Ganim And Newton; Decisions, Decisions

They did time together, they played hoops together in the joint, and the other day they greeted voters together in front of a polling place, and neither was on the ballot.

Former Mayor Joe Ganim and former State Senator Ernie Newton have developed a symbiotic relationship as they determine their political futures. They had lots of time to talk about the past and future serving time at the prison camp in Fort Dix, New Jersey. They returned home last year.

The question for Ernie is easy, it’s not about running for public office, but what office will he seek? Ernie, the self-anointed Moses of his peeps, has assimilated back into city neighborhoods, reconnecting with political supporters. Ernie is a lightning rod in city politics. Some love him, some can’t stand him and still others see him as a political curiosity repositioning for public office.

Joe’s in a slightly different place than Ernie, back on the Ganim family compound in Easton working out of the family law office in Bridgeport. If Joe’s not running for something he’s certainly doing a damn good impression of Dick Blumenthal, showing up at all sorts of places, meeting with folks he hadn’t seen in years, putting on the schmooze … just in case. Joe’s trying to figure out if there’s an opening for a mayoral comeback. Many of Joe’s supporters say he’s itching to get back in the game. Will he? He has family considerations. But Joe’s a natural-born competitor. He likes the action.

Before he crashed, Joe was a popular mayor; 10 straight balanced budgets without a tax increase will do that. Like Ernie some love him, some cannot stand him. But even Joe’s detractors, for the most part, say he managed the city better than the two mayors that followed him.

Joe and Ernie were feeling the love from voters in front of Wilbur Cross School on Tuesday, pushing their candidate Rev. Charlie Stallworth who won the special election to fill Chris Caruso’s legislative seat, greeting voters they hadn’t seen in years. Joe’s as calculating as they come. If he sees an opening, if enough support is there, he’ll take it. Joe has maintained relationships with members of the Greater Bridgeport Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, a group of city clergy, that helped further Rev. Stallworth’s victory on Tuesday.

Mayor Bill Finch while not popular is also not in terrible shape. He’s done a good job raising money for reelection, a lesson he learned from Joe Ganim with whom he never had a close relationship. A well-financed candidate could give Finch a battle. Mary-Jane Foster, co-founder of the Bridgeport Bluefish and John Gomes, former Finch administration official, are trying to position as the alternative more than six months from a Democratic primary. Can they raise enough moolah to compete?

Joe had little patience for Bill’s wonkish behavior. He thought of Bill as excruciatingly unfocused. When Bill talks he has several points to make while Joe just wants to get to the point. Joe would nod off in conversations with Bill. When Bill was on the City Council on several occasions I went to Joe when Bill needed employment help. There were days Bill was a heartbeat away from homelessness. Bill came to me for help and I went to Joe to help a friend. “Oh Christ,” Joe would say, “here comes Lennie again bleeding for Bill Finch.” In the 1990s, I was Joe’s campaign guru. I could get stuff done. Director of Civil Defense, head of the Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority, director of the Bridgeport Economic Development Corp. Each time I went to Joe for Bill and each time Bill got the job. (Full disclosure: I’ve not spoken to Joe in more than 10 years.)

Bill now has the juice that Joe once had and would like to get back. Now if Joe did get in the game, whom would Ernie support for mayor, if he doesn’t run himself? I’m betting it would be Joe.



  1. Interesting that in front of the Ganim Law Firm on Main Street are several “Elect Ganim” lawn signs. Talk about political pollution. Call the WPCA. Oh yeah, Joe almost owned that business with Paulie Walnuts Pinto. With all the Bridgeport development going down the tubes I don’t think the margins are there for Joe.

    1. Just one question …

      How is it going to look to any high roller investor if the good but demonstrably stupid people of Bridgeport return to office Ganim and Newton both of whom were incarcerated for stealing from the very people who put them in office???

  2. This is a Nunn Sequitur!

    “Today’s ruling is all part of ongoing litigation between the Port Authority and the ferry company, and we will not comment on our legal strategy while the case is ongoing,” said Andrew Nunn, acting director of the Port Authority.

  3. Very interesting Bill-nalysis Lennie. I’m thinking Mario hasn’t guaranteed Finch the endorsement yet. In fact, Joe Ganim is Mario’s Ace. With Caruso out, Joe’s chances of winning got higher. Mary-Jane Foster got along with Joe Ganim, have they spoken Lennie? You would know! The Party Endorsement is the key to victory. Can Bill Finch count 46 guaranteed TC votes right now? I don’t think so. Can Joe Ganim get a guaranteed 46 TC votes right now? Considering that Joe Ganim has shown true loyalty to Mario, I’d say yes! What about Paul Ganim?

