Perfume For The Skunks

It’s Three Kings Day. If you were king for the day what would you do to fix this national, state and local financial train wreck?

One thing’s for sure, judging by the way Mayor Bill Finch was rubbing up against municipal leaders on Monday about the upcoming legislative session, a genie is better than a king. Birdman was chirping pretty good about his efforts to avoid municipal bankruptcy. The best way to avert a state bailout of the city, hizzoner said, is for the state not to bail out on the city.

Confused? Well, it makes sense to me. If the state kicks the city in the teeth by limiting resources the mayor may throw his hands up in the air and say, “Okay, you take it over.” It’s as though the mayor’s saying “We’re on the Titanic together. Are we going to jump together or crash together?” Ugh, line up the rowboats.

As the legislative session begins in earnest on Wednesday, there’s talk about raising fees, increasing the sales tax, doing this, doing that. Raising taxes sucks, but I could swallow an increase in the sales tax as long as it goes to the cities. It used to be if a mayor uttered bankruptcy in public there’d be a public stoning.

Twenty-five years ago former Mayor Lenny Paoletta’s comptroller announced the city was technically bankrupt. Poor Lenny heard that and choked on his linguine. When Tom Bucci needed a bailout from the state in 1988, he didn’t talk bankruptcy, he just said we’re broke. When former Mayor Mary Moran actually plunged the city into federal bankruptcy court in 1991, it was via ambush. She hired lawyers and told the boys to file the papers announcing it to the City Council after the fact.

Finch is tossing “bankruptcy” around like dimes and quarters. Whether a negotiating ploy or not–with unions or the state–if the mayor gets what he wants out of it to stem the bleeding maybe he’s dumb like a fox. The legislature is controlled by Democrats. We’ll find out if they’re a bunch of skunks or they turn Finch into a fox.

Meanwhile, there’s business to do in the city. See Finch’s news release below about an announcement today.

McCloud Group Named Construction Manager for Discovery Magnet School
Minority contractor chosen from among 5 finalists

Mayor Bill Finch, joined by Deborah Caviness, director of the City’s Small and Minority Business Resource Office, will announce the selection of the McCloud Group as the construction management group for the planned 70,000 square foot Discovery Magnet School, a pre-K to eighth-grade multi-district school focusing on the earth sciences.

McCloud Group, a minority-owned firm based in Hoboken, New Jersey, was one of five finalists interviewed for the job and will be paid $1.05 million. The McCloud Group will be responsible for such matters as controlling the scope of work, project scheduling, avoiding delays and disputes, procurement and enhancing project design and construction quality.

This is believed to be the first time that a minority-owned firm has been awarded a contract of this size for the City of Bridgeport.

“The establishment of this office opens a new chapter in Bridgeport’s economic development. In less than a year, several small, minority- and women-owned businesses have taken advantage of the resources we’ve made available and have secured thousands of dollars in contracts–both within the city and with private firms. This office is here to make that happen. This is a huge step forward for Bridgeport,” said Mayor Finch.

Robert McCloud, president and CEO of the McCloud Group will be in attendance at the press event.



  1. Despite Lennie’s half-baked compliment, Mayor Finch continues to make and say the right things to the right people on behalf of Bridgeport. Every municipality in America has revenue shortfalls. Thankfully, Bridgeport has somebody who knows members of The General Assembly and brings a new argument / idea / approach / logic and attitude to the chamber. He’s got The Feds’ and State’s attention and new funds seem forthcoming. Either way, his resume and experience as The Park City’s chief lobbyist continues to improve. I hope the best is still ahead of us.

    In an unrelated matter, DISCRETION–that all-too-important trait that limits or eliminates our response to things we see, hear, smell or feel–is making a big comeback and I couldn’t be happier!

  2. I have been reading this morning’s CT Post and see that mayor Finch now states that the deficit is $40,000,000. So what is the real figure $20 million or $40 million or is it less than the figures he points out. In either case someone has to pay for letting the deficit get this big. I can’t totally blame Finch but feel that Fabrizi, Sherwood and the council are the ones to blame for this Fiasco.
    1. Fabrizi fashioned his last budget with monies he did not have. Example Steel Point revenue $4.5 Million, monies from the sale of American fabrics building, etc.
    2. Sherwood is at fault for putting together a false budget that painted an inaccurate picture of Bridgeport’s finances.
    3. The council and its leadership for going along with this false budget and not speaking out (except Walsh).
    The council leadership for not following thru on disbanding the Port Authority; Savings in excess of $1 million.
    4. The council & its leadership for not disbanding the WPCA board and getting rid of its leadership.

