Jawboning The Budget, Mayor And Council Reach Compromise, Plus: Here Come Da Judge

The good news is, they’re talking! On the eve of the Bridgeport City Council officially voting on Mayor Bill Finch’s budget, discussions between City Council Budget and Appropriations Co-Chair Bob Curwen and Chief of Staff Adam Wood appear to have struck a more conciliatory tone.

Curwen attended a mayoral press conference today in which Finch announced a compromise with City Council leadership aimed at restoring deep cuts to libraries and health care. (See Finch press release below.)

Curwen has been pushing the city to redirect the approximate $1 million in fees for the Bridgeport Port Authority into the general fund. Curwen wants the City Council to disband the authority board and replace the department under the umbrella of the chief administrative officer. City lawyers are reviewing this potential move.

The big revenue item that appears headed back into the budget for next year, that caused a hole in the current fiscal year, is the $4.5 million revenue item in fees generated by the redevelopment of Steelpointe. Curwen said he has assurances that the projected revenue source will arrive sometime in 2008-2009 budget window.

Curwen said the budget committee has restored $900,000 of the $1.1 million that Finch’s proposed budget cuts to library staff. Curwen believes, after discussions with library officials, that the funding restoration should be enough to save jobs and keep most existing services in place, but could impact evening hours at the main branch downtown. Curwen also wants to trim Finch’s proposed tax hike from 9 percent to about 7 percent.

Joel’s Job

I spoke to Zoo Director Gregg Dancho this morning about the pink slip Joel Gonzalez, a night watchman, received as a result of Mayor Bill Finch’s proposed layoffs. Dancho said a void in night security could jeopardize the zoo’s continued accreditation by the body that oversees zoo standards.

Dancho credited Joel’s job performance and wants him to stay, adding that the second-shift coverage Joel’s position provides, leading up to midnight, is critical. Maybe we should start a Save Joel campaign! Call your council member! Call the mayor’s office!

Blog Party

OIB party this Thursday, 6 p.m. Captain’s Cove!

Finch press release on compromise with council:

Mayor Finch and City Council Leadership Announce Budget Compromises

BRIDGEPORT, CT May 12, 2008 – Mayor Bill Finch (D-Bridgeport), along with Bridgeport City Council President Thomas McCarthy and City Council Budget Committee Co-Chairs Robert Curwen and Leticia Colon, today announced that major progress and compromise had occurred in budget negotiations for next year’s budget. While the City Council’s recommended budget has yet to be finalized and voted on by the full council, the group expressed optimism in reaching agreements that will restore some city services.

“The budget I recommended to the City Council sought to put our city back on a path towards sound financial footing through honest accounting, reduced spending, some very difficult service cuts and limited investments targeted at growing our city’s tax base and improving education,” said Mayor Finch. “This is not a perfect budget compromise by any means. The council has to do things I’d rather not to get us through this fiscal crisis. It is in the spirit of moving this process forward that I support their efforts and long hours of work on this budget.”

New budget compromises include additional funding for libraries to ensure sustained hours system-wide and no library closures; restoration of some public health nurses to include a nurse in every school, except those with a school based health clinic; restoration of partial funding for school based health centers on a limited transitional basis while the RFQ process for a provider occurs; and building capacity in the City’s Office of Planning and Economic Development to help increase the city’s tax base and facilitate economic development.

“The Budget Committee has been forced to balance city services and property taxes against each other,” said City Council President Thomas McCarthy. “There is never a perfect balance because of the difficult situation we’re put in by the state.”

“I think one of the biggest problems we’ve found is that the public was unaware of the financial crisis the city is really in,” said City Councilman and Budget Committee Co-Chair Robert Curwen. “We have taken the Mayor’s concern for the city’s fund balance into consideration while trying to restore city services.”

Budget Committee Co-Chair and City Councilwoman Leticia Colon added, “We’re working hard to make sure we balance the budget to the best of our ability. People are not acknowledging that we’re in a recession. If we don’t work together to make this better, we could end up in a depression. It’s not easy.”

