The Troll Speaks His Mind

Look out, everybody, The Troll’s in the Pol Pod. Yes, OIB caught up to City Councilman Bob Walsh for a 10-minute chat about life on the City Council and the ups and downs of his political relationships.

I first met Walsh 25 years ago when I was a young scribe covering city politics. We were sitting at the bar of the Knickerbocker, a pub in the city’s South End, chatting about the upcoming municipal election. He was then, as I would describe (and he likes to dispute this) a party regular, an old-school liberal’s liberal. Through the years, he’s become a relentless watchdog of municipal affairs, taking on mayors, council presidents, department heads and one of his favorite sparring partners City Attorney Mark Anastasi. Walsh’s critics say he goes too far, if you’re for something he’s against it, but doing his homework is not in dispute. A number cruncher by profession, Walsh’s a studious observer of the city budget and almost all things municipally related.

His biggest bone with Mayor Bill Finch’s administration is the lack of communication between the mayor’s office and the legislative body. The council, he says, operates too often in the dark because Finch is disconnected from a working relationship.

The Troll, as you’ll hear, is unafraid to speak his mind. {running time: 10:13}

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Dems rally for Jim Himes, see Himes campaign press release below:

BRIDGEPORT, CT – Leaders from across the state gathered with a large crowd of enthusiastic supporters today on McLevy Green, just across from Bridgeport’s City Hall, to discuss the need for change in Washington and endorse Jim Himes, Democratic candidate for Congress.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, and State Comptroller Nancy Wyman were unanimous in endorsing Himes as the person best equipped to bring real change to Washington.

Surrounded by Bridgeport community and political leaders, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal described Himes as a “unique and historically qualified candidate,” who suits “this unique and historic opportunity.”

“Jim Himes has worked for everything he has. He brings dedication and distinction as a result of those experiences. I’m very proud to stand here supporting Jim Himes.”

State Comptroller Nancy Wyman seconded Blumenthal’s endorsement. “I look at Jim’s background and I know that he understands that we need to change what’s going on in Washington when it comes to our fiscal future.”

“When we talk about a candidate of change, we’ve got to talk about Jim Himes,” added Wyman. “Jim Himes will take the American dream and make it an American reality.”

Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz described Himes as a “candidate with tremendous energy.” Pointing out the crowds of young Himes supporters in attendance, Bysiewicz noted, “Young people are leading the way. They know we’re at a critical point.”

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch argued that only Democrats deliver results for the middle class, “My family is a middle class family. And the Finches never did better than in the 1990s, when we had a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress.”

Himes, who attended public schools and went on to become a Rhodes Scholar and Vice President at Goldman Sachs before running the New York office of a national affordable housing non-profit, stated that he can deliver results for the middle class.

“I’m running to bring new energy to the American dream,” said Himes. “As someone who grew up in a small town with a single working mother and managed to achieve success, I know that opportunity is at the heart of the American dream. Yet, for families today, opportunity is slipping away. Health care costs, energy costs, and struggling schools are urgent problems that need federal attention. That is particularly true here in Bridgeport, and it’s why I’m so proud to stand here with Bridgeport leaders and our constitutional officers to work together for real change. Issues that matter to Connecticut’s families will be a priority for me in Congress.”

The unified group of political and community leaders who attended to support Jim Himes included Mayor Bill Finch, Judge of Probate Paul Ganim, State Senator Ed Gomes, State Representative Bob Keeley, State Representative Don Clemons, State Representative Andres Ayala, Democratic candidates for State Senate Anthony Musto and Marilyn Moore, and Ezequiel Santiago, Lydia Martinez, and Michelle Mount, Democratic candidates for State Representative.

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56 comments

  1. Hey Lennie, — “Got Hope?”

    Just so you know, here in New Haven, those of us who had been around the longest were the last folks to realize the turn-around was at hand.

    The outsiders buying in saw opportunity where we couldn’t.

    fwiw.

