Foster Care For The City, Plus: New Church Debate

I’ve been poking around to see if any City Council primaries are on the horizon this municipal cycle. No mayoral election this year, so council members (they run every two years) are leading the ticket this year.

I’m hearing that Rich Paoletto, who represents the 138th Upper East Side District, may be stepping down. There’s talk that Rich’s uncle Mike Marella, a former council member who represented the district, may return.

But will Mike have the endorsement? Waiting in the weeds potentially is Andy Fardy, a long time city pol, who might make a go for it.

All the high-profile action is shaping up for 2010, a gubernatorial cycle, when Probate Judge Paul Ganim, who was pinched in an alleged domestic dispute involving his wife several months ago, is up for reelection.

City Council President Tom McCarthy is giving the probate seat a look. Big Mac passed on the state senate seat last year that was claimed by Anthony Musto, a beneficiary of Barack’s city avalanche. I’m not convinced that Ganim will go away quietly. Even if the party abandons him, and that’s not clear yet, the Ganim style is not to fold his tent. The Ganim name still plays in parts of the city.

Also taking a look at the seat is attorney Mary-Jane Foster, co-founder of the Bridgeport Bluefish. Mary-Jane is well liked in both the political and business communities and has a strong background with issues involving children, a probate court administration, including years of volunteer service with the Center for Women and Families and as a volunteer court advocate for victims of domestic violence.

Paul Ganim won the seat in 1998, defeating party-endorsed Kevin Boyle in a primary, leveraging the mayoral popularity of his brother Joe Ganim who could be a free man within a year or so. (I managed Paul Ganim’s media and voter outreach in that primary.)

The political dynamics are intriguing. Mary-Jane is closest to the wing of the party controlled by former Democratic Town Chair John Stafstrom and Mayor Bill Finch. McCarthy, although close to Finch, is aligned with Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa.

If Foster and Big Mac want to position themselves for the probate job, it’s time to test the political support.

A primary is always possible.

Legislating Church Books

Whoa, the Connecticut legislature has sparked a hot issue. Should the books of Catholic churches around the state be opened up and governed by lay boards? Yikes. From bill 1098:

An Act Modifying Corporate Laws Relating to Certain Religious Corporations. A corporation may be organized in connection with any Roman Catholic church or congregation in the state by filing in the office of the Secretary of the State. The corporation would have a board of directors consisting of not less than seven nor more than 13 laymembers. The archbishop or bishop of the diocese would serve as an ex-offico board member, but could not vote on issues. The board members would be elected from among the laymembers of the congregation.

Bishop Lori is rallying Catholics to burn up the phone lines of state legislators considering a bill supported by Stamford State Senator Andrew McDonald who says the church needs more financial accountability. Bishop Lori says baloney. Leave us alone. Don’t interfere. What’s next, legislating the homily? This one is a hornets next. What’s your take?

Party With OIB

I’m keyed up. Just three days away from the first annual OIB party on Thursday, 6 p.m. at Matty’s Corner, Fairfield Avenue and Brewster Street. Also going on that night, John Stafstrom and Mayor Bill’s Finch’s Chief of Staff Adam Wood will serve as guest bartenders at Caribbean Night at Épernay, one of my favorite restaurants. I wonder what kind of deals will be cut behind the bar?

Join us at Matty’s Corner to share the gossip. First cocktail on OIB with a complimentary spread by proprietor Danny Roach.

Hey Mojo and Joel, will any political maricas show up? Or are they all going to Épernay?

Thanks everyone, for your continued support of OIB. Some stats to share from our first year, courtesy of Google Analytics:

· Visits: 145,561

· Page views: 392,915

· Average visitor time on site: 5:06

· Returning visitors: 83 percent

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45 comments

  1. Let’s face facts. DTC-endorsed mayoral candidate Bill Finch is a disaster of unparalleled proportions. Sure, he cut the budget by eliminating a lot of jobs. That’s easy. Well into his second year we still see NO meaningful economic development actually progressing that would transfer the tax burden from us residents to a larger commercial base.

    So, this makes me wonder. What benefit is there to a mayoral aspirant to seek the endorsement of the DTC? The DTC record of choices has been less then stellar and, frankly, unless they come up with a candidate who clearly demonstrates an ability to effectively manage the economic turnaround of this city at a time of grave economic circumstance, I will look askance at the endorsee and opt for the other guy even if that other guy is Caruso.

