Now What? Plus: Caruso And House Leader Ask Jodi To Delay Juvenile Vote

3:30 p.m. update: The poll results for Mayor Bill Finch are lousy, but not politically fatal.

What can he do about it? Take advantage of his strengths. Bill looks good and sounds good and when he actually believes in something he can sell it. The problem for Bill has always been focus. Too many distractions that cloud the goal. He’s Bronco Billy. Throw a saddle on him and good luck staying aboard.

This is where staff can help. They must simplify everything they do for him broken down into four core components: budget, economic development, selling the city and government reform. And they must dig in and do battle to keep him focused like never before. Too many staffers say yes mayor, you’re great, mayor.


Democratic voters that elected him two years ago don’t think he’s so great. And if they continue to think they’re great they will drown in their own narcissism.

One of the big surprises for me in the polling data was how far down public safety fell among the pecking order of issues important to electors. When crime soars it’s nothing but a gigantic toothache for a chief executive. Taxes, schools and jobs are the big three. Hopefully it stays that way, and crime does not rear its head.

Step One: Voters are dying to feel good about their city. They don’t think it’s going in the right direction. The quickest way to change that is by promoting your assets: cultural attractions, destinations points, city-owned facilities such as The Klein, ballpark and arena, and yes, one of the finest–though financially challenged–public library systems in the state.

You promote the city the right way with the right message and you change minds. How do you pay for it? You find the money. Just do it. The city spends money on all kinds of crap. The people that meow about spending money to promote your city will meow about everything. The majority of residents will feel good. Finch will be embraced as the ambassador for the city, your peeps will be proud, out-of-towners will visit and potential investors will take notice.

Next step: get your ass out of the building and recruit business. Assemble a meeting with the mayor, Economic Development Director Don Eversley and Joe McGee, former state economic development commissioner and currently an official with the Business Council of Fairfield County. McGee’s bright, a big Bridgeport supporter, he understands public policy and wants the city to succeed. You ask Joe, okay Joe, where do we fish? We want the mayor to knock on the door of chief executives to explain why Bridgeport is a good place to do business.

You set a meeting every week. Results won’t happen overnight, in a month or for many months, but down the road something will click. And Finch will develop a reputation for someone poising his city for future growth. Perception in this case is good.

Next step: government reform. It starts with the Board of Education and Civil Service. Finch will have his chance to control the BOE in short order by virtue of key political supporters joining the board. (Expect to see lots of fights between the board and Superintendent of Schools John Ramos.) Make sure the comprehensive audit of the BOE is done. At least you can say you accomplished something, irrespective of the findings.

Ever visit Harding High School on the city’s East Side? How the students and teachers work in that environment amazes me. Antiquated isn’t the word. The city needs a new Harding High School. It will take years and years for it to happen but start talking about it.

Finch missed an opportunity to incorporate his termination of  Personnel Director Ralph Jacobs into an overall reform of Civil Service. Create a charter amendment commission to structure realistic reforms such as changing the rule of one to a rule of top three candidates. Reforms have been resisted in the past. Maybe the atmosphere is now there.

And finally, try to be more open to brainpower that wants to help the city, for instance a retired executive such as OIB friend Bruce Hubler who offered his services but couldn’t even get a meeting.

Will they listen to me? Of course not. But maybe they’ll listen to you. Have suggestions? Fire away. And if all else fails there’s always: Finch for Connecticut secretary of the state!

Let’s Bond

The item below will be on the Friday agenda of the State Bond Commission to approve the loot for Governor Rell’s decision to build a juvenile detention center for girls on Virginia Avenue in the Upper East Side. State Rep. Christopher Caruso who represents that area has asked the governor to pull the item from the agenda. House Majority Leader Denise Merrill has joined Caruso with her own plea to the governor.

“Some questions,” Merrill wrote the governor, “have arisen regarding this facility, some of which relate to questions of the process for choosing the site, but also questions about why this facility is being built at its size for the particular population in question. Is it in keeping with any kind of plan at the Department of Children and Families for housing this population of girls? … I would ask that this item be withdrawn pending further study and clarity regarding the questions that have been raised.”

PUBLIC ACT #2, 2009
SEC. 26-32




Requested: An Allocation and Bond Authorization

FROM: Sec. 27(f)(2)    Acct. No. 17101-DCF91000-43449
                       Project No. BI-YS-166DB

Total Earmarking      $4,700,000
Previous Allocations     -0-
Balance Unallocated   $4,700,000

These funds are requested, along with those under
Items 11 and 15, to finance the development of a new
self-contained treatment facility for juvenile girls
at 115 Virginia Avenue in Bridgeport.