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  2. no gossip, just facts, outside the rialto:

    Stamford secured $5M from Army corp and only has to put in $2M to have the river cleaned and a park created through the downtown. B’port has a river with dynamic potential for recreation and development and we sit with our hands on our asses letting dirty industry and commerce abuse the area when it could be a focal point of the city. another opportunity lost! another example of the lack of leadership from 999 broad.

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  3. Great Pol Pod, Lennie and Bob Walsh. Thank you.

    Now. I have found out more about the situation in the Fire Department, if anyone wants to bite.

    A Fire Lieutenant exam was given sometime around last April (that’s 2007). A full outline was established, which included the weights of the exam. The written exam was worth 50%, the oral 45%, and seniority another 5%. After all the dust has settled, it has been determined that due to a perceived disparate impact, it was necessary to change the weights because not enough minorities scored high enough to be promoted.

    I ask you, as I listened to Bob Walsh talk of getting “qualified” minority contractors, is this an acceptable way to promote minorities through the ranks of our emergency services? Bypass others who may have scored higher in an attempt to increase minority representation?

    Please do not turn this into a racism issue, because it is not – I am more concerned with making sure we have the most qualified personnel protecting the City and its citizens, regardless of their color or heritage. Is it fair and appropriate for the City to change weights after the fact, just because the demographic is perceived to be “wrong”? Is this good government?

    If anyone is closer to this situation than I am, please feel free to comment or fill in any blanks.

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  4. Good ole Bob Walsh. “Let’s take the bonding away from Pullman Comely and give the work to a “minority” law practice.” Bullshit. I think the bonding should be taken away from Pullman Comely (fully qualified by years of experience and record of accomplishment to do the work well) because of the issues associated with blatant conflict of interest and political cronyism.

    If there is a minority firm out there who has as much experience as Pullman Comely, by all means, sign them up. I will never sit back a give the work to a minority firm simply because it is a minority firm.

    This comment may appear to be racist but it is not. Minority reaches out to veterans, women and the aged and the handicapped.

    I want full and complete qualification. I am not inclined to allow our bond work to go to a firm who will play learn as they go.

    I don’t think anyone else should either.

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  5. Was that a Pol Pod or a Troll Pod?

    Good job by Walsh. Like him or dislike him he always tells it like it is.

    The Knickerbocker was a great joint, and across the street was another South End gem, a cafeteria style place called the Blue Teapot. It featured different specialties on different days of the week. The “Knick” later around 1986 became gentrified as the Austin Street Saloon. Other South end haunts were The Paramount, Kinsgmen Pub, originally the Seawall, (“Where once a Knight is not enough”) a big U.B. place that had nickel drafts on Thursdays. Also in the South End were Lamb’s and Ganch’s and The Buglight, (named after the small lighthouse near the entrance to the U.I. plant and harbor) which later became Alberto’s. Great hot dog stands too along main st coming out of Seaside Park. Perhaps Yahooy could wax poetic bout his daze as a Knight.

    HereWeGo

    You raise some interesting points. I don’t know if I have enough knowledge to be able to weigh in on this one. All I care is that the agility tests are not skewered to weights and measures. I think there should be more health checks and mandates in place regarding weight and other issues for Fire and Police. Some of our Bravest and Finest are a hiccup away from a heart attack.

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  6. I’m all for hiring and promotion based on MERIT. Affirmative Action was a crock of shit for the most part, some of the most condescending legislation ever passed in this country. This may be an unpopular opinion with some people, but it’s true.

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  7. Sorry
    I forgot to include on my pub tour the legendary Maloney’s on Iranistan Ave across from Seaside Village.
    They served great open roast beef sandwiches. Still a strong, vibrant place that should be in the Pizza Hall of Fame, is Arthur’s Famous Pizza.

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  8. The Seawall….ah..yes. Nail Dinihinian.

    The Paramount…..ah…yes. Bob Heaphy at the bar.

    The Bug Light…..ah…yes. Got my first beer at the Bug Light. Walked in at 17 years old, grabbed a used beer glass off a table, walked up to the bartender and boldly announced that I was switching to Ballantine Ale…could I have a clean glass. Worked every time.

