How Bad Is The Budget? Plus: Hurry, Hurry, Hurry

My oh my, what happens to your negotiating position if layoffs that you promised don’t actually happen? Last Friday was the day 30 or so pink slips impacting police and several other departments were to take place, saving more than $1 million, in Mayor Bill Finch’s efforts to close a multi-million deficit.

I say multi-million because does anyone really know the actual deficit number? It depends on this, that and the other thing. If the money budgeted for Steelpointe comes in, for instance, everyone will breathe a little easier. And in this economy things are worse than we’re being told. What’s the actual tax collection rate?

Only a handful of city employees have been officially let go, as it appears union officials and city bean counters are trying to figure out savings in lieu of job losses. The red ink hasn’t been this bad since the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1988, Mayor Tom Bucci announced the city was broke and needed a state bailout. In exchange for using the state’s credit rating to borrow money to retire a fund balance deficit approaching $50 million, the state imposed a financial oversight board.

Out of the fiscal madness emerged political neophyte Republican Mary Moran who defeated Bucci in 1989 and discovered just how difficult it is to manage the state’s largest city. Trying to break the backs of city unions and start all over, Moran plunged the city into federal bankruptcy court. State officials, including Gov. Lowell Weicker and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal threw a fit. When a child of the state files for bankruptcy, it hurts the state’s credit worthiness. Wall Street went spastic as credit rating agencies reduced the city’s rating to junk bond status. The city was unable to go into the bond market to fix roads, bridges and schools.

Moran lost her case in court. Joe Ganim was elected in 1991 and with a lot of help from Weicker returned the city to fiscal sanity, rebuilding the city’s fund balance to roughly $50 million by 2000.

I’m told that this budget mess is worse than we’re being informed, that the city’s looking at a $40 million gap between revenues and expenses for the budget year that will begin July 1, in addition to the current-year deficit.

Is Finch far away from begging for a state bailout? Let’s hope not. Maybe Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman can squeeze out a miniscule $40 million for the city out of the trillion-dollar Wall Street bailout. When donkeys and elephants fly.

The Park City needs a fairy godmother. Keep the faith.

November Neurosis is one week from today. I get the feeling that all OIB readers are locked and loaded for Election Day, but just in case you have a stray friend, relative or crazy uncle in the basement that needs reminding, tonight is the deadline to register to vote. See news release from CT secretary of state below:

Bysiewicz: This Is It! In Person Voter Registration Deadline is Tuesday October 28th, 8:00 p.m.

Secretary of the State Says Citizens Can Still Register to Vote By Going In Person to their Local town Hall Before 8:00Pm on Oct. 28th

Hartford: Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz today reminded Connecticut residents that time is running out to register to vote for the November 4th presidential election. Connecticut residents have until Tuesday, October 28th, at 8:00 p.m. to register in person at their local Town Hall.

“This is it; tomorrow is the deadline to register to vote in the most important election since 1932,” said Bysiewicz. “Don’t be left out of the easiest way to influence the direction of our country. I am urging all eligible Connecticut residents to register to vote, cast a ballot on Election Day, and make a difference.”

While October 28, 2008 is the deadline to register to vote for the overwhelming majority of Connecticut residents there are several exceptions. Anyone who moves within or into Connecticut after October 28th but before November 3rd can still register to vote in person at their local registrar of voters’ office. Connecticut residents who become United States citizens between October 28th and November 3rd and Connecticut residents who become 18 years of age between that time also may register in person at their local registrars of voters’ office.

Secretary Bysiewicz recently reported that a surge in new voter registrations has pushed the total number of registered voters in Connecticut to over 2,000,000 – one of the highest such figures in state history. Since January 1, 2008, nearly 220,000 Connecticut residents have become newly registered voters.

The total number of registered voters in Connecticut is 2,021,749. The largest group of registered voters in Connecticut is unaffiliated, accounting for 845,311 voters. There are 750,999 registered Democrats and 418, 531 registered Republicans.

Since the beginning of this year 217,126 Connecticut residents have registered vote. Of those, 92,752 new voters have registered as Democrats, compared to 28,652 new Republican voters and 94,342 new unaffiliated voters.

Once again, young people in Connecticut between the ages of 18 and 29 continue to be the largest group of new voters registering for the November 4th election. Since January 1st, some 91,485 young people have registered to vote. Of those new younger voters, 39,392 have registered as Democrats and 9,959 have registered with the Republican Party and 41,504 have signed up as unaffiliated.