The City Council’s budget committee will be meeting tonight to vote on the final budget resolution and the Council will meet as a whole tomorrow to vote.

Barbara On The Bench

Press release from State Sen Rob Russo regarding confirmation of Barbara Brazzel-Massaro for Superior Court judge. Barbara was a distinguished decades-long attorney for Bridgeport. I always loved her schoolteacher’s glare.

Senator Russo, Representative Rowe Vote to Confirm the Nomination of Trumbull Resident Barbara Brazzel-Massaro for Superior Court Judge

Hartford, CT – State Senator Robert D. Russo (R-22) and State Representative T.R. Rowe (R-123) today congratulated Barbara Brazzel-Massaro of Trumbull on being confirmed by the General Assembly as a Superior Court Judge. The State Senate voted to confirm Massaro on May 5th, with the House of Representatives following suit on May 7th.

“Barbara is a skilled attorney and a thoughtful, hard working public servant,” said Senator Russo. “She has a wide range of legal experience, having represented Connecticut’s biggest city in cases involving everything from civil rights actions, to antitrust laws, to complicated land use issues. She has always put the law first and I believe she will make an outstanding Superior Court Judge.”

Everyone who has worked with Attorney Massaro knows she will make an excellent judge.  I am delighted Governor Rell nominated her, and was very pleased to support her nomination,” said Representative Rowe.

Barbara Brazzel-Massaro has represented City of Bridgeport for more than 24 years. She first served as a litigator with the City in 1983 and was appointed City Attorney from 1989 to 1992. She has been an attorney trial referee since 1985.

Massaro has aided in the re-write of Bridgeport zoning regulations and master plans, and negotiated agreements with the Barnum Museum, City ambulance services, the Beardsley Zoo, Bridgeport parks and the Harbor Yard Arena. She has argued cases at the Appellate level, in Federal Court and before the Connecticut Supreme Court. She has served as a member of the Federal Civil Justice Reform Act Committee, a chairperson for the Land Use Committee and a member of the Board of Directors for the Bridgeport Bar Association.

An active member of the community, Massaro serves on the Trumbull Police Commission and is a member of the State Police Commissioners Association. She volunteers for Swim Across the Sound to aid people affected by cancer, co-chairs the Sacred Heart University Theater Renovation Committee and helped form a new non-profit organization working to open a food pantry within the City of Bridgeport. Massaro is a graduate of Montclair State College and Western New England School of Law. Her husband Carl Massaro is Minority Leader of the Trumbull Town Council.



  1. Save Joel’s job campaign?? You are kidding right. Where was the campaign for libraries,nurses and the like. If Joe;s job is so important to the zoo let the zoological management pay his salary as they are managing the zoo.I have made phone calls to the people you mentioned but on important items like libraries and nurses. Why didnt yo ask to have calls for all the empolyees that are being layed off.
    In tough economic times people get layed off we just have to hope its the right people. I know that sounds harsh but how can people keep paying the high taxes along with everything else that is going up. Gasoline $4.00 per gallon is an example.

  2. I hope in their budget calculations they factor in the potential exposure by the city in the Conroy case. And on the revenue side factor in loss of building and associated permit fees along side with a lower collection rate of property taxes.

  3. It’s the old story, ask for an arm and the people will settle for something less and they’ll think they got a bargain. So instead of 9% we are going to settle for 7%. Pathetic, absolutely pathetic. And so for 2% Bob Curwen has done all this fancy foot work?? It sounds like it’s all been choreographed by Mario Testa.
    The time has long passed to cast the people’s enemy to the lions. Certainly, the City Council will affirmatively vote for the amended budget so as to protect their own interests. And once again it’s to hell with the taxpayers.
    When will this nonsense end?

  4. Con Filardi is sadly correct, 7% is sad.
    Moonbeam is a sad excuse for a mayor and it is very sad that Curwen’s employer Slick Sal D. will not pay this tax increase as well, although the radio paints him as a benefactor to Bridgeport. Sal gets a free tax ride.

