Finch’s Political Prunes, Plus: Port Authority Twist

Noon update

: Mayor Bill Finch doesn’t know this yet but a political time bomb is ticking in his mayoralty.

It’s not necessarily an explosion that will happen overnight. Tick. Tick. Tick. But it will happen. Tick. Tick. Tick. Unless hizzoner hears the alarm fairly soon. Tick. Tick. Tick. Because the political bomb in Finch’s mayoralty. Tick. Tick. Tick … is himself. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Finch’s problem is looking in the mirror and loving what he sees, no matter what he does, good, bad or ugly. But so many that have supported him through the years just don’t see the same reflection. This happens to many pols when power overwhelms sanity, arrogance blinds the truth and you kick in the teeth the people that escorted you to the ball.

Two examples are Democratic Party Vice Chair Dottie Guman and Mary-Jane Foster, vice president at the University of Bridgeport. Guman was the one pol that looked after Finch when no one else would. During various points of the 1990s, when Finch was broke, didn’t have the money to pay his taxes, make his mortgage payment, support his children, it was Dottie Guman, against the heated wishes of her husband John, who stepped up to bleed for Finch. “He’s a nut case,” her late husband, once the Dem party chair, would say.

Bill always had trouble holding down a private sector job, almost always because his tongue was on steroids. Finch believed he was entitled to say what he wanted, damn the consequences, damn that he was so often wrong. But it was Dottie Guman who said we have to help Bill. A campaign job, a city job, a transit authority job, a business community development job and then state senate. (Full disclosure: I managed that state senate race for Finch.) Each and every time Dottie Guman helped Finch find work.

Dottie Guman is a rarity in city politics. Honest, decent, a devout Catholic whose word is always good. Her way of cursing? “He’s full of prunes.”

Well, Dottie feels Bill’s been full of prunes for most of his mayoralty. Bad decisions, irresponsible statements, lies to the point he feels it’s okay to berate a 70-year-old woman whether in person or by phone if she dare question his judgment, has not made things easy. When former Town Chair John Stafstrom told Dottie to fuck off because she dared to contemplate support of Mario Testa for town chair, Finch had the chance to step up. But instead Finch wimped out, screamed at Guman and pushed hard for Stafstrom, all of which made Dottie’s job easier to support Mario. And when they talk Finch tells Dottie, we’ll get through this. That’s Finch’s mantra for everything he doesn’t want to deal with: we’ll get through this.

And once again Finch finds himself working against Guman who is supporting retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez for a Board of Education slot. Finch doesn’t want Lopez. Why? He cannot control her.

When Finch decided to run for mayor in 2007, one of the first community leaders he contacted was Mary-Jane Foster, co-founder with her husband Jack McGregor of the Bridgeport Bluefish. When Finch needed campaign money Foster helped, when he needed a high-profile person to lead Finch’s transition team after he won the mayoralty he asked Mary-Jane to take the figurehead spot. When he needed cash to retire a legal debt in the aftermath of Chris Caruso challenging the results of Finch’s 270-vote primary win, it was Mary-Jane who opened up her home to raise tens of thousands of dollars.

And then when Finch had the opportunity to show maturity, leadership and temper his obsessive preoccupation for the Unification Church that provided the University of Bridgeport a financial infusion in lieu of a boarded-up school in 1992 he called the university the other day a criminal enterprise. Finch offered this infantile wisdom despite no evidence that the church has intruded on teachers, students or classrooms. In fact, a revitalized UB is a key link in the city’s future.

Has Finch offered an apology, an explanation to Foster? Oh, let me guess: we’ll get through this.

I don’t know Don Eversley, the city’s director of economic development but he seems to have an accomplished background and I dare say he understands the critical connection a revitalized UB can play in attracting new business to the city. He’s got to be sticking needles in Finch’s voodoo doll for Finch’s disgraceful remarks. Yeah, mayor, don’t do me any favors!

And Finch’s Chief of Staff Adam Wood is running around trying to put out Finch’s self-induced fires. Poor Adam can do all the running around he wants. If Finch doesn’t soon realize he’s been his own worst enemy then it will be too late to repair the damage. And then come election time in two years it will be bye, bye birdie.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Port In A Storm

The Connecticut Legislature managed to override a bunch of Gov. Jodi Rell’s vetoes on Monday including the bill that provides the state Department of Transportation power over the Bridgeport Port Authority.

