The Legislative Toll, Plus: Education Via Dictation, Saluting Joel Thompson

Pass the espresso. Sleep deprivation dominates Hartford this week.

The Connecticut Legislature has just over a week to finish out the regular session in an assembly already historic with the repeal of the death penalty that Governor Jodi Rell vows to veto when it reaches her desk.

Lots of work still to complete like, yeah, a little thing called the budget. How far and wide will the tax bite hurt? And, speaking of new revenues, will Hartford pols enact electronic tolls? The long holiday weekend was a reminder of Connecticut’s toll-free status.

Toll or no toll? And if so, how about sticking one each next to Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods? We can call them drive-by slots.

Post It

When I was a teen reporter at The Telegram, predecessor to the Connecticut Post, the process to deliver the news was in an entirely different place.

No computers, no email, no web sites. Underwood typewriters, copy paper sandwiching carbon, long-hand edits fed to conveyor belt that transported the morning stories to composing room operators that set printing plates in lead type.

And back then the morning Tele and afternoon Post had correspondents in just about every town in Fairfield County. They even had a Litchfield County reporter based in New Milford. Those days correspondents called in stories to the newsroom and guys like me took dictation per order of the county editor.

“Grimaldi, take dictation from Joel Thompson.” In the late 1970s Joel covered Newtown. My how times have changed. The paper no longer has a Newtown correspondent, although arguably it can claim one with Hearst’s ownership of both the Post and Danbury News-Times. Taking dictation from Joel was as much journey as jawing. Dateline Newtown, first take (opening page) first graph. “The Board of Education Monday night …” the phone stuck between neck and shoulder, banging as fast as I could in my lame hunt-and-peck mode trying to keep pace with Joel.

Genial Joel had a way of breaking free from dictation to explain how things worked in Newtown just in case I had to pinch-hit one night, and sure enough I did every now and then. Dictation could be a real pain in the butt when I was more interested in catching up with the night-shift gang throwing a few down at a downtown or South End pub, but those nights of pounding keys taught me how to craft a story and learn about the players that ran their respective communities.

Back then if you asked a newsroom scribe for help you could get your head ripped off showing ignorance. “Grimaldi, how many times do I have to tell you … it’s Mandanici not Mandacini. You go to school, stupid?”

Joel Thompson was never that way. He always managed a positive side to everything, even for a young scribe like me who hadn’t a clue. Joel is a throwback scribe with a quirky sense of humor that cares about the people he covers and the people around him.

After more than 35 years covering the suburbs, covering the city, Joel will end his tenure at the Connecticut Post at the end of next week. That’s a heckuva run in an industry trying to reinvent itself in a barrage of layoffs. There will be a party for Joel and I look forward to being there to celebrate his retirement (and new opportunities) rather than layoff.

By the way, shameless self promoter that I am, my article in the June issue of Connecticut Magazine focuses on law enforcement efforts hurt by newspaper cutbacks.

Share The Skinny

Hey, what’s going on this week? Any good stuff to report in City Hall? It’s always a trick getting back in the groove after a long weekend. Ms. Mo and I spent Monday in Manhattan tooling around the island, meeting with a client. (Yeah, I worked on Monday, but so it goes.)

On Sunday I checked out Chris Dodd opponent Merrick Alpert’s interview on Channel’s 3’s Face The State. I’ve not met him yet but from what I saw Alpert comes across composed, doesn’t have the Bambi-in-headlights look so common to unknown challengers. Dodd doesn’t have the same problem with some serial Democratic voters that Joe Lieberman experienced in his primary loss to Ned Lamont (Joe ran as an independent and won the general election in 2006) so Alpert must connect with moderate Dem voters turned off by Dodd’s problems and make the case why Dodd should be fired. Can Alpert raise the money? Will Dodd’s troubles fade away?

News release from Mayor Bill Finch

World War II Monument to be unveiled on the 65th anniversary of D-Day

Mayor reminds residents and businesses it’s not too late to donate to effort

Bill Finch will unveil Bridgeport’s World War II monument on the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy Saturday June 6th at 11a.m. Five black panels representing the city’s industrial output that supplied U.S. armed forces during World War II will list the names of more than 500 Bridgeport veterans killed in action during the war.

The monument will be placed beside the World War I and Vietnam War memorials on the green next to McLevy Hall at Broad and State streets. Mayor Finch reminded city residents, businesses and any potential supporters today at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend that it’s not too late to donate to the effort. Finch stated, “This monument is hugely important to honor Bridgeport’s 500 veterans killed in action during World War II. Bricks are still available and contributions can still be made in advance of our June 6 unveiling.”

Commemorative bricks will be sold before and after the unveiling. Each brick can be dedicated to any person, event or group associated with World War II. A 4-by-8-inch brick containing 12 characters in three lines costs $50, while an 8-by-8-inch brick containing 12 characters in six lines costs $100.

Mayor Finch will be accompanied at the unveiling by his father, Bill Finch, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. At the age of 19 the senior Finch was among many brave sailors on board the USS Corry, one of the destroyers at the front of our fleet at Normandy.

Along with the monument unveiling, World War II veterans from the area are encouraged to come participate in an oral history program being conducted by Dr. Evelyn M. Cherpak, curator of the Naval Historical Collection at the Naval War College in Newport R.I. Dr. Cherpak will be interviewing World War II Veterans beginning at 10a.m. Saturday June 6th at Mayor’s office at 999 Broad Street City Hall Annex.