    How does this city goverment hope to attract people and business here, when so many of us who are stuck here want to get out, but for various reasons can’t.
    That is real sad.

  5. Con Filardi: “When will this nonsense end?”

    It will end when the voters reach a level of total disgust and finally awaken from years of apathetic, political slumber.

    It will end when voters cry out for capable, dedicated, honest officials who will bring practical insight and creative vision to the comlexities of city government.

    It will end when voters elect people who are committed to fair and balanced decisions on issues of growth, education, safety, public health and city attractiveness… based on the taxpayers’ ability to pay.

    Or maybe, the nonsense will end in a somewhat different way; when those who can, will simply decide to leave Bridgeport. A sadder, but perhaps more likely scenerio, unless some dramatic changes are made.

  6. Black Rockin’ and Bruce Hubler are absolutely correct. We’re stuck here and don’t think the politicians don’t know it. When you think of selling to extricate yourself from these blood suckers, you must contemplate having to pay a capital gains tax to the Feds and the State, conveyance tax, real estate commission, and legal fee. – There are no options open to you. I guess we have to stay and fight. It’s time to organize before the trauma fades, which is what they count on.

  7. Black Rockin’ and Bruce Hubler are absolutely correct. We’re stuck here and don’t think the politicians don’t know it. When you think of selling to extricate yourself from these blood suckers, you must contemplate having to pay a capital gains tax to the Feds and the State, conveyance tax, real estate commission, and legal fee. – There are no options open to you. I guess we have to stay and fight. It’s time to organize before the trauma fades, which is what they count on.

  8. Lennie, I agree with you, I feel sorry for Joel losing his job even though he posts some crazy ideas. its a real bad economy out there and its not going to be easy to find work. I hope things work out for him and everyone else who is in the same boat. I am dreading a tax increase, I just can’t afford it especially with everything else going up. Guess I’ll just have to cut more corners to figure out how to get by, don’t have much of a choice. I can’t remember the last time I filled my car up, just can’t afford it and its going to get worse by summer. The governer needs a wake-up call on the gas tax – I want to know what our state reps and senators are doing to help us out with this tax. All the states around us except NY pay less than we do, thanks to the governer.

  9. Bruce, as much as I’d love to agree with you that the voters will end the nonsense, they will not be the ones who change the tide. If that were true, Bush wouldn’t be president. Voters will stay in their slumber until a leader comes around who can unite everyone and energize voters. Unfortunately, I think Bridgeport is in the worst political situation to make way for such a leader. If you’re a machine Democrat, business goes on as usual and this city stays mired in its current situation. If a Democrat arises who rebels against the machine, he or she will be completely demobilized by the strength of the machine to appear ineffective and a failure. And the Republicans are really never given a shot. The past couple decades provide numerous examples of our city’s inability to produce strong political candidates. Meanwhile, the voters become less and less interested, and we see very little change in their voting.

  10. “Big City of Dreams”, you too are correct in your analysis. Figure it out: it is said that there are 5700 employees of the city; if you double that figure to account for their spouses, you have a total number of 11,500. That’s about the number of people who vote in an election. Turn them out and “you’re in like Flynn”.
    And as for the people on the dole?? Are they going to vote out the people who keep them on the dole? You have the answer.
    Mario can keep this game going forever so just keep your check book at the ready.

  11. Chris Russo,
    And I thought I was the pessimist! You’ve described a scenario that almost guarantees the further demise of the city. A death spiral for sure, unless something or someone eventually intervenes. But with 3-1/2 years to go, complacency and inertia make real change almost impossible to attain.

    You hint at the need for a new type of leader, someone who will unite and energize the voters. On that point, I totally agree. Time will tell if the political environment, or a crisis of circumstance, will allow that person to eventually emerge.

