How Do You Like Your Grease? Plus: Saluting Harding’s Carol Birks

I just don’t know what all the fuss is about with IL Guv Blago demanding grease for appointing Barack’s U.S. senate replacement. I mean the guy wanted to get paid. So? It’s as if the governor was saying Okay, boys, line up, I’m a whore but what pol isn’t? No time to waste, step right up and slime me good and hard.

In the end, it was probably nothing compared to those blood-sucking jackals on Wall Street, right. What’s a little supplemental income among friends?

Besides, selling jobs, contracts and appointments in Bridgeport has been going on for decades. Now, Leonard, those days are over, right? This is a new era of transparency. No double-dipping, no short cuts, no jobs wired in exchange for political support or fundraising. No phony selection committee to provide cover for the inevitable.

Isn’t it just better to say, he supported me, he raised money for me, he’s qualified, of course I want his law firm as bond counsel?

No slimy squid pro quo in Bridgeport. Hey, pass the calamari!

I recall the night of Tom Bucci’s inauguration as mayor in 1985. I was Bucci’s press secretary for the campaign and the indomitable (future state representative) Chris Caruso served as campaign manager. (Yes, Chris was just the same then as he is today.)

Chris’ political godfather Richard Pinto, the North End district leader that had demanded Chris be campaign manager, had never actually stepped foot in the mayor’s office on Lyon Terrace because he’d been fighting with so many mayors through the years.

Bucci managed to secure Pinto’s support by guaranteeing a bunch of jobs for his peeps and promising Caruso’s selection as Common Council president, as the legislative body was then known. That did not work out, but that’s another story.

On the night of Bucci’s swearing in I had a key to the mayor’s office because Bucci had announced me as one of his administrative aides. Pinto said to me, I’d like to see the office. Sure, follow me. As we’re walking up to the second floor following the swearing-in ceremonies in council chambers, Pinto queried: “How did you get a job? You don’t have any votes.”

Pinto was right. I hadn’t one stinking vote. I was just a schmuck who joined a campaign, ended up on the winning team and was offered a $23,500 a year city job for the privilege of dealing with the media, helping constituents, scheduling the mayor, attending night meetings and serving as the mayor’s whipping boy (every mayor needs one of those). My, how times have changed, some municipal flacks now approach $100K.

After offering me a full-time paid campaign job for all of $200 per week, Bucci never actually paid me over the course of the election because he was terrified what the district leaders would think–examining campaign finance reports–of Bucci paying $200 to someone with no actual votes. Those days you needed a magnifying glass to find Bucci’s balls. So, the way Bucci looked at it, offering me a city job was a big deal because he knew the political whining that would follow.

Funny thing about my encounter with Pinto–who’d die tragically just a few months later when a car ran him over–his youngest eager son Paul, some 10 years later, would be the beginning of the end for Mayor Joe Ganim. Talk about grease–the kind Paulie larded was more than goose, duck and chicken fat combined.

Eight years ago today the federal government knocked on my door in its case Operation Hardball.

Since that time in Connecticut there’s been Joe Ganim, Phil Giordano, John Rowland, Ernie Newton and a whole lotta elected/public officials yet to come locally and nationally.

I’m much happier writing about them all.

Hey snowbirds, if you’re out and about tonight Cougar Rodgerson’s The Chinese Restaurants and more are playing at Two Boots for a Devo Tribute.

Caroling Educator

Congratulations to Harding Principal Carol Birks. I’ve met her a few times and she’s impressive. See school system release below. For more info

The Connecticut Association of Schools is pleased to announce that Carol D. Birks, principal of Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport has been selected as the recipient of the William Cieslukowski Outstanding First-Year High School Principal Award. Other recipients include: Bruce Lazar, (elementary school) principal of Chalk Hill School in Monroe, Susan Homrok, (middle school) principal of Henry James Memorial Middle School in Simsbury. These awards recognize first-year school principals from the high school, middle school and elementary school levels who have had a positive impact on their school and/or district and have demonstrated exemplary instructional and organizational leadership, a willingness to take risks, and the ability to overcome adversity.

High School Award Recipient Warren Harding High School Principal Carol D. Birks was nominated for the William Cieslukowski Outstanding First-Year Principal Award by mathematics teacher Garfield Pilliner. A visionary instructional leader, she established the Learning and Teaching Institute to support both faculty and students. She also created the school slogan “Learning Happens Here” and has worked with the entire school community to make the slogan a reality. In his nomination, Garfield stated that Carol’s “dedication, creativity, and leading by example have had a positive impact on all the members of the Warren Harding High School learning community.”

In her first year, Ms. Birks created a vision for the school that included four primary goals: (1) establishing a core curriculum; (2) fostering student engagement; (3) building capacity among the staff and community; and (4) increasing student learning for all students in all classrooms.

Ms. Birks has been a leader in strengthening relationships with the Bridgeport community, forging critical alliances with local businesses, youth agencies and civic organizations. She helped to launch the Youth Leadership Council and secure a grant to reduce violence and adolescent pregnancy.



