11 a.m. update: Okay, this is the Bridgeport politics we know and love. I’ve been getting emails and phone calls from political operatives saying, ‘Forget Carmen Lopez for Board of Education … we want her to run for mayor.’
Well, Carmen would certainly add a lot of salsa to the mix. A retired Superior Court judge, first Latina on the state bench who cut her teeth in city Democratic politics years ago. Carmen’s not afraid to speak her mind and a lot of folks like her for that, but then again some don’t. Right now Carmen’s poised to make a run for the BOE with a pretty good ally fanning her candidacy: Democratic Vice Chair Dottie Guman who’s respected in the party.
Mayor Bill Finch isn’t crazy about Carmen on the BOE. With Max Medina and John Olson retiring from the board this is the mayor’s chance to position allies that will work with him (or should I say do as he pleases). Birdie likes pols that will play ball with him, can’t blame him for that.
Adding to the mayor’s deep reservations about Lopez going on the BOE is a tiff they engaged in during the Puerto Rican parade dinner last weekend. I was not there but Finch friends say Carmen disrespected him and Carmen friends say he disrespected her over control of the microphone during the speaking portion of the event. Carmen thought the mayor was being too political in his remarks while the mayor felt Carmen dissed him.
Ah, the things pols fight about.
The Latino community, a potential dominant voting bloc in the city, has never completely galvanized behind a Latino candidate. Too many splits. Max Medina made a credible run for mayor in the 2003 primary won by John Fabrizi. The late Cesar Batalla, titular head of the Latino community in the 1980s and 1990s, never placed his name on the ballot.
But someone like Carmen Lopez could appeal to a cross section of the city even if she’s unable to galvanize a Latino voting bloc. Now I have no idea if Carmen would consider a mayoral run in 2011, but the fact that she’s decided to seek a BOE seat, a citywide slot, has pols perked up, both that like her and not. And while I’m at it, she’d be a formidable candidate for judge of probate in 2010. Ah, it’s nice to have choices in politics.
Temperament has always been the knock on Carmen. We’ll see.
Crossin For BOE
Add Former City Councilman from Black Rock Pat Crossin to the list of Board of Education candidates. Pat served on the City Council from 1991-2001 including many years as chairman of the Budgets and Appropriations Committee. The mayor is looking for allies on the BOE and Pat is someone he can sell to party regulars, especially since he doesn’t want Carmen Lopez on the board.
Crossin and Finch were allies when they served on the city’s legislative body and maintain a friendship. Crossin thought briefly about seeking his old City Council seat but decided to vie for BOE. The list of education candidates include Crossin, Lopez, former City Councilman Keith Rodgerson, City Councilwoman Leticia Colon and Joe Giaquinto. Two slots are available. Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa plans to schedule a meeting for the candidates to address district leaders before the DTC endorsement session July 22.
Gathering of the Vibes, Music, Arts & Camping Festival
Readies for Crowd of 25,000+ Daily in Bridgeport’s Seaside Park
Four-day event to showcase musical legends, support charitable causes and Celebrate 40th Anniversary of Woodstock
Bridgeport, CT (July 14, 2009) – Seaside Park is abuzz as stages, mobile office trailers, fence-lines, restrooms and shower trucks settle into place for the 14th annual Gathering of the Vibes festival, which runs from Thursday, July 23rd through Sunday, July 26th.
With legends like Crosby, Stills and Nash, Buddy Guy and George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic in the line-up – along with bands like Guster and State Radio, who bring out a younger audience – advance ticket sales have been strong, causing promoters to expect another solid turnout this year. Last year’s attendance exceeded 20,000 per day during the four day event.
“We’re ready,” said Ken Hays, Vibes Executive Director. “Our operations, traffic, parking and security teams have worked with the City of Bridgeport since last year’s event to ensure a safe and enjoyable weekend for all. It’s coming together nicely.”
Crosby, Stills and Nash’s (CSN) first gig together was 40 years ago this summer at the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. CSN will headline a very special Family Day at Vibes on Sunday, July 26th, where kids 15 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a parent. Along with CSN, the Sunday Family Day lineup features blues legend Buddy Guy, the word famous Harlem Gospel Choir, progressive reggae artists John Brown’s Body, and neoclassic rockers Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.
The Vibes 2009 line-up features over 40 artists on four stages, including other original Woodstock participants Bob Weir & Ratdog (Weir performed with the Grateful Dead), drummer and vocalist Levon Helm (The Band), and activist Wavy Gravy, who will serve as master of ceremonies. Other performers include Boston’s indie-rockers State Radio and Guster, longtime Vibes favorites moe. and Deep Banana Blackout, and many, many more!
