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Mario, Malloy and Lamont

March 23rd, 2010 · 18 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Education, State Politics

Quick, you wanna be a delegate to the state Democratic Party convention in May? Better call Dem Party Chair Mario Testa.

On Wednesday the Democratic Town Committee will finalize the list of 74 delegates to the party convention in May. What the hell are delegates? They’re the folks, made up of party regulars, who will endorse candidates for state constitutional offices: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state comptroller, state treasurer, secretary of state. Mario wants a united front so he can leverage a deal with one of the two leading gubernatorial candidates Ned Lamont and Dan Malloy. Translation: Mario wants to get his pound of flesh. We endorse you in exchange for doing this for my city and my peeps. Just what that is is unclear. Depends on the meaning of is.

Mario has been meeting with Dem mayors and party officials to assess who’s likely to be the strongest Dem guber candidate in the general election. Mario’s not in love, for a variety of reasons, with either Lamont or Malloy, but if they are your choices you do the best you can. Lamont will have loads of his own money to spend. He can win a primary, but can he win a a general election? Malloy doesn’t have Lamont dough, but as the former mayor of Stamford is he more sensitive to the plight of cities and cut better for a general election?

Mario’s never had a great working relationship with Stamford pols. He has a long memory and still blames them for torpedoing a casino for Bridgeport in 1995. Too much highway traffic, they claimed, yadda, yadda, yadda. Mario also is not a fan of former Town Chair John Stafstrom and his spouse Dennis Murphy, a city labor/management consultant and former city chief administrative officer. Both Stafstrom, as bond counsel, and Murphy worked for Mayor Malloy.

It appears Malloy has a delegate lead heading into the May convention, but he also won the endorsement in 2006 for governor only to lose in a close primary vote to New Haven Mayor John DeStefano who got smoked by Rell in the general election. What will Mario do? Who’s willing to cut the best deal?

On the GOP side Republican Town Chair Marc Delmonico doesn’t have nearly the delegate numbers as Mario, but Marc’s still a player. His guber choices are well-funded former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley and everyone else. Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele has some political support but no name recognition and no money.

BOE Headaches

Did you check out the screaming placard captured by the Connecticut Post? “70% of our children attend 18 failing schools.” Parents protested on the steps of City Hall, venting about all sorts of stuff. Not a happy time to be a Board of Education member or administrator.

Bawk Bawk Bawk

Last week, long shot Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Merrick Alpert sent out rubber chickens to reporters to highlight Dick Blumenthal’s reluctance to debate him again. Nice to kick back, be state attorney general, and enjoy mega pol numbers. Merrick isn’t giving up just yet. His latest letter to Dick:

MERRICK ALPERT REITERATES CALL FOR SECOND DEBATE

Richard Blumenthal for U.S. Senate via facsimile: 860-560-1522
330 Main Street, 3rd Floor
Hartford, CT 06106
March 22, 2010

Dear Mr. Blumenthal,

It is my belief that Connecticut Democrats deserve to have the two candidates competing for the Party’s nomination for the United States Senate stand before them to explain their positions on the serious issues they might be asked to vote on in the Senate. Accordingly, I believe that Democratic voters in this state deserve a rigorous primary, so that they can make an informed decision as to which candidate is best suited to face the Republicans in the fall. It is our responsibility as candidates – both to Democratic voters and to the Democratic Party – to engage in another debate prior to the Democratic State Convention in May.

When you and I spoke at the candidate forum in Stonington on March 13, you told me to call someone on your staff to discuss the possibility. Such a brush-off is an irresponsible disregard of the interests of Connecticut Democrats. This matter should be addressed between the two of us directly, and without delay.

The Norwich Bulletin’s James Mosher reported on March 10 that you claimed to be too busy in your capacity as Attorney General to have time to debate. And your spokesperson was quoted as saying that you will not debate until after the State Convention. However, it is clear that you have consistently been attending Democratic Town Committee meetings and other public campaign events. Your very public schedule suggests that you have plenty of time for further public debates.

