Shays’ Campaign Blues, Plus: The Politics Of Crime

Congressman Christopher Shays, known for expressing emotion, is not a happy man these days, and his mood goes far beyond losing the job he’s had for 21 years.

Campaign staffers are contacting vendors to determine the actual financial discrepancy following last week’s revelation by Shays that accused an unnamed campaign hand of fleecing funds. Federal authorities have been contacted and an investigation is underway.

Staffers are holding their breath each time they make a call. More often than not they’re learning folks that provided services to the campaign have not been paid.

Campaign staffers thought that a modest sum had remained in the campaign account following Shays’ loss to Democrat Jim Himes that would cover payments to vendors and hired hands to close out the campaign committee that raised more than $3 million. A lot goes into a congressional race of that size–printers, suppliers, field staff, phones, consultants, telemarketers.

It sucks to lose, worse when you lose and must raise money to cover a debt you never expected. Worse yet when you believe it was due to a once-trusted hand. So now Shays’ campaign must reach out to reliable donors in this crappy economy to close the financial gap that could represent hundreds of thousands.

Pull Up Your Boots

We’re throwing a party, Dec. 17, 5:30 p.m. at Two Boots in the Bijou Square complex on Fairfield Avenue downtown. Join us for some slammin’ gourmet pie and eggnog! Good grief, Leonard, pizza and eggnog? Okay, forget the eggnog, but first cocktail on OIB. If we’re lucky Anna and Claude Balls will show up to pin the tail on the pizza. I’m looking forward to Local Eyes holding court with Speedy Gonzalez and his nine fingers.

Speaking of OIB friends, Dan Jacobs’ brilliant son Matt is appearing on Jeopardy Wednesday at 7 p.m. So cheer on Matt. Hey, could they have a Bridgeport category?

This actor was raised on Logan Street in Bridgeport’s East End.

Who is Robert Mitchum?

Economics Of Crime

The bloody weekend in Bridgeport (three killings) reminded me of the major difference between the last economic tsunami in the city–late 1980s and early 1990s–and the current financial hurricane.


Twenty years ago every poll in the city showed crime was the biggest issue, and with good reason. Drug gangs, murders and blight scarred Bridgeport’s inner-city neighborhoods. Remember the installation of the Jersey barriers on the East Side to discourage suburban drug buyers? Back then there was a murder a week with gangs called the Number One Family and Green Top Posse, and victimized neighborhoods screaming for help.

When I look at the hornet’s nest of issues Mayor Bill Finch is dealing with, the issue that has not yet stung his mayoralty is crime. Yes, he’s gone bone-to-bone and tooth-to-tooth with union leadership and rank-and-file over police overtime, police pay and deployment of crime-fighting squads, but crime has not yet come to the forefront of page-one issues. That could change with this icky economy. Usually as the economy goes so goes crime.

The crime situation that former mayors Tom Bucci, Mary Moran and Joe Ganim (in his early years) endured were far worse that the latter years of Ganim and the administrations of John Fabrizi and Finch.

When Ganim took office police staffing levels were well below 400 uniformed members. Within his first term 1991-93 Ganim added more than 100 new cops. In fact Bill Clinton campaigned actively in 1992, the year of his election, to add 100,000 cops to America’s streets.

By comparison, Finch had actually announced layoffs of a dozen or so cops, with more expected that would have found their way to a class of new recruits, before he achieved from the union concessions that will produce zero pay increases for two years. I don’t think the mayor would be talking about police layoffs if he had 60 murders to deal with in his first year.

Crime, as a threshold issue, has not threatened Finch. I hope it stays that way in future years, but with this economy it could turn.



