Remington Site Campaign Spin, And The Making Of Mark Anastasi, A Followup To Maley Money

Remington Demolition

from on Vimeo.

Take a look at this video. If I’m Mayor Bill Finch, I’d run an ad financed by his reelection campaign using this footage. “When the owner of this public health hazard wouldn’t budge, Mayor Bill Finch said take it down.”

Of course, if I’m State Rep. Chris Caruso, or any other mayoral challenger, I’d say “Finch was mayor nearly three years and stuck his head in the sand until that hellhole emerged as a public-health catastrophe! Such leadership. They don’t act until a gun is placed to their head.”

Who’s Mark Anastasi? A Follow-up To Maley Money

Why is the City Attorney’s Office the dumping ground for legal pals of the mayor? Grab a cup of joe.

In 1991, Democrat Joe Ganim defeated Republican Mary Moran to become the city’s 50th chief executive. I was Joe’s chief strategist during the campaign but I did not want to go back to government full time even though he offered the chief of staff position for a whopping $41,000. I went back transitionally for half that pay for 20 hours a week for six months to help him settle in, handle media, set up the office and make department-head recommendations.

The city was a mess financially, his predecessor had placed it into federal bankruptcy court, crime was nuts, key utilities were threatening to leave, UB law school said see ya, a state-imposed financial review board had ultimate control over the budget. You think managing the city is tough now? It was tougher then. Fortunately for Joe, he had a governor Lowell Weicker who was a godsend.

In those early months union concessions were critical to closing an $18 million budget gap. Ganim gave up two week’s pay to persuade unions he needed help. The mayor’s salary then was $52,000. Today it’s more than twice that much. Forget about what happened later. In those early years Ganim paid attention to business and was an excellent mayor. But if Joe was going to give up two weeks pay he’d make sure any department head he hired would do the same. When it came time to name a city attorney, the city’s chief legal counsel, I recommended Larry Merly, a pit-bull lawyer and good guy who had the job under Mayor Tom Bucci from 1985-1989.

The interview between Joe and Merly did not go well. Joe wanted Merly to accept a cut far below what he had been making under Bucci. The city attorney’s position was part time, but the occupant was the lead lawyer overseeing full-time staff. Merly said no. Joe asked for Plan B. If you’re so interested in saving money, I offered, offer the job to an existing city staff lawyer? It won’t cost the city anything.

Who do you recommend? Joe asked.

Mark Anastasi, I said. That’s how Mark Anastasi became city attorney. And he’s had the job nearly 20 years later through Joe Ganim, through John Fabrizi and now into Bill Finch. Why?

Mark is intensely loyal to whomever occupies the mayor’s seat. Doesn’t matter what party, he was once a Republican hired as a young lawyer under Republican Mayor Lenny Paoletta. He serves the mayor. In Mark’s view that simplifies his position. In many ways he deserves the Nobel prize for loyalty. But it sometimes conflicts with what’s right for the city, what is right for the taxpayer.

Mark became the de facto defense attorney for Joe Ganim when Joe refused to turn over his taxpayer-paid cell phone records to the media while under indictment. When Joe left office Mark was kept on by John Fabrizi. Mark, under John, had more of a public voice than currently under Finch. The Fabrizi administration, Mark proclaimed publicly, will be transparent, unlike the last administration (that he had served). Gee, it was Mark who blackened in the transparency to Joe’s cell phone records. But to Mark’s way of thinking that’s what he was supposed to do: make arguments that help the person who appoints him, city attorney title be damned.

Fabs felt it was important to file a lawsuit against one of the firms that had done business with the city during the Ganim years. Did they pick one of the firms that actually engaged in corruption? No, they went after a firm, Klewin Construction, builders of the ballpark and arena, that had nothing to do with the funny business. Nothing. (Full disclosure: I  represented the company.) No matter how many times I told the outside legal counsel hired by the city that the leadership of the company had no knowledge, no involvement at all with any of the funny business during the Ganim years, the lawyers didn’t care. They didn’t want to pay Klewin what was owed Klewin. Millions and millions of legal fees later, financed by city taxpayers, the city lost the Klewin case. Got its ass kicked. Anastasi had a duty to tell Fabs this won’t work. It failed.

