It’s Relationships, Stupid! Plus: We’re Having A Party

You know things are bad when Mohegan Sun, that near-perfect money machine, delays construction of a massive renovation.

Closer to home I’m betting that Mayor Bill Finch doesn’t include layoffs of political appointees to further illustrate–and sell to municipal unions–the city’s fiscal calamity. It’s a balancing act: how do I get through this without eliminating the people that supported me? It allows union officials and government careerists to meow about selective layoffs. The mayor will argue that his discretionary appointments have given up a week’s pay–if all unionized workers had done so layoffs would be avoided.

Still, this latest round of 31 layoffs impacting cops, park police and workers from a variety of departments such as health, public works and town clerk, is raising high anxiety.

In a strange way, Finch, a Democrat, and Congressman Chris Shays, a Republican, may become closer in this mess. Shays lives in Bridgeport and needs to do more to show that while he’s contemplating a bailout of Wall Street he’s just as active trying to save the state’s largest city from melting into the Pequonnock. Example: if the city does not receive the $4.5 million it budgeted for Steelpointe revenue, what’s it going to do? What happened to the Magic Johnson project in the South End? What happened to the development of the old Remington Shaver building? These projects have lots of environmental issues. How can I, as a congressman, help?

This is what makes politics fascinating–the events that magically bring an opponent’s credentials into play. Shays’ Democratic opponent Jim Himes made a nice living as an investment banker on Wall Street. He can speak directly to the financial challenges now and in the future.

The Himes campaign released a new ad skewering Shays on the economy. In rapid-fire succession it quotes George Bush, John McCain and Shays all proclaiming recently that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Yikes!

Shays can use the prestige of his office to blunt attacks from Himes that he’s out of touch.

Yes, it’s bad out there. I’ve seen it worse. I had a front row seat in the mayor’s office in late 1991 and early 1992 as Joe Ganim held the city together during the nasty New England recession. Amid bank closings, utilities threatening to leave the city, UB law school moving to Quinnipiac, the city literally in bankruptcy court as a result of action by Ganim’s predecessor Mayor Moran, Ganim and his labor negotiator Dennis Murphy achieved amazing union concessions. The city enjoyed a lot of help from then Gov. Lowell Weicker.

Led by the governor, the state bought Beardsley Park and Beardsley Zoo, wired millions in gaming revenue, built a new Housatonic Community College, relocated the Troop G state police barracks from Westport and took over maintenance responsibilities of the train station. Ganim built the city’s fund balance up to $50 million. It’s now at $10 million and shrinking.

This is where relationships matter. Does Finch have the skill set to leverage relationships in Hartford and Washington to save the city from further erosion?

You know what, let’s settle all of this Thursday at the OIB party, 5:30 p.m. at Captain’s Cove. We’ve got lots to talk about. First cocktail on OIB, plus eats. Let’s conspire, spread rumors and figure it all out.



  1. Himes was part of the Wall Street problem he is always reminding people he spend over a decade on Wall Street. He and Bush’s guy Paulson both come from Goldman (Himes’ mail says he was a Vice President there) and they are both looking for ways to help bail out their friends. He was part of the problem he can’t solve it.

  2. Financial nightmare nationally. Yet I see next to no discussion of the role that Chris Dodd, Barney Frank or Chuck Schumer played in denying stricter regulation of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae which was the impetus behind this debacle.

  3. Glad to see that the history of Himes is coming out just in time. Shays has been consistent in his independent thinking. If he can pull a rabbit out of his hat, Himes can look at a deserted Wall St. and thank them for his loss.

    Wake up dems! Dodd, Frank, Shummer, Pelosi, Reid are not clean in this mess.

    Also, as pointed out, how did the $50M fund balance get to $10M…is it Bush’s fault? or Fabrizi and the rock head, er, solid dem council.

    B’port appears doomed to sink into the Pequonnock and the dems will blame Shays and Bush and cry all the way to the ‘burbs.

  4. Is the city is officially bankrupt? There was a finance meeting today and I hear that there isn’t enough money for payroll. Will employees not be able to cash their checks? What is going on?

  5. Unionless: Why don’t you stop spreading rumors and BS? There is enough money for payroll and bills. The employees have enough on their minds without you adding more BS to the pile.

  6. Wow! Department heads have to ask constituent services if a layoff is scheduled in their departments? And, wow again, constituent services has the information. What a classy way to run the largest city in the state. Oh, and by the way, Ms. Constituent Services is the mayor’s best friend – that is how she got the job. I guess city business and personnel issues are discussed at the backyard picnics matter of factly. Wow, so sad!

