What a difference a budget makes. Several city council members that had seriously considered runs for the state legislature have now bailed on such thoughts. Councilman Rich Paoletto decided against challenging State Rep. Chris Caruso a few weeks ago. City Council President Tom McCarthy, mired in one of the toughest budget cycles in years, has walked away from running for the state senate. Michelle Lyons, who represents the North End, is now wondering maybe taking on State Rep. Jack Hennessy isn’t a great idea.
What gives? The city budget, primarily. A tax increase of some kind is inevitable, with job cuts proposed by Mayor Bill Finch to library and healthcare workers taking center stage. Tough to run for higher office right after voting for a tax increase during a rotten economy.
Still, council members can come out looking okay if they successfully restore the cuts that imperil workers.
One Democratic primary that seems almost certain involves former council member Auden Grogins’ challenge of State Rep. Robert Keeley. The Blonde Banshee, who has locked up most of her fundraising to qualify for dough she’ll receive participating in the state’s public financing system, shows no signs of wavering. Keeley will not be easy to take out. The longest serving legislator in Bridgeport’s history will probably play Santa Claus in the next few months perched as co-chairman of the bonding committee that doles out loot for special projects.
The seat that Keeley occupies features a tight configuration of the West Side, Black Rock and small piece of the West End. Voting precincts are Central, Black Rock and Longfellow. Two of the city’s most intriguing political personalities will go at it: Grogins, a tall fury of fire against Keeley, a giant leprechaun verbal gunslinger. Nothing boring about them.
Keeley’s political obit has been penned in so many times it’s like his name is made with disappearing ink. He just keeps on coming back.
Grogins is best known in her home neighborhood Black Rock. But Keeley is best known in Central, the largest piece of the district. Both are trying to secure the endorsement of delegates to the nominating convention next month. Either way, an August primary looms. I’m still holding out for a mud-wrestling match at Ellsworth Field.
Two other potential primaries for state representative to watch include the 130 State Assembly seat occupied by Felipe Reinoso who announced the other day he will not seek reelection, throwing the race wide open.
And over on the East Side former legislator Lydia Martinez is taking a close look at challenging Andres Ayala who defeated her in a primary two years ago.
This oughta be fun.
Press release from the Secretary of the State
Secretary of the State Initiates Investigation of Local Voter Registration Rolls
Bysiewicz Takes Action to Ensure Accuracy of Local Voter Lists
HARTFORD: Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz has initiated an investigation by the State Elections Enforcement Commission to determine whether locally elected Registrars of Voters and Town Clerks failed to properly remove deceased voters from voter rolls. Secretary Bysiewicz has also issued a Declaratory Ruling in accordance with section 9-3 of the Connecticut General Statutes ordering all city and town clerks to immediately provide their local registrars with death notices dating back to the last time such notice was disseminated.
“The integrity of the voting process is paramount here in Connecticut,” said Bysiewicz. “That is why I am urging the State Elections Enforcement Commission to conduct a full investigation to determine if locally elected Registrars of Voters and Town Clerks failed to properly remove deceased voters from voter rolls. I want to thank the University of Connecticut for bringing to light these discrepancies and I am pleased their investigation found no evidence of voter fraud.”
Under state statute 7-42, town clerks, on a monthly basis, are required to provide registrars of voters with updated notices of death for all citizens over the age of 17. The Secretary Bysiewicz has secured a commitment from the state Department of Public Health to request their Consolidated Master Death File dating back to 1974 in order to match that file with the state’s centralized voter registration database. The results of that comparison will be forwarded to local registrars of voters to assist in the removal of deceased voters and to the State Election Enforcement Commission to assist in their investigation.
“Sloppy lists only compound human error,” said Bysiewicz. “Our voter rolls are only as good as the lists produced at the local level. That is why I am stepping in and working with both the Department of Public Health and the State Elections Enforcement Division to ensure we greatly reduce any chance of voter fraud come Election Day.”
In her letter to Jeffrey Garfield, Director of the State election enforcement commission, Bysiewicz wrote “I have contacted Commissioner Robert Galvin of the Department of Public Health and he has committed to assisting our office in matching the vital statistics registry with our centralized voter registration database to determine how many deceased persons remain on lists statewide. As we approach the national election in November, it is critical that your office expedite this investigation and take enforcement and corrective action to ensure that voter lists are accurate and up-to-date.”
Pursuant to the General Statutes the registers of voters are required annually conduct a canvass of the voter rolls. This canvass is used to identify individuals who should no longer be on the official list because they have moved out of town, had their voting rights revoked, or died.
Police recruits’ press release from Finch
New Bridgeport Police Recruits Begin Police Academy
Mayor Bill Finch (D-Bridgeport) and Bridgeport Police Chief Bryan Norwood today announced that a group of 20 new recruits began the Bridgeport Police Academy today. The 20 new Bridgeport officers will join 10 other recruits from surrounding municipalities during their 24 weeks of training. Bridgeport’s Police Academy has become recognized as the premier training program in Southern Connecticut, Mayor Finch said, and some other cities and towns have asked that their smaller recruiting classes be trained at Bridgeport’s Academy.
After approximately seven years of no new recruits in the department, the City of Bridgeport will have graduated two new police classes over an 18 month period, creating more than 50 new police officers to walk the beat in Bridgeport and help make the community safer. According to Chief Norwood, the arrival of new police officers on the force is particularly important in lowering the rising costs of overtime the department has recently seen.
“With the possibility of 74 officers reaching retirement this summer, it is important that we begin to train new officers so that our community is well protected in the future,” said Mayor Finch . “I have pledged to make Bridgeport the greenest, cleanest, safest city, and this is an example of how we are working hard to increase the safety of Bridgeport’s residents and visitors.”
Upon graduation, the new recruits will join Chief Norwood’s Community Policing Program.
“For the past two weeks, as part of the City’s community policing effort, officers have been walking their details in the streets, positively affecting the communities they serve and interacting with the individuals they protect,” said Chief Norwood.
The most interesting aspect of this program is that these officers walk from lineup directly to the bus terminal in downtown Bridgeport and take the bus to their assignments as opposed to driving and parking their squad cars.
“The sight of police officers riding buses to their assignments has been very well received in the community,” said Mayor Finch. “People feel that the officers are more accessible and at the same time are making mass transit safer.”