This was the mess that fueled Joe Riccio’s departure as executive director of the BPA when he used his lobbyist to wire legislation that would protect his job. Joe didn’t tell his board what he was doing. A separation agreement was worked out. The City Council, in a fit over loss of home rule, had voted to dissolve the BPA. Mayor Finch vetoed the council measure after Rell vetoed the state legislation.

Under the state legislation that will go into law the state DOT will have some oversight authority over the BPA. State Rep. Auden Grogins was the only one of the city’s eight-member legislative delegation to vote no on the override. She was concerned about the city losing home rule and the cost impact from other parts of the bill such as state highway signage, etc.

Some members of the city’s delegation, according to State Senator Anthony Musto, voted for the override based on a commitment from legislative leadership that the home-rule language would be stripped out of a new bill in the future, possibly the next legislation session that begins in January.

Some good stuff from Ken Dixon of the Connecticut Post:

July 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm by Ken

HB 6649, the omnibus transportation legislation including exciting items such as naming bridges and overpasses, was among the bills overridden by majority Democrats yesterday. The veto was a gift to Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, who’s involved in a drama with the City Council over the fate of the city’s Port Authority, which has become less relevant after the departure of the banana boats. The bill would have protected the port authority from termination.

Here are some excerpts from the Senate debate. That fact that Finch wanted the veto seemed lost among some Democratic lawmakers who voiced criticism again Gov. Jodi Rell.

Sen. Don DeFronzo, D-New Britain, co-chairman of the Transportation Committee: Mr. President, the governor’s veto of this bill is very disappointing to us, in that the governor and the commissioner of Transportation at no time during the long legislative process indicated that any provision of this bill was so contentious as to warrant a gubernatorial veto …

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield: … I take Sen. DeFronzo at his word that this was a bipartisan product in that no one from the administration came forward to object to any provision. What happened was, a former colleague of ours and now the mayor of Bridgeport requested that the governor veto this bill because of a controversy regarding a port authority in the city of Bridgeport. And the governor agreed and if you read the governor’s veto message, she talks about the ability to let the city do away with the port authority and that the original provision in this bill should not have been left to stand. After this bill originally passed the City Council in Bridgeport said we’re going to do away with the port authority before this bill can take into effect. And then the mayor and the City Council tried to work out their differences and they’re still trying to work out those differences. And even as we sit here today we’re told that there will still be attempt after this bill is overridden to work with the city of Bridgeport and their delegation to get this worked out and we should do that. But to hear representations made today and to read what I’ve read from some of my colleagues in the paper that how dare the governor veto this bill when she was asked to veto it by the mayor of the largest city of the state, a former Democratic state senator and to hear the comments that are made, are a little ridiculous. A little ridiculous. I think the people of the city of Bridgeport and the mayor should thank the governor for listening. How many times have we heard our big cities come up and say you don’t listen to us in Hartford? … What’s at stake here? A couple of names. A couple of signs. We’re naming some roads and bridges. We love to do that. It’s all good. But the governor’s veto was right on to help the people of the city of Bridgeport. ….

DeFronzo, then rose to address McKinney’s criticism, noting that the Transportation commissioner was in the Senate the night the bill was approved.

Then Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele, presiding over the session banged the gavel: I would ask the chamber to be very careful with names and titles and directions toward individuals. I understand there’s some dialogue here but we also have the decorum and rules of the Senate.

DeFronzo: My point is that this issue was fully vetted through the legislative process. The DOT had complete knowledge of it … Presumably the governor’s staff was aware of it. …

Sen. Ed Gomes, D-Bridgeport: Some of the things I have just heard spoken here, I think they need a clarification of … The whole delegation of the city of Bridgeport stands in favor of the override of this veto, for the simple reason that we feel that the transportation bill is more important than the city of Bridgeport alone. Anything that they have done down in the city of Bridgeport they have got into under their own duress and that’s how it should be settled …

