The Plunger Won’t Work

When you gotta go you gotta go. Unless maybe when it’s raining sheets across the city and the rain-swollen sewage treatment system is biting up to say hello. Put away the plunger. It ain’t gonna help. This is not the kind of greeting you want in your john.

Actually what really happens is raw sewage spills into Long Island Sound, according to a complaint filed against the city by the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, a nonprofit watchdog group that has put the city on notice: start cleaning up your act within two months or we’re moving into federal court.

I chatted this afternoon with Roger Reynolds, the attorney representing the environmental group, who says that more than one billion gallons of raw sewage has flowed into Long Island Sound since 2004 creating a public health hazard infecting shellfish, basements and city streets.

Reynolds has met with Mayor Bill Finch to discuss upgrades needed to avoid federal court action. If the city does not show good faith in 60 days he’ll move forward with a federal complaint.

The state Department of Environmental Protection says the city’s making some progress, but more needs to be done.

This environmental warning brings to the forefront once again a development proposal for the town of Monroe to tie into Trumbull’s wastewater pipeline connected to Bridgeport’s mothership sewage treatment facility. Can the city’s system handle the extra load that would come from the planned new construction for the Jewish Home for the Elderly in Monroe, and at what cost?

Understandably, Mayor Bill Finch wants the several million dollars in tax revenue front loaded to help plug the budget gap for this current year and next. Opponents say the money is not nearly enough and if it happens the revenue stream must be on a long-term basis. Reynolds says couching the revenue as a tax agreement is dubious because the source of the revenue is wastewater that comes under the authority of the city’s Water Pollution Control Authority. State law does allow municipalities to share property tax revenues, but Reynolds maintains all revenues must be directed to the WPCA and not the general fund.

The tentative agreement that had been worked out between the leaders of Bridgeport, Trumbull and Monroe calls for two revenues: a tax piece that would go into the general fund for the pipeline connection and a sewage treatment flow that would go to the WPCA.

Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa, who has a frosty relationship with the mayor, is against the plan and is working City Council members to oppose it. The council has not yet received a formal proposal.

In fact at 4 p.m. this Thursday, a forum downtown at the Golden Hill Methodist Church across from City Hall is scheduled to address the benefits and disadvantages of the regional sewage pipeline. Should be a good one to attend. OIB friend George Estrada, former director of Public Facilities for the city, who has a strong understanding of the city’s sewage treatment operation, will serve as a panel member as well as Paul Timpanelli, one of the driving forces behind the proposal, chief of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. Timpanelli has brokered the tentative deal struck between the elected leaders of Bridgeport, Trumbull and Monroe.

This is some good shit to discuss because the very next day, Friday, the state Bond Commission is expected to vote through nearly $5 million in upgrades for the city’s wastewater and sewage treatment system in a $135 million agenda item to improve the sewage systems of a variety of cities. The city will need a lot more to modernize its facilities, and to those familiar with the upgrades required the city is getting crumbs, but it’s a start.

The state commission is also expected to approve $2 million earmarked to clean up a former medical site on Horace Street for the relocation of an elevator manufacturing company from Westchester.



  1. To those of us that have been dealing with the flooding and the waste coming into our basements this suit is long overdue. On the upper east side we get floods every time it rains. The rain runoff from Rt 8/25 is filtered into the Bridgeport catchbasins and streams. We also get the rain runoff from Trumbull and above. This runoff ends up behind Hooker School and ultimately in Remington Woods. The sewer tops on my street bubble up and overflow. I have had to put a backflow preventer on my sewer pipe to keep the waste out of my basement. Ask the people on Broadbridge & Glenbrook about flooding and the WPCA.
    Until the city is able to update and protect all of the neighborhoods I say do not take any more waste or rain runoff from the towns of Monroe and Trumbull.
    Until Trumbull built up the areas of town near where we live we rarely had flooding problems. The more they build the more we flood. Do any of the politicians pushing for this tie-in know or give a damn? The answer is NO.
    If this suit is won the city is faced with enormous costs. Does anyone think Trumbull is going to help us pay the cost?