I would be pleased to explore with you other formats for an interchange of our views. Perhaps, for instance, we might incorporate a town hall style format and conduct a debate in front of a Democratic Town Committee.

In any event, I respectfully ask that you reverse your position and agree to debate again so that the people of Connecticut may hear from both Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate.

From the Fairfield County Community Foundation:

Bridgeport nonprofits awarded more than $190,000 in grants

NORWALK, MARCH 22, 2010— Grants totaling $193,544 to more than 30 Bridgeport nonprofits were approved by the board of directors of the Fairfield County Community Foundation at its March meeting.

Among the organizations supported were: the Bridgeport YMCA, Burroughs Community Center, Cardinal Sheehan Center, Music & Arts Center for Humanity, Original Works, Inc. and RYASAP.

In total, more than $3.2 million in grants were made from donor advised funds and competitive grant funds at the Foundation to nonprofit organizations in Fairfield County and across the country.

“While the recession is technically over, local nonprofits continue to struggle with increased need for services while donations remain down,” said Susan Ross, president and CEO. “These organizations provide services that are critical to the health of our neighbors and communities, and they need funding.”

Among the grants the Foundation board approved in March, nonprofits in cities and towns in Fairfield County received the following:

The Fairfield County Community Foundation promotes the growth of community and regional philanthropy to improve the quality of life throughout Fairfield County. Individuals, families, corporations and organizations can establish their own charitable funds or contribute to existing funds focused on specific areas of need or communities in Fairfield County. The Foundation also provides philanthropic advisory services, and develops and leads initiatives to tackle critical community issues. It is in compliance with the Council on Foundations’ national standards for community foundations. The Foundation has awarded over $110 million in grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County and beyond. For more information, visit /www.fccfoundation.org.

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18 Comments so far ↓

  • Grin Reaper

    Leonard,
    Did you read the story?
    “Parents protested on the steps of City Hall, venting about all sorts of stuff. Not a happy time to be a Board of Education member or administrator.”
    There were 20 people. Not 100. Not 200. 20 people.
    Now granted their message seems to be different. It was not give us more to spend but do a better job spending what we get.
    Now picture these protesters standing arms locked with Paul Pimpanelli and the BRBC calling for the audit of the BOE and you can begin to conjure up a more intriguing picture.

    • LennieGrimaldi

      Yes, Grin, I read it. Last time I checked I can still read, or maybe you feel the need to translate for me? The group complained about school spending, Super John Ramos and his salary, the BOE giving money back last year to help close a city budget deficit, failing schools. To me that’s all sorts of stuff. But from what I’m hearing sounds like the group will get its wish. The BOE has been told by Mayor Finch it must live with the same spending package for the new budget year that starts July 1 as this current year. We’ll see if the City Council agrees.

      • Grin Reaper

        As the long-standing chair of the Budget Committee likes to say, “The onus is on us!!!”
        He will either cut back more than the mayor and claim his read of the state ECS formula says he can do it or maybe he will just add another $4.5 million from the sale of Steel Point or steal of Sail Point and claim that mid-town, oops I mean RCI marine promises this time to really make good on their plan.
        And where did Leonard learn to read???

  • town committee

    Not a happy time for the BOE Who Cares. The schools are in disarray. We have 18 failing schools has anyone seen a plan to improve these schools? Has anyone seen a plan to repair or replace Harding & Bassick high schools? Has anyone seen a plan to combat a 68% dropout rate? NO they have not. The BOE is too busy trying to figure out how they are going to fatten their budget. Then when they get more money they start sending out e-mails in May to make sure the entire budget amount is zeroed out. This has been going on for years.
    On another note why is the BOE still trying to get rid of the principal at Hooker School? One reason is he exposed a fraud and money stealing scene in an after-school program. It seems a witch hunt has been taking place trying to fire this principal. Every time he goes to a hearing he wins a favorable decision but Ramos and company keep trying. The parents at the school want him back.

