We Love You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Plus: Himes Loads Up

I saw the Beatles’ tribute, She Loves You, Saturday night at a packed Downtown Cabaret Theatre and there wasn’t a philistine in sight! If you haven’t checked out a show recently at the Cabaret you gotta go. She Loves You completed its run on Sunday, but the boys who do spot-on vocals of the Fab Four are expected to be back in Bridgeport in August after a run on the left coast and then Europe.

The Saturday night show I attended (yes, I paid) was packed with suburbanites proving that if you give folks what they want they will come. She Loves You incorporates footage from the Ed Sullivan Show, including those goofy commercials from the 1960s, during set changes. The Cabaret has found its niche with children shows and touring musical acts. 8-Track, a tribute to the music of the 1970s, is up next. Go to www.dtcab.com. Here’s the cool part. You can pack a picnic of fava beans and a fine Chianti, or throw in your favorite gin, or girly drink.

The point of my plug of the Cabaret is the city must find a way to promote its destination points. The Cabaret, the zoo, museums, Captain’s Cove, the Bluefish and acts at the arena drive people into the city. That’s one of the tragedies of the deep library cuts Mayor Bill Finch has proposed in his first budget. The city has to promote its assets. The library system is one of them.

I get the feeling that the budget the Bridgeport City Council will return to the mayor next month will be kinder to the library. I’m not insensitive to Finch’s tall challenge. No matter what he does, his first budget will produce pain for someone. It’s what makes OIB interesting. We receive stronger, more creative suggestions from posters on this blog than we hear from city hall. By the way, OIB has surpassed 30,000 page views since we launched the new site one month ago. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

City Council budget meetings this week: Wednesday, Labor Relations; Thursday, Public Facilities; Friday, Capital Budget. All sessions, open to the public, will take place in the Wheeler Room of city hall at 6:30 p.m.

Press release from the Jim Himes congressional campaign

Jim Himes Continues Record Fundraising Pace
Campaign shows strength by raising over $420,000 in first quarter of 2008, topping $1 million cash on hand
STAMFORD, CT – Businessman and affordable housing executive Jim Himes announced today that his campaign for Congress raised over $420,000 in the first quarter of 2008, continuing his record fundraising pace for a challenger to Chris Shays and demonstrating growing grassroots momentum for change. After the campaign’s strongest fundraising quarter to date, Jim now has over $1 million cash on hand.

“Our success this quarter is further evidence that people want a leader who will address the problems that face us before they reach the crisis point,” said Himes. “Whether the issue is the economy, the war, or protecting the middle class, the problems we face are real and complex. These issues have become worse under Chris Shays’ watch. Connecticut’s families deserve a representative with fresh ideas rooted in real-world experience. I’m running for Congress because I believe that by working together we can get the country back on track.”

“Families in our district are hungry for a representative who understands that it’s becoming harder and harder to live here,” said Maura Keaney, Jim Himes’ campaign manager. “Connecticut needs a leader who will support the middle class, not shrink it. Chris Shays has not only been a cheerleader for George Bush’s policies on the Iraq War, he has also been on the wrong side of Bush’s failed economic policies. He championed special tax breaks for corporations and the very wealthy, while middle class families here are finding it more and more difficult to make ends meet. It is clear that Connecticut families are eager for real change and have responded to the fact that Jim Himes is not a career politician mired in the past. Jim Himes will bring a fresh perspective to the serious challenges we face.”

Related details:

* Jim Himes raised over $420,000 in the first quarter of 2008, his strongest fundraising quarter yet.

* Himes has raised a total of more than $1.3 million this cycle and has over $1 million cash on hand. This is both the highest total amount and the most cash on hand ever raised by a challenger to Chris Shays by the end of the first quarter of an election year.

* Demonstrating widespread grassroots and netroots support, over 25% of contributions to the Himes campaign in the first quarter were $25 or less.



  1. Now there’s a novel idea! Promote your assets, market your strengths and engage people in the benefits and attractions of Bridgeport.