The Office of the Secretary of the State maintains an aggressive voter registration program. As part of her effort to increase voter registration in Connecticut , Secretary Bysiewicz has registered more than 2,500 high school students since the beginning of 2007. The Office of the Secretary of the State and local registrars of voters have conducted more than 300 voting machine demonstrations highlighting the new machines and registering voters. The Office of the Secretary of the State also registers new citizens to vote at naturalization ceremonies across Connecticut .

Visit to learn more about Connecticut’s optical scan voting machines.



  1. *** Late entry on (Mojo) #27-Oct.26, 9:25pm ***

    *Hail to the Chief & Rell stumps for Russo*

    “Just want to give credit where credit is due”

    *** Even Mayor Finch does not know what the actual $-budget deficit is ’cause they’ve been lying all the time? ***

  2. Lennie,

    What a way to start the day … the weather is dreary enough but your appraisal of the current B’port fiscal condition makes it worse.

    What will it take to get rid of Sherwood and Feeney? I think these 2 have a major role in the mess.

    Besides needing a financial review board, it’s time to clean house of the people who put us in this position AND the incompetent staff the Mayor has in his office advising him.

  3. If we have a $40+ million dollar deficit which Finch is keeping from the public, then we are completely out of control. Regretfully, the State must intervene with regulatory controls, The State must do so immediately.

  4. Lennie, Mayor Bill Finch will not find the goose that lays golden eggs. Base on your historical overview of Bridgeport’s financial status, out of this fiscal madness will emerged a need for change and that change will be a Republican.

    That will occur with a Barack Obama victory along with a Jim Himes victory over Christopher Shays, that will leave Bridgeport with Christopher Shays as a frontrunner for mayor.

    Bridgeport will be in such a big financial hole that the taxpayers might repeat what happened in 1989 and elect a Republican. As a Democrat I find it hard to say all of this.

  5. Actually, the management of the financial affairs of the City of Bridgeport must be immediately taken out of the hands of Finch and his minions. They are patently unqualified to effect the solution that is needed to resolve all issues and restore stability.

  6. Ron,

    I think you’re on to something that I’ve espoused here before. If Chris loses on Tuesday, he is THE best candidate to toss Finch out on his rear. And with that, all the cronies who have gotten us into this economic meltdown. Chris will then be able to deal with Rell to bring home some bacon to a big-city GOP mayor, he can tap his friends in DC and other places and if he can deal with Pelosi he can put the city council in its place as well.

    We’ve gotten as close to hitting the bottom as it gets. Time to climb out of the mess and it starts with stepping on those who caused it.

  7. I predict a record turnout of registered voters in Bridgeport on election day. The GOP has engaged in legal but ethically cloudy practices to invalidate the registrations of voters deemed “hostile” to the party’s goals (i.e., African Americans and Hispanics, the minority groups that tend to vote for Democrats). In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, HAVA for short. Passed in 2002, HAVA was hailed by leaders in both parties as a reform designed to avoid a repeat of the 2000 debacle in Florida that threw the presidential election to the U.S. Supreme Court. The measure set standards for voting systems, created an independent commission to oversee elections, and ordered states to provide provisional ballots to voters whose eligibility is challenged at the polls. It was a doomed measure from the start: Jack Abramoff, the disgraced (and imprisoned) former lobbyist closely associated with Tom De Lay, a Bush family crony that was forced to resign his position as House Speaker after the State of Texas brought criminal charges against him, larded the bill with so many favors for his clients that it was neutered before passage. HAVA actually made it harder for many voters to cast ballots by making it easier for GOP monitors to challenge the validity of the registration, purging names of qualified voters from rolls, etc. The Bush Administration, in a bald effort to “justify” these impediments, ordered former U.S. Attorney General to manufacture evidence of voter fraud. (This is what led to the dismissal of several career federal prosecutors.)

  8. Chris Shays can’t win Bridgeport as a “favorite son” candidate for Congress. How could he win as a republican mayoral candidate? Maybe if he became a democrat he would have a chance in a primary.

    M. Jodi Rell has been a real nowhere woman for Shays in his congressional race. I don’t think there is a real Rell relationship any longer with Shays.

    Rob Russo would be the better cross-over dream candidate in my opinion.

  9. “Only a handful of city employees have been officially let go, as it appears union officials and city bean counters are trying to figure out savings in lieu of job losses.”

    Has anyone ever considered that all of these threats of layoffs and budget cuts might be a strategy to get department heads and chief administrators to trim the fat? More than half of Bridgeport’s revenues come from The State Of Connecticut, which is a fancy way of saying we all pay for it, every taxpayer in the Nutmeg state. Finch is operating with a long-range plan, but not many have been looking for it. There are too many “conspiracy theories” abounding, who knows who, who is being laid off for what reason, etc. No one is being laid off for political purposes; maybe a few are being laid off for ineffectiveness on the job, but not for political purposes. All this chatter about the BPD brass being let go and their positions being filled by The Friends of Finch … Eh, gimme a break. That’s all a bunch of horseshit. If any one of you has a practical plan for balancing the city’s budget that doesn’t require job elimination, feel free to address the City Council.