  12. Con Filardi, I agree. How could you lose when you can turn out those city employees. Not that I ever would consider this a good thing, but the one possible positive from the current budget crisis and the cuts to the libraries may be its lesson to city employees about the value of their vote. All votes are not equal. Voters have to see their vote almost as a form of currency. In Bridgeport, the value of votes is extremely low. When the elected politicians can screw up like they do, but election after elections the same voters keep electing them, their votes lose value. The elected officials don’t have to work hard for their vote, they can easily count on it. What did city employees get in return? Pink slips. Same goes for no-contest areas during elections, like Longfellow. Democrats know it’s in the bank for them and Republicans don’t even bother. And if your vote doesn’t cost anything, you’ll get nothing in return from elected officials. Those areas struggle.

    But like I said, voters don’t really think like that in the U.S.A., and if change is gonna come it’ll unfortunately not be from them. However I think voters can be moved by a passionate and active minority. People like us, the small percentage in the city, who are very politically active. We have to stir things up. We do a good job of it on this blog, but we have to do it everywhere, Board of Ed. meetings, CT Post editorials, and amongst our friends, etc. Look at what all those protesters were able to do, $900,000 of the 1.1 million in library cuts restored. They got out there, brought their kids out, and created a giant sh*tstorm. Major credit goes to them. Finch will think again before he pulls something like that again. The voters took notice of this mess and the budget pitfalls, and an active minority probably caused it.

  13. Black Rockin-I’m usually on the same page and the same book with you. However, I must respectfully agree to disagree with you on the DiNardo issue. I’m a free market capitalist and am motivated by profit. I understand your frustration but I think it is being taken out on the wrong person. The economic model that DiNardo uses is to buy properties with high liabilities that would never be developed if you couldn’t negotiate a deal that make the numbers work. The real anger and outrage should be directed at the city for letting some of these properties (Remgrit) get to the point that they did in their arrearages. I am personally more pissed off that the city spent all this money on Steel Point and are selling 50 acres of prime waterfron for 5 million dollars coupled with a buyout of 4.75 million to the Pequonnock Yacht Club. The reason that the old GE property on Boston Avenue will never be developed is because it’s cheaper for GE to pay the taxes and allow this property to lay fallow by not remediating the land. Very soon building codes are going to require that any new construction will have to be LEED certified. We have an opportunity to turn environmental brown mine fields and turn them into environmental Green Mind Fields. I too want a piece of DiNardo’s flesh but I want it on the back end of the deal where it will have a greater value for our city.

  14. Up on Bridgeport is right, somebody owned that Remgrit property before DiNardo bought it and when he did, there was a lot of tax money that the previous owner never paid. Why is that? Shouldn’t they have had to pay it before they made a profit by selling it? All that unpaid tax didn’t happen overnight. Isn’t it up to the city to force these slackers to pay taxes? My friend got a tax lien notice on her car for $52 and she panicked and ran down to pay it. How can you compare a lousy $52 to the millions these companies owe the city? How come the heat isn’t turned up on them? You can’t just blame DiNardo. If my friend gets a lien on a 1998 Honda then why not a lien on these people that owe the big bucks?

  15. I’d like to First, express my deepest apologies to Wondering and City Kitty. Last night or should I say last morning, I blamed a loud snoring sound on Wondering and City Kitty. Soon after, I headed to bed when I realised that the snoring was coming from my bedroom where my wife and daughter were sleeping. Duct tape does miracles. Wondering and City Kitty, I hope you two can forgive me.

  16. Town comittee:
    In the event that I, “bump”, another City Employee, you are more than welcome to ask Finch for the position. You haven’t been paying attention to OIB during the past two weeks. Had you been paying any attention, you would have known that Lennie and the OIB gang have been critical about the Laying off of all employees.
    When the Connecticut Zoological Society took over the Zoo, a contractual agreement with the City stipulated that four (4) employees (including Zoo Director Gregg Dancho) would be paid and kept as City Employees. The rest either “bumped”, or were let go. I was the last and only hired in 10 years. The Society has done a fine job at growing and improving attendance at the Zoo. The Zoo today is the most visited tourist attraction in the state.