    Invest (wisely) in the activities and destinations that attract people and produce revenue. Tell your story creatively and convincingly. Show people how they can have a good time at a reasonable price and get a good value. Differentiate yourself from the competition.

    Sounds like Marketing 101 to me. Every business HAS to do it; every municipality and not not-for-profit institution should learn HOW to do it. The world’s a competitive place and that’s not going to change. People (and investors) are besieged with attractive choices. Getting people to come to Bridgeport may not be the easiest thing to sell… but it IS doable.

    So where’s the strategy, where’s the plan… for marketing and promoting Bridgeport. The Mayor’s the city’s Chief Marketing Officer (or should be) but he’s preoccupied with budgets and politics and has yet to see the forest for the trees. Looks like the new Director of Economic Development might be the answer…but where on earth is he/she???

  2. IMHO, although the budget cuts to the library system are regrettable, they do not reduce the library’s effectiveness in promoting Bridgeport’s fine destination points. Other items in the Mayor’s budget remain uncut and are better prepared to advertise the places available OIB .
    The purpose of any government is to produce a balanced budget. The process by which that happens is called politics. Every municipality in America is experiencing a loss of revenue because of macro-economic mistakes. Draw your own conclusions.

  3. The City doesn’t have marketing money, it hasn’t for years. The downtown task force charged with implementing the new Downtown Plan (www .bridgeportmasterplan.com click on downtown). The new developers have marketing money, so does Merrit Insurance (great ad) and BMW Bridgeport (even greater TV ad). Lamar and Barrett have the signs. The focus has to be on the private sector to market. Where is the Downtown Special Services District.

    I agree. I also went to She Loves You at the Cabaret and had a great time. The best was watching 10 year olds standing and singing Beatle songs. They knew every word. The torch is passing to the next generation!!! Then Cafe Roma gave out a free wine after the show. That was smart marketing. Next Month the show will be ‘8-Track,’ focusing on music from the ’70s. The tickets are going fast!!! Bravo.

  4. I totally agree, Lennie. As it stand now, I think there is a mindset in the surrounding communities around Bridgeport there is really no reason to come into the city. If you want food, drinks or entertainment there are other, better places to go, such as SoNo. I think Bridgeport needs to realize what assets it has, enhance them, and figure out creative ways to market it to all different age groups within the population.

    So I’m going to plug a few. During the summer, Captain’s Cove is really a great place to go. The happy hour specials at the second floor bar are great. It should really be the prime spot for boaters to come in after being out on the water all day. You can get some good food on the first floor, and then go upstairs for a couple really cheap beers with a great view. I encourage all OIB readers to spend an afternoon with friends over there, great time. I think it may have this reputation with boaters as kind of a kiddie place with all the little shops and other novelties, but Bpt should definitely market that to boaters and the older crowd.

    I also think with maybe a couple more quality restaurants and another good bar like the Field, the Black Rock strip from The Field to the new Ash Creek Saloon could rival SoNo for people ages 21-40. The Field is a terrific bar with a great staff, and the new Ash Creek looks like it could do pretty well too. I think with some more work it would become a total hot spot. I can already see the variety of age groups being drawn to the area on a Sat. or Fri. night at The Field.

    I think the Bluefish and Sound Tigers probably struggle with the ages 21-40 demographic too, but they shouldn’t. The Sound Tigers games are a fun, rowdy time. I really miss my Whalers, but the Sound Tigers remind me of the great games I used to go to up at the Civic Center. And while the Bluefish isn’t really the greatest game, Thirsty Thursday is a real good time. But they don’t even explain their promotions on their own site! Poor marketing really doesn’t allow these assets to live up to their full potential.

  5. If you don’t promote yourself first, you can’t expect other people to promote you.

    Word on the street is the “Mop Tops” may be coming back to the Cabaret for an extended run later in the year. Book early and often for the next show, “8 Track” and don’t get shut out.