The Fabrizi transparency that Anastasi had waxed blew up on two fronts, when the worst-kept secret in the political community was exposed after a drug dealer told the feds he had supplied Fabrizi with some party coke and then Fabs, trying to help his son whose pal was in trouble, asked a state judge in open court for leniency for a sexual predator. Fabs, in his effort to assist his son, told no one, not even his closest advisers he was considering this. Fabs was done as mayor.

Mark Anastasi is a good guy, a hard worker, and good lawyer when not distracted by mayoral whims. But he’s not a strong administrator. The City Attorney’s Office, administratively, has been a dysfunctional wreck for years. Ed Maley, an experienced legislative lawyer in Hartford became friends with Bill Finch when Bill served in the Connecticut State Senate. When Bill became mayor he decided to give his pal Maley a $7,000 per month paying gig as an outside lawyer. Part of that payment was to reorganize the City Attorney’s Office, I dare say, to reduce the impact of the dough paid to outside legal firms. Gee, Mark Anastasi couldn’t figure that out on his own?

The city has to hire the mayor’s bud at $7,000 per month? (To date more than $200,000.) And last week the city pink-slipped two employees in the office, but Maley still gets his $7,000.

The city charter gives the city attorney authority to hire legal counsel. Bottom line: Maley was hired because Finch wanted him hired … more than $200,000 later and counting. It’s Mark’s job, to his way of thinking, to defend the hire. And so it goes.

See link below to City Attorney’s Office budget.



  1. Mark should better understand he is supposed to serve the interests of the city of Bridgeport and not be the Mayor’s personal legal Capo. How much is that Klewin interest compounding daily???

  2. So we fired 15 employees to make up the budget gap … while other City employees get to hire their friends and family for hard-to-find jobs?

    Today on “Bridgeport Now” we will discuss the hiring of city attorney’s son Christopher Anastasi as project manager at CitiStat. Mark Anastasi is not alone in the hiring of sons and daughters of Bridgeport city employees.

  3. If I were Mayor Finch, I would want to stay as far away as, say, Alaska, from any political ad involving the Remington site. Yeah, time to visit Sarah and bag a moose and see how things look in Russia. Anything but Remington. It’s a nightmare. It was a nightmare years in the making. It happened to be devolving into a worse nightmare on Finch’s watch. I don’t think you can spin on that one.

    Chris Caruso, on the other hand, is all upside. Chis doesn’t even have to pull his righteous-indignation act to make the Finch administration look bad. It is bad. Caruso can take the high road, low road, a paddle boat to Port Jeff, and make the Finch administration look bad on Remington.

    The issue is what it is. I don’t think you can spin it.

    I’ve got to see a better pitch than the one made so far.

    1. Could it be the city and Sal DiNardo are still trying to work out a deal to clean the site? Stay tuned. The latest from Sal is the city can have the site. We’ll see. Speaking of running away, could it be Sal ran away from the Remington site after the fire that killed two city firefighters? The city and Sal are both fortunate no one was killed in the latest fire at Remington. Lots of liability there.

  4. Are taxpaying Bridgeport residents paying for the demolition of a privately owned building, the Remington building?

    By the way, we have City Councilman Bob Walsh on the program tonight to give an update on the Budget meeting yesterday and also the Contract Committee meeting later today. We will discuss the Remington building also.

  5. There really is no spin Finch can do to help him or his campaign unless it is spinning the 100 new hires out of the city payroll. I would not be surprised at all if Good ol’ Sal didn’t set that fire himself! This admin is the worst bunch of hypocrites to ever hit Bridgeport!