McKinney: If the delegation of the city of Bridgeport thinks this is good for the city that’s great. I have no quarrel with that … The timing is my issue … It was in Sen. Defronzo’s e-mail, which he copied us all on, to Nancy Hadley, the former economic development director in Bridgeport, pointed this very fact out that the city of Bridgeport and the administration was aware of this language … It was after the bill passed that the City Council took action and it is at that point that the mayor of the city said wait, stop, pull back the language so I can work this out with the city council … I have no quarrel if people want to override. I have no quarrel with the good senators from Bridgeport doing what’s best for their city, I just have a quarrel with representations that were made and I think the record should be clear that it was after the bill passed there was an objection raised by the mayor to the governor. The governor, correctly or incorrectly trying to help him out and the city out, did what she did.”

After the successful override late Monday afternoon , the Blogster called Finch for a reaction and instead got a statement from Tyrone McClain, the mayor’s director of legislative affairs: “We are working hand in hand with our Bridgeport legislative delegation and legislative leadership to address our concerns with this legislation through the upcoming special legislative session. We are confident that this issue will be resolved in the best interest of the City of Bridgeport.”

Nancy Hadley, former economic development director for the city, raises lots of important questions in a statement below:

Let me get this straight.

Today, the State Legislature voted to override the Governor’s veto of the CDOT bill that contained the ‘horrible’ attack on Bridgeport’s home rule regarding the Port Authority. The Senate needed 24 votes to override. The actual vote: 28 in favor and 8 against. Voting in favor were our own Senators Gomes and Musto. Senator McKinney voted no. The House also voted to override. They needed 101 votes to override. The actual vote: 136 in favor, 5 against and 10 not voting. The ENTIRE BRIDGEPORT DELEGATION voted to override. Ayala, Hennesey, Caruso and Clemons ALL VOTED TO override …

What the _ _ _ _?

The world was ending as we knew it if you listened to the City Council. So, the entire delegation voted to have the CDOT provide oversight over the three port authorities. Seems like the home rule issue wasn’t such a big deal after all.

All this to get Joe Riccio fired?

All this to neutralize the Port Authority so the Ferry Boat Company does not have their opposition to go across the river to the East End?

All this to make Bridgeport a laughing stock in the eyes of existing and potential investors.

I cannot believe what just happened. I just cannot believe it.

I personally did not think that the CDOT oversight was such a bad thing. I didn’t think it was more important than the dissolution of the Port Authority. You just don’t blow away a 15-year-old public benefit corporation overnight. You unwind it slowly if in fact it is a bad actor, or you restructure it. But no-o-o-o-o-o-o. Bridgeport hits the ant with a freaking blowtorch carried by the Terminator. Unbelievably bad public decision making. Bad all around. The City Council didn’t do anything close to proper due diligence, and the Bridgeport delegation just ignored the whole matter.

So where are we? Joe Riccio is still chairing the State Maritime Commission because he is the Governor’s appointment. We have the Port Authority intact with Andy Nunn, the City’s CAO as its acting Executive Director. We have the Mayor stating that his administration is neutral as far as the Ferry Boat company’s attempt to move across the river. If the Port Authority decides to do a selection process for a new Executive Director, they will need CDOT Commissioner’s consent.

My head hurts.

Party With Us

Okay, OIB party Thursday 5:30 p.m. at Taco Loco on Fairfield Avenue in Black Rock. First cocktail on OIB, plus food to fill your pleasure center.

Farmer’s Market Today

The Farmer’s Market on the Baldwin Green will be open today. The Market is open rain or shine every Tuesday from 12 to 6. Please make an effort to attend and spread the word to employees as well as customers. There are over 20 different varieties of fruits and vegetables, many all natural and pesticide free. Honey, homemade jam, fresh flowers, and herbs are also sold. Come and enjoy Connecticut grown products and support local farmers.



  1. This city is like a rudderless ship. We have no captain and the crew is too dumb to operate the ship.
    Let’s look at the past week or so:
    Finch vetoes the council’s vote on dissolving the Port Authority.
    Finch finds a way to pay Rich Paoletto’s salary from city funds and not from federal money thus allowing Paoletto to run for reelection. Nice guy Kevin Monks gets screwed.

    Finch hijacks the program at the Puerto Rican Dinner and then gets pissed at Carmen Lopez because she called him on it.
    Finch come out and states the University of Bridgeport is like organized crime.