    1. I second that emotion. The DTC, or the guys at the top of that pyramid, have endorsed only candidates that are safe, mild, and unlikely to rock the boat or upset the status quo. Maybe the next democratic mayoral primary will include a face and name endorsed by Jim Himes and Barack Obama.

      Himes has usurped some of the DTC’s power by keeping a tight grip on who gets federal economic stimulus money. That ought to go a long way toward putting the bucks into the hands that need the bigger bang.

  2. Well I am outing myself here but I will be running for the council in the 138th district. I have talked the talk now it’s time to try and walk the walk.
    I have lived in this district for 65 years (all my life) and now have the time and the energy to try and help my neighborhood and my neighbors.
    I believe that I have the votes to get the endorsement but if not I will be running anyway.
    I have neighborhood support and have people lined up that have asked to work for me in this election.
    I am not looking for a job for myself nor for any of my relatives. I will be a full-time council person representing the 138th district and will be available 24-7 to the people of my district as I am now.

  3. *** Good luck to all that decide to run; wondering, I mean Fardy would be good on the city council ’cause he’s outspoken, also his wife would be very good! Mary-Jane however might be more of a plus to the business community than the neighborhood; it certainly would be interesting though. I believe this year’s budget outcome may determine exactly who will make the effort to run for those still unsure? And if Paul Ganim decides to run again for Probate, I would be happy to help him during his campaign. He’s always been a stand-up guy with me in the past & present. *** Time will tell! ***

  4. Mojo thanks for the kind words; I would like to have wondering’s support. I agree my wife would actually be a better candidate but I can’t get her to run. I agree with you on Paul Ganim, he has always been a stand-up guy with me also and he was very helpful and available at probate court. I believe that we all make mistakes at one time or another. I don’t believe that 1 mistake should wipe out a lifetime of good deeds.

  5. The best that the people of the city of Bridgeport could hope (and pray) for would be a candidate (or candidates) for City Council that have the needs of the city’s residents at the top of the shopping list. The business community has enough help, with Paul Timpanelli and the BRBC one-ring circus pitching in for their agenda. Tax relief? What tax relief?! When the city’s maxwells see the light and sell off some of its vast municipal holdings, only then will there be tax relief. But we all know that getting Bridgeport’s city government to work at a speed other than glacial is more than a little like mating elephants: it starts with a lot of grunting, groaning, sweating and moaning, and takes years to get results.

    Did anyone notice that dispersal of federal stimulus funds in Bridgeport has to be cleared by individuals working in Jim Himes’ office on State Street?

  6. Lennie, are the three stooges guest bartending for a cause? Or are they there drumming up political support? I wouldn’t drink something any of them prepared. If you ordered a dry Grey Goose vodka martini with olives, Stafstrom would give you a house vodka and sweet vermouth, Wood would short you on the alcohol and not give you olives, and Finch would give you a mai tai.

    1. While we’re on the subject of booze, an interesting article appeared in the New York Times yesterday, part of a semi-regular feature called “The Feed.” Sales of premium, ultra-premium and luxury labels are down and sales of, ahem, off-brands are way way up. According to the article, “Vodka snobs will sniff at the idea of switching to budget brands like Popov or Majorska. Maybe they are right. But given the state of economy, I would suggest at least trying a blind taste test.

      “After all, if Popov wins, you’ll save a bundle, even if you decide to hide the bottle in a brown-paper bag. And if you don’t like it? I hear it’s good for cleaning silverware.”

      For all the effort to distill and market alcoholic beverages in a way that will make them unique, booze is still booze.

  7. Let’s face facts: yahooy’s disdain for Mayor Finch is 100% opinion. His post is full of conjecture and ill-conceived conclusions. He failed to substantiate his feelings with anything resembling facts so I’ll take over here: developers of all types are abandoning any investment because most of them are broke or unwilling to part with their remaining money (former Steel Point developer MidTown Equities is approaching financial ruin). NOWHERE in America is building keeping apace with prior activity. This isn’t Mayor Finch’s fault. His term has coincided with a major-league recession that has exposed the macro-economic mistakes that preceded this whole mess. He’s made the tough decisions–it wasn’t easy–that balanced the budget and kept Bridgeport away from the state’s Financial Review Board.