    1. I don’t think Mary-Jane would run without the endorsement, or at least some support from current members. I would hope Mr. Gomes also seeks the support of some members.

      1. Hector, there are very few members who are not connected to the city thrpugh jobs for themselves or for relatives, so for the TC to grow a pair, it just won’t happen. I am sure both Gomes and Mary-Jane Foster will look for support.

        1. TC, I understand your sentiment but as I see it each member is entrusted by the voting public to vote for the candidate who best benefits their districts. There are only a couple of district leaders who would guarantee a vote for any candidate without speaking to their members first.

          1. Hector, in theory you are right but in fact I think you are wrong. Just look at the last TC vote for state rep in the 126th. Those who endorsed the ultimate winner did not vote the person who would best benefit the district. Just a thought. We in the 138th will not see any of our reps or senators until the next election. And they are the best???

          2. Response to your post:
            Hector A. Diaz // Feb 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm

            The fact is there ARE a few district leaders who would do just that–guarantee votes for a candidate without speaking to their members first.

            Look what just happened in the 126th. The Rev was not a candidate choice selected by the town committee members and district leader, Warren Blunt. Blunt deferred that entire process to Ed Gomes who did not consult or communicate with the district either; thereby allowing a district leader from the East End to shove the Rev. up the *sses and down the throats of the constituents of the 126th district.

            BTW Warren is a City employee, as is his wife/baby momma/girlfriend–whatever. So …

          3. Hector: Just another thought you might be interested in. In the 138th one of our council people just got a city job and is supposed to resign from the council. My district leader Martha Santiago will not entertain any other candidates other than the one she wants.
            Who is this candidate? Mike Marella, PAL director who resides in Shelton with his city employee wife. Mike is running around town showing people a driver’s license with a Bridgeport address.
            I have complained to the powers in place all to no avail.
            Do we have better candidates to fill this opening? You can bet your ass we do but Martha Santiago does not want to hear about it. The Mayor knows of this move she is attempting. Instead of telling Martha to step down he is remaining silent as is Mario. She will get the votes to push this through from two other TC members who are city employees. These two and the two old ladies on the TC give her the votes. The best candidate is not being chosen by a person who thinks she is the godmother of the district.

      1. Lennie, as for the rumor that I’m joining Working Family Party. not quite. I joined the Working Family Party about three weeks ago. Paging Ed Gomes. I heard and have confirmed that Milton Johnson has joined the Democratic Party. In regard to Bill Finch’s “lock” for way more than 46 votes. I suspect these votes are from TC members who work for the City making it a difficult lock for Mario to pick or put vote/bolt cutter to. Way more than 46 votes? How many more? It has to be sufficient enough as to not allow Mario to snatch enough votes from Finch in a surprise upset. This leaves us with the question: Can Joe Ganim win in a Democratic primary without the party endorsement? Again Lennie, what about Paul Ganim?

        1. Lennie, I mention Paul because he has the same last name. The majority of the people recognize the Ganim name.
          Let’s say Paul Ganim enters the race and his team of volunteers call or talk to voters door to door. I think in such a scenario many voters will be receptive to Paul and not hold his brother’s past problems against him and in fact would connect the good things Joe Ganim did with Paul.
          I know many will say “they are all the same; all crooks.” I’d do better in an election by changing my last name to Ganim.

  4. “… There were days Bill was a heartbeat away from homelessness. Bill came to me for help and I went to Joe to help a friend. ‘Oh Christ,’ Joe would say, ‘here comes Lennie again bleeding for Bill Finch.’ In the 1990s, I was Joe’s campaign guru. I could get stuff done. Director of Civil Defense, head of the Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority, director of the Bridgeport Economic Development Corp. Each time I went to Joe for Bill and each time Bill got the job. (Full disclosure: I’ve not spoken to Joe in more than 10 years.) …”

    I take it this didn’t happen in Las Vegas.

    1. I wonder if I will ever see a face-to-face interview of Joe Ganim by Lennie Grimaldi. I believe if Joe Ganim becomes mayor of Bridgeport again, the chances of such an interview will increase.

