Finch Versus Ganim, Battle Of The Political Narcissists

Former Mayor Joe Ganim, after more than a decade asserting he did nothing wrong, issued a disingenuous public apology recently because it was strategically expedient as he weighs a political comeback from his public corruption conviction that forced him from office 12 years ago. Mayor Bill Finch, after years of supporting second chances, now says disingenuously some felons should be barred from seeking public office including Ganim, again a strategic position, albeit dubious in light of his declaration that Bridgeport is a “boom town … getting better every day.” If it’s such a boom town getting better why not just say hey Joe, run … let’s get it on! I got nothing to fear.

The reality is both Ganim and Finch have more baggage than Kennedy, LaGaurdia and Newark airports combined, some known publicly and some not, that both do not want to come out. Finch and his advisers actually undercut their message that Bridgeport is a boom town getting better by declaring Ganim should be barred from seeking public office. Every time Finch implies Ganim should not have the right to run he invites voters to ask: why is Finch afraid of Ganim? Finch has bled votes in the city, particularly regarding education issues, through his oligarchical posturing on voter rights including his desire to pick school board members, not the people.

It was titillating to listen to the mayor the other day crow his greatest accomplishment as mayor is restoring the public’s trust in local government. What a bunch of hooey. There’s stuff in Finch’s personal life that if made public would end his political career. And so it goes in the sanctimonious world of city politics that now infects Bill Finch.

Finch served in the State Senate for seven years at the apex of public corruption screaming across the front pages of newspapers: Joe Ganim, John Rowland, Ernie Newton. Did he talk about barring felons from seeking public office? What has Finch spewed in his seven-plus years as mayor about public corruption? All of a sudden Ganim emerges as a threat and Finch and his political advisers posture a line in the sand on this issue. Be very careful what you wish for, kids. To Finch’s way of thinking Joe Ganim must be barred from running, but not murderers and sex offenders?

Finch would be on the side of the angels if he were a true reform mayor. He is not. For seven-plus years Finch has violated the City Charter that prohibits city employees from serving on the City Council. In fact, Tom McCarthy, the City Council president, serves at the pleasure of the mayor as deputy director of Labor Relations earning more than $100,000 a year, damn the checks and balances in government. When it comes to the legislative body and the executive branch, checks and balances do not exist in Bridgeport. In just about every likewise position in government it’s illegal for the head of the legislative branch to work at the pleasure of the chief executive. Finch rationalizes it’s okay because of dubious advice from his city attorney who has a history of crafting arguments on behalf of the mayor instead of the people. It’s impossible for taxpayers to get the best deal under this governmental arrangement. Finch and McCarthy, both talented pols with strong suits, kid themselves that the arrangement is just fine. Finch has the power to end his power grab with the head of the legislative branch. Sometimes power can be an intoxicating thing that clouds reason. And Finch is no different.

Finch declares we must bar public corruption offenders from seeking office because it sends the right message to investors. Fair enough. What message is sent to investors when the head of the legislative branch bows down as Finch’s loyal servant? It’s like Finch has received a blood transfusion from Eddie Haskell. Finch would have credibility on the Ganim issue if his rhetoric was in synch with government actions.

As for Ganim, he’s full of it too. Ganim had his hand out and paid a large price for it. He’s decided to apologize not out of some genuine remorse, but because he’s been told by numerous political operatives he has to do this if he wants their support and by extension some additional public support for a comeback. Ganim will never regain his law license, as a result his earning power has been diminished. Understandably, he has children to care for with lotsa tuition payments on the horizon. Who’s gonna pay Ganim a package worth $150K a year? So to Ganim’s way of thinking, why not take the shot and run for mayor.

The Ganim/Finch relationship is an interesting study. They’ve never been best of buds. In the 1990s when Finch was a heartbeat away from homelessness, behind on mortgage and tax payments and child support, he was rescued by Ganim financially at the urging of Finch’s friends (full disclosure: me among them). Campaign work, city job, transit authority job, business community economic development job, Finch landed on his feet financially because of friends prevailing upon Ganim to assist.

Finch is the favorite to win a third, four-year term this year. He has plenty of campaign dough, a public platform, with an accomplishment list to sell to voters. So it would be nice if Finch scuttled his preaching for some pragmatic campaign strategy: here’s my record, let’s get it on!

And barring that, is there an alternative candidate to Finch and Ganim willing to say they’re both full of it?



  1. Based on Mayor Finch’s recent position on those convicted of felony corruption charges, Ganim would not be able to run for office.

    However, former Mayor Giordano of Waterbury who was convicted of having an eight- and 10-year-old little girl give him oral sex, including in a police car and City Hall, would be eligible to run for elected office.

    A murderer, rapist, pedophile, drug dealer, etc. could all run for elected office, but not the individuals who took kickbacks or a bribe.

  2. Couldn’t have said it better myself, Lennie. The mayor is a hypocrite with insomnia. His record as mayor also doesn’t stand scrutiny.
    Ganim is as arrogant and insincere as he ever was and the apology didn’t fly. It’s like a bad case of swine flu has settled in Bridgeport.

  3. Eddie Haskel, Wally is still gushing over Obama’s amazing speech last night.

    There are many battles we fight in life. Is Joe Ganim’s attempt at running again an issue anyone should be fighting for?
    I SAY THIS AFTER SEEING A MOVIE THE OTHER DAY. “SELMA.” EMOTIONALLY DRAINING. 50 YEARS AFTER SELMA ON THE anniversary of Martin Luther King, I just can’t imagine a community that has been so humiliated and has come so far. How many would blindly support a candidate like Joe Ganim? Personally, I do not think he should have the right to run. He stole from the entire city. It has nothing to do with Mayor Finch. I feel those encouraging Joseph to run are just putting him in a bad place and unnecessarily bringing humiliation to his family. I would not want to see anti-Ganim commercials on television depicting his corruption trials. Those days are best left behind us. So many current voters were only nine years old or less when Joe Ganim fell from grace. I am sure Joe feels better now that he has finally begun to heal himself by apologizing. I am suggesting Joe Ganim take the high road for now. Personally, I do not think he has a chance. Frankly, I am sure there are worse things than having Joe as Mayor again. It’s the message it sends to the youth of this city. Second chances may be good but to run for the highest office in the city, not so much.

