View From A Political Demagogue, ‘New Haven Would Look Like Bridgeport Without Yale’

ballpark and arena
Hey Gary Holder-Winfield, we don't look so bad. Image courtesy of Morgan Kaolian.

It always intrigues when the state’s largest city serves as a convenient foil for political demagoguery, especially from one who seeks the office of mayor in New Haven. State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, speaking at a mayoral forum in New Haven on Saturday, said the following according to the New Haven Independent when candidates were asked about the city’s relationship with Yale.

… It’s better now, but people still see Yale as a problem. It’s a partner. A good partner. It’s part of the reason that this city doesn’t look like Bridgeport. That said, the mayor has to stand up and say what’s real. They are a partner. If there are issues, they are because the mayor hasn’t figured out what to do with the parts of the city that Yale doesn’t own.

What’s Holder-Winfield referencing in Bridgeport that doesn’t look so good? The ballpark at Harbor Yard, the Webster Bank Arena, Captain’s Cove Seaport, Discovery Museum, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, Beardsley Park, waterfront parks, St. Mary’s By The Sea, Seaside Park, the city’s eclectic neighborhoods, housing stock, growing arts community, Downtown Cabaret Theatre, Bijou Theatre, Klein Memorial, Housatonic Community College, University of Bridgeport, Bridgeport Hospital, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, People’s United Bank headquarters? Is he talking about how the people look?

Holder-Winfield banner
State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield

Holder-Winfield is supposed to build coalitions to enhance his city, whether as a legislator or a potential mayor. So the next time he needs Bridgeport’s votes in the legislature to pass one of his bills, or more money for his city as mayor (if he gets there), maybe Bridgeport legislators will look at him and say: Sorry, we don’t like the way you look at us.



  1. The guy sounds like a moron. How does one looking to get votes think insulting a sister city is going to raise him in the eyes of the people? What about when the largest metropolitan areas need to unite. Finch doesn’t need a schmuck to partner with.

  2. These kinds of comments about Bridgeport are constant and common in Hartford–and when I look at most of the people we have elected to serve at the state level, what do we really expect? With few exceptions, Bridgeport is smirked at and ridiculed statewide by other elected officials. It has taken a lot of hard work for Auden and Jack to get the respect and support for their very important bills from other representatives. Just think about the press our current elected officials are getting, SEC voter fraud investigation for a former state rep now city council woman who has in the past paid fines two times for absentee ballot irregularities, former Senator sent to prison and facing possible prison again for misuse of public funds, a rep with a hit and run and domestic abuse record, a known illegal drug user serving as a state rep, City Council people elected and voting on their own pay and department budgets–shall I continue? We may be proud of our city, and there are so many wonderful hard-working people here, but why not look at what is said about us across the state, look at our own house and clean it rather than “kill the messenger.” Yes, corruption and bad apples are in every city and town, but we seem to elect more than our fair share–and just because it is “everywhere” is no reason to accept it.

  3. *** The real difference is not only “YALE” but the current Mayor “John DeStefano” and a few other pols like State Rep “Disson” and Congress Woman “Rosa DeLauro” along with the Elm City voters who went out and voted for them! So if this for Mayor candidate guy “Holder-Winfield” is only going to rely on Yale to help him run the city then he’s got some rethinking and more voter convincing to do, no? *** BEWARE OF WHAT YOU SAY! *** (Politics 101) ***

  4. Maybe he is talking about the look of Bridgeport’s finances. Despite all the nice places–not Captain’s Cove–Lennie mentioned, we are still in a financial mess. Take away half the places Lennie mentioned and Bridgeport would eventually look like Camden, New Jersey. My brother in Camden will not read this.

  5. DeStefano is being run out of politics because he spent a lot of money on a lot of very good things. Commerce is huge. Education is formidable. Taxes are nowhere near as bad as Bridgeport but it is bad enough to seek a different direction. DeStefano will leave office ‘looking’ for a job. He will not slip into a cushy BOE spot where he will do nothing significant nor will he take refuge in a taxpayer-funded paycheck in some quasi-economic development entity that can show no progress since its inception. New Haven is not run by the DTC. DeStefano is being removed because his social program spending is absolutely bizarre. People on the file call it ‘New Heaven.’

