Testa Meets Finch, Plus: Angry Crowd At Council Meeting, And Mayor’s New Committee

Sound the sirens, bang the bells, kick the cans. Democratic Town Chairman Mario Testa met with Mayor Bill Finch in city hall on Monday to discuss a variety of issues as the Bridgeport City Council moves closer to taking official action on Finch’s proposed budget that calls for drastic cuts and a tax increase.

Finch and Testa have had little contact since Mario defeated John Stafstrom, Finch’s candidate for party leadership in March. Envoys from the mayor’s office visited Testa at his restaurant last week to extend an invitation in an effort to create something of a conversation between the two. What they discussed is unclear. Fact is, Testa has more juice–and regular contact–with council members than does Finch who has not figured out how to leverage the stature of his office to move legislation.

Most of the ideas floated by council members to restore Finch’s cuts–$1 surcharge on arena ticket sales, folding the Bridgeport Port Authority under the umbrella of the administration, privatizing city health clinics–have come about from council member suggestions with Testa’s input.

Finch and Testa don’t have to greet each other with smooches, but it is better they find some common ground. Otherwise, Finch could be blindsided by council decisions at every turn. Finch is not popular with the council. His lack of outreach is perplexing, especially from someone who served 9 years himself on the council. Ignoring the council would not be such a problem if Finch had strong standing with the public and political community. He has neither.

And judging by the 200 or so protesters–agonizing over Finch’s proposed job cuts–that showed up first on the steps of city hall Monday night and then the City Council Chambers, he’s far from winning over people. The boo birds were in force to greet Finch when he showed up to chair the council meeting, and then many of them turned their back on him and walked out.

Finch issued the following statement regarding the school-based health clinics that initially were on his chopping block:

“I have two children who have gone through the Bridgeport public school system and two younger ones who are about to enter it, so I have a personal interest in making sure that all of our children are safe and healthy in their schools. My staff and I have found solutions to keep school based health centers open, and possibly expand them so that even more children can benefit from them.

“During difficult times like these, we all need to work together and find ways to keep important city services while not stretching our budget too thin.

“What’s really important here are the children and I’m fighting for them because I want these services to continue; I just don’t want to have them at the expense of our already overburdened taxpayers. New Haven, Hartford and Norwich have excellent school-based health centers that operate with state grant funding and minimal or no city funding. We are moving towards this model. These health clinics provide the same services and quality of care that we offer here in Bridgeport but with less expense to the taxpayer. I have directed my administration to cut costs to our taxpayers while continuing to provide these services.”

City Hall News Release:

Mayor Finch Announces Committee to Keep School Based Health Centers in Bridgeport

Mayor Bill Finch (D-Bridgeport) today announced the formation of a committee to oversee the Request for Qualification (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP) process for selecting an outside operator for school-based health centers in Bridgeport. The committee will also evaluate the responses to the RFQ/RFP over the next two- to three-week period. The committee will be looking at both long- and short-term plans for keeping the centers in operation.

“My administration’s main goal is to protect the interests of our City’s children,” said Mayor Finch. “I see this process as an opportunity to provide the same, if not better, health services to children in our schools while lowering the cost to our taxpayers. Similar models already exist in Norwalk, New Haven, Hartford, Norwich, and Stamford. My job as Mayor is to deliver the same or better services to our community with less of a burden to the taxpayers. Sometimes, out of adversity comes innovation.”

“This could be a real win-win situation for Bridgeport,” added City Council President Thomas McCarthy. “Opening this process up to bid and utilizing the skills of this committee puts the focus back where it belongs: on the children.”

The Mayor also outlined that the expected outcome of this process will: provide all the services currently offered in school based health centers; maintain current school locations; result in no interruption of services; not jeopardize any grant funds; offer an option to laid-off employees to apply to work in similar capacities with the new operator.

The committee members include:
. Timothy J. Callahan, M.P.H., R.S., Director of the Department of Health for the City of Norwalk, former Director of Health for the City of Bridgeport
. Dr. Marian Evans, M.D., Director of Health and Social Services for the City of Bridgeport
. Susan Brannelly, R.N., B.S.N., Operations Manager for Collins IV Care Bridgeport and City Council Member from the 130th District
. Alanna Kabel, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Bridgeport
. Kristin duBay Horton, Principal partner from duBay Horton Associates (dHA) community-based public health consulting firm
. Rev. Dr. Simon Castillo, Pastor from Good Shepherd Christian Church

The committee will also include a representative from the State Department of Public Health.

Din Din With Me!