    Mayor Finch has taken a hard line which I for the most part agree with although he could have handled the layoffs a little better.
    I do blame Finch for not giving us an accurate picture of where the city stands vis a vis the deficit.
    I do blame Finch for adding to the payroll political friends when we are laying off people with years of service to the city.
    I do blame Finch for taking the grants department apart and putting someone without a clue in charge.
    I do blame Finch for not reducing the size of his staff.
    It’s time for Finch to take a step back, take a deep breath and make the changes that are necessary for him to be sucessful in bringing back.
    As a citizen of Bridgeport all I want is a truthful picture of where the city is financially.

  3. WHOEVER SAID “Time is Money” must’ve understood that deficits are fluid. They change with each payroll and each account payable. Mayor Finch has given a truthful picture of the shortcoming on a near-daily basis. He’s used clear language to outline the deficit. Some appointees are from previous administrations and don’t always act in unison with The Mayor. The deficit still grows and nobody is seeking balance more than Mayor Finch. Here’s the good news: he’s looking for (importing) more aid from Hartford and Washington.

  4. Time is money and we have had a reduction in the city payroll due to the city employee agreements (furloughs etc). We have also seen an increase in the taxes that have been collected; this is above the projected collection rate. We have seen a 3.5 Million dollar reduction in Police Overtime. So the question is how did the deficit double from $20million to $40million (which I don’t believe)?
    Looking for money from Hartford is like looking for a hooker at a nuns’ convention.
    Getting monies from Washington is a real possibility but it won’t happen overnight even if it is passed the day after Obama is sworn in. The wish list compiled by the mayor will take significant time to get started given that these projects must be shovel ready & must be put out to bid.

  5. “Bridgeport Now” LIVE Tuesdays at 8pm on Ch 77

    Special guest: Bob Curwen of Bridgeport City Council to discuss Mechanics & Farmers building.

    Co-host: John Bolton

    Other topics: Steel point, and how many blizzards is the city away from bankruptcy?
    Charles Brilvitch on historical preservation

  6. Ask Finch what the deficit is.

    In actuality, he does not know.

    Therefore it would be safe to assume that no one in his administration knows for sure.

    Time is now to get someone in to give us the real picture.

    How come we don’t see any money allocated to a Certified Public Accounting firm to present an accurate picture?

    Sadly, because of continual goombah misconduct and current incompetence … we don’t have the resources available to pay the audit bill.

  7. Let’s not give too many kudos to Finch for anything. He doesn’t deserve any.

    There can be no question that Finch is challenged by the stupidity of the Fabrizi smoke-and-mirrors show. But the stupid son of a bitch has RETAINED all of the Fabrizi popinjays that put us where we are.

    Machine democrats have really given us the shaft.

  8. Excuse me. Did I just hear that The McCloud Group, a minority-owned project management firm from New Jersey, has just been awarded a $1.06 million contract to managed the issues related to the construction of ONE 70,000 sq. ft. school?

    Joe Gambino does that type of work very well. He’s already on the payroll or may have just been axed.

    While I always applaud the engagement of minority firms, I think we should not spend the money when we have (or had) an in-house resource capable of doing the same work just as well.

  9. yahooy: Gambino is still on the payroll. What I don’t understand is why we took someone from New Jersey. No qualified minority contractors in Bpt or in Conn?

  10. What I don’t understand is why we are paying $1.06 million when we could have Joe do the work for whatever he is paid. Gambino is a licensed architect state and federally certified to manage large-scale projects. What a waste of money!!!

  11. I have yet to figure out how to get paid for blogging here but that’s not why I’m here …

    If Mr. Bisogno isn’t afraid to bemoan Mayor Finch’s supposed “incompetence”, then I’m not afraid to label NAGE members as card-carrying, price-fixing, subsidized socialists whose foot-dragging is preventing their employer–The City of Bridgeport–from reaching a balanced budget. IMO, city, state and federal employees should not have unions; but as you know I do not make the rules. What’s good for NAGE is bad for Bridgeport. In the private sector, those decisions would’ve been made long ago, much to Mr. Bisogno’s detriment. Of course union membership doesn’t favor concessions so I salute those members who reluctantly voted to aid the city.


    The new Jim Himes Congressional website. Pretty awful. At least Chris Shays had good information and a way to reach caseworkers directly.

    First he keeps all the inauguration tickets for his political cronies, now he comes out with this website.

    Also, NO SEAT on transportation.

