The Politics Of Ethics

Bridgeport Port Authority, Civil Service, Bridgeport Public Library. All three agencies have or will be keeping Mayor Bill Finch busy.

Add another one to the list hizzoner wants to shape: Bridgeport Ethics Commission. Nearly two years into his mayoralty, Finch is looking to replace members whose terms have expired or will expire by the end of the year. Description of Ethics Commission from city website:

· Seven members, all residents & electors of city

· All members nominated by Mayor, confirmed by the City Council

· No candidate can be an office-holder or political activist

· No more than two members of any one political party. Alternates of different parties.

· Terms of two years

· No one serving 3 years is eligible for reappointment

· Members serve until a successor is appointed and has qualified.

· Meet 2nd Wednesday of the month

Howard T. Owens, Jr. (D)
488 Brooklawn Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Term Expires: 12/31/2008

Mary Donnelly (D)
53 Reading Place
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Term Expires: 12/31/2009

Joseph W. Ianniello (R)
128 Balmforth Street
Bridgeport, CT 06605
Term Expires: 12/31/2010

Harry Weichsel (U)
64 Janet Circle
Bridgeport, CT 06606
Term Expires 12/31/09

Robert Filotei (R)
365 Sailors Lane
Bridgeport, CT 06605
Term Expires 12/31/09

Term Expires: 12/31/2007

Jeffrey Kohut (D)
30 Wickliffe Circle
Bridgeport, CT 06606
Term Expires: 12/31/2007

The Ethics Commission was created in 1986 through an executive order of then Mayor Tom Bucci fulfilling a campaign pledge to form a body to monitor the conduct of public and elected officials. The commission operates largely under the radar screen with a non-partisan role. Critics say it’s basically a  toothless tiger. More than 20 years after its creation what meaningful work has it done? In fairness to the commission, it’s only as strong as the complaints made to the body and some of them have involved petty political fights. The ethics body also performs background review of mayoral recommendations to boards and commissions.

Finch hasn’t been bashful about the kind of people he wants to serve in government roles. He wants folks that will play ball. Translation: agree with me! Reminds me of a rejoinder by former Republican Mayor Lenny Paoletta. A reporter asked Lenny “Why are you hiring all your friends?” Said Lenny, “What am I supposed to do, hire my enemies?”

Library Update

Updated Aug. 20: I spoke to former Town Clerk Hector Diaz regarding library officials’ efforts to have voters decide in a referendum whether a one mil levy should support library services. Hector served as town clerk from 1983 to 2007 (when he retired) with a break from 1989-91. His replacement Alma Maya refused to sanction petition signatures from library supporters to bring the referendum question. City officials oppose the referendum. Hector’s take on this? He has no problem with voters deciding library funding but added that Connecticut General Statute (11-32) gives the city’s legislative body the power to maintain and establish a public library. And this may be the very argument that city lawyers make in court during a hearing next Monday.

News release from Working Families

Today, the Working Families Party announced endorsements for Bridgeport Board of Education and City Council. The WFP has endorsed Maria Valle for Council in the 137th district, and Maria Pereira and Sauda Baraka for Board of Education.

“The people of Bridgeport deserve someone who really represents the ideals of working people, who will fight to advance the goals of working people and their families.” said Emeline Bravo Blackwood, a Working Families Party leader in Bridgeport. “We’re proud to support all the Working Families candidates because we know they’ll fight hard for us.”

Maria Valle has been a community activist on the East Side of Bridgeport for over two decades. She is currently serving her third term on the City Council, and works with parents as a Program Assistant at Beardsley Elementary school.

“I’m proud to receive the endorsement of the Working Families Party, because the Working Families Party stands for the things that matter most to working families in Bridgeport like decent, living wage jobs and good schools,” said Maria Valle.

Maria Pereira is a Bridgeport mother who started taking interest in the Board of Education after discovering that her daughter had had nine math teachers in one year. After attending Board meeting and speaking with several Bridgeport public school system administrators and officials, she decided to run for a seat.

“I initially got involved because of my daughter, but have realized that these problems affect over 20,000 children and their parents,” said Maria Pereira. “I am running for the Board of Education because we need to do better for students, parents, teachers and the Bridgeport community.”

