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The Detention Center, Plus: Steal Or Deal? And The FOI Finger

October 20th, 2009 · 26 Comments · City Council, Civil Service, Development and Zoning, State Politics

3:30 p.m. update: A $15 million juvenile detention center for girls on the Upper East Side? Mother Rell has announced the news today.

Statement from State Senator Anthony Musto:

STATEMENT FROM SEN. MUSTO ON ANNOUNCEMENT OF $15M FOR BRIDGEPORT FACILITY

Bridgeport – State Senator Anthony Musto (D-Trumbull), Senate chair of the General Assembly’s Select Committee on Children, today issued the following statement on news that Governor M. Jodi Rell has placed $15 million in state bonds for the design and construction of a juvenile detention facility for girls in Bridgeport’s north end:

“Teenage girls are increasingly being housed in facilities that child-welfare advocates agree are unsafe for these vulnerable children. This facility will meet an increasing need and is in-line with our commitment to remove children from adult courts and facilities.

“As chair of the Children’s Committee, I think it’s critically important that we ensure that these at-risk youth have the opportunity to correct their mistakes and be protected from an adult criminal justice system that could have the opposite effect.

“I’m glad to hear that this project is moving forward in Bridgeport, and I thank the governor for this investment in our city. Fifteen million in construction work taking place in Bridgeport is welcome news in these difficult economic times.”

Will It Work This Time?

So, the city now officially has another Steel Point deal.

The City Council approved the agreement between Mayor Bill Finch and Bridgeport Landing’s Robert Christoph to transform the East Side land site. A number of council members reenacted the back slapping we saw a few years ago when the city thought it had a deal. Nothing happened, except for some landscaping.

Councilman Bob Troll Walsh says nothing will ever happen. City Council President Tom McCarthy, a supporter of the deal, says considering the economic climate it’s best to try to make something happen even if it takes longer than expected. He told Christoph to make believers of skeptical city residents who’ve seen this movie.

I hope he can.

Freedom From Information

Former Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez isn’t the only one dueling city officials over Freedom of Information requests.

The Connecticut Post is driving the needle into City Attorney Mark Anastasi, the taxpayer-paid personal attorney for anyone that occupies the mayor’s office. In fairness to Mark–whether Joe Ganim, John Fabrizi or Bill Finch– he’s awfully consistent. Mark’s appointed by the mayor and that’s where his loyalty lives and dies. Monday’s Connecticut Postings notes on the homepage of www.connpost.com  proclaim Finch and company are stonewalling.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and his legal staff of Anastasi, Howlett & Wrong continue to refuse to release any information on the bids that were “publicly” opened Oct. 1 for the former Black Rock Bank & Trust Co. on Fairfield Ave.

After repeated requests for the information, which is routinely provided elsewhere by state and local officials, the Post on Oct. 7 filed a Freedom of Information request to force the release of the information. Last week, City Attorney Mark Anastasi, belatedly acknowledging receipt of the request, promised that an assistant city attorney, Melanie Howlett, would “substantively” reply by last Friday or no later than Monday.

No call from Howlett, however, either Friday or so far (Monday).

The most interesting part of this? The developer had pulled out of the deal Oct. 7. Either the city was trying to save the deal or just didn’t have time to notify the public? Meanwhile Lopez is pushing forward with information she has requested from the city in conjunction with the termination of former Civil Service Personnel Director Ralph Jacobs. The case has been assigned to a state FOI hearing officer. Lopez wants to know how much Jacobs’ firing has cost the city in outside legal fees, and claims the Civil Service Commission vote to terminate behind closed doors violates FOI.

Jacobs claims he was canned because he refused to play ball with the mayor regarding political hires. The commission says it fired Jacobs for breach of city loyalty for suggesting that a city employee seek mediation to resolve a layoff dispute.

GOP Bombs

Whoa! Last week it was Republican U.S. Senate candidates Rob Simmons and Sam Caligiuri questioning primary rival Linda McMahon’s GOP loyalty for making donations to Democrats when she served as WWE guru. Now Sam, a state senator from Waterbury, has unleashes a few torpedoes at Simmons, a former congressman, who he says is nothing more than Chris Dodd reinvented.

Dodd must be cheerleading okay boys, rip each other to pieces.

Let the teeth sharpening begin. News release from Caligiuri:

Who Will Simmons Pander to Today?

Former Congressman Rob Simmons has had a change of heart when it comes to two important pieces of legislation that he backed when he was in Congress – Cap and Trade and the Employee Free Choice Act or “card check” as it is known. Simmons announced last Friday afternoon via a blog post that he has reversed his position on these issues.

