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Lamont’s Launch, Plus: What To Do With Sal’s Property? And Governors From Bridgeport

February 16th, 2010 · 29 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Development and Zoning, News and Events, State Politics

Update: Ned Lamont officially declared his candidacy for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination today. From the Lamont campaign:

NED LAMONT ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR GOVERNOR

Calls for “a Connecticut that gets back on offense, invests in our future, expands businesses, creates jobs and puts people back to work.”

HARTFORD, CT — Ned Lamont, successful businessman and Democratic nominee for US Senate in 2006, officially announced his candidacy for Governor this morning in front of family, friends, and supporters gathered at the Old State House in Hartford.

“I see many friends here today who were right here with me in 2006. We stood up and challenged the political establishment, challenged the conventional wisdom–and we made a difference,” Lamont said in remarks prepared for delivery Tuesday morning.

Lamont stressed his business experience and his ability to bring together Connecticut’s business and labor interests to create jobs and spur much needed economic growth.

Speaking to his experience in business, education, and local government, Lamont positioned himself as a successful business executive who can change the way that Hartford operates, stopping the partisan gridlock and focusing on the problems that face the working families of Connecticut–creating good paying jobs, harnessing the state’s educational resources, and bringing growth industries to the state.

“I want to be the governor of a growth state. Politicians spend their lives trying to figure out how to divide up the economic pie into pieces–I’ve spent my life expanding the economic pie. And for twenty years, the economic pie here in Connecticut has been shrinking.”

Read Ned Lamont’s full prepared remarks here: tinyurl.com/LamontAnnouncement

Malloy Response:

February 16, 2010 – Former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, potential candidate for Governor, today responded to Ned Lamont’s formal announcement of his candidacy for Governor:

“The contrast between us couldn’t be any sharper, or the choice more clear. I spent 14 years creating thousands of jobs, balancing budgets, making government more efficient, expanding access to health care, lowering crime rates, building affordable housing, investing in clean energy, and improving transportation systems – without ever losing sight of where I came from or the obstacles I’ve overcome to get here.

“Ned seems to think his millions of dollars and his background as a cable executive are why Democrats should choose him over me. I think he’s wrong. I think Democrats want a nominee who has the right kind of experience for the job.”

Burning Issue

Hot time on Monday’s webzine in more ways than one. What to do with developer Sal DiNardo’s property, former Remington Arms plant on the East Side that caught fire (again) the other day.

Look, if the city called Donald Trump, Steve Wynn, Bill Gates or General Electric and said we’ll give you this property, ya know what they’d say? No, thank you. Why? Because the clean-up is at least $5 million, a lot more if you want to make it residential. Fact is, the city has a number of properties occupied by the homeless that are vulnerable to the same kind of fires. Guys go in there to stay warm and the next thing you know place is an inferno. Yes, DiNardo must do a better job sealing off the place.

Full disclosure: DiNardo hired me two years ago to produce a media campaign in an effort to shine up his image. Sal is like a sneaker. Hard to shine a sneaker. I wrote and produced a radio and cable campaign called the Best of Bridgeport attaching his business to Bridgeport destination points, and promoting his development now home to United Rentals. Sal scouts properties few others want to develop in the hope he can buy them cheap, fix them and rent or flip them for a profit. Sometimes he absorbs a tax liability. Sometimes he seeks a tax break from the city. And sometimes he ends up his own worst enemy.

What is one of the few private sector developments to occur in the city the past few years? The Housatonic Avenue property owned by DiNardo now occupied by United Rentals. DiNardo spent millions of his own money cleaning a portion of the old Bridgeport Brass, received a tax break from the city, and now Bridgeport actually has a tax generator.

It’s easy to say take the property in court. The city can do that for back taxes. Okay, what does the city do with it? Nothing. Why? Nobody wants it. Better to say look Sal, we don’t expect you to transform this place overnight, but at least start taking portions of it down, bit by bit. That East Side site has been a shithole for years, no doubt. Show us some good will and maybe we can talk.