Sauda Baraka is currently serving on the Board of Education as a Republican, but was not nominated for re-election by the Republican Town Committee.

“As an advocate for children and families for over 25 years, I understand it is critical that we make Bridgeport schools safe, supportive learning environments for every child,” said Sauda Baraka. “Let’s lower dropout, invest in good teachers, and really prepare children to succeed.”

Working Families is a fast-growing political party across the state. According to the Secretary of State’s office, over 2600 Bridgeport residents voted for Jim Himes on the Working Families Party line in 2008.

Working Families is a minor political party in Connecticut formed by a coalition of community organizations, labor unions and neighborhood activists who united to fight for a fair economy. The Working Families Party was formed to inject issues like healthcare, quality education, and livable wages into the public debate, and to hold politicians accountable on those issues



  1. Sorry to post off topic, but maybe this is a matter for the Ethics Commission. When a supervisor loses almost her entire department it seems that someone should investigate what the hell is going on …

    Another one bites the dust in Alanna’s office. This time it’s the supervisor in Community Development (CDBG) who just resigned. I have mixed feelings on this one although I admit she was qualified for her job even though she didn’t have great people skills. So what is this, I lost count? Number 12 or 13 to leave? Alanna is slowly but surely wiping out the entire staff. Oh and she is replacing the supervisor with the youngest and most inexperienced person in the office. She bypassed some obvious qualified and knowledgeable candidates and chose her latest office pet. It is a joke. The remaining staff and the agencies in the community are just shaking their heads as that office slowly disintegrates. Favoritism, nepotism and politics at its worst in the city of Bpt.

    1. *** Why don’t you file a complaint instead of crying foul in hopes of someone else doing something? No backbone, I know; just hot air like some of the other usual OIB complainers. Your day will come so don’t get your brittle hair up there C.H.stalker! *** Have a nice watchful day! ***

  2. *** Back to the topic of the Ethics Commission, seems @ this time most members if not all are white? Let’s see what the peanut gallery has to say on this one, also is it by design or just the way the dice rolled? I wonder who rolled the dice on this one as well? *** What say you “bottomfeeder” or “C.H.stalker” & the “rest” of the followers? ***

  3. The ethics board has absolutely no functionality … a perfect place for you to resume public service. Go tell Phinch you have the same level of ethics as does he. He’ll make sure you get appointed.

    1. *** More like the sanitation dept. or WPCA in charge of turd recycling is more like it. He’s perfect for either one; either by smell, looks, touch or sight; it’s like “bottom feeder” fish to water, a perfect match. ***

  4. This is precious. A superior court judge whose term expired 8 months ago is still sitting on the Ethics Commission.
    Howard T. Owens, Jr. (D)
    488 Brooklawn Avenue
    Bridgeport, CT 06604
    Term Expires: 12/31/2008
    Depending on when he was originally appointed, this could be illegal. Isn’t this special …

  5. Hmmm very interesting, Sauda Baraka a Republican is on the Working Families line. I always vote the Working Families lines each year, it will be interesting to me to see how many votes she gets. I can’t believe they endorsed her now I have to do a little studying about her before I give her my vote.

  6. According to Bruce Lee (and a few others that have been privy to a few of Il Calamaro grande’s less guarded moments, Mario Testa has a rather low opinion of the African American and Latino communities, referring to them in the most pejorative terms. (According to a posting yesterday, Mario and his son “… are both racists who have no respect for most of the DTC members; in fact they show disdain and contempt behind their backs. Yet the DTC members, most of whom are city employees, bow down to Mario every chance they get.”)

    One of the things that makes Bridgeport a good city is its diversity. This is an all-American melting pot sort of town, in the classical sense. Rather than allowing the racist political hacks of the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee to keep the city’s voters split up along ethnic lines (and preventing a sense of unity among the disenfranchised), we ought to take strength from the very diversity that makes this city a potentially great place to live. Bridgeport’s character and ethnic makeup is not the same as it was fifteen or twenty or thirty years ago. It never will be.