    Finch states he is neutral on the Ferry Boat moving across the water. Christ Bill, you are supposed to be the leader of this city.
    Finch and crew start lobbying to get Leticia Colon on the BOE over Carmen Lopez.
    Is Finch going to be neutral on the city’s delegation all voting to override the governor’s veto as it relates to the port authority?
    Speaking of these dumb-asses that are the Bridgeport delegation. WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING??? VOTING TO OVERRIDE THE GOVERNORS VETO.
    If there ever was a case for RECALL, Finch is the poster boy.

  2. Fink has never had a real job! Len you are right he has nearly been bankrupt several times when he burned bridges and got FIRED. UB was no different … when FIRED from there he stood on their doorstep and protested.

    Now accountability strikes and he can’t even get into work on time blowing off meetings constantly. His Cabinet meeting had to be moved to afternoons because he could never get to work on time to make them mornings. I hear 2 or 3 times a week he comes in late mornings because he is babysitting. WOW.

    Let’s get volunteers … I suggest the Fink Watch … I’ll do the early morning shift and start driving by his house to see if he is home or not. I bet we could report on OIB that he is home more than at work. Accountability??? …What is that???

    Billy Fink how does it feel to have an almost real job? Having fun yet??? lol lol lol

    1. Hang the bastard’s dirty laundry from the highest yardarm in the city. Every registered voter ought to know that Bill Finch is a fuck up, and I’m not referring to the tiebreaker at a bush-league beauty contest.

  3. Is Bridgeport the foreclosure capital of Connecticut?

    Want to invest, or are you now afraid of losing your house in Foreclosure

    Listen to the foreclosure and short sale experts tonight and ask your questions, on BRIDGEPORT NOW at 8pm Tue July 21, channel 77 and on

    On a recent show, Congressman Jim Himes said that health care is the number one reason for bankruptcy and for losing your house. After that we ran a full program on the Sustinet CT state health plan, and as you can see from the CT Post today, it was very close to passing.

    “Bridgeport Now”, taking on the local issues that concern you. Seen on Ch 77 Cablevision in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Stratford, Woodbridge, Orange and Milford. Thanks to Soundview Studios in downtown Bridgeport.

  4. Hey Lennie Happy B-day brother. I call you a true brother of sweetport because you are voice of the people who can’t speak for themselves. You are doing a job that takes a lot of courage to do and kudos to you for that. I look forward to seeing you at Taco Loco by the way when is this celebration?

  5. Lennie

    Can’t you get someone from our delegation to make a comment about veto override? Banshee et al. are always so willing to send you press releases. How ’bout it you guys?

  6. YIKES,
    I just checked the House Journal again. Auden Grogins voted NO on the veto. She was one of the five “no” votes. Brava to Auden. She had the vision to know what the fallout would have been to ‘slap’ the Governor for doing something that was really in Bridgeport’s best interest. Please accept my apology for that omission. Again, Brava to Auden.

    1. “Brava to Auden”? I say bravo to the Democratic majority controlling both legislative chambers. It’s about time they got their collective shit together to stand up to a Republican Governor. Ms. Grogins missed the boat on the vetoes. Our elected officials have been too concerned with vengeance served as a cold dish.

    2. Senator Gomes has stated that the “entire” Bridgeport delegation was in favor of the veto override. Could have Auden been in favor of it and voted against it knowing that it would be overridden?

  7. Caruso must have thought he was voting for a ride with Vito! How about Don Veto Clemons? He might be sleeping with the fishes off Pleasure Beach next election.

    1. I think Caruso was voting for the benefit of the people of the city of Bridgeport, something that is not on the agendas of the rest of the city’s legislative delegation. Press releases be damned.

  8. Santiago also voted ‘Yes’ to override.
    There are six Bridgeport delegation members. Five of the six voted to override the governor’s veto. Only Auden Grogins voted ‘no.’ Sorry for the confusion. Auden did the absolute correct thing in my opinion.

