Long Weekend, Tons Of Chatter

Memorial Day weekend with lots of picnic discussion: State Supreme Court orders unsealing of documents relating to sexual abuse cases the Diocese of Bridgeport spent millions to settle, Gov. Jodi Rell says she will veto the legislature’s repeal of the death penalty, local land-use attorney challenges the city’s plan of conservation and development.

Bridgeport’s two state senators Ed Gomes and Anthony Musto voted for death penalty repeal. The legislature does not have the two-thirds votes necessary to override Rell’s expected veto. The diocese had an interesting response, in part, to the  Supremes’ decision: blame the media. Yes, those dastardly anti-Catholic snoops from the Hartford Courant, The New York Times, etc. caused this.

I have lots of reading material for you, so in between your baby-back ribs, burgers, beer, gin and tonic or beverage of your choice lots of stuff to review.

Before we get started, the Connecticut Post reports that State Rep. Chris Caruso is in the hospital with a leg infection. Let’s hope the big man recovers soon. Anna would have no one to pick on, except maybe Yahooy. Speedy recovery.

Zone Prone

Tim Herbst is an attorney who knows something about land use. He is chairman of Trumbull’s Planning & Zoning Commission. He’s also the Republican candidate for first selectman in Trumbull. Herbst asserts, in a letter delivered to Mayor Bill Finch the other day, that the fact that the Bridgeport City Council did not vote on the city’s plan of conservation and development will open up a can of worms for the city to legal challenges of an inoperative document over zone changes. Herbst sent Finch the memo in the context of potential challenges on behalf of clients.

In his letter Herbst writes:

… The Planning & Zoning Department advised me that the Bridgeport Plan of Conservation and Development went into effect on March 17, 2008. I was also advised this week by Planning & Zoning Department staff that the City was and is of the position that this plan did not need to go before the Bridgeport City Council. Further investigation has determined that this same plan was never formally endorsed or rejected by the Bridgeport City Council. Connecticut General Statutes Section 8-23 provides the procedural edifices to properly adopt a plan of conservation and development.

I sent Herbst’s letter to a couple of OIB friends including City Council members for their take. Here’s what Bob Troll Walsh had to say:

The fact that the city of Bridgeport runs free and loose with the Planning and Zoning Commission? It happens all of the time.

The fact that the city of Bridgeport ignores state laws regarding land use issues? Again the city does this all of the time. I have uncovered it myself when doing research.

The fact that the city attorney’s office is always more supportive of the administration than they are of the law, that is why I was calling for more privatization of their work efforts to create real separation of work and not these legal opinions that are biased and slanted and not worth the paper that they are printed upon.

This is why the City Council had been trying to hire their own legal counsel for years and the city attorney (Mark Anastasi) says he will supply members of his staff and if we don’t like it too bad because his interpretation of the charter says that he is the only person in the city who can hire outside attorneys.

The city’s former Director of Economic Development Nancy Hadley, who served under John Fabrizi and briefly under Finch, reviewed the letter with a different take:

Every single hair on my head hurts after reading Mr. Herbst’s letter on my blackberry. Where was he during the very public two-year plus process that produced Bridgeport’s new Master Plan? I put Mike Nidoh, City Planning Director, and Lynn Haig, Senior Planner in charge of the most comprehensive overhaul of Bridgeport’s land use policies in the City’s history.

Why? Because in 2005, the Urban Land Institute’s report basically said Bridgeport’s land use policies sucked big time and the procedures and processes did not inure confidence to those that needed to invest in Bridgeport’s future. The policies needed to be drastically overhauled and grounded in sound economic analyses so that Bridgeport had a shot at growing its tax base and reducing its burdensome mil rate. Bridgeport also needed new technologies; an enterprise-wide geographic information system, fiscal impact modeling, and automated permit management system in order to provide the development community and Bridgeport residents transparency, accountability, and fairness.

Lynn and Mike had firm and constant legal counsel from the City Attorney’s Office. The process was led by a 15-member Advisory board under the superb leadership of Pat Fardy and Stu Sachs. Two members of the City Council were on that Advisory committee as liaisons to the City Council. All, I repeat, all legal requirements were met. The City Council was afforded the time required by statute to review and comment.

Now, it is true that the continuity to finish the job was broken due to the election of Mayor Finch. I was terminated on superbowl weekend 2008. Pat Fardy and several PZC commissioners are no longer there to finish the job they started. The adoption of the new Zoning map and regs are stuck in the mud in my opinion. The new automated permitting process is stuck in neutral even though hundreds of thousands of dollars were expended. The professional in charge of the GIS system was just transferred out of the Planning Department leaving the accountability of that critical technology as a planning and economic development tool in limbo. I am not sure what happened to the critical fiscal impact modeling. Certain new PZC members appear to be conflicted. Downtown businesses are suffering due to all this limbo and delay. Despite the economy being in the crapper, Bridgeport must finish the overhaul of land use policies and processes to be ready to soar with eagles as the economy recovers.