  5. Joe Ganim all the way, you don’t even have to ask me twice. He would beat all of his opponents easy!!! It’s known for a fact Joe was a good mayor and since he left we’ve been stuck with a drug-addicted mayor and a do-nothing mayor named Finch. Bring on Joe I know we will see results if he wins and I know he will win no doubt about it.

    1. Is donj actually Ernest T?

      Overheard in the lockup courtyard, yo Joe, me and you, together, we can rob them dumb taxpayers blind just like the good ol’ days. They be ripe after Birdbrain. Let’s do it, there’s still cash left in the cow to steal.

  6. So what does all this tell you ladies and gents?

    Mario’s poll came up bad for Mr. Finch and much better than expected for Mr. Gomes and Ms. MJF. If Bill’s numbers were good the poll results would have been released and the bragging begun.
    So Mario calls up Ganim and says you need to get in this as Finch can’t win.
    Sets up a Stafstrom and Finch, Mario and Joe, and Gomes and/or Foster primary.
    Early money is on Gomes with Foster as his CAO winning big. No brainer as the decaying city needs real change and the minority/majority voters will come out in droves as they did for Obama.

  7. Are we having a serious conversation about whether two felons, both convicted of official misconduct, can/should be elected to public office? That says a lot about the sad state of politics in Bridgeport.

    1. Phil Smith // Feb 25, 2011 at 7:38 am
      To your posting

      Yes Phil,
      Two felons, both convicted, are the topic of re-electing them … who would have thought …

      But for once there are better choices.

      And if the “sad state” is to change, then voters will have to undeniably recognize this better choice as fact this year.
      Sadly this is not a choice that has been available in the past.

      My worry has been the suppressed vote in Bridgeport. That has always enabled the machine-made vote to make winners.

      The body of registered Democratic voters who do not vote simply speaks to the fact they no longer trust candidates, because these voters are the ones who are not ever served by their elected leadership.

      They are not served … with either equality or accessibility.

      As you may already know, my candidate for Mayor in 2011, John M. Gomes started in April, 2010 to build bridges in this community again. Especially the bridge to unity.

  8. Mr. Capone: How do you figure that early money comes out for Gomes? MJF would not take CAO. She is running and will announce that she is running for mayor not CAO. I agree the city needs change and I don’t believe Ganim or Finch are the answer. Just a thought, not a criticism.

    1. Do the math TC

      MJF can’t win, her votes are the same as Finch and Ganim’s. Gomes brings the minorities to the table, he walks the streets every day. If MJF really wants change she will team up with Gomes for a easy win against Finch and the convicts.

      1. That’s a pretty big assumption that the minorities of this city have already aligned themselves with Mr. Gomes. Other than a website that can’t answer questions and Carolanne Curry’s posts on this blog we really have not heard much from Mr. Gomes. Time will tell.

        1. town committee // Feb 25, 2011 at 7:59 am
          To your posting

          You have to get out of your house and get to the public events that have impact on Bridgeport … and that’s where you’ll “hear much” from Mr. Gomes.
          Also, TC,
          In campaign 101, I know you’re familiar with candidates expressing their thoughts, and then someone working with them to wordsmith these thoughts so the permanent written record is clear to understand and points clearly to the candidate’s position.
          This has been the practice with the candidates I’ve worked with since the ’60s.
          There is little comparison of the writing skill of Ted Sorenson to the writing skill of Carolanne Curry, but Ted was instrumental in John Kennedy’s masterful speeches, letters and written articles for the public. Here, on a much more humble level, wordsmithing is part of my charge in getting John M. Gomes elected Mayor of Bridgeport in 2011.

          With changes every day in the communication tools that campaigns use today, your are absolutely right … time will tell.

          Who will give you a believable message and who will persuade you that their know-how and political will will produce a Mayor who can start DAY ONE to address the terrible wrongs this City has been made to suffer?

          We could use your help, TC.
          Your thoughts show you are obviously on point …

          Once more thing TC,
          I can assure you this campaign does NOT assume alignment from the minorities in this City. We are very aware the minority community must be drawn to the campaign, not based on the “Other than white” factors, but on their conviction they will be included as equal participants in the decisions made with regard the present and future of this City.

          1. Carolanne: Very well said but when Ted Sorensen and other great speech writers wrote their pieces they were delivered by the person they were working for.
            I do get out to certain events and when I am not there I know people who are there. It’s great to be at meetings but if a person does not participate at the meeting in the form of public input, then what?

  9. Lennie help me out here–I’m confused.
    Is it time to break out the Château Lafite Rothschild or the Grand Vin De Château Latour or maybe the Far Niente, or just stay with the Thunderbird?