Governors From Bridgeport

town committee, aka Andy Fardy, has raised a good question the past few days: who was the last governor from Bridgeport? He offered the question in the context of a potential gubernatorial bid by former Republican Congressman Christopher Shays, former Bridgeport resident who has placed a deposit on a condo in Black Rock. Will Shays run for governor? Expect a decision within the next week or so.

Bridgeport has had two residents to serve as governor. The first, Robert Hurley, was the state’s first Roman Catholic governor from 1941-43 who studied engineering at Lehigh University and was appointed the state’s first Public Works Commissioner by Democratic Governor Wilbur Cross in 1937. Construction of the Merritt Parkway had become bogged down in alleged real estate schemes involving state employees. Hurley issued a report detailing improprieties both in land schemes and construction of the suburban parkway.

Hurley leveraged his oversight standing as a candidate for governor and defeated Republican Raymond Baldwin of Stratford. Hurley served one two-year term (it’s now a four-year term) and was defeated by Baldwin in the next election. He left public politics after he again lost the gubernatorial election two years later. He lived his final 30 years in West Hartford.

The second governor from Bridgeport, James Shannon, was actively involved in local politics. He studied law at Yale. His grandfather Patrick Coughlin had been elected a Democratic mayor in 1888. Coughlin appeared in one of P.T. Barnum’s most famous photographs when Barnum tested the strength of the Stratford Avenue Bridge by parading a dozen or so elephants onto the new steel structure. In 1946 Shannon was recruited to run as lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket headed by James McConaughy who died a little more than a year after his inauguration. Shannon became governor and served for 10 months. He sought reelection for a full term but was defeated by Democrat Chester Bowles. He later served on both the Connecticut Superior Court and Supreme Court. He died in 1980.

The last Bridgeport pol to serve as either governor or lieutenant governor was Sam Tedesco who served for three years as lieutenant governor while he also was the city’s chief executive. Sam was a Democrat who defeated Socialist Mayor Jasper McLevy in 1957 snapping Jasper’s 24-year run as mayor. Tedesco did not seek reelection for mayor in 1966 and took a position on the state bench.

From Merrick Alpert:

MERRICK TO DEBATE ATTORNEY GENERAL RICHARD BLUMENTHAL

WTIC Fox61 and The Hartford Courant bring you the first televised debate of the 2010 United States Senate race – between Democratic candidates, Merrick Alpert and Richard Blumenthal.

Hosted at the Lincoln Theater on the campus of the University of Hartford, the debate will be open to the public, and will be aired live on Fox61. A press pool will be provided – technical requirements to follow.

Among the topics to be discussed are the economy, health care, and foreign policy.

Date/Time: Monday, March 1, 2010 @ 7:00pm

Location: Lincoln Theater at the University of Hartford, in West Hartford, CT 06117

Merrick Alpert is a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate. He was recently featured on the evening news with WVIT-NBC Channel 30 and on WNPR’s Where We Live with John Dankosky; and in The Day, the Mystic River Press, and the Hartford Courant.

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29 Comments so far ↓

  • town committee

    Lennie Thanks for the information on the last governor from Bridgeport. I would think that almost 70 years is long enough to do without. I don’t agree with everything Shays stands for but I do know we as a city would be better off with a governor from Bridgeport.
    History shows that over the past 70 years Bridgeport has taken a royal screwing when it comes to getting money from the state. We always run behind Hartford & New Haven. Some of this money problem is the fault of our past and present delegations because they have no power in Hartford.
    The last time we carried any weight in Hartford was when we had Ed Caldwell as Comptroller and Tony Milano as the budget guy. Those days are long over.
    Just look at the cast of characters running for governor and tell me who is going to do anything for Bridgeport. Not a damn one of them. They will come to Bridgeport and blow smoke up our skirts and then leave. Shays at least lives here and deals with the same BS we do such as taxes, poor police response and the list goes on.
    It’s time for us to take a serious look at Shays and the other candidates. Voting Democratic just to vote Democratic is pure and utter BS.