To schedule an appointment to be interviewed, or for more information about the event, or to purchase a commemorative brick, call Lisa Iodice at 576-3964.



  1. What!? WIll Lisa actually take reservations and give information to veterans or will she ask someone else to do it? Is this part of her job description? Will she complain to CC? Stay tuned to OIB for constant updates.

    1. The only employees I’ve seen around the WWII monument are from the Parks Dept. I would venture to guess that they are doing all of the grunt work and Lisa is taking the credit. If Lisa has to answer more than 2 or 3 calls an hour she will have a nervous breakdown and call Charlie crying. He will rush over and take her to lunch at Ralph & Rich’s. Another fringe benefit of being Charlie’s girl.

      1. *** Wow, and you claim not to have anything against some of the people you’re always crying about! I’m starting to feel sorry in a way sometimes by the way you’re always blogging nothing but negative complaints about everything & everybody @ city hall. It must really suck to be you ’cause you sound like one miserable person sometimes! You’re so busy watching what everyone else is doing or not doing that you’re probably not getting much done yourself. Your day will come though ’cause God don’t like ugly! ***

  2. Tuesday May 26 on “Bridgeport Now”
    LIVE Tuesdays at 8pm on Ch 77

    Is this for real? Online gambling may be legalized again. Obviously, creative solutions are being explored during these trying economic times. Tonight we explore creative ideas to resolve crime, which could be on the rise if foreclosures increase, there are no jobs, and social services are cut.

    Tune in tonight to hear a different view on resolving crime, and hear an attorney who is on his way to Vancouver to attend a convention on resolving crime.

    Crime stats update:
    The CT Post reported last week that there were 50 car break-ins in a couple of weeks. However the Crime Analysis dept at the Bridgeport Police, who I called, says that figure is not correct. They wondered where it came from.

    I need to write the police chief to request the correct figure, since they would not release it to me. So how bad is crime and what does the public know?

  3. Electronic tolls work rather well in New York state. Repealing the death penalty would be a good idea. It would go a long way toward liberating the state’s reputation. Too bad there aren’t enough votes to override the veto. And the budget??? Oh, that pesky thing. Wouldn’t be much of a problem to solve if the starched-collar rank-and-file members of the Connecticut GOP (the cheap seats that Governor Rell plays to) would get over this need to impose outdated Victorian moralities on the rest of us. What’s wrong with Sunday liquor sales? And while I’m on the subject, what about sports betting? We have legalized gambling in this state (off-track betting on horse–and dog-races, lottery tickets, etc.). Why not open a sports book? It works in Nevada.

    1. And let’s not forget the lottery. How many different options does the state provide a person with a burning desire (and anything from $1.00 to $30.00 burning a hole in the pocket or the bottom of the purse) to piss away their money a little at a time? Those $2.00 scratch-off tickets are the wagering equivalent of crack cocaine. And the state makes shameless amounts of money from the sales of those tickets. Over 90% of all scratch-off lottery ticket sales are to people earning $14,000.00 a year or less. Let ’em bet on professional team sports. At least they’d have a chance at winning something.

  4. Also on “Bridgeport Now,” a brief discussion of making Steel Point into the Cricket stadium, per the op-ed article in today’s CT Post by Charles Walsh.

    1. Instead of spending the evenings in the public access TV building, you should try going to the Steel Point site one night. If you listened carefully, you would realize that Steel Point is a cricket stadium.

  5. Did I hear Lennie call Joel? Thompson? That’s not my last name. Joel Speedy Thompson just doesn’t sound right.

    It’s been close to 2 months since I last spent time–over 45 minutes could be considered time, and I sort of feel like I’m letting Lennie down by not contributing to his site. Of all the bloggers, I really missed Mojo the most. Been busy around the house and doing my vegetable garden. For the record, let’s be clear that my vegetable garden has nothing to do with Michelle Obama’s garden publicity stunt. Before Michelle ever saw a tomato plant, I was growing and planting them.
    Who in hell would do garden work while dressed like a model? A first lady of course! My Van broke down and I had to pull the engine out to save some money and send the engine for repair. Chris Shays was of tremendous help during the repair process. Shays went under the Van with me and had my back from engine removal to re-installation. Thank you Chris Shays.

  6. Hey Lennie, I got some interesting information regarding the U.S. Senate Race for Dodd’s seat.
    Remember when your buddy Joe Ganim was selected as the lieutenant governor with Bill Curry? I heard from a solid source that Bill Curry will be entering the race for Senator Dodd’s seat. It appears that Dodd will not run and has been advised that not running is the best thing he can do. I had always supported Curry and I admit that he would be a heck of a candidate. But I’m with Simmons on this one.

  7. Politics is the story of who gets what.

    Ideas come at the weirdest times. I just walked away from NBA playoff basketball to share my latest. Here goes:

    The Federal Reserve has already printed billions of dollars most of which is doing nothing but raising inflation concerns. Let’s put it to work.

    Let’s give it away to the worthy. Who are they? They’re the people who have saved money. These folks are easy to identify and have proven their ability to spend wisely–not the pukehead bankers or folks with massive debts (union members are heading that category). Doing this would stave off deflation which is the government’s ultimate goal. Capacity has been increased during the last eight years so inflation would have the kind of visibility that could re-earn Bernanke’s anti-inflation chops.

    This is the stimulus the economy needs. Until then, we’re treading water and time is our enemy as long as unemployment, foreclosures and anxiety persist.


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