Love Is In The Air, Acclaim For Mario, Plus: Shays On Sohn Plea, And Meet David Walker

Weekend Update: Can you believe it? Mario Testa was reelected by acclamation by the 90-member Democratic Town Committee Thursday night. No opposition. No screaming. No food fights at Mario’s restaurant. Yes, let’s all join hands and sing around the campfire. City politics has become a little too quiet. Please, someone start a good rumor. I’m getting ill. I may have to come out of retirement. (Don’t worry, the electorate is safe.)

What does this mean for Mario? Well, now that he has two more years under his buckle, he’s free to cut a deal with a gubernatorial candidate and various other candidates for state constitutional offices. Mario’s guber choices are former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy and Ned Lamont, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in 2006. Knowing Mario, he’ll go with the guy that cuts him the best deal for “consideration” for jobs for his peeps. Did I say consideration? And yes, what they will do for Bridgeport.

Mario’s been putting off a number candidates for office until his reelection. With that out of the way look for a steady stream of candidates to visit Mario for coffee and biscotti. Mario will also be appointing 70 city delegates for the Dem state endorsement session in May. Actually, Mario has given each town committee district 3 picks, so that leaves him with 40. So get in line while Mario’s in a good mood.

There was even a little reform in the air at the DTC meeting, although I’m not sure what it really means so can someone help with a clarification? Members of the 132nd District submitted a resolution calling for the DTC to “cease endorsing candidates who are employees of the city or Board of Education, for elected office of the city and Board of Education. This resolution does not apply to any elected person who at the time of the adoption of this resolution is an employee of the city or Board of Education.”

The resolution, submitted to the DTC for future consideration, was signed by district members Mike Freddino, Carol Cocco, Howard Gardner, Tony Lancia, John Olson, Lisa Honey Parziale, Elaine Pivirotto, Joan Thornton and Reggie Walker.

One of Mario’s hand-picked convention delegates Board of Education member Pat Crossin says the BOE is expected to sign off on a $227 million spending plan Monday night that will be submitted to city officials and then the City Council for approval. The BOE budget request is up from the current-year $215 million.

Will the council give the BOE $12 million more? Nope. What you want and what you get are two different matters.

BOE budget chair Crossin who had a similar role for many years on the City Council says this budget will fully staff custodial services to clean up the schools, includes moolah to satisfy past book shortages. “I don’t want to hear that my children don’t have a book.” Crossin also wants to examine why the BOE paid out $2 million for substitutes.

In addition, $250,000 is budgeted for the final implementation stage of a comprehensive audit designed to achieve much more in savings.

Statement from Chris Shays regarding expected guilty plea by his former campaign manager Michael Sohn:

“This is long overdue. Michael embezzled money, failed to pay his taxes, and hurt a lot of people, including himself. It is important he own up to it, and get on with his life.”

From John Christoffersen, AP

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) – The campaign manager for former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays plans to plead guilty to charges of embezzling campaign funds.

Court records dated Friday show Michael Sohn of Fairfield has applied for permission to plead guilty.

His attorney, H. James Pickerstein, told The Associated Press on Friday that Sohn will plead guilty to campaign finance and tax violation charges next Thursday. Pickerstein said Sohn will admit to embezzling campaign money, but he declined further comment.

Prosecutors charged Sohn in December with embezzling about $250,000 in campaign funds. A telephone message was left Friday with a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Sohn worked for nearly six years as campaign manager for Shays, a moderate Republican who served 10 terms in Congress. Shays narrowly lost to Democrat Jim Himes in 2008 in the race for the 4th District in southwestern Connecticut that he had represented for 21 years.

City Lights









RSVP Please:

Check Out David Walker Monday Night

 Don’t miss this very special event. Mr. Walker has recently purchased a home in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport and will be discussing his new book at his neighborhood library.

David M. Walker is President and CEO of The Peter G. Peterson Foundation and former Comptroller General of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) from 1998 to 2008.

Signed copies of Mr. Walker’s book will be available for purchase.