  10. WHAT THIS WORLD NEEDS IS A local business/economics professor who understands how and why macro-economic forces have worked against municipalities in general and Bridgeport in particular (gasp) and put Mayor Finch in a difficult situation. It’s a sad sign of the times that he’s spent his first year trying to add ballast to the ship called The City of Bridgeport. Mayor Finch is the only person standing between Bridgeport and municipal default. He deserves more fans and fewer critics.

  11. Thank you, Local Eyes.

    Too many OIB regulars are here only to foist blame on the mayor for tackling problems he inherited from the previous administration. Fabrizi is still around, works for the BOE if I’m not mistaken. Why hasn’t he been taken to task for “creative” bookeeping? He was the one that included many one-time revenues to make his budget look “balanced.” The City Council must shoulder some of the blame–they signed off on it. And Now it is Mayor Finch’s fault?! Gimme a break. He is making a valiant effort to correct some of the city’s long-standing economic problems, and all he’s getting from most quarters is criticism and derision.

    Only in Bridgeport, indeed …

  12. Problem is that the city for many years was known as the good ship lollipop. Too bad the citizens ended up being the real suckers. Finch is lucky that the global markets have tanked. It could end up being the only thing that can save his mayoralty. Problem is his gang that can’t shoot straight couldn’t even get this layoff thing done in the proper manner. Still waiting for my $600 tax break.

  13. Tom Kelly #9 wrote, “Chris Shays can’t win Bridgeport as a “favorite son” candidate for Congress. How could he win as a republican mayoral candidate? Maybe if he became a democrat he would have a chance in a primary.”

    Tom, normally I would agree with your point but if Bridgeport’s financial status remains the same or gets worst it will be 1989 revisited. Chris Shays could be the next mayor. Chris Shays position on the Iraqi war will cause his fall in Congress.

    Chris Dodd will be in Barack Obama’s cabinet if they get 61 senators and Joe Lieberman will be gone from his position in his next election. The future for Bridgeport and Connecticut politicians is not being the mayor of Bridgeport because there is no money and no answers to Bridgeport’s financial woes except to layoff firefighters, teachers and police and you cannot do that.

  14. We seem to let the donkey and the elephant have too much control over us. So much so that we’ll declare Shays a better candidate for mayor, if he were a democrat. You say Russo would be a great candidate if he were a democrat. What in the hell is wrong with you? That D has gotten you all hypnotized. Whether these candidates were democrats or republicans, they would do the same things. Leave the R’s and D’s out of the equation, and we just might make progress in this country.

  15. #12- Keeping it in perspective, you’re right! Finch did step in it, the moment he took the keys to the city. However, I believe that in his continued personal interest in playing politics to all his election cronies, he surrounded himself with people that lacked the expertise needed to sit down & actually look @ the whole budget picture! Though much blame must be pointed @ the economic recession the country has been in & a past admin. wish list of incoming monies that never reached the city. Still, the city has been mismanaging monies for a long time on jobs, overtime, supplies, wasteful utility use, admin. “$” raises, lawsuits, Board of Ed. delinquent bills & extra perks, etc. … Being Mayor of Bpt. is a thankless job where you’re damned if you do or damned if you don’t! Should Mayor Finch find a way out of this mess, it will be quite a plus (+++) to be added to his new job resume in the “near” future! However Finch is “not” (but could change after his term?) Mayor-type material, especially for an urban-type city like Bpt. So right now finding & hiring this “business/economics” professor to look @ the city’s finances from the start of the ’08 fiscal year, July 1st. 2008, would not be wasted time or money. After all, the city & Finch are pros @ wasting time & money so who would notice? ***

  16. *Watch “Bridgeport Now”
    WHEN: Today, Tuesdays at 8pm, CHANNEL 77
    WHAT: John Rowland back working for government
    WHO: Guests: State Rep Chris Caruso and resident John Bolton in panel discussion from 8pm to 8:30pm
    WHY: Let’s keep them honest
    WHERE: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Milford, Orange, Statford and Woodbridge
    GET INVOLVED: call-in: 203 345 0103
    Netcast live:

  17. Finally some people are having compassion for the mayor and the mess he stepped into. I feel bad for him getting dumped on all the time when you can’t blame him for what was left behind. If he knew things in the city were going to be so bad, he probably would have stayed on as a senator instead of running for mayor. The economy made things even worse for the city. I doubt he’s enjoying laying people off but it’s happening everywhere. The best we can hope for is some departments trim the fat so they can keep the employees. The job market has to be the worst ever so it won’t be easy for people to find work if they get laid off.

