Syesha’s Final Four, Russo’s Rule, Mount’s In, And Finch Finds Religion

A busy Wednesday night, a busy Thursday. Bridgeport’s own Syesha Mercado advanced to the Final Four on American Idol! Don’t forget, blog party May 15, 6 p.m. at Captain’s Cove.

Republican State Sen. Rob Russo’s bid to prohibit city employees from serving on the Bridgeport City Council was shot down along party lines by the state senate on Wednesday. Believe it or not, the Bridgeport City Charter bans city employees from serving on the city’s legislative body, but small print added to state law years ago allows legislative service as long as the city employee does not report directly to the governing body.

Confused? A legislative aide that works directly for the council, for instance, cannot serve on the elected body. But if you work for a city department you can. Yeah I know, it’s screwy. Russo has pushed to close the state loophole to ratify the spirit of the city charter, claiming too many potential conflicts of interests prevents council members from acting independently of the mayor’s office. For instance, I will vote for your budget if you give me a raise. (It’s been done.) Nearly half of the 20 members of the council are city employees.

Opponents to Russo’s claims say it’s unconstitutional to ban city employees from seeking office to the legislative body. They also say no one understands the needs of a city better than a city employee.

Despite the vote setback, the measure is a strong reform issue for Russo, the lone Republican in the city’s legislative delegation. Nothing wrong with a little reform in Bridgeport, especially when 60 percent of the legislative district falls in Trumbull and Monroe. The larger issue Russo has pushed is securing the funds for a comprehensive audit of the Bridgeport Board of Education that would finally tell us who’s earning a living from the bowels of St. Michael’s Cemetery.

Russo’s hoping to announce the funding before the session ends next week. See Russo press release below:

Russo Calls for “Home Rule” to Determine Whether to Restrict City Employees from Serving on the City Council

Hartford, CT — In the interest of Home Rule, State Senator Robert D. Russo (R-22) offered an amendment on the floor of the State Senate today to restore towns’ authority to restrict municipal employees from serving on local legislative bodies when the town or city charter explicitly prohibits such service.

Senator Russo’s hometown of Bridgeport has a charter provision that precludes city employees from serving on the city council, but it is not enforced. The City Attorney has pointed to state law (CGS 7-421) as overriding local rule, thus permitting city employees to serve on the City Council. Under Senator Russo’s amendment, city employees would have been prohibited from serving on the Bridgeport City Council after the 2009 municipal elections.

“In the past few years, Bridgeport has had many city council members who have also been paid city employees. This is still happening today despite the fact that the people of Bridgeport, through their city charter, have decided this conflict of interest is completely inappropriate,” said Senator Russo. “The conflicts are obvious. City council members who are also city employees are regularly asked to make decisions about the city budget that directly impact their salaries. Moreover, these council members cannot be completely free to vote their conscience and represent their constituents if they fear being fired or reprimanded for opposing the administration’s policies.

“At a time when Bridgeport is making strides toward improving its image, the city would do well to end the practice of allowing city employees to serve on the city council. My amendment would have forced Bridgeport to honor its city charter, but due to party politics the state decided Bridgeport doesn’t have to comply.”

Senator Russo’s amendment was defeated 23-13 on a strict party-line vote. State Senator Ed Gomes (D-23), who also represents part of Bridgeport, spoke in opposition to and voted against the bill.

Mount Announces Run

Democrat Michele Mount, director of Legislative Affairs for Bridgeport, will be challenging Republican State Rep. DebraLee Hovey whose legislative district covers all of Monroe and the southern section of Newtown.

Mount, an attorney, is expected to leave city service in Bridgeport later this month to devote her attention to the race. She has served as a bright, vocal advocate on behalf of Bridgeport’s interests in Hartford, particularly the city’s efforts to achieve full funding of tax-exempt properties such as hospitals and state buildings that serve the region. Mount is the point person between the mayor’s office and the city’s legislative delegation in Hartford.