    Didn’t spend much time at the Knick. Different crowd. My crowd hung out at the Bug Light and Seawall and Paramount. You could hang on to the fence when you went from one place to the other.

    After a night of imbibing and attempts at fornication we returned the lassies to their respective dorms and gathered at Conte’s for the Chow Mein sandwich on a French Bakery Roll.

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  9. This is all fascinating, Mr. Tom, this stroll down memory lane, waxing nostalgic about your first underage drink, your failed attempts at getting a squeeze, etc. Did you leave a trail of vomit so that your friends could follow you home?

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  10. The Bridgeport Kid

    You must have been educated in the Bridgeport School system. I know that Simsbury always got high scores in Reading Comprehension. I have a take home test for you.
    Read it again. Hey Kid! On a Simsbury nostalgia note. What was the name of the explosives company in Simsbury?

    Yahooy
    I forgot about what a staple Chow Mein was for the hot dog stand set. I worked as a Barker at the Canteen and we called them Ho Chi Minh’s sandwiches

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  11. Just thought of something else.

    Nails Dinihinian, legendary bartender at the Seawall is dead.

    Bob Heaphy, legendary bartender at the Paramount is dead.

    Can’t remember the bartenders at the Buglight (first time drinking beer you know); they’re probably dead too.

    Tommy….you were a bartender too…right? How are you feeling? I seem to remember with Nails and Heaphy, the mind went first.

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  12. You guys are making me thirsty and hungry. I’m going up to that great Thai restaurant, The King and I, in the same strip shopping center as Vazzy’s. They have an outstanding all you can eat and drink luncheon special called “Thai Won On!”.

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  13. Bpt Kid, you apparently are a very angry young man with a guitar. Your arguments are diluted when dipped in venom. You are also incongruous, in that you seem to hate Finch, but like Grogins. Grogins has been hanging around Finch like a fly on horse manure since her council days. She has badgered him about becoming a judge since Finch went to Hartford. She and Mrs. Finch are drinking buddies and Finch’s wife has been helping with her campaign since this winter.

    You rag on Yahooy and T.K. for reliving their youth and remembering a different Bridgpeport that is better than it is now. Perhaps that makes them qualified to form a vision of the future. Who are you to pontificate from atop Roach’s barstool?

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  14. How can anyone take themselves seriously with a name like cliche? I was going to levy the same charge against you. I don’t know Walsh, can’t say I want to. Also, what makes you think I am a man?

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  15. Bridgeport was indeed a far better place in which to live during the time Tom Kelly and Yahooy remember so fondly. The operative phrase in their nostalgic commentary was that they would WALK from place to place. Not so anymore, nor has it been that safe for a very long time.

    Once Sam Tedesco(circa early 60s) started screwing with the properties earmarked for Rte. 25 demolition and his absurd taxation plan for corporations the city started to die and the so called “machine” began to flourish.

    Panuzio promised the cops 20 and out. Mandanici took care of himself, his family and his friends. Then there was Bucci, Ganim and Fabrizi and now Finch.

    Are we better off now then we were then. No. How come. Lousy politicians ruining our city. Solution? Find new honest blood like Salcedo and Russo. Get rid of Mario Testa and Stafstrom too.

    Enough. I have had enough. Now is the time.

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  16. >> grabbed a used beer glass off a table, walked up to the bartender and boldly announced that I was switching to Ballantine Ale…could I have a clean glass. <<<

    Now that’s funny !!!

    Wasn’t Kingsmen’s pub the place where you had your very own mug with your name on it? I wonder if I still have mine

    Panama Inn had great best roast beef.

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  17. It wasn’t “the machine” or the politicians, which killed Bridgeport

    It was plastic replacing brass….. it was labor cheaper down south….. it was energy cheaper in PA…. it was people moving out to the burbs to live the American dream

    It was the slow erosion over time just like so many American cities

    It was the slow erriosn over time just like so many american cities

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  18. Sorry Kid. Your protection from Philistine of the Week is hereby rescinded. I further hereby suspend this week’s designation from Lennie for suggesting that I am a horse. You, Kid, shall serve out the rest of this week. Enjoy.

