The Key To The Detention Center

Afternoon Update: We should give Jodi Rell the key to the city … no wait, the key to the juvenile detention center that should be built in Brookfield Center or somewhere around there with all those flowing American flags and well-manicured Colonials. Yeah baby, let’s build it right on the Brookfield bus line.

Yes indeed, nothing but the best for Jodi’s hometown. And let’s throw in Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily, a member of the State Bond Commission, as well.

Look, this issue isn’t about addressing the needs of troubled female teens most of whom will not be a danger to society. It’s all about the state using the state’s largest city as a dumping ground for the things suburban and rural areas don’t want. “Oh yes, we can stick it in Bridgeport.” Bridgeport is a magnet for the garbage, sewage, sick and homeless for other parts of the state. A state detention center for boys was built on waterfront property. Couldn’t they at least look at incorporating a separate women’s wing there as well?

Mayor Bill Finch and the city’s legislative delegation would love to have that $15 million investment for something else.

There is much to admire in Republican Jodi Rell for taking on a Democratic-controlled, tax-happy legislature, but this detention center, if built, will undoubtedly be her legacy in Bridgeport. Does she care? Probably not. Former Governor Lowell Weicker built a new college downtown. Jodi builds a detention center in a residential neighborhood. State Rep. Chris Caruso is leading the battle cry against this facility, and he called a news conference today at noon at the Virginia Avenue site to rail against the project.

From Keila Torres, Connecticut Post

BRIDGEPORT — More than 300 city residents opposed to the state plan to build a juvenile detention center for girls on Virginia Avenue announced today that they have set up a group, Derail the Jail Committee, to battle the project.

Announcement of the new committee was made at a noontime press conference at the site of the proposed center — 115 Virginia Ave. — attended by more than 50 neighbors, state Rep. Christopher Caruso, D-Bridgeport, and Mayor Bill Finch.

Group members, who plan to travel to the state Capitol on Jan. 8 to protest the plan, urged Democratic members of the State Bond Commission to vote against the proposed detention center at their meeting on that day.

The group expressed anger at Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s decision to move forward with the $15 million project despite intense neighborhood opposition.

What’s the best way to blow up Jodi’s proposal? Defeat it at the Bond Commission level, not an easy thing to do. That would require 5 of the 10 Dems on the commission voting against it. Ken Dixon at CT Post writes that Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily, who represents those lovely Connecticut River towns, has pledged to support Rell. See description of State Bond Commission and members below from state web site:

The statute designates the ten members of the State Bond Commission as follows:

“… the Governor, the Treasurer, the Comptroller, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management and the Commissioner of Public Works, each of whom may designate a deputy to represent him as a member at meetings of the State Bond Commission with full powers to act and vote in his behalf, and the co-chairpersons and the ranking minority members of the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to state finance, revenue and bonding, each of whom may designate another member of said joint standing committee, who is not a member of the State Bond Commission, to represent him as a member at meetings of the State Bond Commission with full powers to act and vote in his behalf.”

Honorable M. Jodi Rell, Governor and Chairman

Honorable Robert L. Genuario, Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management

Honorable Denise Nappier, State Treasurer

Honorable Nancy Wyman, State Comptroller

Honorable Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General

Honorable Raeanne V. Curtis, Commissioner of the Department of Public Works

Honorable Eileen M. Daily, Senator and Co-Chair Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee

Honorable Cameron C. Staples, Representative and Co-Chair Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee

Honorable Andrew W. Roraback, Senator and Ranking Minority Member Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee

Honorable Vincent J. Candelora, Representative and Ranking Minority Member Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee

Statement from Mayor Finch

Statement from Mayor Bill Finch re: Juvenile Facility

“Both Rep. [Chris] Caruso, Sen. [Anthony] Musto and I were concerned from the beginning about the lack of public input sought by the Department of Children and Families and the Rell administration regarding this planned juvenile detention facility.

