Trouble With Boards And Commissions, Plus: Finch Chirps About Trees

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:

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:



  1. A developer friend of mine has been before a land-use board twice. They are looking to spend a few Million dollars in expanding their already prospering business. So far they have not been allowed to make their presentation. Why? First time the agenda was just too large to finish in one night. Second time this board did not have a quorum so no meeting. He is set to try and make his third attempt. In the meantime he has had to pay 4 out-of-town consultants twice to come here without a hearing taking place so far. His project is stalled.
    I dont know what the bitch is about Nancy Hadley but I thought she did a good job and put her money where her mouth is by moving to downtown Bridgeport. How many of our high-priced administration officials have done that? NONE. Was she abrasive? Yes on occasion. Do you want an ass-kisser or someone that brings in development? I can live with abrasive as long as the job is getting done and developers are coming.
    What these incompetents don’t realize is if the word gets out that it will take you months to get your project passed because of staffing issues, developers will say the hell with Bridgeport.
    The fact that the ethics commission doesn’t even have a quorum speaks volumes.
    Here is a tip for the administration: Appoint people to the land-use boards while you are getting your ethics commission staffed. They can serve for 120 days without due diligence (they will still need their own due diligence to continue after 120 days). If you don’t believe me check with your city attorney’s office. I DID.

  2. Did you see Sal DiNardo’s ad in the CT Post today? I wonder who wrote the copy; an ad agency or a law firm?
    Because someone was very careful when to use Sal DiNardo and when to use Peter DiNardo Enterprises! But we all know that Sal uses Bridgeport taxpayers every chance he gets.
    I can tell you this much; when he takes out an ad like this he has got ot be up to something that is no good! He is going to make me the Grim Weeper

  3. I have a question. When are we going to read about McCarthy taking a leadership role in all that has been going on lately. His silence is deafening. I have not read one comment from McCarthy about the budget or the budget cuts. What does he think about the lack of action by the mayor and his band of do nothings. Could it be the old I work for the city and really dont think I can say anything to piss off the mayor? is it I just got a 5 digit raise and I dont want to piss off the mayor?.Is the a good example why city job holders should not hold elective office? Just a thought

  4. For crying out loud, Grim Weeper. When are you guys going to get it about the private sector? Developers try to be risk aversive and be driven by profit. They see an opportunity and seize the moment. Many developers have come in from out of town with no capital and stick Bridgeport up with schemes like Steel Point. DiNardo looks like he purchases distressed properties wiith environmental and high tax liabililties. Then tries to find a user that will create revenue based on a pro-forma that makes the deal work. In the meantime he must try to find a use, negotiate downward with the city to cover the costs of remediation and tax liability to get the property back onto the tax rolls. Does anyone really think that RemGrit with a 10 million dollar tax liability and millions and millions of environmental cleanup will ever get developed without incentives and tax forgiveness? The city taxpayers should be raising holy hell not at the developer but at the city tax collector who allowed the city to allow the property owner to get into the position of such arrears.

    Don’t blame the Player! Blame the Game!!!

  5. So DiNardo buys distressed properties that have environmental and tax issues. We know what he does about the tax issues, he ignores them expecting you and me to foot the bill. But what about the environmental impact associated with contaminated properties? The sales arrangement always requires that the property be “remediated” before it can be put to profitable use. By remediation I mean cleanup of all toxic and hazardous waste. This is not an inexpensive thing. Ignored and it can effect the health and welfare of those who end up using the property. If Dinardo’s tax example is indicative of how he will handle the infinitely more expensive toxic remediation, then we are in serious trouble. Has anyone ever asked DiNardo what his remediation plans are? Probably not. The Machine thinks we the good people of Bridgeport are stupid.

  6. I would still like to know if DiNardo bought these properties with the expectation of receiving a tax break and if that is the case, who led him to believe this would occur?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  7. How about the city ignoring these properties so they can never be developed and cleaned up? Depending upon the use there are strict standards established by the EPA and DEP for remediation. Why else do you think that the folks who live over at Seaside Village are tickled pink at the cleanup and development on the South Avenue property that will now be happening because of a well negotiated settlement? I strongly believe that the DiNardo model is based upon a free-market system. The company does not strictly buy economically and environmentally distressed properties. Bridgeport Machines is a great example of a parcel that someday will be able to be further developed. Being that this is Earth Day Week, new standards for building codes will bring about L.E.E.D minimun standards for new construction.