  • Grin Reaper

    Leonard,
    A far more important news article dealing with Bridgeport’s schools was this from the CT Post concerning a split decision with the CT Supreme Court:
    “The court, in a 4-3 decision, ruled that “free public elementary and secondary schools” Connecticut school children are entitled to under the state Constitution also must provide at least an adequate education as well.
    Reversing a Superior Court ruling that refrained from defining educational quality or the costs involved, the higher court sent the case back to the lower court to determine if the state’s educational resources and standards provide public school students with constitutionally suitable educational opportunities.”
    Dick Blumenthal had to take the position that the constitution, although requiring a guaranteed education, does not require that to be comparable or adequate throughout the state.
    The impact of this takes on even greater proportions when you now consider that under Jodi Rell state law allows municipalities to use Education Cost Sharing Money to reduce local property taxes and Jodi Rell’s latest cutbacks on direct aid to cities.
    It will become extremely difficult to defend the position the state is making adequate progress in equalized educational opportunities when they cut back general aid to cities and towns and then allow the same cities and towns to use education cost sharing money to offset these cutbacks.
    Get real, Jodi. You are leaving just in time. Although it was not your intent, you may have done more for the state’s cities with this double-barreled budget approach than you ever realized you would.
    You have proven without a doubt the state has ignored its constitutional responsibilities and continues to do so.

  • MCAT

    I agree that we need to prevent the ECS grant money from going into the general funds of municipalities. It is really the only dedicated money schools can count on from the state. I know Monroe is not Bridgeport, but this year with the seriously decreased funding from the state and our first selectman’s drastic cut of the BOE budget, we are going to be laying off more teachers, 20 were let go last year, we are forced to close a school and figuring out where to send about 450 kids? (To make matters worse, we have referendums to pass budgets; things can get cut further yet.) Plans include sending our eight graders to the High School. I know Bridgeport’s schools are worse.

    However, I only include this information because I want to point out that education is being hit everywhere in CT. We have the biggest disparity gap between high and low achievers. The state, like our town, is not forward thinking when they keep cutting education funding to municipalities. The cost of children dropping out of school, not getting programs that make them competitive on the college market, overcrowding and early learning cuts are all too common. Gifted children from every city and town are being left behind because that is one of the first programs to get cut in hard budget schools.

    Thankfully, special education is a mandate, we had someone comment from our town, “can’t we just pay for the really autistic kids.” Monroe also has the highest pay to play sports in CT. Parents supplement thousands of dollars for their children to pay sports, but there are many that don’t play due to cost. I think that is really sad. I believe an equal education includes making all programs open to all students.

    This won’t make me popular with TC, but I think the BOE’s job is not to run the schools like a corporation. Children aren’t expenditures and schools can’t just make more widgets. They must provide the best education possible (yes I know it says adequate, but what is adequate?) to the children and taxpayers. Should BOE have to cut sports and enrichment programs like art and music for the ability to provide adequate education? The BOE’s job is to break even. Budget’s are fluid estimates that change constantly, so if the BOE has money in one place it is okay to switch it to another to buy other necessary things, for example textbooks and supplies. If there were less or more use of substitutes, changes in health care, energy costs, pension payouts, it all affects the budget. So many times what may seem like unnecessary transferring of funds is really just day-to-day operations, based on a road map that was decided upon up to a year ago. It isn’t coincidence places with the highest taxes have the worse schools. Schools predicate economic development and growth in the tax base. CT needs to start making a commitment to our schools.

    Lastly, completely unrelated to the above, I am a delegate and my vote goes to Dan Malloy. I like Ned Lamont and I hope he runs for Senator in 2012, but right now I think the best-qualified person is Dan Malloy.

  • Grin Reaper

    Interesting comment from HmmmCAT.
    She says that Special Education is a mandate.
    The state Supreme Court has ruled equalized minimum education is a constitutional guarantee in the state of Connecticut but apparently not a mandate.
    PILOT payments in the state of Connecticut are required by law but it is not a mandate because the state simply does not fund it to the level required by law.
    The suburbs have been allowed to cherry pick from the city’s development projects as well as budget funding with the assistance of state government.
    They have been allowed to maintain mil rates two and a half to three times lower than the overburdened urban centers.
    And they do not accept the fact their property values are that much higher than urban areas simply because of this huge disparity in mil rates.
    So now the chickens are coming home to roost. Welcome to Bridgeport’s world hmmmCAT.