    1. When will someone look into the civil service division that allows these hirings? Who are the commissioners, are they relatives of the people hiring? People lost jobs who have families. I bet the commissioners are related to people somehow. Grimaldi this is your job to answer this for the people of Bridgeport CT.

  6. Arson and Bridgeport make me angry.
    There was never enough done to investigate fires back in the 1970s. It was a disgrace. This Remington situation feels like “the good old days.”

    I suppose the blog won’t be happy without Uncle Sal’s head on a pike on the Stratford Avenue Bridge.

    How about a thorough investigation of the fires? I don’t completely buy the vagrant angle for past fires. I certainly don’t buy any explanation that doesn’t involve arson for the last fire.

    The city should get a free and clear title for the entire parcel. All of it. No screwing around. Just make it happen.

    The mayor who does that is worthy of boosting it in a political ad.

  7. Some classic Bridgeport fires:

    The old Railroad Station

    The Pleasure Beach Bridge

    The Pleasure Beach Steeplechase

    Various cars of political figures

    An upper Main Street political campaign headquarters

    A city with tradition … now there’s a video!!!

  8. Listen to Gilmore, Callahan, Diaz and UOB talk about this enlightening subject … it’s pretty hard to extinguish this conversation … people kind of get fired up … as if people were carrying a real torch for history … CAN YOU MATCH THIS??? … should that phrase be nominated as a subtitle for Surprise! It’s Bridgeport?

    TC, where is your contribution on the subject???
    Did you hear about the smoky furniture dealer who kept telling the reporter he wasn’t having a fire, but rather a sale? No fooling …

    1. TC I’m from Fairfield, my dad was a fireman. The big fires I remember were Heritage Square, the condo fire by the Parkway (can’t remember the name), and Fairway Beef on Black Rock Turnpike. I have an affinity for firefighters, and I can only imagine how you must have felt the first day on the job with such a tragic fire.

  9. Not to change the subject, but I happened to be at City Hall today and I have never seen the employees so angry. Many of the people on the NAGE layoff list are known and loved. Even Finch supporters are trash-talking. As more DTC relatives and political appointees are exposed, it’s human nature to fight for the underdog workers. Finch could have a total mutiny on his hands if this continues.

    1. city hall smoker // Sep 14, 2010 at 6:40 pm
      As a follow-up to your posting

      Is it true two experienced women who are legal secretaries were laid off and two younger women who were recently “hired” para-legals are still on the job?

      Can it be that bad? Sexism, ageism and just plain stupidism all rolled into one man’s determination to lay the burdens where they don’t belong?

  10. City Hall Smoker I agree, it is so frustrating to look around today and over the last 12 to 18 months and see ALL the NEW faces at City Hall in Finance, Benefits and Civil Service. How about the Annex? Both Grants Offices and City Attorney’s as well have a bunch of big toothy smiles gliding the halls. You have to wonder where the hell they all came from. It is obvious for every (union) employee who was laid off there must have been 2 replacements in different jobs or doing the same jobs and just reclassified. This last round of layoffs hurt some hard-working people. I really think it is time NAGE (President and Executive Board) step up and stop playing games and take this problem to the membership and let THEM decide their own fate.

  11. Like I said before someone needs to look into who the commissioner is for the civil service division. The commissioner has to be relatives to get these new people in jobs while people are losing theirs. Mayor can’t do this alone he needs help from the commission. These people can’t sleep at night, they must have no souls. Nothing for us taxpayers to believe in in Bridgeport. I want to hear from Gomes, I want to believe. If I could sell my house I would sell but I owe more than I can get.

  12. Giving Maley the benefit of the doubt that he is getting paid to provide management consultation vs. political consultation (since it is widely known he is one of the Mayor’s kitchen cabinet members), the work should have gone out to bid. We are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars. I would guess the outside counsel work is minimal. I don’t think they have free reign in that office to hire management consultants … Bob Walsh may have some input or clarification on this. Also, is the Council looking into this at all? Talk about SURPRISE, it’s Bridgeport …


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