Five days until Tsunami Tuesday. In Bridgeport, politics is a sporting event. Republican operative Phil Smith said it all: “Some towns play political softball, other towns play hardball … in Bridgeport they play hand grenades.”
We’ve got five Democratic General Assembly races in the big city, plus a battle for Congress (which isn’t much of a battle, unless you like peculiar Lee Whitnum’s rant against the Israeli lobby). Check out her YouTube spot at www.leewhitnum2008.com
Question: can you name the only three Bridgeport legislators not facing a primary? The winner gets a room with a view at the Liberty Rock with Yahooy and Anna.
I love the dichotomy of the Congressional contest, two Greenwich Democrats, Jim Himes and Whitnum, fighting to face a Republican incumbent (Chris Shays) from Bridgeport.
Except it won’t be much of a contest. Himes will make Whit numb.
Campaigns are about MOM–money, organization and message. And for Lee there’s no love from MOM.
Okay, the General Assembly races: State Rep. Bob Keeley, the longest serving legislator in the city’s history, has a battle on his hands in his quest to become the longest serving legislator in Connecticut history. Former City Council member Auden Grogins, the blonde banshee from Black Rock, is waging a spirited contest. The district takes in the lower North End, West Side, Black Rock and a piece of the West End. Keeley should run well at Central High School, his home precinct. For Grogins to win she must win Black Rock School and Longfellow School. In just about every race involving an incumbent a challenger must persuade voters to fire the person in charge. This race is about…he doesn’t deliver (I will) versus I deliver. My sense is both sides have identified enough friends to win. The question becomes which candidate has the best primary day operation. Translation: I want you, I love you, I need your vote!
Anthony Musto, the elected treasurer in Trumbull, faces a spunky Marilyn Moore, former legislative assistant to State Sen. Ed Gomes. The seat, occupied by Republican Rob Russo, includes Trumbull and parts of Bridgeport and Monroe. The Bridgeport piece takes in the Upper East Side, across the heart of the North End, the West Side, Black Rock and the West End. Keeley and his brothers in the legislature Chris Caruso and Jack Hennessy are all supporting Moore. That will help her in Bridgeport, but doesn’t answer the biggest question. What strength does Moore have in Trumbull and Monroe? I don’t sense she has much going there, as a result it places a major burden on the campaign to produce big in Bridgeport. Musto, the endorsed candidate, is vulnerable only if the Trumbull turnout is pathetic.
Caruso is challenged by City Councilman Carlos Silva. The legislative district includes the Upper East Side, part of the North End and Whiskey Hill (called Whiskey Hill from the Prohibition era). Caruso is well liked in his district where he ran up large numbers in his mayoral primary loss to Bill Finch last September. I’ve seen nothing that has changed Caruso’s standing. Plus, the brilliant Sue Katz is doing the Great Caruso’s direct mail. If he had used her for his failed mayoral race he’d be mayor.
Over on the East Side, arguably the most unpredictable area for city politics, State Rep. Andres Ayala was denied the party endorsement, in part because he got into a fight with his uncle, city councilman long ago Tito Ayala. Lydia Martinez, the endorsed candidate, is trying to win back the job she lost to Ayala.
State Rep. Felipe Reinoso is not seeking reelection to his house seat that includes the South End, downtown and portions of the East Side and West Side. City Councilman Ezequiel Santiago, disciple of his stepfather District Leader Mitch Robles, is the endorsed candidate to fill the open seat. He’s being challenged by party veteran José “Chico” Rivera, friend of Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa and the Fightin’ Filipino Sylvester Salcedo, a 20-year Navy veteran who fought the government’s war on drugs and is using his experience as a platform for legislative reform of drug control.
That’s a quick look at things heading into Tuesday. I’ll post results Tuesday night as soon as I have them. I’m thinking it’s time for another OIB party. Let’s do something in September and invite all the local candidates on the November ballot for a little levity. I’m open to venue suggestions.
Don’t forget tonight at 6, Baldwin Plaza: New Wave DEVOtional BBQ with The Simple Pleasure and Malcolm Tent playing the songs of DEVO
Remedy For Remedy Order
Looks like the city is regaining total control of the police department after 25 years of a federal remedy order addressing racial discrimination. See city press release below:
Mayor Finch Hails End of “Special Master” as Milestone for Bridgeport
Cites City’s Progress Fighting Racism
BRIDGEPORT, CT (Aug. 6, 2008) – Mayor Bill Finch today hailed the results of a hearing in federal court that will lead to the end of the 25-year control of a “special master” in the Bridgeport Police Department and signal major progress in the fight against unequal treatment within the Bridgeport Police Department.
Following a hearing before Judge Janet B. Arterton in U.S. District Court in New Haven, the court indicated its intention to suspend the “special master” ordered by the late Judge T.F. Gilroy Daly in 1983 to combat prejudice in the recruitment, promotion and assignments of Bridgeport police officers.
“This is tremendous news for the City of Bridgeport. First, it says the court has recognized that the racism that was present in the Bridgeport Police Department in the 1970s is indeed a thing of the past,” said Mayor Finch. “The impact of this will be that we will be able to control our own police department, a move that will help us fight crime more effectively while simultaneously saving the money the city has been paying the special master since 1983.”
The case began in the late 1970s when the Guardians, a Bridgeport black police officer’s association, filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming that black and Hispanic officers were consistently overlooked for promotions, and were routinely given the worst duty assignments. Following a trial in federal court that ended in late 1982, Judge Daly ordered the appointment of a “special master” to oversee all complaints of racial harassment and discrimination in the Bridgeport Police Department.
The proposed order dissolving the appointment of the special master is expected to be signed in early September. Atty. William Clendenen of New Haven has served as the special master since 1983.
“I made the resolution of the Guardians case a top priority when I took office as mayor in December. Since then I have become deeply involved in the case,” said Mayor Finch. “Racism has no place in Bridgeport and we will continue our efforts to make sure that all Bridgeport police officers are treated fairly and evenly.”
Police Chief Bryan Norwood, who is the second black police chief of the department, said today’s development, “allows the Office of the Chief to continue to foster relationships with department personnel and the community at large and allow the department to further reflect the community.”
Under the system mandated by Judge Daly in 1983, a “rotation order” was put into place requiring all Bridgeport police patrol officers to change their duty assignments every two years. Both Mayor Finch and Chief Norwood argued that this rotation program prevented community policing, which calls for officers to be assigned to a specific neighborhood in order to build relationships with the local residents, and gain their trust in an effort to more effectively fight crime.
“We will now have a stronger arsenal with which to fight crime,” said the mayor. “We will be able to assign police personnel where the chief feels they need to be. This will allow us to implement community policing in its truest form.”