  10. Come on Capone, you know as well as I do that in Bridgeport no one can guarantee the Black and Latino vote because of their ethnicity. How many mayors in Bridgeport has been anything other than a White male??? One???

  11. UNION: On a city level the unions have made many concessions. Bridgeport employees and teachers also pay a good percentage of their health care. The problem is in many cities and with the state where you have certain pension systems that compute the last 3 years of earnings as a pension calculator instead of base salary. The other problem on a state level is the pure excessive numbers of employees and work rules that are outdated. Does it really take 11 employees to replace 1 section of metal guardrail? I have on more than 1 occasion counted those numbers.
    From a taxpayers’ point of view it might be less expensive if certain things are privatized. On that I really don’t know but if it’s explored by cities and towns it may produce savings and it may not. A while ago Bpt looked into privatizing garbage pickup and the end result was it was cheaper to do it in-house.

  12. TC: Part of being a true Democrat is to believe in the union label. Privatizing gets you nowhere. It allows lower-paid workers to not only not care about their jobs, as they will always be on the lookout for a better job with better benefits, but they will steal blind from the schools and the city buildings. Ask New Haven how well it worked out.

    1. UNION: The problem today with the unions is they have received excellent pay and benefits that outpace comparable jobs in the private sector. The Democratic politicians and to some extent Republican politicians have given into many of the outlandish union demands because union members vote and contribute money to their campaigns. President Obama received $2 million from public employee unions.
      I take it from your post you are familiar with the custodian situation in Bridgeport. I will say that private companies clean many, many large and influential companies’ office buildings without a known hitch. Remember that salaries for municipal employees come from taxes and most people in today’s atmosphere are in financial turmoil. Just a thought.

      1. In my job TC I have dealt with union reps from many school systems and have heard horror stories of the cheap, non-benefited labor that has been brought in. They are a revolving door of minimum-wage cleaners with sticky fingers.

        1. If I am correct, Harding High School is “cleaned” by unionized, benefited, full-time city employees. How’s that working out?

          The city has before it a proposal from a private cleaning company to come in and clean all of the schools and most administrative offices. The proposal calls for more than 1/3 less than is actually being spent right now. The cleaning company will do this work with 25% less staff.

          How come this contract isn’t being considered?

  13. The high cost of Union labor has certainly come to the forefront. Wisconsin, California, Texas, Ohio and now (surprisingly) Connecticut will reduce Union costs as efforts are made to control state budgets. Private industry has long ago downplayed Union impact. The great Sikorsky Union failure of a few years ago when the several week long strike yielded nothing for the strikers is a prime example. Municipal Unionized employees will now feel the heat. Givebacks and concessions are being demanded or massive layoffs will follow. It got out of hand and now must be paid.

  14. Haven’t made up my mind if I support Gomes, Mary-Jane, Joe Ganim or a combination thereof. But I have made up my mind that Finch and his gang have to go. There is no question about that.

    1. To support a privatizing thief who is teaming up with Ernie, please CHS, I have always given you much credit for your posts until this one. The man crapped on the whole city and smugly smiled into the cameras, and he would be backed by the corrupt so-called Calamarians. It would be the same old stuff with Finch replaced by Ganim and the machine will stay in business.

  15. I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again. What did we gain from the Ganim administration with his “pay to play” system during one of the biggest economic boom times (bubble?) in American history? Very little. A new stadium, arena, modal transportation center, bus depot, parking garage all paid through local, state and federal tax dollars. Private investment? BOB’s furniture store. C’mon down! Big deal.

  16. Good points, flubadub. The Bob’s store (a really dumb idea for Downtown property) is located on the old Holiday Inn site–sold to Lenoci for $1 when valued at $1,000,000. And we shouldn’t forget Ganim sent Ford and GM packing when they wanted to set up a major car-shipping operation on the Steel Point peninsula. (At the time, it was “reserved for a casino”–but Ford and GM could have been accommodated at a few other locations on the river shipping channel–including the old Brass Company.) It would have meant several hundred union longshoremen jobs and new supportive businesses and hundreds of other support jobs. But Joe couldn’t be bothered and sent them packing (and then “gave” much of the Brass company property to DiNardo.)

    And let’s not forget a situation similar to the GM/Ford situation when Lionel Trains wanted to relocate to their original home, Bridgeport, in their original factory (on the arena/ballpark site), but were also sent packing with no offer of accommodation elsewhere in our vast industrial wasteland.

