For the past couple of weeks we’ve been consumed with civil service and library fights. Wake up, Leonard! City Council primaries will take place September 15 in four districts.
Tyreke Bird has added some spice to the race in the 138th District after his arrest for an alleged assault. Not a lot of details on this, but Bird says he’s staying in the race.
OIB has lots of new readers linking over from the Connecticut Post so welcome and here’s a quick recap. The battle for control of the Upper East Side is wide open, three slates with six candidates. Andy Fardy, a long-time city pol and retired firefighter and Ann Barney, a 25-year employee of the Board of Education, are challenging incumbents Bob Curwen and Rich Paoletto. Curwen has been sidetracked with an ailment after stepping on a nail a few weeks ago. I spoke to him the other day and he’s feeling better but his recovery will take some time.
Bird who lives in Success Village, a complex above Boston Avenue, is running with James Morton, an independent candidate for mayor in 2007, to fill out the third slate. Success Village has been a reliable East Side vote for the party establishment i.e. Paoletto and Curwen at the JFK School precinct. Any votes that Bird and Morton grab hurt the incumbents.
The other precinct in the district is Hooker School, with a high percentage of owner-occupied homes, that takes in the northeast triangle of the city abutting Stratford and Trumbull. Hooker is the home precinct of Fardy and Barney.
Low-turnout primaries are strange birds. Primaries are all about identifying friends and dragging them to the polls. I’m wondering what Dem voters are saying to candidates so maybe Fardy (town committee) can provide an update.
District 135: Peter Clarke and Mary McBride-Lee versus incumbents Warren Blunt and Richard Bonney. This is another wide-open race. OIB friend Isa Mujahid is running solo. Hey, Isa, is it lonely running alone?
District 136: Mark Trojanowski, running solo, is challenging incumbents Angel DePara and Carlos Silva. Troj is a member of the DTC for this district, the home district of Party Vice Chair Dottie Guman. This district has a strange configuration that runs from the Hollow, includes a small slice of the North End and runs over to the East Side. How did that happen?
District 137: Maria Valle and Christina Ayala against endorsed candidates Lydia Martinez and Manny Ayala. That should be a good fight. Valle is an incumbent City Council member who was dumped by the town committee. It’s hard to figure out East Side politics. Hugging and kissing one day, brawling the next, smooching the day after. Makes me dizzy.
With voter petitions certified by the town clerk’s office, Superior Court Judge David Tobin entered a final ruling today approving a November 3 referendum for voters to decide if one mil should fund library services.
The genial Sly Salcedo who worked with Library Board President Jim O’Donnell to craft the legal arguments weighed by the judge posted in the prior commentary some observations and responses to OIB reader questions. Sly’s thoughts are worth repeating:
For Library Lover:
Forgive my tardiness in getting back to you on your concerns, but I hope you can understand we were a little busy this past week battling with the City Attorney’s office in court so that we could help our mayor a little bit with his leadership plans: TO LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE.
Point one: Hiring a coach for the Library Director is a good idea to me. It’s well worth the expense … for all that the Library Director has done for the library to date (two years). Exhibit number one: the brilliant idea to put an old, dusty CT statute to test and winning it as a first step to getting more money in a steady and reliable way every year for your beloved librar..IF the general public agrees on election day (with your help?). No library director has submitted that sort of innovative thinking to support the library before. Have you seen the library budget in the past ten to 15 years?
Point Two: Hiring a consultant to advise, re: the referendum … I don’t think a separate consultant was hired to develop the referendum idea … I think this is all part of number one above. Again, I support this effort.
Point three: I admit I have not had the chance to ask the Director about this question directly this past week, but if this is a grievance issue, then I recommend the affected employees should follow the rules and file their grievances accordingly.
Point four: Why can’t Bridgeport buy a book for Yahooy? Where is the money … to buy library materials? I can ask the Director to make the library ‘budget’ info available on the library’s website so that the library budget is open, available and transparent for all, like you, to review … this is a good idea. I support it.
Point five: About layoffs despite city council putting back enough money in the budget to keep the positions? If you know something I don’t, please share the info and enlighten us all … and if you can understand how the City of Bridgeport runs its budget, please share that knowledge with us, too, because as a board member, I cannot and have not been able to follow how city’s money is budgeted and distributed and accounted for the library. This is one of the main reasons for the referendum initiative so that the library has its own “library fund” that the Library Director and Library Board can CONTROL and ACCOUNT FOR (to you and others) … and for my part, I will vote, and I believe other board members agree with me (or rather I agree with the other board members) to make the library budget “open and available” on the library’s website.