Sometime on Wednesday OIB will hit the 50,000 pageview mark since the launch of our new site in mid-March. Thank you all. In gratitude–or punishment, depending on your perspective–OIB’s technical genius (that would be my cousin, a Wesleyan alumnus) will alert me to the poster that cracks the 50,000 PV mark. That person and guest is invited to dinner with me and my wife Mo. We pick nice places. Just ask The Nose, winner of our last dinner party for coming closest to Finch’s general election victory number. So post and pig out with us. Meanwhile don’t forget the blog party May 15, 6 p.m. at Captain’s Cove.

CT Secretary of State Urges Caruso Action. See release below:

Bysiewicz to Rep. Caruso: Please Help Pass Voter Privacy Bill in House

Secretary of the State Says Voter Privacy at Stake

Hartford: Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz today May 5, 2008 called on State Representative Christopher Caruso, the chairman of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, to bring S.B. #444 to a vote in House of Representatives. Provisions of S.B. #444 touted by the Secretary of the State and passed by the State Senate codifies critical safeguards to guarantee every voter’s fundamental Constitutional right to vote privately and independently at the polls.

“We have less than 72 hours before the end of the 2008 legislative session,” Bysiewicz said. “After conducting hearings in every Congressional district in the state, it is clear Connecticut citizens want more privacy protections in place with our new optical scan voting system.”

In a letter to Rep. Caruso Sec. Bysiewicz wrote, “We are preparing for a record turnout in November and it is critical that we provide local election officials with concrete guidance about how best to safeguard voter privacy. Voters in our state have a right to expect that we will protect their most fundamental civil right and this bill provides a good framework to do just that.”

Among other provisions, SB #444 guarantees the following:

(Voters zone of privacy) Registrars of voters shall ensure that each voting booth is placed so that they are in plain view of all election officials and electors waiting to vote and so that there are at least three feet between each voting booth. Each voting booth shall be so placed so that no person outside the booth can determine how an individual voted.

(Zone of privacy around voting machines) The voting machine shall be placed at least three feet from any wall, partition or guardrail and at least four feet from the checkers’ table. The registrars of voters shall place a guardrail or other marking device around such machine so as to prevent electors waiting in line from encroaching upon an elector who is submitting their ballot into the voting machine. Such guardrail or other marking device shall be placed at least three feet from the voting machine and shall be arranged in such a manner as to prevent voters from determining the votes cast on each ballot submitted to the machine.

(Privacy sleeve) The registrars of voters shall ensure that each ballot clerk offer every voter a privacy sleeve into which the ballot can be inserted so that the markings on the ballot cannot be seen or it may be placed in every voting booth for the elector’s use. The voter shall not be required to accept a privacy sleeve.

SB #444 passed the Senate overwhelmingly on April 24, 2008 and awaits action in the House.  It must be approved by Wednesday May 7th at midnight in order to go to Governor M. Jodi Rell for her signature.



  1. I have two children who have gone through the Bridgeport public school system and two younger ones who are about to enter it.

    Why don’t you tell me what school the little ones are going to. I’m sure you will talk to School supt Ramos and take good care of their classrooms only, like you had the Police take care of issues on your street only.

    someone who served 9 years himself on the council.

    All he did was kiss Ganim’s ass so he can get his Contracts and Appointments Committee Chairmanship. He then formed Bridgeport PAC Committee so he can steal the funds. Most of the people or companies who donated to his committees where the ones doing some form of business with the City. In return He turned a blind eye to bigger, non bid contracts awarded by mayor Ganim. Can anyone name one single contract or date in wich he questioned a contract awarded from Ganim Even when some other members of the council would raise serious questions regarding certain contracts.

  2. I see many people here are very upset with Billy Bird.
    If ever you see my driver coming down the road and you wish to throw billy under my limo, feel free to do so. That’s what insurance is for!

  3. There is a serious and understandable credibility gap existing between the Mayor and the people and this must be corrected in order for this administration to function in the interests of the taxpayers. – I am pleased to read the Mayors explanation of the health care issue. On the surface, it appears to be a reasonable solution to the problem and perhaps he should be supported.
    Our city is in dire straights and we had better join together to come up with practical solutions. We cannot afford to lose any more of our middle class who are sharing the major burden of taxation. Hopefully, dialogue, compromise and understanding can get us through another three and one half years of this administration and perhaps in the end we will be pleasantly surprised. I sure hope so.

  4. Local eyes you constantly amaze me, Are you ever going to address the subject on the blog or just march to your own drummer. If you want to advertise pay for the space.

  5. There are some great people on this committee. I just hope they can come up with a report quicker than Bill’s 42 person transition committee. C’mon Bill, come up for some air and get your head out of your bird bath.

    Bysiewicsz you’re about 8 months too late on this issue. These safeguards should have been in place for the Mayoral primary.