“While the state has now garnered community input, I am still unhappy about that they are proceeding with the plans to build this detention facility at this location. Neighborhood residents and community groups are not supportive of this site because it is in a densely populated residential neighborhood.

“Alternate sites, both in Bridgeport and in other towns, were offered and discussed, but it seems that the state has its mind made up to about this site. I am not convinced that it should be built in this densely populated neighborhood when other sites, both in the City of Bridgeport, and in other towns, are available for consideration. If the state is planning to spend $15 million to build this facility, there are currently other more pressing opportunities on the bond agenda which would provide jobs, add to our City’s tax base, while not putting undue stress on City services.”

– Mayor Bill Finch

OIB friend Jeff Kohut, a neighborhood activist from the North End, submitted the guest commentary below:

Halting Rell’s Bridgeport-jail plans shouldn’t exclude peaceful “civil disobedience”

By Jeff Kohut

Governor M. Jodi Rell – Brookfield resident, and agent of the affluent, hegemonist, Fairfield County suburbs that surround Bridgeport — must not be allowed to fulfill yet another anti-urban mandate and bully the city of Bridgeport into accommodating another tax-negative, stigmatizing, state-funded, economic-“anti-matter” development in the state’s largest city.

Governor Rell’s swan-song, legacy-project — the “Jail-on-the Park” in Bridgeport’s Upper East Side must not be allowed to take physical form.

Indeed, under the Governor’s “leadership” the state’s largest city has only the “Downtown Waterfront Jail” to serve as evidence of Her Majesty’s “stewardship” of this obviously disdained, intentionally disenfranchised part of her realm …

The treatment of Bridgeport at the hands of the state and federal government has not been lost on the media and other Bridgeport observers (of both internal and external vantage points); there is no disagreement among those who live in Bridgeport, or among those who observe objectively from without, that the city has been all-but-officially designated as the “cheap-labor repository” and “all-purpose dumping ground” for Fairfield County.

There is no shortage of political evidence to back up the above statement. The fact that the state’s largest city receives substantially less state and federal aid than the significantly smaller cities of Hartford and New Haven is no secret and cannot be adequately explained away by arcane revenue-sharing formulas (which we all know have numerous, well-utilized loopholes …). But perhaps the most glaring, and least discussed, piece of evidence of the planned, purposeful, state-sanctioned, marginalization and exploitation of Bridgeport by the affluent, hegemonist suburban municipalities of Fairfield County is the de facto theft, in the state legislative redistricting of 2000, of Bridgeport’s 125th General Assembly seat by ultra-rich, ultra-Republican New Canaan!

Truly, there can be no denial that Bridgeport has been deliberately weakened, politically and economically, through nefarious, decades-long state and federal policies stealthily executed, according to plan, at the behest of interests based in the affluent municipalities of Fairfield County. The new, proposed, “Jail-on-the-Park” is just one more example of a political-surrogate bully operating on behalf of hegemonist Fairfield County interests to ensure that they “have their way” with Bridgeport …

If the Connecticut Bonding Commission passes the “New Bridgeport Jail” bond issue on January 5th, then it will be time for our political leadership to take up the cause of the people of the Upper East Side, and the rest of Bridgeport, and thereby work cooperatively to plan and organize a course of legal and civil action – including “civil disobedience” — to make sure that this latest affront to Bridgeport’s integrity doesn’t become a reality, and to furthermore end the deliberate, state and federally abetted marginalization and exploitation of Bridgeport …

It certainly shouldn’t be unthinkable for our state and municipal legislators, and city leaders, to include the of use peaceful protest and “civil disobedience,” in addition to working toward legislative and legal measures, to defend the integrity of the residential neighborhoods of the Upper East Side (and thereby the rest of Bridgeport) against the impositions of the Rell Administration (and future administrations).

