The Financial Heat, Plus: Mojica Qualifies For Ballot

What the hell is going on around here? Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy protection. Merrill Lynch agrees to sell to Bank of America. Insurance giant AIG seeks a bridge loan from the Federal Reserve. Former fed chief Alan Greenspan says John McCain’s tax-cut proposal, without appropriate spending cuts, is nuts.

I just can’t wait for the Ice Lady to save us from all of this. So hot, so smart, so keenly engaged in staring down atrocities from her bedroom window that she hired her high school chum, with a love for cows, to head the Alaska Division of Agriculture for $95K a year. Yes, that’s what will solve the energy crisis: cow flatulence. Hey, Sarah, McCain will say, blow some of that my way. Yummy, baby. Hey, Cindy, get a hit off this!

If all politics is local (and it is) this reminds me of 1991, when political neophyte Mary Moran, whose fire-breathing rhetoric in 1989 had captivated Bridgeport voters to do the most liberal thing ever recorded in the city’s electoral history (elect a female mayor) plunged the city into federal bankruptcy court. All will be saved, she said. We will break union contracts. We will start fresh. We will save the city.

Horseshit. Wall Street threw a fit. Overnight Bridgeport’s credit worthiness was shot. Want to build a school? Forget it. Want to fix a bridge? No way. Want people to invest in the city? Drop dead. Mary Moran and her bankruptcy advisers were smart and everyone else was stupid. Moran was at war with the state and a financial review board she inherited form her predecessor Tom Bucci. Meanwhile, in the New England banking crisis eating away at the economy, local institutions such as Citytrust and Mechanics & Farmers died the gooey death. It was awful.

When Joe Ganim replaced Moran as mayor the city enjoyed a period of stability with a lot of help from city unions. Ganim balanced budgets and stabilized taxes, and the financial review board went away. Joe, years later, had other problems that had nothing to do with his early governing successes.

The financial fallout from the early 1990s is fresh on my mind because I’ve just completed a biography of retired People’s Bank Chief Executive David Carson. Bow Tie Banker tells the story of an immigrant’s unconventional rise as chief executive of the largest bank in America’s wealthiest state. Carson, as a member of the financial review board, was trying to keep the city and his bank afloat at the same time. We expect to have the book ready for commercial release in a few months.

A lot of stuff is going on in the city today that will determine if the city suffers a similar fate as the early 1990s.

Speaking of city finances, I spoke to City Councilman Bob Walsh this morning about Councilman Bob Curwen’s proposal to eliminate staff support for the legislative body as a cost-cutting measure. Said Walsh: “Get rid of the stipends too.” Each council member receives a $9,000 per year expense account. Walsh hasn’t accessed his stipend in years.

Mojica On Ballot

If nothing else, Ralph Mojica will make his independent run for the state house fun. The former member of the Bridgeport City Council has qualified to challenge Democrat Ezequiel Santiago and Republican Joel “Speedy” Gonzalez in the 130th State Assembly District that covers the South End, Downtown and portions of the East Side and West Side. This race should be a walk in the park for Eze. But Ralph will be there sticking a finger in the eye of his opponents. It gives him a platform to stay visible in the political community. Joel gives as good as he takes. Hey, maybe all three will show up at the OIB party September 25, 5:30 at Captain’s Cove Seaport. We don’t care that the Bridgeport DTC is throwing a picnic that night. All OIB supporters are welcome.



  1. All politics is local but ALL ECONOMICS IS PERSONAL.
    I lose my job but your biz is booming and everything is OK — with YOU!

    Thank goodness I’m just trying to make a point…

  2. “Speaking of city finances, I spoke to City Councilman Bob Walsh this morning about Councilman Bob Curwen’s proposal to eliminate staff support for the legislative body as a cost-cutting measure.”

    Gag…gimme a break. The only reason why Bob Curwen wants to eliminate council staff support AFTER he oversaw its expansion as President Pro Tempore is because their Republican staffer Tom White has decided to investigate as part of his Council Office duties all of Curwen’s alleged ties.

    He supports the hiring of TWO staffers so that Ayala can squeeze one of his campaign workers into a cushy patronage job…then wants to eliminate all jobs after one of the staffers decides to look into all of his own “jobs,” “investments,” “associations” and “ties.”

    Cost-cutting measure? Gag…gimme a break!