  6. Isn’t Tim Callahan married to one of the Brannelly’s?
    Dr. Evan’s husband is a dentist with School Based Health.
    And there is arumor that Alanna Kabel is a cousin of Tom McCarthy.
    Is the circle of the mayors advisors shrinking or are they just circling the wagons???

  7. I’m baaack…Calling Bruce Hubler and Bob Walsh.

    It is no secret that I will not allow Bill Finch or anyone for what it’s worth to mislead or half-inform the Public in general, let alone my colleagues at OIB.

    Bill Finch is passing the whole blame regarding the city’s finacial situation on Fabrizi. It is obvious that Fabrizi must share the blame. It is also obvious that the City Council must also be held accountable. Bill Finch doesn’t have the balls to blame the council.

    To Fabrizi and the Council’s credit, I must state that they did save (put aside) $29 million. Why is Finch blaming only Fabrizi for a deficit and not giving him credit for the money saved is something that I haven’t figured out yet.

    Finch stated that he will not touch the $29 million because the bond rating will be negatively affected.
    Is this what Bond Counsel Stafstrom told him? Isn’t it possible that Stafstrom is wrong and should anyone believe that he is impartial in his legal opinion.

    I’d like to hear Mr. Hubler and Walsh on this. Is having a certain amount of money saved the only factor considered when calculating the bond rating? Isn’t the national econony a factor? Would not having a Director of Economic Developtment be considered in setting a Bond rating? What are the factors considered when setting or calculating a Bond rating? How would Stafstrom benefit by advising against the city using money from the $29 million fund?

    The purpose of saving money is not only to affect the Bond rating. It is a rainy day fund and dark financial clouds are upon us all. The City Council must have an unbiased opinion as to how to proceed in using up some of the $29 million in savings. It’s not your money Finch and it sure as hell’s not Stafstrom’s money.

  8. some of you people on this blog are just way too negative and its the same old stuff over and over. I feel sorry for the mayor, I really mean that. No matter who ended up in the mayor’s position would have had to face the same financial mess he’s facing. None of this happened overnight, I say give him a break, he got thrown under a bus when he became mayor. Let’s hope things turn around for both him and the city. All this complaining doesn’t get us anywhere. And who cares who is married to who, what diffrence does it make anyway. yeah, I know, I’m gonna be the phillistine of the week.

  9. Joel – it makes sense to use some of that money to get the city out of the budget mess. I didn’t know that fund existed. but come on, we all have to admit that this problem was there before Finch became mayor.

  10. Driving Miss Crazy send me a description of the limo, the location you choose and I will be on the lookout with Bird on the side of the road.

  11. Bird said, “Similar models already exist in Norwalk, New Haven, Hartford, Norwich, and Samford.”

    Five (5) Towns are doing this. You still went ahead submitted a budget, that does not include the cost to implement these models.

    So when did your administration learn about these models? Obviously it was after you submitted your caring administration’s budget proposal. Face it, you guys don’t know what the hell yall are doing. You remind me of the kids that sat behind me in grammar school, So they could copy my answers.

  12. City Kitty- So you see that people can learn some interesting facts here. Yes, every City in America has some kind of savings or assets. Finch wants to sell assets and not touch the savings. Why is that?
    If you have to pay your rent ($500) and you have $1000 in the bank. Do you take out $500 from the bank and pay the rent or would you sell your car to pay the rent?
    Kitty I don’t feel sorry for someone who I’m convinced is a crook. Go to www .freewebs.com/unmaskedbyjoel and you can see the documents that shows what Finch was up to regarding his campaign contributions. I filed a complaint with seec and soon we shall hear how the state will handle that. Now I’m being laid off from my city job (I got bumping rights) for speaking the truth.
    Sometimes, the facts and truth sound negative But, it is what it is. Of a total of 18 years serving the Democratic Party, I served 6 years in the city council with Finch, Fabrizi and Ganim and what bothers them is that I know them well and I’m speaking and writing about what really went on and how the machine works. By the way, on March 13, 2008 I switched to the Republican party, Now all democrats who wish to oppose, challenge or debate me can do so and take their chances of getting bruised, defeated or both. I took my chances and so far a layoff notice (unjustified) is the best they can come up with. If they want to work in a bypartisan way I’m willing to do that too. There are many other good Democrats, but the leadership doesn’t want them to be in decision making or influential positions.

  13. MCAT….And I’d like to see you in the State House of Representatives! I concur with your posting, my feline friend!! The thought of another republican president who agrees with the Bush stance on the war for oil absolutely appalls me. But change begins here at home…time to send Shays packing, maybe he can move to Iraq. He must like it there since he saw fit to spend our tax dollars for 20 visits….maybe he should sell his home here and go live there, since he tells us that things are coming along “just fine”…maybe he’d like a permanent relocation.


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