  7. Do any of the registered voters living in Greene Homes or P.T. Barnum or Trumbull Gardens or Marina Village really believe that the allegedly “democratic” powers that be in Bridgeport actually give a shit about what happens in the projects? Does anyone really believe that Mario Testa and his misbegotten son express any concern over the young man recently shot to death in Greene Homes? A couple of guys that refer to the Irish as “mulligans” and any Spanish-speaking person as a “spic” actually having a care about the less fortunate residents of this city … Yeah, right. I would venture a guess that, as long as the drug-dealing and the assaults and the shootings and stabbings don’t occur up on Madison Avenue near La Castello di calamaro grande, neither calamaro grande nor calamaro piccolo give a rat’s ass what happens on the streets of Bridgeport.

    1. If the rank-and-file members of the Democratic Town Committee had any collective balls, there would be a mutiny. Mario’s grip on power would be seriously challenged, and reform-minded candidates would be voted into office with a mandate. Unfortunately for us, too many DTC members are municipal employees that owe their jobs to Il Calamaro di tutti Calamari. In other words, we’re stuck with the motherfucker ’til the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice finds a way to put him in jail.

    2. *** Who’s on first, I don’t know, then who’s on second? Who! Yeah, who’s on second? Who! Why you asking me, I don’t know! Right! *** This bit’s been done by many & it still sounds the same regardless who’s zooming whom? When I hear an anglo talk like he really cares about people in the projects then blames others for the conditions, etc. it reminds me of the old Abbott & Costello skit. ***

  8. “BRIDGEPORT — A third person has been shot and killed on city streets in less than a week.

    “Police investigating the latest fatal shooting — a man found early Wednesday in front of a multi-family house on Capitol Avenue — said the three incidents in the deadly scourge that began Saturday are not related.

    “The man found Wednesday was lying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk in front of 804 Capitol Ave. when officers arrived on the scene to investigate the a report of a man down about 6 a.m.”

  9. Sylvester L. Salcedo // Aug 18, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    “Great postings, everybody!
    I’m learning a lot. I regret time is short tonight, but I will try to address/respond to all of the wonderful points and important issues tomorrow night … for Bob Walsh, Library Lover, YAHOOY, Local Eyes and the inimitable Joel Gonzalez, et al. …”

    Don’t rush it Salcedo! Take your time, as there are 33 Elementary and Magnet Schools with an additional three High Schools. You are allowed to have the Liberate the Library Committee assist you in the research. However, you cannot call Sonia Salcedo–that would be cheating–to assist you in any way. I suggest you double-up on the coffee and switch to “Tostitos”.

  10. Joel Gonzalez:

    Thank you for the extension on my homework assignment … I will need it. Got up this morning at 5:45 am to drive to Brooklyn for an all-day legal training conference and got caught in the 5pm NYC rush hour ride back after crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to the FDR to I-95 plus did some client home visits on the way home. Trip took five hours. But coincidence of coincidences, I was talking to the above-mentioned lovely and talented Dr. Sonia Diaz (also formerly known as Diaz-Salcedo) at about 1pm because I told her that I was lunching at one of our old favorite restaurants when we used to live on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights when she was the NYC Superintendent of District One in 1997-99 in the LOISIDA … darn! I should have remembered to ask her about your assignment for me. I coulda had your answer by tonight. But now you say that would be cheating …
    On your “Toast-titos” suggestion, I have to hold my ground … I will stand by my “DO-ritos” until Monday after court … until tomorrow …

  11. What does Ethics mean as it applies to the Commission of the same name in the City of Bridgeport?
    Does it have the same definition and practical meaning as it does in neighboring towns with similar Boards?
    Do our City instructions look for and indeed instruct those who serve the public for pay or as volunteers on behavior that lives up to a high definition or merely fails a very basic and low standard? Is ethical behavior in this regard any different than legal? (Can you be ethical and illegal at the same time in this City?)
    Whom would you nominate for an award for service to the City during the past year (or more) and who is also an outstanding example of ethical behavior?
    Less than two years ago writers of letters to the CT Post decried the use of the word “corrupt” or “corruption” to describe the way the City game is played in Bridgeport.
    If the Commission features such short terms (except when the Mayor forgets or neglects to appoint new candidates so that term definitions mean practically nothing on this Board as well as so many others), has a low threshold for the measurement of human behavior, and/or has a perceived poor record of performance in the past 20 years, why bother? Or maybe someone can provide me with a list of the top three “unethical dirtpiles” in which to dig? Let’s see if the Ethics group has a shovel!!!

Leave a Reply