New Page For The Library, Plus: Dodd Ethics Decision

Weekend update: If you’re a fan of the Bridgeport Public Library (like me) you’re gonna love this.

There’s a movement afoot led by library board officials and library employees to leverage state statute to rally a citywide referendum that would allow voters to determine a specific funding allocation for the library in the city’s general fund.

Library legal analysts have examined state statute and they say they’re on the side of the angels to bring a referendum to voters that would allow them to determine a dollar figure to support library services. Why is this happening? The library is managed by a self-sustaining board (commissioners decide the board makeup) that recommends a budget to the city. That budget was hacked by Mayor Bill Finch in his first budget as mayor (when he pronounced that library workers were non-essential) only to be rescued by the City Council. This past budget year was better but life there is still fragile and library officials aren’t convinced that city officials truly appreciate what the city library system brings not only to the city but to the region.

Bridgeport enjoys one of the finest public library systems in Connecticut. It enriches patrons with research, microfilm, job search, computers, history, an eclectic newspaper collection and tens of thousands of book volumes. It’s a selling tool for marketing and business recruitment. Wouldn’t it be nice if city officials recognized that?

OIB friends Jim O’Donnell and Sly Salcedo, both attorneys,  serve on the library board. In the coming weeks we’ll hear more about what’s at play, the process for such a potential referendum and what position city officials take on this.

Library officials are examining what would be a reasonable request to bring to voters, say one mil, to fund library services so that they can better prepare library services without an annual battle to keep the doors open. State statute, according to O’Donnell, allows up to a three mil levy approved by voters to fund library costs of respective Connecticut communities. He told OIB that “The city has not properly funded the library through the years” and he says the City Charter calls for a 2.36 mil levy to fund library services.

If library officials are correct and can bring this to a referendum it would set up a fascinating call to voters.

More on this as details emerge. PublicServant has posted an excellent commentary detailing the applicable language in Connecticut General Statutes. See a portion below with more details in PublicServant’s commentary.

CGS Sec. 11-36. Town or borough tax. When fifty electors of any town or borough present a petition to the clerk of such town or borough, asking that an annual tax be levied for the establishment and maintenance of a free public library and reading room in such town or borough, and specify in their petition a rate of taxation, not to exceed three mills on the dollar, such clerk shall, in the next legal notice of the regular municipal election in such town or borough, give notice that at such election the question of an annual tax for the maintenance of a library is to be voted upon in the manner prescribed in section 9-369. The designation of such question on the voting machine ballot label shall be “Shall a …. mill tax be levied to establish and maintain a free public library and reading room?”. Such notice and such designation of the question on the voting machine ballot label shall specify the rate of taxation mentioned in such petition.

From the Hartford Courant. Is this a happy day for Marlys?

The Senate ethics committee today dismissed a complaint against U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd after determining that he and his wife, Jackie, did not violate ethics rules when refinancing their home mortgages in 2003.

However, in a letter to Dodd, committee members chided the Democratic senator for not doing enough to avoid the appearance that he was receiving special treatment.

For more than a year, Dodd has been hobbled by allegations that he benefited from improper VIP treatment when now defunct mortgage giant Countrywide Financial gave him and his wife $781,000 in loans on homes in Washington and East Haddam. Dodd repeatedly denied that he received favorable treatment.

“I’m pleased and gratified that the Democrats and Republicans on the ethics committee have dismissed this complaint and found that the underlying accusations simply were not credible,” Dodd said in a statement. “I’ve said all along that I welcomed a close examination of my mortgages, and I’ve also said all along that Jackie and I received the same mortgages that anyone else could have received.”

The committee spent more than a year investigating the charges, outlined in a July 2008 complaint by Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington. The group cited allegations first made in Portofolio magazine.

“[T]he committee does believe that you should have exercised more vigilance in your dealings with Countrywide in order to avoid the appearance that you were receiving preferential treatment based on your status as a senator,” states the letter, which was signed by committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and other members.

News release from Merrick Alpert


New London, Connecticut – The Senate Ethics Committee today issued a report advising Senator Dodd: “[Y]ou should have exercised more vigilance in your dealings with Countrywide in order to avoid the appearance that you were receiving preferential treatment based on your status as a Senator.”

Senator Dodd has now sent out an email claiming “a complete dismissal” and that the Senate Ethics Committee officially cleared him of any wrongdoing. The people of Connecticut won’t be fooled by the spin. They know that Senator Dodd violated the trust the people of Connecticut placed in him. There is no reason Senator Dodd should be celebrating.

The people of Connecticut expect their Senator to live up to a higher standard than that applied by the Senate Ethics Committee.

 News release from Sam Caligiuri

Southington, Conn. Today, State Senator Sam Caligiuri, candidate for U.S. Senate, issued the following statement regarding the Senate Select Committee on Ethics’ findings on Senator Dodd’s Countrywide mortgage:

This letter is no gold star for Senator Dodd. It does not exonerate Senator Dodd of wrongdoing. It simply finds that he did not violate Senate rules, and details cautionary notes from the Dodd case for Senators in the future.

The people of Connecticut have a right to be able to decide for themselves if Senator Dodd’s conduct with Countrywide is acceptable. I would ask that Senator Dodd request the Ethics Committee to release online the “18,000 pages of documents” compiled concerning him, so that the evidence they have compiled concerning the facts of his conduct is clear to independent reviewers who are not Senators.