Gathering of the Vibes, in conjunction with the Terrapin Foundation, is hosting a non-perishable food drive to benefit three local food pantries – the Bridgeport Office of Veterans Affairs, the Bridgeport Department on Aging and Operation Hope of Fairfield.
The time of year and state of the economy make the task of social outreach organizations ever more difficult. Food banks and emergency shelters collect the bulk of annual donations around the holidays, meaning shelves start to empty by summertime. This past year has also shown the largest growth in demand for middle class public outreach since the Great Depression.
The Vibes’ food drive offers festival attendees a chance to give back to the Bridgeport community – to repay them for use of their beautiful park,” Hays said.
Items needed include: baby food and/or formula, canned vegetables and soups, canned non-perishable meat, pasta and sauce, macaroni & cheese, deodorant, soap, shampoo, shaving products, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, Q-tips, diapers, and sanitary pads. A primary collection station will be across from the Main Concert Field entrance. Unstaffed donation stations will also be located at entrances and exits to the festival grounds. Whole Foods Market in Westport, CT has agreed to start this drive off with a sizable donation.
A limited number of single day tickets, weekend camping passes and VIP packages are available at www.goVIBES.com or at the Gate.
Kids 12 and under are free all weekend with a parent or guardian; kids 15 and under are free on Sunday. For tickets or information, go to: www.goVIBES.com or call Gathering of the Vibes Festival 2009 Headquarters at 203.908.3030.
About Gathering of the Vibes
Gathering of the Vibes began in 1996 as a celebration of the life of Jerry Garcia, who passed away the previous summer. Initially named Deadhead Heaven, the festival provides an annual forum for fans from across the country to remember the counterculture icon. In each of its past 13 years, Gathering of the Vibes has paired legendary artists with emerging acts to appeal to a wide cross-section of live music fans. For details, www.goVIBES.com.
Gathering of the Vibes and Charitable Giving
Since its inception, Gathering of the Vibes and its fans have made “giving back” a priority and support numerous social causes. In 2007 and 2008 combined, festival organizers donated more than $75,000 to local Bridgeport charities, Connecticut Special Olympics and many other not-for-profit organizations. In 2008, festival attendees donated 2,500 pounds of non-perishable items to local and state food banks. The festival’s bold “GreenVibes” environmental initiative ranges from an aggressive on-site recycling campaign, to educating fans about current research and development being done, and the progress being made in the field of alternative energy solutions.
News release from Jodi Rell
Governor Rell Authorizes $2M in Heating Aid to State’s Homeless, Domestic Violence Shelters
Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced a plan to direct up to $2 million in federal energy assistance funding to Connecticut’s extensive network of shelters for the homeless and victims of domestic violence.
“A rare surplus in federal heating aid funding is allowing us to bring additional support to our non-profit emergency shelter providers,” Governor Rell said. “I have directed the Department of Social Services to distribute as much as $2 million to shelter programs based on heating costs they incurred last winter.”
The one-time boost in funding is part of Governor Rell’s larger plan to allocate $28 million in surplus funds from the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program Block Grant. The funding can only be allocated to energy programs and the bulk of it – $16 million – must be used by September 30 or the state will be forced to return the money to the federal government.
Department of Social Services staff will poll shelter programs to determine their energy costs for last winter then send reimbursement checks out of the $2 million.
“This allocation will provide a sorely-needed infusion of dollars directly to the front lines of the human service agencies where many of our most vulnerable citizens turn in a time of personal crisis,” Governor Rell said. “Helping shelter programs cover the cost of winter heating is an especially productive use of this surplus federal funding.”
The Governor said DSS will amend the state energy assistance plan and work with the Legislature’s Appropriations, Human Services and Energy & Technology Committees in submitting it to federal authorities for expected approval.
The surplus funding is planned for 44 shelter programs for the homeless and 16 shelter programs for residents who need protection from domestic violence.
Connecticut will be able to carry over $12 million of the $28 million in surplus energy assistance funds to help cover winter heating costs for eligible households next winter. Later this week, Governor Rell is expected to announce further steps for the allocating the remainder of the $16 million that must be spent by September 30.
In a related initiative, the Governor announced in May a commitment of $10.8 million in federal stimulus funds for a state housing program aimed at reducing homelessness by providing assistance for rent, utility bills and relocation costs.
The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program offers a comprehensive range of services including rental assistance, security deposits, utility deposits and utility bill payments, moving cost assistance, motel or hotel vouchers, housing relocation and stabilization services including outreach, housing search, legal services and credit repair. The Department of Social Services is currently reviewing proposals from organizations responding to a request for proposals.