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Tribal Warfare, More Sludge News, And Gene The Machine

March 26th, 2009 · 11 Comments · Development and Zoning, Interviews, Law Enforcement, State Politics

This means war. From the Hartford Courant:

The Mohegan Indian tribe is threatening to withhold millions of dollars in slot-machine payments to the state if the legislature approves a plan to ban smoking at the casinos. In strongly worded letters to Gov. Rell and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal tribe officials said Wednesday that a pending bill to ban smoking at the casinos is unconstitutional and a violation of the compact between the Mohegan tribe and the state.

Here’s what I say: let’s install a toll booth in front of that smoke-filled casino. Yeah, right at the exit off 395 and then another in front of the casino, and then another at the front door.

And then wire all the toll money to Bridgeport.

Sewage Suit Off, For Now

News release from Connecticut Fund for the Environment

Connecticut Fund for the Environment May Drop Lawsuit Against Bridgeport
Is Reviewing Consent Order Between DEP and City

New Haven – Connecticut Fund for the Environment, a New Haven-based environmental group, was cautiously optimistic that a Consent Order between the Department of Environmental Protection and the City of Bridgeport entered into on March 20 will begin to address the numerous violations of the Clean Water Act that have been committed over the past five years by the Bridgeport Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA), the City’s sewage treatment plant.

Since 2004, the Bridgeport WPCA has dumped 1.6 billion gallons of untreated sewage into Long Island Sound, creating a public health hazard for swimmers and so thoroughly contaminating shellfish beds for every one out of two days they were ordered closed. Continued mismanagement and violations at the plant have also resulted in sewage being pushed into neighborhood basements and onto city streets. In January, in response to this pattern of pollution, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, its program Save the Sound, and Earthjustice issued a 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue.

“We applaud Mayor Finch and the DEP for beginning a process to reverse the decades of mismanagement and non-enforcement that have had such a profound negative impact on the Park City and Long Island Sound,” said Roger Reynolds, Senior Staff Attorney for CFE. “The Consent Order constitutes a substantial first step toward dealing with the longstanding illegal discharge of sewage engaged in by Bridgeport. The DEP and the City have acknowledged and admitted to the almost 1,000 violations we identified and have agreed to take the first and necessary steps to address them.”

The Consent Order requires the City to retain an independent contractor to prepare a study that would identify the causes of the WPCA plant violations by February 2010 and perform remedial actions to address the violations by July 2010.

CFE alleged and the Consent Order acknowledges and admits that the Bridgeport WPCA:

(1) Periodically dumped raw sewage into Long Island Sound;
(2) Periodically bypassed their treatment system before the plant reached capacity;
(3) Discharged pollutants in violation of their permit;
(4) Failed to employ qualified personnel to operate the plant;
(5) Failed to properly maintain and operate the plant;
(6) Failed to submit timely monitoring and bypass reports.

“This order requires that Bridgeport set a firm plan for dealing with a whole array of problems and deficiencies that are resulting in serious pollution to Long Island Sound and blocking the right of every Bridgeport citizen to clean water. We will carefully review that plan. And we will bring legal action if it is not adequate,” commented Reynolds.

A separate unilateral order, issued by DEP after CFE/Save the Sound began its investigation into the Bridgeport matter, requires the City to prepare a Long Term Control Plan to address their combined sewage overflows by September 30, 2010.

Gene The Machine

Want to get shit done? Go to Gene O’Neill. Want Yankee tickets? Gene O’Neill. Need a place to live? Gene O’Neill. You in trouble? Yup, see Gene O’Neill.

Geno, as so many call him, is the number one go-to guy in Bridgeport. And after 53 years as a cop, security official with the Board of Education, director of Park Police and a whole bunch of stuff in between, Geno, age 75, will be retiring from city service come Good Friday.

Geno is old Irish, they don’t come like him anymore, the consummate problem solver, personality juggler and bon vivant.  He was born Aug. 24, 1933 when the city was a much different place. He graduated from Fairfield Prep in 1951, took a job with the Underwood Corp. before joining the PD in 1956 and was sworn in by Bridgeport’s Socialist Mayor Jasper McLevy who served 1933-57.

I first met Geno as a young scribe after I had written an article about the top 100 wage earners for the city. Geno, via overtime, was right at the top. Back then it was not uncommon for a scribe to receive a nightstick across the headlight to vehicle, such was the mentality of the PD’s finest when it was poked in the eye editorially.

One day I’m hanging out in the lobby of the PD when Geno makes his avuncular introduction: “You think this job is easy? Come out with me any time you want and I’ll show you what it’s like.” In time I’d appreciate his handiwork such as 1985, I’m a new administrative aide to Mayor Tom Bucci and looking for an apartment in the city to meet the city’s (since abandoned) residency requirement.

I flagged Geno in front of City Hall as he was cruising Lyon Terrace toward the PD. “I’m looking for a place to live.” Geno didn’t miss a beat.

“Go see old man Sullivan. He has a place in Black Rock off Harborview near the market. Tell him I sent ya. You’ll get a good deal.”

Jeremiah Sullivan, 85 years old, was an absolute prince who owned a three-story at the corner of Harborview and Woodland, a cold flat with a gas stove to heat the third floor and a gas refrigerator. That’s right, hot makes cold.

The place was perfect for me. I was broke and my starting pay working for the mayor was $23K a year (doing media, speeches, constituent services, mayor’s schedule, night meetings–now the job pays close to $100K).

How about it, Mr. Sullivan, can I have the place? “Sure, you can have it for $275 a month.” Jesus, I was speechless, then exhilarated. Black Rock for $275 a month! I spent seven years in that apartment, and the rent never hit $400 a month.