    Now, why would I want to leave a trail of vomit so my friends could follow me home? Actually, the vomiting always occurred at Conte’s. Can you imagine what the introduction of a Chow Mein sandwich does to a gullet full of Ballantine Ale?

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  19. The troll Walsh always speaks his mind, too bad most of us are sick of hearing him. The voice of gloom and doom. Never a positive thing to say, not now, not ever.

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  20. Pat Crossin is correct, it was the slow erosion. Companies pulling up stakes to follow cheaper labor and resources. If city officials can get out of each others’ (and their own) way, stop arguing about who has a better plan, stop trying to control everything for the sake of ego, things would move forward a little more speedily. As it is the city is moving forward, albeit slowly. There are some obstructionists out there, trying to squeeze another nickle out of developers. The shakedowns have to stop.

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  21. The “erosion” started 45 years ago. In that time we could have made reasonable corrections if the leadership of the city was honorable. During that time much could have been done to inject entrepreneurial business into the areas vacated by the smoke stackers. Left unattended all major urban cities suffered the same blight as we and they probably had the same issues with politicians as did we. What i’m saying is that we could have done something…we should have done something. We could have remediated all of the contaminated properties 45 years ago and developed them into profits centers. Instead…Sam Tedesco got rich.

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  22. Newark, New Jersey, has had the same problem as Bridgeport: power is concentrated in the hands of a few moneyed people while the rest of the city suffers the trials and tribulations of various economic cycles. The city leadership of Newark has been corrupt for years: Sharpe James, the previous mayor, was recently convicted of federal racketeering charges.

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  23. I’ve got two all-day no-camping tickets to the Gathering of the Vibes. Good for one day. $140.00 value. I’ll give you the bargain price of $100.00.

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  24. “COUNTDOWN // Jul 30, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Claude Balls-
    What Urban Green shakedown by Keeley? Let me guess; Keeley would support bond funding for their downtown project if he protects his no-show job at the DSSD. No support, no funding. Am I close? Therefore there hasn’t been much funding for Bridgeport’s downtown except that money Keeley got for his DSSD plan. Conflict?

    I just saw some of the Keeley propaganda. I can’t believe Keeley is taking credit for all the projects that he forced into the Bond Bill;as if getting a project listed in a Bond bill means anything. It means nothing. What counts is what gets on the Bond Commission agenda for approval. That is where the expertise, credibility and finesse is needed. If you ask Keeley how many of his pet projects actually made it to the bond commission agenda, I bet it would be less than 10%. What a croc.”

    See. It’s not just me who thinks Keeley has got to go. Now we have 2 questions Keeley has to give straight answers to. When’s the debate?

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  25. the Erection of the Trumbull Mall and mass exodus of downtown bridgeport businesses. When the people stopped shopping here and went there. Why is it that no one mentions this as a reason for Bridgeport’s decline. What this city needs is commerce.

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  26. We’re not just talking about the decline of Main Street because a Mall set up a few miles out taking all of the local business along. That’s a socio-economic plight that affected virtually every city in America. Don’t forget. At that time our citizenry were adding 1 or 2 automobiles in addition to the one Dad took to the Brass Shop every morning. Mom could now hop in the car and drive out of town to buy clothes, shoes and groceries..all under one roof. Park once and get all your shopping done. The Malls destroyed the central business district.

    Guess What???

    They’re coming back. I have noticed a new type of Mall emerging around the country. I first saw it in Chicago, and Wilmington, NC and now in West Hartford.

    Developers are going into dilapidated central business districts and building combination condo complexes with major big-name stores attached. They set them up like little shopping villages. In addition to major big-time shopping, there are groceries, MDs, Dentists, Accountants and Lawyer. Parking is integrated into the complex like individual streets. Movies and sports arenas are part of this new concept. Plus, of course, some really top-notch restaurants.