This project consists of the design and construction
of a 36,000 square foot facility supporting 18-24
female juvenile defenders less than 18 years of age.

Funds are requested as follows:

                                 Previous        This
                                  Funding     Request
Development Contract
                $12,421,000               $12,421,000
                    588,900                   588,900
                    228,000      $150,000      78,000
Construction Administrator
                    198,000                   198,000
                     25,000        25,000
                    155,000       155,000
Hazardous Materials
                    280,000       100,000     180,000
                    800,000                   800,000
                    400,000                   400,000
                     80,000         5,000      75,000
Art Work
                    124,100         8,000     116,100
                    400,000       200,000     200,000

                $15,700,000      $643,000 $15,057,000

P.A. 09-2, Sec. 27(f)(2), This Request     $4,700,000
P.A. 07-7, Sec. 21(o)(3), Item No. 15       6,000,000
P.A. 07-7, Sec. 2(v)(2), Item No. 11        4,357,000
P.A. 07-7, Sec. 2(v)(2), Previous Funding     643,000
Total                                     $15,700,000

October 30, 2009


  1. *** Let’s start with a “Great Job” by Cliff Lee & the Phillies in game 1 @ Yankeeville! *** Agreement on your political advice about the Mayor finally making an effort to get to know his city employees, schools staff, voters & city businesses by visiting them & using lots more smoke & mirrors about city developments with the media, etc. Making the political rounds so to speak like he did during his campaign for Mayor in Bpt and the Senate. Will it help? “Maybe”, all depends on what the economy does in the next 18 months plus who & how many candidates decide to run for Bpt Mayor too! Personally I hope the economy, city developments, new jobs and safety concerns in general all get much better soon & Bpt gets a new Mayor in the next election that’s more in tune with the citizens & the city’s primary concerns first. ***

  2. Lennie a fairly good roadmap for Finch and Company but it will not happen. Finch is not capable of changing. He is not capable or does not want to make the tough choices a mayor or for that fact any leader has to make. Without getting into all the bullshit he and his staff have created I will show you 2 areas where Finch could have been a star.
    1. He could have handled the SHU student problem a lot better than he has. He could have come out with a tough no BS policy to rein in these students and the dwelling owners that rent to them. Did he? No he did not.
    What he and his police chief have done is take the liberal let’s not upset the university approach. Don’t arrest the underage drinkers and the hell raisers just notify the university and let them handle it. In the meantime the residents of the North End continue to be assaulted by these students. A tough stance and strict enforcement would have gone a long way with the residents of the North End.
    2. Instead of a lukewarm statement about the detention center proposed by the state in a residential neighborhood in the upper East Side he could have been more forceful.
    The mayor was wringing his hands saying that there is nothing we can do about this because this is a State project. He could have forcefully said I DO NOT WANT THAT HERE. He has known for a year that something like this was set to be built in this residential neighborhood. He had a year to lobby against this and could have gotten those lazy-ass representatives involved.
    Lennie his advisers are the same ones that came on board when he was elected. Have they learned anything in the past 2 years? They have learned how to fire long-time civil servants. They have learned how to hide friends that they have hired while getting rid of civil servants. They have learned how to be real Bastards.


    Why? There is absolutely no money to support it.

    If we got rid of the horses, which we should, will that savings pay in perpetuity for the library mandate?


    There is plenty of money to allocate another $2.1 million to the annual library budget or to support 1 mil ($6.9 million) of the city’s total budget.

    After sending the police horses off and “REALLOCATING ” that budget item to the library, get out the budget knife and start slicing the police budget on drug raids and counter-drug operations that do not go anywhere but around and around for more and more money with no significant “quality of life” improvement for the neighborhoods most negatively affected by drug trafficking and the drug trade, like the East Side, East End or South End.

    Get a copy of the city budget and review the transparency, see where the wasteful expenditures are … there’s plenty of “fat” in that $690million Bridgeport budget.

    VOTE YES!!!

  5. I have thought long and hard on the subject of library funding and I have decided to vote NO. We cannot have every department running around with their own mil-rated budget.
    Okay let me get this straight. Stop the drug raids. Does that mean we just let drugs flourish and stand by and watch because we bought books for the library?
    I do believe that the counci’ls budget committee should take a closer look at the library budget.
    What happens to the library budget that will swell in 5 years where they will have more money than they know what to do with?
    BTW Sly when you move to the suburbs you don’t have to pay for this do you?

  6. “One of the big surprises for me in the polling data was how far down public safety fell among the pecking order of issues important to electors.”

