Jimmy Wants To Interview You

Hey, want a job? Congressman-elect Jim Himes is hoping a few good men and women pop up to fill a variety of Washington and district positions. Jimmy needs a chief of staff in DC and a district director in Bridgeport and several staffers to handle critical constituent services.

Medicare, Social Security, immigration, Small Business Administration, federal grant applications, a student that needs a recommendation to attend a military academy. You’d be surprised the number of people a congressman can help. And it was this type of constituent service that kept Chris Shays in Congress for 21 years. Help a constituent, and make a friend.

Making sure you hire the right folk that know what they’re doing would help. So Jimmy’s on the hunt, asking various pols for leads.

Now you know I’m not beyond starting a little mischievous trouble, so some of the names surfacing locally are both remarkable and pragmatic. I’m hearing former Democratic Town Chairman John Stafstrom’s name popping up for chief of staff. That would be remarkable because such a move would represent a huge pay cut for the partner with the Bridgeport law firm Pullman & Comley, the city’s bond counsel. As a bright lawyer and clever political operative that knows so many governmental and political figures in Connecticut’s 17-town Fourth Congressional District, Stafstrom would fit the type of background Himes needs. Maybe Stafstrom’s partner in life Dennis Murphy, former chief administrative officer for Bridgeport and more recently labor relations chief for Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy could be a fit.

Murphy, also an attorney, played a significant role helping former Mayor Joe Ganim achieve major union concessions in the early 1990s that led to a period of tax relief in the city. Before Ganim appointed Murphy CAO, Murphy was the city’s labor chief.

In fact, Mayor Bill Finch had considered bringing Murphy back to the city shortly after his election until a screaming headline in the Connecticut Post proclaimed Finch was thinking of bringing back some of Ganim’s hires.

While the mayor has grown some big cashews the last couple of months tackling ugly budget decisions, in his first few months he operated more like a capon. The last thing you want (whether you agree with Finch’s hiring decisions) is allowing a newspaper headline to dictate hiring.

Another name that has surfaced as a potential Himes hire is City Council President Tom McCarthy. That scream you just heard came from Finch and his Chief of Staff Adam Wood. (“Lennie you jerk, don’t give Himes any ideas!”)

Woody is Finch’s most prized adviser, the guy he trusts implicitly. The person most valuable to them is Big Mac, the man responsible for shepherding their initiatives through the City Council. One reason McCarthy did not run for the state senate seat recently claimed by Anthony Musto was the state of city finances. It would have been difficult for Big Mac to campaign for the senate seat as council president dealing with a spooky budget while also working in the city’s labor relations office.

McCarthy, an attorney, also has the kind of background Himes would like on his staff, perhaps as district director. Wouldn’t that be something if Mac joined Team Himes? OIB friend City Councilman Bob Walsh wouldn’t have Big Mac to kick around anymore.

I don’t know if she wants to stay, but Himes would be smart to keep Rina Bakalar in some capacity if not the district director role she’s had with Shays for most of the year. Rina coordinated grants that generated millions for the city before she joined Shays’ staff.

So, there you have it. If you have any friends that Jimmy should consider, feel free to post their credentials. And let me know if I can help. I’d be happy to recommend you to Jimmy.



  1. LENNIE: get greedy, think of yourself and stop being so enthusiastically altruistic. Three months ago you couldn’t get an invite to this guy’s media event and now you’re buddies. Exploit your gains. Tell your friend in Congress that OIB is a hotbed of ideas that is custom-made for his district. Make your readers understand that OIB feeds the needs of top-level readers who remain anonymous. The mystery of OIB is a potent selling point.

  2. Lennie you are really off with those names. Himes needs someone he can trust. Someone without their own Bridgeport political agenda. He needs a diplomat who will make friends, not alienate them and can get along with all the Bridgport pols. The last thing he wants is someone beholden to Finch or a Bakalar who has proven herself untrustworthy. He is better bringing in someone from outside of Bridgeport who will put Himes’ agenda first. In 2010 the Mayor will be scrambling to save his seat in what could be a messy primary. Anyone loyal to Finch will be looking to raise money for him and put their focus on that race. Himes needs a fresh start and all those you mentioned come with too many enemies and too much baggage.