  7. You are so correct 1junkyarddog, I have seen them dining together a few times. Sadly, yes Mayor Finch listens to and confides in these nobodies. I heard this lady yesterday actually stating she was happy that some of the employees got laid off yesterday. Karma is a bytch. It will happen to her and her loved ones too.

  8. Unionless,
    Let me try to give you a little better explanation than wondering just did. A few years back under Mayor Fabrizi, the city got into the practice of bonding for Tax Anticipation Notes. This was the first sign that the city was headed in the wrong direction and people chose to ignore it or be dismissive of it.
    Since the city pretty much collects its taxes twice a year, July and January, the cash balances dip the further out you go from those months. So the first year that we got into TAN’s the city may have only needed cash for the months of December and June; the months immediately before tax revenues come in. Since the city did nothing to reestablish its cash reserves, the next year they begin borrowing money for the months of November and December as well as May and June. And as long as nothing is done, the cash is needed that much sooner.
    To further exacerbate the problem, many grant years begin October 1st so if there are delays in the state or federal government getting the funds out, the city will find itself in a greater pinch.
    I cannot speak to the city’s cash balances but there may be a sense of urgency to execute the TAN’s now so as not to end up in the situation that you are speaking of.
    But the sooner the city has to borrow the cash via the TAN the more concerned everyone should become. These are ominous signs that the city continues to ignore.

  9. As I recall, there were several heavy taxpayers (e.g. Sal DiNardo et al.) who were delinquent to the tune of 20+ Million Dollars. Does anyone have any information with regard to whether the City is doing anything to collect these taxes plus interest and penalties, and if so, where it is in such procedures? It is unconscionable that these people should sit around and watch the City wallow in fiscal anxiety while they await the moment to “make a deal”.

  10. All this and yet the lemmings of B’port continue to vote in incompetent people who bring with them family, friends and lovers.

    The really poor don’t care because their assistance follows them. The really rich (are there any?) are just waiting for the fan to start spraying crap on them until they bail out.

    That leaves the lemmings…and soon enough they’ll start feeding off each other. Time for another state fiscal review board!!! Start packing Sherwood and Feeney.

  11. Lennie,
    Why can’t you invite the Mayor to the Pod and ask some questions? Such as:
    1. Are you going to rein in the assigned city cars and limit their usage?
    2. Are you going to continue to create new “political” jobs while laying off long-time employees, several of which actually need these jobs?
    3. Are you scheduling any cuts among your executive staff (other than the furloughs)?
    4. Why did you not discuss the targeted layoffs with the affected department heads?
    5. Why don’t you have a city hall meeting with the employees so they hear this from you?

    Thank you for your consideration.

  12. Having been in high school during the Watergate era and its aftermath, I have a rather cynical view of political campaigns. Every candidate running for elected office, from the city council to the board of selctmen to the county railroad commissioner to POTUS, is going to say “We need change and I’m the one to bring it to you!” McCain says it, Obama says it, Jody said it, etc. That’s why the same characters keep getting elected over and over and over. Sarah Palin is not qualified to be Vice President of the United States. She wasn’t qualified to be mayor of the meth capital of Alaska. She looks good, sure, and that is why she was chosen to be McCain’s running mate: a piece of photogenic cheesecake, pushes all the right buttons to appeal to the evangelical wing of the GOP constituency. A gun-toting, moose-killing mother of five who is virulently anti-abortion, has a child affected by Down’s syndrone to prove her pro-life credentials, and has a pregnant seventeen-year-old daughter to demonstrate that she never discussed the facts of life with her children. But none of that matters because Sarah Palin looks good in photographs.

    Political contests are far less entertaining than professional wrestling these days.

  13. You hide your real agenda with the rant of our electing the same type of people over and over. Your real agenda is to slander Sarah Palin.You think she had the Down’s syndrome baby to prove a point, that is really dumb. Her daughter gets pregnant because she was not taught birth control by her mother. I guess that goes for all the teenage girls that got or will get pregnant. Your rant was so one-sided it’s scary.
    Now let me give you one. Joe Biden speaking of the money crisis said that FDR would have gone on television prior to the stock market crash in 1929. Do you think that someone should tell him FDR was not the president in 1929 and better yet do you think someone should tell him there was no television in 1929?