  • town committee

    It’s a slow day and I just read where thanks to the Feds we are going to get 20 new police officers. On the surface that sounds great but at the end of the $5 million the feds are giving us who picks up the tab for these 20 police officers? We do.
    To Chief Gaudett will you please make sure these 20 cops get on the street to help the 21 street cops per shift we now have? By my count that could add 4 cops per shift. The guys on the street are who are doing all the heavy lifting, they need a break.
    I implore you not to shift any more officers into offices pushing paper. I implore you no more supervisors. You now have as many supervisors as you have street cops.
    To the every day street cop I say Thank You.

  • Willy Chute

    Our brownfields believe it or not have great potential that would align with Mayor Finch’s vision for the city. Brownfields can be used for renewable energy development. Specifically, there needs to be little remediation if brownfields are used for algae farms. Algae research receives one of the biggest chunks of the stimulus for renewable energy. Could turn a curse into a blessing.

    Check out this article about using brownfields for clean energy.

    ezinearticles.com/?Brownfields—Sites-For-Clean-Energy?&id=3645256

  • Ron Mackey

    I find it strange and sad that the Bridgeport Fire Department has never applied for the SAFER Act. The program was again (11/18/2009)–Passed and amended.

    Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009 -
    Section 2 -
    Amends the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974 to reauthorize through FY2014 the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program. including by permitting the use for certifying fire and building inspectors employed by a fire department.

  • enlightened

    “Hey Sal: Why don’t you grow cranberries in those buildings? You’ll be making greenfields like that enviro-freak wants. They’ll be so much water even a torch from The Bronx couldn’t burn them.”

  • Bridgeport Now

    “Bridgeport Now” live weekly TV program on Ch 88 at 8pm, on ch 90 on At&t.

    - BOE update. Reason for stalemate. Votes on Overtime/Independent CPA. Also, we will try to air some of last week’s lively discussion. A member of BOE who was on the program, and residents called in.

    - Ungag the People Update: Greenwood Litigation, Wentworth St–Upper Main

    - CT Governor’s Race–Impact on Bridgeport

  • Up On Bridgeport

    Finch to endorse Denise Merrill for Sec. of State. Hopes to get a job with her and get out of town before 2011 election. He would be great traveling the state, visiting schools, and quoting JFK! He would be smart to stay out of the Gubernatorial fray. Go for the sure thing with Merrill and ride out of town.

    Malloy did a nice job in Stamford with a great location. It’s easy to shoot 95% when all you have are layups. Could he have done the same in Bridgeport shooting from half court and being full-court pressed from Stamford? I doubt it!

    Will any Governor be able to deliver the Pork ‘n’ Beans for Bridgeport with the budget deficit? “The economy is fundamentally sound. No one could disagree with that!”

  • Bridgeport Now

    TC, I don’t think Shays would be good for Bridgeport if he becomes governor, as you mention. What did he ever do for Bridgeport? You mention the fact that he lived here or would again, is good.

    Is it possible to get new people into office? We didn’t really get that with Obama, who has kept key staff from president Bush. As for Shays, it wasn’t until Himes came along that the Congress St. Bridge got funds, making good on that campaign promise. Shays’ office used to be not too far from that broken bridge, however never heard him mention it.

    It is true that apparently Rowland was and is still good for Waterbury getting more funds. We filmed up there and the downtown, it seems like a lotta money went into renovating, and still some buildings are being renovated. A recent CT Post article did show stats, indicating that Bridgeport gets shortchanged.

    But does it take, to get more funds for Bridgeport, having someone from our city becoming governor? If so, that’s a sad comment on the current state of affairs.

    I do agree that just voting Democratic is not the answer, as you mention. Maybe a third party is the answer, and it could now be emerging in the city. One of the BOE members is not from the Democratic or Republican party. Stay tuned ….

