Inhale, Exhale, Inhale, Exhale

Spring is here! Everyone in a good mood? Okay, a better mood?

Time to take a little inventory on Bridgeport’s mayoral race approaching full mode. Mayor Bill Finch, for one, is in full campaign mode, raising tons of money, weighing the opposition scenarios, fighting to maintain a financial livelihood he’s never had before. For Bill, a lot is at stake. He’s not a man of wealth. His mayoral salary and the associated benefits–insurance, car, gas, etc.–represents a package that far exceeds anything he’s earned in a professional position. When you have two young boys to raise it especially pushes into focus the stakes for the incumbent. Bill has made a career of relying on his political friends to set things up for him. This is not exclusive to Bill. Many have followed this route.

The opposition for a September Democratic primary is John Gomes, Finch’s former deputy chief administrative officer, who has formed a candidate committee. Mary-Jane Foster, a driving force behind the sports and entertainment complex that became the ballpark and arena at Harbor Yard, has formed an exploratory committee. So has Charlie Coviello, a Finch supporter in 2007, and himself a former mayoral candidate. What about Joe Ganim, who’s moving around like he’d like his old job back? If Joe gets in the game, he certainly changes the dynamic.

Now let’s get to a subject matter a number of OIB friends have asked me about here, in private emails and phone calls over the past couple of days–a confrontation started by the mayor’s wife Sonya following a fundraiser for Bill at Testo’s Restaurant directed at Democratic Party Vice Chair Dottie Guman, one of the most decent, most respectful folks you’ll meet in politics or in life. Why haven’t I written about this? I don’t like writing about spouses/family members of politicians, unless I think spouses/family members impact the political future or performance of public officials.

What happened the other night is important for readers to understand in this context. Dottie Guman is Bill Finch’s political fairy godmother, the person who looked after him when few others would. Dottie Guman has a mind of her own to the point that she never allowed even her husband, the late John D. Guman Jr., who served as Bridgeport Dem party chair, to influence her concern for Bill. Dottie’s husband was never a fan of Bill Finch for a number of reasons which don’t matter in the context of this column. “Why are you always bleeding for that guy!” John Guman, the husband, would bark at his wife. Dottie looks beyond human flaws like no one I’ve met in politics.

In her political life, especially the past 20 years, Dottie has helped Bill Finch in extraordinary ways. Bill Finch faced serious financial hardship in the 1990s when she stepped up to help him: campaign work, city work, transit authority work, business community work. Bill had bounced around from job to job before that. The core of Bill Finch is good and decent, but he had a way of sticking foot in mouth (still does) that upset a number of past employers. Bill tends to puke up what’s in his head irrespective of the consequences. Sometimes, it’s better to be discerning.

Sonya is upset that Dottie’s 44-year-old son, smart, well educated, former City Council member, an accountant by profession, dared to become treasurer of Mary-Jane Foster’s exploratory committee. John Guman, the son (like his dad and his mom), has a mind of his own. He thinks Foster would make an effective mayor. If John Guman thought Foster wasn’t the goods, he wouldn’t bother. He’s got better things to do. Serving as treasurer of a campaign committee is a huge pain in the ass, requiring tons of time. He is volunteering his time in this capacity.

Despite John Guman’s support for Foster, Dottie Guman continues to support Bill Finch evidenced by working hard on the most recent Finch fundraiser that has netted roughly $80,000. Now let’s examine the reason Sonya spewed an expletive-filled rant on Dottie, that according to witnesses was way over the top, especially against a 72-year-old woman whose way of swearing is calling someone “full of prunes.” Finch supporters like to claim John Guman owes Bill Finch because Bill supported John Guman’s run for mayor in 2003. The fact is John Guman for mayor 2003 put food on the table for the Finch family. Sonya was well-compensated for the work she performed on behalf of the campaign. She did not volunteer. She was paid. Bill benefited financially from his involvement and his wife’s involvement in John Guman’s run for mayor.

Some perspective is in order. There’s nothing wrong with earning a payday for working on a campaign. There is a lot wrong for a wife of a pol to verbally assault the mother of a son who dares to support someone else, especially when Sonya earned a handsome payday from John Guman’s campaign for mayor. I sense much high anxiety from supporters of the various mayoral camps. I hope everyone in this process takes a deep breath, focus on the things that matter and not allow the past to poison the present.



  1. LG,
    Thank you for clearing the air. I personally wasn’t looking for any dirt from Finch’s camp, I was only seeking clarity on the alliances. As usual you put it into clear perspective for all or most of your fans at OIB. Stress & pressure are very corrosive elements during a campaign & the public at large is entitled to know about them. Human frailty is and will remain a major part of the political landscape. Action without premeditated thought is destructive on many levels, Fabrizi proved that for us all. Favors in politics are very expensive & eventually must be repaid. Biting the hand that feeds you is very unwise. It can create enemies you didn’t realize were out there.

    Again, I thank you for clearing the air. I can breathe easier.