The letter offers serious criticism of Senator Dodd’s poor judgment. The committee made clear that, once Chris Dodd knew he was being treated as a “V.I.P., that should have raised red flags” for him. The letter goes onto suggest that this should have “compelled [Senator Dodd] to find out exactly how you became a member of the V.I.P. unit, whether you may have been offered treatment based on your official position, and very specifically if you were receiving preferential treatment not available to other borrowers with similar loan profiles.” Chris Dodd failed to meet the level of behavior we should demand of our leaders, and this letter offers no praise for his judgment.

Unfortunately for the people of Connecticut, Senator Dodd cannot produce a letter from his colleagues that clears of him of permitting the nation’s financial system to meltdown. He cannot gain absolution from his reckless tax-and-spend agenda or from his present partisan health care takeover scheme.

If Chris Dodd never did business with Countrywide he still would have failed the voters of this state in innumerable ways. That is what my campaign will continue to focus on moving forward.



  1. This is very interesting and it should be brought to the voters to decide. I would 100% support funding. Bpt Library is one of the best from Down Town to the north, east, Black Rock. I have to say back when I was in high school a few years ago the library was always a place I could go get my books and not have to worry about paying those high prices if I had to buy a book. The people working at the library were always nice and helpful. Just put it this way I always felt like I was at home and up ’til this day I still check out books that I need to read for some of my college courses at the Library.

    1. These are the same UNELECTED and UNACCOUNTABLE (they get to reappoint themselves) clowns who thought that moving books from the East End to the politically blessed Black Rock Branch was a good idea. Give me a break.

    2. “Former city employee” is correct! Who are the Library Board members answerable to? … Mayor–no … City council–no … Library employees–no … taxpayers–no!
      ONLY themselves, that means no oversight and they want a special library tax referendum. The Library Director is only answerable to the Library Board and how has he done? Not well I imagine since the Library Board hired a consultant to help him improve financial controls and communication skills. I’m sorry but he is paid almost $100K and you hire someone who was equally irresponsible in Hartford at $18K to advise … something is really wrong here. Mismanagement abounds, ask the Librarians who work there and have recently left: books stored for the last 6 years for Black Rock but now going to be destroyed, what is the tab for storage and replacement?
      Recently purchased books designated for Black Rock given away by Library director to Friends for Wing Ding parade?
      Loss of personnel because positions were left unfilled and will probably never be filled? Moving books and personnel from one branch to another without informing the people being moved? If any other municipal office was run this way, dare I say, someone would be in JAIL! or fired.

  2. The Philistine Phinch has stayed in office long beyond the limits of his attention span. He will live to rue his decision to decimate the public library system.

    The attempt by the library board to be independent in the budget process, as is the BOE, is not a real great idea. It seems to be a lame attempt at telling the current administration to bugger off and leave them alone.

    The best use of referendum in this regard would be to vote out the Philistine Pfinch and further rid us of Calamarian rule.

  3. Re: library-sponsored referendum to allocate specific dollars each year, overriding the City Council’s vote and extracting the money directly from the (much depleted) City Fund balance.

    This is a bad idea.

    First off, it simply underscores the selfish desires of the library staff who seek to circumvent the normal political process and make their funding exempt from politics. They want public money but seek to avoid public scrutiny. Hogwash! They seek “essential” funding for their non-essential roles.

    That’s right, when it comes to the safety and survival of Bridgeport citizens, library staff are non-essential. Only a state statute makes public libraries in Bridgeport open to people, say, from Redding, who are fans of books and wish to consume their free services. Somehow, a state statute is at the root of both problems …

    I hope this proposed referendum is stopped cold and never sees a ballot box. It represents politics at its worst.

    1. Poltics at its worst? Have you been sniffing airplane glue, or what?! This is a rare instance of individuals standing to do something for the benefit of the people of the city of Bridgeport. Only Halley’s Comet is sighted less frequently.

    2. “A library is a collection of sources, resources, and services, and the structure in which it is housed: it is organized for use and maintained by a public body, an institution, or a private individual. In the more traditional sense, a library is a collection of books. The term can mean the collection, the building that houses such a collection, or both.

      “Public and institutional collections and services may be intended for use by people who choose not to–or cannot afford to–purchase an extensive collection themselves, who need material no individual can reasonably be expected to have, or who require professional assistance with their research.

      “However, with the sets and collection of media and of media other than books for storing information, many libraries are now also repositories and access points for maps, prints, or other documents and various storage media such as microform (microfilm/microfiche), audio tapes, CDs, cassettes, videotapes, and DVDs. Libraries may also provide public facilities to access subscription databases and the Internet.

      “Thus, modern libraries are increasingly being redefined as places to get unrestricted access to information in many formats and from many sources. In addition to providing materials, they also provide the services of specialists, librarians, who are experts at finding and organizing information and at interpreting information needs.

      “More recently, libraries are understood as extending beyond the physical walls of a building, by including material accessible by electronic means, and by providing the assistance of librarians in navigating and analyzing tremendous amounts of knowledge with a variety of digital tools.

      “The term ‘library’ has itself acquired a secondary meaning: “a collection of useful material for common use,” and in this sense is used in fields such as computer science, mathematics and statistics, electronics and biology.”