  3. clichebpt, I agree with you that Himes should bring in his own people but no need to slander. Untrustworthy is code for a Bridgeport insider not liking the fact that someone tells people what they need to hear not what they want to hear. Play fair now …

  4. clichebpt …

    Rina Bakalar was the best thing to happen to CS, despite even a loss in the city (inevitable). From what I know, she is not untrustworthy but someone CS and Finch and anyone else she works for can benefit from.

    Hopefully Himes doesn’t play politics as usual and hires good people, not political people. Just as Rina and the rest of that team were more interested in governing as opposed to playing politics.

  5. From a strictly selfish point of view maybe Finch should apply for a Himes job in Washington. Let’s face it he in all probability will not be relected in 2011 and he will need a job.
    Chances are he will never get his job back with the downtown business council after all Timpanelli won’t need him anymore.
    He will never get his senate seat back.
    So in 2011 where will someone with a case of terminal dumbass get a job? There is only one place he will fit in and that’s Washington.
    Finch has burnt a lot of political bridges here and it appears that he is unable to bring Bridgeport’s financial problems to a head. I would urge Bill Finch to apply for one of the Washington jobs, leave office early and give Bridgeport a chance to survive.

  6. I hope to God that Himes does not play political roulette with the future of Bridgeport. It would be compelling and absurd for him to appoint Stafstrom as his Chief of Staff.
    I can’t imagine him putting the goomba crowd into positions of responsibility in his administration. Himes made a lot of promises. Now let’s see the beef.

  7. Here’s another scary thought … Himes hires Keeley to work on Bridgeport-related matters.

    Bpts Finest …

    How can you possibly say that removing Finch from office at the earliest possible time would puts us in worse shape than we already are in?

    Every day we are hemorrhaging money to useless projects fostered by patronage. Finch has done absolutely nothing to correct the problems he inherited. His lack of action is exacerbating an already fatal problem. Finch cannot do the job. He has neither the intellectual capacity nor the ability to do what has to be done. He refuses to hire the people that can in deference to political promises. He has to go; the State has to come in and somehow, somewhere, somebody has to start taking corrective measures. That someone is definitely not Finch nor anyone with whom he is allied.

  8. What makes anyone think the city council prez … who would replace Finch … would do a better job??? It’s a bad situation no matter who sits in the mayors seat … the council prez won’t even come out of the closet never mind run a troubled city.

  9. Lennie; the following story (at the end of this comment) from the Connecticut Post should be grist for the OIB readership and writers. All of the Connecticut Post blog comments concerning this story were permanently removed shortly after they were posted.

    BTW; I received an e-mail about a public hearing on the new zoning regs scheduled for this Monday, the 10th, at 6:00 PM, City Hall Council Chambers … I hope that you and your readership/writers will be covering this very important meeting. (The new regs are designed to help the administration give away the Bridgeport “candystore” to the usual developer-parasites who perennially profit from the “no-money-down, no taxes due, sell-it-back-to-us-at-a-million-dollar-profit-if-you-can’t-find-another-sucker” on-going land-grab that the city sponsors just for their benefit.)

    How come Bob Walsh and Andre Baker are the only councilpersons who seem to be able to recognize the huge conflict of interest presented by having the BRBC (our second municipal government–and another bad one at that!), through yet another one of its prime lackeys/front persons (the prime lackey is hizzoner, of course) controlling yet another extremely important aspect of city government (by chairing one of the city’s most important commissions)?

    The BRBC now controls The Mayor’s Office, the Planning and Zoning Commission, and the Board of Education–through the positioning of its dependent, profiteering lackeys. This (bankrupt) city government continues its disastrous, corrupt custom of making a lot of suburban developers and businesspersons wealthy and keeping a lot of incompetents in high City/Board of Ed positions–with the city having only “holes in its pockets” to show for the relationship. Bring back the state Financial Review Board and the FBI!!!

