Primaries Around The State Today–Bridgeport Primary September 27–Mario’s Olympian AB Orchestration

Barnum's grave
Mountain Grove Cemetery, St. Michael's Cemetery, what would P.T. Barnum think of Mario Testa's absentee ballot operation? "This way to the egress."

While 21 cities and towns across the state will vote in party primaries, if you’re a Bridgeport elector expecting to vote today you must wait two more weeks. All good things come to those who wait, no? Would it surprise if some city voters showed up at their usual voting locations today? Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ordered the city’s Democratic primary pushed back to September 27 following a lawsuit by Democratic mayoral candidate Mary-Jane Foster who charged Democratic Registrar Santa Ayala improperly denied her a ballot spot.

City voters can actually vote before September 27 via absentee ballot. In fact if circumstances prevent you from voting in two weeks you can walk into the Town Clerk’s Office in City Hall, fill out an absentee ballot application and then vote on the spot if you prefer not to vote by mail. This also means you don’t have to wait for Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa to tell you how to vote. 

Spoiler alert: I’m hearing Mario wants to put on an Olympian absentee ballot push on behalf of Mayor Bill Finch. In the old days Mario churned out ABs like cups of espresso at his Madison Avenue restaurant. In recent years he’s been much more discerning about his AB approach ever since the federals came calling. Sounds like Mario’s feeling mighty mighty again. (FBI? What FBI?)

Shoot, that pounding in Mario’s restaurant isn’t mallet hitting veal? That’s him stamping his AB count. If you think Mario’s scientific in the kitchen, his AB operation is like a conductor directing an orchestra. Oh wait, is Mario conducting his operation in Mountain Grove Cemetery? How about one more vote to go with the carnations?

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, the state’s chief elections official who claims she has no real power, has finally said something public about the Bridgeport primary beyond an obligatory news release. She tells CT Post scribe Ken Dixon, “We’ll certainly be available to help, if needed.” Such bravery. Such conviction. Such strength. What’s the matter Denise, you afraid to piss off Mario if you do your job? From Dixon:

Merrill, in her first public remarks about the Finch-Foster primary, called the court-ordered primary a rare, possibly first-time occurrence.

“We can’t remember a time where a judge has ordered a changed primary date, but this was so close to the primary when this decision was rendered that she felt that it was required,” Merrill said of the recent ruling by Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis that gave the green light to Foster’s challenge.

“It’s very unprecedented, but the judge felt that there was not enough time for voters to get properly registered and vote in the election, so she ordered a change in the date,” Merrill said. “No one can remember a time … where that has ever happened before.”

She said that state statutes on local petitioning procedures need to be “clarified” to avoid future confusion. “But in the end, I think what the judge used, was her judgment that in the end, the voters should be given a chance to decide. I think that’s the right principle,” Merrill said.

“If you’re a Bridgeport voter, pay close attention,” Merrill said, adding that in cities such as heavily Democratic Bridgeport, winning the primary is tantamount to winning the November election.

Merrill said that she expects all local registrars to have plenty of election-ballot forms for their primaries. “We will be communicating with those towns to make sure there are sufficient ballots, just to cross check the system to make sure that we think there are sufficient ballots,” Merrill said.

Merrill’s office has requested that registrars from throughout the state provide turnout statistics from the previous four local primaries, to determine whether enough have been ordered for the upcoming primaries.

Last November, Bridgeport registrars delayed the results of the gubernatorial contest for days because they didn’t order enough ballots that could be read by the computerized optical-scanner machines and many voters were given photocopies to fill out.

“I’m sure our office will be monitoring the situation,” Merrill said, noting a new law passed this year that allows representatives of the secretary of the state to enter polling places during municipal and statewide elections. “I think this is a situation where they’re going to need a sufficient number of ballots,” Merrill said.

“We’ll certainly be available to help, if needed,” Merrill said, adding that she may assign observers to Bridgeport on the 27th.