  4. “Where there is no vision the people perish.”

    What good is it to spend millions of dollars on new libraries if they are not open? We need a city of learners that will enable them to become earners. One of the greatest life skills is the ability to read. My father left school in the seventh grade at age 12 and traveled the world through the world of books, in between a stint in France and Germany from 1942-45.

    Also, on the economic development side of the library, being a small business incubator, it’s a no-brainer in this economy.

    The Board also needs to do a better job of marketing our libraries as a resource and get better parking downtown.
    I know they are working on this diligently. Better sooner than later.

    I will support this referendum.

  5. Grin:

    Up on Bridgeport started talking about a small business incubator and I started laughing so hard my stomach muscles began to ache!

    The proposed library referendum is very self-serving. I hope it is squashed by the library board. I am appalled the BOE already enjoys the same status!

    While every indicator shows a job decline, the practice of making money goes unrealized. Eliminating a job is the easiest and quickest way to show a profit. Hiring somebody involves training, a desk, a computer, an office and a jump into the unknown.

    But the world has changed.

    Most people–the smart ones, the learners–already have an office. Point ’em in the right direction and you’ve got an O.P.I.C. Why is it good selling trinkets in South Korea and India? Answer: they speak English, love America and nobody else is doing it!

    And another thing: one internet connection is worth a dozen libraries.

    GRIMlin, take note.

    1. Local Eyes seems to have several negative thoughts and postings on the potential for a referendum to fund Library expenses as a % of the City’s Council approved budget, rather than as a line item that can be manipulated, early or late in the process, without public regard. Moving the Library budget towards more long range dependable services through this independence.
      Since Local Eyes has mentioned the City fund balance he has probably reviewed budgets in recent years. He would note that during the Fabrizi administration, the Library budget was level for several years. Implications: compensation and benefit increases, utilities, maintenance and other areas that saw inflationary gains could only be met by decreases in staff services to the public; in that sense, the Library budget was not responsible for eroding the year-end City fund balance; Mayor Finch’s budget took an axe to the flatline and stimulated Library fans to respond thoughtfully and with a long-term concept in mind.
      Perhaps Local Eyes has not been in a library in some time, but last week when I visited, all but one of the computer terminals were in use. They are learning tools available to a public without respect to wealth, politics, or position.
      Finally, when I want to find certain information about the City, the reference Librarians have been very helpful and often have the information readily available. On occasion I have gone to the library because the info was not accessible from City offices.
      So, fans of political doings in Bridgeport, most of today’s comments have supported the Library. But, to be fair to Local and his opinion as to the non-essential nature of librarians (in the face of gun toting madmen or incendiary threat) I propose that OIB readers hold a vote regarding non-essential jobs in the City: What is the most non-essential City job funded by our current budget, and why?
      OIB, perhaps you might pose that Q & A on a slow day. I would love to see the answers. And I predict that Library positions will not be high on the list.

  6. The city has gone through the political process and voted to fund the library MORE than what they are asking for in this referendum. The city has not seen fit to follow through with the money on this. This ref is a compromise to make sure the city makes good on its library funding.
    I have issues with the way our system is being run right now. The Black Rock branch is opened without a C/O and now closed and the Newfield has been left without books. I think there needs to be a hard look on how the pathetic resources the city are allocating and being managed right now.
    That said, to say a library is non-essential to a city is shortsighted and foolish. Access to meaningful education and resources to pull oneself out of poverty are absolutely essential to a city’s ability move in a positive direction. If kids have nowhere positive to go that creates a real safety problem for the rest of the city.
    People of all ages without the finances to have a computer and access reference materials are at a significant loss when it comes to finding jobs and starting businesses. The library is a community tool that pays us back time and time again. I used it extensively starting mine.
    I wonder, Local eyes, how you would get by without the ability to exercise your free speech in the way that is meaningful in today’s world? I’m sure all on this blog are aware the access to the Internet is a necessary grassroots political tool. The Library is a great equalizer in our society it is essential that the biggest city in Connecticut has a top-notch library. I think it is a shame that at this point we absolutely DON’T have that and getting proper funding will be a key step in making ours on par with other cities.

  7. Let’s be clear:

    When a madman starts firing bullets at the supermarket, do you call a librarian?


    When you detect a fire coming from the house next door, do you call a librarian?


    Conclusion: labeling library personnel as non-essential is proper and correct.

    Calling them helpful is fine but to say they’re essential is overstating their value.

    The internet is a direct threat to libraries everywhere. They’re so analog and the internet is so digital.

  8. GrandmaMoses:

    Your ability to use the library has continued unchecked–nobody has taken that away from you!

    However, the library has never helped me exercise my free speech. That is the exclusive domain of the everloving internet which is the mother of this blog.


  9. LE

    Would you believe that I’m at the library using their resources right now? This in my OPIC, my virtual office, my small business incubator. The library is essential to my eventual success. I think Grin pointed it out very well today and I think you are being an anal log.


    You bring up some good points. However, you are slow as molasses today. Get up to speed. Black Rock has been up and running since Wednesday at noon.

    I’m here and the A/C is fabulous and I dig-it-al-Local Eyes!