  8. Local Eyes who said Finch has balanced the budget? This year’s budget is not out yet. The one thing I am sure of is the $600 tax relief he promised is gone.
    He has forced the unions into givebacks and into taking furloughs but at what cost? For example the police contract has been back-loaded where we will have to pay 11% in pay raises in year 3 & 4 of Finch’s term. I believe the same is true with another big city union; where is this money going to come from?
    While layoffs and furloughs may have been necessary and I applaud the rank and file for their sacrifice it could have been done in a more humane and professional manner. Picking and choosing employees to be laid off regardless of seniority is wrong and he had to back off. Hiring a bunch of political hacks and forming BS departments like CitiStat, creating new jobs like special projects coordinators while laying off the civil servants in the PD record room or career civil servants in other departments is also wrong. So before you anoint him as the savior of the city look at his methods and wait for the final result.

  9. Yes, Local Eyes, my opinion of Mayor Finch is that he is a disaster of unparalleled proportions. He is a bullshitter. Substantive fact … $600 tax rebate which got him elected. More? Ok. The Cop Contract. He sold the city out by back-loading too generous an increase of 11% in year 3 and 4 with no increase in years 1 and 2. Therefore he is not intelligent. Substantive fact … Where the f&*@ does he think the revenue will come from to honor that commitment? More? Ok. New Haven has suffered as much economic downturn as anyone else. Yet DeStefano continues to hold city-wide forums discussing expansions for local businesses and is creative in crafting stimulus plans that new development finds attractive. Pfizer has already moved 500 clinical trial specialists to New Haven. Even shitty old West Haven, the bastion of creative political stuff has managed to entice Yale into taking over the huge Bayer campus for development of a global research and development community with 8,000 new jobs coming … maybe as many as 12,000. Therefore I can conclude that Finch is clueless as to how to make this happen. Substantive fact … nothing even remotely close to this has happened or will happen so long as Finch is in office. Why? Because he is stupid. Substantive fact … you figure it out.

  10. I’m delighted my post prompted such a quick response.

    However, you’re both wrong. Here’s why:

    town committee puts opinion before facts and based exclusively on your post, I’d welcome a chance to campaign against you.

    yahooy: the kind of guy who’s considering buying Shays’ waterfront home in Black Rock is not the kind of guy who’d be concerned about Bridgeport’s “tax burden”.

  11. Frankly, I could care less if someone buys a house in Bridgeport and thinks $30,000 a year in property tax is chump change. I’m worried about my friend, the retired school teach who has lived in the same house for nearly 65 years and for the first time in his life cannot come up with the new tax rate. That’s sadness when you look into his eyes.

    I blame Testa. I blame Timpanelli. I blame Finch. I blame Ganim, Fabrizi; I blame Lennie; I blame Tedesco and Bucci and Mandacini. None of these bastards gave a shit about the people of Bridgeport, just what could line their own pockets. What a magnificent blank canvas the virtues of our city has offered the enlightened. But it is with regret that we look back and we see that these mover and shakers did nothing to make us prosper. Now we are deep in a hole and we are run by the sycophant appointed by the same crowd that has led us to ruination. Same shit over and over and over because of apathetic voters most of whom rent and could care less about property tax nor do they appear to give a grunt about education. After all, 70% of our student body will not graduate at all. Dreadful. Dreadful. Dreadful.

    Ah. The political season is gearing up and we all sit back and watch who the machine thinks is pretty enough to do the things they want done.

    Tell me this, Local Eyes … this city has been accelerating into the shitcan for years with your boys calling the shots. How come? Substantive answer please … no opine.

  12. Yahooy, let’s say I agree with you in large measure. However, where do these leaders come from? Anyone from Bridgeport who would have a chance of winning would be associated with one side or the another. And if they are not, where do they get their workers, their money, their backing? Unless they are very wealthy and willing to use their own money they don’t have a chance. The one best way would be to make public financing applicable to municipal races. This evens up the playing field. This is what happened in state races. Call your City and State legislators, tell them you want change. Otherwise all politicians will come up the ranks from the same places. I will say this though; Mario’s group which does include McCarthy, Fardy and other outspoken individuals, are allowed to be themselves. In the Stafstrom/Finch group, independent thought and outspokenness are punished. If you don’t toe whatever line you’re handed, you’re as good as gone. There are many people in that administration who want to do the right thing except they need their job more.

