Shoo SHU’s Shoe

Okay, I’m counting on my OIB field reporters for help on this.

A few days ago, driving by Winthrop School in the North End, I came upon this condo/apartment-type complex going up right next to the school. The appearance of the structure is reminiscent of the days in the mid 1980s when condo complexes were being shoe-horned by developers in odd neighborhood locations.

Rick Porto,  Republican mayoral candidate in 1987, captured feelings about a condo complex intruding on St. Margaret’s Shrine on Park Avenue: “Christ’s hand is in someone’s bedroom!”

Mayor Tom Bucci, responding to angry voters, restored order by issuing an executive order limiting such developments.

The development site now in question received a zone change a few years ago for a medical office represented by attorney Ray Rizio, but then a dipsy-doodle move converted it into housing units that met suitable use under city land-use regulations. Okay, understand that. But I’m hearing the units are being marketed to Sacred Heart University students.

SHU, no doubt, is busting at the seams from that little commuter school we knew so many decades ago started by the Diocese of Bridgeport, now a modern, thriving campus, its dorms located in city proper, although the actual school address lists Fairfield as headquarters. College kids being college kids, the North End has been dealing with the beered-up randy types along streets inside Park Avenue.

The North End neighborhood is a relatively quiet place. It can be not so quiet when college students are at play. You can literally spit from the growing housing complex to Winthrop School. I wonder what Winthrop teachers, school administrators, parents, etc. think about these units so close to Winthrop kids.

Let me know what you hear.

State Versus Perez

Shameless self-promoter that I am, check out my piece in the April issue of Connecticut Magazine about Hartford  Mayor Eddie Perez who’s scheduled for trial on bribery charges in September. Just another pol on trial? Not exactly.

Big difference between the investigations of Joe Ganim, John Rowland, Ernie Newton and others. They were federal. The Perez case is state. The staties have little history of bringing corruption probes of elected officials. They were content to sit on the sidelines and let the feds handle it. The scorn from inaction did not sit well with State’s Attorney Kevin Kane whose public corruption division has moved against Perez.

Big case for the state. Win and build credibility. Lose and the ridicule continues.



  1. This was the work of a lawyer who presented the zoning board a proposal for a medical building and then it mysteriously changed to an apartment complex. This lawyer even faked out the north end association and won their approval for a medical building.
    This lawyer knew that if he got the zone changed he could then change what was going to be built on the newly zoned parcel.
    It is my opinion that this was a fraud, present one thing and build another. It is legal but wrong. This was the exploitation of a loophole in the zoning laws.
    This is regionalization at its finest. Another piece of crap on Bridgeport’s borders.
    To the housing inspectors, get off your ass and find these overused housing units surrounding SHU.
    I will tell you this if there is a fire in one of these overused 1-family dwelling and kids die Bridgeport will be paying out a fortune. The first thing said will be the city knew of these houses and only made a half-hearted attempt to stop them.

  2. If Sacred Heartless University really wanted to make a statement, they should buy Phil Kuchma out of his project and really make downtown hop at Bijou Square. It could be part of an urban affairs major and make them live downtown. Two Boots could really kick ass with a Kegs ‘n’ Eggs brunch every Sunday.

    Maybe then Sacred Heartless could use the name of Bridgeport. After all didn’t they take all that money from Jack “The adulterer” Welch for naming rights for the business school?

    Another fine example of Roman Catholic Hypocrisy. It reminds me of the guy whose dog had died. The gentleman approached the local parish priest and asked if he could say a funeral mass for his dog. The priest replied with a No! The bereaved dog-owner then told the priest that he guessed he would have to go the local protestant church and ask them to do the service telling the priest that he would be making a five thousand dollar donation to the minister’s church.

    To wit, the Catholic priest replied; “Why didn’t you tell me the dog was a Catholic!”

  3. The above referenced zoning matter is another example of Bridgeport being “Baited and Switched.” This is one of the problems when zoning applications come in for a zone change. The change of zone enables the property owner to do whatever they want according to permitted use of the new zone.

    As Jim Holloway once exclaimed: “We Wuz Hoodwinked 😉 !!!

  4. “Bridgeport Now” on today at 8pm, ch 77 and on the internet at

    Today, Charles Brilvitch on the show to discuss history and you can call in regarding Bridgeport back-in-the-day topics. Charles will be on the show longer tonight, after brief monologue from 8pm to 9pm.

  5. Hot Tip!

    Someone from Bridgeport Economic Development should be running, over to the Milford Fabricating officials about a temporary disaster contingency plan for their unfortunate fire this morning.

  6. Ah Lennie, still the master of revisionist spin when it comes to his boys:

    “Mayor Tom Bucci, responding to angry voters, restored order by issuing an executive order limiting such developments.”

    It was Bucci, his consigliere Chuck Willinger and their stacked P&Z, including such notable civic leaders as Tom Foldy, who busted zoning all over the Park City, squeezing as many units as possible onto every available lot to cash in on the housing boom of the early to mid ’80s.

    Bucci only issued the order banning further condo development with a figurative gun to his head in the form of a North End in rebellion, with Chris Caruso fanning the flames, as a desperate Hail Mary to stay in office.

    Then, when that particular boom went bust, it was Bucci and his unindicted co-conspirator Charlie Tisdale who took the White Elephant unoccupied condos off the hands of his patrons, i.e. Fisher, Paniccia and Salashourian, at twice the price they couldn’t get on the open market, using HUD funds for Father Panik Village relocation.