  10. Library personnel are NOT non-essential municipal employees. In other nations (those in Europe especially), arts and culture are a matter of national pride. That includes literature. Libraries also provide a safe haven for youths that may be at risk of falling into juvenile delinquency due to peer pressure. AND public libraries provide Internet access to those of us that cannot afford a PC.

    Perhaps your value is overstated, as if you’re a legend in your own mind. Get over yourself.

  11. Local Eyes

    You’re wrong wrong wrong!!! The library should be a top priority! Young people like myself are the future of this city and the library is a great place to go to get things and it’s even better because it is in the inner city where income is much lower. Vote yes on it!

  12. Grandma finds it hard to get the walker past the other bastion of free speech on Fairfield ave, Matty’s corner. I claim my right to age-related slowdown.

  13. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

  14. “Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by many state constitutions and state and federal laws. Criticism of the government and advocacy of unpopular ideas that people may find distasteful or against public policy, such as racism, are generally permitted. There are exceptions to the general protection of speech, however, including the Miller test for obscenity, child pornography laws, and regulation of commercial speech such as advertising. Other limitations on free speech often balance rights to free speech and other rights, such as property rights for authors and inventors (copyright), interests in “fair” political campaigns (Campaign finance laws), protection from imminent or potential violence against particular persons (restrictions on Hate speech or fighting words), or the use of untruths to harm others (slander). Distinctions are often made between speech and other acts which may have symbolic significance. Efforts have been made to ban flag desecration, for example, though currently that act remains protected speech.”

  15. The Bridgeport Kid:

    Even your name sounds juvenile.

    The Bridgeport Kid sounds like someone who flunked Pirate School and now seeks to prove himself. BTW, I was impressed with your earlier posts and had chosen you to introduce O.P.I.C.s to OIB readers @ Matty’s Corner earlier this year. When you showed little interest I did the same.

    Are bloggers here so narrow-minded they can’t see reality?

    I’m a big fan of libraries. The issue here is how they are funded. I disagree with the proposed referendum, that’s all. Chronic complainers dominate these pages …

    donj: you’re wrong, wrong, wrong. I encourage you to visit your local library. Your incubation is incomplete.

    Finally, KUDOS to Mayor Finch who faced a perfect storm upon arrival at City Hall. Any decision-maker understands the choices he’s been forced to make.

  16. “This Democratic leadership is so corrupt” in Bridgeport, as noted on the ‘blog yesterday. While the Democratic National Committee emphasizes “strong economic growth, affordable health care for all Americans, retirement security, open, honest and accountable government” (according to their website) the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee has forsaken these ideals, putting the needs of a few over the welfare of the many.

    Where are the funds and the qualified personnel to improve our school system? That meeting of the DTC at Don Mario Testa’s Madison Avenue restaurant was a farce, a one-act comedy. The only reason the DTC nominated anyone to the BOE is to maintain control over a public institution. Hizzoner Bill Finch wants to cut the schools budget, rather than taking a proactive position on improving the quality of education. Bridgeport’s dropout rate is, what, 70% or so? That’s appalling. There is no cost benefit analysis that could possibly justify a statistic like that. A 70% dropout rate only ensures that Bridgeport will have a permanent criminal underclass and turning incarceration into a growth industry. Me, I’d rather see tax dollars spent classrooms, textbooks, tutors, and special education, not hiring more guards for Bridgeport Correctional Center on North Avenue.

    Where are the jobs this town needs? There is a skilled work force here; why is it not being utilized to the fullest extent? Too much of Bridgeport’s retail economy is dependent on EBT, WIC, and the money generated by the distribution and sale of drugs. For too many youngsters, a thug’s life of larceny and selling dope is the only employment opportunity available.

  17. Caught on videoape:

    When The Bridgeport Kid isn’t sniffing airplane glue, he’s busy living a thug’s life of larceny and selling dope.

    It’s the only opportunity available to him because he’s experiencing “frictional” unemployment. He hasn’t pursued all his options. He was at The Crossroads. Now he’s simply not qualified for the many jobs available. Although his blogging is impressive, it’s not enough to gain employment.

  18. Essential, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. Are libraries essential? Yes, if you put any value on education, knowledge, and being a resource for those less fortunate and unable to have internet technology on their phone or in their home. If you’re one of the “haves” it may be unessential, but to the “have nots” it is. What city services are unessential? Let’s start with the CAO, or Media Specialist, or cars for non-responders to emergencies, or deputy directors, or redundant supervisors, or a separate office for minority business (let purchasing do this), or city offices all over town, or stipends for volunteers (council), or out of town travel and meals (!), or receptionists who read magazines or play real estate agents on city time, and yes, the equine patrol (put the horses in the zoo).

    When you have no political power you are at the whim of those who are and can call you non-essential. But in a city with a 70% dropout rate, high unemployment, dysfunctional families, rampant drug abuse, the elimination of programs that educate need to be enhanced not cut back.

    And who cares if someone from Redding uses the library, they will feed the meter, and maybe have lunch. Let’s make the library system second to none and make it a destination for everyone.

  19. This is a terrible idea. Unless the referendum is also going to let voters choose what program to cut in order to raise the library funding, or what tax to raise, the whole exercise is nuts. First it’s the library, then every other program with its own constituency has its own referendum, and people will just vote YES because they don’t have to make it balance.

    We elect a mayor and city council to look at the whole picture and make these tough decisions. Shame on the voters for not electing better people, but you can’t make budget decisions piecemeal.