  17. Up On Bridgeport:

    Three (3) months ago, I raised the Conroy issue during the T.C. campaign and reminded folks that those responsible were endorsed by the Democratic T.C. I also addressed the City Council about all those out of State registered motor vehicle (real tax-cheats) driving around town without any crackdown. Bill Finch and about 6 to 7 Councilmember did no show up that day.

  18. City Kitty:

    “Lennie, I agree with you, I feel sorry for Joel losing his job even though he posts some crazy ideas.”

    Thanks for the simpathy and thank you Lennie. I knew what I was getting into when I decided to challenge the Machine. I have enough talent and smarts to get another job when and If I chose to do so. I really don’t need to sell out to get somewhere, if working for the town, is getting there that is.
    I have some ideas with the potential of getting more than all those selling out will ever get. I have a partner in mind and if only the blind fool only read my messages and call me, I would have been on the way. I have to make time to see him in person.
    I not only worked for the City, I kept two full time jobs for the most part of the last 6 years. I quit the last one and volunteered to help Lieberman (never heard of him again) and after took my vacation in January 2007 with the idea of going back to work two (2) jobs again, I planned to write a draft for a fictional story. That’s when on the 23rd my son died and I spent the 11 months after not doing much, other than sleeping more than ever.
    My sons passing made me think about all the time I wasted with these worthless people. It made me realise that time is short and that I should persue my dreams regardless of the out come. At least I’d know I tried and I can let them (my dreams) go knowing I tried achieving them. I’d like to do the things that my son knew
    (I told him) I was going to do.

  19. Before going to bed (shower first) I must tell you guys of something I found out. During the past Town Committee race, some things just didn’t add up. I expected and accepted that every single Democrat that you can name, backed out of supporting me in the T.C. race. I found it very strange in particular that the Caruso supporters and Chris Caruso himself were not interested in taking on the Town Committees.
    I was even more suspicious when Mario Testa’s victory as Town Chair, did not draw fire from Chris Caruso. More fire was drawn from the folks at OIB. I had to look into this.
    Yes, I’m heading where you are thinking. Chris Caruso and Mario Testa have a deal. La Cosa de Ellos (Their thing) is born. I’m sure every one will deny it for the time being. Bill Finch’s days are numbered. Time will prove me right.

  20. First of all, “every democrat that you can name” didn’t support you because you are a jerk, albeit an over worked jerk. 2 full time jobs and a city job. Admirable. Necessary if you want to live in Bridgeport. When do you sleep? Never mind, I know the answer.

    Secondly… What in God’s name is La Cosa de Ellos?

    Caruso and Testa getting close?? Doubtful.

    It’s the right move if Chris wants to stay in public office. But Chris would have to make the overture. That’s perspicacity that not in his quiver.

    I thought George W’s days were numbered 4 years ago. Unless we can find a candidate the ilk of Bruce Hubler to run for Mayor, Bill Finch will be reappointed.

    It’s a Bridgeport thing.

  21. City kitty; last night I went to the convention for Himes that was held at the new Batalla school. What a great looking building.
    Well as I approached the door I was met by Himes supporters that were looking for signatures that are in favor of same sex marriage. As far as i know that is not a Federal Issue and in my opinion did not belong there. What a night.
    Loser after loser got up and spoke and it really woke me up. We had Lamont lost senate bid, Jepson Governors bid, Malloy ( he was late ) loser for governors endorsement,Farrell 2 time loser for congress,Then my all time favorite max medina comparing the expense of the war to the board of ed budget. Medina would not know a budget if it hit him in the ass. Of course we had clean & green Finch there.Ed Gomes was there in body but mind???
    What struck me was that not one member of the Bpt delegation was on Himes’s managing committee.The largest city in Connecticut and no representation,is it any wonder why the Dems keep loosing this seat.

