SHU Poll Gives Shays Lead, Plus: Squishy Squash And City In The Soup

A poll released Tuesday by Sacred Heart University gives Republican Congressman Christopher Shays a 10-point edge over his Democratic challenger Jim Himes.

The poll is much more in line with Shays’ internal numbers than the Himes camp which had announced two weeks ago that the race was even. Two years ago at this time polls showed  Shays’ opponent Diane Farrell within a few points of the congressman. Ten points still makes the race doable for Himes with four weeks to go, but in order to close the deal he must still make the argument why voters should fire the 21-year incumbent.

The SHU poll was conducted before Shays’ Wall Street bailout vote that Himes says he also supports. See SHU announcement below:

A new poll of likely Fairfield County voters puts veteran United States Congressman Christopher Shays well ahead of his Democratic challenger, Jim Himes. And almost two-thirds of those responding (64.3%) saw the economy as the dominant issue in this year’s elections, more than twice the number who cited the war in the Middle East. The poll was conducted by the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute in conjunction with WSHU Public Radio.

Telephone interviews were conducted among 400 likely voters of the Fourth Congressional District. The survey, which was fielded September 22-25, probed issues of concern in the present election, residents’ sense of economic well being, and such related questions as term limits for members of Congress and the expense of campaigns.

Nearly nine out of ten respondents indicated that their standard of living was very good or good. However, nearly twice as many people thought their standard of living was declining (59.3%) as those who said it was improving (32.3%). In addition, more than 80% of voters said they favored candidates who showed themselves willing to cross party lines. By three-to-one margins, they agreed that congressional elections had become too costly and that term limits for members of Congress were well advised.

Almost 65% of respondents could identify, in an unaided format question, the incumbent Republican Congressman, Chris Shays, a figure that was 47% for Mr. Himes. If the election were held at the time of the survey, 40.5% of voters said they would vote for Mr. Shays, the lone GOP member of Congress in New England, while 30.5% favored his challenger. A large percent, 29%, were still undecided. In the national contest, likely voters supported Senator Barack Obama over Senator John McCain 47% to 37.7% with 15.3 % remaining undecided.

Over half of those surveyed, 55.5%, recalled Christopher Shays campaign advertising compared to 42.0% for Jim Himes.

According to Gary Rose, Ph.D., professor and chair of Sacred Heart University’s Department of Government and Politics, the most recent poll suggests that many voters in Connecticut’s Fourth Congressional District are once again willing to split their ticket between their preferred presidential and congressional candidate.

“This is quite remarkable in light of the very anti-Republican mood among the Connecticut electorate. The poll further underscores how Congressman Shays has been able to effectively maintain his maverick image and present himself time and time again as a very different sort of Republican. At the same time, however, the Congressman should not feel overly confident in light of the large percentage of undecided voters. Undecided voters have been known to break for the challenger. The economic crisis, which has affected many stock holders in in the Fourth District, could certainly accelerate this development,” he said.

The Sacred Heart University Polling Institute regularly conducts national polls on issues of significant interest. This was the first telephone survey to concentrate on Fairfield County and the first to be cosponsored by WSHU, the award-winning NPR station affiliated with Sacred Heart University.

How the Poll Was Conducted

The Sacred Heart University Polling Institute completed 400 interviews with likely voters living within Connecticut’s fourth Congressional District, between September 22 – 26, 2008. Statistically, a sample of 400 completed telephone interviews represents a margin for error of +/-5% at a 95% confidence level.

Borges Blows Acorns Over Registration Drive

How do you like your acorn squash? Republican Registrar of Voters Joe Borges doesn’t like the way a community group has been serving up local voter registration drives.

Borges’ running battle with ACORN continues. Last Friday he filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission charging that the Bridgeport chapter of the neighborhood activist group forged a voter registration drive that produced more than 100 rejected applications.