I would urge our state and municipal legislators and city leaders to create and execute a plan of peaceful protest and “civil disobedience” (as a complement to a plan of legal and legislative measures) designed to shame the current “lame-duck” Rell Administration into abandoning its new Bridgeport-jail plans …

How long it will take the Rell Administration to relocate the planned jail to another location (or locations …) outside of Bridgeport, if it has to face persistent, negative media exposure in the form of video coverage of peaceful (albeit disruptive) measures involving significant numbers of disaffected Bridgeporters, led by their elected state and city officials, protesting their mistreatment by the Governor and officials in her administration? …

Such activity as the aforementioned might just be enough to wake up the sleeping giant of Connecticut Politics – the Bridgeport electorate – in time for the 2010 elections!



  1. Bridgeport Needs a Hero:
    The city that I love is in need of a political hero. We have had years and years of political incompetence. We need a leader that can stand up and tell the political machine to step back. We need a leader to tell the machine he (she) is running the city, he (she) will lead the city and move it forward. It’s time for a leader to say to the district party bosses back off there are no more jobs for relatives and friends.
    This hero needs to meet with the Unions and lay out what the city’s financial problems are. This hero then needs to do what is necessary as it relates to the unions and their salaries and benefits. This leader then has to show the unions that he can be trusted and do no political hiring from a secret slush fund.
    The hero needs to fire all of the incompetents that are now heading various city agencies regardless of the political consequences. This hero needs to bring in true professionals to run these departments.
    The hero needs to tell and force the BOE to gets its act together. Close one of the high schools and make it a culinary high school where kids are taught to cook and operate a restaurant. It can be done. This hero needs to tell the BOE that 6 out of every 10 kids now in first grade will quit school and this is not acceptable. This hero has to work with local utility companies and work out a plan where any new businesses coming into Bridgeport will be given discount utility rates for X number of years. This hero needs to get out and entice companies to come to Bridgeport with tax deals that will financially help businesses.
    This hero needs to work with the state in offering companies from out of state discounts and financial aid for locating from out of state to Bridgeport.
    This hero needs the guts to change the way Bridgeport does business. We need to fill all Boards and commissions with competent people. We need all supervisors to be trained in management techniques. We need the people of Bridgeport to be heard and be allowed to participate in governing this city.
    We need to get rid of the way we are now doing business which is it’s us against them. This is the way we have been conducting business in Bridgeport and it’s one of the reasons we have been left behind while towns surrounding Bridgeport have flourished.

  2. TC–you are right, Bridgeport needs a hero, Democrat or Republican.

    Mary Jane Foster may not be perfect, but she’d be better than anyone named so far. She is smart enough to surround herself with the right people, she is trustworthy and she’d have some Republican cooperation.

    John Bohanan–Attorney, very smart, savvy guy who knows the players, but doesn’t owe them, he is well versed with Unions, the parliamentarian of the Town Committee and trustworthy. He actually would be my pick, with Mary Jane a close second. The problem with the first two is that they would have to take pay cuts.

    Russo is less perfect, but he’d at least be new and if he went at it with a true bi-partisan attitude or switched to being an independent he might have a chance.

    Sly Salcedo–He has some positions that would be some baggage around his neck, but he is smart, fair, and open minded.

    George Estrada–He is smart and trustworthy, again he’d have to go it with a serious bi-partisan message or switch parties.

    Wanted: one hero, who will never please everyone, willing to take on huge debt, disgruntled unions, crumbling infrastructure, graft, corruption, a bad economy and clean out political appointments for around $125,000.00. Doesn’t sound really appealing, so I guess that’s why it must be a hero.

  3. This is why I hate Republicans because they always try to take advantage of lower income areas and could give a damn about the middle class, then you have some people trying to say vote against Sen Dodd in 2010? I say get the hell out of here with that because I’d rather have Dodd than some Republican like Rell. I am sure Len voted for Rell in 2006 and look where that has gotten us a dumping ground for a jail. Vote Democrat in 2010!

  4. Thank you TC and JohnB. It takes courage to reflect on where you are (when you are up to your butt in alligators) and then to state the multitude of obvious actions that (or people of experience and integrity who) can make a difference in changing municipal results in years to come.