    I was surprised too Lennie. While campaigning with John Slater and John Weldon around the Black Rock area, the crime issue is still a matter of concern. Burglaries and breaking into their vehicles was a common complaint. Just because your poll shows that 350 people don’t feel that crime is a concern, it doesn’t mean we are safe to leave our home’s or car’s doors unlocked or ajar. Research how many crimes in other towns are committed by Bridgeport residents–crime is mobile.

    “… Perception in this case is good …”
    O.K. Lennie, it’s time for “disclosure”. Joe Ganim was all about “perception”, were you a key player in advising him to follow that road? “Joe, you have to clean the Streets; take down the graffitti; tear down all the blighted buildings”. “But, Lennie, that’s going to cost a fortune”. “Don’t worry Joe, perception is the key, just do the main streets and roads, the heavily traveled areas.” “Oh, I’ll call Fabrizi and make sure that his brother gets no-bid contracts to do the esplanades.” “Joe, I’m staying out of that, goodbye.”
    “Wait Lennie, I can get you some money.”

    Fuck perception is what I have been hearing from people. All the taxes we pay and all we get is a garbage can. Drive down a side street from a main road and it’s like entering the twilight zone. All fucked up is a nice way to describe the conditions of the sidewalks in front of the majority of taxpaying property owners. The East Side has better sidewalks than Black Rock. Andres Ayala may have done poorly on the OIB poll, but he is pretty much respected by homeowners and it has a lot to do with him getting some nice neighborhood improvements done. People know perception when they see it. Most don’t appreciate it especially when they live on the side streets. Most of the Bridgeport residents want to see real progress, not a perception.

  7. I grew up in home where a passion for books was inseparable from a love of libraries … especially the Bridgeport Public Library. Back then, the city had one of the best run, most heavily utilized public libraries between New York and Boston. So my natural bias is to spend (prudently) to keep the library strong.

    Sly Salcedo and others make valid points why the city needs to improve the library. No argument from me on that. The library could benefit from some long-deferred rejuvenation. But if you think anyone in city hall will work magic with the existing budget, and generously re-allocate dollars from “wasteful” line items to more worthy ones, I’d beg to differ. It hasn’t happened yet and it’s unlikely to happen after Tuesday’s election. Any additional library dollars will come from only one source: the taxpayers’ wallets.

    This is one of those dilemmas often faced by Bridgeport voters. What’s desirable, what we need as a city, is often at odds with what taxpayers can afford to pay.

    Strong fiscal management isn’t rocket science. If the city had it, we wouldn’t be where we are today. But reality is reality, and as a result, I’ll reluctantly vote NO on the library referendum.

  8. I’m voting yes on the library referendum. It will be good for Bridgeport. The city’s cultural landscape is in desperate need of enhancement and positive reinforcement. Are there any other contributors that are more than a little tired of Bridgeport’s having a reputation for political corruption and the mayhem caused by street gangs battling over “turf”?

    If one mil seems like a high price tag, take it up with Bill Finch and his majordomo Adam “Pecker” Wood. They are responsible for moving the city forward and upward, out of the doldrums. The city is not moving forward and/or upward, in spite of the mayor’s photo-op claims to the contrary.

  9. Mr Hubler:

    I respect your decision–however I would like to point out a simple example of where monies that could be reallocated are wasted–the two looming litigations that will result from WPCA and Civil Service–there are strong indications that at least one of these was not for good cause and the litigation costs will escalate as will the monetary damages–so the Mayor can fill jobs with politically connected people–all monies that could be used to fund the library referendum.

    The challenge is looking at the problem–Libraries have consistently underfunded but have no homogeneous constituency–that is what the success or failure of the referendum will prove.

    If the tax base doesn’t grow when the deferrals conceded by the unions come to roost–who is going to take the costs on the chin?

    Despite your positive comments about the library, your no vote is in essence telling the City leaders not to reprioritize its spending in favor of a quality of life benefit.

    I know budgets–and I have worked in environments where looking for 10% savings is required–the library did it this past year but service was impacted and morale strained–show me why police and fire can’t save 5%–which would more than pay for the referendum and then some.

  10. Town Committee:

    The State Statute used to force this library referendum ballot question only applies to “establishing and funding a public library and reading room in a town or borough.” Conn. Gen. Statute 11-36. It does not apply to any other city/town department. So the Police, Fire, Public Works, Park and Recreation, etc. departments will never be able to use this platform to force the city to fund their departments at a particular level as voted on by the residents. That takes care of that one.