It is my opinion that the City staff that managed the development of the new Master Plan, Mike Nidoh and Lynn Haig, are the best professionals in the field. The City is honored to have them serve so ably. The Zoning Administrator, Mr. Buckley and LUCR Director, Mr. Minor were invited to attend each and every meeting held to develop the new land use policies. However, they were mired in the day -o-day zoning petitions for both the PZC and ZBA. They were NOT managing the process that produced the new Master Plan, Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, Zoning Map and Regs. I am confident that Mr. Herbst did not check with Mike or Lynn before writing his letter. I stand by the process that was implemented. during my tenure and I am positive that Mike and Lynn followed the letter of the law.

I also shared the letter with City Council candidate Andy Fardy aka Town Committee whose wife Pat sat on the zoning board for several years. Andy’s initial review of the letter disagrees with Herbst, but I’ll let Andy share his point of view. See full text of Herbst’s letter to Finch below:

Hon. William Finch, Mayor
City of Bridgeport, City Hall Annex
999 Broad Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604

Re: Bridgeport Plan of Conservation and Development

Dear Mayor Finch:

Over the course of the last several weeks I have begun an inquiry into the process by which Bridgeport’s Plan of Conservation and Development was adopted. I have taken the time to meet with representatives of your Planning & Zoning Department, as well as review legislative action by the Bridgeport City Council. I have also reviewed relevant sections of the Connecticut General Statutes as they relate to the preparation and adoption of a municipal plan of conservation and development. I have come to the conclusion that the Bridgeport Plan of Conservation and Development was not properly adopted by the City of Bridgeport. As the City moves forward with land use decisions based upon this plan, it is imperative that remedial action be taken to cure any procedural deficiencies in the adoption of this plan.

Earlier this week, the Planning & Zoning Department advised me that the Bridgeport Plan of Conservation and Development went into effect on March 17, 2008. I was also advised this week by Planning & Zoning Department staff that the City was and is of the position that this plan did not need to go before the Bridgeport City Council. Further investigation has determined that this same plan was never formally endorsed or rejected by the Bridgeport City Council. Connecticut General Statutes Section 8-23 provides the procedural edifices to properly adopt a plan of conservation and development. The conduct referenced hereinabove demonstrates that the procedural requirements to properly adopt a legal plan of conservation and development were not met. Specifically, I would call your attention to Connecticut General Statutes 8-23 (f)(2), which reads in pertinent part:

“At least sixty-five days prior to the public hearing on adoption, the commission shall submit a copy of such plan or part thereof or amendment thereto for review and comment to the legislative body or, in the case of a municipality for which the legislative body of the municipality is a town meeting or representative town meeting, to the board of selectmen. The legislative body or board of selectmen, as the case may be, may hold one or more public hearings on the plan and shall endorse or reject such entire plan or part thereof or amendment and may submit comments and recommended changes to the commission. The commission may render a decision on the plan without the report of such body or board.” (Emphasis added).

While the Bridgeport Planning & Zoning Commission can render a final decision on the plan without a report from the Bridgeport City Council, the Bridgeport City Council still must either take the formal act of endorsing or rejecting the plan. Use of the word “shall” as referenced hereinabove cannot be interpreted as discretionary language. “Shall” is defined as “[h]as a duty to; more broadly, is required to . . . [t]his is the mandatory sense that drafters typically intend and that courts typically uphold.” Black’s Law Dictionary, Eighth Edition (2004) (Emphasis added).

The fact that legislative action is required by the Bridgeport City Council is further amplified by Connecticut General Statutes 8-23(g)(2), which states that “[a]ny plan, section of a plan or recommendation in the plan that is not endorsed in the report of the legislative body or, in the case of a municipality for which the legislative body is a town meeting or representative town meeting, by the board of selectmen, of the municipality may only be adopted by the commission by a vote of not less than two-thirds of all the members of the commission.” I enclose the relevant sections of the Connecticut General Statutes for your review.

Clearly, the intent of the statute demonstrates a desire to seek legislative review and approval of a plan of conservation and development by the legislative body of the municipality. The statute would have never been written to require a two-thirds vote of the Planning & Zoning Commission to override a recommendation of the City Council if action by the City Council was deemed to be discretionary, rather than mandatory.