  3. From what I’ve read, much of Lehman Brothers’ problems are the result of bad decisions by Richard Fuld, the company’s chief executive. Six months ago Lehman Brothers stock was trading at $66.00 a share. Today it opened at 26¢. This credit crisis was caused by the sheer greed of the sales managers at many automobile dealerships, the greed of mortgage brokers conning first-time buyers with lousy credit into signing on the dotted line, without bothering to explain that the APR would reset to a much higher rate. Greed is not good. Gordon Gekko was a fictional character. Reaganomics work most effectively this way: shit runs downhill.

  4. One last jab here…the sad thing is that Bob Walsh knows this and instead of addressing the situation as being a matter of a personal conflict between a councilman and a staffer he decides to exploit the situation to fit his own agenda.

    I guess investigations aren’t his cup of tea when he can get some newsprint over…gee, I dunno…anything he can.

    So much for being a watchdog. He’s more like a lapdog when it comes to free press. Who cares about criminal influence in government? Clearly not Bob Walsh if he wants to end the investigation!!

  5. Lennie your liberal bias is showing. Who should she have hired for the department of Agriculture? A person who is her enemy?
    Today’s Washington Post has an article stating that Obama’s first term will be like Bush’s second term. Go figure.

  6. Lehman Bros problems were due to bad decisions, as is Washington Mutual, AIG and others. The “subprime” mortgages are the culprit. You can’t lend money to people who don’t even pay their rent. This is not a republican or democrat thing. This was a business decision.

  7. Jesus, I can’t win. The Dems say I’m in the tank for the GOP. Wondering says I’m in the tank for the libs. I’m happy!

    And Gag, please gag me with your anti-Italian crap. So, if they were Irish, Polish, Russian or anything else would you name the ethnicity?

    What’s next, I used a razor blade to slice the garlic when I was in the joint?

  8. BobBlackRock

    You offer some very good points. I agree about giving credit to people with poor financials. However, conversely, and not the sneakers, I’m not shedding any tears for the folks who made millions off poor people. Then expect the government to bail them out. They hedged their bets and lost. Poor fundamentals driven by greed. It’s deja vu all over again. You remember City Trust don’t you?

  9. Gaggimme Abreak,
    Please. At least get your facts straight. I was the only person who spoke and voted against an ordinance that allowed various pay-phone companies to compete and granted open access to place their phones all over the city on city rights of way. Several of these LLC’s were owned / operated by the person you are referring to. The city attorney’s office told the council that we had to grant access and I argued that we did not if we had reasonable reasons not to. When all was said and done, several of these LLC’s went out of business and left the city with uncollected fees in the tens of thousands of dollars.
    And when the city claimed it was cracking down on trash haulers who were in arrears in paying their tipping fees, I was the only one who voted in favor of pulling the permit for a company owned by the son of the individual who you are referring to; in both committee and before the full council. And again the city attorney urged the committee not to do so because we might get sued for interfering with trade and that the city attorney’s office was going to pursue it in another manner. I do not believe they ever pursued the matter.
    And when the fabulous one wanted to appoint an individual who was an in-law to the person you are talking about to a land-use board I believe again I was the only councilmember who questioned this relationship and voted against it in committee and before the full council. And again the city attorney’s office said that I could not vote against this appointment because of the relationship. To which I always tell the city attorney that I can vote against any appointment to any board or commission simply because I don’t like the color shirt that they are wearing. And just recently questions were raised about this individual’s participation in the discussions involving a zoning matter on a property that this individual has an option to buy. And I can go through more if you would like.
    Bottom line is, if someone is doing an investigation then I believe you had better start with whoever was the mayor at the time, go through the city attorney’s office and right through 95% of the council.
    And finally, Mr. White reports to the Council President and takes direction from him. So are you suggesting the Tom McCarthy has initiated this alleged investigation? That leaves me laughing out loud.
    So if someone has proof of these allegations, file a complaint with the Ethics Commission. If someone has proof and is fearful of doing so, give it to me and I will file a complaint. But if this is all that Mr. White has to do as Director of Constituent Services then I stand by my comments. If we are laying off police, fire, healthcare providers and other essential personnel then every job should be considered for the chopping block.