  1. *** The politics of crime are just as unbalanced as the scales of justice in Bpt. You must not reflect so much on rumors, but search for the truth in facts. Negative factors have survived & spread so long in this city that it’s going to take teamwork by concerned citizens to make a change! Ideas & thoughts can be easily exchanged right here on this OIB forum as a start. Then it’s up to each & every citizen in their own local districts to work on some type of course of action. ***

  2. As one who covered the crack wars of the ’80s for The Bridgeport Post and Lennie’s own Bridgeport Light, I’d recommend small-arms training for all city residents should those days return, especially if Finch, a la Lennie’s old boss Tom Bucci, allows staffing at the police department to deteriorate to dangerous levels so he can save money to keep the party hacks employed.

    Speaking of crime, including crimes of the mind, were those really city plows and sanders out early Sunday morning, their drivers on OT no doubt, after that dusting of snow overnight? Is that a good way to manage money in a budget crisis? More importantly, in Moonbeam’s view at least, is leaving tons of sand and salt all over the place after less than an inch of snow keeping the city clean and green?

    Only in Bridgeport!

  3. Bullshit …

    There were more than 70 Bridgeport murders in each of 1989, 1990, and 1991. The PD was terribly understaffed. Moran was pulling the same crap Airhead is pulling, layoffs and no new trainees. It was bad. We were lucky we had some really good cops on the street then. Guys like Richie Mancini, Joey Convertito and Glen something or other. These guys and a lot of others like them virtually destroyed the gang leadership putting the culprits away for all sorts of crimes. It didn’t take long after the people responsible were put away that the killings went down. These dedicated cops did their work despite huge obstacles placed in their way by the mayor. Ganim saw the benefit of a strong PD. This shithead hasn’t a clue. Crime is bad. It’s a cancer that has to be dealt with or all the pollyanna plans will be for naught. Finch’s vision for a Green city could easlily turn into a Red city for the blood running in the streets. We really got hosed electing this putz.

  4. I just saw this on the Conn Post site:

    Lugo, former state representative, dies

    Staff writer
    Updated: 12/08/2008 06:28:31 PM EST

    Jose del Carmen Lugo, the first Puerto Rican member of the Connecticut General Assembly and a major force in Bridgeport’s Latino and Hispanic community from the 1970s through the 1980s, died in Orlando, Fla. last month at age 83.

    Lugo, a travel agent, jeweler and bail bondsman who operated from a cluster of storefronts on south Park Avenue in Bridgeport, also founded the Spanish-language Radio Cumbre, served three terms in the state House of Representatives and was the ranking member on the Human Services Committee.

    A leading Democrat in the city’s rough-and-tumble politics, Lugo also served on the Bridgeport Housing Authority and was executive director of the city’s Spanish Authority from 1970 to 1973.

    One of the very first campaigns I worked on was a Dem. primary against “Joe”. He beat us by 7 votes and thanks to Señor Lugo, I got quite an education as to how Bpt politics and elections really work.

    I would later work on other campaigns both for and against Joe. He was quite a character and I am sorry to hear of his passing.

  5. LowLevel:

    There were 9 LIUNA Union employees who were given pink slips on Friday. All were veteran employees. Also, there were quite a few from the Health Dept. on December 1. NAGE is said to be next with 40 or so employees this week.

    Nice Christmas Present from Bill & Tom!

  6. I would love to see these deputy chiefs chase down these hardened criminals. Crime has changed nowadays. You have technology involved with prepaid cell phones and leads could be impossible to chase. I am just waiting to see if I get my pink slip this week. I am not fretting because I will just bump out some sucker anyway.

  7. It would seem to be a good idea to bring in the Guardian Angels to help keep a lid on things … Crime is clearly increasing in response to worsening economic distress, and it is bound to get much, much worse as the economy continues its slide into full depression. Bridgeport will fare much worse than most–in regard to both economic privation and violent crime.

    The potential for per-capita violent crime in Bridgeport to surge well beyond anything in the 80’s or 90’s is great … It will take President-elect Obama at least his first term to rebuild the economy to the level needed to sustain safety and civility in distressed urban centers.