  20. So riddle me this. What happens if the friends of the library GET the question on the ballot and it is defeated by a large margin?
    Wouldn’t Finch feel empowered to make even more drastic cuts to the library budget having now given the voters a chance to weigh in and they said no?
    Be careful of what you ask for because you just might get it!

  21. And riddle me this. Where is it written that the city of B-port must provide adequate libraries in every neighborhood in town?
    Why not just one downtown main branch? Why downtown, uptown (North End), east side (actually East Side and East End) and west (Black Rock)?
    We do not have a single department store in town but people manage to get up to the Trumbull Shopping Park or Stratford big-box stores. Why should it be mandatory to have branches scattered about town?

  22. As expected, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has set a bad precedent by resigning her office prematurely. Senator Martinez R-Florida becomes the second person in a week to make the same announcement. I am unimpressed with his decision to wait until he voted “yes” in favor of Justice Sotomayor. Boo-hiss. His 12 years were uneventful and I await his speedy departure.

    In a separate matter, Rhino has a logical approach and seems to disfavor a referendum on library funding. I do, too.

  23. Any Bridgeport pol whacking the library is saying to the public: “I want your kid to grow up to be just like me.”
    You all know where that is heading.
    That stated, let’s clear up a few honest misconceptions. Under the library code-of-being there is nothing wrong with someone from, say, Redding to cruise down and use the Bridgeport library or vice versa. There’s a cease fire on that kind of town warfare when it comes to libraries. Libraries lend books back and forth to each other all the time. Knowledge should be universal and we should leave the governmental/political gripes aside. Librarians do.
    Second, Bridgeport’s library is very good. It may be the best public library in Fairfield County. But avoid things like “the best.” There are holes at Burroughs just like anything else–that’s why there are lending policies among libraries. The Burroughs Library is not the successor to the Library of Alexandria.
    Grandma is right to wonder what is going on at Newfield branch and moving books to Black Rock branch Hey, Black Rock was on the list to be updated. If you want to get the East End in line, oh, it’s only about 20 years overdue. All the libraries were allowed to fade from the depression to the last few years. It’s taken time to catch up. Newfield sounds about as right as anyplace else. And getting the computers and Internet is great, grandma, but I think your suspicion that a computer does not replace a real live book is correct. Less worried overall about volumes moving across town. They are easy enough to get ordered back. It does mess up browsing.
    I think the library supporters should be careful about getting into the political system pushing for a dedicated tax. Now you are playing on the politicians ballfield. The pols may be illiterate, but they ain’t dumb. They know human nature and they know how to count. If library supporters get involved in such a fight, the duty of a political opponent is to knock them down a level or two. There are moral pluses on the library’s side, sure.
    I can think of about three arguments to back up Finch in closing the libraries that he might win with. It depends on how much blood you can stand on your skin. Politically, I’m not sure if Finch is smart enough to spell “cat” if you spot him the “c” and the “a.” He is not going to worry about blood.

  24. Now Hear This: giving every citizen a computer–only $77 at Bridgeport’s own www would be better than increasing library funds!

    … Then the library staff could be re-directed to aid these new web surfers and make The Park City the new mecca for O.P.I.C.s or One Person Internet Companies!

    YAY-yuh, bay-bee!

    1. Local Eyes, would the city have to pay for every citizen’s ISP cost too? Go to the downtown Library and take a glance at what the majority of the kids are spending their time on the PC. The times that I have taken a glance, I see nothing but “myspace” on the screens. The library staff should be re-directing our students to real educational materials on the web. The Park City has been the mecca for O.P.I.C. or One Person Intellectually Compromised.

  25. enlightened:

    I didn’t come down with the last drop of rain. I understand there’s a law allowing Redding folks to use Bridgeport libraries. The library might be the best around but you’re using it to blast Mayor Finch who had nothing to do with the library’s recent referendum talk. I resent your remarks and consider you a lousy blogger.

    1. I agree Local Eyes. You did not come with the last drop of rain. Such cruel remarks must be censored by Lennie Grimaldi. Local Eyes came with the last teardrop!

  26. Sitting here in the newly renovated Black Rock Library, I believe this is a good notion. However, I think we need some brains in this outfit. Maybe someone who realizes you need a Certificate of Occupancy before you can open for business; maybe someone who realizes positive morale among employees is not a bad thing; maybe someone who realizes they have top notch employees; maybe someone who realizes that Historical Collections is the jewel of the library system; maybe someone who doesn’t hijack the books that were originally in the Black Rock Branch for no apparent reason; maybe someone who doesn’t rape the Newfield Branch to replace them; maybe I’m just dreaming.

  27. Riddle me this. By the library’s own numbers in their budget request (pages 419 – 425) on the city’s website they state that 11,029 active users of the library system in 2007-2008; not a very large number. They also say that there were 1,155 young adult program participants as well as 5,953 children program participants. So out of the 11,029 active users over 7,000 are children???
    These do not sound like the type of numbers that you would want to gamble on a referendum on library spending.
    Furthermore, who are the geniuses who think that a municipal off election year is the year that you want this on the ballot?
    You will have a very low turnout and if the machine cranks up the turnout, the question is guaranteed to fail.

