It was impossible not to notice the public emptiness in City Council chambers Monday night as the city’s legislative body passed Mayor Bill Finch’s proposed budget for the year starting July 1.
What a difference a year makes. Last year’s budget process was all about hooting and hollering, library advocates cranked up about cuts, education supporters tracing octaves toward the mayor’s eardrums, health care workers snarling about privatization of school-based health clinics.
Chatting with Connecticut Post reporter Bill Cummings and Bridgeport News Editor Brad Durrell, we looked across the empty rows of seats–in an auditorium that can accommodate 400 folks or so–and wondered where all the anger had gone. Well, for one thing the economy sucks and yeah, there’s a feeling we’re all in this together, but education advocates clearly did not recruit the usual suspects. Maybe they know it’s an awful year? Maybe they’ll be saved by Barack’s bailout dough?
City staff was present: Chief Administrative Office Andy Nunn, Finance Director Mike Feeney, Economic Development Director Don Eversley all available, if needed. Budget Director Tom Sherwood shadowed council members and Finch to answer questions. Victory Productions owner Barry Jackson was poised at the back of the council chambers filming the event for future cable access viewing.
And that was about it, save for a couple of folks I did not know, perhaps city employees.
Is no one mad? The outrage is gone? Does this mean Finch is in good shape? How about council members? I did not see one potential mayoral or council opponent among us.
The mayor needed a little breathing room and this budget cycle accomplished that. But he’s not on the ballot this year. It’s a City Council year. So, any other primaries beyond Andy Fardy and running mate Ann Barney challenging incumbents in the 138th District? What about the Republicans? Are they among the living? ZZZzzzZZZzzzZZZzzz
Hays Feels The Vibe
I’m a Classic Rock junkie (in addition to political junkie) so what Gathering of the Vibes guru Ken Hays brings to Bridgeport each summer is twice the pleasure to showcase the city’s waterfront jewel Seaside Park to an eclectic mix of music lovers, weekend travelers, local businesses and yeah baby for those that want to sneak a doobie or two!
In July, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bob Weir, legendary drummer/vocalist Levon Helm, Buddy Guy and a whole bunch more will step into our house, Seaside Park, donated to the city by P.T. Barnum and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Kudos to Hays’ philanthropy, and to Mayor Finch and Public Facilities Director Charlie Carroll for locking up the Vibes in the city through 2012. Ken Hays, the Best of Bridgeport. See Hays bio and history of Vibes below:
Independent concert and festival promoters don’t usually last a long time. They are either bought then swallowed by a bigger company, or they simply fail. One notable exception is Fairfield County businessman Ken Hays.
Hays and his dedicated colleagues spent the past 13-years building the annual Gathering of the Vibes Festival into a recognized brand with a tremendously loyal fan base.
This July marks the 14th annual Gathering of the Vibes; the fifth time the camping and music festival is being held at Seaside Park, in Bridgeport, CT; and one more stop on a journey that already transformed a local entrepreneur into one of the most successful festival organizers in the northeast.
With 21,000 people in daily attendance at the four-day festival in 2008, and similar numbers expected this year – Hays and company thrive putting on their vision of what a music festival should be. They also create local jobs, bring tourists into Fairfield County, and showcase both local and national talent to an educated Connecticut consumer.
Hays started Terrapin Tapes in the early 1990s to provide high quality cassette tapes for people who followed the Grateful Dead, Phish and a few other jam bands that allowed tapers to archive performances.
Gathering of the Vibes History
In 1996, the year after Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia died, Hays threw a Memorial Day Weekend party at SUNY Purchase in remembrance of Garcia. Aptly named “Deadhead Heaven – A Gathering of the Tribe”, the event provided a forum for music lovers to reunite and celebrate the life of Garcia.
That gathering at SUNY Purchase changed Hays. He and his friends decided it had to become an annual event – that the community who followed the Grateful Dead needed a gathering place to share their music.
In 1997 the festival moved to Croton Point Park in Croton, NY, and was renamed “Gathering of the Vibes.”
In each succeeding year, Gathering of the Vibes has created unique musical experiences, while incorporating its support for environmental causes and charitable giving into the festival. People who come to Vibes every year to listen to great music while building and renewing friendships are affectionately known as the “Vibe Tribe.”
Since its inception, Gathering of the Vibes has raised and donated $101,000 to various local and regional charities, and has conducted food drives to benefit food pantries in communities where the festival is held. On Tuesday, Vibes organizers donated $50,000 to the City of Bridgeport for a children’s fountain park in the city. Vibes is contracted to be held in Bridgeport’s Seaside Park through 2012.