  6. Actually, New Haven would be worse than Bridgeport if it weren’t for Yale’s presence. DeStefano has got to go. This idiot wanted to give illegals the right to vote in local elections to keep him in office.

    1. Didn’t work, did it. He’s out. His social programs cannot be sustained especially since sequestered funds are gone. The entire social warfare program will rest entirely on the backs of business and residential taxpayers. The forthcoming severe cuts in social programs would have been blamed directly on DeStefano causing him to have no chance at reelection. He is bright enough to see the handwriting being written on the wall and made the very sage decision to ‘bounce.’

  7. I was at a Garrison Keillor show at Southern CT and one of his poems called Bridgeport CRUDE and New Haven COOL, everyone cheered. It’s definitely a one-upmanship New Haven thing. It’s our own fault though that people see only the bad in Bridgeport. Look out the window of your car from 95 or Metro North, you see Remington Arms, Bryant Electric site, Downtown North, Steel Point, and other burned-out former factories. Don’t forget, Bridgeport is run mostly by out-of-towners anyway. And posters here are right on. Look at the joke of who we elect or I should say who the DTC elects. Change has got to come!!!

  8. New Haven’s tax rate is as high as Bridgeport. A lot of good people are involved in many good things in Bridgeport and this guy smears an entire city. Blech!

    1. Their taxes are just as high because Yale pays NOTHING!!! All they have to do is put a “library” in one of their administrative buildings and that property becomes tax-exempt. Yale runs New Haven economically. What does Bridgeport have? NADA, ZILCH, ZIPPO.

  9. Bridgeport’s reputation is well deserved. Our politicians work hard to perpetuate that bad image. Here are just a few things about Bridgeport:
    1. Mayor goes to jail.
    2. State senator goes to jail.
    3. Another mayor is involved with drugs and testimony for a child molester.
    4. Hundreds are driven from their homes for steel point development. It’s been 30 years and nothing is done.
    5. Politicians travel to Florida twice to see developer’s other project paid for by city or developer.
    6. Newly elected state rep arrested twice.
    7. New council person installed claims he moved back to town to section 8 housing complex.
    8. City-elected state reps and senators refuse to back Hennessy bill. Grogins and Hennessy are the only stand-up reps.
    9. Budgets passed in city with no cuts by B & A committee.
    10. B & A committee for 2 years in a row allows ghost positions to stay in the budget, money totals approx. $10,000,000.
    11. Council does not question how this money is spent.
    12. Quality of life issues no longer responded to by police department.
    13. City attorney makes up laws to cover administration. Latest is Pension plan B flap where city attorney claims city was not notified of changes. Lied about e-mails, registered letters and phone calls made by fire board.
    The lists goes on and on and the citizens stand by and stand for this stuff.

    1. Andy,
      Good list to reflect upon. How can all this happen in one community if the people really cared? It just cannot on the broad basis we have seen over the past 25 years in particular.
      And all anna cares to ask you about is whether you can say anything nice? anna, please don’t shake your head, your eyeballs will roll around in the empty space and deafen us!
      But anna (and her family) is with us. They point fingers at people. They express their opinions. Between the finger and their opinions, nothing more substantial than “passing gas.” Take on some numbers and argue with how finances are handled. Attend a meeting and do some digging to ask officials some questions. Become a watchdog over the tax trends that continue to buy us more payroll and benefits for people who mostly live in the suburbs and laugh up their sleeves at us. And read the Charter and Ordinances and see what the Mayor (and staff) ignore and what the Council forgets to observe (that came from their group). Look at the paper this morning on OT. Did this just happen, or has it been ongoing with the PD for at least two years? And the City responds now? All you have to do is look at the monthly financial reports (if they were sent out monthly and on time) to see “EXTRA” Police OT has been with us for two years. Who is looking? Not the Council B&A … Plans, programs, departments, issues and problems … Who will do watchguard duty? Time will tell.