    Gasoline prices will offer some relief in the coming month especially with Bush’s fractured middle east and retarded economic policies replaced by someone who knows what they are doing. But, the days of $1.25/gallon are gone. So it becomes very expensive to travel long distances from your home to shop. Hence, a reemergence of the central business district. If Finch wasn’t mayor and Timpanelli worked a fork lift at Sikorsky this concept could easily fit into Bridgeport.

    The day of the mega mall is over. Shopping/residential communities like I just described will return to the cities.

    In order to make this happen we have to elect officials who will FACILITATE this progress not hinder it while going to the developers with their palms up.

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  27. The reason why Bridgeport is in the shits is because of the lack of Latin Jazz murmuring through the city’s downtown *pudupoo* *badabing* area. Luckily Bob Keeley is bringing back the Sweetport Music Festivals for all you Bitches out there.

    It’s been a while. What’s new OIB?

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  28. Palmieri could you make it awhile longer you jerk BTW stick to your latin Jazz. That’s just what downtown needs. Look at the wonders it’s done for east main St

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  29. Wondering- East Main is filled with Barbershops and Regeaton. At least that is expected of lower east main street. What about upper East Main? Councilmen KKKurwen and Fouletto haven’t done a damn thing to improve the drug dealing and racket that happens at club sixx. They might be in on the action. Fardy after all was good friends with KKKurwen.

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  30. Hector is right.

    The Trumbull Mall killed downtown Bridgeport. If the downtown had survived new offices would have been built – but industrial Bridgeport was beyond saving.

    I also remember the Kingsmen pub and the hotdog stands fondly.

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  31. Yahooey, I’m not sure if the development you’ve seen in West Hartford was the Blue Back Square project. Your description resembles this project. Just in case you didn’t know “Blue Back Square” ‘s developer was David Hidalgo who was raised in Bridgeport. He has expressed an interest in doing similiar projects here in his hometown. You can see an example of his work at www .bluebacksquare.com

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  32. The Trumbull Mall did not kill downtown Bridgeport. Apathy did. Back when that mall was proposed, all of the crooked politicians in BPT. were having such a wonderful time getting well from the kickbacks, bribes and shakedowns that they didn’t notice that the downtown business district was going to hell. Or they didn’t care, which is more likely.

    Keeley only cares about his no-show job at DSSD. More specifically, he cares about the $65,000.00 per year paychecks. He doesn’t give a shit about downtown Bridgeport. That is apparent when the man threatens to withold state bonding money if the DSSD board doesn’t reappoint him to another term.

    I’ve seen the campaign literature, I’m on his mailing list as a prime voter. Keeley didn’t actually take credit for the Brooklawn and Black Rock gateway projects; he merely “cares about” them. He doesn’t care about getting money for Bridgeport in his capacity as chairman of the bonding committee. That gig is just a cash cow, and he’s going to milk the udders dry until he’s removed from office.

    And if Keeley is doing so much for Sweetport, why are there only three concerts this year? Last year and the two years before that, there were eight. Keith Rodgerson puts on more free events downtown than Joe Celli and his IPA organization, and that is who Keeley gets the Sweetport money for. The funds are intended for the promotion of the concerts, performers’ fees, etc. Instead, most of it ends up in Joe Celli’s pocket (and maybe some of it gets kicked back to Keeley).

    So it wasn’t a mall that killed downtown, not just a mall. That may have hastened the decline, but it was more than that.

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  33. “HereWeGo”, you left out a few important facts in questioning the Fire Lieutenant exam that was given. First, why were the weights of the past three Lieutenant and Captain exams weights changed from the written exam was worth 35%, the oral 60%, and seniority another 5%? The weights for this Fire Lieutenant exam are the written exam was 50%, the oral 45%, and seniority another 5%, why?

    Second, civil service exams results of the examination must pass the constitutional test for disparate impact as provided for in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission`s “Uniform Employee Selection Guideline”, otherwise known as the 4/5ths rule.The Fire Lieutenant exam failed the 4/5ths rule.