“While Rob Simmons can spin this all he wants, he is in a primary battle and is desperate to get the support of real, principled Republicans. So Rob Simmons, just like Chris Dodd, is more than happy to say whatever it takes to win an election regardless of what the facts are or what their records show. This type of pandering politics is exactly what is wrong in Washington today,” said Caligiuri spokesperson Tiffany Romero Grossman.

Grossman continued, “Simmons has now proven he is Dodd 2.0 – a D.C. insider who says what he needs to back home in order to win elections, but placates special interests when in Washington. How else can you logically explain it? Simmons said himself it wasn’t until he was back in Connecticut as the state’s business advocate, talking to the people of Connecticut, when he supposedly had this change of heart. So who was he talking to in D.C. that shaped his original position? The liberal special interests? Connecticut voters should question why Simmons wasn’t home talking to people when he was in Congress – and what will he do if he gets there again?

“We cannot afford another Chris Dodd. After 6 years in Congress, Simmons is clearly a part of the problem not the solution. His latest epiphany on two key issues that clearly he hopes will fool real, principled Republicans is right out of the D.C. insider playbook. We need a new generation of leadership in Washington – leadership that puts the people first, and doesn’t need to flip flop their positions later to win another election.

“Everyone has the right to change their mind on where they stand – but doing so years later, once confronted with a competitive primary, simply stinks of political pandering.

“Given that Simmons was a part of the Republican Congress that clearly lost their way and spent us into oblivion, one has to wonder why he didn’t try to cover that up first,” said Grossman.

Yikes! From The Hartford Courant

Personal bankruptcy filings in Connecticut skyrocketed 44 percent in the third quarter compared with a year earlier as job losses and salary cuts deepened the toll on household budgets in the state, a new report today shows.

There were 2,569 personal bankruptcy filings in the state in the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with 1,773 for the same period in 2008, according to the report Monday from The Warren Group.

“The dramatic increase in bankruptcy filings shows what effect job losses and salary cuts have on Connecticut residents,” said Timothy M. Warren Jr., chief executive of The Warren Group. “Many are struggling to pay their bills and have accumulated tremendous debt by relying on credit cards to pay for basic living expenses.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings — which all but wipe out a person’s debts — totaled 2,275 in the third quarter, compared with 1,384 a year ago, a 64.4 percent jump.

Chapter 13 filings, which require a repayment plan, fell by 24.4 percent, to 294, from 389 a year ago. Through the first nine months of 2009, personal bankruptcies rose 22 percent, to 7,177, from 5,583, for the same period a year ago. Chapter 7 filings rose 51 percent in the period to a four-year high, to 6,289, up from 4,176 in 2008.

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26 Comments so far ↓

  • Grin Ripper

    FYI on FOI for Black Rock Bank and Trust.
    Developer pulled out of the deal on Oct. 7. They were the only respondent to RFP and probably realized that they overbid the piece for 775K. Why didn’t Stonewall Finch and the city just disclose this instead of the charade? Back to the drawing bored. Still waiting to hear from somebody on the flip-flop of 333 State Street property. Countdown? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

  • john gilmore

    Backslapping a few years ago over harbor deal?

    I remember way before that when Roberto’s was the People’s Bank Building and James Demetrakis (of Ferryboat Junction fame) announced in the lobby he was off to Europe to buy a roller coaster as part of a Pleasure Beach renewal. He hasn’t been back. (And the city is still on that roller coaster ride today!)

    I propose that not one word is written in the media or spoken on TV or the radio about the work of any politico–elected or not elected–regarding this project until bulldozers and cranes start working. Give no one, from the Governor or mayor down to a street sweeper not the slightest “attaboy” until there is actual work performed.

    So far the only work has been the DEstruction of the O’Rourke House in the name of CONstruction of a new city. We’ve been on that ride for a while. Make all these “leaders” and developers earn public praise. To paraphrase Nike–”Just Build it!”

  • Wingnut

    Honesty and Integrity are not part of this administration’s forte. The first step in TRANSPARENCY should be FOI as required by State Law. Only proves they have much to hide. Time to pass out the picks and shovels. As a taxpayer I’m tired of being on the shit end of the stick. The time has come to expose these corrupt officials!