    Mayor Finch simply planted the seeds of the obvious. Look at Ernie Newton, G-d bless him, the shit just keeps happening. Why? Because a leopard never changes their spots. Why did Fabrizi have to let Finch take his glory? Ganim’s fall from grace wasn’t so much more severe. Mary-Jane Foster? A very ethical educated business executive. So Joe Ganim has a chance. Take all the youth who will be exposed to the bad press for the first time and the seniors who do not forget. Take the young black community that is being educated about its history, some for the first time experiencing the horrors of the civil rights movement via Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey through the lens witnessing Martin Luther King and the actual struggles of Black America in the ’60s. Heartbreaking! And now should the city collectively support a convicted felon and find a million excuses to make it seem logical? Forget Finch, is there not one man or woman of integrity, black or white to run for office? Ganim before Daniels? Before Gardner? Mayor Finch has the momentum going in his direction, but down the road we need some new blood. Some strong minority candidates who speak for all the people. I often wondered why a city so heavily populated with minorities can only regurgitate the same names. Bridgeport is ready. Perhaps Mayor Finch that Ganim attempted to pave for himself, running for Governor leaving office early and opening up the voting process again to a new vibrant candidate moving us forward.

    Remember, Finch may have more than 300,000 in his warchest as well as huge swells of support in the community. People will be reminded Ganim was going to get $500,000 for his gubernatorial campaign from his choice of developers for Steelepointe. Finch has issues, driveways, harassment issues in his admin, but really, does any of this compare to Joe Ganim’s selfish lining of his pockets every step of the way? We can love you Joe, but … Please do yourself a favor.

  4. “There’s stuff in Finch’s personal life that if made public would end his political career. And so it goes in the sanctimonious world of city politics that now infects Bill Finch.”

    Holier than Thou has some Stuff in his Closet???

  5. The shame of it is the best this city has to offer is an ex-felon and a mayor who at best has a dubious record of ignorance.
    All and I mean most all people involved in politics are liars, cheaters and have no principles. When was the last time you saw a politician actually answer a direct question?

  6. Tremendous courage and expository mastery exhibited in this essay. Bravo, Mr. Grimaldi. I hope you’re writing your next book.

    On a side note, while canvassing in 2013, I met someone who shared she was a longtime friend to Mayor Finch’s ex-wife and did she have stories to tell!

    I replied, “Interesting, but in my humble opinion, it’s that kind of stuff that keeps Bridgeport politics down–so let’s skip it.” It wasn’t a self-righteous moment, it was a straight and simple one, and she understood. We ended with a smile. To this day, she and I are mutually respectful and friendly acquaintances.

    1. Pete Spain, a long-time friend of Finch’s ex-wife told you stories? Finch has two children from his first wife who apparently have a great relationship with him. Those same two kids’ pictures sat on Mayor Finch’s ex-wife’s desk. Whatever stories you may have that you think were appropriate to share on this blog is most likely none of our business. They are divorced. He is remarried, he has two more children. He was not convicted on 16 charges and sent to jail for nine years and waited to barely apologize.

          1. Steve,
            Fair enough. Thank you. And what I wrote could have been a bit more clear.

            On to the matters that really matter!

  7. Steve, I thought you were going to give us all a break and not blog anymore. BTW Obama’s speech was bullshit. He will not get anything through congress, he was blowing smoke for his dumb ass liberal base.

    1. It worked, that smoke raised his approval rating and sets the stage for Hillary.

      Andy, don’t be absurd. Now that you have become part of the choir and sing the same tune, I am here to raise your blood pressure. Though I must admit I do find some of your posts spot on and funny in comparison to your twin Jim Fox.

  8. Lennie,
    Thanks for taking the trouble to sketch the personnel coming on the field. Then you say:
    “And barring that, is there an alternative candidate to Finch and Ganim willing to say they’re both full of it?”

    You are the political pro who have told us to be mindful of MOM, money, organization and message … looking for momentum. Under the current circumstances is it possible our own DAVID and GOLIATH match would end up with each combatant mortally wounded in terms of electability? Would it then matter who came on the field with a prescription for OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT governance? Would we financially see a budget advanced that would not increase faster than the growth in the Grand List, and would actually decrease if necessary initially? Would a set of metrics be posted for public info on the City website as a method of informing the public INSTEAD OF A BROWN BAG LUNCH that Mayor Finch himself has not attended in a month as of today? And on the other hand, if Joe Ganim were Mayor again would a Financial Board with access to all info be required? He would be used to it because it was in place initially and the City’s fiscal health was better in some ways. How do you trust a person with a tested weakness who has failed if you do not severely monitor and verify? Time will tell.

  9. Why can’t we get a young, fresh face with no political agenda? A person who just wants a better Bpt. It feels like there is no end in sight to the political favors, corruption, backroom deals, etc., no matter who runs and wins. Just an awful thing to see what has happened to this once-great city.

    1. Harvey Weintraub, why do they have to be young? You take Mary-Jane Foster, a business person, with good life experience, she has a great personality, hard working and honest.

      1. Ron Mackey, I guess what I meant was why do we have to recycle candidates? The same names run over and over again. Ms. Foster fits into that category.


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