How Do You Like Your Polenta? Plus: Car Taxes

The phone at Testo’s Restaurant was ringing all day on Wednesday and not necessarily for dinner reservations. In fact, many callers in the days leading up to this holy weekend are paying tribute to that small, but mighty Democratic power broker that could just as easily be pounding veal as pounding out political deals.

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I checked in with Mario Testa myself Wednesday afternoon to catch up a little and see how he was feeling the day after he was knighted chairman of the Democratic Town Committee five years after he resigned in the wake of the corruption probe that took down former Mayor Joseph Ganim.

Mayor Bill Finch stopped in early Wednesday morning to offer obligatory congratulations. That was a hard swallow for the Bird Man who’s not enjoying his morning oatmeal these days. The night before, hizzoner’s boy John Stafstrom, with a party growing rebellious over Finch’s gaffes and Stafstrom’s ineffectiveness, was booted in favor of Mario, a cunning political operative who no doubt is enjoying this comeback. Mario has never been a fan of Finch, and never a fan of Stafstrom. Victory is sweet. But if there was any gloat in Mario I did not hear it in his voice.

There was one thing Mario wanted to make clear immediately. The stuff that the Connecticut Post had printed about an asthmatic town committee person requiring medical attention after allegedly told her dad’s city job was in jeopardy if she didn’t vote a particular way, was a bunch of bull. The threat had come by a backer of the opposing slate, not from Mario. The evidence backs up Mario’s version. The woman was already a supporter of Mario. He wouldn’t threaten someone that was already supporting him. Such is life in Bridgeport politics. It’s not for the weak of heart.

Maybe in a strange way, Mario’s reemergence will force Finch to become more focused on the job. Finch has a lot on his plate: the budget, taxes, development and schools. Finch has spent too much time politicking and has gotten his ass whooped because of it. Maybe he’ll stay out of the fire for a while. Mario will make a pass at working with Finch. He’ll give it several months. If there’s no reasonable relationship, Mario will have no problem scouting a candidate to oppose Finch in three years. Actually, a few are already in the wings. Probate Judge Paul Ganim and former Mayor John Fabrizi. Yes–can you believe it–Finch’s slow start already has some pols nostalgic for Fabs.

Why do I get the feeling when Mario’s swirling the polenta on the stovetop this weekend, the little guy’s gonna enjoy an extra wry smile?

City Hall news release

City Extends Tax Collection Deadline to March 28th
The City of Bridgeport recently issued dunning letters for all Motor Vehicle accounts for the past 8 years. The letters stated that, if offenders failed to pay within 30 days, warrants would be issued to the State Marshal for the collection of fees, which may include the seizing of the vehicle under the Bootfinder program. There were 61,990 letters sent out for a total amount of $29,425,431.11 in outstanding payments for the last 8 years.

Today, Bridgeport Chief Financial Officer Michael Feeney stated that, in light of extremely long lines and the short work week, the deadline to pay outstanding Motor Vehicle taxes will be extended to Friday, March 28, 2008. Residents who owe Motor Vehicle taxes will have until that time to make payments at the Tax Collectors’ Office at the City Hall at 45 Lyon Terrace.



  1. Now that the DTC has been settled maybe Finch can start dealing with city business. Its time to appoint some one to head the Economic Development Office. Its time to appoint someone to the head of Public Facilities. Its time to fill the vacancies on all of the different boards and commissions.
    If he is smart he will make peace with Testa and move forward. If he doe not then there is only one loser and that is the city and its residents.

  2. I agree, it’s long past time for Finch to stop playing politics and to start governing. I still think the DTC made a mistake in electing Testa but so be it. He is the chair and Finch and others need to make their peace with him and move on.

    BTW – I’ve heard that Testa feels the 90 member DTC is too unwieldy and would like to streamline the DTC by cutting its size down to about 50 members. Is there any truth to this and if so how would he go about doing it – who leaves, who stays?

  3. There is no truth to that rumor. My own opinion there is safety in numbers. Contrary to the CT Post the meeting held Tuesday night was relatively peaceful even after 5 or 6 roll call votes.

  4. Wondering is exactly right. The whole purpose of the DTC is ORGANIZE the party. An important role would be to disseminate party views and issues to the district level to ensure that everyone is well informed and can respond appropriately. Further, the DTC is responsible for the management of the polling activities making certain that all polling places are properly staffed and can run efficiently.

    The first word out of Mayor Testa’s mouth is to reduce the number on the committee. WHY? Because he barely made it back into power. He desperately wants all of his dissenters out. PERIOD!!!

    Why on earth, good people of Bridgeport, do we allow this to happen to us. What could be a worse scenario then Testa in control and Finch as the titular head. God help all of us.

  5. Again, I would have to agree. Compared to some previous DTC meetings this one wasn’t too rowdy. Except for a few (perhaps good natured) jabs from the 138th directed at the 130th, things were generally peaceful. At times a little chaotic and tense but on the whole peaceful – by DTC standards of course.