By way of personal perspective, I went through this process three years ago as the Chairman of the Trumbull Planning & Zoning Commission. I was advised by Trumbull’s Town Attorneys that we were required to bring the proposed Trumbull Plan of Conservation and Development before the Trumbull Town Council. We did so. The plan was rejected by the Trumbull Town Council. The Planning & Zoning Commission then overturned the Town Council’s recommendations by a vote of 5-0. It is imperative that every procedural requirement be met to properly adopt a plan of conservation and development.

I bring this to your attention out of concern as to how this could affect the long term land use plan for the City of Bridgeport. Hypothetically speaking, let us assume that an applicant petitions the Bridgeport Planning & Zoning Commission for a change of zone in a particular area of the City. The applicant uses as their justification the 2008 Plan of Conservation and Development which calls for a particular new zoning classification for a certain area of the City. An individual opposed to the zone change could raise the argument that the plan was improperly or illegally adopted. Irrespective of how the commission rules, it could result in a legal challenge to the agency’s decision.

In the interests of public policy that is adopted in accordance with the Connecticut General Statutes and in the interests of the City’s long term land use plan not being compromised by procedural deficiencies, the undersigned respectfully requests that this issue be addressed immediately by your office. Should you wish to discuss the foregoing, I may be reached at the number above.

Very truly yours,

Timothy M. Herbst

Max Fires Back

See, told ya you’d have lots of reading material. And more to come. Board of Education President Max Medina fired a literary bullet at Finch on Friday, following a letter from the mayor poking the BOE and Max for not coughing up enough dough to close the city’s budget deficit.

This is what you call an old-fashioned neighborly battle. Max lives around the corner from the mayor. See full text of Medina’s letter below:

Dear Mayor Finch:

I acknowledge receipt of your correspondence dated May 20, 2009 which is replete with inaccuracies and misstatements.

First, let’s begin with the facts. The children of the Bridgeport Public School System are not bankers for the City of Bridgeport. This is not Washington where the City can seek to overcome its failings by asking for a bailout from the children.

Second, at no point has the Board of Education, its Finance Committee or myself agreed to set aside $7,000,000.00 to bail out the City of Bridgeport. In fact, you have been repeatedly (and publicly) told that such figure was (a) unreasonable and (b) unattainable in the absence of major concessions from the BCAS and BEA, which as you know, were not forthcoming.

Third, your letter seeks to mislead its readers by implying that the surplus projected to exist for the Board of Education’s operations as of June 30, 2009 are attributable to the negotiations your administration had with collective bargaining agreements. We both know that is a gross overstatement. The projected surplus is largely attributable to two factors, one lawful and one unlawful. The lawful (but lamentable) manner in which this projected surplus has been created has been by the superintendent’s administration forgoing the expenditure of sums critically needed by the school system, all in an attempt to honor the Board’s request that we do what is prudently possible to help the City in this difficult year.

However, the second, quite troubling and in my view outright unlawful way that this surplus has been created, has been through your refusal to allow valid vacancies in the Board of Education’s employee ranks to be filled despite the fact that funds were available to do so. Connecticut law is quite clear that neither you nor your administration has any right to prevent Board of Education expenditures that are within its appropriated budget. I speak specifically of the several (approximately 10) custodial positions that remained vacant for many months. This is not the first time you have been addressed on this issue. I refer you to the September 19 and December 19, 2008 memoranda from Mr. Jacobs, Personnel Director of Bridgeport Civil Service Commission (enclosed). The bottom line is that thousands of children in Bridgeport attended schools that could have been cleaner but for your actions and that you prevented ten individuals from obtaining a good job.

On page 2 of your letter you reference an “understanding”. The Board of Education cannot know what “understandings” you reached with the collective bargaining units with which you negotiated. What is clear however is that you reached no such understanding with either me or our Board.

I honestly do not know what you think you gain by mischaracterizing months of conversations, almost all of which occurred in public view. For example, why in the world would you describe your administration’s attempt to extract $7,000,000.00 from the Board of Education’s current year of operations as a “joint goal” when the record is absolutely clear that the Board never adopted such figure as its goal? That type of dishonest discourse is beneath the dignity of the office of the Mayor of the City of Bridgeport.

Let us not forget the underlying reality. The Board of Education has run its operation within its means and has not exceeded its budgets. The City has run up a $20,000,000.00 deficit. The City asked for help from the Board. The Board said yes. The Board never said yes to $7,000,000.00 worth of help. I never said yes to $7,000,000.00 worth of help. In light of your administration’s decision to provide the Board of Education with a zero increase for 2009-2010 the Board has an obligation to protect the children of the public school system by using the projected surplus this year to soften the blow the District will suffer next year.

Your correspondence reads like a public relations release rather than an accurate description of where we are and how we got here. If you are interested in a real dialogue free of political posturing, call me.

