OIB story highlights for March 2015.
— Nothing like political star power to pad the campaign warchest. With “music and flavors of the East” Mayor Bill Finch enjoyed that Monday night at the Easton home of Bangalore Mahesh, owner of several Dunkin’ Donuts coffee franchises in Bridgeport, where Governor Dan Malloy and Connecticut’s two U.S. Senators Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy bolstered fundraising.
— Saying he wants to create a “brighter future for a great city,” Board of Education member Howard Gardner has entered the mayoral sweepstakes with plans to run in the September Democratic primary.
— It has the makings of a wild Democratic primary. The election cycle is heating up with former Mayor Joe Ganim scouring the political system for Democratic Town Committee votes and 2011 mayoral candidate Mary-Jane Foster seriously considering another run in what could be a three-way primary as Mayor Bill Finch, with more than $300,000 in campaign cash.
— From Hugh Bailey, CT Post: Fletcher Thompson, an architecture and engineering firm that recently moved into a showcase downtown Bridgeport headquarters, was ordered this month to restore $485,000 to its retirement savings plan after the federal government ruled it had stopped putting deferrals from employee paychecks into the plan.
— Jorge Cabrera, who worked for the pro-charter school organization Excel Bridgeport, blows the lid off Bridgeport’s “education reform movement” in a buyer’s remorse commentary titled “A Repentant Reformer’s Reflections.” He writes about wealthy interests, cultish Ivy Leaguers, pricey New York consultants and radical policies influencing control of public education through his former employer Excel Bridgeport.
— For a second consecutive day, a shooting has claimed a life in the North End. Police say a 30-year-old construction worker on Chopsey Hill Road near Pond Street was shot dead Thursday morning by a man now in custody who apparently had asked about a job.
— From U.S. Attorney’s Office: Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that MARIA PINHEIRO, 57, of Trumbull, waived her right to indictment and pleaded guilty yesterday in Bridgeport federal court to filing false tax returns.
— With a mayoral election on the horizon, the Bridgeport Police union on Wednesday approved a new four-year contract granting firing power and assignment flexibility to Police Chief Joe Gaudett, 2.5 percent pay increases each year for officers and some concessions in a 260-79 vote by membership.
— Acknowledging city employees serving on the City Council “doesn’t look good,” Mayor Bill Finch appeared on the Chaz & AJ radio show Wednesday morning urging former Mayor Joe Ganim to find something else to do than seek his old job.
— What was advertised as a short-term interim basis replacing school chief Paul Vallas one year ago now appears to be at least a three-year gig for Fran Rabinowitz leading city schools. Monday night the Board of Education voted 7-2 to extend her contract until July 2017.
— Following a government recruitment drive to hire police officers who reflect the makeup of the city, the new head of the local NAACP George Mintz expressed disappointment in the numbers.
— Good grief, what’s this world coming to if not harassed by political phone calls? A bill in the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee proposes to establish a “do not call” list for political telephone calls and to increase regulation of the use of automated telephone solicitation technologies and automatic dialing-announcing devices for political telephone calls.”
— Bridgeport resident David Walker, former U.S. Comptroller General and 2014 Republican primary candidate for lieutenant governor in Connecticut, has joined PricewaterhouseCoopers as a senior strategic adviser.
— What’s in the city budget and who’s getting paid? City fiscal watchdog John Marshall Lee provides a primer to City Council members where taxpayer money is spent–-in case councilors are not paying attention–-in his latest address to the budget and legislative body. Money makes the world go around, and that is true for Bridgeport, too.
— 2011 Democratic mayoral candidate Mary-Jane Foster, considering another run for office, declares Mayor Bill Finch must take a stand to enforce the Bridgeport City Charter that prohibits city employee serving on the City Council.
— City Council President Tom McCarthy has placed Mayor Bill Finch in a pickle. McCarthy serves at the pleasure of the mayor as deputy director of Labor Relations while filling the dual role as head of the city’s budget and legislative body in defiance of the City Charter.
— In a letter to leadership of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, Mayor Bill Finch calls for a “lifetime disqualification for corrupt politicians to run for office … with the caveat that the disqualification measure applies after the 2015 election cycle.” Under the mayor’s proposal this would not apply to former Mayor Joe Ganim.
— Does Joe Ganim possess redeemable qualities? That’s his pitch in a commentary first published in the CT Post. Last week Ganim also entered the confessional of radio hosts Chaz & AJ where the former mayor admitted the jury got it right convicting him on corruption charges in 2003.
— Noting he received no personal financial benefit, Superior Court Judge Julia Dewey on Friday sentenced former State Senator Ernie Newton to just six months in state prison for violating campaign finance laws. Dewey allowed Newton to remain free pending appeal.
— How deep do tentacles run to kill a government reform bill? That’s what former City Councilman Bob “Troll” Walsh wants to know in a freedom of information request to City Attorney Mark Anastasi whose dubious legal opinion allows city employees to serve on the City Council in defiance of the voter-approved City Charter.
— Former city councilman and school board member Pat Crossin, who waged a courageous struggle with lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, passed away Thursday morning. Crossin owned and operated Phillips Fuel Systems on the city’s West Side. He was 60.
— Get ready for the cannon fire. This mayoral race might require more ammo than all the arms and munitions buried on the grounds of the old Remington site.
— Former Mayor Joe Ganim appeared Wednesday morning on the Chaz & AJ morning broadcast on radio station WPLR, offering contrition as he moves a step closer to running for the office he vacated in 2003 following his conviction on federal corruption charges.
— Rallying against powerful union interests that control key state legislative votes trying to kill a government reform bill, dozens of city stakeholders Monday night urged passage of An act prohibiting municipal employees from serving on certain municipal legislative bodies before more than 100 spectators at a forum at the Bridgeport Public Library Downtown.
— The State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has paved the way for construction of a new school to replace Harding High on contaminated property off Boston Avenue owned by General Electric.
— If you got your butt kicked in a food fight you’ll want Amodex to remove the ketchup and mustard splatter from your shirt. An errant Sharpie bleed through your pants pocket? Yup, you need Amodex. Red wine stains? Ah, Amodex. (Not recommended for teeth.) The third-generation, woman-owned Bridgeport small business will expand its operation.
— City Council President Tom McCarthy Saturday night was inducted into the Notre Dame High School Alumni Hall of Fame recognizing “individuals who have through their performance, conduct, and achievement, brought credit and honor to themselves and the Notre Dame community.”