    Potential conflicts seen for appointee
    Staff writer
    Article Last Updated: 11/07/2008 11:08:35 PM EST

    BRIDGEPORT — The director of the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce is now a member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

    The City Council this week ratified Mayor Bill Finch’s nomination of Gail Solis to serve on the city’s most important land-use board.

    While council members endorsed Solis by a comfortable 9-2 margin, several members said that her job of promoting and helping businesses in the city poses a conflict with the P and Z’s role of regulating business expansion and resolving zoning conflicts.

    “She is an outstanding person,” said council member Andre Baker, D-139, who voted against the nomination.

    “But my concern is this person has a conflict of interest. I don’t see how you can have someone representing the business community. Where will she be able to balance it out? We can’t find someone without an affiliation?” Baker said.

    Council member Bob Walsh, D-132, said the Web page advertising the chamber clearly states that the group “advocates for small business.” He said the chamber is an affiliate of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, which has a similar mission and pro-business policies.

    “I have a problem when those goals conflict with zoning policy. This is very troubling,” Walsh said.

    Solis did not return calls seeking comment.

    Other City Council members said Solis passed an extensive background investigation and was approved by the city’s Ethics Commission. They said the potential for a conflict of interest was discussed and deemed not to be a significant problem.

    “I’ve known Gail for many years and she will make the right decisions,” said council member Leticia Colon, D-131, who voted for the nomination.

    Council President Tom McCarthy called Solis “one of the finest people I’ve come across. She is of the highest ethical standards and the Ethics Commission said there is no conflict.”

    But Baker contended that the selection of Solis harkens back to the city’s troubled recent past and corruption scandals during the mayoral administration of Joseph P. Ganim. “We need to be setting an example.”

    Finch stood by his nomination of Solis, saying he believes that she would never compromise her integrity to help a business receive zoning approval.

    “I recruited her and I can think of few who are of the caliber of Gail Solis. She does important things in Bridgeport, and here we have a woman of exceptional talent who wants to do this,” said Finch, who also worked for the BRBC before becoming mayor.

    Walsh said he’s not satisfied with the administration’s explanation. “I’m dumbfounded that they think this woman is the only one qualified. There are plenty of people who are willing to serve.”

  10. Bpt Finest: The boy wonder McCarthy would only serve for 120 days and a new election must take place.

    Capitalist: The appointment of Gail Solis, Reggie Walker and a person named Fedelle signal the mayor’s intent. He has let it be known to the P&Z and ZBA that he wants the controversial project slated for Oldtown & Main St Passed. He has stated that commissioners voting against this project will be replaced. It just so happens that one of his biggest supporters who has ties to the city attorney’s office has an interest in this project.

  11. #6-*** Good advice for Himes on keeping Rina Bakalar, if you want to get the job done right. The last thing a freshman Congressman looking for good help needs is to hire only election cronies. Also McCarthy won’t leave Bpt. @ this time unless he finally gets up enough nerve to leave the nest & finally marry that pretty girlfriend of his. Mr. Keeley might be interested since the Bpt. Business Council is supposed to be giving him his walking papers now that he’s no longer up in Hartford. However rumor has it Keeley already has a teaching job lined up? Good luck to Bob who’s always been a nice person to know, in or out of politics! If they want my expertise for the job, they would have to find me an apt. in D.C., paid-up lease with all utilities included, $1800. Mongoose all-terrain bike for (spring&summer). $10,000. limit M/C & Visa credit cards, and a #2-yr. contract salary of a modest $80,000. a year. Plus, I’ll have to think on it ’til after Xmas of course, with answer by Jan. 1st. “2009”! Hey, it doesn’t hurt to dream sometimes you know, even @ my age. ***

  12. Finch won’t even let McCarthy negotiate labor contracts in the city. That is why they hired the New Haven law firm. Yeah, this guy can’t do his own job let alone the job of Mayor.