Monroe (where I was raised) is a fickle town when it comes to its politics. Historically, on a national and state level, it votes Republican, but continues to vote Democrats to its chief executive office. For instance, Andy Nunn, who now serves as chief administrative officer for Bridgeport, did an outstanding job as selectman in Monroe for several terms. The Newtown piece of the district covers Sandy Hook and the Route 34 corridor along part of Lake Zoar.

See Mount press release below:


Michele Mount, local attorney, today announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for state representative of the 112th District. Mrs. Mount has lived in Monroe for ten years with her husband and two children, a son at Masuk high school and a daughter in grammar school.

“My experience as a practicing real estate attorney for 15 years and most recently as Director of Legislative Affairs for Bridgeport has taught me how to represent clients and constituents effectively while building relationships with our leaders in Hartford,” stated Mrs. Mount. She emphasized the strong foundation she has representing the interests of her fellow citizens was learned from her father, a state legislator for 12 years, House Majority Leader for 6 years and Attorney General for 8 years.

This spring and summer she will meet with the citizens of Monroe and Sandy Hook to discuss their needs and how she can advocate for them as their state representative. When asked how she plans to win her party’s nomination on May 20th, she said, “I believe that a person who listens to all citizens and cares about the future of her community can make a difference. I will do everything I can to ensure that my fellow citizens’ concerns are represented effectively in Hartford. That’s what they expect and deserve.”

To be able to devote maximum time to focus on representing citizens instead of fundraising, Mrs. Mount has become a Citizens Election Candidate. A Citizens Election candidate refuses to accept special interest money, removing that influence in political campaigns, and instead qualifies for a state grant by obtaining 150 individual citizen contributions totaling $5000.00. She asked citizens to visit her website, to learn more about her, share their concerns, and donate to help her qualify for a state grant. You may contact her in person, by phone or e-mail at to share your suggestions.

We all need a little religion. I’m glad Mayor Bill Finch has found some. See city hall press release below:

Mayor Finch Hosts Noon Service for National Day of Prayer

The City of Bridgeport and Mayor Bill Finch (D-Bridgeport) will host a service for the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 1st at 12:00pm in the City Council Chambers at 45 Lyon Terrace. The lunchtime service, led by Reverend Doctor Brian Schofield-Bodt, Executive Director of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, will include prayers from a cross-section of the religious community. The Harding High School Choir and Pivot Ministries will provide entertainment. The service is free and the public is invited to attend.

Mayor Bill Finch invites people of all faiths to attend the service. “It’s important that we come together during these challenging times,” said Mayor Finch. “We particularly pray for the brave members of our Armed Forces, their families and for the peace of our nation.”

The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress and was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. The declaration was amended in 1988 by both houses of Congress and President Ronald Reagan, setting a permanent date for the National Day of Prayer to be observed on the first Thursday of the month of May each year. It is an annual observance inviting people of all faiths to come together to pray for the nation. The theme of this year’s nationwide celebration is “Prayer! America’s Strength and Shield.”



  1. Hi Lenny, I’ve been busy getting the baby room ready and cleaning the basement. I see you are still doing PR for Syesha. I guarantee you that if she wins, Finch will set up some publicity stunt. Maybe he can give her the Crow Bar to the City or something and rest assure he won’t tell her your have done one heck of a PR service on her behalf. I will wait for her outside and test her on the three R’s-Reding, Riting and Rythmetic. Passing all three will make her my true Idol.
    Russo’s comments has some truth to it. I personally never made any job for votes agreement. However, one councilperson did tell me they feared voting the right way to avoid relatives loosing their jobs. What I never got to understand, was why didn’t those not working for the city vote as if they did?
    Mount? Never heard of her or her dad. I did hear allot about some Mount Trashmore.
    I heard of Praying Mantas but, a praying Finch? that’s a first! I remember the comments made by the Rabbi at the Finch Innaugural Ceremony. He complimented Finch on his good looks to the point I started to think he was gay. He stated that he sees Finch doing great things for the city, bla, bla, bla… Poor religious community, If only they knew that devil like I do.

  2. Syesha represents the Best of Bridgeport!

    Russo is putting his pedal to the metal.