    1. *** Did Grogins actually vote on this item or was she absent? And as far as the other new State Rep. is concerned, what did you expect? Once again as noted by the CT Post a few years back, Bpt’s State Legislation, “one of the largest in Hartford, yet one of the weakest in political lobbying power”! *** Yet Bpt Town Committees keep re-endorsing them & Bpt voters keep right on voting for them! *** Seems like the blind leading the blind with no end in sight. *** Forget about it! ***

  9. Let’s remember 3 members of our delegation to Hartford who have been mentioned on this blog as mayoral candidates. Don who brings nothing to the table Clemons, Andres I talk a good game Ayala and Chris Corruption, Corruption Caruso all voted to override the governor’s veto of the PA law. What the hell were they thinking? Sorry what was I thinking? These guys definitely were not thinking of Bridgeport.

  10. Bill Finch was elected mayor of Bridgeport only because Don Calamari, John Stafstrom, their minions and all of the individuals that were hired by the city through the magic of political patronage were terrified of State Representative Chris Caruso winning the democratic primary and making good on his sole campaign promise, which was (and will forever be) to clean up corruption in city government. Doubtless the terror will strike again in 2011; Mr. Caruso is nothing if not tenacious.

    Mr. Finch ought to know better than to show disrespect to a retired superior court judge. After all, serving as a jurist is the pinnacle of any legal career. I can’t think of a more qualified candidate for a BOE position. So Mr. Mayor, take your foot out of your mouth.

    1. I failed to point out that, while Judge Lopez has had a distinguished career, Bill Finch has not had a career, distinguished or otherwise.

  11. My wife cannot stop ranting about why the Mayor is a classic example of an arrogant, shallow male who objectifies women and doesn’t value them (I objected to the implied characterization, but she was on a tear); she says it’s because Finch’s mother abandoned him at birth. He either can’t bond with women or he hates them (that’s the wife talking.) I just think he’s an ass and I don’t care why. From what I know of the delegation they don’t work together, why would they work with the City? I bet many of the Delegation had no idea of what they were voting on, including Santiago, seriously man this guy is as dumb as a post. No matter how Grogins acts she and the Mayor’s wife are thick as thieves, Auden kowtows to Bill. Speaking of Mrs. Mayor, she is a big reason Finch can’t get his life together. She is not only “not” supportive, but a liability. She puts a big burden on Finch with the child rearing. Someone ought to consider the kids. (Don’t get my wife started on this!) I think Finch isn’t man enough to control her. (That’ll get a shoe to my head)

    Giving Woody only the smallest of breaks, he can’t control Finch because no one can really predict or control Finch. I think Wood tried, but really screwed up by throwing up a wall around him and bringing in Hartford consultants to help run the show. I think Wood and Bridgeport would be better off if moved on to bigger fish. According to the book according to Johnb’s wife, the whole administration lacks organization because he doesn’t have any decent women around. A determined woman would have gotten him a nanny and have him out the door by 8am every day. Plan his day so it is realistic, not overloaded, but productive, make return phone calls and e-mail, she would have helped build bridges instead of walls. I agree with her. Finch did himself in by turning on every women that supported him and wanted him to succeed, and Wood’s blow through your enemy mentality helped paved the way. If you’re afraid of powerful women, get out of the game, because they are taking over. Just ask my wife. Women make up 51% of the population and if you break trust with one, she will NEVER completely forgive you or trust you again. If anyone builds a successful coalition of women of all races, and parties in Bridgeport against Finch, he is toast.

    1. And I know just the woman–Carmen Lopez.

      It’s common knowledge that Mrs. Finch has some problems and that Bill frequently goes home to check on his boys. Can’t fault him for that.

  12. I don’t think Finchie is a chauvinist piglet, but I would call him a narcissist. His appearance and behavior support this observation.

    1. “before blaming people on either side.”

      Are you referring to Ed Gomes blaming Gov. Rell for the whole BPA fiasco?

      Do you think that in retrospect Gov. Rell is probably saying, “I should have signed the freakin’ bill”? HB 6649 that is!

      donj without an opinion? That’s like donj without the j.
      Do you know that when I get to be the mob boss at OIB, you will have to call me donjoel?

  13. The PA thing was/is a power grab by the Finch administration. Conrad Birdman wants to run the world from city hall.

    Bridgeport is a potential money tree. If it were a fully functional port there would be freight goods coming in and going out 24/7. Takes manpower to dock, load and unload cargo ships. Bridgeport being Bridgeport, whoever controls the docks would most likely have his hands covered in green grease.