  6. Bridgeport’s rendezvous-with-destiny will overcome any roadblocks produced by the DTC or any other political entity. I predict The Park City will outperform the economy in the years ahead.
    READERS of this blog should be much more concerned with the ever-evolving problems caused by massive debt and the choices it will force our leaders to make. Worthless bonds might show up in some unlikely places. Furthermore, out-of-town investors might balk at the changing economic landscape and reduce their plans for upcoming projects.

  7. Bridgeport’s RENDEZVOUS WITH DESTINY resounds with the roar of a toilet flush. So long as Finch is mayor and Mario Testa is calling the shots, Bridgeport will remain in the same stagnant position it has been in all of the years that Testa has influenced development. Go buy yourself a Tequila Rose!

  8. SASSYSTROM and his crew left as soon as the votes were tallied the other night but what really bothers me FINCH and his crew ( TYRONE and ADAM who were running back and fourth from FINCH perched outside most of the night ) also packed up and left like he lost the election!!! Well he kinds did !!!! But it was a fight he shouldn’t have put himself in !!!! He should have had some balls and stayed until the end of the meeting or at least showed up at TESTOS like some of the others that voted for SASSYSTROM did to eat and drink on MARIOS dime !!!!! Even the folks that gathered there afterwards were all laughing and hugging showing that we are ALL DEMOCRATS mostly working as one again !!! But FINCH should be ashamed that he didnt stay atmeeting of go to TESTOS following the meeting !!!! I mean he is a DEMOCRAT isn’t he ??!!??

  9. Keith Rodgerson …

    Were you driving after the DTC meeting when it is alleged that you were drunk? I really hope you deny your state of inebriation. What say you now … bullshitter?

  10. Aboost I worked with Testa everyday for the past 2 weeks and at no time did he discuss reducing the size of the town committee. I dont know where that rumor started but it is wrong. There were 30 people that voted for Stafstrom I can assure you many of those votes were made because of early committments and nothing else. many of these people will now work with Testa.
    having dissent is not unhealthy and if taken in the right vein could lead to improvements.
    The people of Bridgeport are apathetic and dont want to put in the hard work it takes to become politically active. Its easy to complain and ring ones hands and point out all that is wrong. Doing something about it is another thing

  11. I also see most of the town committee working together !!! Let’s see what FINCH does !!!! Heard he has been walking around in a doom and gloom fog since the meeting !!!!! For Christ sakes MAYOR grow some balls,act like a MAYOR and GOVERN !!!!! Make a god-damn decision !!!! Wrong or right at least start doing something !!!!!! AUDEN is still a waste !!!! I hope she runs against KEELEY just so I could see her lose again !!!! She’ll be beat worse than shedid for BOE !!!!!

  12. Polenta? Sounds more like a Placenta. How is Mario’s reemergence supposed to force Finch to focuse more on the job. Do you mean the job of Corrupted acts? Finch needs to think about his family and children first and make sure not to give in to any pressure from the Machine. Lennie you know that Mario is not seriously considering Fabrizi for another run, considering his two FBI videos and his written statement against Shawn Fardy. Hell, Mario migh as well keep dealing with Paul Pinto. You know that Mario is going to put up Paul Ganim for mayor in 2012. By then, the Conroy trial revelations will be a thing of the past and Joe will be out. The reason why Mario was not implicated in the Ganim scandal is because Joe Ganim is not implicating anyone including himself (I’m innocent) while on the other hand Mario is shocked to hear about the level and amount of Corruption in wich Ganim was involved. I’m of the strong opinion that Mario owes Joe Ganim Big time and payday is going to be slow, but a sure thing.
    As far as the Property-tax collection is concerned, I addressed the City Council over two months ago regarding the visibly high number of Out of State registered vehicle in Bridgeport. Ohio, Massachussetts, Penn and the list goes on and on. The mayor and about 7 City Councilmembers were absent that day. You want your tax dollars from me? B*** ME! TAKE IT FROM MY CHECK THE WAY YOU DID IT BEFORE. NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.

  13. Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est. If only we posters followed such sage advice. Facts … real facts … no conjecture … no innuendo … no pollyanna. Just facts.

  14. Yes, sun cat, I am buying. Anyone who ever comes up to me anywhere and says, “Excuse me sir, but will you buy me a Tequila Rose?” The answer will always be yes. This will not be so reckless a move since the universe here only includes the rose colored glasses for lunch bunch.

  15. Aboost, I resent your attempt to get rid of me. There is a place in this world for pollyannas, optimism and hope. If there is no point in hoping why live, why expect change? Just because we have been slammed around a bit doesn’t mean we don’t pick ourselves up and live to fight another day. I am not referring to anything or any side in particular. If Winston Churchill who saw the world on the brink of destruction could be optimistic than so can we. When one dream fails we can exchange for it for a new dream, a dream that is still full of hope. In every problem there is an opportunity.

    T.K. what’s new pussycat?

  16. Writing this at my own peril, but I really do believe the Democrats will mend fences and get back on track. Being a Republican is not an option … things will turn around. I assume some of you will say this is the Pollyanna Principle, but time will tell.

  17. I state that you are a bullshitter. A student of Chris Caruso, bullshitter extraordinaire.

    I imply only simply that I am Claude Balls.

    Perhaps Mario will put Chris Caruso back in as Town Chairman like he did once before.

    Olny in Bridgeport. C’est la vie!


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