    DebraLee Hovey will be under mounting pressure from Michele.

    Mayor Finch finds religion.
    Say Alleluia! Say Amen!

    To all the City Attorneys: “Happy May Day!”

    Best wishes to Barb Massaro who will be an outstanding jurist. Thanks for your great service to our city.

  3. Protesters demand Bridgeport tax crackdown
    Article Last Updated: 04/30/2008 12:10:14 AM EDT

    BRIDGEPORT — After more than eight of the city’s school nurses got layoff notices last week, nurses and school parents on Tuesday rallied in front of Peter DiNardo Enterprises on North Avenue, demanding the city collect nearly $11 million the company owes in back taxes.
    A fraction of the money could be used to save the nurses’ jobs and offset the $1.4 million cut to the city’s school-based health clinics proposed under Mayor Bill Finch’s 2008-09 budget, the protesters said.

    “Start collecting back taxes and stop giving tax breaks,” said Migdalia Muniz, an organizer and nurse at Classical Studies Academy and Maplewood Annex.

    DiNardo Enterprises, owned by Sal DiNardo, issued a statement during the rally, saying the company is “being used as a political scapegoat to achieve screaming headlines by a group of negative individuals who’ve not done their homework about our positive impact on the city.”

    Those individuals “are more intent on tearing down the city than building it up during troubling economic times,” according to the statement.

    Last week, more than eight nurses from the city’s school-based health clinics received their pink slips, Muniz said, and 16 more could be next. That leaves 15 to 17 nurses to cover 38 schools, including the Catholic schools, she said.

    The protesters carried signs asking motorists to sound their horns in support, generating a few honks.

    “Next year, I could have five to six schools. I’ll be running all over the city,” said Elsie Hammill, a veteran 15-year school nurse.

    Earlier this year, the City Council forgave nearly $400,000 in taxes DiNardo owed on a South End property. In recent days, his company has taken out paid advertisements in the Connecticut Post, criticizing news accounts it says misrepresent the facts about the amount DiNardo pays in taxes and about his record of investment in the city.

    Under the mayor’s proposed $491 million budget for next fiscal year, funding for the city’s school-based clinics would be slashed $1.4 million, leaving about $1.5 million in state funding in place. The cutback eliminates 25 positions, mostly nurses, and essentially guts the program. Similar cuts are proposed at the libraries. Finch has proposed partnering with community clinics instead, which he said could prove cheaper and more efficient than the current system.

    Reached Tuesday night, he said he wasn’t targeting children with his proposed budget, adding that he cut nearly all city departments’ budgets 10 percent. He said he was preserving the police and fire departments and giving the school district a $9 million increase, although that is still less than the district requested. Finch also said he didn’t fill vacant positions.

    He said his budget measures were designed to close the $16 million deficit in the current budget and balance the proposed budget.

    “People have yet to realize how serious” the city’s financial situation is, he said Tuesday night.

    Regardless of the across-the-board cuts, reducing the number of nurses hurts the children by reducing “continuity of care,” said Jennifer Correa, a school nurse for about 1 years.

    That also increases risk, raising nurses’ malpractice insurance premiums, which they must pay themselves, Correa said.

    Parents Marilyn Perez and Mary Tracy, whose children both sometimes need medication during the school day, said nurses need to be on-site to give out medications and provide peace of mind for parents.

    The DiNardo statement was released shortly after the protest began.

    It stated that the company pays more than $3 million in city taxes annually. It also defended the tax break, saying cleaning up some properties would be so expensive that no one would do it without tax incentives.

    “Our company has invested in Bridgeport for more than 60 years,” the company said in the statement, adding, “We believe in our city.”

    Correa called the statement “excuses.”

    Muniz said a protest is planned next Monday in front of City Hall, Lyon Terrace, at 6 p.m., where the City Council will meet to discuss the proposed budget.