  1. Blagojevich’s problem was being straightforward with his demand for funds.

    Pay to play, whether through financial support, patronage jobs, etc., exists everywhere, UNFORTUNATELY.

    Take Finch as an example, he gave out Jobs to his supporters … He also gave jobs to friends or family of supporters as well. Some were consultants, full-time posts and others received seasonal posts. They still got jobs in exchange for their support in the campaign … In fact, the week of Dec 1st, some folks walked in to the annex with a list in hand of names that needed to be “taken care of” …

  2. Bridgeport is Bridgeport. Workers have always been rewarded and this will always be the case. This past election of Finch has reached new heights in nastiness. Let’s start with the election of the Town Chairman. Finch and Company held people’s jobs over their heads as they were told to vote for Stafstrom or else. Just ask Mark Anastasi or Larry Osborne. Ask long-time employee Joe Minopoli how he is enjoying his forced retirement. He was replaced by none other than Council person Rich Paoletto. Soon you can ask Dr. Evans how she likes unemployment and don’t be surprised to see Warren Blount in her spot. Yes another council person promoted. Let’s not forget Tom McCarthy from the labor department $91K a year is he going to go against Finch I think not. Pure and simple this is vote buying, it will be interesting to see how these two vote on the sewer deal.
    Funny how if you are in the right crowd how you can screw up or things can go wrong in your area of responsibility and nothing happens. Has anyone asked Stafstrom the city bond council how our bond rating dropped below A minus?
    Who is going to make money by flipping the Mechanics and Farmers Bank Building? Who is part of the 27 LLCs purchasing city-foreclosed buildings? Who was put on the Zoning Board to carry out Timpanelli’s orders? Could it be Gail Solis? It’s business as usual only nastier.

  3. Nice posting Wondering.

    Unfortunately on this blog I think you’re preaching to the choir. Few people in this city have the cojones to keep up the pressure and even fewer people in this city care.

    Consider the extent of the power base from Finch and Stafstrom to the council and their families and friends. True reform should come from within but the system appears to be too far gone. Greed is so entrenched in this City that it almost make Blago … seem status quo.

    Instead of preaching to the choir maybe the need is to form a grassroots “independent good goverment” group to call these people out and build a base to effect real change in the next election. The cry for change sent these folks to the polls for Obama but they refuse to look in their own backyards because their back pockets are full of greed.

    amen … have a good weekend.

  4. The Oracle of Omaha Steaks

    Happy Holidays and Good Tithings To All!

    What is one of the greatest nations? A Donation!!

    For some last-minute gift items with a non-profit spin check out some of the following:

    A 25% donation to Habitat for Humanity with a purchase of a gift certificate or gift card from Taco Loco. Last minute pick-up at Taco Loco on Fairfield Avenue in the Black Rock section of the Port, or online at

    If you like Grease, kids shows, or the Roar of the GreasePaint, then check in and check out with a Club Cabaret Gift Card for Bridgeport’s Miracle on Golden Hill Street, The Downtown Cabaret Theater. Or you may make a virtual visit to www

    Following up on Lennie’s Epernay experience, I have become breast friends with their Duck.

    And for the New Year may all our Pains be Champagnes!

  5. Thanks Lennie for the story about Carol D. Birks, principal of Warren Harding High School here in Bridgeport. During these trying times here in Bridgeport with budget cuts in the Board of Education and negative talk about Bridgeport’s schools but here is proof that there is hope.

    Congratulations Ms. Birk as the recipient of the William Cieslukowski Outstanding First-Year High School Principal Award.

  6. Wondering,
    Depending on how you want to look at it; the good news or the bad news is that I recognize that I would be too much of a lightning rod to be placed anywhere near the congressman-elect’s staff. So I guess I will sit around on the council for a little bit longer until I decide what I want to do when I grow up. Oh, who’s kidding who, I don’t wanna grow up.

  7. Whomever Finch put in charge of snow removal is earning their pay today. I had to use back roads to get from Trumbull to Black Rock and felt safe with the number of sand/plows I saw out there. Nice job.

  8. Somtimes I agree with yahooy and sometimes I don’t. This time he is on the money. This afternoon I drove from downtown to Treeland (finally got my tree) and back to Black Rock. There were many trucks out and the city roads weren’t bad.

    I’ve been known to criticize Finch from time to time but this time he appears to have gotten it right. Good job.

  9. on #9 … yahooy makes a nice comment … and the hater (Scott) has to throw a bs comment … hey Scott … if you won powerball would you still find fault with the world???

  10. I also have to compliment the snow removal in Bridgeport today. I was in three towns and Bridgeport did the best job that I saw. Carroll has found his calling …

  11. Joel Hater: Paoletto is NOT leaving his council seat so get your facts straight. I just want Paoletto and the rest of the council to do what’s right for Bpt and not put themselves first.


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