Chris Dodd’s mired in a mortgage-load of dung and it doesn’t look like things will get better for Connecticut’s senior senator any time soon.
The Q Poll released this week validates Dodd’s leaky ship. Most revealing to me in the poll, however, wasn’t Dodd’s obvious general election issues, it was more how close his announced primary opponent Merrick Alpert, so unknown to serial Dem primary voters, is running to him.
Alpert visited the state’s largest city on Thursday and we caught up for a chat at Ralph ‘n’ Rich’s about all things Bridgeport. (For Alpert’s background check out www.merrickforachange.com)
The Mystic resident who trained from New London to Bridgeport has just enough political experience to ask the right questions but not so much that he has all the answers. As we chatted, a couple of OIB friends came up to say hello and he had a bunch of questions about what the Park City lacks, what it needs, and how he can help if given the chance.
Fundamentally, the most basic question came up: what can Chris Dodd claim, after 30 years in the Senate, that’s his own in Bridgeport?
Yeah, Dodd’s been a friend to unions and he offered the Family Leave bill, yadda, yadda; but what infrastructure project, public improvement, educational institution, streetscape, landscape, personal interest project can Dodd claim as his own?
It seems to me that Iowa, during Dodd’s disastrous presidential effort, received more attention from him in a few months than Bridgeport in 30 years. Yes, when L’Ambiance collapsed Dodd called, when Mary Moran filed for federal bankruptcy Dodd showed up, when UB Law School announced its departure, he called and showed up. But what else beyond lip service? What can Dodd point to in Bridgeport and say, that’s mine!
I’m waiting for the Dodd campaign to let OIB readers know. I’m willing to listen. Meanwhile, Alpert has a pretty good story to tell about a product of a single mom, military service, law school, starting his own business.
Alpert’s not living a life of illusion. He has a tall order taking out an entrenched incumbent who’ll have the majority support from the state’s political establishment. But that’s the part Alpert seems willing to both take on and persuade. Whether he makes it, or not, it’s not because he sucked up to the pols.
More on Alpert soon, including a Pol Pod.
Roll With Rell
Get a load of this, according to the Hartford Courant item below, Governor Rell wants to legalize Keno, that bingo-type gaming thing. Well I wish Mother Rell would go a notch above that and call for the expansion of slots, renegotiate the compact with the Mohegans and Pequots, and wire a whole shitload of that dough to Bridgeport.
Yeah baby, slots in every bar, gin mill and tavern. Connecticut is already the biggest bookie in the country, what’s the the diff? What do you say?
Gov. M. Jodi Rell offered a supplemental budget Thursday that would cut $1.3 billion in spending over two years, close some inland state parks, consolidate state agencies, shutter courthouses, and legalize Keno gambling to balance the cash-strapped, two-year budget.
The new budget would require no new taxes or municipal aid cuts and would reduce spending by 1.4 percent below the level for the current fiscal year. An actual year-to-year cut in state spending is rare because of general inflation and an even higher rate of inflation for medical services, which accounts for billions of dollars in the state budget.
The Keno games would generate an estimated $60 million per year in new state revenues.
The supplemental budget is in addition to the one that Rell offered in February, and it is designed to combat a plan by Democratic legislators to raise taxes by more than $3 billion over two years. By contrast, Rell says her budget requires no new taxes – particularly in the state income tax. If the state can avoid tax increases, it will have a competitive advantage when the recession ends, she said.
Finally, the local GOP speaks, a statement from party chair Marc Delmonico
Bridgeport Republican Party Expresses Concern Over City Leaders’ Commitment Towards Improving Education
President Obama’s commitment towards reforming the education system gives welcomed assistance to a cause for which the Republican Party in Bridgeport has always been committed. This is a historic opportunity for Bridgeport to set itself upon the right path.
We feel education is the most important issue confronting Bridgeport. A city’s education system has such far-reaching consequences for its future. We know many of the children we teach or don’t teach today will be the residents of our city decades from now. If Bridgeport is to firmly set its future on the road to progress, it must first solidify its education system.