When: Monday March 8th 7:00 PM

Where: Black Rock Branch Library
2705 Fairfield Avenue

From Mayor Finch:

Mayor Finch cites progress in State of the City speech at BRBC luncheon

Mayor Bill Finch makes a point during his State of the City Address to the business community at the annual BRBC luncheon held at the Holiday Inn.
Mayor Bill Finch makes a point during his State of the City Address to the business community at the annual BRBC luncheon held at the Holiday Inn.

Mayor Bill Finch struck an optimistic tone and painted a positive picture of the state of the city during his speech to more than 300 local and regional business leaders during the annual Bridgeport Regional Business Council Luncheon held at the Bridgeport Holiday Inn.

While he acknowledged that the City has “weathered many storms,” the Mayor assured the group that, “we are applying new and innovative ideas to grow our tax base, teach our children and keep our city safe. We are laying the groundwork to position Bridgeport to take advantage of the economic turnaround that we know is just around the corner.”

In his speech, the Mayor focused on accomplishments in the areas of fiscal responsibility, economic development, education, sustainability and public safety. Innovation and creative thinking was the theme woven throughout the speech, as he pointed out ways his administration has worked to expand the city’s tax base, make City services more efficient and effective while keeping a tight rein on spending, and keeping economic development deals, such as Steelpointe, alive, despite a tough economy. Check out live coverage from

Read the full speech here

Mayor Finch, Congressman Himes Show Support for Women Veterans

Mayor Bill Finch and Congressman Jim Himes voiced their support for a proposed women veterans’ shelter during a panel discussion at Housatonic Community College Beacon Hall attended by nearly 200 students, faculty and the public. The discussion, entitled ‘Forgotten Heroes,’ addressed the challenges faced by female soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, which include homelessness and psychological trauma.

Laura Cust, a local veteran, led the discussion by sharing her personal experiences on the front lines and difficult readjustment to civilian life. The panel also featured local veterans’ advocates Shalini Madaras, President of the Kick for Nick Foundation; Dr. Laurie Harkness, Director of the Errera Community Care Center at the West Haven Veterans Affairs Hospital; and Joy Kiss, CEO of Bridgeport-based non-profit Homes for the Brave.

Homes for the Brave is proposing a new shelter and assistance center exclusively for women veterans at 893 Clinton Ave. in Bridgeport. Audiences members were urged to show their support for the proposed shelter at the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Tuesday, March 9, at 6 p.m. in City Hall.



  1. I have not posted in 2 days well let’s see now. My picks are Ned Lamont and Alpert. I wish someone would give Musto a run in a primary and I wish it were Moore. Musto is out of touch with base Democratic voters like me who love our city and are upset on his stance on the prison I wish they’d put it in his suburban backyard of Trumbull. Any rumors of anybody giving Auden a challenge? Lets get Musto out of there and get Moore in there.

  2. *** BOE is always crying about not having books, someone should check the BOE school’s warehouse to see all the nicely covered & packed books that have been sitting there for quite sometime now. One year they were allocated an extra $1 million “just for books” by the next budget season they still had $625,000 left & they asked the council if they could use the money “instead” to pay other delinquent expense type bills? And as far as any type of audit is concerned, I’ll believe it when it’s done! *** “Hey Lennie,” how many of the 90 DTC members either work for the city directly or indirectly, and how many are sitting in political appointed seats? Inquiring minds would like to know? ***

  3. I know a few custodians and mechanics that work for the BOE … they say the buildings are falling apart and they do their best to hold things together … but all the new people in charge care about is looking good and cutting OT to look like they are doing something. The threats are constant and they try to rule by intimidation and want no one making more money than them.

    These are the life blood of the buildings … they know them inside and out but all the suits care about is what they make not what they know … typical BOE … BS.

    Does anyone ever ask the workers what is needed before a budget is done? Does anyone actually care about the kids and buildings? Or just extra books … wink wink.

  4. Gossip of The Rialto!

    Wind Breaking News! Shays exclaims that Connecticut is in Deep Shit!!!

