50 years ago, which allowed Trumbull to usurp Bridgeport’s
    development prerogative and steal our tax-base, with the added injury of ruining our Trumbull-border neighborhoods (hence, the North End traffic-safety/air/noise/light-pollution/flooding nightmare – attributable to the effects of Trumbull Shopping Park and the Old Town Road/Lindeman Drive/Reservoir Avenue, and Park Avenue border-development by Trumbull)…

    When we first accepted Trumbull’s sewage, circa 1960, we effectively committed our own economic knee-capping! Coincident with the deal was the establishment of Trumbull Shopping Park and the beginning of the painful, on-going death of our Downtown – with the subsequent loss of a mighty piece of grand list! Along with Downtown retail/commercial tax-base, a large number of East Main Street and Main Street retail/commercial businesses exited to Trumbull (as border development/Trumbull Center expanded) – as did a significant portion of our middle-class.

    In addition to our huge loss of extant and potential retail/commercial tax-base, we also eventually lost a significant amount of extant and potential industrial tax-base to Trumbull (e.g., Trumbull Industrial Park). It is very probable that Bridgeport’s socioeconomic collapse would have been averted if Trumbull had been forced to accommodate their own sewage/tax- base-growth dilemma!…

    Now we want to expand Trumbull’s use of our sewage capacity and include Monroe in the bargain! Insane! Do you hear the whoosh, as our remaining, and potential tax-base exits or by-passes Bridgeport via the 25-8 Connector?! (The 25-8 Connector was part of the same “regional development scheme” as the Trumbull-Bridgeport sewer link-up, and had a huge synergistic effect in regard to the exodus of the Bridgeport economy and our prosperous middle class…)

    (This historic situation — to the present — probably does have high-level, serious corruption in play at all levels of government, otherwise it wouldn’t have been able to slip under the stink-radar at the federal and state levels… Also; note that the proposer of this latest “sewer-deal”, developer Robert Scinto, recently pleaded guilty to bribery-corruption charges and faces up to 5 years in prison…) No amount of bribe-money from the suburbs for our sewer capacity will ever be able to even make a dent in the losses we will suffer from the tax-base theft and development- diversion (around Bridgeport!) that will result from such an ill-conceived (undoubtedly corrupt!) deal. Beyond competitive losses, Bridgeport might not be able to accommodate lucrative development opportunities due to sewage-capacity shortfalls related to additional capacity accorded to Trumbull and/or Monroe. Bridgeport must not allow its “leaders” to make any new deals with Trumbull and/or Monroe according greater access to its sewage-system capacity! We must remember history’s lessons. Our response to overtures from the suburbs for such “regional cooperation” must be “Never again!”

    The proposed Trumbull/Monroe sewer deal certainly merits an FBI investigation… All Bridgeport elected officials promoting or supporting this deal need to be voted out of office…

    Truly, it is time for Bridgeport to reclaim its supportive sanitary infrastructure for its own economic development. It is really quite irrational to give the suburbs an advantage over Bridgeport in the competition for tax-base by providing subsidized, unobtrusive infrastructure to complement the obvious aesthetic/environmental advantages inherent in the suburban venue… Trumbull should be given notice by Bridgeport during the current sewer-contract renewal negotiations that they have five years to prepare to be disconnected from Bridgeport’s sewage system…

  10. Jeff, that is the best answer to this bait and switch scheme that I have ever read.
    The Finch administration with the help of that bum Tom Sherwood are full of it when they talk about an $8 million deficit. We must remember that Sherwood put this budget together.
    Originally we were told the city unions must make concessions before July 1 2010 or there would be massive layoffs. Now the date is January 1, 2011 but in the meantime Finch and company are spending money like drunken sailors.
    We are still hiring the politically connected. We bought 5,000 large recycling containers for an area that does not recycle. We bought 6 Mad vacs and then sent them out to be painted GREEN as per the mayor’s Green initiative. We have this kind of money to waste? We did the same with a new street sweeper.
    I agree with Jeff in that Trumbull and Monroe will screw Bridgeport in a minute. With John Marsilio working in Trumbull he would negotiate circles around these dummies in the Finch Administration and those 19 dumb asses on the council. When Marsilio is through we would be paying Trumbull for using our sewer plants and Finch would be telling us what a great deal it was.

