Foster: Lack Of Finch Leadership Has “Rendered The City Impotent”

9 p.m. Update: Chuck Willinger, lawyer for the halfway house proposal, has made his case to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission in City Council Chambers. He argued, in part, that crime and drugs are so rampant in the West End that a halfway house could not curtail quality of life, a central argument in the debate. How does such a proposal impact quality of life? City Council President Tom McCarthy, among many others, addressed P&Z in opposition to the proposal.

Mary-Jane Foster, an exploratory candidate for mayor, issued the following statement today regarding the proposed halfway house for the West End.

Bridgeport businesswoman and social action advocate Mary-Jane Foster, who is exploring a run for office, will submit the following statement this evening at the City of Bridgeport Planning and Zoning Commission meeting:

Over the course of my career, I have been an active proponent of reentry programs, having both hired and worked with individuals committed to transitioning from incarceration to civilian life. I applaud organizations such as Community Solutions for delivering programs that help people successfully get their lives back on track. While there is undoubtedly a need for these programs and services, it is clear that Bridgeport has borne far more than its fair share of the responsibility for not just Fairfield County, but the entire state of Connecticut. I cannot support locating one more bed in Bridgeport, nor can this be a battle Bridgeport fights building-by-building, neighborhood-by-neighborhood. We need a statewide solution to this problem and I call upon the State legislature to review the issue and pass a law that fixes this gross imbalance. It is time for the rest of the state to step up and be a part of a true community solution.

Having said that, it must be pointed out that the reason we are here this evening can be directly attributed to the incompetence and administrative mismanagement of the Finch administration. Where was the mayor in 2008 when this proposal was submitted and approved? Nowhere. Did he register any concerns over it in 2009, when Community Solutions requested an extension? Not a peep. Only when the residents raised their voices in outrage did he finally say “Me, too!”

Adding insult to injury, the mayor continues to allow key positions on boards and commissions to serve in expired terms and/or without essential training or go unfilled altogether. As a young lawyer, I interned with a planning and zoning lawyer, John Fallon, and I know firsthand how intricate and nuanced zoning law is. How do you justify spending more than a million taxpayer dollars to modernize the City’s Master Plan and zoning regulations and not require volunteer laymen to undergo the training they need to do the job they signed on to do? It’s a total abdication of leadership that has rendered the City impotent. Without properly functioning land use boards, we may as well put a “Closed for Business” sign next to the “For Sale” sign on City Hall.



  1. *** Great written statement for tonight’s meeting! Still waiting for the state senator & rep. who represent this district. The two city council persons finally woke up & issued a statement last week! Maybe all too little too late? *** HERE WE GO! ***

    1. Mojo: From the you can’t make this stuff up department: Rev Stallworth recieved a call from Governor Malloy the day after the election. He congratulated the Rev on his victory. The governor’s staff person then got on the phone and invited the Rev to a tour of the capitol, a look at his new offices and told him he would be sworn in that day also.
      Well guess what? The Rev Stallworth did not show up and was not sworn in that day. His home was called and the person answering said the Rev was on vacation recovering from the stress of the campaign. The Rev will be sworn in this week all by himself. Needless to say the governor was not a happy camper.
      I asked the powers that be how they expected the Rev to find Hartford when he could not find police headquarters and attend commission meetings. Amazing.

      1. town committee // Feb 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm
        to your posting

        Town Committee
        Do you even think Stallworth cares? He probably doesn’t because he thinks the machine that got him elected Representative was going to attend his meetings in Hartford.
        Save the date: August 7, 2012. Another chance …

        1. Carolanne, I am well aware he does not care. I am well aware the people in power and those in office for the most part don’t care. I will say this, on the council Bob Walsh, AnnMarie and Lyons really care but Walsh is the only one who speaks out either here or in that rag we call a newspaper.
          Carolanne, these people only care about what’s in it for them. Tonight at the zoning meeting you will see that in action.
          I don’t believe any of them really care about balancing the budget by selling city hall and regionalizing the sewer plant. They care about the side money that can be made.

      2. Regarding the no-show Rev, Wow, Martha must be so proud. Any truth to the rumor that Curwen is no longer resigning his council seat after he heard the fix was in for Marella? Hey isn’t it illegal to change your address at the DMV when you still reside in Shelton? Hmmm I thought that was … how you say … fraud?

  2. City’s Impotence and Incompetence is leading us to Incontinence. Let’s see how they try to wriggle out of the extension question. The answer should be, Time’s Up!!!