  • town committee

    I think the problem is bigger than Mark Anastasi. He does work for the mayor and that’s where he gets his marching orders from.
    The problem as I see it rests with the council and its rubber-stamp members. The only critical voice comes from Walsh. The rest sit there like puppets and don’t ask any questions. None of them have made a stink about the firing of Jacobs or any other department head that has been fired or had their job eliminated.
    Not one council person has questioned the sale of 303 State St, Black Rock Arts center or the old Mechanics and Farmers Bank Building.
    These are elected officials who should looking out for us and keeping us informed as to what’s going on with these sales and these firings.
    The question is do they know the answers? If they don’t know the answers Why don’t they know?
    Look Anastasi works for the Mayor and as such gets his marching orders from the Mayor.
    What is the excuse from the council members? I see them as a bigger problem than Anastasi and as such should be challenged on these points I have listed.

  • yahooy

    “Councilman Bob Troll Walsh says nothing will ever happen.”

    Sure. So long as that obstructionist prick is taking up space on the council, NOTHING WILL EVER HAPPEN.

    Wake up, Troll. The city needs to have Steel Point done right. You need to learn the art of compromise for pro bono publica. FIGURE IT OUT OR QUIT AND GIVE US ALL A BREAK.

  • Local Eyes

    In defense of Councilman Bob Walsh:

    Wake Up, yahooy. Bridgeport needs Steel Point done right and Bob Walsh is doing everything he can to bring that about.

    Maybe you went to The Sarah Palin School of Politics where students learn that quitting is OK if it has personal benefits, but Bob Walsh didn’t!

    Put another way, Bridgeport is full of good people that don’t quit, what’re you doing here?

    • yahooy

      I happen to think that The Troll is one of the best, if not the best, member of the council. I am frustrated that he does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BUT BITCH. Actions Troll. If you don’t like it … work it, make it what you want. If you can’t, quit. This guy’s mantra is Non Acta Non Verba.

  • Up On Bridgeport

    Oh Boy!

    Rell to announce new juvenile facility in Bridgeport
    By Ken Dixon
    STAFF WRITER
    Updated: 10/20/2009 10:29:37 AM EDT

    HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell this afternoon will visit a site in Bridgeport’s North End to announce funding for a new juvenile detention center for girls.

    The governor will hold a news conference at 1:30 at 115 Virginia Avenue and say that the State Bond Commission, which she chairs, will release more than $15 million for the design and construction of the new facility, which will house female juvenile offenders on a short-term basis.

    The commission will meet on October 30 and since the governor controls the agenda, it is likely to win approval.

  • Bob Fredericks

    Here’s a link to The Courant’s story on the new jail for girls, which will apparently be located at the former Kennedy Center site on Virginia Avenue on the upper East Side. What say you about that Town Committee?

    blogs.courant.com/capitol_watch/2009/10/new-juvenile-jail-for-girls-to.html

  • Bridgeport Now

    “Bridgeport Now” Tuesdays on Cablevision channel 88 at 8pm to 9pm and on the net at soundviewtv.org

    Is it against the charter of the Bridgeport City Council to have Republicans?

    8:30pm to 9pm.
    Introducing: Republicans John Slater and John Weldon, endorsed candidates for the 130th district, Black Rock and the West End. We will discuss the fate of the Black Rock Arts Center, taxes, city budget, development issues, etc.

    8:05 to 8:30 – Steel Pointe. We are looking for someone to appear on the program to discuss this issue. Pls call (203) 820 5120 to be on program live tonight. Does anyone care enough to speak up on this issue? Our program producers have spoken with developer Robert Christoph, who says the project will happen.

  • town committee

    Just what the people of Bridgeport and the people of the upper east side need, another damned prison/halfway house. It just keeps going on and on, dump your problem people in Bridgeport. What’s the matter, no land in the suburbs available?
    This is the same area the state left a 30ft high pile of construction debris in place for over a year.
    Why is it that we who live here will have no say as to what goes on in our neighborhood?
    This is pure and utter bullshit. Where are the council people and the administration on this one? Yeah i know they are at the ground breaking singing the praises of this prison. Just as long as it is dumped in Bridgeport.
    I have a great idea, maybe the prisoners can walk up the street to the Jehovah’s Witness church that is going to be built; another non-profit boondoggle. This sucks. Oh lest I forget where is Clemons on this one?

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      John Rowland, our illustrious former governor, decided to save money by closing many of the state’s mental health facilities and dumping all of the patients in Litchfield County. Torrington is overrun with drug addicts on methadone maintenance and heavily medicated mental patients. The downtown area looks like a scene from one of George A. Romero’s zombie flicks.