    “The economy is fundamentally strong. No one could disagree with that.”

    He’s right and he’s full of it!

  5. I understand TC is expected back soon.
    He was hired as a fire suppression consultant by the federal government under a $20 million economic stimulus grant to the island of Tutuila to study volcanoes.
    Computers at the Department of Homeland Security linked up his expertise in fire, hot air, smoke, mirrors, and guano for this vital national security project.
    Apparently his experience observing unique lifeforms native to a seaside community was vital in making the government connection.
    I’m sure we are all looking forward to his report and pictures.

  6. Speaking of BOE Dough issues …

    Anyone an expert on the city charter? I hear there is a request to hire an attorney and paralegal who would report directly to Dr. Ramos.

    Does the city charter permit that? Or is it true the only attorney to represent all boards, commissions, etc., is the city attorney we already have?

    I think there is a request for a communications director also. Not sure this is needed.

    There is a public hearing for the BBOE being held this Monday at 5:30 PM. at Aquaculture School.

  7. Don’t worry Lennie … it is the calm before the storm. I am sure Mario is wheeling and dealing a way to get Finch out of Bridgeport and pawn him off on the state. As for governor, Malloy is going to what is best for Bridgeport he gets what a big city needs to operate. Most say a city needs to be run like a business, but that is not really a fair statement. Cities are not profit-making entities, they are not just responsible for the bottom line, they have to provide services, lower taxes not raise returns, educate, understand how to leverage state and federal aid, set policy etc. … We are also looking for a governor who can take Finch. Damn straight Lamont won’t do that, remember Finch was a Lieberman supporter, he got that wrong too. An overheard remark in Hartford, one legislator to another, “Do you know what Bridgeport’s new name is,” other said, “No, what is it?” The answer was – “Waterbury by the sea.” Whoever takes Finch has to bury him in the administration.

  8. Waterbury by the sea?
    What about Bridgeport in the mountains?
    Tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee.
    Some loons in Hartford one time thought about throwing Waterbury and Bridgeport into one congressional district with the Naugatuck Valley. In the morning, they decided to spare the state all the indictments.

  9. Exactly. You don’t have to be from Bridgeport or Waterbury to be touched by the fickle finger of the feds.

    You know, there hasn’t been a good one from New Haven lately. I think it is their turn. Stuffing murdered college students into walls doesn’t count.

  10. Just got back to the Park City spending the weekend here. My train ride on the metro north was interesting, I saw so many Wall Street guys that live in Greenwich on that train and 2 of them were sitting with me and I was all in their conversation. They were talking about the market and how every company takes risk when they trade. You always find interesting people from all backgrounds on metro north. I must say so many damn people from Fairfield were on that train it was amazing, I’m starting to think half of their residents work in Manhattan. In Fairfield they have signs all over downtown Fairfield that say support your local businesses because you live here. That made me think that all Bridgeport residents should do the same thing. I am going to tell my Mom instead of shopping for groceries and other items at Stop&Shop and BJ’s we should support the ones that are located in Bpt and I am making a firm commitment on that. Remember Fairfield’s slogan!!! Let’s do the same here in the Port.

  11. *** There’s Stop & Shops & a BJ’s in Bpt. But you’d better hurry ’cause S&S maybe closing some stores ’cause Union demands are not going too well, etc. *** As long as ex-gov Rowland is in Waterbury, I doubt Finch will be welcomed there? No, Finch may just have to work full time for Timpanelli’s (BRBC) for a while after his Mayor’s gig then the party will run him for his old Senate seat again, especially if there’s a Dem governor in place! Musto is just a temp change in that seat, which Russo could probably get back but he’s too power hungry & full of himself to attempt another try! Go figure, they were worried about Caruso messing things up in Bpt & look what the voters dragged in from the cold instead? *** And while on the subject of stray cats, “silver spoon” Lamont who wants to be any type of politician “bad” should run for Mayor! If he loses his upcoming 2nd election, hell Bpt voters would not mind voting for a loser who really doesn’t need the Mayor’s salary money? Which would be a nice budget cut right from the beginning. *** There seems to be lots of political drama unfolding all over these here United States of America! (pick a party, any party?) *** Time will Tell ***

  12. Moonbeam wants to increase the population of Bridgeport by 25k. How does he do this and cut down on the carbon footprint of Bridgeport? More police and more schools and less jobs. SOS! This is a Global Warning!