  14. McCain is for change!!!
    In light of the changing poll numbers and the fact that most Americans believe Obama would be better handling the economic crisis, McCain wants to change the date of the first debate!
    This guy looks like a coward hiding behind Sarah’s skirt!

  15. Grin Reaper again you have it wrong. Jeeze I wish you would start getting it right, you sound like the rest of the liberal media. Here is what McCain said:
    In a statement, McCain said he will stop campaigning after addressing former President Clinton’s Global Initiative session on Thursday and return to Washington to focus on the nation’s financial problems.

    McCain said he wants President Bush to convene a leadership meeting in Washington that would include him and Obama.

    “It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the administration’s proposal,” McCain said. “I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.”

    McCain said if Congress does not pass legislation to address the crisis, credit will dry up, people will no longer be able to buy homes, life savings will be at stake and businesses will not have enough money.

    “If we do not act, every corner of our country will be impacted,” McCain said. “We cannot allow this to happen.”

    McCain said he has spoken to Obama about his plans and asked the Democratic presidential nominee to join him.

    Now take your time reading this and if you have to read it 2 or 3 times. Maybe you will understand why he wants to reschedule. Of all people to call a coward?

  16. My real agenda is to point out the cynical moves the GOP is making in order to get John McCain elected. I don’t think Sarah Palin bore a retarded child to legitimize her pro-life stance, but that baby is being held up as proof. I can hear Mama Palin a few years from now: “Stand up straight when you drool, Trig. We have a family image to project.”

  17. McCain is not up to the presidency, and Sarah Palin is unfit for same. If the GOP had a halfway decent moderate candidate to field, he or she would be shot down by the the mean-spirited evangelical wing of the party. As it is, Palin wanted to fire Wasilla’s librarian because the librarian refused to remove books from the shelves that Palin found objectionable (I’m guessing the author’s surname was Darwin).

  18. If the mentality around here matches the typing skills, we’re in deep doodoo. It’s SARAH PALIN. And please, enough talk about her last child or her pregnant one. If Barack can say leave family out of it, why can’t you nobodies accept that? You are insulting to anyone with a child who is disabled or anyone who has a disability for that matter. Perhaps you should visit an analyst and discover YOUR disability!!!

  19. Wondering, a fine job of editing. It seems that you forgot to include some very important info from the wire story. “The Obama campaign said Obama had called McCain around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to propose that they issue a joint statement in support of a package to help fix the economy as soon as possible. McCain called back six hours later and agreed to the idea of the statement, the Obama campaign said. McCain’s statement was issued to the media a few minutes later.
    Hiding behind Sarah’s looks and skirt. He is throwing kerosene on the fire and then urging people to help him put it out.

  20. Cruel and heartless things have been said on this blog but The Bridgeport Kid takes the kudos (#19) with
    “I can hear Mama Palin a few years from now: “Stand up straight when you drool, Trig. We have a family image to project.”
    That one sent shivers down my back and tear to my eyes.
    Have a heart!

  21. Con Filardi: You’re right. Something has to be done to counteract the cruel and heartless things said here.

    Here’s my best shot:

    OIB rumor mill —

    Con Filardi discovers the fountain of youth and the joy of baseball.

    And then…

    He’s a late addition to a major league team and gets unanimously selected as the World Series MVP and the fans GO WILD!

    Although his team never pays him a penny, his subsequent endorsements make him millions!

  22. hahaha McCain says no bailout by Friday then no debate lol this should sure make Obama win easier and affect the race in the 4th district. Bush and Shays want a bailout for the wealthy companies but no bailout for hard-working people who work paycheck to paycheck. I will now vote Dem straight down on the ballot and that includes Musto because we need to get rid of these Republicans who don’t care about hard-working people. McCain is using this not to debate – what a coward – I intend to see Obama at the debate by himself. Vote Obama, Himes, Musto, Auden.

  23. Love the debate delay by McCain/Palin so they can focus on one thing, (“$700 billion bail-out”). The only input he’s been doing is his occasional political bomb throwing, pushing for a quick solution now, with restraints to come in the future. So lets give them the money, so they can continue doing what they’ve been doing, ’til big brother decides something different? With Bush pushing for some quick action tax “$” bandaid before he leaves office! Same “good-ole-boy” GOP bullshit, no doubt! Lets hope for “real” change soon, please.