  14. *** The city of Bpt is doomed in the overall political arena. ‘Til State elections laws are made to weed out some of the local district committees do’s & don’ts; for example you cannot be a district leader more than 6yrs. total. Thus then leaving the committee for 2 yrs. & then being able to come back, only as a regular member if there’s an opening. This allows hopefully a new member of the district to be able to get involved in their community. There are many things that can be looked at the local level to help bring some change to the process in general without government getting too involved. The structure of the meetings for instance, some use Roberts Rules of Order for organized meetings & some don’t. Some allow district citizens that have been active @ different levels to summit a letter of interest in running for a seat on a board, etc. followed by an interview, and yet some don’t consider anyone from the outside so to speak! They only pick among themselves or family & friends. It may have worked well in the past but now there are just too many people & groups in general with their hands out looking for a lot more than just looking out for the old neighborhood, etc. It’s become a personal unorganized, selfish, nepotism, do as the district leader says, back-stabbing, political party name using, @ times a mature criminal group. And the sad part is that overall, the average Bpt voter just keeps voting for these pretenders merely because of party preference instead of personal substance & qualifications, etc. *** Just a matter of opinion but if people would just stop & take some time to find out a little bit more than is the candidate a Dem. or Republican? It might make a difference? ***

  15. I’m not buying into the argument that Bill 6649 infringes on the home rule provision. Maybe the folks claiming home rule infringement By the State of Connecticut, live in Bridgeport, Illinois. Connecticut is my “home” State and Bridgeport is my “home” Town. I live in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I have no problem with the State of Connecticut participating in making important economic development decisions in my City.
    Had it not been for the State of Connecticut, the City of Bridgeport would not have a Port Authority in the first place. The Bridgeport Port Authority was created or permitted to be created by State Statute. Bill 6649 does not infringe on Home Rule–it creates the potential for a more transparent process and professional State input–technical and financial–in future Port Authority projects. It’s not like the State is taking over zoning matters for example. Home rule allows for City commissions to make local decisions and most times commissions must abide by State laws. I’d like to hear specific examples of how bill 6649 infringes on home rule, from those taking such position.
    Go ahead Nancy! Bob Walsh, I know you read this; feel free to jump in.

      1. *** That’s true, there are not too many that can state & write their personal opinions on everything & be 100% correct all the time in their “own” mind! Education is the key to all things big & small that separates the squirrel from the “nut”? *** Forget about it! ***

  16. Joel,
    The City Council interpreted the passage of Bill 6649 as a clear infringement of home rule. They did not want the Commissioner of DOT to have any ‘consent’ powers over actions by the Port Authority. Frankly, nothing can happen in the port without the concurrence of the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation because it is a deep-water port and there is a federal channel running down the middle of it. I did not agree with the City Council’s interpretation and I further did not agree with their rush to judgment that the only way to solve the problem was to blow up the Port Authority.

    We need to look forward now. Bridgeport is in a very embarrassing situation brought on by all this foolishness. The issue at hand is the business decision of the Port Jefferson Ferry to seek planning and zoning commission approval to move their operation across the river leaving the existing terminal as an emergency dock only. Is Bridgeport really an Intermodal center? Does Bridgeport really want to continue the confluence of rail, bus, car and ferry on the western side of the river? Or does it make more sense to have the ferry on the east side and the rest on the west side? That is what is really at the core of all this chaos. That is what needs to be resolved. This is a huge economic spin-off issue for the downtown since it finally has serious investors and developers in place, people are actually living in the downtown and the potential is there to be achieved once and for all. That is the real economic development issue.

  17. Joel Gonzalez
    You got that right. I know too little to have any type of opinion on this matter. But I do have a opinion on Gomes. Number one, Mr. Gomes what the heck you talking about not Bridgeport alone??? You were elected by the Bridgeport people to carry out our business for the city. Milton Johnson should really consider switching to Democrat to beat Gomes in a primary. I have also had it with the do-nothing Finch administration; I told everyone from the start Caruso would be a better mayor. Lopez for BOE.


Leave a Reply