    I.B. Green

    1. Demographic & economic trends ALONE will increase Bridgeport’s population in the near future. Facts overwhelm opinion. Growing suburban poverty is a documented truth. The Mayor of Bridgeport understands this and is using it to The City’s benefit.

      UOB’s post is full of conjecture and should be ignored by the blogosphere. Local Eyes has identified UOB as an uninformed “carbon footprint snob.”

      1. Local Eyes suffers from Big Foot in Mouth Disease. I’m looking forward to Local Eyes moving to Bridgeport.

        Based on the “documented truth,” Where do you put these extra 25k people? How do you support them? How do you educate and care for them? People are fleeing Connecticut.
        Sounds more like the “Demented Truth!”

        Although I do like your OPIC concept, but you can do that in Shelton for 18.8 mils, or on your sailboat and pay no property taxes.

  13. Billy Grasso was found by the bucolic banks of the Connecticut River, I believe, and not along the Housatonic River. I judge that New Haven’s late Mr. Grasso should not count against the various social defects of the Valley–after all, they have contributed plenty to the gene pool from Ansonia and Seymour.

    By the way, weather predictions at the Pago Pago International Airport on the island of Tutuila say the high should be 80 degrees under partly cloudy skies today. There are no flights scheduled at the airport so T.C. should have a peaceful day to continue his intensive study of potential volcanic fire hazards under his $10 million federal grant.

  14. *** Love how Bpt government decides to release “semi” info on the P.T. fire investigation that does not tell you anything! It seems they’re trying to push some of the blame on the “mother” by claiming she was drunk & the stove was on? I did not know it was against the law to be under the influence of alcohol in your home? Also women’s alcohol rate levels always are higher than men, 2 to 1 so why come out “half stepping” with negative info concerning the deceased? Time will tell, however something’s not right here! *** Some thief in Bpt seems to have had a heart after robbing a poor woman’s purse with $5000 and then returning it the next day with $3700 still in it! “Praise the Lord” & I hope they still look for & catch the person just on principle alone. ***

  15. Lennie,
    I see nothing from TC, just about him. Perhaps you can commission a brand new local parade and get TC to accept being Grand Marshal of same. Then he can speed home from Timbuktu or wherever, and begin to let us know his thoughts. They have been among the most valuable contributions to OIB for some time.

    Fireworks on the BOE!!! They had a day of reflection and one hopes it can lower some of the tension reported. Practically speaking, tension is often what leads to movement. For instance: For several years slow movement on the problems of financial accountability have been addressed by a series of inquiries, let’s call them audits, that have resulted in reports, but little info has come out in the press as to the actual effect of the time, effort and money expended.
    Money has been spent/raised by the City, by the State (courtesy of Governor Rell requested by Senator Rob Russo) and locally raised by the BRBC. How much and for what phase might make for a news story. I understand that the third phase was actually broken into two parts, let’s call them 3A and 3B. Supposedly if 3A review revealed possible opportunities for efficiencies in operation (therefore $$$ and educational results one would hope) then 3B would be conducted. Or I believe that’s what Paul Timpanelli said about one year ago.

    Today I was told that 3A was conducted but no one has seen the results (although from the BOE budget just released, it would seem that a sum of $250,000 is recommended for such an audit. Wouldn’t Pat Crossin, Finance Chair of the BOE be wise to have that 3A report? Wouldn’t all of the members of the BOE benefit? Shouldn’t the public know, especially if positive efficiencies may become possible?