    1. Gomes and/or Caruso should hire Jeff as a campaign adviser/speech writer. Excellent post and very knowledgeable. Regarding layoffs, Sherwood has been busy preparing the list. The first of the pink slips arrive tomorrow. It took awhile because they had to make sure all the DTC members, girfriends, spouses, gumads were not affected.

  11. Excellent posts, especially Kohut’s. It seems Trumbull has been shitting on us for the past 50 years and now we are being asked to eat it. No way! Any public meetings held for this fiasco should be overwhelmed by an angry citizenry. JUST SAY NO!!!

  12. Jeff: that’s the best, most informative post I’ve read in a long time. Thank you. I am still amazed on a daily basis of the decisions made by this administration. It is an unfortunate sign of the times that because today’s voters are so uninformed that Finch can actually hang his re-election bid on this massive clusterf**k.

  13. Thanks, TC, BP, BPT 1, Hector, Fixer!

    This is the type of issue that deserves to be aired at several public hearings, over a period of months, and decided by direct–single issue–referendum …

    (The “back-room air” associated with this deal smells like “Boss Tweed” let go of a huge wet one …)

  14. *** OIB readers need more info. & a look @ how the New Haven regional sewer system has been working in general, good & bad! Right now this sewer rush job smells of nothing more than a politically minded city budget one shot in the arm for next year’s elections. *** Nightmares in Bpt. ***

  15. Is the Bridgeport electorate so gullible they’d believe this would save them money if Finch were to pull it off?

    Let’s recap: Finch sells the assets to a new entity, and uses the money to “keep taxes down in an election year.”

    But the new entity has no money. Where do you think the new entity is going to get the money to give to Finch? Wait a minute, it’s coming to me … the ratepayers (AKA taxpayers)!!!

    Would you look at that! Finch is looking to pick the pockets of the taxpayers, and he thinks they’re too stupid to figure out where the money will come from!

  16. The real purpose for such a deal is to assist developers in financing a very expensive aspect of their development plans at a cost to homeowners. There is no need to force homeowners to connect into a town’s sewage treatment system and if Monroe and Trumbull are afforded the opportunity to connect into the Bridgeport system, they can rest assured they will be forced to connect into the system and forced to shut down their septic systems. One major problem with septic system is the lack of maintenance and service by some homeowners. This can be solved the same way the WPCA deals with those who don’t pay their bills–put a lien on the property. Homeowners who fail to empty their tanks can be billed by the town for the job and/or place a lien when not paid (collect interest too). Enforcement is key and is one of the reasons most homeowners fail in their responsibility.

    Trees near underground Septic Tanks is another problem–the roots tend to penetrate and cause leaks. However, this same problem affects the City sewer system; the ratepayers still pay for the cost of repairs; the leaks tend to go unrepaired–even when leaks are known of– for a long time; and the greater the mileage of pipes, the greater the ground contamination and chance of leaks.

    Based on my experience and understanding of proposals such as this proposed regional sewage treatment agreement and the workings of the free-market system, it is obvious the only winners would be the developers.


  17. WOW!!! This is one of the most revealing postings I have seen on Bill Finch ever. It paints the man exactly as he is. Greedy, power hungry, rude and nasty.

    Trumbull needs to do what is right for Trumbull and if that means Mr. Finch might actually have to run on his record instead of waving his own flag sewn together with sweetheart deals well then so be it.

    How dare he insinuate in some way that Trumbull owes him anything or his undertone of threatening of “If he were Governor.”

    What Bill Finch has proven in his tenure is he and his party can screw up anything in his path. Trumbull won’t be his next victim.


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