    1. yahoo boy! You really shouldn’t worry, you can’t vote anyway, you live in West Haven. So no matter who becomes Mayor of this city, all you can do is talk about it. Worry about West Haven. How many halfway houses are in West Haven?

  3. “… We need a statewide solution to this problem and I call upon the State legislature to review the issue and pass a law that fixes this gross imbalance …”

    Nancy DiNardo is the State Legislature. Which explains why Mojo is still waiting to hear from the state senator & rep. that represent the district.

  4. The upcoming halfway house Zoning decision plus proposed sale-leaseback of City Hall and Annex discussion has focused my thinking on the Bridgeport Grand List once again. We assume every square foot of property in Bridgeport appears on our Grand list with an address, description, owner listing and valuation information. But you say to me, a lot of that property is not taxable.

    So for starters, let’s remove all religious property from the list. That is a good subject for another day. That leaves privately owned residences and commercial use real estate as well as public property owned by Bridgeport, State of CT and US. So let’s remove those properties.

    What would be left, as far as I can determine, are properties that are owned by 501c3 owners, non-profit entities that pay no income taxes to the Fed or State (unless they have unrelated business income that is taxable because it is outside the scope of their tax-free purpose).

    I asked myself, why is there no local property tax??? How and why did that property get a waiver and under what law? Is that something that needs examination and review at this time?

    Now there is no doubt these organizations do good work serving people in a variety of ways, in the City of Bridgeport as well as in the region. Think of hospitals, clinics, schools, etc. They do not have children to be educated but certainly benefit from most of the other Bridgeport public services provided by taxpayer dollars. What if the law were changed and they were to become subject to property taxes as part of their property leasing or ownership function? Would it put them out of business? Doubtful, but it might cut back on mission and services in the short run. But this is what the City, State and Federal levels are also doing at the moment. Why should non-profit organizations be protected from review and reformation?

    By the way, my question becomes even more critical as efforts to privatize public functions from government are proposed. How many group homes, and other health, welfare, education and supportive services are located in Bridgeport because the land and building were less expensive than the suburbs and with no property taxes to pay? That is a no brainer from a decision point of view. If the law were changed (after contemplating the reason why it has been with us in the short term), Bridgeport might still have the lowest real estate values, but the program would have to deal with the higher cost of real property that includes property taxes. That might serve to even out property costs across the region, or at least not automatically cause Bridgeport to be the community of choice for so many of these currently non-taxable program properties, for which there is little if any payment in lieu of taxes.

    As we consider statewide solutions and sharing the pain, is this one other area that requires research and review?

  5. The FBI needs to reopen their office in Bpt and investigate this pit of vipers that are killing this city. Nancy DiNardo is blatantly abusing her position with the Democratic party on the state level. Brother Sal is getting away with murder. “I’ll donate to your election as long as I don’t have to pay my taxes,” nod your head if you agree. Find out where Nancy is getting the funding for this project. Let’s attack the source, that may be the weak spot. Or maybe she’s preparing lodging for her & her fellow criminals after the Feds bust their asses.

  6. Political ear to the ground:

    When was the last time you heard a Democrat ask for a tax cut and why are Republicans such awful business people in search of special treatment?

    Isn’t that unpatriotic?

  7. *** If the West Side/West End is so rampant with crime & drugs per Mr. Willinger, then why reintroduce inmates trying to reenter back into society & do the right thing to that vicious environment? What a case as a defense, it’s already broke so why worry about it! Wonder where Willinger lives, not Bpt, that’s obvious. *** OIB ***

  8. My wife and I attended last night’s zoning meeting. It was a proud moment. The people of the affected area where this halfway house was trying to locate and other residents of Bridgeport came together and expressed their displeasure. I believe there were 46 in favor of the project and 146 against.
    The speakers for both sides did a good job. What gave me some hope for Bridgeport were the number of elected officials who spoke against the project. There were 5 council people, Ayala, Lyons, Paniccia, McCarthy and the rep from the 131st. The 2 state reps Santiago & Grogans. The one disappointment was Ed Gomes. He walked the fence and was in favor of and against this project. For Christ’s sake Ed, take a stand. Candidates Gomes and Foster were also there. Foster addressed the commission briefly and handed them her thoughts on paper. Economic director Eversley was there and did not speak.
    Someone please tell Chairmen Reilly to turn on the commissioners’ microphones so the people could hear what the commissioners had to say. Will someone tell Tiago this is not an outdoor event and wearing a tee shirt to the meeting is inappropriate?
    Overall Bridgeport could be proud of its citizens and many of its elected officials.


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