5 p.m. update: Mayor Bill Finch has vetoed the City Council ordinance dissolving the Bridgeport Port Authority, joining Gov. Jodi Rell’s veto of state legislation that caused the city’s legislative body to take the action over loss of home rule. See the mayor’s statement below followed by Rell release regarding her veto:
Statement from Mayor Bill Finch Re: Port Authority Veto
“In anticipation of the Governor’s veto (today) of HB 6649, I have decided to veto the City Council’s vote to dissolve the Bridgeport Port Authority. I want to thank the Governor for listening to my concerns regarding this legislation, and I want to commend her for carrying the ball in vetoing this bill.
I respect the Council’s position on the performance of the Port Authority and appreciate their concerns. I believe that this is the best result, and one which will allow the City to maintain the measure of local control that is needed. We have worked and will continue to work with the Port Authority to ensure that the long-term plan for the City’s waterfront moves forward in a realistic and efficient manner in alignment with goals set forth by the City.”
House Bill 6649, An Act Concerning the Programs and Activities of the Department of Transportation: This bill would have made several changes to statutes affecting the Department of Transportation, including amending the process for a municipality to terminate or modify a port authority and requiring the DOT to erect numerous signs naming roads, bridges, overpasses and other infrastructure. None of the provisions, the Governor said, are critical to the DOT’s daily operations and the proliferation of signs would be costly to install and maintain “at a time when significant financial challenges have made it necessary to implement reductions in the state fleet, designate furlough days and eliminate all non-essential contractual services,” the Governor wrote in her veto message.
The Governor said that since the DOT Commissioner’s approval is not necessary for the establishment of port authorities, it is incongruous that his approval is required for termination. She noted that the language, inserted last-minute into legislation by lobbyists, would have stripped the city of Bridgeport of its authority to terminate its port agency.
“We have historically allowed municipalities to form, modify and terminate various types of special districts without state interference,” Governor Rell said. “This process appears to have worked successfully since its inception and I see no reason to change the process now.”
Just a few weeks away from the Democratic Town Committee endorsement session. City Council and Board of Education seats are in play.
This is an off cycle for mayor who runs every four years.
For the BOE the Dems have two seats open. Max Medina, the long serving president of the BOE, will not seek reelection, as well as John Olson.
Some of the names floated to fill those slots include retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez, former City Clerk Tom Mulligan, former City Councilman Keith Cougar Rodgerson and Joe Giaquinto Jr. a resident of the Upper East Side who waged a close primary for City Council in 2007 against incumbents Bob Curwen and Rich Paoletto.
Curwen and Paoletto are being challenged in a September primary this year by long-time city pol Andy Fardy, a retired city firefighter and Ann Barney, a 25-year employee of the BOE.
A retired educator, Giaquinto is a nice guy who taught English in city schools for several years in the 1970s before joining the Danbury public school system. His family has a long and distinguished history in the city. He is also a cousin of Bridgeport standout athlete Nick Giaquinto who played in the NFL.
On the Republican side, former State Senator Rob Russo will be running. He’ll get in as a result of state-mandated minority party representation.
News release from Jodi Rell
Governor Rell: Retirement Incentive Program Far Exceeds Goal – 3,856 Employees Leave State Service
Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that a total of 3,856 state employees have left state service as a result of the Retirement Incentive Program she negotiated with state employee unions, far exceeding the cost-cutting program’s target of 3,000 retirements. Assuming that all other elements of the far-reaching agreement work as expected, overall savings to taxpayers are likely to be greater than the original estimate of $700 million.
The Retirement Incentive Program (RIP) is part of a comprehensive agreement Governor Rell negotiated with state employee bargaining units. It includes significant changes in employee health care and pension benefits and agreements in individual labor contracts that include wage freezes and furlough days for all state employees.
“The many years of service and dedication that the retiring employees have given to the people of Connecticut are deeply appreciated – and each of them will be missed,” Governor Rell said. “However, I am very pleased by the success of the RIP, which is critical to cutting the size and cost of state government. With our state continuing to feel the ravages of this global economic downturn, we must take every possible step to make Connecticut’s government more affordable for taxpayers.
“I have already taken steps to ensure that the savings we are achieving through the RIP will be preserved,” the Governor said. “The practice of rehiring retirees on 120-day contracts will be sharply curtailed. There have been too many reports of abusive ‘double-dipping,’ so all such contracts will have to be approved through my office and the retirees will come back at no more than 75 percent of their previous salary. Similarly, state agencies have already been given guidelines on how and when we will ‘refill’ positions left vacant by retirements.
“Those of us who remain state employees will continue to provide the superior service that Connecticut residents expect and demand,” Governor Rell said. “By severely restricting the rehires for these positions, we can ensure that our government is permanently smaller – and less expensive.”
THE BARNUM MUSEUM IS ONE OF 269 ORGANIZATIONS NATIONWIDE TO RECEIVE BIG READ GRANT FROM NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS
Bridgeport and Shelton will be reading and celebrating “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett during Big Read project
The Barnum Museum announced today that they have received a grant totaling $20,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to host The Big Read in the Cities of Bridgeport and Shelton. The museum will administer the grant and act as the host organization. The Big Read gives communities the opportunity to come together to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 30 selections from U.S. and world literature. This year’s Big Read will focus on “The Maltese Falcon,” by Dashiell Hammet and a variety of activities will take place from October 1 through November 24. More than 20 organizations are partnering this year to create innovative and engaging programming for a diverse audience.
The Barnum Museum is just one of 269 nonprofits–including arts, culture, and science organizations; libraries; and municipalities–to receive a grant to host a Big Read project between September 2009 and June 2010. The latest Big Read grantees represent 44 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since the 2006 pilot program with ten participating organizations, the NEA has given more than 800 grants to support local Big Read projects.
“We are delighted to be participating for the third year in a row in The Big Read,” said Kathy Maher, Executive Director and Curator for The Barnum Museum. “Every year, I marvel at how reading one book contributes to unifying many of the people from both Bridgeport and Shelton. All of our differences seem to merge as we mutually experience and discuss those things that a great book offers.”
Some people were surprised when The Maltese Falcon, a detective novel, appeared on The Big Read list. Yes, it is a detective novel-one of the best ever written. It’s also a brilliant literary work, as well as a thriller, a love story and a dark, dry comedy. While Hammett’s private-eye classic is fun to read, it is also morally serious. While some of the language and popular expressions used in this 1930 novel may be unfamiliar today, they are wonderfully colorful. Detective Sam Spade becomes embroiled with a mysterious client, avenges the death of his partner, and chases a priceless treasure in this classic American private-eye novel.
A great book combines enlightenment with enchantment. It awakens our imagination and enlarges our humanity. It can even offer harrowing insights that somehow console and comfort us. Whether you’re a regular reader already or making up for lost time, participating in The Big Read will be a worthwhile experience.