    Seize this tax-cheat’s Bridgeport property and send him packing! Who needs his asphalt plants and storage depots on valuable manufacturing space? DiNardo’s type of “development” pollutes our environment, undermines our tax-base in the long-term, provides no good jobs for Bridgeporters, and cheapens our image. No other town wants storage depots and asphalt plants. Somebody in the PZC is getting paid off to allow that kind of development on potential manufacturing space. A lot of manufacturers, such as Sikorsky Aircraft, are looking for space in this region…

  4. Capitalist; Lets assume we (city) take over the Remington Property for back taxes. What do we do with it when we get it? Who is going to clean up the hazardous material and the ground contamination? Can you tell me what is wrong with having united rentals build a building and move from Fairfield to Bridgeport? This building will be in an industrial zone. Where are the storage depots and asphalt plants built by DiNardo? Who in the PZC is getting paid off and where are these areas being sought by Sikorsky? BTW I believe that DiNardo should pay his taxes. Living in Bpt I don’t want to pay to clean up Remgrit.

  5. Joel, you probably heard Mount’s name in connection with her past efforts to collect property taxes from the trash to energy plant in Bridgeport. This year she is working on a legislative effort to regulate those type of plants to reduce tipping fees Bridgeport and surrounding cities, like Monroe, pay to get rid of their trash. Hopefully, legislation could lower the fees by 20-30 dollars per ton for everyone. Her father was Carl Ajello, Attorney General under Grasso and O’Neil. I wish her good luck, but it would be better for Bridgpeort if she stayed.

    Is bitter Mayor Finch clinging to his religion?

    Russo can play affronted politician all he wants because there are no Republicans that are affected. His statements might be more sincere if he was going after a Republican on the council, instead of Tom MaCarthy. Plus it really is unconstiutional, no matter we can disgard the Constitution like Bush.

  6. Wow. I love how politicians, supposed defenders of the constitution, can just throw out things and people will accept it. It’s ridiculous this measure is unconstitutional. The Founding Fathers were easily able to see holding civil office and being an elected official was a direct conflict of interest, so they created Article 1 Section 6 of the U.S. Constitution. Pay attention to the very last line:

    No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

    Now, of course this pertains to the federal government and not state or municipal, but this is certainly grounds for what Russo is saying. So no, it’s not unconstitutional at all. Obviously, there is a clear conflict of interest here. It’s enough the council members have so many friends and family members in city jobs. I bet their names aren’t on the list of layoffs, and if they are, that’s a pretty good bargaining chip for Finch. But besides cronyism and nepotism, we also have graft. The opportunity for corruption with this current loophole is enormous and will continue to hold this city down.

  7. Capitalistpropaganda- There you go spewing your vitriol again. Come up with some real solutions based on economics and not your communist ideals. Your solution would be to send DiNardo to a Siberian work camp.

  8. You hear about the birds nest that sparked a fire on a utlity pole at Pleasure Beach? I wonder if Finch was flapping his wings out there. The fire apparently shut down WICC’s transmitter stationed out there. Watt a story.

  9. As Bart Simpson so aptly put it, “prayer is the last refuge of a scoundrel”.

    My prayer is that I’m only dreaming that Finch is Mayor.

    I strongly suggest that the theme of this year’s citywide prayer celebration be re-titled “Finch! Bridgeport’s Stupid and Stubborn”.

    And in the words of the great Delman Mangrove from his essential “Layman’s Guide to Perspicacity”,

    “Just because God loves you doesn’t mean you’re not an asshole.”


  10. I hate to be one of those stool pigeons, but I must tattle… it was actually Jim Buchannan playing Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite when the signal flew the coop.

    And BTW… with UI going after the monk parakeets, I think we can safely assume that the Pleasure Beach piping plovers have performed a bit of eco-retaliation here. Something the Rev. Jeremiah Wright would call “playing the dozens”.
    Beware the birds. Watch the skies. Don’t stand near Tippi Hedren in a closed room.

    And don’t miss Brian Smith’s latest and greatest bit of supposed wackiness “Are You Smarter Than A Piping Plover?” – Thursdays at 5:15pm on WICC”.


    (Remember, piper plover tastes like chicken, but only if it’s
    piping hot.)


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