Very truly yours,

Maximino Medina, Jr.

President, Bridgeport Board of Education

News release from Auden Grogins

Regionalism Bill Brings Property Tax relief for Towns

Representative Kim Fawcett (D-Fairfield, Westport) and Representative Auden Grogins (D-Bridgeport) announced passage of House Bill 6585, An Act Concerning Regionalism that will put in place the necessary structure to bring long awaited property tax relief to cities and towns.

The measure, that makes its way to the State Senate next week, gives municipal governments the option of grouping together to form regional economic development districts. Through those districts, local governments can access federal economic development funding, share property tax revenue for major development projects and collect part of the sales tax generated in their region.

Through their development districts towns will also find increased savings through efficiency projects for member communities in areas of purchasing, contract negotiating, educational programming and services.  Rep. Fawcett and Rep. Grogins said the bill provides the opportunity to elevate an urban/suburban partnership between their communities in the Bridgeport region.

“The regionalism bill is an opportunity for our communities to work and plan together and in the process receive federal economic development dollars to help keep local property taxes in check. This is a win-win for everyone; we should have done this for our local taxpayers years ago,” Rep. Fawcett said.

These additional sources of revenue, that until now cities and towns have not been able to access, would be distributed via formula to regional district members.

“My priority has always focused on bringing property tax relief for Bridgeport residents. This bill couples incentives for government to find efficiencies in spending while providing revenue incentives to cities and towns which will target reducing property taxes. It will help my district and strengthen our region,” Rep. Grogins said.

The two legislators partnered this week to educate their colleagues in the General Assembly on the importance of the legislation for all of the state’s cities and towns.

The regionalism bill is the cornerstone of a year-long effort by a legislative working group to address Connecticut’s rising property tax rates through Smart Growth policies and priorities. Rep. Fawcett was a member of the working group that met throughout last summer and fall studying smart growth policies to apply them in Connecticut in order to bring tax relief.

“The Smart Growth Working Group included the legislature’s most strategic thinkers; our common goal was implementing policy to bring property tax relief and more responsible use of open space. The policy options we are presenting give choices to towns through incentives but do not mandate implementation. We think this is the best approach for our state,” Fawcett added.

Sweetport update from Couger Rodgerson. Maybe Anna can translate.

Québécois artist Keith Lorrain is curating an exhibition of 20 “indoor outside” art pieces oriented around the new “Avant Garden” artspace AT 144 Golden Hill with a performance of his deafeningly loud “Piece for Neodymium Magnets and Guitar” within the space at 10:00pm on Saturday the 30th after the Sweetport festival.

Lorrain is also curating a sound installation with composer Loy Fankbonner aka Edgar Restaurant of the Chinese Restaurants that day between 2-9pm as part of the “DADACACADUDU” Baldwin Plaza event otherwise known as “Faire des Echecs: Amplified Chess Fair, Keith Lorrain (Erotic Magnetism/Chance Cacaphony), Films du Duchamp.”

Lorrain will be amplifying a large tin foil chess set open to the public and improvising with amplified supermagnets and televisions. 50 televisions will play various Marcel Duchamp related chess clips the while Lorrain improvises with magnetic fields visually and aurally. Lorrain asks that to prevent damage people not bring credit cards, lap tops or cell phones within 10 feet of Baldwin Plaza or to the Avant Garden opening afterward.

Chess players can sign up at the Baldwin Plaza film tent before 2pm. Participants are required to sign a liability waiver.

 More Sweetport stuff:

MAY 31, 3-6 p.m.

KEYS and City Lights

Fundraiser and Concert


Join us as we kick off our summer long Sweetport 2009 Festival celebrating the music, art and heritage of Bridgeport. We are happy to welcome K.E.Y.S. music program to the Sweetport line up of events. Instructors and selected students will be performing on Sunday, 4 p.m., May 31 at the Playhouse on the Green along with a brief special guest appearance by Jazz Great saxophonist, Bennie Wallace of Back Country Jazz. Rob Silvan , K.E.Y.S. music director has put together a program of Beethoven to Gershwin.This concert is free and open to the public.Across the street from the theatre there will be a 3 p.m. pre-show reception and fundraiser at City Lights Gallery where patrons will have an opportunity to view the art on exhibit and hear Bennie play and talk about Back Country Jazz. and his intention to collaborate with other nonprofit arts organizations in Bridgeport. Ticket price $35, to purchase tickets contact us at citygallerybpt@yahoo.com