In his complaint to the state Borges writes:

“The organization ACORN during the summer of 2008 conducted a registration drive, which has produced over a hundred rejections due to incomplete forms and individuals who are not citizens…also we have a box of duplicate cards and three boxes of forms returned by the P.O. as undeliverable. All of this has been a strain on my office and jeopardizes our ability to enter legitimate registration cards.”

Borges lists several problem cards such as two residents underage to vote, a man who was incarcerated when the card was filled out for him, a woman from Stratford who claimed she was pressured to give ACORN her information and three cards of the same name and address with different signatures.

Nationally, ACORN has trumpeted registration of more than one million voters for this election cycle, predominately in states helping Democratic rolls, marking registration cards with the notation A. Several chapters throughout the country have been cited for running bogus campaign operations. I’m looking forward to a response from the ACORN locals.

Doing More With Less

In front of roughly 100 gawking off-duty cops upset about police layoffs, Mayor Bill Finch delivered his State of the City address Monday night to the Bridgeport City Council. Part of Finch’s problem is the $4.5 million budgeted for Steelpointe revenues that may not materialize in this economic climate, as well as more than one million budgeted for union concessions that the mayor has not yet achieved. He blames Johnny Fabs for the budget he inherited when he took office, but this current year budget that began July 1 is all his. See excerpts of Finch’s speech below.

As I am sure you are all painfully aware, we live in very challenging times for anyone who manages a budget, whether it’s a head of household, president of a company or a mayor.

We are in uncharted waters, facing many uncertainties.

During this time of dramatic change, we are, and continue to be confronted with situations that can swing 180 degrees in less than a day.

There are no absolutes – what was true last year may not be true today, and what is true today may not be true tomorrow.

Many of the old rules by which we have lived have changed completely and we, as the managers of city government and keepers of the public trust must pay strict attention, so that we can take whichever bold steps and swift actions are necessary to protect our city, and its citizens.

This is not a positive time for our national economy and as a result, many of the decisions we must make will no doubt be difficult, unpleasant, and at times, unpopular.

We’ve made some tough choices in the past, and we will make even more difficult choices in the coming months.  I believe we can make those tough choices and that we will emerge stronger than ever with more disciplined finances.

To get us from where we are to where we want our city to be our guiding philosophy must be: “To do more with less.”

This means that to create a better future and a better Bridgeport we must ask for a sacrifice from everyone now, which will pay rewards to all of us in the future.  Let me say again, yes, we will need sacrifices from all.

This will require participation and cooperation on everyone’s part, including: administrators in the city and the Board of Education. It includes the unions, city workers, Board of Education employees, those who do business with the city, taxpayers, and of course, me.

All three of Connecticut’s biggest cities – Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport are facing difficult budget times. The difference in Bridgeport is this – we’ve depleted our “rainy day” fund and right now, it’s pouring outside.

When I took over this office a little less than a year ago, I realized we had been misinformed and misled about the financial situation regarding the Bridgeport city budget. We were not in as good shape as we were led to believe, and therefore, I was forced to make hard choices immediately to address a nearly $20 million deficit that I had unexpectedly inherited. Here are the facts:

• If there had been no deficit, then there would be fewer layoffs.
• If there had been no deficit, we would be seeking fewer concessions from our many labor unions in order to keep the budget on track.
• If there had been no deficit we would still have 20 million dollars more in our depleted rainy day fund.

But the news is not all gloomy. From Day 1, this administration has focused on doing what was necessary to put us on the road to prudent financial management. We have taken action to: 

• enhance efficiency
• eliminate duplication
• improve management
• take advantage of technology, and
• streamline city government.

While we’ve done all that, we have continued to place a premium on public safety, on the quality of life in our city, on capturing the revenues we are due, and on working hard to invigorate projects that will provide additional revenue.

I would analogize what has gone on over the past year like this: Last December, when I took office, the city was like a runaway bus on a bumpy road. Today, we’ve got control of the bus, but the road remains very bumpy.