  • Harry Neigher

    Gossip of The Rialto!

    Finch says, “FU to UB!” Mayor Finch would rather go Stag, than be a Purple Knight in Shining Armor!!!

    Park City should fuel-cell-plant debate in Nichols (Trumbull’s Black Rock), with offer to take it off their hands. Maybe then, Bridgeport will be able to rub two nickels together!

  • town committee

    MCAT why not run the schools like a corporation from this respect. Accountability. Right now we have a money shortage so education is being targeted (wrongfully in many ways). In the past education administrators would say we need more money for education, we need more money to improve education and they for the most part would get the money with very little accountability.
    Who is to answer for the failing schools and the failing kids? At this point no one!!! Teachers once they have tenure are almost impossible to get rid of (in the corporate world they would be gone). Administrators same thing. In Bridgeport we have a 68% dropout rate and no one has been held accountable. In the corporate world if you lose a large customer base people get fired here they just ask for more money.
    An old-time saying is “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” I believe in education but on all levels everything seems to be geared to the college-bound student which is fine but we are throwing away the kids that are not going to college. These kids have 2 choices enter the military or work the rest of their lives in menial jobs. We need to give these kids a chance.
    Audits on school budgets and spending should be done on a yearly basis it should be a state mandate. Here in Bridgeport we have an outsider who was to get this done and he has dragged his feet for over a year, yes I mean you Mr. Timpanelli. If we are going to commit to more money for schools there needs to be accountability.

  • Grin Ripper

    Marc “Steak” Delmonico should be telling his homey from the hood, Rob Russo, to run for State Senate.

  • Bridgeport Now

    “Bridgeport Now” – Tuesdays at 8 pm on Ch88.
    Charles Brilvitch will be on at 8:30 to talk about history, including that of Middle Street city-owned buildings that are vacant and blight, and Barnum’s secretary’s house by Seaside Park.

    We will also air excerpts from prior shows including Andre Baker talking about the benefits of the Ferry move, and Maria Pereira/BOEE talking with Kelly from Black Rock about issues regarding Black Rock school expanding to 7th and 8th graders.

    We would also like to discuss Mr. Timpanelli’s request for $250k for a report.

  • town committee

    Countdown: Thought you would like to know one of the ways they will be paying for this new health care bill is going to come out after the November elections. It’s called the Value Added Tax or VAT. It will be a national sales tax on items we now pay state taxes on.

  • Grin Reaper

    TC
    What’s the Rush???
    You spend way too much time listening to conservative talk radio.

  • Grin Reaper

    Leonard,
    You and Mario are becoming political dinosaurs. The landscape is changing much faster than the ice age and you two really need to get up to speed.
    First of all the 20% delegate rule was thrown out the window. So no one NEEDS 20% of the delegates to get on the ballot. Sure it’s easier than getting signatures but by the old rules you were shut out completely.
    Secondly, what does the top line really mean? Malloy had it four years ago and lost. Lamont was on the second line four years ago and won. I wouldn’t think anyone is going to sell their campaign to Mario just to get a line on the ballot.
    This has as much to do with Mario thinking he is a player as him actually being one.
    Lamont will get more than 20% of the delegates and win on the second line. Malloy will run around cutting all of the deals, look like he is the typical politician and pay the price for it in August. (Leonard, in case you and Mario forgot, state primaries are in August now not September.)

    • LennieGrimaldi

      Grin, you’ve been drinking too much Pequonnock River Water. Who mentioned anything about 20 percent of the delegates? How many times have I written about a hot August primary between Malloy and Lamont? Now I know you love Lamont so why don’t you serve as a broker and cut that deal with Mario and Ned?

  • Grin Reaper

    Leonard,
    You seem a bit testy today. And besides you didn’t get my point. There is no deal to be brokered.
    How much would you promise Mario to get the top line you don’t really need? And may possibly not even want?

  • LennieGrimaldi

    Well, your boy Ned has been wooing Mario for his support. I guess Mario has more juice with Ned than you.

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