  2. Here is another example of the town of Trumbull and a contractor who built an elderly housing unit on our border. This unit is on Huntington Tpk. The owner of the adjoining property was promised that the pond in front of his house would be dredged and the silt removed after the project was completed. Well the project was completed and no one from the Town of Trumbull to the contractor wanted to live up to the contract they signed with the 91-year-old property owner.
    Without the help of Pat Fardy nothing would have been done and he would be left holding a useless piece of paper and an almost-filled-in pond. Mrs. Fardy arranged for this 91 year old to receive monetary help but she was unable to get the town or the builder to really live up to the contract. There was no money to go to court. I tell you this because it is an example how promises have a way of going south. Just like the Monroe sewer deal would if Finch caves in.

    1. *** town committee *** If you were Mayor of Bpt. with probably no interest or chance of being re-nominated in the coming 3 yrs. as Mayor again, but felt that with the help of the Dem. party, family & political friends, etc. you might be able to run again for State Senator representing Bpt., Monroe & Trumbull, wouldn’t you be pushing for this “$” sewage deal that’s of interest to those suburbs & B.R.B.C. too? There’s always a message to the madness of political business somewhere! You just have to dig a little deeper sometimes to find it. ***

  3. Aside from the Union Contracts, much of what Finch is saying he is doing is simply a Press Release. The most recent BS PR stunt was the Cutback on City take-home cars … It was all a show … Most of the cars he identified in his press release were take-home cars eliminated prior to his administration and the rest were some police cars that are no longer take-home …

    Someone please explain why the following people have take-home cars …
    – Adam Wood, who drives all over the state with his car
    – Andy Nunn, his car can be spotted all over Monroe
    – Tom Sherwood, mind you, he hit someone driving off route 8 a few years ago, we footed the lawsuit bill
    – Mike Feeney, who doesn’t live in Bpt
    – Alanna Kabel, no clue why she needs a car
    – Mark Anastasi, who no longer “really” runs the City attorney’s office, some dumb arrangement by Finch that is NOT saving us any money
    – Charles Carroll, also spent city $$$ on office renovations
    – Bobby Kennedy

    Then there is the BOE,
    – John Ramos, this genius still lives in WATERTOWN
    – Allan Wallack, this guy spends gas to Bloomfield

    I am sure there are more, but, I am not sure who else there is, these are the ones I have seen …

    Can’t count on the city to disclose a REAL list with names, they definitely don’t like transparency …

    1. There will never be complete transparency in Bridgeport city government because, as Ms. Cruz pointed out, “they definitely don’t like transparency …”

      It would certainly serve the taxpayers and residents of Bridgeport to have a squad of top-shelf efficiency experts brought in to analyse the performance of our municipal government. There are more than a few discrepencies that could be addressed through consolidation and the elimination of redundancy. Alas, this is just a pipe dream that will never become a reality. Messrs. Wood, Nunn, Anastasi, Carroll, Ramos and Wallack are accustomed to pimping off the taxpayers. In the case of the latter two this is especially galling when one considers the pathetic state of public education in this town.

      1. Wallack has retired and come back more times than Gene O’Neil. How you can retire as a athletic director and come back as a construction consultant? There is more waste in the Board of Ed than anywhere else in the city. Twenty asst. supers, three custodial supervisors to collect time sheets, a couple of the mechanics don’t know where the schools are and have never been seen in a school or even in Bridgeport, the board itself couldn’t make a proper decision if it were handed to them, and a super who is rarely seen in person except once a year at Harbor Yards. Oh wait, that’s done on tv now.

  4. TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO, a new entity called “The Corporation” was invented. Its purpose was to gather persons of varied talents to reach a common goal. The corporation was a huge advancement for mankind and today is a staple of American life.