  1. Mario is running a GODV operation. Get Out the Dead Vote!
    He and his ladies in the basement are churning out AB’s like they are making the mortadella, stuffing the natural casing.

    Mario knows this election is al dente. Finch could be Musciad’. The Mopine shall be passed to a new generation!

    Foster has donj and Finch has Don Ho! Thanks for your vote, donj.

  2. All cynicism aside, this primary will either make or break the future of the city. The school system is dysfunctional along with the faith in democracy in this city. Rather MJF will be the best Mayor in the city’s history is irrelevant, however, what is relevant and vital is the concept the people have a choice. An economic tsunami will soon hit the city and the person who wins must deal with it. That person must either stand for principal or run and hide. The choices will be difficult, made even harder by the pre-election deals made to insure re-election. If she wins, a full disclosure of all past financial schemes must come out. I suspect that will mean another round of humiliation for the city, but that will clear the air for all future city progress. This is now in the people’s hands.

    1. Agree 100%. You would think the largest city in the state would have a computerized system that could identify a living or deceased person. The definitely should identify every ballot and more important, see who logged the ballots out and put those individuals in jail!!! Maybe after the election that will be an investigation worth paying for and maybe that will be one way to clean up this city.

  3. I think I finally got it! We expect our elected officials to be leaders. Leaders manage, managers don’t lead. Leaders have vision. Finch has shown us he can’t manage and has no clear vision he can express. His total reliance on others for his living is the proof. MJF is the only option. Time will tell if it’s a good choice or not. Then again, a real democracy allows the informed electorate to choose how they want to be led. Don’t settle for a poor manager, vote for a leader, a person who doesn’t need the Madison Ave crowd to call the shots.

  4. It is not surprising to learn Mario Testa “wants to put on an Olympian absentee ballot push on behalf of Mayor Bill Finch.” Disappointing, not surprising. Charlie is on the trail: full disclosure of past financial deals will have to come out, and will come out. It’s not about Bill Finch, per se. He’s about as exciting as a plate of tripe. My guess is a lot of corruption will be exposed and Mario Testa will be a disgraced man.

  5. Here are some of the promises Bill Finch made back in 2007:
    ♦ to “lower property taxes by $600 and freeze property taxes for senior citizens”
    ♦ increasing neighborhood police patrols, improving 9-1-1 response times and supporting
    new police substations in Success Village, the East End and other neighborhoods
    ♦ making “universal pre-school” available for all Bridgeport children
    ♦ working to “lower class size in our public schools” by adding more classrooms, paraprofessional and volunteers
    ♦ a “pledge to increase funding for the board of Education for each year of my administration”
    ♦ to “maintain rewarding after-school programs that keep kids off the street and give them a focus for the future”
    ♦ re-opening Pleasure Beach to public use within two years by creating access from Seaview Avenue and building “a gateway” to the peninsula off the East End
    ♦ creating a czar of neighborhood development position in city government to oversee housing and community development projects
    ♦ establishing a Bridgeport Housing Trust fund to spur more affordable housing and to finance facade, playground and beautification improvements
    ♦ restarting the Neighborhood Housing Services program to help renovate residences throughout Bridgeport
    ♦ doubling the city’s recycling rates and decreasing the city’s energy use
    ♦ stopping the influence of money in local elections “by ending lobbyist donations {and} severely capping campaign contributions”
    ♦ passing “strong disclosure laws for elected officials” to prevent conflicts of interest
    ♦ to “immediately stop Freedom of Information filibustering so that Bridgeport taxpayers can easily access City Hall information”
    ♦ forming a Mayor’s Task Force on Asthma and Diabetes to promote healthier lifestyles, and a Mayor’s Physical Fitness Council to encourage young people to make healthier choices
    ♦ providing more funding for school-based health clinics and community health centers
    ♦ making Black Rock School a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade facility

  6. I wonder if SueBy would have sat back and let Mario Testa stuff the ballots with ABs. The current Secy of the State seems … “befuddled” as to what to do.