  18. Hey Lennie will you take pictures from polling places and report from the field on election day on how things are going? I will cast my vote exactly when the polls open because I work throughout the day and my second job is in the night. So Lennie please can you do those things please because I plan on checking every minute on the latest from work. This will be a historic election.

  19. Bridgeport Kid and City Kitty you must be on the payroll. There is no theory this is a fact that the layoff list was a hit list. The actual ones who lost their jobs make under $40 grand. That is NOT trimming fat. While they are laying off these people there are NUMEROUS temps that still have their jobs, there are NUMEROUS people secretly holding “acting” positons and there are NUMEROUS ex-employees who are being paid as consultants. And I hear that Osborne is no longer “acting”. He is the official Director of Labor Relations.
    Yahooy you are right, the state needs to step in!

  20. So Bpt Kid and all of you Finch fans can you tell me how he or you or anyone can justify spending hundreds of thousands on office renovations while the city is broke? How about the thousand NEW city cell phones that were given out? How about the flat-screen tvs and new computers that are STILL being purchased daily? Explain that! Finch is in charge now and this is what is going on under his watch.

  21. “City Kitty // Oct 28, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Finally some people are having compassion for the mayor and the mess he stepped into.”

    Has any one of you “Pollyanna Finch Fan Club Dilettantes” considered the fact that Moonbeam has been standing in this shit for nearly a year and has done absolutely nothing to rectify the situation he “inherited”?

    The City of Bridgeport is in deep trouble and it is getting worse every day. We have a completely unable “executive” at the helm. There is no one in city government right now that has the ability to figure out a fix for these egregious problems.

    Can we wait until someone with skill takes over? No. The State and even the Federales must step in immediately.

  22. I’m not on the payroll. FedUpWithCityHall seems to be another cross between a computer and a prostitute: A fucking know-it-all. Finch stepped into a big lumpy brown mess with the budget. It is easy, TOO easy, to point out that this person is working as a “consultant” or that there are numerous “temps” working in City Hall or 999 Broad Street. There may be reasonable explanations for this; more than a few individuals (like the above-mentioned FedUpWithCityHall) would rather think the worst.

    If you think you can do a better job, then run for mayor in two years. If you can’t do a better job, then shut your fat mouth. There is nothing more annoying than dripping faucets and assholes with nothing better to do than complain that the sky is falling.

  23. You are very ignorant Bpt Kid. I see you can call me names but you CANNOT explain the hundreds of thousands of my tax dollars going out the window can you?

  24. Bridgeport Kid: There is no doubt that Finch walked into a mess. The problem is no one knows how big the mess really is. The problem is they can’t seem to do things right. They announce the layoff of police brass only to find out that they can’t do that and need to go by seniority. They created an oversight panel to check if departments are spending their budget wisely. They stock this department with 3 political people none of which have accounting experience. The salary for these three exceeds $200K. They spend over $100K remodeling Mr.Gomes’ office and after all this the mayor has to mediate a shoving match between Gomes and Santiago.
    They announce they are raising fees for various permits but have to hold off on their fee schedule because no one checked to see what the fees actually were.
    The previous layoffs they announced and that were to be implemented this week have not taken place.
    This group of people hired by the mayor and they include Sherwood, Feeney, Wood, Nunn, McClain, Rubin, Gomes, Santiago, Curry. Can’t do a damned thing right.
    They have insulated the public from the mayor and I am sure they have insulated him from other problems in the city. My suggestion to you is go to the mayors office and remind him that HE IS THE MAYOR NOT ADAM WOOD OR JOHN STAFSTROM.

  25. Mr. Gomes and CitiStat are “a day late and a dollar short.” This program should have been implemented years ago. It would have helped the taxpayers with the burden of carrying the city. At best, now it will save some political jobs. Can anyone tell me why there are THREE Deputy Directors over at P.F.D.? I know Ted deploys with the Navy. But give the taxpayers a break. Ted, Bob and John is overkill to say the least. How about those 4 new vehicles over at P.F.D.? $120K ea! Does anyone know if there is a hiring freeze at this time within the city?

  26. ATTENTION! There is NO FREEZE on anything at all!!! Spending continues without being monitored. FRIENDS OF FINCH are being promoted from within! Without any advertisements for positions. Friends or donaters are being placed in supposed “frozen” positions. I hear the cousin of the secretary from Labor Relations who was given a salary of overe $60K a year from Fabs and placed from a non-union position to a protected union position was recently placed in one of those positions. Why aren’t the unions raising hell about these situations?


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