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.
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.