Is It About Transparency Or Selling Papers? (Or Maybe Both)

voting booth
Remember when we voted this way?

I walked into City Hall Annex Tuesday afternoon and there’s Mayor Bill Finch chatting with city personnel in the lobby. “Hey, Lennie, you going to see the paint dry?”

“Yes mayor, I brought along my roller.”

Watching paint dry translates into local election officials and volunteers counting more than 20,000 ballots, or something like that, all under the guise of transparency (the government) or headlines (the Connecticut Post) or whatever. More than a dozen folks were counting because the Post prevailed upon the mayor (against legal opinion) to recount the ballots that became national news. I think the votes need to be recounted, the mayor is correct in doing this, just to make sure sanity prevails over Election Day chaos. I’m not crazy, however, about the media dictating governmental action, the mayor could have done this without the point of a Post bayonet, and there’s an air in the room based on chatting with folks that this is a Connecticut Post recount, and not one dictated by the government.

When I arrived it was lunch time, although some folks were busy working through voting precincts. Democratic Registrar Sandi Ayala was sitting alone with her lunch so I pulled up alongside to say hello. She was gracious in greeting me. I’d not blame her, given the media madness, if she turned away. She said pull up a chair and we exchanged some small talk. And then we both sort of said at the same time, looking out among the counting and the ballots and tables, “Can you believe this?”

“Sandi, getting any sleep?”

“Oh, I’m trying to catch up.”

And then I saw Republican Registrar Joe Borges whose tenure as GOP elections chief officially ends the beginning of January. Joe’s moving on to other things. He too was gracious, as he bit into his sandwich. Joe knows more ballots printed on Election Day should have avoided this surreality. But I asked Joe if he thought this recount thing was driven by the media. He nodded yes. “Maybe this process will be an eye opener for the work that goes into an election,” he said. And as I looked around the room it had a feeling of chipping stone. Chip, chip, chip … count, count, count.

Joe, I asked, is this really about transparency or headlines? Joe smiled and said it’s all about selling papers. Then he finished his sandwich and went back to work.

But what if this review uncovers something dramatic such as a major discrepancy in vote totals? Now we’re talking transparency, revelation and lots of papers sold!



  1. Grin, I’m with you on the machines. They made such a satisfactory “thonk” and ring after you pulled the lever back after voting against everybody.

    Unfortunately, they were all junked. Don’t blame Bridgeport for that. That was the state and feds.

  2. The CT Post is doing what the city should have done from the start and that is do a complete recount.
    The city as we have seen from this administration and from the top managers in this administration never completes anything.
    I cite 2 recent tragedies that happened in Bridgeport. The fire in PT Barnum Apartments in which an entire family was killed. There was a cry for safety and doing something to protect the other residents of this complex. What happened? What was done? Or was everything forgotten because of a report from the medical examiner showing the blood alcohol level of the adult?
    Tragedy #2 was the death of the 2 firefighters in a dwelling with an illegal apartment.
    Did the oxygen masks malfunction?
    Were there 1 or 2 exits on the third floor?
    What were these 2 firefighters doing on the 3rd floor?
    Were they doing search & rescue?
    Were they checking for fire spread in which case where was their line?
    Why wasn’t the owner of this building arrested?
    These things have never been answered to the best of my knowledge. If they have been answered the answers have not been made available to the general public.
    We need people in charge who get the job done; we do not have that with this administration.

  3. You’ve got that straight TC.
    And I am sure the answer lies in the City Attorney’s office.
    Don’t investigate. Even if it saves lives in the future, we don’t want to admit we may have done anything wrong.
    Just like the ballot fiasco.
    The SOTS cannot compel us to recount the ballots. No, only common sense and a sense of morality.

  4. A recount of paper ballots in 2010?

    Well, that only tells me that no matter how far we’ve come we still have a ways to go.

    A well-known pol in Bridgeport (name withheld because he’s still alive) once told the tale of how the old-time ballot boxes were “stuffed” in city elections when paper was then the norm, too. This happened before the ballot “machines” came into play. Of course, this old guy and his cronies had a simple way to rig those tools of democracy, too.

  5. The first encounter I had with paper ballots was in the 1976 Democratic Presidential Primary. This was the first party primary popular vote and did not fall under the auspices of the Secretary of State. Because of this, the party was not allowed to use the voting machines so the voting was done by paper ballot.
    I, obviously, was supporting Mo Udall against Jimmy Carter. I can remember someone coming up to me at the polls and saying there was a problem at Beardsley School and I should go over and check it out and report back to the HQ. This was before cell phones. So I drove over to the school went inside and saw the Udall supporter in tears. Inside with his feet up on the table next to the ballot box, smoking a cigar was John Guman along with some of his pals reminding the voters that he was supporting Carter.
    I reported back to HQ the only problem I saw at Beardsley was that Carter was going to win big.