    On the drug raids, I think they’re wasteful and expensive. I don’t imply to let it “flourish and stand by and watch it.” Here’s my proposal of what I would do (whether I live in the East Side or the suburbs): every time the police, local, state or federal has to do a drug raid in Bridgeport … I propose that they call me first so that I can go to the site first (with a member of the Bridgeport clergy as a partner (volunteers anyone?), (Rev. Tyrone Jones of Messiah Baptist Church told me a couple of years ago … he’s willing to do this with me.) with a clipboard and No. 2 pencil in hand to knock on the door and inform the “targeted” individuals to surrender themselves peacefully via (a) a special Bridgeport amnesty program (details to be determined with the proper officials: city, state, federal) … all monies (cash, gold, CD’s, stocks and bonds. etc.) in one plastic bag, all weapons and soiled contraband (guns, knives, bolos, drugs) in another plastic bag. All the weapons go straight to shredder. No weapons charges, no write-up, no court cases to waste more money on, no mandatory prison charges and long sentences to warehouse more people. The money bag goes to my law office or a bank to be inventoried. 10% of the money is offered back to the offender, and offered a program to participate in the positive reconstruction of the neighborhood and city: job training, literacy evaluation, fatherhood/motherhood prep school, building green roofs and housing, rebuild the city’s electrical grid; in short, showing and giving a direct life-changing direction on the spot focused on Bridgeport, not a jail cell in Somers, Niantic, Cheshire, etc. And the drugs? If it’s organic, unadulterated marijuana, sell it at our “coffee shops”. If it’s heroin, test it for purity, repackage it for our Heroin Maintenance sites for distribution to the members of the Bridgeport Heroin Users Union (to be determined). Today, as you and I wake up and go to sleep each day, at least 120 Bridgeporters use the services of our safe needle exchange program. These fellow Bridgeport residents are out there. But they, along with hundreds, if not thousands? more, are vulnerable to the unpredictability and often violent world of the underground drug market. Why let that continue, day in and day out, year after year?

    What does this do? No shots are fired. No innocent bystander is injured. No child(ren) or adult is/are traumatized by a SWAT team bursting into someone’s home in the middle of the night. No chance of heart attacks by the elderly living in the same dwelling, etc.

    But I digress …

    Above all, you need to show that Bridgeport is different. Bruce Hubler talks about the Bridgeport Library as it used to be, Mayor Finch always uses the phrase Bridgeport is known as the “Arsenal of Democracy” … that was in 1940-1945! Here we are in 2009, my friends … 64 years later, Bridgeport is not the Arsenal of Democracy anymore. (The only arsenal in Bridgeport today are the countless number of illegal firearms in the hands of anyone, young and adult, trying to protect their market share of the illegal drugs trade.)

    The Bridgeport Public Library, long neglected and consistently underfunded, is in desperate need of a stable and consistent source of funds to serve as an anchor to what is left of Bridgeport today, and what it can be in the future.

    The power of the vote is in your hands, you still have 6 days to reconsider your vote. I hope you and Bruce will reconsider. Join Mayor Finch, Library Board President Jim O’Donnell and me and many others on Nov. 3 and Vote YES on the Library Referendum ballot question.

    1. Sly: I have read a lot of strange posts but this one is out there. So Bridgeport will have??? I cant go any further. I tried but your response is utter bullshit and I for one am glad you are moving to the suburbs. Yeah right we will forgive all the damage those confiscated weapons have caused. That’s enough, I quit.

  11. Digress this …

    The simple fact of the matter is that the city does not have the funds to “reallocate”, firstly, and secondly, Phinch cannot be trusted to make appropriate allocations. He is dumb and he is agendized.

    I am stunned that Salcedo advocates take the money now used for drug intervention. That just goes to show you that the pollyanna library huggers have no clue.

    I once asked if there was a drug problem in Bridgeport.

    I was answered with “Hell No. You can get all you want … anywhere”

    Vote NO. It would be great to enhance our existing library system. But there is no money available to do it.

    1. Yahooy I respectfully disagree. There is money that can be reallocated to the library. For starters, eliminate CitiStat: that’s 5 salaries, health benefits and pension. There’s a few hundred thousand right there. They aren’t taking on serious projects anyway. Most of us can answer the phone.

      Eliminate the QAlert contract that went to Pete Finch’s college buddy without a bid process. There’s a few hundred thousand.

      Combine City Attorney’s and Labor Relations. Retire Larry Osborne since he’s not qualified anyway and have the other attorneys handle ALL legal matters. Stop contracting out legal services. With Osborne’s salary and the money saved from consultants, there’s another few hundred thousand.

      Eliminate Nunn and Lisa. Non-essential, unnecessary jobs. There’s another few hundred thousand.

      That’s about $1 million right there for the library without much effort.