    So, a Mario Paniccia White Elephant on Atlantic Street that he couldn’t give away for $50,000 a unit? No problem, presto, HUD buys them for $100k apiece for Panik residents, thanks to our heroic Tommy Boy.

    Wonder how much of that cash actually wound up in Paniccia’s pockets? Wonder where the rest went?

    As Lennie once told me of his former brother-in-law Bucci: “His greatest accomplishment was solving the unemployment crisis on the Democratic Town Committee.” His only accomplishment, I’d say.

    1. Bob, I agree with a lot of what you contend, but you don’t have the Caruso part quite right. Caruso was then Democratic Town Chair as a result of Bucci buying a bunch of DTC votes through city positions to get him elected (Caruso didn’t seem to mind that) and although he and Bucci were hardly buds it was Bob Keeley, Bucci’s primary opponent in 1987 that fanned the flames of discontent re the condos. Yes, after a lot of screaming and yelling (my screaming and yelling) Bucci agreed to the moratorium and Slick Willie was not happy. And dare I say both Caruso and Keeley worked against the little league. (Do you remember that?) Yes, Bucci caved on that. My yelling and screaming that time didn’t work.

  7. Bucci’s other accomplishment was not having the balls to stand up to the North End and chasing the Regional Little League complex up to Bristol. It broke poor Perry Pilotti’s heart. Ninety Acres or Veteran’s Memorial Park is still a waste of land.

  8. There is enough blame to go around concerning the Little league Complex. I was involved with them coming here. Through Gabe Biafore then a state rep we had money to enlarge the Parkway entrances and exits. There was also seed money available to help this project.
    A large portion of the North End can take the blame for that fiasco. Speaker after speaker spoke against the complex stating that they walk the park and did not want to loose it. I know that these people never walked the park or had even been in the park.
    It was my feeling that they did not want other city denizens coming to the beautiful north end (barf). They were shown a similar complex next to a senior center in Florida and comments from those residents in Florida were revealed all to no avail.
    Tom Bucci punked out on this deal and Bristol won a beautiful complex.
    Guess what’s at Ninety Acres (Veteran’s Memorial) Park now? A large baseball and soccer field.

  9. Absolutely right on the Little League complex Len, as is Up on Bridgeport. I remember Perry with tears in his eyes over ravioli at Testo’s. But he didn’t blame Keeley or Caruso that day; he blamed Bucci for caving to the demagoguery after promising he would not. “He lied to me,” were his exact words, if memory serves.

    But I also remember Chris and Joe Trovarelli nearly getting into a fistfight with Paniccia in the lobby outside the council chambers the day of the condo ban, which was going to stall at least one other dump he was trying to throw up.

    I’m guessing Chris knew which way the wind was blowing by then and was on board. The last straw may have been Foldy’s plan for a complex at Trumbull and Chopsey Hill, I think it was, filed with P&Z at the same time he’d filed for bankruptcy.

    Wonder what would’ve happened if the feds took Shay’s advice at the time and brought the Panik relocation effort to a grand jury to find out where all that HUD money went? Like shooting ducks in Bunnell’s Pond, I’m guessing.

  10. I was waiting for Lennie to drop the other shoe. Problem was that Bucci was the mayor and didn’t have the testicular fortitude to go up against the North End mob who was at Winthrop School, for the Park board that evening in July or August of 1987.

    C’mon, Lennie, we don’t mind you being your old boss’ Butt Boy, but as Judge Judy would say, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”

    The fourth biggest lie, after “The check is in the mail”, was Bucci’s claim that we weren’t $60 million in the hole.

    Foldy, who’s a zoning powerbroker and pawnbroker, queered the deal for Marketing Corporation of America, at 57 condo units at the old Warnaco property. Best deal MCA didn’t ever make as the rest is history. Bad history for what could have been for the South End.

    Boy, that Barnaby’s was some hopping joint back in the ’70s.

  11. The sad part about what has been written here is that most of the people named here are still around and still playing in one way or another. Tisdale is now looking to get Garfield school, Bucci is still doing law business here as is Willinger. Foldy is a State Marshall. So it goes and we wonder why Bridgeport can’t move forward.

  12. Keeley, “The White Shadow”, never met a jump ball that he didn’t like. Caruso likes a nice couple of meatballs over some escarole.

    To be fair Porto, who wanted to paint the town, was against this site. Also, Jackie “I threw out the first pitch for Little League” Cocco was against Ninety Acres.

    Lennie. I didn’t mean to call you Bucci’s Butt Boy. I meant to say you were his Bat Boy. Too bad he really choked up on this issue.

  13. All this talk about meatballs and escarole is making The Oracle of Omaha Steaks very hungry. Perhaps Lennie would like to join me for lunch up at “The Wheel”. I hear they have a new pro with local roots. Could be a good potential par pod. I hope to see you at The Wheel unless you are previously spoke(n) Fore! Give me a Tee Time for lunch at Tommy’s Cafe de La Greens.

  14. *** Seems history & sneaky politics has a way of repeating themselves in Bpt. *** Also, seems that after years of changing neighborhood zoning in the west end, west side & south end, etc. to dump light/heavy industry, small businesses, public housing, city public service facilities, sewer processing plants, halfway houses, etc., the north end is finally getting a taste of the old, “Not in our neighborhood” type of city life “negatives” that other districts had dumped on them & have been dealing with for years! Besides, what’s wrong with young college kids letting off a little steam every now & then in the spirit of Good Education? ***


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