Just look at what a difference a year makes. This time last year, we were all very excited about the future. There was a great real estate boom, with projects like Steelpointe attracting major developers. We were expecting that land sales proceeds, permit fees and new tax revenues would soon be flowing into our great city.

While we continue to work hard with the developers to make sure their proposals become reality, we know it’s a very different world than it was a year ago. Our country is struggling with a $700 billion financial system bailout.

The major investment banks on Wall Street–Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Smith Barney–most of the major players in the investment banking realm–are gone. Investment banks are the engine that helps cities like ours sell bonds and raise money. Without them we will have a harder time raising funds for projects such as school buildings and TIF bonds.

This is disappointing news for both the developers and the city. Though we will have to wait longer to see a new city skyline take shape, it won’t be postponed indefinitely.

Let me tell you exactly what we are doing.

We launched an aggressive plan to make sure all the taxes that are owed the city of Bridgeport are paid. Period.

Simultaneously, we are looking for ways to make our city government more efficient, cost effective and customer friendly.

Property owners, both developers and individuals, owe the city millions in back taxes and we are going to collect what is owed.

Our message is clear:  It doesn’t matter who you are or who you know, if you owe taxes to the city, then it’s time to pay up.

Motor vehicle owners have cheated their tax-paying neighbors and the city out of nearly $45 million dollars in back taxes, some stretching back 15 years. Fifteen years.

This is unacceptable. We’re going to recapture as much as possible by getting tough on scofflaws.

We are selling city-owned property, moving these parcels from tax draining to tax generating positions. For example, we recently sold 333 State St. and the old American Fabrics property in July, creating not only new tax revenue but new opportunities for Bridgeport residents. These two properties alone represent a combined investment of almost $14 million dollars. This development means new residential units, as well as new office, retail and industrial space will now generate tax revenues. This will generate new jobs and tax revenues.

We also instituted a furlough program through which I, members of my staff, and other city administrators took unpaid time off in order to cut costs. Let me take a moment to thank all the employees who took a furlough; I would urge all city employees to consider joining the effort.

We are focused on continuing economic development. No doubt, the flagging national and state economies which have dramatically affected the national budget, as well as the state budget and the budgets of cities like Hartford and New Haven, has hurt our ability to–to use a baseball analogy–hit the ball out of the park.  But we have hit some solid singles and doubles.  Here are some examples:

The City Council and my administration have been instrumental in securing completion of the latest phase of the Bijou Square project at 323 Fairfield Ave. This involves construction of a five-story building with retail stores and 84 condominiums.

The CityTrust project on Main Street, a perfect example of the kind of adaptive reuse that the city is now known for, was renovated into 118 apartments with retail space on the ground level, and is nearly fully occupied.

The Lofts at 881 Lafayette Blvd.–another adaptive reuse project–is a $7 million dollar project that resulted in the creation of 38 residential condominiums, which includes four units made available to buyers at below-market prices.

We hired Donald Eversley as our new director of the Office of Planning and Economic Development. Don comes to us from Providence, known as the “Renaissance City” of the Northeast, where he led the charge to get approximately 200 properties back on the tax rolls, generating millions of dollars of new revenue for Providence. We’re excited at his arrival and optimistic that with his talent and experience we can replicate that effort here in Bridgeport.

And, just outside downtown, St. Vincent’s Medical Center just broke ground for its new Cancer Center–a $150 million investment in the city’s growing healthcare sector. This project contributed significant building and permit fees in the last year–a bright spot in an area where revenue is down overall.

Kudos to the Tactical Narcotics Squad–one of the finest units anywhere doing this kind of work–for the recent arrests of several people who were involved in drug dealing in the city. It’s just one example of the number of arrests this unit makes throughout the year that helps improve the quality of life for our residents.

Kudos also to the Neighborhood Enforcement Team, a unit that specializes in quality of life issues. The team has taken more than 60 guns off the street ranging from handguns to machine guns. They have intervened in two robberies in progress. The unit also closed down numerous retailers who were illegally selling alcohol to minors. And this group has only been working together for 18 months.