City Lights Gallery, 37 Markle Court Bridgeport



  1. Pat & I read the letter and I believe that this gentleman is wrong in his interpretation of the law.
    I used his references especially Section 8-23 of the State Statutes Governing Municipal Planning & Zoning.
    In summarizing this statute that’s heading is Plan of development
    a. The commission shall prepare, adopt and amend a plan of development for the municipality
    b. such plan shall show the commission’s recommendation for the most desirable use of land within the municipality.
    It goes on and on covering all types of changes but then we get to what he was talking about.
    It states that prior to adopting the development plan or any part thereof or amendment thereto the commission shall file such information in the office of the town clerk and hold at least one public hearing and notice shall be published in a local newspaper having general circulation in the municipality.
    The commission shall establish an effective date and that date shall be published in a local newspaper having general circulation in the municipality.
    Lennie I paraphrased a little bit in some of the legalese but nowhere does it say that this goes before the council. Pat stated that in all of the hearings and meetings that they had no mention by the city attorney that the final product needed to go before the council. In fact there were 2 council people on the advisory board headed by my wife.
    Mr. Walsh again generalizes when he comments. The P&Z did not run wild when my wife was in charge. In fact she may have run too tight a ship and that could be the reason she was not reappointed. I encourage Mr. Walsh to read the State Statutes as they relate to P&Z and land use.

  2. Yahooy says I’m off my meds. He took them from me at Liberty Rock. And, Lennie, Cougar needs no translation. But Yahooy uses English as a second language.

  3. Andy,
    Nothing personal but I read a letter from a practicing attorney who is or was Chairman of the Town of Trumbull’s Planning and Zoning Commission citing chapter and verse of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Statutes as well as referring to advice that he received from Trumbull’s Town Attorney and you are asking me and the readers of OIB to ignore that and accept your interpretation of the law in spite of your own paraphrasing and omissions. Please Andy, I expected much better from you than this.

  4. Meaningful change in Bridgeport is simply not possible as long as the political status quo remains as it is and has been, to be perfectly frank. Mayor Finch has had to raise taxes and cut services to fill a hole that has been an elephantine presence in the municipal budget for generations. It ain’t his fault; I’ll give him the cookie for that. But he is a part of a party machine that has been dictating municipal policy for too long. Chris Caruso, in his campaign for the Democratic Mayoral nomination, ranted and raved, to any and all that cared to listen, that Bridgeport is being destroyed by a “corrupt political machine.” I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, that was ALL he talked about. If Mr. Caruso had any plans and policies to pursue once he’d rid City Hall of the “corrupt political machine” he kept that information to himself, thus allowing the “corrupt political machine” to successfully recruit and market a candidate of their own preference. Now all that has been accomplished is an enormous and unfair increase in property taxes and the rolling back of city services.

    There’s a little more to discuss than a fucking sewer line in Monroe.

  5. Medina for Mayor? Why not? He knows education and in a short time in office understand how education needs to work with the city. Maybe it might bring some unity, understanding and harmony to the two budgets. There is nothing better to enhance understanding than walking a mile in the other person’s shoes. Maybe the Mayor and Max or Ramos should switch for a week.

  6. Bob: I have dealt with attorneys for years both in court and in deposition and believe me they are not always right. What I quoted and read was from the State Statutes Governing Municipal Planning & Zoning, look under 8-23. Nowhere in that section does it state that the governing body (common Council) has the final say.
    Because an attorney says something it does not mean it closes off a person’s right to an opinion or a person’s right to voice an opinion which I did.
    By the way my wife who served as chairperson of the ZBA for 5 years and 5 years as chairperson of the zoning board also disagreed with this attorney’s opinion. Our city attorney also disagreed with that lawyer’s opinion.
    BTW I am asking people to read both and do their own research. I did not hold myself out as an expert in zoning matters, my expertise is fire.

  7. Bob: Not to be a PITA but did you ever think that Trumbull’s charter may call for their rewrites to go before the governing board? I also noted in his letter that the governing board in Trumbull voted for some changes and they were overruled by their zoning commission.
    So going before their governing board was nothing more than a dog-and-pony show.

  8. Off topic, but here’s hoping OIB readers can take some time from their holiday cookouts to attend the Memorial Day observance in Bridgeport on Monday to pay tribute to our veterans for their sacrifices and service to our country.

    Seems like the crowd gets thinner every year, as does the number of local and state officials participating. Maybe there’s a connection: fewer voters to glad hand, so they don’t bother showing?

    Another disgraceful sight is watching some of the families and friends of the city high school band members pack up and waddle off to their cars as soon as the bands pass, snubbing the veterans and other marching units in the parade.

    Bridgeport’s Memorial Day parade was a huge deal when I was a kid, admittedly a long time ago. But even the more modest version we have these days is a moving experience for those who bother to show.

