Short Fleet On The Hudson, Plus: The Amann Watch

You think the government of Iceland is melting? Yikes, check out the impact that layoffs have had in the office of City Clerk Fleeta Hudson who penned this letter recently to Mayor Bill Finch:

I would be remiss in my duties as City Clerk if I did not make you aware that the most recent round of layoffs has left the City Clerk’s office critically understaffed.

This office can no longer operate within federal, state and local laws. Please prepare your pertinent department heads and staff for issues with FOIA compliance, court document delays, and missed deadlines for state applications, along with delays in the processing of city council proceedings.

Please understand that this is in no way a threat in retaliation to the layoffs, nor is it imagined or fabricated in anyway. These are simply facts, of which you should be apprised.

As an elected official and taxpayer in this city, you may rest assured that I want to support any proper remedies to alleviate the city’s fiscal woes.

Basically, Fleeta’s saying it’s going to be extraordinarily tough fulfilling requests with anything having to do with the city’s legislative body. Want to know the attendance records of City Council members? Don’t hold your breath.

Speaking of council members kudos to the North End constituent work of AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia who has an impressive email blast that alerts constituents to everything from public meetings, answers to common questions regarding city departments to snow alerts.

Media Skinny

OIB friend Duby McDowell and fellow journalists have launched a webzine dedicated to news about Connecticut media which we know is in a fragile state of affairs under the pressure of cutbacks but presses on to keep public officials honest. Check out, a new link under “Discussion”.

Our friends at My Left Nutmeg have reported that former House Speaker Jammin’ Jimmy Amann has postponed his gubernatorial announcement that was scheduled for Thursday night at The Klein. Something to do about campaign finance clarification. They want to be cautious.

This is not a happy day for Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez. Fast Eddie will be charged with state bribery today. Yes, it’s that damn house again. Joe’s house. John’s house. Eddie’s house. ‘Housa ’bout a little grease for my house?’


Follow-up to prior post. News release from Connecticut Fund for the Environment.

Connecticut Fund for the Environment Urges Action on Bridgeport Plants

Extensive Sewage Treatment Plant Violations Cause Massive Pollution to Long Island Sound

New Haven- Connecticut Fund for the Environment, a New Haven based environmental group, and national organization Earthjustice, are calling upon the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take immediate corrective action on the two Bridgeport Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) plants that are annually dumping 350 million gallons of untreated sewage into Long Island Sound. The organizations are filing a 60 day notice under the citizen suit provision of the Clean Water Act and want to stop the plants from continuing to create a widespread public health hazard, contaminating shellfish beds, and pushing sewage into basements and onto city streets.

Roger Reynolds, senior staff attorney for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, commented, “There are millions of dollars in federal and state resources available to assist Bridgeport and put a stop to the unchecked raw sewage flowing into the Sound. Properly managing these facilities will also create over 700 jobs and make Bridgeport a healthier and cleaner place to live and work. If steps aren’t taken to address this issue, we will act to ensure the protection of Long Island Sound and the regional economy.”

Since 2004, due to the combined sewer/stormwater system, the WPCA plants–operated by KGI Bridgeport, a subsidiary of Aquarion–have allowed more than 1.6 billion gallons of a raw sewage/stormwater mixture to flow into Long Island Sound in order to avoid tank overflow within the facilities. The majority of overflow occurrences are due to the increased plant volume during rain; however, ten events were due to mechanical failure and were not weather-related.

Reynolds continued, “Mayor Finch understands the importance of this issue and we hope to work with him to address the problems that have been plaguing the WPCA for decades. We have now reached the point that practically any rain causes a free-flowing sewage pipeline directly into the waterway. We can’t just hope for drought conditions in order to protect the Sound.”

Reynolds is referring to a concerning uptick in overflow events. Overall Bridgeport’s west side plant had 47 overflow events in 2008, an increase from nine overflow events in 1999.

“We need to stop talking about this problem and start fixing it.” said Abigail Dillen, a staff attorney with Earthjustice. “There is no way we can clean up the Sound so long as Bridgeport is dumping more and more raw sewage into it every year.”

Cities are mandated by the Federal Clean Water Act to address stormwater overflow problems, most often by separating the sewer systems from stormwater drains or reducing the amount of stormwater that enters the system. Only a few cities remain in Connecticut that still have combined sewer overflows (CSOs) mixing rainwater and sewage. These municipalities- Hartford, New Haven, and Norwich- are making progress toward addressing their sewage overflow problems while Bridgeport continues to lag.

For 30 years, there have been multiple rounds of requirements and promises to study the Bridgeport sewage issue, but no meaningful enforcement by DEP. While Bridgeport was ordered to submit a complete study in 2000, DEP recently issued a new order requiring another study, deeming the 2000 study inadequate. In the interim, the number and frequency of overflow events has dramatically increased, and the threat to Long Island Sound continues.