        1. anna,
          Move to the ‘burbs and ignore Bridgeport, since you cannot share the pain most people are feeling. I continue to live here and I care and put my time, my knowledge, my experience and spirit to resist the oppression that is in place.

          You want nice, drive by my house and look at the American flag and the daffodils. What passes at the City Council meetings for honoring our documents and patriotism, in general, is not the same thing as good governance and world-class practices. We are not reasonably represented by our elected officials, and the Mayor has such obscene control of Boards and Commissions they cannot do the work for the community.

          anna, something nice about Bridgeport? There is an opportunity for Bridgeport to have a “Watchdog Contest” so City officials can see, hear and sense how a champion WATCHDOG functions!!! It is trained, alert, shows up on time, growls when you trespass on protected territory and is respected. anna, find us some dogs like that. Lennie can hold an OIB session so bloggers can be the judge. Now we have something that is NICE and appropriate, also, to the situation we find ourselves in. What do you think? Time will tell.

  10. BTW. Of course New Haven is in better shape than Bridgeport because of Yale. Another important reason is the political environment is nothing like the cheap-shoe horseshit we have to put up with because of Mario and Paul. I would venture to say further none of the key executives in municipal management are so poorly qualified as the absolutely terrible bunch we have had to endure so long as we have been under Calamarian rule.

  11. Andrew C Fardy, very good. Although many of us love Bridgeport let’s not get angry at the messenger, State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, instead we need to look in the mirror and address the concerns Andrew C Fardy and Holder-Winfield listed if we want to be honest.

    1. Mackey, the truth is your political friend is a bad politician and clearly misspoke. Andy, we all know and love Bridgeport, warts and all. Some people are stuck here. Some are here by choice. I know you love the City and are frustrated. If you truly have had it you could move. But you love it. Admit it!

      1. Steve, I do love Bridgeport. I have been here for 70 years and have worked to make it better. In all my years working for a variety of candidates I have NEVER met a group of shysters like we now have in office and that includes appointed mayoral assistants. I spend a lot of time studying the budget and looking for ways the citizens can avoid tax increases. I can’t walk around wearing rose-colored glasses. Just take steel point, 30 freaking years and nothing. Now I know I can’t entirely lay that on Finch, it does go back a lot of mayors, but not one of them will fire this developer and start over.

          1. Steven Auerbach, that’s politics. I don’t know Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield and I’ve never met him. I didn’t like what Holder-Winfield said but we do have a lot problems here Bridgeport and Andy Fardy gave a good list of issues.

  12. The line “New Haven is Bridgeport without Yale” is an ancient line. I first heard it from a Bridgeport politician deriding some la-de-da mannerisms of superiority taken by New Haven–more than 30 years ago.

    Yale gives New Haven an international and national reputation for a variety of intellectual disciplines. It was the religious and political center of colonial Connecticut. New Haven was founded in 1638.

    Bridgeport wasn’t incorporated as anything until 1821 and wasn’t set up as a city until 1836, nearly 200 years after New Haven. It is important to remember Bridgeport was founded to make money.

    New Haven has a better harbor. New Haven has a better location. We had better capitalistic pirates. We built stuff here. We tended not to invent stuff here, although some things were made better. (The hell with the airplane, real wealth came from things like the Bridgeport milling machine.)

    Lennie’s points on Bridgeport’s physical assets are well taken. Ignore the bozo from another community. If he stands for office here you get to whack him.

    The community lapses into the cheap labor pool for other places (described by Andy on this blog in the past) unless Bridgeport makes it own stuff.

    Reinventing Bridgeport is what the whole town needs to be about. It is still struggling to do this. New Haven hasn’t figured out how to do it either.

    New Haven without Yale is worse than Bridgeport. Those are U.S. government statistics. Economically, Bridgeport averages out higher than New Haven.

    There’s plenty of room for improvement and this is not a guarantee of future success. But it is true today and was true 30 years ago.

    New Haven has an image that few communities, let alone Bridgeport, can match. Having Yale in their downtown with all the money those kids can spend is a real asset. UB doesn’t come near to that. UB does other valuable things, but it is not Yale.