    1. I’ve seen probably a half-dozen library budget cut referendums on the ballot in different towns, and when compared with other departments (Board of Ed, public works, Dept. of Health, etc), Library funding has always been the most popular among the voters.

      That’s not to say that they can win a set level of funding in a referendum–only that if any city department could, it’d be the library.

      1. Bullshit. Don Calamari was looking over his shoulder for feds everywhere he went. He was as limp as his pappardelle. Things are different now. Anyone who thinks he is not a sizeable force, despite his diminutive persona, is mistaken.

          1. I think it’s going to be interesting if there is a Keeley-Grogins rematch. Will Keeley turn the tables on Grogins and make her part of the machine, like she did to Keeley if Grogins gets the endorsement?

  28. No. No referendum for isolated library funding. Can you imagine what would happen if the library board got stacked with Calamarians? Then the library board would become, like the BOE, an out of control spending machine and employment agency for political hacks.

  29. Grin Reaper yes they are children but guess what their parents vote, duh. And more than likely they will vote yes. A mind is a terrible thing to waste and it is even worse to waste in Bpt. I was once a Finch supporter but he has just done so bad.

  30. LennieGrimaldi,
    Chris beat himself by not appealing to voters on the East Side (Latinos Marin School), and parts of the North End. That is what happened and he lost big because of it.

    1. It’s hard to appeal to the voters at Marin School when you have all their elected Democrats telling them that Finch is the best candidate for them.

  31. All the books needed to beat the Democratic Town Committee (machine? try scooter with a lawnmower engine and bad muffler) are either at the library or available from the library.
    Using and applying the knowledge properly takes work. The DTC gets away with what it does because no one has made the public care enough. It is hard work.
    Before you get started on the library remember that the most undemocratic board in this city is the Library Board. It is self-appointed by charter. Your “Don” could do something about this if you asked nice. I’m sure all you liberals would appreciate it!

  32. *** In some larger cities you don’t have small libraries in every other district. They’ll have a large well built building, well stocked & plenty of staff so it can be open to the public 6 days a week. Bpt could save enough money by closing some of its smaller, rented buildings libraries and applying for a grant along with the stimulus money and building a new larger state of the art library right downtown! Public transportation needs to be expanded to reach more areas and to run a bit longer in Bpt as well especially on main roads, etc. And that book mobile donated by the DiNardo Co. needs to be used in the summer & areas where city trans. is scarce & less available. Last but not least, when Rina was head of the City Grants Dept. she used to have some good workers in which she had them stay on top of potential State & Fed. Grants for all types of things. Fabrizi was trying to beef up her dept. for just those reasons to take some of the $ burden off @ budget time! Now, it’s almost non-existent? Like the program/money to help 1st-time homebuyers in Bpt to qualify for foreclosed properties as well. Many took all the required classes, filled the many applications & attended the meetings; “nothing” has happen yet, well let’s say not to unaffiliated to politics or related to city workers, etc. type folk! A tune of $25 million, the city supposed to have gotten for this program? *** In ending, the voters of this city are not going to vote for auto-mandatory type of funding to go to the libraries from the city budget. Too many other issues come to mind first than libraries, never happen! ***

    1. Mojo, Rina left two years ago and instead of hiring a top-notch grantwriter/manager, Finch put Central Grants under the jurisdiction of Alanna Kabel. That dept is nowhere near what it used to be. All the grantwriters but 1 quit and their grants are focused on Finch’s green projects and the hell with the rest of the city. It is a sin what happened to that dept, a mortal sin.

    2. Too bad there’s no more CitiStat because John Gomes would have a good ole time looking into the inefficiency of the programs under Alanna including the Central Grants Office, first-time homeowners program and the disallowed federal money for Housing Code and anti-blight. And let’s not forget that 11 of her employees were either forced out or quit.

  33. Corrupted,
    Here we go again; it’s just a blog, say what you want to say old man. Some of you people make me laugh like the blogs are your life what a bunch of old losers. Anyway this will pass easily.

    1. First of all I’m not an old man, second, I post on here maybe once a week while you post under at least 3 names all day and night. So, who needs a life and makes this blog their life, me or you? And as for being a loser, take a poll of the bloggers, you will top the list of bad spellers and losers, punk.

  34. The Oracle of Omaha Steaks!

    I cooked a beautiful Porterhouse this evening to a perfect temp of medium rare. A starter dish of Panzanella, and finished off with some semi-native corn and lots of Land O’ Lakes.

    I looked up the Panzanella recipe when I was at the library today.

    As Julia Childs used to say, “Boner Appetit!”

    Chow Bello!

  35. donj–I, of course, support the library referendum which if passed will provide sustainable funding for what I believe to be a vital and essential Bridgeport institution–the public library.

    Further, as there exists a library-specific state statute that allows for this referendum, I believe it is everyone’s best interest to allow the voters of Bridgeport to decide whether or not they wish to have a truly viable public library system for the entire city.

    Having said this, I will now refrain from further comment on this subject.

  36. There already exists a city ordinance requiring a separate tax for the Library. It sits at the amount it was last set at, as it is no longer amended annually. The Ganim administration swept it under the rug and it has not been not observed or enforced since. Why the necessity of an expensive referendum? Are the current laws unenforceable? Are the votes of the City Council enacting laws nothing but a big joke? This information was obtained right off of the city web, municipal code of ordinances. A check with the City Clerk’s office verifies that this ordinance has not been amended, updated or rescinded, and stands at its 1990 adopted version.