Bridgeport has committed nearly 1,000 violations of the City’s permits including discharging illegal levels of toxics, solids, fecal coliform, and chlorine. They have also failed to comply with the legal requirement to hire employees with the proper skills and training, and they have not provided documentation verifying employee certification. Additionally, several mandatory reports submitted by the WPCA have the same sampling results- a statistically impossible occurrence- leading to questions as to the veracity of the information or staff expertise in reporting.

“The state must require Bridgeport to operate its plant in a way to meet the minimal requirements. The current operator has demonstrated its inability to do so and should be replaced immediately,” said Reynolds. “The state should also require Bridgeport to adhere strictly to the schedule and address the sewage overflow issue, and if they fail to do so, DEP should bring an enforcement action.”



  1. Memo to Fleeta Hudson: I hope your ship comes in. I understand the understaffed and tough conditions you endure. If it were easy, you wouldn’t be doing it.

    Pollution update: now we know: when we poop, we pollute. thank you but don’t tell ME I’m in violation of any law!

    and finally,

    IS IT TRUE that President Obama is a frequent reader of

  2. Local Eyes: Comedy Central will be holding auditions this weekend at city hall. You can join the rest of the jokers that occupy that building (executive branch).

  3. Did you ever notice that the people who want Bridgeport to suck it up and help the suburbs are from outside of Bridgeport? This held true when we signed that terrible deal with Resco that screwed the city out of millions of dollars in tax revenue all in the name of a quick financial fix. It took many, many years for this contract to be rewritten and Bridgeport to get its fair share. (Finch did do this).
    Now we have people from the executive branch of Bridgeport government telling us we should take the Monroe sewer deal because we will get a quick monetary fix. They won’t tell you the long-term screwing we will get. Just look where these people come from.
    Timpanelli – Trumbull
    Nunn – Monroe
    Abate- Monroe
    Wood- Up State Connecticut
    Feeney – from Stratford
    Scinto- Shelton
    Isn’t it amazing that in a city of 147,000 plus or minus no one is smart enough to do Timpanelli’s job, Nunn’s job, Wood’s job, Feeney’s job or Abate’s job?
    Guess what when we have to pay to expand the sewer treatment plant these guys will have to pay ZERO.

  4. *** It has not changed much as far as critics & advisors outside of Bpt. always thinking they know what’s best for Bpt.! You read it in the paper’s commentary section, you hear it from legislators in Hartford & on talk radio & local T.V. We get it from business groups, better-education groups, Mayor-appointed groups, etc. Hell we even see it when it comes to finding city directors to oversee certain departments! And most of the time they’re either wrong or not given a fair opportunity to prove their point. And lately, it seems like the only approach Bpt. seems to approve of is the quick-fix political approach which only comes back to haunt us in the future. And as I’ve stated before, it’s only going to get worse before it gets better, especially with the city leadership we have @ present! ***

  5. One would think that the esteemed city council could pass an ordinance requiring all mayoral appointed positions require that person to reside in Bridgeport. With the salaries that we pay these people I don’t think we would have a problem filling these jobs.
    I don’t want to pick on Mr. Eversley but what stake does he have in Bridgeport as the head of Economic Development when he resides in New York City? In fact what stake do any of these people having big jobs have in Bridgeport. None!!! They can pass all of the deals they want to make for Bridgeport and they don’t have to pay for anything. We the taxpayers do. What stake does Mr. Ramos have in the education of our children, he resides in Watertown and his kids don’t go to school here.
    When the hell are we going to wake up? When the hell is the city council going to wake up?

  6. Wondering: your sense of humor is exceeded only by your insights into the world around us.

    But here’s why I’m writing:

    My former boss at Cendant–the company that had the world’s best brand names and a CEO who anticipated e-commerce at Harvard in 1973–is being forced to liquidate assets to pay (gulp) a $3.2 billion fine. The fine is from 2007 when all those assets were higher priced. El bummer, man. He’s got 12 more years in jail. This guy had it all but made bookeeping errors to inflate his earnings. He was my under-the-radar hero of the ’90s. Wired magazine did several stories on him–he was a cult superstar. Now he’s a former billionaire behind bars.

  7. Wondering, I take exception to your remarks. A person’s residence does not determine the intent of his/her purpose. There are many devoted and hard-working people who don’t live in Bridgeport and who care deeply about what happens to it. Including many of us who live in the suburbs. I have said repeatedly that healthy cities create healthy suburbs and a healthy state. I do believe if one works for Bridgeport, they should become well-versed in its history and politics. As with any job the more you know about the culture and the people of the “company,” and being well-versed in the company’s “product” or service, the better you perform. Just because I or others don’t live in Bridgeport doesn’t mean I don’t know its history or support its health. We, all 169 of us are trying to keep afloat on the USS Connecticut, can’t we at least try working together? Up to now the great conflict between city and suburb hasn’t worked, I suggest we try something else.

