Five months into the job, there are days when Mayor Bill Finch seems like he’s getting his footing, and other days when he’s got both heels on banana peels.
Finch’s focus has shown enhancement in some areas. Now, if he can just shelve the notion of single-handedly stopping global warming and ending world hunger. One area of neglect that has government adrift is his lack of appointments to key boards and commissions. As someone in the business community wrote me:
“Developers can’t get to a building permit if the regulatory boards are stuck. The mayor can’t grow the tax base if the city doesn’t get building permits and certificates of occupancy issued. The development pipeline has gone into pause mode at a time in Bridgeport’s history where it must be pushing ahead with the full resources of the City. Staff and land use boards must get back to functioning in an efficient, transparent and accountable manner. We can’t solve the economy tanking but there are still solid developers that have capital and want to get into the ground.”
As a result of Finch’s rowboat-against-the-tide mantra, a number of boards and commission aren’t meeting because they do not have enough members for a quorum. The Ethics Commission charged with doing background checks on land-use appointments before the names are submitted for city council approval doesn’t have enough members for a quorum.
I know one person the mayor wants to put on the police board–honest, dedicated to the city–who’s been waiting four months for a background check to be completed. It takes four months to figure out the background of someone who’s been in town for 30 years?
It’s not like Finch didn’t have a tidy transition period. Once he won the September primary against State Rep. Chris Caruso it was ballgame. Three months to figure out the look, feel, makeup of his administration, before taking office.
And in addition to the holes on boards and commissions, we have no director of Economic Development and no director of Public Facilities, a super agency that picks up garbage, repairs potholes, plows the streets, supervises parks and oversees the airport.
Finch, for whatever reason, had a bug up his butt regarding Nancy Hadley who had served ably as Johnny Fabs’ development director. He blew her out with no immediate replacement on the rationale that he wanted to overhaul the department before settling on a director, arguably the single most important appointment in government. Meanwhile Ed Lavernoich, acting guy in charge, and the rest of the development bureaucrats are doing their best to hold the department together.
I received a call from a marketing friend in Westport a few weeks ago aching over his inability to get a phone call returned, or a meeting set up to pitch an idea to development officials. If you knew the name of the person that wants to invest in Bridgeport you’d be doing a Sundance in the city!
Come on Bird Man, spread your wings and let the city fly!
Bridgeport Celebrates Arbor Day 2008 with its Citizen Tree Planting Campaign
Finch In The Treetops, a city hall release:
The City of Bridgeport is promoting the benefits of trees to the greater community. One of the best places to start when raising awareness about the benefits of trees is at the elementary education level, which is why Mayor Bill Finch (D-Bridgeport) and the Parks and Recreation Department chose Park City Magnet School to plant the first tree of the Citizen Tree Planting Campaign. A class of 5th graders today learned how to plant trees and how trees benefit the environment. At the front of the school grounds one homestead elm was planted. This program has been made possible through a grant awarded by the Connecticut State Department of Environmental Protection Division of Forestry, to the Department of Public Facilities Parks and Recreation Department.
Planting new trees and maintaining urban forests is an important component to improve air quality, micro-climate, image and property values. The presence or absence of street trees has a significant impact on the character of City neighborhoods.
New indications the City is making headway in achieving this goal with programs like the Arbor Day Campaign is the response the Parks and Recreation Department has received through promoting the Arbor Day Campaign. Residents who have participated thus far have cited the deep loss they feel from having lost trees in their neighborhood, whether they have lost the tree from storm damage or disease. Residents can apply for a tree to be planted in their yard or in front of their property by filling out a form available on the Parks and Recreation Department website at the following link: ci.bridgeport.ct.us/newdepartments/Park_Recreation/arborday.aspx.
Earlier this week, on Earth Day, Chris Donnelly, an Urban Forester from the State Department of Environmental Protection Division of Forestry, presented a tree planting workshop to a tree planting crew from the Parks and Recreation Department and the Beardsley Zoo. The best planting practices for young trees were explained. These practices were also mentioned today at the Arbor Day Planting event.
In addition to the Arbor Day Grant, the City of Bridgeport has received a grant to conduct an inventory of park trees with the upcoming Park City GIS Boot Camp, slated to begin on July 1st, 2008 at Seaside Park. Mayor Finch and his administration are looking forward to continuing their strong support and dedication to urban forestry programs in Bridgeport.
More information the Bridgeport Arbor Day Campaign is available on the City of Bridgeport website: ci.bridgeport.ct.us/newdepartments/Park_Recreation/arborday.aspx.