    2.112.060 Library fund tax.

    To provide for the expenses of the maintenance of the city’s public library and reading room, a tax of two and thirty-three hundredths (2.33) mills shall be levied and collected in the same manner as other city taxes and shall be known as the library fund. (Ord. dated 5/21/90: prior code § 18-6)

    1. PublicServant, I was looking at the Library fund tax ordinance. You are absolutely right. The reason Joe Ganim had the ordinance buried was to lower the mil rate and say that he lowered or did not raise taxes. This tactic still continues as we speak. Does the 2008-09 Library funding level total 2.33 mils of the total amount of taxes collected? I’m trying to do the math now.

      I wasn’t going to bring this ordinance up for fear that the City Council would rescind it once and for all.

      1. Why would it need to be rescinded? It was obviously enacted for a reason. This just keeps happening. People and new admins and employees just keep ignoring history, and only an idiot would do that, as we all know that by studying history, we can find a lot of information as to why things are done the way they are, or to learn from the mistakes of our forefathers. The thing today seems just throw all that knowledge out and continue to reinvent the wheel. And spend taxpayer money doing so. Don’t bother doing the math, I’m sure it doesn’t match.

        1. It is supposed to be adjusted up or down based upon the funding included in the annual budget. Obviously someone (Tom Sherwood? Mark Anastasi?) hasn’t been doing their job. No surprise there.

  37. Don’t go yet, John from Black Rock!
    What would the referendum question be? I can’t say that I would vote for a referendum when I don’t know what the question is. It could be a weak question or a strong question. A strong question is one which would produce the maximum result if approved by the voters.

    One third of the City’s budget is earmarked for the BOE.
    The Library Board and the BOE should be working in tandem as they both play a major role in the education of the public. Should the referendum question ask that the City of Bridgeport provide X-amount of dollars to the Library? Should it ask that the BOE provide the Library funds? Should it ask that the City and the BOE provide the funding for our Library?
    I think that the question that supporters of the Bridgeport Public Library system should be asking is:
    Should the BOE give some of their expected surplus money to the Library?

  38. OK–2 more comments.

    1. PublicServant–If the city decides to enforce its own ordinance it would be great. To date, there is no indication that it is willing to do so. I will leave it to others to judge if “… the votes of the City Council enacting laws (are) nothing but a big joke …” or not.

    2. Joel–I believe the language of the referendum question will be dictated by the applicable state statute, which, at the moment, I do not have access to–but I am sure it will be made available soon.

    That’s it for me on this subject.

    Good night and good luck.

  39. This state law is why we have a library tax on the books. It is just ignored, but it is fully on the books. It has apparently already been referendumed, or it would not be an existing ordinance. The referendum needs to rescind this already adopted one if that is the proposal. There is no need for a referendum to enact a library tax. We already have one that is not being adhered to.

    CGS Sec. 11-36. Town or borough tax. When fifty electors of any town or borough present a petition to the clerk of such town or borough, asking that an annual tax be levied for the establishment and maintenance of a free public library and reading room in such town or borough, and specify in their petition a rate of taxation, not to exceed three mills on the dollar, such clerk shall, in the next legal notice of the regular municipal election in such town or borough, give notice that at such election the question of an annual tax for the maintenance of a library is to be voted upon in the manner prescribed in section 9-369. The designation of such question on the voting machine ballot label shall be “Shall a …. mill tax be levied to establish and maintain a free public library and reading room?”. Such notice and such designation of the question on the voting machine ballot label shall specify the rate of taxation mentioned in such petition. If, upon the official determination of the result of such vote, it appears that a majority of all the votes upon such question are in approval of such question, the tax specified in such notice shall be levied and collected in the same manner as other general taxes of such town or borough and shall be known as the “library fund”. Such tax may afterwards be lessened or increased within the three-mill limit, or made to cease, in case the electors of any such town or borough so determine by a majority vote at any regular municipal election held therein, in the manner hereinbefore prescribed for voting upon such question; and the corporate authorities of such town or borough may exercise the same powers relative to free public libraries and reading rooms as are conferred upon the corporate authorities of cities.

  40. Lennie, you should try reaching City Attorney Mark A. I’d like to hear his legal interpretation of ordinance #2.112.060 Library fund tax.

    “To provide for the expenses of the maintenance of the city’s public library and reading room.”

    The City does spend millions for the maintenance of the city’s public library and reading room. The renovations at the Black Rock Library were one heck of a maintenance job.

  41. So Public Servant,
    Riddle me this.
    What happens if another group of citizens collects 50 petition signatures that sets the mil rate for the library fund at .5 mils. And yet another group does the same and sets it at 3.0 mils. What happens then?
    The state law you cite does not exclude multiple petitions. It does not state that the first certified is on the ballot and no other is on. It does not say it appears in order of the proposed mil rate nor does it say that it is in order of when they are submitted nor does it say that the order shall be determined by lot.
    The answer is chaos!!!
    Lawn signs will appear everywhere; Vote YES on 2.2 mil and NO on all the others!!! Vote the minimum, Vote .5!
    Take it to the max. Vote YES on 3 mils!!!
    And what happens if they all receive more than 50% of the vote by a confused and beleaguered public.
    This is a prime example of a stupid state law that was apparently submitted to help out some poorly run little town where 50 petition signatures was a significant number.