    Just a word of caution. That wonderful Bridgeporter Walt Kelly, uttered a major memorable statement in Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” So, lest we rush to select one person to post on our new pedestal, only to ignore them, criticize them, find fault with their habits or personalities, etc. (daily OIB edible vegetation) or fire away at the pedestal, forgetting we erected it, let’s assure that “brave new leader” that they will also have some assistance in the form of Charter Changes–how about some type of bipartisan financially experienced board to monitor budget preparation and approval annually between the Mayor’s office and the City Council; how about mandatory posting of interim critical decisions, financial results, etc. to get the public more information about their government; in addition to full and current appointments to Boards and commissions and required training for competent participation, how about posting of all meeting schedules and agendas in advance and minutes in a timely fashion after? And how about allowing more people into the discussion process at public meetings for some form of mandated, if limited, give and take with leadership? It takes the abilities of many people to keep the energy flowing, the opportunities in sight, the dialogue open, the encouragement at a necessary level to make the hard decisions and stick to them in tough times, and raise the level of awareness. The “broad public interest” is the mission of local government and those who are elected, appointed, employed, etc. must be held to that daily.
    In addition to the one elected leader (as Mayor), s/he will require a number of other “hero/leader types” to get abiding change accomplished. So, the leader needs to be able to respect the abilities of others and call on them to use their strengths rather than to fear others in pursuit of the public interest.
    The office of Mayor should not be put on a pedestal unless the effort and results are truly heroic and nobody bats 1.000 in this league.

  5. BEACON2 That was a great post and stated what I was trying to say better than I said it. I especially like and agree with what you wrote and I quote:
    “In addition to the one elected leader (as Mayor), s/he will require a number of other “hero/leader types” to get abiding change accomplished. So, the leader needs to be able to respect the abilities of others and call on them to use their strengths rather than to fear others in pursuit of the public interest.” Thank You.

  6. Wow!

    The list of qualities sought for a future city hero/leader is impressive. I was beginning to think people stopped caring about some of the things mentioned above.

    What needs to happen next is to get those thoughts consolidated and transmitted to the town committee members, the people who exist officially only to nominate a candidate. That’s all they do and then they go home … officially!

    Town committee members don’t get paid for their service, so why do they serve? There’s (public) job protection for themselves or a family member, there is access to the higher elected officials (in the “you owe me” sense) and then there is the oldest of reason, ego. That’s all well and good, that’s politics, here and everywhere you go.

    But I can guarantee you that if every district committee was presented with a petition from district voters pledging to toss their royal butts to the curb unless they came up with a decent slate of candidates, change in the candidate selection thought process would happen in an instant.

    These petitioners would have to make the threat and follow through if necessary. It’s happened before and can happen again. Voters will get better candidates when they demand better candidates.

    Happy New Year!

  7. Estrada would be a disastrous mayor because he would keep the same cast of characters. We need fresh blood. Someone who is not owing to anyone. Someone with a proven reputation of integrity and doing the right thing. There are those people out there. The problem is that they can’t get elected without selling their souls to Mario.

  8. He wouldn’t put up with your bullshit, that’s for sure! You and your other half would be his first order of business. You’re an idiot, always have been, always will be!

  9. Not for anything … But let’s just say Estrada has a bone in his closet, similar to the one Fabrizi couldn’t keep locked up …

    But I will agree, Bpt NEEDS A HERO!!! Maybe we could steal the Young Mayor from Torrington, it seems Young People are the ones getting the job done …

  10. The problem with finding a Bridgeport hero is that the politicians eat their own. Nobody rallies behind anyone with caliber and the capacity to offer any creative solutions. It is like the cartoon adage: “We have met the enemy and he is us”. It is easier to find the next Messiah than the new politician that will save us. It is time that the good people stand up together and work together on ideas and plans that affect us all like unfair property taxes on homeowners, ineffective schools, a dying economy and the frustration of the political system in Hartford that ignores our concerns. It is a new year and a time for a new resolution.


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