    1. “In the Stafstrom/Finch group, independent thought and outspokenness are punished. If you don’t toe whatever line you’re handed, you’re as good as gone.”

      The above holds true for the Testa wing of the DTC. Jim Himes found a way to successfully circumvent party machine politics: he financed his own campaign. Unfortunately, that option is available only to those well-fixed financially.

  13. On the subject of church-run private schools opening their accounting books to public scrutiny: I think this is a good idea. Government should not be the only institution to be held accountable.

  14. The Oracle of Omaha Steaks!

    Big Mac Attack!

    Will Big Mac try to SUPERSIZE it?

    Keep his job with the city and try to be a Judge who could be Fair and Square?

    Most Pols in Bridgeport like to eat with two forks.

    I guess this could really make Big Mac a Probe-Ate Judge!!!

  15. There are only 2 things we human beings can do: ask questions or make statements.

    yahooy, I’m disappointed you chose the former and not the latter.

    But Local Eyes is a kind and thoughtful soul, so I’ll indulge you.

    Why has Bridgeport been accelerating into the shitcan for years?

    Answer: 44 years of deficit spending and inflation explains everything–there is no factual explanation, only opinions.

  16. Himes doesn’t even have his Bridgeport office info on his web site. All money is supposed to go through his office? Does he have anyone at all experienced in grants or Bridgeport or local politics in any of his offices? Seems like most are just patronage hires from his campaign. Look where that type of thing got Finch.

  17. And now it’s again time for today’s breaking news on last Tuesday’s City Hall robbery of $20,000 – $1,000,000 in taxpayer cash and checks from the city Treasurer’s office:

    I’m surprised that no one here has mentioned last night’s angry mob scene outside of police headquarters. Unless the police solve this case quickly, we’ll certainly be living in a town dominated by mob rule and sociopathic anarchists!
    Bridgeport needs Barack Obama–or someone like him–to save us from ourselves!
    I’ve got the link to this exclusive breaking-news video on my blog.
    bridgeportintheknow.com/wordpress/?p=369

    Take a bite out of crime. Remember to floss.

    PT
    bridgeportintheknow.com/wordpress/

  18. Parochial schools have been subject to fiscal scrutiny for years. Most religion-based schools receive some form or another of financial aid from their cities and from the State. Generally these funds are for busing, hot lunch programs, after-school activities and so forth. Regular audits are required. Whether they are actually performed is another matter.

  19. Local Eyes; You made the charge now back it up. What part of my post is incorrect? You want to run in my district? I welcome the challenge. You will have to do more than suck up to Finch. Your computer idea will really fly up here where the only thing people know is hard work produces results. They know that BS ideas don’t fly. Jump in, the water’s fine.

  20. johnb wrote “There are many people in that administration who want to do the right thing except they need their job more.” Truer words were never spoken. I can give you 10 names off the top of my head of smart, ethical people who could be tremendous assets to the Fiinch administration. But like I posted before, if you dare disagree with the Finch flunkies or God forbid make a suggestion that conflicts with their way of thinking, you are silenced.

    The employees wonder, does Mayor Finch really know what’s going on? Is he actually allowing this kind of treatment of good employees or is he completely oblivious to who is running the city?

  21. I know several good people who left because they tried to get Finch to do the right thing and he wouldn’t listen or were frozen out of any decision-making capacity they had.

    He hears but doesn’t listen.

    1. If the job market were better, many more good people would leave. The bullshit is unbearable. These people walk around with such arrogance and they are so STUPID I can’t stand it.

  22. town committee, if you are serious about running for city council, I suggest you attend all of the budget meetings this spring and listen to what is going on. I would seriously like to hear your opinion. The councilmen will be judged this election by how they handle this budget; if they have the balls to address the real issues and get rid of the political flunkies. This budget has no room for useless positions.