  42. Talk about riddles …
    Riddle me this:

    BRIDGEPORT — Police are investigating what happened to illegal drugs seized by private security officers during the recent four-day Gathering of the Vibes festival in Seaside Park.

    Acting Police Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. confirmed Friday that he referred the matter to the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division since the complaint was filed by officers. Should Internal Affairs determine further investigation is needed, that probe will be handled by the detective bureau.


    “Right now we are dealing with allegations,” Gaudett said.


    When told the firm in question primarily employs former New York police officers, Hays responded that several of the security outfits he hired use former New York police officers.


  43. To the Vibes I say go somewhere else. Your benefit to the city was marginal at best. The city suspended all of the state and federal drug laws as long as you were in the fenced in area of OUR park. On a normal day in Bridgeport when the drug unit needs numbers they arrest people for doing what was done at the Vibes.
    We gave up Seaside Park for 7-10 days and for what? $40K, BFD. Only 2 Bridgeport vendors worked this event, 2 Boots and Micalizzi Ice.
    Those council people and other city employees and commissioners that took the VIP passes did wrong and they should be looked at by the Ethics Commission. Yeah I know, that’s whistling in the wind.
    Hays take your 4-day drug party somewhere else.

  44. On a brighter note, stopped in the Ash Creek Saloon to watch the UFC fight last night. To my surprise they must have new management or at least a new chef as I had the most delicious Cod with Lobster Sauce and my G/F had the best steak with mushroom glaze. ‘Bout time we had a class place to eat around here that doesn’t serve Don Calamari.

  45. Riddle me this …
    How old is that state law concerning a separate mil rate for libraries?
    Was that instituted before the 10-year mandatory reval?
    Or at least before the 4-year mandatory reval?
    With the new laws, every four years the library will be getting a windfall revenue boost as long as the grand list goes up. And they get to keep this money and spend it however they want.
    This is a major-league spitball that the library board is throwing at the voters and it needs to be stopped.

  46. *** Don’t know what the voter ratio would be, in comparison to who feels more city “$” should be set automatically aside for our city libraries instead of concentrating on other important items. But what would be the scenario if it’s voted down & the city admin. decides that the voters would not really be too upset if more cuts were made such as closing a few libraries housed in rental properties? In other words could the library board’s idea backfire into a “worse future outlook” instead??? ***

  47. PublicServant:
    The DSSD has an additional 3 mils collected from the downtown property owners. That money goes to the DSSD annually and pays for the extra garbage collections, the sponsorship of events, the new banners and the like. Has the 2.33 mils that was created by ordinance for the library in 1990 been collected city-wide or is this an ordinance that has not been implemented?

  48. There are certain things that are necessary in government. Police, Fire, Sanitation to name a few. The Libraries fall into this category. My grandchildren and their parents go to the library twice a week. They relax, read and take books home. They spend about 2 hrs each visit. Places where kids and adults can go and relax from the day-to-day problems is a plus.
    The budget committee should ensure that there is money to keep the libraries open.
    The city can always find money to hire political hacks and relatives of politicians so finding money for the library should be no problem.
    BTW rumor has it that the city has hired the son of city attorney Mark Anastasi in the comptrollers office.

    1. *** Libraries in a lean budget-cutting year are not a necessary factor like your essential depts. would be, such as police & fire for instance. The smaller libraries located in rental properties would be the first to go! Any monies saved could if agreed upon, be used to help remodel existing libraries & possibly build a new larger state of the art library building in downtown Bpt. One step back but in reality, 2 steps forward! However, nothing doing with this admin. of course, just smoke and mirrors the next 2 years! ***

  49. *** Anastasi Jr. is a bright kid with new streamlined ideas, who knows maybe he’ll get something positive done! *** Only time will tell, ’cause complaining about it in general or him being hired sure ain’t going to change a damn thing! ***

  50. So Mojo I see your face is up Anastasi’s ass now. Do you even know his son or are you just kissing ass again? Is there even a vacant position in the Comptrollers Office because I check the employment ads every day and I never saw one. Didn’t they lay union workers off there just a few months ago? I guess this is why they want to get rid of Ralph Jacobs so that that can do WHATEVER THE FUCK THEY WANT TO DO and assholes like Mojo think it’s OK.

    1. *** Don’t know if there’s an opening & yes I know the kid & he’s very bright, you never know. Much brighter than you no doubt! And nothing you blog can stop it if true, BITCH K.S.! They know who you are, the jig is up old-hole, time to retire! ***

    1. *** No, but I hear your Mom loves it! Oh and your wife or husband, whatever? You need a major re-construction of the mandible there “Bottom Feeder”! *** By the way, try reading your B/S sometimes, it stinks real bad too! *** Night Night! ***

  51. To Joel Gonzalez: why is it the function of the library staff to regulate what the kids are doing on the computers? How about some parental involvement?

    Also: the only reason the library system is still okay is because of the dedication and professionalism of the overstressed, beleaguered staff. They get shuffled around, don’t have clear-cut job descriptions, don’t know how long they will be wherever it is they’ve just been moved to. Some are doing the work of two or three people (or at least trying, with no administrative support or awareness).


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