  9. Bob Fredericks,
    Every Memorial Day, I try to participate in Fairfield’s (10am), Bridgeport’s (12noon) and Trumbull’s (1pm) parades … Fairfield’s parade is always jam-packed with families and children along the entire parade route, Bridgeport’s is almost always a low turnout affair (but Chico Rivera and I will be there with the Marines every year!), Trumbull’s is very well attended parade also, but it’s a long march for an old sailor like me! However, I always get a snappy salute from some tall Marine named Ray Baldwin … so it’s always fun to go to Trumbull, too. Regards, Sylvester, Lieutenant Commander, USNR (retired). A memorable, safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend to all!

  10. As I sit here taking my mandatory state furlough day I am pondering a few things, Are my Mets gonna right there ship against those Beaneaters? Can CitiStat ever implement anything that they were hired to do? Will my boss pull the plug on the gas chamber or veto it; poor Jack McCoy would have no bargaining power in CT if he were to transfer here. How bout that custodial boss??? If he’d sell light bulbs for sandwiches did he trade ajax for ginger ale? How ’bout a smart board for a flat-screen TV??? Maybe a few ten-foot ladders for a pair of tickets to a Broadway play??? Still wondering why Dick Cheney has a forum and Palin’s kid has her picture all over the world. Will someone from the Latino community ever step up and use the Bridgeport majority to win the mayoral race in my home city??? Damn, I could go on and on but I’m gonna mourn the loss of my day’s pay and drown my sorrows with a Bud, or maybe go across town to that deli and get some “Franks and beans.”

  11. *** P&Z, another board that needs a 60% member change like the BOE & City-Council. And if you’re a city employee, you should not be able to sit on these boards to avoid any type of job repercussions from the administration in general. Also maybe a time limit of 8yrs. max on a particular board might help in getting new members involved & keep veteran members from getting too comfortable or set in their ways, instead of following the State regulations. ***

  12. Just got a great sandwich at a local deli, the Bud will go great with it. Noticed that they changed their menu and replaced their kocher franks with cooked goose, well-done cooked goose too.

  13. Does anyone know while we all are giving furloughs to save employees jobs … and taking 0’s for raises in rough times with our husbands and wives losing jobs … public facilities has hired a new mason, electrician and now a new plumber is coming in too … are they friends of someone??? Did the money we gave go to these newbies??? I’m not getting a extra dime for 2 years to save other people and some people are coming in off the street during a hiring freeze???

      1. Sorry to disappoint but I don’t know these new trades hires in PF. Mojo, you should know, you work for the Parks Dept, don’t you? Isn’t that why you defend Charlie and Lisa? Contrary to what you may think, I have nothing personal against either Charlie or Lisa. But I do have something against someone who feels she doesn’t have to put in an honest day’s work because of who she is sleeping with. This woman makes close to $65K and does nothing. She has no experience, no degree, no skills. Well maybe she does have skills but they don’t relate to her job as admin assistant.

        As for the new hires, Bpts Finest, you know as well as I do that the administration finds money when they want to. That is Sherwood’s greatest talent and why every mayor keeps him. He found the money to create a new OPM Analyst job for Gisella when she should have been laid off. He found money to give Charlie’s Barnum Festival buddy Art Harris a BIG promotion in Construction Services at the same time they laid off ALL the staff. Interesting thing here is that the guys laid off were licensed architects and Art is a cabinet maker. So now the City has to contract with an outside company (O & G?) at a much higher cost to manage the projects. It is costing a lot more but apparently a political debt is being paid.

        This administration is no better than any other when it comes to political patronage. They brag about cutting positions but they sure find the money to hire their own. This will catch up to them sooner than they think. Political patronage is not so noticeable when you have qualified employees to actually do the work. But when the qualified are either laid off or retired and there’s no one left but unqualified patronage, you’re in trouble.

        1. *** Well C.H.S., do you honestly think you put in a good day’s work for a good day’s pay? And how long have I been working for Parks & Rec. ’cause they forgot to tell me I was working there so maybe I can get some back pay or something! Unless you’re talking about the temp. 90-day summer grant jobs working with the city’s teens @ the children camps, lighthouse program, park stickers, etc. I worked the summer of 2008? Besides isn’t there a hiring freeze too? Also, I know what you do for the city & how you held on to your job! You’re overpaid “big-time” for that fetch-it job & to think you deserve a raise is the usual complaint for most disgruntled city employees. ***

          1. Too bad. I was gonna ask you for a park sticker. No biggie, I’m sure Lisa has a handful. Another fringe benefit of being big Charlie’s girl.

  14. Lennie,

    Here is a question you might to ask the Mayor. How much is in the Police and Fire Plan “A” (20 and out) pension fund? Is it true that, without drastic action, it will be OUT OF MONEY within a few years? Ask three questions: (1) how much money is in the fund; (2) how much is the fund earning each year; and (3) how much are they spending each year. Then do the math. Bet it is bankrupt in less than ten years with lots of payments remaining to be made.