    Bridgeport taxpayers only pay for about 20% of the funds spent locally by the BOE. Since nearly 80% of the funds come courtesy of CT taxpayers like Paul Timpanelli (Trumbull) and BRBC officers (most live in the suburbs) as well as CT income taxpayers in Bridgeport, shouldn’t they be most interested in the audit results and direction? Shouldn’t the State who deploys these funds and supposedly look for accountability?

    I would think so, but the slow process has a former grammar school student (when the audits started) in college today. Private business would not work that way, and there is no reason elected trustees of community treasure (over $1 Billion every five years or more when building costs are included) should settle for that pace.
    BOE and Legal services and expenses: I have looked at the City Charter comments about representation by lawyers inside City government and those in private practice (available for hire based on specialty, etc.). It seems everything must pass by the City Attorney at one time or another. The City Attorney makes assignments, rulings and pays, too, maybe (or do available funds come from BOE budget?) The 2010-11 BOE budget includes an attorney position as well as legal expense money. Why? Does not look legal per the Charter. What is the reason? Fertile ground for reporting it would seem.
    And looking back one year, why is there no ready explanation of the $1.5 million for outside legal expense, reason, conclusion, vendor??? And when approved by City Attorney. Are such things put in writing, or is everything done verbally, by nods, winks or high fives?
    I am a big believer in “open, accountable and transparent”as foundational. Then I hope that the CT Post and/or Bridgeport News find the subject worthy of coverage, or possibly Rob Foley, WICC reporters or the people on this blog who have broad experience and wide range of opinions.
    Here is one area of questioning all of the folks in the suburbs should know about and start complaining until the audits are available and reasonably posted. If you are paying taxes for the schools, directly or indirectly and paying for the audits, or part of them, as well, don’t you want to see the results? Wouldn’t you hope that somebody with authority like the BOE members who ran for election to step into stewardship shoes, would share them, would act on them promptly and report on the results after a time? Suburban residents/taxpayers this is your money too!!!
    Come home TC …

  16. BEACON2, I think you answered your own question. The City Attorney has powers that are unchallenged, the BOE, Civil Service, Police Commission, Fire Commission and more, he makes those decisions and then there are the issues that the mayor beings to him. The City Council has NO power over him. He’s a kingdom of his own, just ask him.

  17. Ron,
    Isn’t the question if the City Attorney has the power, and uses it, then why does the BOE budget propose an attorney position? And if the BOE budget proposes legal expenses to be paid for from the BOE budget estimated at $500,000, what is that estimate based upon? (Presumably the City Attorney must be consulted.)
    And if the actual amount spent last year was $1,400,000 or more (that presumably passed across the City Attorney’s desk at one time or another, was approved, kept track of, etc., why are some members of the Board having such difficulty in getting answers that they have to resort to FOI procedures to discover what the $$ were spent for, paid to whom, for how much work (representation, court room, labor negotiations, etc.)? And if the BOE does not put enough legal expense in its own budget, when the City Attorney approves a legal course of action with outside legal expense, does the City end up responsible for payment, or not? Finally, if the BOE needs legal help and the City Attorney decides that it can be provided in the City legal office, is BOE charged for that work? You can ask the question, and get an “on the one hand or on the other hand” answer but at the end of the day, the City Attorney has only two hands and needs to provide an answer, if you persevere.
    For old time’s sake: Remember when a former Mayor (and a few top aides) got a single premium life insurance policy paid for by the City when things were spinning out of control? Remember that the money came through a Harbormaster’s account handled by a member of the City Council at that time who happens to be chairing the BOE budget issues these days? Well it was a more innocent time for many in those days and when the City Attorney was asked whether any taxable income had been reported on these transactions in the form of a 1099 on more than one occasion, he passed on providing an answer. Today I would persevere. Perhaps use a lot of energy, take a lot of time, but if you run a kingdom, you have to deal with an expectation of accountability these days. Why hold up answers when public money is being spent. Fear of scandal? Some real wrongdoing? Or something plain stupid? Aren’t the Feds still interested in Bridgeport??? I know many readers are!


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