    Off to a pretty awful start!

  13. I have question that I hope someone can answer. If like mayor Finch states we are 2 snow storms away from Bankruptcy shouldn’t we have a State Review Board here already? He knows and I know that he won’t file bankruptcy. He knows and I know that he will be told to raise property taxes. He knows and I know that the State review board will take a look at the way the city is spending money and properly restore only necessary spending. So another question is if our finances are that bad why isn’t he asking for the review board to help us out?
    Could it be that he is like the boy yelling wolf?

  14. Some clarification for yahooy and Wondering, misguided Mayor Finch has dismantled construction services along with the central grants office. Joe Gambino is a licensed architect as is another employee who previously worked in construction services. They are both capable of drawing up plans and monitoring and managing projects. These were two architects that the city could have used for no additional cost but their salaries. Instead they were forced to bump to lower-level jobs because someone thought it was a good idea to lay them off. Again, piss-poor management. I don’t know who is calling the shots and what his agenda is but this was a real stupid move.

  15. As I sit here and read people’s agendas … if you like Finch you back him … if you don’t you trash him … I wonder what the trashing factor wants the man to do more than he is doing??? He gives daily updates as was stated by Local Eyes and his job is to balance the budget and he is trying to do just that … I’m guessing not only love is blind but so is hate.

  16. ***#2- Your blog is not completely on target as stated by a blogger; last Fabrizi city budget the city council budgets committee hired an outside legal firm that’s done business with Bpt. before to help & oversee the way the city council’s budget committee handled and approached the entire task. They worked with the Budgets Committee hand-in-hand from begining ’til end & also gave a final report to the city council & Mayor’s office on the entire operation & different ways to streamline and improve city cost, etc. The reason the firm was hired was due to many other councilperson’s suggestions that an independant outside firm with knowledge on budget procedures may be a better way to go! After the budgets committee’s passing votes on the budget was transfered to the full city council for a vote. Already with a very lean budget @ hand, about #4 councilpersons wanted to stall the vote to find another cool $1 million for the B.O.E., who I feel mismanages “$” big time! So when I hear Finch cry about the budget Fabrizi left him & continues to raise the “$” numbers every #3 months that the city is in the red for, I wonder. When I add up the potential development money & bonds, etc. that never showed due to the economic recession we’re in, it certainly doesn’t add up to $40 million & climbing! It’s easy to point the finger & give after-the-fact opinions based on outside the box rumors. No one said it would be easy, especially as Mayor of an old decaying urban industrial city trying to shake loose the cobwebs of time & the past! So if the heat gets a bit much for ya & you can’t stand it anymore, then it’s time to remove yourself from the source. *** Finch campaigned & made promises, won the election & now is Mayor. His decisions, his term, his job, his city & now his budget, man up! ***

  17. Since the administration has decided to champion the name Deborah Caviness at such a critical time when budget shortfalls are the topic of the day, I think it’s fair for us to chew on this–just a little.

    The City maintains that 93 positions were left unfilled. One would think that by now the city would have passed a budget transfer of the funds for these 93 positions and put the money in the rainy day fund (forget the blizzards, the rains are coming) and let the public know which positions are not going to be filled.

    Deborah Caviness was first hired by John Fabrizi in 2003 filling in a variety of roles including Chief of Staff. Finch tapped Caviness to run the new Minority Contracting Office. Soon after, the city administration let the public know its disapointment with the Bridgeport Police Department police overtime over expenditure and exposed some high-ranking officers whom the mayor felt abused the system and called for better control, transparency and accountability in the Police Department budget.

    Under the Police Deparment’s 2008-2009 budget, there is a position under the job title of “Senior Project Manager”. In FY 2008 (City Kitty FY means fiscal year) the Senior Project Manager position paid $81,154 and under the mayor’s proposed 2009 budget the pay for the same position was increased by $2,378 to $83,532.

    What does Deborah Caviness have to do with this? Caviness’ salary is $83,532 and this figure does not appear anywhere else in the City’s budget. The position of Senior Project Manager in the Police Department has never been filled and the money has never been transfered. Deborah Caviness’ salary is paid from the Police Department’s budget, more specifically the money earmarked for the position of Senior Project Manager.

    Is it wise or fair to hire someone and pay them with money from another department, so that person can help someone from out of state in landing a lucrative contract?

  18. “It’s Three Kings Day. If you were king for the day what would you do to fix this national, state and local financial train wreck?”

    I would beg the Obama administration and Jim Himes for $970 Million in bailout money.