The work that the NET Team and the Tactical Narcotics Squad do, are but two examples of the fine work that our police officers do every day.

We purchased a new fire boat to help us better patrol the harbor and protect the many boats and ships that sail through our waters every day.

The Fire Department, in conjunction with RYASAP and AmeriCorps, has been busy installing smoke detectors in the home of any Bridgeport resident who wants one through the Safe Asleep program. Bridgeport’s Fire Department has provided more smoke detectors  – 15,586 – than any other fire department in the country. Just imagine how many lives have been saved because of this program.

In one instance alone, 11 people escaped from a burning three-family home because the Bridgeport Fire Department had provided them with smoke detectors.

I want to thank the members of the City Council, who together with me have helped make the tough decisions in the past. Your leadership will be essential in the coming months, because we will have to continue to make tough and unpopular decisions in order to build a stronger future for the city.



  1. There is still a lot of fat to cut.
    The Ct Post listed those jobs which were cut and listed base pay, but I just wished they listed the overtime these people collected last year; it’s easly done I am sure, like a walk in the park!
    We need more cuts and many are in your office mayor.
    “Greetings” to reality and you can start at that private new gym your boy had built at city expense.
    Perhaps your “Greeter” could direct us to other such RIP-OFFS of the tax payer.

  2. I know times are tough, and I do not blame the Mayor for that, however, I feel that when he says this:

    When I took over this office a little less than a year ago, I realized we had been misinformed and misled about the financial situation regarding the Bridgeport city budget.

    He is not being honest. Same party, same people, same budget problem. Mayor Finch and his people (who were Fabs’ people) knew all about the budget and the pending issues. To say that he was “misinformed” and “misled” is simply naive and not fair to the public and taxpayer.

    As far as layoffs go, why would the City lay off people and then turn around and do this:

    And while the mayor didn’t specifically address the cops who protested during his speech, he did point out that the city is hiring 35 new firefighters and 50 new police officers.

    Hiring?! All the while laying off!? I don’t get it. Please – if anyone can explain the logic here, I would appreciate the enlightenment.

    Tough times ahead for sure, let us pray for a mild winter.

  3. More comments re Bill Finch’s speech:

    First, whoever writes for him needs to listen to Obama more. A little enthusiasm goes a long way.

    Second, as was already stated, stop blaming the previous administration when you carried over the likes of Sherwood, Feeney, and Carroll. The good ole boy club.

    Third, you can mention tax scofflaws but the proof is in the pudding. Show us the documents where you go after the big money and stop booting people owing small amounts. This is one area where trickle down is better than trickle up.

    Fourth, where are the singles and doubles in development? Bluefish Stadium? Only development there is news that they say their gonna pay.

    Fifth, bring back pay to play! Pay your taxes then you can play.

    3 more years of Finch … OMG help us. Between the good ole boys network and the kiddie brigade in the mayor’s office we are doomed.

  4. I think the city should equally go after tax scofflaws whether they owe $300 on a car or several million on property as does Sal DiNardo. I wonder if they make a boot big enough to go around some of the properties DiNardo owes taxes on and won’t pay up.

  5. As far as I am concerned this administration has gone about these layoffs and other cost-cutting measures all wrong.
    First they are laying off senior police officers and going ahead with a rookie class. What the cop layoffs appear to be is a way for the police chief to get payback. This is no different than the other layoffs that have taken place within the city. We are laying off supervisors or managers and forming make-believe new departments only to put a politically connected person in the job we just laid off the 30 year career employee from.
    We then hire a person by the name of Gomes to run a NEW Departmnt that is to oversee city department spending. In addittion to Gomes we hire EZ Santaigo and Carol Curry to work with Gomes. None of these people have audit experience or a real understanding of the city departments. In fact I saw Hughey, Dewey and Louey up at the transfer station yesterday talking to DePrimo. Wonder what they found out?
    Gomes decided in these tough economic times that he needed to spend $100K on his office remodeling. How many teachers aides, nurses aides, teachers or cops would that keep on the payroll?
    In big business Gomes would have moved into the available office with no remodeling but not in Bridgeport.