    Bluefish opener on Fri. nite, May 2nd. “This way to the John! Tommy John!!” or “Tommy John Surgery Performed Here!”

    Sorry Lennie I had to steal your line.

  6. Here’s the issue:
    It starts with each and every resident not only taking pride in their town, but in their house, in their streets, and in their neighborhood. Bridgeport is known in the 75 mile radius as the place not to be if you don’t have to. It’s time to face that fact. People in the burbs don’t want to come here if they don’t have to. Aside from the attractions and ventures in Bpt, they won’t go into the city for any other reason.

    It thrived a number of decades ago. An amazing multicultural city with such potential and prosper. Something changed. Not many people take pride in their home, their neighborhood, their Community. It’s really a shame. I’m sure that IF people started doing their part, that city hall would do theirs as well. I’m sure Finch isn’t very compelled to give more money in the budget to the libraries. I’m sure that there’s only a select few using the libraries. I moved here 6 months ago, and hell, I don’t even know where any of the libraries are.

    I’m sure if people were using the libraries and actually getting something out of them, money wouldn’t be cut from them!

    We’re the biggest city in the state with (guessing) probably the most amount of tax dollars. Why can’t we make this work??

    First step: People take care of their houses, neighborhoods, and communities.

    Second step: Finch has to get his act straight or get out. He’s done nothing good other than have people report street lights that are dim or out so they can be repaired.

  7. A fiscally sound managed city gets to do the things that makes the community attractive to others. Lots of jobs means a lot less desperation. Reasonably taxed residents can use their disposable income on home beautification. Sure we have some great cultural venues emerging. Plus the arena and stadium are essential components to cohesive city pride. Add some truly great restaurants and you got the makings of a nice place to be. Once the community develops the “desirable” feel, the young professionals start moving in, business find the climate conducive to profitability, the universities expand, the healthcare system attracts great care givers, book stores pop up etc. That’s what could happen. But it won’t happen so long as Bill Finch and his legacy of machinist political ball busters think they know what’s best for this town. The specific reason our community, right now, is “… the place nobody wants to go” is directly the fault of the goomba hold on elected office. Jasper was a tough guy who watched every nickle like it was his own. It was during his time that the smoke stacks were billowing 24/7 and our fathers were confident enough in their work to make the investment in the modest homes that were once our pride. Then came Tedesco, remember? That charming son of a bitch winked and tickled his way into every nefarious haunt and began the descent of this town that was perpetrated by the likes of Mandanici, Bucci, Ganim, Fabrizi and now this lame excuse for a human being. It’s going to take a visionary to restore the dignity we once knew. That visionary can make an important contribution to the people not the select few. Ya know what I mean???

  8. NKG0325 You moved here 6 months ago and you have the answers. What do you know about the neighborhoods when you dont even know where the libraries are. You want some nice neighborhoods go to the north end, go to the east end, go to the Black rock area. look at whats going on in the State St area.Take a look at Startford Ave. Do we have problem areas and blighted areas yes we do and tell me what inner city does not. We get dumped on constantly by the suburbs. We care for their sick their drug addicted family members. We care for the disenfranchised and we do it in buildings for which we do not get the full tax dollar. Go to the blighted areas and I will bet you anything you want that the majority of those bighted properties are owned by absentee landlords that live in the suburbs.
    The glory years of Bridgeport my ass. The skies were filled with pollution and dangerous smoke. Sure there were jobs but the residents paid the price for those jobs. Those jobs from the great era went overseas or down south.
    The only thing that Bridgeport had was downtown and portions of East Main St where Thursday night was shopping night and the area was full. The malls came to suburbia and the stores in down town and on East Main st closed. We had a Mall tat the Conn post killed by publishing every little incident that happened there all the while not reporting murders and rapes that were happenin at the Trumbull mall.
    Going back to maintaining a persons house you are full of it take the tour I suggested then tell me the same thing. you dont know where the library is but you know that all the neighborhoods are run down.
    People are using the libraries you dunce or Dont you think that poor people are intelligent enough to use libraries. Sounds a little elitest and uninformed to me. I have lived here for 65 year through the bad times and some good times. We have made more progress (not enough) in the past 10 years then we did in the previous 40.