  10. Bob Walsh This is the same garbage hauler, the son of same, that Tony DePrimo, the former mayor and George E let into the transfer station with out-of-town garbage during bulk pickup no charge to them. They were challenged by city employee but let in by Tony DePrimo who told city employee follow my orders. City officials were told of this problem but only investigated OT problem. This is a coverup do something about it.

  11. Shays doesn’t get it–it’s time for a change and he will lose big time. Lennie is going pro Shays and that makes me wonder is he even from Bridgeport. I have heard some users ask that and he has not responded yet. Just a hint Lennie without Bridgeport Democrats the blog is nothing.

  12. donj, no secret I don’t live in Bridgeport. (I did live there for 10 years.) Nor do Democrats Jim Himes (Greenwich) or Anthony Musto (Trumbull). Doesn’t mean they don’t care about the city. Bridgeport is key to their election chances. Republicans Chris Shays and Rob Russo live in Bridgeport.

  13. Donj Let’s not panic the market did not crash but it did take a hit. The housing market collapse is what did Lehman Brothers in. They were like a lot of financial institutions that screwed the middle and lower classes with their trick mortgages. Need I remind you our senator Dodd was the Chairmen of the Banking Committee while all of this was going on?
    Let me remind you congress has been controlled by the dems and not a word from them.
    I suggest you start reading about Obama and his plan to tax everything that moves. You might want to look at the Washington Post today and see that even the liberal paper is comparing Obama’s first term as the same as Bush’s second term. I can’t make this stuff up. BTW Obama hsa dropped 13 points from his lead in NY and it is now a dead heat. Looks like trouble in paradise.

  14. Solid as Barack,
    You are absolutely correct. It is really the “rank and file” of these companies that are hurt the most – the smallest of the paychecks and now, no real good prospects for employment. Who would ever even imagine that the Citytust failure didn’t even cost the taxpayers as much as just the Lehman building is worth!

  15. LennieGrimaldi,
    I just think people are mad when they come on here and see a big Chris Shays sign because he is a part of Washington. Another thing, Shays just lives in Bridgeport to get votes. Rob Russo is a nice guy but it will be hard for him to win because he has run too much with Shays and McSame and by doing that he kills his future in the state senate as voters in Bridgeport vote Musto. I feel if Rob were his own man he might have a shout because he is liked by Bridgeport people. Many people have told me they simply won’t vote for Rob because he is part of the problem because he is a Republican. Well Lennie, you lived in this city long enough and you know the issues so keep posting, we enjoy it. Sometimes I get pissed off when you seem like you support Shays and McCain but that’s your choice. Be truthful; who are you voting for Nov 4th?

  16. Fearful projections for the stock market from analysts! Kind of makes one wonder if we aren’t better off with our money under a mattress or in a coffee can like my mother used to do! Can the FDIC actually cover all deposits under $100K if heaven forbid, it came to that? AIG looking for a handout, Lehman Bros., and Merrill – what’s going on? I can’t believe what is happening in this country, and yet some people want 4 more years of Bush-like government in the Oval Office? We are dishing out far more than we can afford to continue this Iraqi war, and now we are sending money to Georgia to put them back on their feet from a Russian invasion? And here all the while, I thought charity began at home. God help us all, we’re going to need it.

  17. Velvet underground on #24:

    Calm down, relax! I will be your psychic today, lay down and take a deep breath. Let me tell you about our money under the mattress. It’s our money and we don’t have to pay interest like those that have other people’s money under their mattress. This Economic crisis had a lot to do with people borrowing money (Mortgages) to buy homes. This has less to do with Bush and more to do with Democrats like Chris Dodd and Barney Franks to name a few, two years of neglect of duty simply put. You may know a lot about human behavior but these types of little poorly thought-out outbursts from you demonstrate your lack of knowledge of Lennie’s OIB topics. Everything is going to be ok (for those that didn’t mortgage a house) and if it makes you feel better, we haven’t seen anyone jump from atop a Wall Street building yet. The War will be over when we get Bin Laden or if the majority of American Voters (Florida and Ohio) vote for the Osama/BinBiden ticket. The Russians ain’t coming! You can put the gun down and rest assured that there will be a lot of construction jobs in Georgia.
    Stop ripping off Uncle Sam and stop putting the co-pay from your psychic clients into coffee cans and stop blaming it on your mother. Yes, charity begins at home which is why the Democrats bailed out Fannie and Freddie.


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