  15. Former City Official: The 20 and out pension is not covered under the funded plan for which Finch is seeking to delay the city payment. The 20 and out pension is not funded and comes from the general fund. The list of people is dwindling down as 20 and out people die.
    The funded pension you are talking about for police and fire depts is called Pension plan B. This plan is completely different and does not have a 20 and out provision. When this plan was started the retirement went back to 25 years of service before retirement eligibility. The concept was that the fire and police contribute 8 percent of their pay which would go into a dedicated fund to be matched by the city. These funds would then be invested to help the fund grow.
    The fund has taken a big hit because of the economy but I believe it is still solvent. What needs to be done is a review of the investment strategy for this fund. I believe a more conservative investment strategy should be taken.
    The one danger I see is that the city is looking to defer their contribution. The $25 million Finch is talking about leads me to believe that the city has not been making their payments into the fund for some time.

    1. Town Committee,

      I used the term “fund” too lightly. I was referring to the proceeds of the bonds the city sold during the Ganim administration to cover the “Fund A” (20 and out) pension liabilities. My understanding is that given the current and projected payouts and the decline in the stock market there is only enough money to last six or seven years. Then the taxpayers will be paying for both the pensions and the bonds. How much? $20 million or more each year … far more than the City is now paying.

      Next thing you know the City will be asking for givebacks from those retired cops and firemen. How many of the guys that you worked with would agree to that?

  16. To do the math on the 25 and out pension plan (Plan B) you need a lot more than guesswork. You need the amount contributed each year by the city and by the workers. You need to know how many are now eligible to retire today and in the ensuing years.
    What needs to be done is an actuarial study of the pension system for Plan B. It’s easy to run around saying the sky is falling the sky is falling. But is it really falling?

  17. Remember Plan A is not funded so I don’t know what the past service liability is for what is referred to as Plan A. If the funded plan has an actuarial study done every year its results are not published. Are you referring to an audit that is done at the end of each fiscal year? if you are that is different than an actuarial study. The study would tell what the service liability would be and what funds should be in the funded pension plan.
    Remember plan A or the 20 & out pension is paid from the general fund.

  18. Wikipedia, Only in Bridgeport*, Facebook and Twitter aren’t just revolutions in online social media. They’re the vanguard of a cultural movement. Forget about state ownership and five-year plans. A global collectivist society is coming–and this time you’re going to like it.

    from Wired magazine

    * added for emphasis and local flavor

  19. Have a great holiday today one and all; don’t forget to stop by your local deli on Main St. and pick up your FRANKS, they are already cooked. The new home in Monroe will need a security guard, so instead of sending Monroe’s waste to Bridgeport, this one time Bridgeport can send some waste to Monroe.

  20. CHS I know we are talking about the funded (unfunded) police and fire pensions.
    There was also a comment on this day’s blog or a previous one about a maintenance supervisor for the BOE who was allegedly trading florescent light bulbs for sandwiches from a local north end deli located near Main & Capital.

  21. Maybe I can shed some light on the situation, no pun intended (yeah right). The BOE maint. boss, who was a security guard at the Jewish home and was buds with a long now gone BOE boss and that’s how he got in the BOE, allegedly traded BOE bought and paid for lights for pastrami on ryes at a local deli. Questions arise was that all he traded, even though that should be enough, of course. Is the BOE going to do something about this? Or while they sit on their BOE butts will the head cheese and chief bottle washer get involved and send the men in Bpt blues after the situation? As the days get longer and the weather gets sticky, so should this situation as the week and the world unfolds.

  22. To CHS & TC re Pensions:
    The draft of the legislation that I saw regarding the pensions was drafted to only include the city of Bridgeport (there was a requirement that the city must have a population greater than 130,000 to qualify for this bailout.)
    I know that Sen. Gomes spoke to union representatives from both the police and fire unions before agreeing to support the legislation. They did not have a problem with it.
    However, as the city is currently proceeding, I am sure that they have no intention of seeking council approval. If the city is amending a contract previously approved by the council then it must get council approval. But I am sure that TC’s good buddy Mark Anastasi will rule based on no case law or established point of law that this does not need to be done.
    The state should have used this legislation as the first step in requiring a Financial Review Board. This type of bailout is extreme and the state should not have treated it so cavalierly.
    At a minimum an advisory FRB should have been required with the caveat that if the city does not improve its finances that the FRB becomes permanent.
    Yes, Bill Finch cashed in on his good standing with the his buds up in Hartford but it will be the taxpayers who will eventually pay for this financial bailout.