  9. Wondering. I don’t have to “wonder” where my next Philistine of the Week is going to come from for it is YOU. The philistine is not only uncouth but stupid as well. Congrats!!

  10. I think a beautification program could go a long way in helping Bridgeport. The city is just not inviting to outsiders with the external state of many of the homes, filthy and crumbling sidewalks and garbage-filled lots. People would much rather jump on the highway so they could skip over Bridgeport, to eat and entertain themselves in the surrounding areas.

    I don’t know if any of you saw the article on CNN today about Youngstown Ohio, a city struggling as much as Bridgeport. They are razing disused homes in their city that are hurting the appeal of their neighborhoods. They have neighborhoods full of beautiful homes that are ruined by one or two eyesores. Driving around Bridgeport, I’ve seen more than a few places doing the same in our neighborhoods.

    I wonder if the city could help people fix up their homes on the exterior as well. Obviously, this would have to be somewhere down the line, because we don’t have the money (maybe after a BOE audit). If Bridgeport residents could get estimates on repairing the exterior of their homes (painting, re-do fencing, fixing up balconies, porches, windows, roofs) and the city would pay for it up to a certain amount. Residents could only use Bridgeport companies, so the government could make some of the money back. Then it would generate business for local workers and really help the exterior look of Bridgeport.

    Also the sidewalks. I know it seems like a small thing, but if you’ve ever been to a place like Albuquerque or San Diego, you’ve seen how much of a difference it can have. It feels more inviting and safe. Of course those cities don’t have to deal with the weather of the Northeast, but still. Don’t have grass and dirt be part of the sidewalk! When we get the weather we do, it gets ruined and looks horrible. It’s one thing if the city maintained it, but they don’t. It’s a small thing, but does a lot in changing a city’s atmosphere.

  11. Good post wondering, but ngk0325 makes a lot of sense too, for someone who hasn’t lived here very long. I have to say that people should take pride in their neighborhoods, I get really annoyed when i see people throw garbage off their back porches, leave a junk pile and useless cars in front of their homes and even throw coffee cups and candy wrappers out of their car windows. These people are inconsiderate slobs. People from the suburbs have no compassion or respect for Bridgeport, but they use our hospitals and work in our city. We need to polish up our image and it should start with everyone who lives here. The city can’t do it alone, its up to people to keep their homes clean and attractive. Libraries? well, I’m sure people use them, but not as much as when i was in school because the internet changed that need for going to libraries for research projects. I just don’t think Finch will close any of them anyway.

  12. by the way, the Caberet is wonderful, I’ve been there many times and everyone enjoys it. Its things like entertainment that will make B-port attractive to suburb dwellers. Fairfield Ave. can be another SoNo, great restaurants and bars with entertainment. Two boots is another great attraction, went there on a couple of weekends, good music and a good diverse crowd of all ages. Talk these things up and more people will come. Don’t forget Seaside and St. mary’s – just beautiful spots! Fairfield Beach can’t even come close. How about somebody opening a nice restaurant (seasonal maybe) at the Seaside bath house, what a great view. Kind of looks like something from the Cape or Newport.

  13. City maybe i was a little harsh but to brand the whole city and its neighborhoods as one is what got me worked up. Do we need a beautification program yes we do. Most but not all of the problem areas are where the multiple family units are located. I can and I am sure most bloggers could drive down the streets and pick out every non owner occupied house. are there tenants that abuse the properties of course but I would bet there are more good tenants than bad, Having spent many years working in these neighborhoods I think I am right. Getting after the landlords that own these dwellings would be one way of cleaning the buildings up. if the landlords wont do it we could do it with a program similar to the Ceta program and bill the landlord or put a lien on the home he lives in.