Everyone who knows Geno has a story to tell and he a story about them. Geno is a pol’s pol. The ultimate survivor. As he leaves city service he shares some thoughts on his 53 years. I get the feeling, as he says, he’ll be sticking around. {running time: 11:19}

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11 Comments so far ↓

  • yahooy

    Gene O’Neill … a Bon Homme … saludo.

    I lived next door to his mother years ago and did her little favors like going to the store for milk, eggs, bread; you know, stuff like that.

    One day I get a knock on the door and it’s the big man himself whom I had never met nor had I ever heard about him. He expressed his appreciation and told me to look him up if I ever needed anything. I never did … never had to. It was comforting to know that if I did, I had a friend who could help me out.

    Later on that day, I was having dinner at a local diner sitting with some of Bridgeport’s ‘prominents’. I told them about the encounter. One guy, a police captain, told me that when THE MAN comes to you with an offer of friendship, it’s like having a perpetual lottery ticket.

    That was 20+ years ago. I never had another conversation with him again except exchanges of nods here or there.

    I am proud that our town had a man like O’Neill. His quiet authoritative no BS ways got a lot done and helped countless people.

    He was certainly well paid for his efforts. But, in the 50+ years he was around … never a hint of scandal.

  • Bpts Finest

    I remember when the first lady of BOE buyouts, sup. Salcedo tried stickin’ it to Gene over his ot pay to chauffeur her all over the state … the man took it quietly and ended up a security guard at a school for a while … highest paid security guard in history … and never complained and always a smile … a good man Mr. O’Neill … enjoy your retirement sir.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    The booze bone is connected to the smoke bone, and both of those bones are connected to the bones that reach into the wallets and purses that keep the milk-and-water Indian tribes of Connecticut flush with cash. A casino just ain’t a casino without clouds of blue hazy tobacco smoke hovering over the poker tables.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    And it’s about fucking time Bridgeport’s public officials got their collective ass in gear and fixed the goddamned sewer system. The city could still face big fines for allowing this debacle to rage on for so many years. Shame on One-term Bill for even considering a deal to permit Monroe to tap into the Trumbull line into Bridgeport’s antiquated waste treatment facilities.

    MESSAGE TO PAUL TIMPANELLI AND BOB “GENUINELY CONCERNED FOR ALL HUMAN BEINGS” SCINTO:

    If you two well-heeled heels think moving the Jewish Home for the Elderly is so great an idea, if you really think this is going to benefit the long-suffering peoples of Bridgeport, one or the both of you must explain why we have to pay for the fucking thing. Trumbull’s elected officials are balking at having to pony up more money, and rightly so. Why should Trumbull and Bridgeport and Monroe pay to upgrade the system? Scinto doesn’t really give a shit about other human beings unless there’s a percentage in it for him. Relocating the Jewish Home for the Elderly to Monroe is a great idea. The residents could only benefit from a bucolic setting. The developer in question is just a tightwad that doesn’t want to pay for a waste treatment plant. Why should he? He can pimp off Bridgeport. Hell, crooks have been doing it for years! Timpanelli, a procurement artist if there ever was one, ought to be able to finesse the deal.

  • Mojo

    *** Mean Gene is & always will be a “stand-up” guy in my book. A walking book of knowledge & connections in Bpt. and the state overall. He’ll be missed by many once he’s gone, no doubt. I wish him the best in his retirement & hope to see him on his morning walks in the park this spring and summer! Good Luck, Mean Gene; and “Thanks” for always being helpful! ***

  • GrandmaMoses

    Grandma may be a bit cranky but the Jewish home for the elderly is not relocating. The new entity will be called the Dogwoods and will serve none of the purposes that the current facility serves.
    The current Jewish Home is a 400-plus-bed skilled Nursing facility, as such it is able and mandated to accept low-income residents on title 19. The proximity to Bridgeport means that many of our lower-income Jewish and non-Jewish are able to get the benefit of the undisputed excellent care provided by the Home.
    The new site will be a Continuing Care Retirement Community; this is the new wave of upscale senior care. Not to bore you with specifics the site will have independent skilled care but will only offer 100 skilled beds. I am not sure if even these beds will offer acceptance of title 19 funds; I hazard to say no.
    The well-to-do seniors who can afford the buy-in will be the only people served by this community. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) The question I bring up is why should our city bend over backwards for a proposed community that will leave many Bridgeport folks without needed care?

    This project should be treated as any other high-end residential development. The poor elderly who are in need of a more bucolic setting are going to find themselves looking for a new home.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Thank you, Grandma.

      I knew there was a money catch somewhere. The elderly poor of Bridgeport are badly served by both the state and the city. In fact, ANYONE at the lower end of the economic food chain is poorly served. We’re talking about humanity here, and all Bob Scinto wants to do is make a buck from people who have a few to spare.

      Can you say asshole? Sure, I knew you could.

  • S.O.B.

    Scinto is a businessman. Scinto builds things to make money; isn’t that what a businessman does? Why would he be called an asshole? He is wonderful to his employees, throwing picnics for them all summer and he paid to have many of them go to Florida. An asshole??? Nah, a good boss and a businessman.

  • Mojo

    *** Opinions are one thing, but name-calling & disrespecting people you really don’t know on a personal basis on a web site while hiding behind a fake web name is not cool! Especially concerning politics, urban development, and business in general, etc. … it’s one thing to disagree on a subject; yet another to get personal & disrespectful. ***

  • yahooy

    Mojo …

    (F-bomb Deleted)

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