  19. Cato you are right, I checked out the website, not very good. Let’s hope it is a work in progress. While Jim Himes is probably a nice person, I have to say it is a shame that we gave up Chris Shays. Cato, are you also saying that no tickets went to the public for distribution? That is too bad. At least DeLauro’s office held a lottery for some of their tickets. Lennie writes that they moved the Congressional office to 211 State Street. Does anyone know where people are supposed to park? They may have a lot but I don’t know of any parking directly around the building for elderly and families with children etc. … trying to get in to the office.

    Lastly, while I think Deborah Caviness is a good lady, I believe Joel is right about where her pay comes from. The only thing I can think of in terms of a justification is that a great deal of purchasing comes from police and fire departments and her work is related to that purchasing to be fair.

  20. 1) Unpleasant news. Even I can tell that if you want to make Bridgeport and Connecticut better you hire people who you are already paying or live in Bport or Ct. It’s nice there will be a new school. But I don’t get it, why would you hide how someone is being paid? If they’re working everyone knows that someone must be paying them.

    2) Gawd, do ya think you could give that Himes dude a break? He’s brand new. That Shays guy was like there forever, and you are already dissing a guy on his first day. Maybe his website will get better when someone starts paying him to do his job. On my first day at the bookstore, I didn’t even know where the bathroom was. People who want to sit around and trash new people and criticize probably ate too many sour grapes because that person has something they wanted.

    3) It’s sort of embarrassing but most of the customers at the bookstore know more than me about “lit-ra-ture,” but after getting to know the regulars and other cashiers who are mostly students, they turned me on to some real good books and I decided to go back to school at HCC. So my advice is to anyone new, well I guess the Mayor isn’t that new, but he isn’t doing so great, is to listen to people who know the most about what your job is, don’t be a know-it-all and if you screw up say you’re sorry and do it right the next time. And don’t try to fool people that you know more than you really know, ’cause the ones who really know, know that you are full of poo.

    4) Most of the people who post here probably won’t pay attention to anything I say. I may not be the most educated, but I have been on my own since I was 16 and I’m 22, I got an apartment and a job, so I think I have it together enough to have an opinion. Plus I live here too. So I can say stuff about the people who represent me like the Mayor and the new Himes guy.

  21. The inside of original city hall has now been destroyed by the willy nilly layoffs of this administration. Taxpayers should be aware that all services provided by seasoned real civil servant workers will now cease and be very difficult to obtain. All lower salaries have been eliminated as of Friday, anyone who does any of the real work to really serve you will now be gone.

    You should be encouraged however, by the fact that what remains are many highly paid so-called executives, who drive cars at your expense, and have the best of benefits, whilst long-term dedicated public servants who drive their own cars and pay taxes in this city have been let go, who had very little benefits and low pay, but it was a living to them. They are now gone. Good luck to you citizens of Bridgeport, as you have allowed this to happen, and you will now be served part-time by what working staff is left to you.

    Thank goodness the new CitiStat department has been created at your great taxdollar cost, because this program will weed out all of what is left of the waste in your general government functions. Don’t worry, the CitiStat WILL NOT be investigating the higher-level positions for efficiency, but will drill down on the 2 dozen peeps lowly paid employees who are left and are not doing the job efficiently. Whew, thank god for CitiStat. Certainly worth the money invested during these trying times. Those employees better take a heads-up because the CitiStat is coming for them … their jobs could easily be eliminated and replaced with management. After all, a city in such dire straights should certainly need more highly paid executives with the best perks available … and ohh … don’t forget … they need free cars as well.

    Citizens of Bridgeport … where are you? Why don’t you care?

    Thank goodness you have highly paid executives to keep a handle on things in the absence of people who can actually serve you.

  22. *** #22- Good for you, welcome to OIB & continued sucess in the future! Also, if you do go back to school or not, you may want to pick up an English #101 book and check out the chapter on sentence structure (wink); it helped me quite a bit while I was on the council. *** Now to the question about being King for the day & what would I do first to help a city that’s headed towards possible bankruptcy? I guess after final negotiations with the remaining unions; I would tally up all the savings figures so far for the city & where the next projected budget might fall? If still in the red by millions with tax increases included, then I would ask for a State Finance Review Board to step in before the Ct. State Legislators start in on their State Budget. That way the city of Bpt. should have the entire state working on our cause as well, by the media attention that it will draw! It’s not pretty but neither is our city’s crisis. *** After all, isn’t it time for “CHANGE”? ***


Leave a Reply