  6. Finch is a LIAR! Many of the employees on the layoff list are not being allowed to bump by seniority the way their contracts read. The city is opening up “frozen” positions and placing the laid-off people there. How is that saving money? The layoff list is a vendetta list. And how does Finch look these people in the face you ask? Well last week I hear he actually went to the depts where the layoffs occurred and looked them right in their faces! He has no heart. He is laying off veteran employees to create new jobs for his people. When the FEDS finally come in to investigate, they are gonna find out about all of his corrupt antics. During the layoffs NUMEROUS renovations are going on and NUMEROUS new hires are coming into the city at big pay rates!

  7. Mayor Finch is out of control. He has no clue as to how a municipality the size of Bridgeport MUST be managed nor does he have the intellectual capacity to effect the change that MUST be made. It’s time for a complete INDEPENDENT audit. We’re not looking for crooks, we’re looking for DAMAGE so that we can come up with cost-effective solutions. Business-as-usual politics is hurting us badly. It is driving us deeper into a hole that, given the current global economic conditions, may be bad enough to bury us forever.

  8. Speakin’ of the boot, when is the city going to boot that tax-loss they call the Black Rock (non) Art Center?
    Did Celli the con artist, and that’s the only artist he is, cast a voodoo spell or curse at the city during the last “education project” he had there and is that why he is still there?
    Isn’t voodoo a religion? And if so why does the city allow such things on its property?

  9. The tax scofflaw crackdown, at least from this OIBer’s self-interested perspective, looks like another disaster.

    Obscene as they are, I pay my taxes on time. Nonetheless, I got warning letters telling me my car taxes were never paid, and that my and my wife’s cars would be booted come the end of the month.

    So I get my bank statement, print out my cancelled check and head to City Hall for what I expect will be a long wait. This after repeated unsuccessful attempts to call the tax collector’s office and log onto the tax bill portion of the city’s dreadfully archaic Website.

    Turns out that if you pay more than one bill with one check, they can’t do the math, or something. As I paid for two cars and one boat trailer with one check, saving a couple stamps, I’m screwed. The boat trailer payment registered, not the other two.

    I was told the goof affected hundreds or more taxpayers, but that the problem would be taken care of, and not to worry about it! Why am I not filled with an abundance of confidence?

  10. Well it’s the same old shit from the board of Education. Our elected representatives thought it would be a good idea to heap more raises on BOE administrators here is the latest list of these greedy bastards.
    The boost will give Assistant Supt. Theresa Carroll and Assistant Supt. John DiDonato salaries of $136,669; Chief of Staff Robert Henry will be paid $150,689; Director of Finance and Business Julio Molleda will get $119,413; Director of Operations Al Hinds, $118,389; Carole Pannozzo, director of human resources, $118,388; Director of Food Services Maura O’Malley, $89,457, and Melvin Wearing, director of school security, $113,017.
    Imagine Melvin Wearing is going to make $113,017 for supervising a small group of wanna-be cops. That’s more than he made as chief of New Haven’s PD.
    Imagine that these 8 people will be making $982,691 for producing a 68% dropout rate. Job Well Done BOE.

  11. I wonder how many people were polled from Bridgeport??? And likely voters are the ones being polled and trust me they are not taking into effect new voters in Bpt and the district. Come over to the East Side and we will tell you who is winning. This is going to be a interesting race. And SHU poll I didn’t know they did polls to me the SHU poll is not accurate. I can get any 400 voters in Bpt and 85% will say they are voting for Himes but that does not mean Himes will win.