    The Guardian Angels are only part of the solution, but they can play a very significant crime-prevention role here; they have newer programs–aimed at protecting youth, and gang-diversion (the type of programs the city has been admonished time and again to prioritize … ). The Guardian Angels are also starting to take a look at other creative means of neighborhood stabilization/crime prevention. (Their staple approach to crime prevention is still the street-patrol function, which is still effective and can go a long way in keeping the streets safe–especially in conjunction with their newer approaches … )

    Things may ultimately get bad enough so that we’ll need the National Guard (along with a state financial review board) in Bridgeport, but in the meantime it would make sense to at least have a Guardian Angels buffer here for us … They are presently looking to come into Bridgeport, but they will need support. OIB bloggers will soon have a chance to offer support for the establishment of a Guardian Angels chapter here. Hopefully, they will be welcomed by the citizens and government of Bridgeport … (The police, especially, should welcome them–they will need help on the street, and the Guardian Angels identify with, and are very positive about police officers and their choice of a life of risk and sacrifice … )

    Hopefully, after our meltdown and the lessons of the ’80s and ’90s, we’ll be a bit more proactive–in regard to crime prevention and socioeconomic stabilization measures–in the face of our our present meltdown threat …

  8. No disrespect to the Angels or our National Guard, or even Team America, but maybe instead of looking outside, how about having people take an active role in their own community?

    Keep your eyes open, call the police when you see things that aren’t right or are flat-out illegal. No action? Get the ear of your local ELECTED OFFICIAL. You know, that Council Person in your district? The problem with this City is that all too often people expect “somebody else” to do it–make the call, report a neighbor doing illegal activities. Don’t want to get involved? Then don’t expect your neighborhood to get any better, and don’t blame the police. Become part of the solution …

    Here’s another tip–if you don’t want your services cut–use them. If PD calls/runs are up, then it would be hard for Finch to justify making any cuts to them, right?

  9. The Demographics of Crime: the state of the economy is less important than AGE in the reduction of crime. Sure, the aging population is most interested in matters economic but they’re less inclined to use crime to get it.

    The ghost of Don Pardo hovers over these pages and smiles approvingly. He’s secretly hoping Juan Gonzales enters the game so he can coach him to victory.

  10. Jeopardy, the game —

    Category: Bridgeport for $500, please

    Answer: It’s been called The Park City jewel. Millions blog here to express their views.

    Question: What is OIB? (Only in Bridgeport)

  11. Just a few comments on crime increase in Bridgeport. Last night we had another shooting, 2 brothers were shot in the West End. I don’t know their condition.
    The fatal shooting in Stratford & Fifth, I have a question?
    Why did a Sgt coming from the North End arrive at the scene before any of the East Side cars?
    Why have 2 North End restaurants experienced 21 car breakins in the past month and nothing has been done to stop this epidemic? The police, the police chief and the mayor have been informed of this problem. To date no response.

  12. I hear the latest LIUNA layoff list was a hitlist as well. Geri Evans who handles the workers comp was laid off but at the same time Phil White who got this position in the benefits dept by political connection was not. He has only 2 years of service and is one of the last ones in. Shouldn’t he have been the one to have been let go? Would seem fair. Ms. Evans has been a topic of conversation earlier this year when she ran against Val Sorrentino who is in charge of LIUNA. This was the first time her position was challenged. Could this be retalliation? I remember that the “union chicks” were threatened on this blog that they would be on the next layoff list and I see the threat has come true. Meanwhile Chris Reale who is President of LIUNA was laid off also which was very suprising to many but a few of us know that she pissed Sherwood off awhile back and this is payback. Last layoff in Oct I hear that nobody was allowed to bump as it is written in their contract. It should be interesting to see where the chips fly in this situation. The Mayor is being very blatant on who he is handpicking for his layoff lists. It seems if you don’t kiss his ass or if you don’t look the other way when you see misdeeds of the administration you will be next to get the slip.