Side note about the assistant librarian position: I think if you know how much that position paid (and I think you do) and you know how much the next level of librarians are paid … I think you will agree (but maybe not) that keeping two or three more 2nd/3rd tier librarians for the cost of one assistant librarian would be a relatively good budget move in these tough economic times.
Point six(a): Staff is almost non-existent in some places through no fault of their own … there has been a new personnel organizational structure designed and implemented by the Library Director. I think it’s a great plan. Tell me what’s wrong with it? Where are these “some places” where “staff is almost non-existent”? I toured the main library and all four branches last week, more than twice, and I didn’t see a lack of staff. Tell me about specifics, please. Help me to help you.
Point six(b): Libraries close whenever the director decrees with no regard to the public … this is my personal favorite … this incident you refer to happened once on July 2 of this year … on said date, as lawyers like to say, Scott Hughes, said Library Director, received a phone call from Mayor’s office announcing that said Mayor Finch authorized all department heads to close down their department at their discretion in anticipation of the long holiday weekend, said July 4th, at noontime. Accordingly, said Library Director thought he would take up that offer and give his staff a nice holiday break that was available to all other City employees, at their department head’s discretion. It turns out that this has caused some inconvenience, (some minor, some major) for some library users on the afternoon of July 2 who expected that the library would be open on its usual Thursday schedule … imagine the poor guy who tried to pay his car taxes on the afternoon of July 2 and was locked out of the Tax Assessor’s office and found his car booted on Monday, July 6??? … that would have been quite an inconvenience, but I digress … anyway, I tried to tell Scott not to automatically eliminate the possibility in the future of exercising his discretion in any future offers by the mayor to all early outs, but I don’t want to micro-manage either … so let’s see what happens at Mayor Finch’s next holiday early closing order to all department heads.
Point six(c): Books removed from (implied: poor people neighborhood-East End) and moved to (implied: super millionaire Black Rock neighborhood) as “bribery to support referendum, maybe?” … Library Lover, you’re really tempting me on this one, but I’m going to take a deep breath right now and say, “Serenity Now!!!” quietly to myself … okay, now to answer this super dumb-ass question … the answer is, simply, that the adult book collection was moved from the East End Branch to the newly refurbished Black Rock branch because the Library Director wanted to gain more floor space at the East End site to install more computers and create a teen space which is, in his judgment, more appropriate and needed in the East End branch. There is plenty of book space/shelf space in the Black Rock branch. Have a look for yourself. It’s that simple and straightforward. There is no “books for votes” bribery scheme here for the referendum. But feel free to call your local FBI special investigations unit and make your suspicions known … but wait! “Books for votes” or “Votes for Books” … there could be an election campaign slogan in there? … maybe “Votes we can believe in”, “Books we can believe in”??? “I believe in Votes”, “I believe in Books”, “I love books” … I digress once again …
Point six(d): demand an elected Library Board … let me refer you directly to my state rep district leader, Mr. Mitch Robles, or my City Council district leader, Mr. Tito Ayala, and my Democratic Town Chair, Mr. Mario Testa, and while you’re at it call the Republicans, too … Mr. Mark Delmonico, the Republican Town Committee chair … please call them and let them know I endorse your idea 100%. As Mayor Finch says: Let the people decide!
You want an elected Library Board? Go ahead, MAKE MY DAY! And I think you already have. Thank you. Love your library
The Downtown Community Council is in its second year of throwing its all-volunteer DIY concerts every Thursday night behind the Fairfield County Courthouse between 6-10pm. All Baldwin Plaza Green concerts are free, all-volunteer outdoor BYOB events with BBQs, lawn games, public art demonstrations, entertainment, and a film screening after dusk.
Tonight the DCC presents the 1st Annual Downtown Breakdancing and Street Art Festival featuring: Professional and Amateur Breakdancers, street art exhibition and live graffiti demonstrations coordinated by the Avant Garden Gallery, a 3-hour Early and Experimental Animation Festival, Open Spoken Word Mic, and Professional Fire Dancers and Breathers.
***There is an open call for breakdancers, spoken wordists, and street artists***
Come join hundreds of revelers from Downtown Bridgeport and beyond every Thursday on the Baldwin Plaza Green next to the Read’s Artspace Building.
Feat DJs Cuban B, Humble Dinosaur, + Yves Francois, Animation Festival curated by dropdeadgregg and Keith Cougar, “Dust Magnet” Video Projections by Dustin Demilio, Breakin’ by “Crazy Legs” Jeff Coleman + much, much more.