    Don’t worry about it. Do other things. That’s what the pirates knocking ’em back in that bar at Golden Hill and Main streets decided when they decided they wanted to build a railroad in Bridgeport.

  13. Jim, you’re right. UB is not Yale and that’s okay. Yale has not had a mayor who hates the university. Here in Bridgeport our mayor hates UB and does nothing to talk up UB or make it a partner in Bridgeport.

  14. Andy:
    That issue should be officially listed under my personal “Stump the Chump.” I understand the history, even sympathize with some of it (Ich bin ein South Ender), but you know, ya gotta let go. Apparently not.

    You can take the issue about UB and the mayor, box it up all pretty, and a political writer has a nice day writing about a primary for the Democratic nomination for mayor. Can even follow it up with stories and columns about whether the mayor will risk it again. Good for my side of the street as a writer.

    And just fyi, in various mutations that Democratic Party political outfit in New Haven resulted from a coalition of Yalies and city nab types in the early 1950s who elected Dick Lee as mayor. They were thinkers and doers. Lee did a great job of keeping the academics and practicals working together. They did a lot of stuff right–and wrong.

    It was a political issue in the 1950s in Bridgeport to look enviously at some of the things New Haven was doing.

    When the Dems got the city back in Bridgeport, they attempted to imitate it. Some they got right and some they got wrong. But there was definitely a “monkey see, monkey do” attitude in Bridgeport on some stuff as in, “Well, they are doing it in NEW HAVEN! Why NOT here?”

  15. In a tribute after the death of former New Haven mayor Richard Lee, Chris Dodd said this. “Under Mayor Lee’s stewardship, New Haven became the recipient of more Federal aid per capita than any other city in the country. He used this influx of Federal resources to create a national blueprint for America’s war on poverty, and to showcase innovative urban renewal initiatives, which were desperately needed in hundreds of cities nationwide.” And Bridgeport was doing what?

  16. Ron:
    Bridgeport was getting in line with the rest of the urban communities in the United States.

    It is important to remember New Haven was first in many areas concerning redevelopment, not only in Connecticut but the United States.

    New Haven set itself up as the national model.

    They were beating out everybody.

    However, if they were so good, how come the place is not a paradise today?

    Some of the things worked, Ron. Some of them did not.

    Everybody on the webzine knows the places in Bridgeport that are good. Everyone knows the places that are bad. Some have been bad for a long time. People tend to forget the places that were bad and were fixed. And if they weren’t fixed, at least a lot of time and sometimes money have been spent to try and make it better.

    Can’t give up on that. You weren’t that far behind everybody else.

    This is really a whole other–worthy–conversation.

    I think we can agree the guy in New Haven running for mayor doesn’t know what he is talking about, and is probably pandering and groveling on his belly like a reptile.

    With his self-stated expertise on the matter, is there any possibility he was a pol in Bridgeport under a different name who got run of town?

    1. Jim Callahan, I concur with you but none of that matters now that State Senator Toni Harp is in the race for mayor of New Haven. Now if you look at Senator Harp’s record and compare it to Finch, Fabrizi and Ganim as a elected official there is no contest.

  17. We will not see a neighborhood activist win a mayoral election in New Haven. There is too much hard commerce being developed throughout the entire community including the surrounding towns. Much like the developers of Stamford told the politicians in that town, we will see the same in New Haven. The developers will warn the politicians to stay out. There is a real spark in New Haven. His name is Tony Rescigno. He is the Chairman of the Regional Chamber of Commerce. He is no Paul Timpanelli. He was once first selectman of North Branford. Rescigno is regarded as the equivalent of FD Rich. He has done much to bring new business into the area and has been a catalyst in educational development as far as the physical structures goes. The movement of Gateway CC to downtown was all him. That move is an enormous success if you don’t have to drive anywhere in town. Achillion Pharmaceuticals is returning with 1500 jobs to downtown, that’s all him. He’s not black. He’s not Hispanic. Problem?


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