    I grew up shopping in Bridgeport, went to law school in Bridgeport, worked at law firm in Bridgeport, worked for the City of Bridgeport and lost an election sticking to my belief that regionalism and healthy cities are critical to Connecticut’s viability. It is hard trying to foster goodwill for Bridgeport in suburbs and Hartford, why do you want to continue to make it harder by deriding those from outside who want to help? Forget history, look forward to the big picture. I believe current projects can be a win-win situation if people would listen to each other and stop projecting fears and stereotypes and assuming no one in the suburbs gives a damn.

    It is hard to not to be cynical and remain enthusiastic when you see cutthroat politics all around you. It is even harder when the very people you want to work for, and help, attack you. I haven’t given up trying to help, do you think I should?

    1. What I object to is people working for the City of Bridgeport and making decisions that will ultimately hurt the people that live here and pay taxes. Just look at the beating we took when the Resco deal was struck, it cost us close to $100million in taxes.
      Now a group of out-of-towners who for the most part work for the city and live out of town want us to let Monroe (Scinto) tie into our sewer system which BTW is at or near capacity. I refer you to the report attached by Lennie to this particular blog. Who will get stuck paying for the sewer plant expansion? We the residents of Bridgeport.
      Out of 169 towns and cities in Connecticut there are 6 major cities thus leaving 163 of the smaller towns in the legislature to dictate what dollars we will get.
      The only time the suburbs want to talk regionalization is when it is to their benefit. I think your opponent echoed the suburban sentiment when she attacked Bridgeport.
      Let me end with this. I know you care about Bridgeport and I know you have tried to help and in many cases have helped Bridgeport but you are an exception to the rule.

    1. I am not sure how smart I am but I will tell you that I still believe that if I am making an appointment to an office I can put requirements in a contract that both sides can agree to. NYC did it with their new classes of firefighters and in the police department. If I can’t do that then I would take a closer look at the local talent before I went outside the city. I know that there are people here in Bridgeport that are a hell of a lot smarter than what we have hired at the executive level.

  8. Maybe all the smart people in Bridgeport got good, well-paying jobs instead. Let’s see if I have to choose, good pay, good work climate, chance for advancement v. low pay, aggravating, thankless City job. Smart person takes the good private job.

  9. If we want to put more Bridgeport people to work, why doesn’t the City have intern programs with local high school and college students. They work for credit and experience, the city gets extra hands, and you foster and create interest in government service in a new generation. I know the City has its hands full with the current situation, but you can’t always operate in crisis mode, eventually you have to be thinking about improving the future. Some college students could probably help in the clerk’s office. Just a suggestion. There will most likely be 10 posts telling me why this won’t work.

  10. MCAT: I think it would work; it works in major companies around the country. The company I worked for hired college kids to work in their science lab. These were kids taking the required courses and would be looking for work in that field. They also hired college kids to work in their business section.
    The city could do this also but I am not sure if anyone in city government would be interested.
    Clichebpt: The jobs we have been talking about are in the $80K thru $100K bracket.

  11. I am down with Wondering on this one. I believe somewhere in the charter it does address the Police and Fire Chief’s city residence. And although the city may not be able to have residency requirements for rank-and-file employees, that state law would not apply to this more select group of individuals.
    I often ask how is our Economic Development Department supposed to “sell” Bridgeport if when they are taking potential businessmen or developers around and highlighting the great places to live in town, they must admit they all live in Fairfield, Trumbull, Shelton and places north. Let’s not forget that the former director of that department continued to live miles away in Newington after being on the job for years.
    What is the impression we leave decision-makers with when our own employees tell them they would never live in Bridgeport?
    The message to these people should be “Put your money where your mouth is.”

  12. And with all due respect to MCAT, when the highest-ranking members in OPM and Finance live out of town, it is a lot easier to suggest raising taxes than to do the hard work of finding real budget solutions.
    And the same to the members of the City Attorney’s staff who are so quick to foreclose on Bridgeport residents while living safely out in the ‘burbs.

  13. *** It may sound @ times like a lot of money on a yearly basis is being offered for some of these city director jobs, etc. in Bpt. However as far as Fairfield county’s job salarys are concerned, Bpt’s pay rates are low in comparison to some of the other cities or towns in southern Ct. Yet for some reason whether a national inquiry is done or just in-state for a particular position, it seems most local applicants from Bpt. or nearby rarely get picked! B.O.E. is a perfect example of this when it comes to picking school principals or higher admin. positions. Also, transparency in City Hall on all levels is non-existant in general; only minor legislative items, city ordinances & statutes on record, etc. are available to the public. Even the City Council has to constantly @ times ask for items in writing, only to get the run-around. So with that said, do you think it will get worse before it gets better? *** “HOPE FOR CHANGE”! ***

  14. Bob: Let’s be fair. The former economic developer for the city moved downtown as soon as the city trust building opened. She did put her money where her mouth is. In fact she is the only highly paid city employee to move into Bridgeport.
    I wish she were still with the city but unfortunately she was outspoken and did not kiss the right ring. In this city the powers that be are afraid of strong opinionated women.

  15. MCAT, if it is illegal, how does John DeStefano get away with it for his senior positions? At one time, I believe the Fire Chief and the Health Director were required to live in BPT. Can you clarify this?


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