    Mind you, now, Mario Testa has done nothing wrong. There is no law against identifying registered Democrats who have a legitimate reason for not being able to go to the polls on the day of the election. Mario just has a knack for being able to find these people in numbers that could change the outcome of the election.

    I wonder what we are doing to counter Mario’s moves in this regard.

    BTW There is a lot of comments at this time about calamarian corruption. Last time, Caruso was pilloried for less.

  7. Voting the dead may make for a good headline and a good analogy but it is not what happens. They don’t vote the dead–they vote the missing or maimed.

    Maybe I should be careful saying that. If Santa can mess up ballot orders and petition forms, I suppose a third function of the Registrar of Voters could be messed up as well: maintaining an accurate roll of voters.

    The Registrar of Voters used to be very careful about removing the dead from voters rolls, and that was in exact reaction to the old practice of maintaining or resurrecting people from the dead to vote.

    I say this despite my role in a Post-Telegram investigation into voting that found a dead guy voting by absentee (and probably on the machine as well). That finding was an accident. We were really after gross absentee abuse, and we found it.

    The main way to rig absentees, or it used to be, was to apply for ballots for people who moved. Some fakes may have been registered, but usually you found real people. You intercept their mail, and cast the ballot.

    There are many renters in Bridgeport. People move a lot. The last thing most people consider is making sure they’ve changed their voter registration when they move. An enterprising committeeman sees the name as ripening fruit, fattening on a branch, waiting to be harvested. And does. Sometimes for several years until the real voter tries to vote someplace else. Then it is all a misunderstanding, the real voter gets reinstated someplace else, and the committeeman has to find fresh fruit. Hey, it’s a tough world out there.

    All those people who registered to vote for President Obama in 2008 are, I bet, very young. They are renters. They move a lot. They are ripening fruit.

    The rest of it you guys already know, usually involving seniors who are around the bend.
    Yo, Lennie. I don’t know why you are picking on poor Denise Merrill.

    She’s just another dumb broad the party parked as secretary of state, a do-nothing job you hope does not get in the way too much. She should be out negotiating pumpkin pie treaties with Rhode Island.

    Every skirt comes along and thinks they are going to be the next Ella as secretary of state. There was only one Ella.

    If you guys had just worked harder for Bill last year for secretary of state, Finch could be negotiating rain barrel treaties with Massachusetts and you could all be kicking McCarthy around right now.

  8. PS
    My comments about Derecktor are in no way meant to mean I don’t think it was Finch’s fault. Finch is a dumb bastard and he should have seen it coming and he should have orchestrated a workout deal that would have made it attractive enough to Derecktor for them to stay.

    Being blindsided like he was is typical of his criminally inept management of this city.

    I hope to God MJF wins this primary.

  9. yahooy,
    Your comments on the shipyard were on the money and I am pretty confident the City did everything they could to help out Derecktor.

    Understand you can blame Finch & Co. for many thing but some things are beyond their control.

    If this were the early 1900s, OIB bloggers would be whipping Finch for being responsible for the failure of a Bridgeport buggy whip manufacturer!

  10. Give me a break.
    Don Eversley claims he did not know a thing about Derecktor moving out. So how could the city of Bridgeport have done everything possible to keep them if they didn’t know they were going??? Eversley is either a fool or he believes he can treat the taxpayers like fools. This is the moron who sends out e-mails proclaiming proof the Bridgeport is coming back when a dry cleaners opens downtown; when a Pizza Hut opens in the North End. And this business is prepared to sail out of town and Eversley knows nothing about it?
    Andy Nunn, Finch’s CAO, runs the Port Authority. He did not know they had gone from a thriving business a year ago to a skeleton crew today? He did not think to ask Eversley what was going on over there?
    They continue to lie. They continue to treat taxpayers like idiots. They continue to care only about themselves.
    Why did the owner of Derecktor say he is talking with the state and not the city?

