Is Mayor Bill Finch gearing up for battle against the foundation of Civil Service? Sure sounds that way. Hizzoner is growing increasingly frustrated by a system that served its purpose when it was ushered in during government reforms of Socialist Mayor Jasper McLevy 70 years ago, but now thwarts executive decision-making during drastic financial times.
Civil Service threw a grenade into the mayor’s plans to lay off top-ranking police officials with a budget deficit growing day-by-day one-third into the fiscal year. The police union contract didn’t call for bumping rights, but Civil Service was there for the rescue. That means the bumping rights could impact new patrol hires. Civil Service provides a double layer of job protection that torpedoes chief executive decisions, wastes money authorizing tests for menial jobs and operates so far removed from oversight to contradict the sound rationale for its existence.
Hey, maybe it’s time for a charter revision so voters can decide this. That would be some fight. Go for it, mayor, a charter revision to reform Civil Service! Jasper, where are you?
Send In The Clowns
Hey, is City Councilman Bob “The Troll” Walsh a buffoon? Mayor Finch thinks so. Troll and hizzoner had a heated exchange Monday night as the City Council debated–and approved–a contract to approve new ownership of the Bridgeport Bluefish. Walsh was on a tear (again) questioning how the mayor could boot the cars of taxpayers owing a few hundred dollars while allowing latitude to a city tenant owing hundreds of thousands in lease fees.
During the exchange Walsh told the mayor to “shut up.”
The mayor’s response: I’m not going to allow you to act like a “buffoon.”
Just another night at the Monday Night Fights.
State Senate Analysis
The State Senate race between Republican incumbent Rob Russo of Bridgeport and his Democratic challenger Anthony Musto of Trumbull is one of those afterthought matchups for voters caught up in high-energy contests for president and congress.
Connecticut’s 22nd State Senate District covers all of Trumbull and roughly half of Bridgeport and half of Monroe. The Bridgeport piece runs from the Upper East Side, across the heart of the North End, along the West Side including Brooklawn, and Black Rock and a portion of the West End.
Russo and Musto are both good guys, lawyers by profession and their fathers are prominent physicians. Are they checking the blood pressure of their boys?
Russo trounced Tom Mulligan, his Democratic opponent, in the March special election, winning Trumbull and Monroe overwhelmingly with roughly 45 percent of the vote in Bridgeport. Musto, the elected Trumbull town treasurer, won a close August primary over Marilyn Moore. He ran extraordinarily well in Trumbull, but poorly in Bridgeport. The good news for Musto: the three-town district has 10,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans and Musto will benefit from a large turnout of Dems inspired by Barack Obama. Unaffiliated voters are the largest voting bloc in the senate district.
Russo hasn’t stopped campaigning since winning the seat in March. As an incumbent he secured $250,000 for a comprehensive audit of the Bridgeport Board of Education, a goodwill builder with long-suffering city taxpayers wanting to know where their money is going. Last week, Russo also received media play for helping to shepherd a state loan that saved 250 jobs at Lacy Manufacturing.
The issue that resonated in Russo’s special election win, as well as Auden Grogins’ upset of State Rep. Bob Keeley in the August Democratic primary, is backing of a property tax cap. Basically, Russo supports Govenor Jodi Rell’s proposal to cap local property taxes at three percent. If a municipality needs to generate more revenue beyond three percent, it can do so with two-thirds approval of the local legislative/budget-setting body.
Democrats in the legislature oppose a property tax cap, but Musto has now latched on to Russo’s issue: a Musto campaign brochures states he supports a “workable property tax cap.” Both camps have polled and I doubt Team Musto would embrace a tax cap unless it was registering favorably with voters.
Both camps will spend most of their publicly financed $100K on mailings, but Russo has controlled the airwaves on WICC. Musto’s camp doesn’t think radio works. It does. WICC is tailor-made for that senate district and it’s an additional way to reach voters filling out absentee ballots, and driving home a message.
The candidates’ first forum, the North End Association, is scheduled for Thursday night at the North End library.
Russo will win Trumbull and Monroe. Musto will win Bridgeport based on the overwhelming Democratic advantage. The question becomes: how close can Russo stay in Bridgeport? Russo should be in good shape if he secures a percentage of the vote in Bridgeport in the low 40s.
As pointed out in Monday’s commentary about the Shays-Himes race, the drop-off from those voting for president and congress is significant enough to impact a race. The drop-off to state senate, next in line, is even larger. So Musto has the same challenge as Himes: reminding voters to keep voting the line. Easier said than done.
Either way, this is a competitive race.