    Now, in regard to Ganim initiatives, we have 50 vacant acres with 20 years of lost taxes and a financial albatross–arena/ballpark/ball team/hockey team, subsidized by Bridgeport taxpayers every year to the tune of a couple of $million (not including police OT.)

    Yes, Joe Ganim and his team (Mike Freimuth, et al.) were true economic-development geniuses!

    And of course, Bridgeport’s reputation benefited greatly from the Ganim years.

    (If anybody thinks Ganim tamed the city during its public-safety meltdown years, think again–it was Police Chief Tom Sweeney and his community policing initiative; he was hired by Mary Moran … Joe later tried to force an early departure by Sweeney–who was becoming more popular than Joe–by playing contract games that later blew up in his face (1997/picket at Testo’s).

    Remember, also, the asphalt plants, and Joe’s role in supporting DiNardo and Manny Motinho during that fiasco (1998/picket of Joe’s neighborhood).

    And there was the Dewhirst Dairy arson fire and subsequent Stop&Shop revolt (that was actually the beginning of the end for Joe).

    Ah yes! The wonderful Ganim years.

    1. Sweeney was the best chief we’ve ever had. He left because of Mario Testa’s political interference over the police commission. Mario’s gumad’s son was a bad cop (still is a bad cop). He was (is) a wise ass. Sweeney (rightfully so) wanted him dismissed. Mario (Ganim) influenced the police commission to save his job. Sweeney got fed up and took a job elsewhere. That’s the story as I remember it. Correct me if I’m wrong.

      Folks remember Ganim as a good mayor compared to Fabrizi and Finch who both sucked. Compare him to what a good mayor should be and he’s not so good anymore.

      1. Harley, interesting point about comparing Joe to a “good mayor.” It raises a question about comparing Joe to mayors before and after his service. Socialist mayor Jasper McLevy served from 1933-57, followed by Democrat Sam Tedesco eight years, Democrat Hugh Curran six years, Republican Nick Panuzio almost four years (Bill Seres fills out last 55 days), Democrat John Mandanici six years, Republican Lenny Paoletta four years, Democrat Tom Bucci four years, Republican Mary Moran two years, Democrat Ganim more than 11 years, Democrat Fabs more than four years and now Finch, also a Dem.

        1. Lennie, I’m saying that in my lifetime I don’t remember much before Mary Moran who was a disaster. Joe Ganim came in as a breath of fresh air. He got rid of the FRB, balanced the budget each year with no tax increases, took vacant lots and turned them into parks and the employees seemed reasonably happy. He was followed by Fabrizi and Finch, also disasters. So what really do we have to compare him to? I don’t know much about Panuzio, Curran and the others. I only know of those I mentioned in this post. And they make Ganim look pretty darn good.

          1. Ganim also brought in good dept heads. I have heard people talk about Bob Kochiss, OPM Director who was an honest decent guy. Dennis Murphy, Jerry Baron, Mike Freimuth, John Marsilio to name a few. Ganim knew the importance of bringing in good people to run the city. He is the last mayor to do that. Fabrizi brought in unqualified egomaniacs and Finch not only kept them but added a few of his own.

            In my opinion, Ganim learned his lesson and is looking to redeem himself. I have no worries that he’ll go back to his former bad behavior. My concern with Ganim is he won’t clean house and he’ll be beholding to Mario and the DTC, same ole, same ole. Mary-Jane Foster and John Gomes have promised to clean house. Gomes promised Sherwood will go on day #1. Can Ganim promise to do the same when he is courting the very people who need to be terminated? Also what’s up with Ernie Newton? Will he get a big job if Ganim gets in? Now that’s a scary thought.

    1. Harley forgot Ned Winterbottom who was a labor attorney and director of labor relations. Qualified and fair. Fabrizi fired him over a grudge concerning the justified termination of Fabs’ brother years ago. Fabrizi promoted Larry Osborne, highly unqualified and unfair, on an acting basis and Finch made him permanent. Osborne has no clue and spends most of his day reading the paper or playing around on his city-issued blackberry. It’s a joke and everyone knows it. Talk about your disasters!

  17. harley76, I’ve never worked for the city nor have any of my family members. How many people on this blog can say that? I have a good job. But thanks for the thought!

  18. tc, you know what I mean, I never worked for any Mayor of this city. Never worked in city hall like many politicians and town committee members are doing today.


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