    Today, a different kind of organizational tool is needed. Very few corporations have survived the past 200 years and recent trends do not bode well for them. However, all is not lost. A new way of organizing economic activity has arrived. Just as telephones made the stock market possible, so to does the internet make possible the O.P.I.C. which stands for one person internet company. The day of personal accountability is here. Those who refuse to accept its arrival are destined to occupy the conventional cubbyholes of yesterday. Those who accept it are better able to take a deep breath, organize themselves and become walking, talking human growth stocks.

  5. Let me be clear: the purpose of a job is to generate income, right?

    O.P.I.C.s generate income and act as a job substitute.

    With jobs disappearing faster than pizza on Super Bowl Sunday, the number of O.P.I.C.s is exploding.

    I didn’t invent OPICs–aren’t you happy –but they remain the next step in man’s ingenuity. Don’t Let The Rapture pass you by.

  6. “Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa, who has a frosty relationship with the mayor, is against the plan and is working City Council members to oppose it.” Why does this man have so much power? The city has so many problems and Mayor Finch is trying to address them all. But one guy with an overpriced restaurant on Madison Avenue doesn’t like the specific methods Hizzoner is going about the city’s business. Mr. Testa ought to get over hisself. The city is in dire straits on all fronts and an asshole like him just wants to play childish games.

    1. Kid

      Mario is not against Monroe hitching up to our sewers. He is against a front-loaded deal that is a short-term gain and a long-term loss for Bridgeport. BTW–His restaurant is hardly overpriced and probably one of the best deals in town. I’m sure yahooy will concur.

      1. I understand that, U.O.B. What irks is another power-mad party hack jumping in to prevent something from happening, as opposed to saying, “That’s a good idea but …” and suggesting improvements that would be beneficial to the city of Bridgeport. No one likes raw sewage from overwhelmed sewer lines seeping into their basement. It would make perfect sense to address the problem. If Monroe wants to tap into our waste treatment plant, Monroe ought to pay to expand the capacity of the plant so that it will be capable of handling the increased discharge. This is another example of the disagreement acquiring greater importance than a solution to the actual problem. Arguing for the sake of arguing does not accomplish anything. Unfortunately, the elected officials and party despots in Bridgeport haven’t realized that yet. What’s good for the city has never been less important than it is now.

  7. Has anyone actually read the topic of Lennie’s blog for today? One Billion gallons of raw sewage in the past 14-plus years.
    We have Mr. Timpanelli and the rest of the parasites wanting us to allow Monroe to tie into our sewer system so that another developer and another suburban town can benefit from our overburdened infrastructure at a nominal fee.
    The last time we took a screwing of this magnitude was when route 25 was built. We lost a freshwater beach, park land, a historic mansion and taxable property and what did we get; water runoff from route 25 and more air pollution. Route 25 does nothing for Bridgeport all it does is allow suburbanites a faster way to I-95 on into Norwalk and Stamford. Zero benefit to Bridgeport.

  8. Yup …I concur … Testa’s is the best value for the buck in all of Bridgeport. I just wish the bastard would stick to calamari instead of injecting his agendized goombah tactics into city politics. He and those like him are cliches. There is no room for them anymore. If we are going to survive, never mind prosper, Testa and his ilk have got to get out.

    I’m glad he thinks the sewer deal stinks. He’s right. Finch has no future vision. $5 million up front kills the golden goose AND creates a basis for huge, very huge, cost increases when the increase in effluent meets the already maxed-out waste system. What is Finch going to do when main street sewers overflow and the white trout are clinging to the annex? He’ll probably toss up his hands with that faraway look he has mastered and say … “Who knew”. Well, Mr. Dickhead, WE THE PEOPLE know AND we don’t want it the way you see it. I agree with Mojo, Finch has no place to go after Bridgeport. But do we really think the people of Shelton, Monroe and Trumbull are as stupid as Bridgeport voters so much so that they will GIFT him his old Senatorial seat just because he rerouted some shit our way? Hope not. If the dumb bastard wants to stay in municipal service let him hop on a city truck and fill potholes.