  14. For ngk0325:

    Two Quotes & a Comment:

    “I’m sure that there’s only a select few using the libraries. I moved here 6 months ago, and hell, I don’t even know where any of the libraries are. I’m sure if people were using the libraries and actually getting something out of them, money wouldn’t be cut from them! ”

    “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is CONTEMPT PRIOR TO INVESTIGATION.”
    –Herbert Spencer

    ngk0325 – Please take the time and join the hundreds of Bridgeporters from all walks of life who visit the Bridgeport Public Library everyday before you pass judgment on the library, its patrons and the value of its services. As you are new to town and seem to be having difficulty finding a Bridgeport library here are their addresses:

    Burroughs Saden (Main Library) – 925 Broad St.
    Newfield Branch – 1230 Stratford Ave.
    North Branch – 3455 Madison Ave.
    Old Mill Green Branch – 1677-81 East Main Street

    If you are still having difficulty, try MapQuest.

    But don’t wait too long. If Mayor Finch gets his way the branches will be gone and the main library will be closed more than it’s open.

  15. “A fiscally sound, (well) managed city gets to do the things that make the community attractive to others”. Now that’s insight! No additional explanation required. Bridgeport can never recover, never achieve its potential without fiscally prudent management.

    That’s the quality that gives people confidence to invest. That’s the quality that drives debt ratings higher and lowers (the city’s) cost of borrowing. That’s the quality that produces a budget surplus and funds improvements to schools, libraries, parks, gateways and roadways. Put those together, and you’ll change the attitudes and perceptions about Bridgeport. Put those together and you’ll have a NEW city.

    Fiscally prudent management? Con Filardi showed what it did for Providence. There’s no secret to this solution. It just requires better, smarter leadership than Bridgeport’s been getting.

  16. “Wondering // Apr 14, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Yahooy anything coming from you mean squat”

    Bruce Hubler // Apr 14, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    “A fiscally sound, (well) managed city gets to do the things that make the community attractive to others”. (Yahooy, April 14, 5:48pm) Now that’s insight! No additional explanation required.

    Wondering want to be the Philistine of NEXT WEEK too!!

  17. I want all of the citizens of Bridgeport who ardently support Bil Finch and all of those who actually cast a vote for him to consider this…..The total cost of eliminating library and school nurse salaries exceed the total employment costs of those whom Finch appointed to the city payroll as gratuitous patronage plumbs by a mere 12%.

    Great, you say? At least we get to save 12%. But, we are forgetting that all of those whom Finch will remove from the payroll actually make a great contribution to those who are served. The patronage appointees watch the clock, take up space and are general parasites.

  18. I heard from sources that there already have been layoffs (dental hygenists).. And that finchy is trying to get unions to get rid of “bumping rights”. I believe he is planning to get rid of anybody working for the city that isnt in his clique and replace them with cronies whom he owes $$ campaign promises to. The unions need to fight for what is right. All union members need to speak up and stop being scared. When elections come up in your own union VOTE !! Speak Up! All though these days it is better to work for COB as an unaffilliated employee… that’s where the big bucks are! AGAIN WHY ISNT FINCH AND ALL DEPARTMENT HEADS GIVING UP AT LEAST 10% OF THEIR PAY??????????

  19. I can’t figure out how it makes sense to keep the same budget director that created the problems that Finch is trying to fix? I believe the Mayor said the budget was loaded with tricks and gimmicks and that they could barely calculate the mill rate–this is the budget director’s good work. If the Mayor wants credibility to come along with his efforts to fix the budget problems, he needs someone new–plain English.

    I also think the Mayor should have showed up to listen to the people at the only public hearing on the budget. I am sure it would not have been pretty but after all, he is a servant of the people and the least he owes them in this difficult year is to show up and listen.

    I, like Lenny and others, hold out hope that he will learn from his mistakes and start making better decisions. He is a bright and good person who can be a great Mayor if he commits to doing what is right and dealing with the politics later.


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