  6. To all citizens of Bpt and surrounding communities, on veterans day this year this asshole mayor of ours spoke about his father and all the brave soldiers who gave their all to our country; well today he sent out a layoff notice to the only bus driver who takes vets to the VA Hospital which means there will not be a VETERANS TRANSPORTATION BUS to take them there. I guess the $30,000 salary is going to make a big dent in the budget woes, what a hypocrite. Just read a story online about how many servicemen have lost limbs in these wars I guess Tom Sherwood, Andy Nunn and this asshole figure the vets can hitchhike there. This is sad you people post about a publicity stunt by this rag newspaper about a news item that has been chewed to death as if it is still relevent. What these assholes do to human beings to try to pressure unions into concessions is a shame. Shame on you all, this is what is relevant.

  7. Lennie, This CT Post recount reminds me of two things: What does a dog do with a car after he is done chasing it? #2 this recount is like masturbating with boxing gloves on–both have no results.

  8. bpt guy: Not that many people knew of the bus driver layoff. I certainly did not know until I read your post.
    I have written here many times of the spending excesses of this administration. I am not looking for absolution as I probably could do more.
    I have to lay some of this at the feet of the various union officials and I mean all of the unions. They have stayed silent while this administration has beaten the shit out of their union members. There is only so much we in the general public can do but there is a lot the unions can do such as a work-to-rule slowdown. Enforce the entire contract they work under instead of winking at certain portions of the contract. It’s time for the unions to let the public know what is going on. These people in charge are still hiring friends and relatives and like you said screw the veterans of all wars who depend on that bus to get to their care.

  9. You want to have honest elections?
    Do the recount.
    Identify the problems discovered.
    Fix those problems, and anything else that comes up “by the way.”
    It will help.
    Nothing is perfect. Nothing is guaranteed.
    Doing nothing guarantees the same mistakes will happen in the future.

  10. I predicted the layoffs yesterday but no one replied to my post. Finch is kicking off the holidays by lighting the tree at McLevy and doling out layoff notices. I hear about a dozen pink slips went out today with more to come. Didn’t hear about the veterans’ bus driver but I did hear the names of several secretaries and other hard-working people. Didn’t hear the names of any DTC members or their relatives. Didn’t hear either the names of any of the overpaid consultants, political appointees or temps. Once again those people keep their jobs and the real workers get canned. This city government is crumbling and no one will do a damn thing until there is nothing left but rubble. Then Nunn, Sherwood and the rest of them will take their money (and city cars) and go back to the ‘burbs.

  11. Lennie while you are watching the paint dry why don’t you challenge the mayor as to why they saw fit to lay off the Veterans bus driver you always want to expose wrongs and make them right call him out on this. This is worth sticking your neck out I don’t think with what you went through you’re too worried what a clueless person like Finch can say or do to you, you have already done the hard time. TC sometimes we don’t agree on everything we both say but there are many sacred cows who are protected by you know who. I will not believe that in your heart you feel this is right There is one person who heads up the Eisenhower Center who is a drain on city money that can be used to fund the bus driver which is a matching fund job meaning if the city does not match the money the state grant goes away. This person has already chased the Vets away from THE EISENHOWER CENTER named after one of our nation’s great generals now they are at the welfare bldg because she did not want them at her center, it was all right when we were getting wounded and losing our lives and families due to not being able to leave the war over there we brought it home in our minds and could not deal with even the smallest problems. PTSD, Shell shock it goes by many names but they did what needed to be done to PROTECT OUR COUNTRY a large price to pay for a bus ride.

  12. How could they lay off employees who have worked for the city for over 15 years as they continue to hire friends and relatives? Nice Xmas present Finch the grinch!!! He has overpaid friends and relatives working while the people who put in hard honest days of work get laid off. How is it that the receptionist in labor relations gets paid over $45,000? Or the new police liaison over $50 grand? Oh yeah ’cause they are connected! This is sick to do to these poor people. Karma is all I can think of! Oh yeah I was surprised Sherwood’s girlfriend made the layoff list! He must have a new one.

  13. I agree the unions are too quiet. The leaders of these unions have bargained for their own good not their members! The Feds need to step in and dissect what is going on in Bpt. The books are cooked a bit too much that they are burning!

  14. This administration is doing, will do, what it wants, and when it wants, and there is no one to stop it. We can write all we want here, call out wrongs, cite injustice, and they keep right on going. No ramifications whatsoever! Why? Who or what can stop them? They have all the important positions secured. The Common Council, Labor relations, Civil Service, Ethics, Boards of Fire, Police … c’mon. Maybe Mario did learn something in the service about securing the flanks. There does need to be someone, something, from the outside … to start a riot about what is going on here … but who really gives a shit enough to get involved? Best to run!


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