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

    Today’s show: (Charles is out sick, so no history)
    Part One 8 – 8:30pm
    – Xmas Tree lighting in Black Rock
    – Black Rock Train Station
    – Feud: Black Rock Arts Center vs. Others.
    I understand Joe Celli has requested neighbor debate live on TV. Are you for/against the center. Call in your opinion, after 8pm 203 345 0103

    Part Two – 8:30 to 9pm
    Mayor’s report card, from/with Bob Walsh:
    a) Is the city cleaner? Is it greener? Is it safer and more affordable? Have the schools improved? Have the neighborhoods improved?
    b) Budget–$600 tax increase rather than a $600 cut.

  14. Sorry to hear that Geri Evans was let go–I’ve known her for awhile, and worked with her in committee. She is very knowledgable and will be a loss for the City–she came to work and did her job.

  15. Only in Bridgeport can senior employees get laid off and junior employees with connections be kept on.

    Bob Keeley can’t get hired as a schoolteacher in Bridgeport but the mayor’s son Peter can get hired as a substitute teacher. Only in Bridgeport.
    Only in Bridgeport can you spend a million dollars on a rewrite of the zoning laws, call a meeting to start the final process that votes for items in the rewrite, get attorneys and the general pubic at the meeting only to find out you can’t get enough zoning commissioners to attend so that you have a quorum. Good job Mr. Mayor in selecting these new candidates who could not bother to attend.


    Illinois Governor arrested for trying to sell Obama’s seat to the highest bidder.

    How stupid, low and despicable! Wonder if the governor grew up in B’port?

  17. Keeley could get hired as a substitute teacher any day of the school week. The pay is low and demand is high and it is available to any qualified person who would like to work.

  18. Would someone please remind Moonbeam that he hired an Economic Development Director? Has the new Economic Development Director done any economic developing?

    What happened to SunCat?

  19. LowLevel:

    Geri Evans was a union steward–WAS–she was terminated by Val a few weeks after she was unsuccessful in her attempt for the business manager LIUNA position against Val. What you fail to understand is that it doesn’t matter how much seniority you have in this city–the city is not giving union members their rights to bump–they did not give the right to bump to the 5 who were laid off in September. They put them in “frozen” positions. Those members are trying to file a grievance, but that too was put on hold. Seems that the city is in violation of the LIUNA contract. Heads up to those who are part of that grievance–bring it to the state labor board.

  20. The word at the Annex is that Geri Evans got laid off because she spent more time playing touch with Tony DePrimo than she did actually doing her job. The City was watching Tony for many months and when he was MIA, so was Geri. Plus when certain political hotshots’ relatives needed help concerning their workers comp claims, Geri’s advice was “call Berkley”, the workers comp provider. She could have put a little effort into it instead of just referring to Berkley. That didn’t help her situation either.

  21. I don’t know Geri that well but her reputation certainly got trashed when she hooked up with Tony. And if you were Janet Finch, would you choose 1) Phil White who is dependable and puts in his 35 hours/week or 2) Geri Evans who spends half her time hiding out with Tony? Seems like Janet made the only decision that made sense.

    There’re several employees at the Annex who got their layoff letters on Friday. Larry Osborne waited until almost 4 p.m. and then handed them out right before the LIUNA Christmas party. The Grim Reaper strikes again.

  22. Just my opinion but I think the heading for today’s post would have been more accurate had it been … The Crime Of Politics … after all it is Bridgeport we are talking about!

  23. I spoke to a City Council person today to inquire about the layoffs and their thoughts … according to this person, the City Council gets informed of Finch’s moves in the paper just like everyone else …

    You’d think he’d try to keep the council well informed and in the loop … guess not, or maybe it’s just a chosen few …

  24. *** 21- The Gov. grew up in the outskirts of Bpt. where he was always reading the Bpt. Post & criticizing the on-going problems of the city. Yet whenever asked where he was from, he would usually reply, “Bpt. Conn.”; go figure? *** Thats why sometimes there’s a big difference between being & wanting to be! ***


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