  23. TC,
    You are correct. A full actuarial study should have been required in this legislation along with a recommended plan in place for restoring the plan to financial viability. Also a full disclosure of what went wrong and would should have been done to better protect the assets of the city.
    This was not done because it would make public the significant losses that were incurred, the mismanagement of money and the costs that have been foisted on the taxpayers as a result of the ill-conceived bonding of this debt to begin with.
    Hopefully, some of my colleagues will agree with me and we can get something done locally because the state turned and ran when it came to protecting the taxpayers in B’port.

  24. To Bpts Finest and your question regarding the furloughs.
    When voting on the budget I proposed an amendment that would have taken $350,000 out of Economic Development. This money was in the current budget but frozen by the mayor due to the financial crisis.
    Bob Curwen explained that since the crisis was over it was OK to put the money in for next year.
    My point exactly was that I did not believe that the unions who agreed to furloughs and pay freezes did so to create new jobs and to hand out big promotion to an OPED staff that is producing nothing.
    My amendment failed.

  25. And to those questioning the pensions and all, remember Max’s point. The budgetary crisis that the city is in is due primarily to inflated and make-believe revenue numbers.
    At the last minute the city council did that same this year by adding $1 million in higher tax collections and a lower set-aside for decreases in property taxes due to tax appeals.
    I had suggested at a minimum this money should be placed in the contingency account. If the city is right and I am wrong, then it could be used to start rebuilding a fund balance (a policy that Finch instituted and ran from in less than a year just like his rebates). If I am right then there will be a cushion to use to help cover this budget’s shortfalls.
    Again, my amendment failed.

  26. Hey I have a few bridges to trade in Bridgeport; I wonder what the BOE maintenance supervisor is willing to trade for them. A book on ethics? Or a pol. friend who will protect your job!

  27. Several pieces of Legislation have been crafted just for Bridgeport in the past. It is interesting how this happens when often many of Bridgeport’s delegation and the Mayor can’t agree on anything. It all depends on who’s lobbying and who’s got the most juice with the General Assembly. In general, it is also eye-opening to watch how priorities change when going from the Legislative branch to the Executive Branch. I love it when someone vows never to do something then ends up doing the very evil thing the said they would never do. I am speaking in general terms here.

    This leads me to the Regionalism bill. This legislation has been mentored, developed and hatched by Brandon Sharkey, Deputy Speaker of the House from Hamden. This is a great first step; I am glad the Bridgeport delegation all voted yes, except for Caruso who wasn’t there. However, it is also extremely sad and telling that DebraLee Hovey from Monroe and Hwang from Trumbull were two out the 14 that voted against it. Even the Governor wanted this bill. I am so disappointed in Representative Hovey, she apparently doesn’t want to fight property taxes, increase revenue streams to municipalities and apparently voted against a bill that would help JHE. It is also funny how she claimed to have been the one that passed the bill to allow plans like the JHE to exist. Interesting how she claims to have passed it since it happened before she was in the legislature. I would trade anyone from the Bridgeport delegation for Hovey. Any takers?

  28. It’s great that we hired a full-time Mason and we also bought him a $3,000 cement mixer. I wonder who this person is connected to. Does anyone know why we need a mason?

  29. To add to that TC, we hired a new electrician too and I hear our electricians are working OT at the BOE, if we don’t have enough work to keep them busy why do we need a new one? Being that a former electrician who has family all over the electrical union runs public facilities, ya gots to wonder now don’tcha. Next thing ya know our guys will be installing lights at a nearby deli.

      1. They can’t investigate people they are scared of, that’s the problem with the city. At least on the state level the what you know and who you know is not as prevalent.

        From what I hear from friends inside city hall this CC has been throwing his weight around like a 300-pound gorilla and has been a very nasty human lately. Don’t know the man but many have said he was a great guy until he put on the suit and tie and then completely forgot his past life and the people in it. Sad.

  30. One more question is while we are furloughing, how did Feeny, Sherwood and Carrol get new 2009 vehicles? And they take them home no less. Guess in Sherwood’s case if a dime drops off the budget at midnight he can respond quicker in his city vehicle.

    1. CC doesn’t have a clue. That’s why he’s so threatened by people like John Gomes. He’s afraid of being exposed as the buffoon that he is.

      Regarding the new cars, same shit different day. Remember Finch bragging about all the cars he took away? I said back then–don’t tell us who lost their take-home cars, give us a list of who STILL HAS take-home cars. Finch claimed that some people kept their cars because of contract stipulations. People like Feeney and Sherwood aren’t in unions and don’t have contracts. They are also not on-call or emergency workers. So how do you justify cars and new cars at that?


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