    * If I had a budget vote I would eliminate the CAO’s office including CC’s girlfriend. I would bring CitiStat before the budget committee and ask them what exactly they’ve accomplished the past year and what documents were they told to shred. What recommendations did they make that they were never allowed to carry out?

    * I would eliminate the recreation dept and make them all seasonal positions; hire them in the summer when we are actually running programs.

    * I would combine Finance/Comptrollers/OPM into one dept. I would eliminate Feeney, Sherwood and the new Comptroller Dawn Norton. I would make Nestor acting finance director and Mark the deputy. Both worked under Sherwood and know where the skeletons are buried but are honest, ethical men who would not cook the books.

    * I would order Alanna Kabel to cut the shit and do her job. I would make her report to the city council every month on new grants brought in and missed grant opportunities. If the missed opportunities outweighed the new grants, I would send her packing.

    * I would ask Larry Osborne what exactly he does all day besides hand-deliver layoff letters. Scratch that. I would recommend that LO take his retirement and leave. He is a waste of a position and he is doing more harm than good. I would eliminate part-time (with full-time pay and benefits) David Dunn.

    * I would give Don Eversley a pack of NoDoze and then ask him to report on his accomplishments. And if I heard any excuses, I’d send him back to Providence or NYC or wherever he currently resides.

    We desperately need some councilmen who will hold people accountable no matter who they are or what side of the fence they are beholden to. Town committee, if you have the balls to do this, you got my vote.

    1. One more thing:

      I would ask for a list of people with take-home cars: the make, model and license plate. And I would ask for a monthly reporting of mileage.

  23. I don’t think there will be change until there is a mayor who doesn’t owe his hide to the machine. Then if there is such a human being within the boundaries of Bridgeport, he can clean out the old guard and actually hire a real cabinet who will do good and not just kiss ass. Can anyone name a possible candidate who hasn’t sold his political soul?

  24. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but what about Mark Delmonico, chair of the Rebublican Town Committee? Smart guy. Doesn’t owe anybody anything and no ties to Stafstrom or Mario.

  25. Marc is a good guy and while he is a bit too conservative for my tastes, I would not rule out supporting him for mayor. The problem is, I just don’t see how a Republican can win a mayoral election here in Bpt. Perhaps Marc should, at least initially, set his sights a little lower and team up with Donna Curran one more time and take another shot at the City Council. I believe at least one of the current council members in the 130th is vulnerable.

  26. *** Though Mrs. Curran is one of the nicest persons I had the privilege of knowing, etc., at times as a council-member she just didn’t have a clue & seemed to, against her better judgment, get her marching orders from the Republican town committee leadership. However, she probably would stand a chance of shaking things up with a candidate partner like Delmonico in the 130th. Also, with the economy recession and all, let’s hope it brings out lots more quality citizens that have the time & are not city employees that can make a difference on district & city matters in general for the good of all, city & state! ***

  27. city hall smoker; Great post. I do have the balls to go to those meetings and will make every attempt to attend them all this year; in previous years I did get a copy of the proposed budget and did read it. I did make unofficial comments to individual members of that committee. I plan on taking a more active role this year. In my opinion everyone you mentioned should be fired and where it is applicable not be replaced.

  28. The state legislature has a lot of nerve trying to legislate how the Catholic church conducts its business. What ever happened to the separation of church and state?
    I suggest that McDonald get the state’s finances under control and stop the deficit spending before he singles out 1 particular religion.
    Could this be retribution for the church’s stand on gay marriage?

  29. I am delighted that there is some buzz about nominating Marc Delmonico as a republican candidate for Mayor. I haven’t the foggiest idea who Marc Delmonico is but I like the idea that he has no connected obligations to fulfill if elected. Republican, Democrat, Zebra or Giraffe … I don’t care … I simply support anyone who is of the same stead. No obligations just a capacity to effect the change we need to solve the economic crisis in this town.

    To that end I now begin my efforts to persuade another outstanding person to consider running for office. Accordingly, I suggest and urge that all citizenry of Bridgeport who are suffering from the inept current administration join me in my invitation to Bruce Hubler to give thoughtful consideration to becoming our next Mayor. We desperately need an executive of great skill, high moral character, demonstrated record of accomplishment and integrity. Simply stated, that’s why I think Hubler is the one person to restore our prominence.

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