  12. Sly, you are a liberal’s liberal. But you know what, the recidivism rate is extremely high with drug dealers which shows that jail time doesn’t rehabilitate anyone. Maybe we should test your proposal. Put some guidelines together and do a pilot program. Can’t say it won’t work if you don’t try it.

    Lennie proposes that Finch be open to the “brainpower that wants to help the City.” What about the employees? Remember them? The folks that kept this City running through bankruptcy attempts, a mayor on trial, a mayor on drugs and a mayor with his head in the clouds? Give the employees some credit, recognition and appreciation instead of kicking them in the ass all the time.

  13. He (Finch) is dumb and he is agendized. <– yahooy

    yahooy is struggling to find a word. Is "agenda-ized" the word you were trying to create?

    You’re not qualified to be my dinner guest never mind a designer of new terms.

  14. I attended the Board of Education Candidate Debate at Messiah Baptist Church tonight 10/29/09.
    Sauda Baraka, Maria Pereira, Raul Quiroga, Pat Crossin, Bobby Simmons, Juan Hernandez, and Nate Snow were all present. Leticia Colon did not show up. About 20 minutes into the debate, Mitch (the switch) Robles walked in and whispered something into the ear of the event moderator. I’m sure he came to bring her excuse slip in a verbal form.

    I enjoyed the debate and I took score as each spoke to decide who did best in my opinion. Two of the candidates spoke very well and showed that they have what it takes. The two were Pat Crossin and Nate Snow. Others where very impressive–Maria Pereira, Juan Hernandez, and Raul Quiroga. Bobby Simmons and Sauda Baraka fell very short for two people who have been on the BOE for the last four years. They went as far as blaming John Ramos, the mayor and City Council. On the question of the dropout rate, they would not even admit to some blame. They talked about wanting to do this and that when they had four years in which they could have done them.

    If I could vote for 5 of the candidates they would be:

    Nate Snow (spoke like a pro)
    Pat Crossin (he’s got what it takes)
    Juan Hernandez (he understands student issues)
    Maria Pereira (has a good grip of parental participation)
    Raul Quiroga (more potential than Simmons/Baraka)

    Pat Crossin was good at clearing the air in the room. There was a question about whether or not the city and the BOE worked together as they should. Pat mentioned a Budget and Appropriations with the BOE back when we were in the council. The BOE always bitch about the city not meeting with them, Pat chaired the Budget and Appropriations Committee and a meeting was scheduled with the BOE. We waited the day of the meeting and no one from the BOE showed up. Weeks later, BOE supporters showed up during a City council meeting with signs to scream at us and demand more money. I remember these events clearly. The top candidates on my list are:

    Nate Snow
    Pat Crossin
    Juan Hernadez

  15. Just to be perfectly clear, I fully intend to support the needs, the goals and the future vitality of the Bridgeport Public Library. My issue is not with the need for funding; the library is a critical educational and cultural resource for the city and for the region. It deserves every additional dollar it can get. Conduct a fund-raiser for the library’s development and I’ll be the first to contribute.

    My point is there shouldn’t be any doubt who’s responsible for the library’s long-term viability as a core city asset. Obviously, taxpayers are the ultimate funding source. But funding allocations, setting city-wide priorities and balancing trade-offs is the job of the mayor, his staff and the entire city council. They deserve to be held accountable.

    The library’s ability to survive and thrive shouldn’t be compromised by the inattention or ineptitude of city decision makers … but recent history and current needs suggest it has. Taxpayers can’t afford the costs, nor should they suffer the consequences, of chronically poor fiscal/municipal management.

    That’s why my vote this year, in support of the library, will be for better prepared, better qualified elected officials. And not for the inevitable increase in Bridgeport’s business and residential tax burden.

  16. Hey CHS–Do you remember this posting? I am sure there a quite a few OIB bloggers who are in agreement with what was stated.

    Would someone PLEASE gag city hall smoker with a cigar, and make her choke on it? She is such an idiot! She is long overdue for payback for the pain and suffering she has inflicted on so many people. You keep running @ the mouth. Your time is running out!

    If there is a god up there, this pig will be punished. BAD KARMA is coming your way!

    Oh yeah, can you give us one good thing you have done for this City, other than to pass your poor judgment on others? You seem to have all the answers, so let’s hear WTF you have to offer. If you have no ideas to move this city forward, then please do us all a favor and SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!

    1. *** I certainly remember it & was in agreement then & now! More readers & bloggers should voice their opinions now & then. However, the name-calling & disrespectful disagreements should be held to a P/G rating, unless you’re giving it back to some of the usual x-rated scum wannabes! ***


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