    1. You gotta calm down, you’re going to have a heart attack.

      A big Foster supporter Nancy Hadley sent around an email with a lot of solid info. Before you flip out again, you should read it.

      Just because those guys didn’t broadcast to the huddled masses (OIB Bloggers) Derecktor was in deep water and sinking fast, doesn’t mean they didn’t know or did everything they could.

      What did you expect … Finch, Nunn or Eversley to have a press conference saying a Bridgeport business was failing?

      Sometimes businesses fail and it has nothing to do with the City or Finch, etc.

      1. Oh, kinda like the city and the Bluefish, eh?
        The city was negotiating with Derecktor and that was good while when the city negotiates with the Bluefish, that is bad?
        Give it a break.
        Finch’s economic development team is totally incompetent. And like anything with this administration their entire lives revolve around election day.
        They would let Derecktor sink to the bottom of the harbor if it ensured no news would come out before election day.
        The Fairfield County Independent broke the story!!! Where was the CT Post?

      2. I would have expected something once it was announced. Something along the order of
        1. We have been working with Derecktor trying to help them out.
        2. We (city) and Derecktor have met with state officials and the governor in an effort to keep Derecktor here.
        We have heard nothing of the kind from this out-of-touch administration.

        BTW have they told you the Ferry is almost set to move over to the area of turbana banana in a short while? The work has been in progress for weeks.

    1. You have to realize many of those here have been active in their communities and in politics for a long time now and are very frustrated with the fact Bridgeport continues on its downward spiral. It is not Finch per se that has us all riled up but the machine in general we believe has to go in order for Bridgeport to be successful. Finch is just the latest cog in Mario’s wheel of misfortune.

      Mario et al. are not working to save Bill’s job. They’re working to save their hides. Without control of City Hall, the whole house of cards will eventually come down. And if you knew as much about what really goes on in Bridgeport as most of us here do, you would feel exactly the same as we do.

    2. So Derecktor has been in bankruptcy for the entire Finch administration and the Finchies STILL did not know? In financial dire straits all of that time, and Derecktor said nothing to the City? They asked for no type of advice, tax assistance and they failed to inform the Finch Administration the City was in danger of losing another established business and jobs for citizens? I just can’t wrap my head around that. Remember, Eversley said he did not know …

  11. Frustrated Bpt Democrat and Grin Reaper,
    Perhaps the Derecktor chief had more practical things to discuss with the State (which loaned him money backed by assets?) than with the City (that is paid rent through the Port Authority).
    And the comment about “buggy whips” and manufacturing in Bridgeport, hit me in terms of what the field of economics says about comparative advantage.
    We all observe people who wear multiple hats and theoretically multiple responsibilities. Other than being elected and our current municipal chief executive, Bill Finch in my opinion does not have an “absolute advantage” over the three other people seeking that office this year. What he does have is the incumbency and the backing of “the Machine,” and that would seem to be a “comparative advantage” at the outset. But stirring enough voters to vote and providing them with issues that cast doubt on your advantages longer term to the community, can also be counterproductive.