  2. Like I said, Mr. and Mrs. Finch have no loyalty towards the people who helped them, hell, put food on their table. Maybe Finch should ban booze from all future fundraising events. That’s if he’s not willing to deal with the real problem. Enough said.

  3. Dottie may make the appearance of supporting Bill Finch but inside she must be thinking WTH? If this man cannot take charge of his personal life, how does he focus on running the city? This is John Fabrizi all over again. Déjà vu.

  4. Sonya is still being well compensated through Bill and his PAC game. Fair and balanced piece by Lennie. Dotty Guman and Bridgeport deserve Better!

  5. Lennie,
    You are still way too kind to Finch.
    “The core of Bill Finch is good and decent.” False.
    You, more than most, know of some of the dirty, underhanded, illegal things Finch has been involved in.
    You want to stick up for a friend, go ahead but please don’t perpetuate the lie.
    Two words; Gunster House.

    1. Well Grin, you’re the antidote for my kindness. Finch supporters tell me my treatment and the overall treatment from OIB posters is unfair. The core of someone can be impacted by pressures at home and what goes on at the job. Also, power can be intoxicating.

  6. Nah. I was looking for the dirty details as a factual account of the incident. My mayor’s wife in an inebriated state accosted a highly regarded politico. That’s newsworthy and I’m entitled to hear about it. Personal relationships should be subordinated by any scribe to whom the people look to for factual representations. That’s why I am disappointed in Lennie for not jumping on this “news item” right after it happened. If Michelle Obama confronted Palin in a similar set of circumstances he would have been good for 500,000 words.

      1. I really do not understand the point of bringing up John Fabrizi, other than to pull him down personally. I thought he is presently a private citizen and not running for any political office.

  7. It is interesting to see how fluid political support is becoming as we approach what could be the most contentious political battles in our history, the forthcoming primary and then the general election.

    The Calamarians have a good shot at retaining power if they can sustain the omnipresence of voter apathy that kept these bums in office all these years.

    Lennie seems to be hedging his bets offering surprising platitudes. It’s not just Lennie, MJF is like a ghost and won’t articulate why Calamarian control must end while pointing fingers and naming names. Same thing with Gomes. His handler thinks the voters should go to him for clarification of his issues. Imagine that!!! From him I hear the same ole same ole … “the streets aren’t safe, the taxes are too high, economic development is non-existent and education is dreadful and too wasteful.” The Tofu Tootsies portends pedantically perspicacity in a manner I think is a disservice to her candidate and to the city which so desperately needs full and complete change. She and whoever MJF taps to run her campaign need to know we people want a commitment from any viable candidate that the Calamarian regime will be sent packing. Pussyfooting around waiting to see which way the wind blows is not what we want.

    1. MJF is busy raising some early money so she can get a campaign launched. I am certain she is committed to bringing in a talented team of professionals for key positions vs. the low-talent team in place now. She will never be someone’s puppet like Finch. She is definitely not beholden to anyone. Be patient. She is ramping up her campaign. You will hear plenty from her on her plans to get the city on track so we don’t squander away another decade.

      1. Again, I’d like to hear it from her. Everybody is “ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN” she has a message but we have yet to hear what it is. Caruso tried that method in his last primary.

  8. I’ve been reading the columns over and over with amazement. I’m especially struck by the pronouncement that if Finch (excuse me, WHEN) is defeated, he and his family fall into financial ruin and enter the bread lines, funding for which he probably arranged to be cut. Imagine, we elected a man to be our leader who will be unable to find a job when he is out of office. We really know how to pick up. Even Ganim got work immediately after leaving office … Hey! Making license plates is meaningful employment … ask Ernest “T.”

  9. Budget Oversight Bridgeport – 2011 (BOB) is alive and well. About ten people have come forward so far expressing interest in attending April-May Council committee on Budget and Appropriations hearings this year. Room for some more volunteers for certain.

    So, Thursday evening at 5:00 PM at Black Rock Library is a second opportunity to join a group of fellow voters and taxpayers, as part of teams of 2-3 persons. As a BOB member you will listen, reflect, question (each other, Council members or committee members after meetings) and complete a one-page report that all members of BOB can subsequently address in order to make informed comments and statements for the benefit of the entire community at the several public meetings to be scheduled this year.

    BOB is grassroots observation of your Council representatives in action. It will also inform you as to where we spend our money and why. Council gets to vote on the budget. See what the Mayor’s office serves up this year. Observe who knows what and how they respond to the presentations. The Council serves as our only check and balance to partial truths from the Mayor’s Office. And they can do that only if they know and understand the real situation the City is in. The budget is one major component. Perhaps the Council will provide a stronger response than last year. Maybe not if they are conflicted by job considerations. But if BOB is looking, will we see a different response in an election year? Who knows.

    All are invited. And when we are through, there’s a party at Vazzy’s that tc is throwing at 6:00 PM where the talk can continue. Let me know that you will be at the Library for this second get-together. Thank you.


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