  • enlightened

    It strikes me that the population of Bridgeport and the region will suffer the unjustified loss of entertainment if Mr. Gilmore’s suggestion that further coverage of the Steelpoint project be suspended until the actors, perpetrators and hapless instigators actually do something. Since the public has already paid for this show, it is unseemly that our artists should not continue their performance in light of day, unlike the myriad known and unknown municipal machinations of the Finch administration.

    The Ferryboat Junction affair seems to stir a feeble memory. Could this involve the Miss New York–locally known as the Andrea Doria–which sought harbor in our fair port? Could this Demetrakis fellow be the distinguished barrister from northern New Jersey? I remember his words being doubted by two aldermen from the 132nd District in that era, surnamed Mulligan and Katz. The aldermen sounded very similar, although of better tone, to Councilman Walsh’s voice in such matters.

    Have they detached the 132nd from the city’s water supply to create such questions?

    It seems that Mr. Gilmore knows more than he is sharing about the vessel. The poor man must be suffering from some long-suppressed mental condition at the mention of “Ferryboat Junction.”

    I can tell you that the “developer” of the roller coaster–named Mickey somethingorother–actually showed up at an HUD hearing in Washington, D.C. to discuss the project. Actually, all I know is a man using that name showed up. In keeping with the popular entertainment theme of the day, he looked like something from the James E. Strates Show, an exhibit, not an executive.

  • Grin Ripper

    The Gilmore Boy must have been on the Dew, and thought he was a Pirate of Penance, on that memorable first non-dry Good Friday in 1982. If that glassware could talk from the bottom of the Pequonnock.

  • flubadub

    John Gilmore, I disagree. The local CT Post should have done, still should do, an in-depth report on the principals for Steal Point. A little investigative reporting similar to what I recall you were quite capable of doing. They reported on the council members’ trip to Miami. The reporter should have stayed an extra day or two or three and spoken to colleagues at the local papers there as well as the loyal opposition to hear what they have to say about Cristoph, et al. Transparency, as has been said here many times before.

  • town committee

    I went to the site on Virginia Ave only to learn that the governor canceled the announcement. While there I met State Senator Gomes who stated that until the last couple of days he knew nothing about this prison aka detention center.
    The pile of debris I complained to the DEP about is still there. It’s amazing that they would put this prison in the middle of a residential zone. it shows that they, meaning the state, just do not think about or give a damn about Bridgeport and its citizens.
    The state would never try to do this in Trumbull, Fairfield or Monroe. When the hell are our alleged leaders going to say enough is enough? When are they going to stand up?

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    The Black Rock Bank & Trust Company building is going to be sold. To whom? You may ask. I dunno. The city needs the money; I can’t see it being worth anyone’s time to sit on the property ’til the biggest bribe comes down or the cows come home, whichever is first.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Señor Mojo,

    Usted puede decir lo que quiere a Celli. A mi no me importa. Tú y él son miembros de la misma especie inferior.

  • town committee

    Here is a message for State Senator Musto. You may be happy about this detention center that will be located in a residential neighborhood on the upper east side but I can guarantee you that the residents up here are not happy.
    It sounds like you spearheaded the move to put this detention center in Bridgeport. Why didn’t it go to Trumbull or Monroe? Let me remind you that you also represent Bridgeport. Your time is coming we will not forget what you did when the next election rolls around.

  • Up On Bridgeport

    Musto really has the pulse of the neighborhood. His Neighborhood!

  • independent soul

    Breaking News? Gov Rell announces juvenile detention center for girls to be built in Monroe on the Trumbull line. Rob Scinto decides to build new home for the elderly in B’port.

    Oh wait, it’s not April Fools Day, just another day to make fools out of B’porters.

  • countdown

    For months Bridgeport has been waiting for items to be placed on the State Bond Commission that would benefit the Downtown and the NRZ neighborhoods that have worked so hard to get their plans done and passed by the City Council. Now we hear the governor’s top priority for Bridgeport is another juvenile detention center and our new state senator Musto is proud to make the announcement! Poor form Senator Musto. Poor form Governor Rell. Bridgeport needs to grow its tax base and strengthen its neighborhoods. We need that first and foremost. Where is the rest of Bridgeport’s delegation? Put a stop to this stupidity; remove the 30-foot pile of construction debris and fund what Bridgeport really needs.

  • RedWhiteandBlue

    Right on, Countdown … did anyone in BPT even know about this project? I am not against services for the population but is this the top capital improvement project for BPT? Hello? Can we focus on jobs and economic development … double-digit unemployment is nothing to sneeze at …

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