    The other advantage the electorate may seek is to create a playing field where a competent City worker devotes full attention to the job for which compensation and benefits are earned. And to seek Town Committee representation from those politically active who do not have a City job, as a matter of fact, who earn a living in the private economy where their political interests are neither conflicted nor an issue. And finally for those who seek out elected office, such as a Council person, they give their all to that responsibility without any interrupting or conflicting responsibilities. You see there was no reason for Budget and Appropriations to meet this week so their meeting was cancelled. How many subjects might they have discussed if a monthly report was before them that differed from the 11-month report, or from other info previously received? Might they be interested in how their $99,500 budget for Other expenses was used in June? A very important Council person had no idea what that sum was supposed to fund as of one week ago. I sympathize with him. Lots of line items. Lots of numbers. But if you plan to spend $100,000 for the legislative group, and don’t spend it in 11 months, but predict it for June, and it has missed your radar, I wonder what the 2011-12 budget says about that same line item? And if the dollars got spent on something else, don’t you want to know why and for what, and what about the future? And that is the connection of very few people, with conflicted interests all over the place, put in a position of watching the store, while operating the store, with some forgetting to recuse themselves around money issues, and who really cares anyway if there are no regular reports being distributed to the public, who will trust anything we tell them???
    The Wizard of Oz was finally discovered and unmasked. I think Bill’s claim for a $150,000 2011 budget surplus without a financial report to substantiate it available for another month or two, shows us as much as we need to know at any level of sophistication. Ozland is not for real. And the Wizard is not the real goods. He is a guy, over his head, saying whatever comes into his mind, to preserve his current position, and asking for approval. His real behavior in Hartford and Bridgeport has failed to support educational development and his financial management and economic development by relying on an underperforming team cannot allow him to point to those things over the four years that might provide an automatic vote. Time will tell.

      1. I give up … You don’t want Finch, no problem; but get a grip on reality!

        Grin Reaper–It was reported in both CT Post and CT legal paper that Derecktor was in bankruptcy a number of years back, before the mega yacht. How is that the City, Port Authority or Finch’s fault?

        Govt Cheese–The cheese must all be between your ears! Read my earlier post. Just because you didn’t know does not mean the City or Port didn’t …

        Beacon–Obviously you never learned how to edit … Why say in three paragraphs what can be said in six pages?
        I respect the incredible time & energy you invest to enlighten us mere mortals. I suggest the time would be more productively spent and appreciated by the community if you ran for office where it would make an impact. I’m not being snarky like so many on this site; the Council needs smart people. Lord knows there are enough dumb ones.

        1. Please do not attack, not in good taste. And name calling? Totally bad form, even for a Finch supporter. No FBD, I do not hang my hat on your posts, no matter how much that pisses you off. And obviously it does.

    1. Wordy but true. This is Bridgeport, after all. Somewhere I read you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Bill Finch ought to wake up. After throwing bullshit at us for three years some of it has started to fertilize. More and more people are seeing his mayoralty has been nothing more than a bad vaudeville act replete with clowns, jugglers, plate spinners, animal acts and lousy theater.

      1. yahooy, FBD and TBK,
        Thanks for your opinions about my writing. Whatever I have been doing for many months now, I am not being contradicted for my factual statements, after personal research and thoughtful reflection. Isn’t that interesting? So I am happy many readers understand my comments and can see how they work at so many levels of City government.

        yahooy … wordy … but if you did not know the legislative budget had a $99,500 unspent line item at 11 months that could have been used for assistance in understanding City finances, perhaps you do now, and have evidence B&A does not really care to be the check and balance required in a City with nearly a half billion dollar annual budget. Instead of wordy, how about interesting, I did not know that?
        And guys, nice to accuse me of intelligence but I am not an accountant. I do read and the info I feed you is available to everyone. Instead of all of us throwing up our hands at the CT Post or other media, why haven’t more people been willing to be part of BOB on budget oversight? How many have looked at the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report – 2010 posted by the City and read all 66 pages of footnotes? Bet you can find one or more topics that disturb you from where you sit.

        So upon reflection, I have enough activities for the benefit of the community and as a volunteer for which I am responsible, without throwing my hat in the ring. What I have been doing for the benefit of the community in OIB is to pull out information at a deeper level than previously acknowledged, reflect upon how it fits into making Bridgeport stronger or weaker, and share the story.

        I use a lot of personal time writing, and not editing to your standards, but a lot of people are reading, are understanding they are due fiscal reports monthly, that blue recycling bins and green rain barrels do not make up for debt burdens being laid on the public or for an elected Board committing suicide to make room for the State-appointed group to enter, or for the uncontested naked self-interest and continuing practice in the face of conflicts of interest among many elected and appointed City officials. Teflon coating? Legal protection? Weak statutes, Charter viewed as full of “passing conventions,” you name it, we have a full house. Time to clean house. So wordy I shall be. Like it or lump it. My failure to respond to many posts is neither acceptance nor rejection of that which is stated. Rather it all goes into the “reflection process” so when I am moved to write or respond, I have a base from which to offer my thoughts and opinions. You know where I stand, anyway, and we will shortly see where the City stands. Time will tell.

