If you heard the ear-splitting screams Thursday night it came from Bridgeport City Hall where City Councilman Bob “Troll” Walsh blew a cork after the council’s Economic and Community Development Committee unanimously approved contract provisions for Frank Boulton, chief executive of the Atlantic League, the new owner of the Bridgeport Bluefish.
The city, as owner of the ballpark at Harbor Yard, must approve contract language that extends to a new owner. Boulton, a successful baseball executive, purchased the team and its liabilities from an ownership group headed by Mary-Jane Foster, including a $250,000 lease fee the team owes the city.
Walsh charged that the Bluefish received an interest-free loan and the city should start with a clean piece of paper and negotiate a new contract that provides a better deal for taxpayers. The other side of aisle includes city officials such as City Council President Tom McCarthy that want to keep the lights on at the ballpark and revenue generating for a 2009 season.
Those at the meeting, including Walsh, say it wasn’t pretty. In fact, Connecticut Post reporter Keila Torres, covering a zoning matter, heard the shouting from the next room. Walsh, who’s not a member of the committee, shrieked into McCarthy’s face that it was a bad deal charging McCarthy, as an attorney, wasn’t doing his due diligence. McCarthy calmly stood his ground in front of council members as Walsh spewed.
I love it when two Irish guys go at it, especially with polar-opposite personalities. Walsh, an accountant by profession, is never afraid to say what’s on his mind, damn the consequences. McCarthy, a consensus builder, sees the city budget bleeding with a new owner assuming obligations of a prior owner. There’s dispute, however, between Walsh and McCarthy over just how much the new owner is obligated to pick up.
“I want to rewrite the lease for a better deal for the city,” Walsh told OIB.
“The city budget is in dire straits and we have a new owner willing to pay money owed by former owners that he’s not obligated to pay,” McCarthy responded. “Boulton doesn’t have to do this. The alternative is an empty ballpark.”
The full council is expected to approve the city’s agreement with Boulton at its next meeting. Mayor Bill Finch, meanwhile, will introduce the new owner at a press conference today.
News release from Governor Rell
Governor Rell: State Loan to Keep Lacey Manufacturing, 250 Jobs in Bridgeport
Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that the state has approved a $5 million low-interest loan to Precision Engineered Products LLC (PEP) to help the company purchase Lacey Manufacturing, a move that will retain 250 jobs in Bridgeport.
“Jobs are always at the top of my priority list, and never more so than with the uncertainty on Wall Street taking a bite out of Connecticut’s economy,” Governor Rell said. “This project is an opportunity to keep one of Bridgeport’s largest and most well-respected manufacturers in operation and preserve 250 good paying jobs in the process.
“I particularly want to thank state Senator Rob Russo, who was dedicated to making this deal a reality and keeping Lacey Manufacturing in Bridgeport,” the Governor said. “His persistence in pursuing the financing from the state and his efforts to bring all of the players together reflects his commitment to preserving these jobs.”
“I’m grateful we were able to work with Governor Rell to help guarantee Lacey Manufacturing and its 250 jobs will stay in Bridgeport,” said Senator Russo (R-22). “This is an example of the kinds of smart investments the state must make to keep jobs in Connecticut and to help our local businesses and working families weather the current economic downturn.”
Lacey Manufacturing is a manufacturer of medical devices and bearing components that has operated in Bridgeport for approximately 90 years. The company is currently owned by the Schaeffler Group. PEP is an integrated manufacturer of metal and plastic molded assemblies, subassemblies and precision components with facilities in the United States and abroad.
The state portion of the financing is being arranged by the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Connecticut Development Authority.