The current situation is saddening. In an article dated May 7, 2009, the CT Post detailed the lack of progress the city has had in addressing the debilitating dropout problem. Independent studies have used such extreme language as “dropout factories” to describe some of our schools. The Board of Education continues to blame severe underfunding. Amidst the bad news, however, we see promise in the audit of the BOE currently under way. This audit can be a tool for leading the education system down the right track. If it can reveal the details and inefficiencies in the current operating budget, not only does it help us improve the system, but also allows us to make a case to the state for the areas in which it is underfunded.
However, as hopeful as we are in the success of this audit, the Republican Party has become deeply troubled by the lack of commitment to serious reform seen from the leaders of this city. We are discomforted by their detachment and lack of urgency towards the issue. This has not only been our observance, but from the leaders themselves. At a recent finance committee meeting, Councilwoman Susan Brannelly of the 130th District stated the Council’s Education Committee was “hands off.”
Proof of this is obvious from the handling of the audit. Despite former State Senator Rob Russo securing $250,000 in state funds for Phase III of the audit in June 2008, the Council has just now approved it, almost a year later. In addition, they have shown no concern about the committee selected to oversee the audit. As of now, an audit oversight committee will consist of members of the Administrator’s and Teacher’s Unions, all nine BOE Board members, representatives of the City Council and the BRBC. This committee will make decisions concerning the audit. The conflict of interest in this board is obvious. While we are not accusing the integrity of these people, we do believe the makeup of this board severely undermines the legitimacy of the audit. We must ensure an appearance of no impropriety in the audit process.
The members of the City Council must be reminded of their responsibilities as our elected officials. They are representatives for the parents, children, teachers and taxpayers of this city. We elected them to defend our best interests in an honest and open manner. We want transparency in our city government. Taking a “hands off” approach and burying our problems in the bureaucracy is not the kind of leadership we need.
It’s time for the City Council to remember they work for the people of Bridgeport and they owe us a transparent government that is responsible to our future. We urge the City Council to reexamine the makeup of this oversight committee in an open public forum and show a more vigorous commitment towards fixing our education system. Our city leaders must realize with an improved educational system, economic success will follow. The future of Bridgeport depends on it.
News release from Auden Grogins
REP. GROGINS NAMED “CHILDREN’S CHAMPION” AT CAPITOL CEREMONY
State Representative Auden Grogins (D-Bridgeport) was honored with a “Children’s Champion” award by the members of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance during a ceremony held at the State Capitol on Thursday. Rep. Grogins was nominated by the Bridgeport Association of Young Children and the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition.
“I am proud to receive this award and to be recognized by this outstanding organization as an advocate for young children. As past president of the Bridgeport Board of Education, I know first hand the educational needs of young children and education is always my first priority,” Rep. Grogins said.
“Auden is a proven friend to children not only for her legislative record, but her continued commitment to early childhood development and support of her local organizations that improve the lives of Connecticut’s young children,” said Shaun McNally, CT Early Childhood Alliance executive director.
Rep. Grogins, a member of the Education Committee, sponsored bills this session that seek to improve children’s lives on issues ranging from autism spectrum disorder to students who suffer from asthma. She has also been a strong advocate of seeking education funding for the schools in her district. Rep. Grogins co-sponsored a bill passed by the Education Committee that increased ECS funding for Bridgeport by 2 percent.
The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance is a group of organizations and individuals committed to improving developmental outcomes in the areas of learning, health, safety and economic security for children up to the age of eight.
News release from Don Clemons
REP. CLEMONS BACKS RAISING SCHOOL DROP OUT AGE
State Representative Don Clemons, who represents Bridgeport in the Connecticut General Assembly, helped lead passage of a bill in the House of Representatives that raises the age students are allowed to drop out of school from 16 to 17.
Clemons backed the change in state law because he believes dropping out at 16 is not sufficient for surviving in today’s economy. In particular, he finds the disproportionate number of drop outs in the African American, Latino and urban communities as a principle reason for the state’s swollen achievement gap.
“Dropping out at 16 is simply not an adequate standard, and having a law on the books that allows kids to do that sends a wrong message,” said Clemons, who chairs the legislature’s Black & Puerto Rican Caucus. “If we are going to advance the needs of generations coming after us, then this is one important change we can make that will have a positive impact.”
The proposed change was approved by a vote of 130-16 in the House. Students who have reached the age of 17 and wish to withdraw will need the permission of a parent or guardian. If the legislation becomes law, it will take effect on July 1, 2010.