  13. Lennie:
    Suggest to Jimmy before he considers your choices, he listens to the first pol pod regarding the “Burden” remark. It was the burdens in Bridgeport that got him elected, perhaps his office can be located at the Sewage Treatment Facility with McCarthy in charge. I recommend the following people: Wondering, City Kitty, yahooy, donj and MCAT. All of them can go to Washington. District director in Bridgeport, Hubler.

  14. I’m glad to hear that Himes is carefully selecting his staff. Mayor Bill Finch should take a lesson here. He brought in some marginal people making high salaries and kept some Fabrizi ass-kissers. He seems to be taking advice from the worst people and ignoring those who really could help him thru this financial mess. Wake up Mr. Mayor. We want you to succeed but you keep making stupid moves. Here’s some advice from a long-time city employee who knows the ropes:

    If Dennis Murphy is looking for a job, you should grab him. He is decent and intelligent. He actually did the job of a CAO unlike Andy Nunn who never even took the time to meet the dept heads and learn what people do. How are you the 2nd in comand and don’t even know what people do? And the reason Dennis got union concessions was because he was a professional and was trusted and respected.

    Rina Bakalar was also a professional. She hired some highly competent staff and she treated them well. Under her leadership, the Grants Office thrived and brought in millions of dollars. Mayor Finch, you recently gave that office to Alanna Kabel who is more interersted in micro-managing then she is in leading and bringing in more grant money to the city. She was a mistake. Rina will be out of a job soon. Whatdaya think?

    Tom Sherood – OMG Mayor Finch!!! This man has more power in your administration then he did under Fabrizi. Don’t you see that he is still playing the same ol’ games? Do yourself a favor and hire a competent financial person who you know and can trust. Sherwood is not that man. He will be the cause of your downfall.

    And regarding Tom McCarthy, I don’t give a crap which way he swings. He is the only competent person in Labor Relations and should be given full control and authority over that dept. Larry Osborne does not have a clue. Because of his cluelessness, we had to bring in consultant Dave Ryan @ $200/hr to negotiate the union contracts. That’s in addition to the $100k + benefits we’re spending on Larry. If you’re going to hire a consultant, hire Dennis Murphy. At least he knows the union players and is familiar with the issues.

    And who is Seth?

  15. ***#20- You’re right on point as usual there C.H.S.! The Mayor seems to be farsighted when it comes to picking competent people to do important jobs & ends up paying double every time. #19- And lord knows who Seth is ’cause it’s not that pretty girl I’ve seen McCarthy with @ different non-political gatherings. Just another rumor started by one of the talk loud but say nothing bloggers! Now the city is $20 million in the red, it keeps changing every month! It seems things are going to get worse before they get better in City Hall. And stop & think what’s headed to the capitol to represent Bpt. for the next #2 yrs.? We are in deep doo-doo to say the least, on the local side of government. ***

  16. Hmmm, who could possibly be advocating the Mayor spend 6 figures hiring another staff person, disapproving of the Mayor’s current staff, friend of Dennis Murphy, dislikes Sherwood? That narrows it to half of Bridgeport … Let’s see, knows something about the workings of the administration, narrows it down a bit more. Gee this is tough, let’s see when you add pea green with jealousy and disdain for Alanna Kabel, really narrows it down and points out how great Bakalar is, really narrows it, and that she is without a job … Ohhh, I get it now or at least it is down to three.

  17. Lennie:

    Bruce Hubler, Rosa Correa, Roberto Rodriguez and Americo Santiago would be good choices for district director in Bridgeport. But best candidate for chief of staff is Christopher Shays.

  18. on #’s 20 and 21 … I could care less which way Tom swings also … my point is if he keeps himself in the closet and hides his sexuality, then how can he honestly run a city that has lived on lies from politicians for many years … and btw … Mayor Ganim had a pretty blonde wife on his arm … and no one in his right mind thought he was straight … right???


Leave a Reply