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  34. Does room temp. in Feb. result in new qualifications on the I.Q. tests. Three people died in Black Rock in a recent fire. Lower the standards, that makes me feel safe.
    What B.S.

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  35. Vote Keeley, vote Himes, vote Moore. The Moore and Musto race was a hard pick but I think Moore will work harder for Bpt then Musto. So I’m expecting Musto to win Trumbull; but if Moore can run up the numbers at Longfellow, Bassick, win Black Rock and win Central big I really think she can pull it out but it will be hard.

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  36. IN RE: WARD L. THRASHER (Russo’s Treasurer)

    S.J.C. Order of Term Suspension entered by Justice Cordy on April 26, 2002, with an effective date of May 26, 2002.1
    SUMMARY.

    The respondent accepted an appointment as the fiduciary of a Connecticut Estate in January of 1995 without having any experience in probate, estate law, or estate tax. The respondent did not retain separate counsel for the Estate and, instead, he undertook himself to provide services both as an attorney and executor. Over the next four years, the respondent failed to conclude the administration of the Estate. He also failed to pay the Estate’s succession tax liability and, in breach of his fiduciary duty, he occupied rent-free one unit of a two-family residential property belonging to the Estate (“Estate property”). …
    This matter came before the Board on a stipulation of facts and disciplinary violations and a joint recommendation for a two-year suspension. On April 11, 2002, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to accept the stipulation and to recommend the agreed upon disposition to the Supreme Judicial Court. The Court so ordered on April 26, 2002.

    Russo hired this guy as his treasurer, what does this say about his judgment?

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  37. “Black Rockin”, remember it was the fire chief who closed the fire station that was right around the corner where the three people died in Black Rock in a recent fire. The fire chief had no backup plan so those firefighters responding to that fire had to travel from Wood Ave. driving 25 miles per hour and it took them 7 minutes to get there. Also the fire chief placed second on the fire chief exam plus he is only a high school graduate and he was six points behind the first the person who came out number one.

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  38. Bridgeport Kid- Do you know who I am?? I am the FUCKING KING of Latin Jazz. You wouldn’t know what Latin jazz is if it jizzed on your face. As a matter of fact. After all of my gigs in Bridgeport I might even be YOUR father. You should change your handle to the ILLEGITIMATE BRIDGEPORT KID.

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  39. Hey there Eddie I do all of the insulting around here. I would have to agree with The Bridgeport Kid. You play that music that’s on the weather channel. You probably really think you are the REAL Eddie Palmieri so that makes it even more sad.

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  40. Hector

    You are correct. The Blue Back Square project in West Hartford is a finer example of major shopping complexes combining with residential sites established in the hearts of central business districts.

    Since writing this post, I have been informed of a billion dollar similar project being developed in DC north of the Capitol area. This is the area known for high crime.

    It’s a good thing.

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  41. People who live in desperation do desperate things. An improvement to the neighborhood could improve life quality.

    I hope to God that someday this town elects visionaries who have the intellect and experience to bring about the change that other urban communities are experiencing.

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  42. Eddie Palmieri

    I have been reading the bull shit you post. You are a disgrace. Sub-human even. You’re not even funny. Forget clever. You are an infectious pustule destroying any possibility that dialog and discourse can bring about improvement and change.

    Give the degraded level of your personal qualities and characteristics, you are, nonetheless, and ideal prospect to assume the affectations of Anna now that I have moved on to Lisa Parziale.

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  43. Fact is, many things come into play concerning Bpt.’s downward spiral into urban depression. Personal gain & nepotism politics, taxes, crime, mass exit by families to suburbs, minority discrimination, jobs, education quality and lack of urban development & commerce, etc. Take your pick or add a few more, you’re still left with major urban decay! It’s been a slow process back towards some type of positive change, however seems for every #3 steps forward, Bpt. ends up taking #2 steps backward from time to time; which means very slow progress! And now an economic recession to really slow everything up in America with the changing of the guard in D.C so to speak coming soon! The picking of the right elected officials has never been more important for stability than ever before for Bpt., the state and country in general.

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