    1. “Finch has no place to go after Bridgeport.”

      I agree, only if we can all agree that the Bridgeport Regional Business Council is not a place. If Amann was offered a $120,000 job, what would be the amount offered to Finch by the B.R.B.C?

  9. You know Finch is over when his own Chief of Staff starts looking for work. Himes was smart enough not to hire Wood as Chief of Staff even though Wood begged. Finch and Wood, they deserve each other.

  10. Finch for god’s sake grow up and tell Timpanelli to take a walk. Do you think if you keep kissing his ass he will give you back your old job when you are no longer the mayor? This guy has the loyalty of a jackel.
    The regional business council should wake up and get rid of this bottom feeder. What has he done for the last 20 years? Nothing UNLESS you hired him to take care of the ‘burbs and screw Bridgeport. To Phil Kuchma and others that are on that council you have put up your money and walked the walk get rid of this guy and I bet that things would be better without him than they are with him.
    Everyone knows the problems with our sewer system, everyone knows about the flooding and yet the Finch administration is still going forward. I hope the council has the courage to vote this down when they finally get the mayor’s proposal. McCarthy it’s time for you to lead and it’s time for you to think about the people of Bridgeport. This is a bad deal and you know it. Now we face the very real possibility of a lawsuit. I can hear the city in court telling a federal judge yes your honor we knew about the flooding problems and the fact that we only had a certain amount of capacity at the sewer plant. Yes your honor we knew we were dumping into Long Island Sound. Yes your honor we did tie in the town of Monroe after all what’s a little more crap into Long Island sound going to harm?

  11. *** Just a reminder, Testa was a Ct. State Rep. back in the day; plus between Testa & Stafstrom running the Bpt. Dem. Party, I would much rather have Testa. He seems to treat people with respect, forgives but doesn’t forget, extends the olive branch to settle disputes in the party & stands behind his word. He’s a good fund-raiser for the party and is really committed, (regardless of the negative gossip @ times) to helping Bpt. develop back into the great city it was! Over all, he’s a nice person & stand-up guy. ***

    1. *** If they deport her, they’ll have to get busy on all the other illegals in America from all over the world. Then if they really want to reduce the overall illegal population in general, they can also revoke the marriage licenses of all illegals that have married Americans just to stay in the U.S.A.! Then they’ll be plenty of minimum-wage-paying jobs available that the average American doesn’t really want in some cases! Sad but true, America’s youth wants the latest styles, in toys, clothing apparel, electronics & cars, etc. with all the bells & whistles. However, they have different ideas about what the meaning of work actually is! *** Think not, rent the movie, “A Day without Mexicans” and get a sense of how things have changed in America, concerning the ideas regarding “WORK”. ***

  12. Am I the only one who thinks it’s bizarre that Robert Christoph of RCI Marine who has been the preferred developer of Steel Point in one way, shape or form for the past 8 years, is now willing to demonstrate his commitment to Bridgeport by:
    1) Planting grass on Steal Point
    2) Helping to pay for a monument to James O’Rourke
    3) Becoming an equity partner in Kuchma’s failed condo project and yet the other investors don’t know if they want him or not.
    4) Buying a house in the AREA.
    In the words of the Who, I hope “we won’t be fooled again.”

  13. Well Mr. Grin, it did not turn out all bad. The Jenkins site became the home of Harbor Yard. Trump, my former client, decided he no longer wanted to pay taxes on the Jenkins Valve site he had purchased once the casino bill tanked in the legislature in 1995. He turned the property over to the city in a deal he cut with Mayor Joe Ganim in exchange for waiving the back taxes. The ballpark was built and for three years the place was full when the economy was roaring. Maybe the new owners can fill it again.

  14. I just finished watching Bridgeport Now.
    Kudos to the awesome threesome.
    Show was organized, thoughtful and full of info.
    The discussion of the historic buildings was terrific.


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