  • Bob Walsh

    Now Lennie, I guess it is time for me to do a little schooling here.
    “Sal scouts properties few others want to develop in the hope he can buy them cheap, fix them and rent or flip them for a profit. Sometimes he absorbs a tax liability. Sometimes he seeks a tax break from the city. And sometimes he ends up his own worst enemy.”
    Sal buys properties buried with tax liens that no one else will buy. Why? Because Sal has a key to the back door at City Hall and the back door at Mario’s Restaurant. Sal buys properties because he knows that he will get a tax break; legal or not. This is what is wrong with Bridgeport. Has been and always will be until things change.
    As to the site on Housatonic Avenue, Sal received a tax break that he was not legally entitled to. And I will put my interpretation of the state enabling legislation up against Mark Anastasi and day of the week and any month of the year. It is that clear.
    The state allows a municipality to grant a tax break for a new owner of a property that is encumbered by back taxes and has a plan for environmental clean-up.
    Sal flipped the property from one of his LLC’s to another. Sal did not produce an environmental clean-up plan but merely invoices paid by one of his LLC’s to another as proof of clean-up. And as to the back taxes? Sal created over half of the back taxes during the time he owned it.
    If you read the state statute, which I did, it is clear that the intent was to get property back on the tax roles but not by forgiving the entities that created the back taxes but to incentivize new owners to invest in contaminated properties and to clean them up.
    And this is not a loophole as the City Attorney tried to convince the council. It is merely the city granting an illegal tax break to a favored political contributor.
    This is not good development. It is bad development. It is bad practice. It is bad policy.
    It discourages developers from competitively bidding on properties because they know the select few have a huge leg up on everyone else. And we all know what dogs do when they have their leg up …

    • Local Eyes

      Back to School Days:

      Thanks, Bob Walsh. Your “blog cred index” is skyrocketing as readers gain a better understanding of how mega-million dollar real estate deals transpire in Bridgeport. Now I know how they do things around here.

      But to exchange The Troll’s integrity for a porterhouse–even at Joseph’s–would be a mistake!

  • enlightened

    Let’s get this straight: The special olympics would disqualify most members of the Bridgeport legislative delegation. If you are looking for a definition of retarded, start there.
    When guys like Milano and Caldwell were around, they could short-circuit some of the rules to help the city. Gov. Weicker didn’t just short-circuit things, he dumped a whole sub-station on the town. He liked Bridgeport, despite itself, in a patrician kind of way.

    In these times of mere mortals, the city gets shafted. The voters asked for it, the voters get it.

    Care for cranberries with your turkey?

  • Bob Walsh

    How is this for collaboration …
    36-09 Resolution presented by Council Members Curwen, Paoletto, Thomas C. McCarthy, Walsh and Baker re Resolution opposing proposed site of the girls’ juvenile detention facility on Virginia Avenue, referred FOR IMMEDIATE CONSIDERATION.

    And who says the Troll cannot work with others towards a common good???
    And thanks to the council president for agreeing to hear this item as immediate consideration so as to be sure that valuable time is not wasted working its way through the normal committee process.

  • enlightened

    Gee, the council resolution makes the Jodi’s Juvie Jail tale all the more exciting.
    … But the tension is suddenly missing …
    Where is the OIB countdown clock?

  • town committee

    Bridgeport now. I am not positive that Shays would do what I think he would do for Bridgeport if he were governor. I do know he brought in a lot of money for the transportation center.
    After Weicker left we have constantly been screwed by Hartford. The list of candidates to date do not give me hope that the city is going to do any better with one of these candidates in office. Being governor is a lot different than being a congressmen.
    Let’s put it this way. The odds that Shays would help out Bridgeport are a lot better than the list of other candidates doing the same.

    • donj

      With all due respect TC, Shays had his chance and he showed he doesn’t give a damn about the city. That’s why over 30,000 residents said hit the road. Shays was a war lover that would never get my vote either and I am happy to have many on here backing me. BPTNOW well said. He should have taken more tours of Bpt.