        1. Wordy. You have meaningful and important things to say. I have two academic degrees and a military commission. You lose me too early in your incessant tomes. Brevity. More of us would appreciate what you have to say.

          1. With two academic degrees I’ll bet you could read the 66 pages I mentioned above. Have you? I don’t recall your mentioning it. Not knocking your achievements at all, but I only have one academic degree, and was an E-6 serving as a Supply Sergeant when I left the reserves. You were an officer, a leader of men. If you read the military manuals, 66 pages of auditor notes ought to be simple for you.
            I am not Radar O’Reilly and you are not the Colonel. Get on the case. You’ve got the ability and the time.

  12. Sadly, elections are not taken very seriously in our country, some are saying now. When we do nation building at taxpayer expense, we provide more attention to the election process. Some countries like Iraq have a full week to vote. Besides those countries we occupy, still other countries have useful strategies to focus on good elections.

    In Argentina voting is required by law or you are fined. Other countries schedule voting day on the weekend instead of the workweek. Our one-day Tuesday voting is an outdated concept.

    We need citizens to voice discontent with all of this and push for change. Many can barely get to work in time after waiting in line, and if there is one problem like where Caruso contested during the Finch vote where the machines were, what, shut down, didn’t work for some reason, many cannot vote. Is anyone counting the people who leave voting lines because they cannot wait anymore?

    I am surprised after the ballot shortage earlier this year, there are not more people calling for review of what has changed. Have you reviewed the results of the shortage? The LWV were not happy with some of the conclusions, when I forwarded it to them.

    Tonight’s TV show features the author of the privateer who founded our first customs house.

  13. There will not be change if all people do not exercise their right to vote, a right many people have died for so others may have gained that right and continue to die all over this earth for the very same right we citizens of BPT flaunt as if it means nothing. So therefore use it or lose what you gain from it.

  14. Jim Callahan–try jumping into the 21st century with the rest of us. Nobody intelligent refers to women as broads or skirts. Disagreement with someone’s politics is no excuse for sexism.

  15. Frustrated Bridgeport Democrat,
    Simple questions. Do you believe Don Eversley when he says he knew nothing about Derecktor Ships leaving town? Yes or No.
    Do you believe Andy Nunn knew nothing about Derecktor Ships leaving town? Yes or No.
    Either they are lying or incompetent. Plain and simple.

  16. Did they know D was in trouble? … Yes.
    Did they know D was on real shaky territory? … Yes.
    Have they or had they been speaking with D about back rent, etc.? … Yes.
    Did they know they were shutting down and leaving this week or imminently? … No.

    There are people whom I respect who are adamant about changing the administrations and that’s what elections are for. But this should not be one of the compelling reasons.

  17. Jim Callahan, I see that Sheepthrills has replied to your post from this morning. I have waited all day for someone to say something. Look Jim, I am one of those who enjoyed your writing as an reporter and your thoughts on OIB. I don’t want to be PC and I do agreed with what you said but we all need to get away (including myself) from talking about women in a negative way.

  18. Jim,
    I hope Ron gives an OK to your alternative of “dumb hack.” As far as I can see, “dumb” is a sex-blind adjective, and comes in all flavors.

    Thanks for reading … and for writing to provide us with a historical perspective at times and also to provide the viewpoint from a local member of the Fourth Estate … Time will tell.

    1. I have no problem with “dumb” being used. One of things I like about OIB is the fact Lennie, John Gilmore and Jim Callahan bring such a clear understanding of the history of Bridgeport that is not read anymore in the Post. BEACON2, keep being “wordy.”


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