  24. Yes, some of the postings on here are pretty mean. I might get a laugh going back and forth with Joel sometimes, but it’s never anything hateful like some of the stuff people write. I don’t care about Palin’s retarded baby, what I care about is that she is not a good choice for VP. That’s something to be concerned about. VOTE DEMOCRAT – GO OBAMA/BIDEN!!!

  25. When FDR (Democrat) picked Harry Truman to be his running mate during WWII the media was filled with astonishment and shock. The message was: how could he fill the shoes of FDR with no experience, etc. etc. FDR never included Truman in a single cabinet meeting and the man took the helm at probably one of the worst times in American history, totally uninformed and inexperienced. He made some of the most difficult decisions ever expected of a man, to wit, dropping the atomic bomb on Japan, the Marshall Plan, proposing the establishment of the State of Israel, etc. etc.
    It’s very difficult to assess the potential of anyone before he or she is in the position of responsibility. Sarah Palin may surprise you.
    By the way, to date I have not decided how I will vote on November the 4th.

  26. Lennie, should there be a change of the charter in order for the City to merge Planning and Economic Developtment with Grants? Chapter 18 establishes Planning and Economic Development only, not Planning Economic Development and Grants.

    CHAPTER 18.


    Section 1. There shall be an office of planning and economic development which shall be responsible for neighborhood, community and economic development planning and programs; housing programs; liaison to state and federal agencies dealing with these areas; development of the proposed master plan for the city and revisions thereto; and such other related activities as may be assigned to it from time to time by the mayor or the city council.

    Section 2. The head of the department shall be a director of planning and economic development who shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the mayor. The director may, with the approval of the mayor, appoint a deputy director who shall serve at the pleasure of the director.

    Section 3. The director of the office of planning and economic development shall have the general supervision of the operation and management of the several units of the department. The director is authorized to transfer positions and employees between units of the office of planning and economic development as the need arises and the funds are available. The director shall be responsible for the presentation of a consolidated budget to the director of policy and management; the supervision of all employees of the department and the preparation of an annual report of the activities of the entire department of economic development.

    Section 4. (a) There shall be, within the office of planning and economic development a division of housing and community development, which shall be responsible for the management and supervision of all housing and community development programs of the city of Bridgeport. The head of the division shall be a director of housing and community development who shall be appointed by the director of planning and economic development with the approval of the mayor.

    (b) The city council shall provide, by ordinance, for a housing and community development commission which shall advise the mayor and the director of housing and community development with respect to housing and community development matters and shall perform such other functions as may be assigned to it by ordinance.

  27. COURIC: But he’s been in Congress for 26 years. He’s (McCain) been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.

    PALIN: He’s also known as the maverick, though. Taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he’s been talking about — the need to reform government.

    COURIC: I’m just going to ask you one more time, not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation?

    PALIN: I’ll try to find you some, and I’ll bring them to you.


  28. You guys kill me. Donj have you seen who is leading the charge for a bail out? Try Dodd, Franks, Pelosi and Reed. You talk like the Republicans got us in this mess all by themselves. Dodd was the chairmen of the banking committee and received the most Pac money from Fannie & Freddie. The #2 benefactor of Freddie & Fannie Pac money was Obama. The above group fought and won No Reregulation of Fannie & Freddie in 2005. It seems that nno matter what happens the Dems in Washington have done nothing wrong. They control Congress and have done so for the past 2 years.
    John from BR you’re kidding right? You expect PALIN to know all that McCain has done in the past 26 years. Why don’t you comment on Biden’s remarks when he said that during the depression FDR would have gone on TV and talked to the nation. DUH!! Hoover was president and there was no TV in 1929. John you have selective insight.

  29. Wondering – I would have settled for just one example but she couldn’t even do that. She is clearly in way over her head. Palin is just another example of McCain’s inability to make well-thought-out decisions. Another example would be his grandstanding about suspending his campaign and coming to Washington for what will amount to a photo op with Bush and little else. The wheels are coming off his campaign and his desperation is starting to show.

    BTW – I have to work tonight so I won’t be coming to the the Cove. Hello to everyone and have a good time.

  30. David Letterman has been riding McCain for #2 nights now for being a no-show #1hr. before the show. McCain ended up @ another News show instead of Letterman. Hey, it’s only a senior moment issue, these things happen when he misses his naps! Palin should have stepped in to cover the show instead, she was in New York or did she know that? Well, I’m sure someone from the campaign must have briefed her beforehand so she wouldn’t think she was in Pakistan! I wonder if she could see Coney Island from her room?


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