    The DiNardos aren’t responsible for the years of abuse by non-taxpaying entities that end up having a greater tax liability coupled with environmental problems that make the property worthless or at best worth very little. Yes, they technically did assume the tax liablility but they were not the ones initially responsible for the taxes. Remember in the late ’80s early ’90s when people just walked away from their homes and the blight and arson that came about in Bridgeport? Banks were crumbling because of their loan to value ratios and banks were closed. Resolution Trust came in and sold properties for pennies on the dollar just to stop the bleeding. This brought about other opportunities for individuals to invest in Bridgeport. The city perhaps needs a better instrument with a Master Plan to identify these properties and put them out for RFP. Actually we probably need more DiNardos to stimulate development in Bridgeport. Half a loaf is better than no loaf at all. Eventually if you get enough half-loaves you can have a basket full of bread.

    The city needs some Manna and if it can’t come from Heaven, Then we should take it from the DiNardos. Otherwise it’s going to be manana and not Cinco de Mayo for Bridgeport but Stinko de Mayo. We can’t afford to be held in abeyance any longer because I guess that would be Hold de Mayo!

  8. A couple of years ago, in nearby Redding Connecticut, the town put large tax liens out to bid on a very polluted 50+ acre industrial property. A very experienced brownfields developer won the bid. That led to the new mixed-use development, Georgetown, that is currently under construction. The town even gets a second train station. The town didn’t have to take title to the dirty property and now they are getting a huge increase in their tax base. They did have to take a partial haircut on the back taxes owed but that was after an open analysis of the economics of the deal. Redding gave up a little to get an tremendous growth to their tax base.

    Bridgeport has a foreclosure action pending against the Remgrit companies. It would be terrible if the City takes title to that contaminated 28 acres, shot tower and all. If the City takes title, the City would become part of the chain of title and therefore assume some liability for those pollutants and the clean-up. Instead, the City should offer up those huge tax liens for sale and let an experienced brownfields developer duke it out with the DiNardo company. May the best company win by first paying the City all or most of the taxes owed.

  9. I attended a very well attended Understanding Green Jobs symposium today at the Barnum Museum. It was sponsored in part by The WorkPlace, Rina Bakalar of Shay’s office, ABCD and others. Almost a hundred people were there and they weren’t the usual suspects. Which was very encouraging.

    As most of you know I have been a harsh critic of Mayor Green Jeans and was the one who originally penned him as Mayor Moonbeam. However, I must give credit where credit is due. He was very good today. He has a passion for the “Green Movement” going back to his days in Trumbull with the Pequonnock River Valley. I just hope his administration will be able to execute some of these policies.

    Some of what “Up on Bridgeport” referred to in a previous post for new buildings was discussed today at the symposium regarding L.E.E.D. certification standards for silver, gold and platinum levels. I think the acronym stands for “Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design.”

    There are many new great green horizons out there for Bridgeport. We have an opportunity to bring a new economy to an old economy town.

    I know the Birdman was in the treetops today. But I still don’t know if he is a “Rockin’ Robin.”

    Your stock like you is holding its own. It looks like Up on Bridgeport is up to the task of going mano a mano with you.

    Up on Bridgeport!
    Is that Mayo you’re serving up Hellman’s or Miracle Whip?

    You always struck me as a Bobby DeNiro kind of girl; “You talkin’ to me?”

  10. Not especially a Bobby fan. I am definately a Redford 30 yrs ago, Cary Grant 50 years ago (even if he batted for the other team) Harrison Ford, Kevin Costner (just for looks not brains) Kevin Spacey (brains not looks), Kevin Kline (acting and brains) Pierce Brosnan, especially Colin Firth, sometimes Hugh Grant type of girl.

    Tom Kelly, credit is given for giving credit.

  11. “Yahooy!
    Your stock like you is holding its own. It looks like Up On Bridgeport is up to the task of going mano y mano with you.”

    Kelly….say this again in english. No capice.

  12. “Actually we probably need more DiNardos to stimulate development in Bridgeport.”

    Maybe the Machine is right. Some people in Bridgeport are really stupid.

  13. Nobody is addressing my question. Again, What is DiNardo doing about the remediation expense for all of the property he has “bought??” in Bridgeport. Come on Machinists, fess up.

  14. Yahooy!

    Your stock Yahoo like you on this blog is holding its own.
    Up on Bridgeport looks like they are up to the task of going toe to toe with you.
    Capice, because I know your no thick-head most of the time.

  15. Polly2

    I knew it was you all the time. You can’t fool me!!

    I still can’t figure out what the hell Kelley is talking about. I guess I’m “holding my own??”. Up on Bridgeport is an amateur.

  16. Up on Bridgeport, I have a friend in Seaside Village and the people that live there are really happy about the clean-up. We need to clean up more of these ugly properties in B-port in order to look good for people to come here. I was going over the Q-bridge in New haven the other day and saw a huge garbage pile on the north side, now thats an ugly site and everyone can see it, worse than anything I’ve ever seen in B-port. That old Remington sight is awful, I wish something would get done over there, it has to be polluted to no end. I hope that it gets cleaned up and maybe some big manufactuer will come in and buy it. Maybe I’m just dreaming.


Leave a Reply