  • bridgeport Now

    TC I disagree. Shays did more tours of Iraq than he did of Bridgeport when in office. I don’t think he really cares about the city, with all due respect.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      I hadn’t visited Puerto Rico for a period of about 12 years.
      If I follow your dumb logic, I don’t love Puerto Rico. I’ve never been to a professional baseball game …

  • countdown

    Bridgeport Now,
    Not true. Not true by a long shot. With all due respect, in addition to paying huge property taxes to the City of Bridgeport, Shays got huge federal earmarks for Bridgeport time and time again, and pushed the federal bureaucracy to do for Bridgeport what needed to be done. His seniority served Bridgeport well.

  • enlightened

    State statutes are another thing, Joel?
    I beg your forgiveness, but that sounds like the mayor after this was first announced. I mean your no slur, sir.
    State officials have conceded right along Virginia Avenue does not meet all the standards. One significant consideration is plopping such a facility into a predominantly residential area. Some of these state bureaucrats (no doubt suburbanites) figure if there are a couple community stores on Huntington Turnpike that it makes it a multi-use area that it is not.
    The city and its citizens can make the siting of the Jody’s Juvie Jail quite miserable.
    The Bridgeport I know can meet this challenge. It is summed up in two words: “Wanna fight?”

  • Ron Mackey

    FAIRFIELD COUNTY NEWS
    Battle Fatigue
    18 trips to Iraq later, has Chris Shays lost his mind?

    Thursday, August 23, 2007
    By Tom Gogola

    Congressman Chris Shays is back again from Iraq this week, concluding his 18th trip to the region since voting in support of the pre-emptive war resolution in October 2002. The pro-choice Republican and one-time conscientious objector (to the Vietnam War), has confounded his constituent-critics with his steadfast assertion that he was right to authorize the Iraq War, despite his shifting positions on how and when to end it. He’s promising a full update in a Thursday meeting with reporters on his latest trip (and, says a spokesman, isn’t fielding questions from the Weekly until then); in the past Shays has explained his shifting positions on, for example, troop withdrawals and the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group by vaingloriously announcing that he follows “the truth” wherever it leads him.

    But that tactically focused truth is running full-on into raw politics, and into a Washington Post Sunday report that detailed the lengths to which the Bush White House and Karl Rove went to ensure the loyal soldier Shays’ re-election to the House last year.

    The Post story reports that Shays was a “frequent beneficiary” of Bush administration largesse between April 2006 and election day that year, when he beat former Westport first selectwoman Diane Farrell.

    During that period, the paper found, “Shays was able to announce at least 25 new federal grants totaling more than $46 million.” Not to mention visits by “seven different Bush administration officials” during that time. For context, the Post reported that in the 15 months prior to April 2006, Shays “announced just $39 million in grants and got just one visit from a federal official.”

  • RedWhiteandBlue

    I see some of the campaign bloggers are getting busy. They must view Shays as a threat otherwise there would be no real mention. Don’t hear anyone blogging about the Mayor of Danbury or the First Selectman of Ridgefield …

    Chris Shays did a great job representing the Congressional district. We would be lucky to have him as Governor. He was always around, listening and supporting … I have met them all and he is one of the best I have ever met and worked with.

    • city hall smoker

      Ya think we can convince Shays to run for Mayor? 2011 could be a winning year for the Republicans. The City is a mess and everyone says that Finch is a one-term mayor. Problem is that the Dems will probably put up another Testacrat (haven’t heard that in awhile) and it will be the same ole, same ole. Maybe it’s time for a good Republican.

  • RedWhiteandBlue

    CHS, I think he is better as Gov … we need someone good …this State is a mess … need someone who knows how government works and someone who can work with both parties to get some results for the people …

    I don’t know who the next Mayor will be but I am sure there will be names surfacing over the next six months …

    It would be nice to get someone in that can bring people together in BPT….

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