Update: A casino debate? Again? Yup.
Leave it to Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa to create a wedge issue as he pushes his flock to endorse Ned Lamont for governor. Fifteen years after the state legislature derailed a casino for Bridgeport, Mario’s trying to persuade district leaders Lamont will support a casino for the city (along with whatever else Mario’s asking from Ned, although that’s still unclear).
Dem gubernatorial candidates–Lamont, Dan Malloy and Mary Glassman–made their pitch to party officials last Thursday at Mario’s restaurant about why they’d be best for the state’s largest city. A casino was part of the discussion. Mario has a long memory when it comes to the casino. He blames Fairfield County Gold Coast elected officials, led by Stamford pols, for crapping out including former Stamford Mayor Malloy, Lamont’s chief rival for the Democratic convention endorsement next month.
But when it came time to speak some district leaders weren’t persuaded candidate Lamont had as strong a conviction for a casino as Mario led them to believe. Now that may be because Ned doesn’t want a casino to rise up as a central campaign issue. It brings passionate points of view. Lamont gave one of those ‘I won’t push it, but I won’t get in the way of it’ answers. On the other hand, district leaders say, Malloy was unexpectedly open to a casino. Times have changed, Malloy said, if a casino is a fit revenue-wise he could support one.
Lamont and Malloy, for the most part, said all the right things, Bridgeport will be a priority, but there was a sense in the room Malloy, as a former mayor, had a stronger grasp for urban issues than the Greenwich millionaire who likes to apply his business savvy as a sales pitch. That can simply be Malloy is more polished as a speaker. You can see a scenario where some district leaders prefer Malloy, but will support Lamont because Mario wants a united front heading into the convention. Lamont on Friday, a day after addressing district leaders, contacted some of them to reinforce, in case they thought he was wishy-washy, he will support a casino for the city.
And on Friday, after both Lamont and Malloy attended a L’Ambiance ceremony at City Hall, Mayor Bill Finch introduced Lamont to a variety of folks in City Hall.
And what about Mary Messina Glassman, the first selectman of Simsbury and Dem candidate for lieutenant governor in 2006? Jesus, many of the district leaders told me, her presentation was the most impressive of the three: smart, strong speaker, engaging personality. We’d like to support her if we thought she could win. Oh well.
Looks like Ned has the party in his direction, but Mario still has work to do to line up all 70-plus delegates. Board of Education member Pat Crossin is one of them. He attended a fundraiser for Malloy Sunday night at the Black Rock home of Mary-Jane Foster, an executive at the University of Bridgeport. Crossin donated $100 to Malloy, listened to his speech and liked what he heard. He says he’s undecided about his convention support because he wants the party to be united in its choice. As for a casino Crossin wonders what impact a gaming establishment would have on the city given the two casinos in the state and all the others that surround the state. And how would the state work around the existing compact with the gaming nations?
Either way get ready for an August primary, but first up a party convention in a few weeks. Ned, who is spending heavily, will have millions of his own money to spend while Malloy is following the public financing route.
Hey, you can help settle all this guber stuff at the next OIB party May 11, 5:30, Blue Martini bar at the Holiday Inn. First refreshment on OIB plus good eats. Bring your favorite rumors. Park in the Middle Street garage behind the hotel and have your ticket validated at the front desk.
Condolences to Chris Caruso
State Rep. Chris Caruso’s mom Teresa Condello Caruso passed away over the weekend. She had been a longtime Bridgeport resident before residing at St. Joseph’s Manor in Trumbull. Tere, as he friends called her, “Loved Bridgeport” according to her son. “She was a Bridgeporter in every way.” Abriola Parkview Funeral Home in Trumbull is handling services.
From Mayor Finch
Haiti Relief Resource Office Closed Pending Investigation into Alleged Wrongdoing
The City of Bridgeport announced today that it has closed the Haiti Relief Resource Office indefinitely after allegations of wrongdoing on the part of one of the volunteers was recently disclosed.
“As soon as these allegations were brought to our attention we initiated an investigation by the City of Bridgeport Police Department and the office will be closed until further notice,” said Adam Wood, Chief of Staff. Assistance will continue to be provided by the Office of Congressman Jim Himes and the American Red Cross which will continue to work with Pierre D’Haiti and other Haiti Resource Office volunteers.
In a prepared statement Mayor Finch said, “The City is committed to continuing its efforts to help the Haitian community reach out to loved ones on the island. We will be working with Pierre D’Haiti and other volunteers to make sure that the community still has resources to deal with this tragedy through our continued coordination with Congressman Jim Himes and the American Red Cross. Residents seeking help should continue to contact these organizations directly to seek information and assistance in connecting with their loved ones.”
Mayor Finch added, “Any violation of the law that occurred by any individual volunteer related to this horrible tragedy is unconscionable and will not be tolerated.”
Bridgeport Police Capt. James Viadero is in charge of the investigation. If you have any information of any illegal activity conducted by any volunteer at the office, please contact the Detective Bureau at: 203.581.5201.
About the Haiti Relief Resource Office: Since it opened in late January, the Haiti Relief Resource Office volunteers have provided the local Haitian community with information regarding temporary protected status, immigration and adoption, and counseling sessions. The City donated office space, phone and Internet connection, and AT&T donated funds for an international phone line so local Haitians could contact loved ones on the devastated island. The office was staffed by volunteers from local Haitian churches and civic organizations, as well as student volunteers from the University of Bridgeport, Fairfield University and Housatonic Community College.
City Council To Salute UB Gymnasts
With Mayor Finch in China on business, City Council President and Acting Mayor Tom McCarthy will congratulate the UB gymnastics team on Tuesday.
Who: University of Bridgeport Gymnastics Team
What: Being honored by Bridgeport City Council
When: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 5:30 pm
Where: City Hall, 45 Lyon Terrace
The University of Bridgeport Gymnastics Team will be honored by the Bridgeport City Council for winning the 2010 United States Gymnastics Association National Team Title.
The City Council will present the team with a Citation, recognizing and congratulating them for their accomplishment.
City Council President Thomas McCarthy offered his thoughts, saying “we wish to honor these student-athletes and their coaches for their skills and dedication to their sport and the recognition it brings to the University of Bridgeport.”