  22. Good Morning Wondering. Thanks for coming to my old neighboorhood on State Street. When I read about the folks you said were there, I got Flash back of the 70’s and 80’s. My guys were looking out for you to make sure you got out safe.
    Go to todays Post story on this Himes ketchup Convention and read my comments on “the Roach”.

  23. City Kitty from what I have heard and its in todays paper that the budget is set for the most part, the fight will be over doing away with WPCA and th Port Authority. I will know more later today.Finch is still screwing with the council and the town chair. he has quietly replaced 3 police commissioners with his own people and has not sought the in put of the council or the town chair and he could be setting himself up for failure.
    As far as city empolyees having control of elections becuase of their number i am not sure if that is true today as it was years ago. Most of the police and fire dept members now live out of town, the majority of teachers live out of town, 28 of the clinic nurses live out of town and 5 live in town.
    Years ago the police and fire departments had to live in town and were able to work and elect Panuzzio as the mayor. years ago with their numbers they were able to have great control over primaries.
    I think that the problem today is just plain voter apathy, nobody cares. An example is when Santa Ayala ran in her first primary in my district only 10% of the regstered hispanics voted. No I am not pointing fingers at the hispanic community. The same apathy holds true in all of Bridgeport people just do not believe their vote means change.
    If the council was up for reelection this year that trend could end because people will be pissed about a tax increase but 1 1/2 years from now they will just not vote nor will they remember their anger from this year.

  24. Joel: i am always in “Your neighborhood “and have “Never” had a problem. I go way back when State st was really tough 60’s early 70’s and never had a problem. My favorite Diner was on State St. Why denigrate your own neighborhood its come a long way back from the old days.

  25. Yahooy, good morning to you too. You have got to lay off that Yahoo Chocolate Drinks, try coffe for a change -It’ll wake you up alllowing you to pay closer attention.
    I had one full time day job and the City job. Right after La Cosa De Ellos, you should have notice, “Their Thing”, in parentheses (is this how it’s spelled?) oh well! . Not our thing, my thing or your thing, it is their thing. But, they have leaks in their thing. Time will tell.

  26. I could start drinking tequila roses and you would still be a jerk. I still don’t know what the hell you’re talking about…La cosa de ellos??

    Does this mean that Testa AND Caruso have cut some sort of deal? If that is what you mean…SAY IT. You’re not even remotely clever enough for entendre.

    No Caruso/Testa deal in the offing. Not now, not ever.

  27. Yahoo it sound like you have been mixing alcohol with your Yahoo chocolate drink. Yes, they (Caruso and Mario)have some sort of an agreement.

  28. Wondering:

    I admire your effort and involvement in what’s going on in the Political Arena. Denigrate? Never. Guess who was a City Councilman in the 131 st. when the neighborhood changed? Alberto Negron and Joel Gonzalez working with Tito Molina the former Director of the West End Development Corporation. The progress came to a stand still when the West End funds were transfered (Stolen) by Councilman Pat Crossin, then Chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee of Black Rock. Where did the money end up? The Burroughs and other Black Rock projects. Trust me it wasn’t eazy to get Joe Ganim to go allong (he had other plans) it was like pulling a tooth from an Ant.

  29. Is Joel Gonzalez the only zoo employee to be laid off? If so, then it’s obvious that Mayor “Grinch” is only laying off those who choose to be free thinkers. Does he really believe that by laying off (1) employee of the zoo staff is truly going to save money? And no offense Joel, but really, how much does a night security guard at the zoo make? As soon as the dust settles, I’m making a run for greener and cheaper pastures.

  30. Sunshine, I think Joel said he makes $22,000, which is not a lot of money. I think somebody needs to watch the zoo at night to keep the crazies out there from harming the animals or messing the place up. Said it before and I say it again, I feel bad for Joel. I’m probably going to be named philistine of the week again, but I don’t care, I feel bad for anybody who is losing their job and that’s that.


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