  12. If Gary Rose is the measure of academic excellence at Sacred Heart University, I weep for that institution. He’s nothing but a cheap right-wing shill. Come on, we all know this is a right-wing poll in what was the only place to hold a public McCain rally in CT with Shays and Joe the Republican. Not a shock about this poll being a right-wing poll. I’m tired of hearing poll numbers from Himes and poll numbers from all these polls I never knew did polls who trusts SHU come on??? Many people are not buying this I want to see a real poll of this race.

  13. donj, you must have been eating contaminated cat food from China. You don’t know Doctor Gary Rose!
    Dr. Rose encourages his students to think freely and debate issues among themselves. The best college class I ever had was Dr. Rose’s Political Science Class. Dr. Rose is not the measure of excellence at SHU only–he is the measure of academic excellence in Connecticut.

  14. Debate time – McCain needs to hit one out of the park just to remain viable. Anything less than that is a win for Obama. Let’s see what happens.

    My money is on Obama maintaining his composure, empathizing with the audience and winning the debate. McCain will probably do a decent enough job but that’s not going to be enough to get his floundering campaign back on track.

  15. Well there you have it, state of the city, what a mess! However, the city is going to get tough on any & all people & businesses that owe taxes in Bpt. That’s why the city council moved to tied the hands of the city’s tax collector’s office by giving auto tax delinquents the opportunity to owe more back taxes ($100 to $300) for over a year before their vehicle can be booted & towed. And they also have the opportunity to make arrangements with the city & spread out their tax repayments for up to unlimited years; Wow! Also the city council is getting tough on tax delinquents by trying to fire the Director & Deputy Director in the Assessor’s office for doing their jobs too well, all without manners of course? But hey, the city’s making tons of money on building permits from one of the many non-profits in the city, St. Vincents Hospital? That calls for another wow! Now if they can just figure out what to do with some of the other 49% non-profits in Bpt. that pay “no” taxes! Then that would be a big, Wow! It just so happens that OIB bloggers know a few, B.R.A.C. & the Freeman houses, many holy-rolly non-profit places of worship, slum lords abandoned property’s & empty lots, also many vacant abandoned industrial buildings & lots just to name a few. Then the city’s really going to get tough on those special few that get a tax break and make them pay the small % they owe unless they agree to a “$” fund raiser to help pay the Mayor’s back campaign debts, etc. “Wow”! All these incentives along with more layoffs of essential workers, yet being able to keep the city’s important election cronies should get the city back on track sometime by the next Mayor’s election! It’s this type of hardball planning that’s sure to make Bpt. the ghost town of southern Conn. and bring in the federal money that’s needed to maintain the state’s largest city cemetary in all of New England. “Wow”! Are you excited?

  16. Well, McCain has only one more shot to turn this thing around because that debate isn’t going to do it and his slide is going to continue, though it will probably slow down.

    I think the next time he debates he should just acknowledge the elephant in the room that he made a mistake with Iraq. It’s not like most of his fellow senators on both sides of the aisle didn’t make the same mistake as well. But it’s more important that in 30 years we can say “we started wrong, but we finished right” than “it was wrong and it’s the Republicans’ fault.” For some reason he has gotten away from that and I think that’s something he can hit Obama on because he didn’t support the surge.

  17. Good luck to you Chief Norwood. I wouldn’t work for Finch either. I was just in Richmond. They do, indeed, have their challenges. An environment very much like Bridgeport except for one thing … the mayor supports the police and doesn’t politicize the relationship.

  18. I actually worked on that poll and I am a democrat. It was not slanted and most of the pollsters are apolitical. The poll was conducted all over Fairfield County. Himes is in big trouble. He will win the city but just like Diane Farrell, Himes will lose all of the suburban towns. HEY Himes campaign, get your **** together and get some real talent to help you. Danny Martinez is not the answer. This is not a shot at Danny, but he didn’t work on the strategy of his own campaign. By the way, tell the d-trip to stop talking about how much money Shays make. People have no idea who Jim Himes is but they know Shays. People are going to split the ticket.


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