What Will 2009 Deliver? Plus: The Mayor’s Wish List

That rambling, rumbling, rolling sound you just heard wasn’t you … it was me.

After two days of eating, I need about two months to digest. Calamari tentacles are creating intestinal havoc. Even my cat Stinky is running for cover. Just what you wanted to hear, eh? Bet you cannot wait until the Public Works crews haul away the stacks of garbage, cardboard and paper.

Okay, so now it’s time to set our sights on 2009. It’s not too soon to fire off a few prognostications. What say you? Don’t forget to throw in a few good rumors as well.

What kind of sewage deal will Mayor Bill Finch end up cutting with the suburbs?

Will the city actually close the budget deficit?

What screwy political deals will be cut in ’09?

As elections go, we have City Council seats on the line. Has Bob “Troll” Walsh had enough of tormenting the administration? If he runs, will he have a primary?

What will Jim Himes press for in Congress?

Is a new Congress Street Bridge from Congress possible?

Speaking of the bridge, Mayor Finch on Tuesday will officially announce and submit his wish list of infrastructure projects to state and federal officials. It’s a good time to get in line as Barack poises his near-trillion dollar economic program centered on building, fixing, cleaning and creating things. Bring on those bridges, baby, and anything else that will create jobs. Hey, here’s what I say: in this environment shoot high, very high. You never know.

News advisory from Mayor Finch:

Mayor Bill Finch will unveil the $970 million stimulus package proposal the City is sending to Governor Rell, Senators Dodd and Lieberman, Congressman Himes and to the Obama administration during an event Tuesday, Dec. 30 at 2:30 p.m.

Included in the proposals are funds for several high-profile projects that have been slowed by the current economic situation including, reconstruction of the Congress Street Bridge, Steel Point bulkhead work, and downtown sewer separation.

“We are hopeful that the Obama administration will see that the nation’s cities will be the drivers behind an economic turnaround, and send the money directly where it is most needed.”

WHO: Mayor Bill Finch; Bridgeport City Council members; Acting Police Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr.; Fire Chief Brian Rooney; Public Facilities Director Charles M. Carroll.

WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 30 at 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: Congress and Main Streets, at the foot of the closed Congress Street Bridge.



  1. The mayor and his hard-working administration will close the budget gap–and much of this is due to the understanding and unselfishness of many municipal employees. Thank you employees for the sacrifices you have agreed to make for Bridgeport. You deserve to be saluted! Those employee union heads who are boycotting the administration are creating havoc among their members. At the very least, you should talk with your members before affecting their livlihoods so drastically at this difficult time in our economy.

    The Congress Street Bridge is very high on Himes’ “To Do List.” I am excited because I think that is one infrastructure improvement that will sail through Congress with Jim’s inititative.

  2. I think Finch will close the budget gap. This will involve great pain and much sacrifice. Wages and benefits have to be controlled and be consistent with revenues. No business in their right mind would promise generous wage increases and benefit enhancements without knowing that sales and revenues will be forthcoming. Municipalities cannot nor should they acquiesce to silly union demands for the sake of electability.

    Unions no longer serve a useful purpose. We have seen the strong voter base associated with union membership crumble and fall apart.

    Politicians have made many promises to unions that were fiscally irresponsible just to garner election support. Someday the bubble of inflated wages and benefits had to burst just as it has done in Detroit.

    Finch has to control labor costs or recovery will not occur. It’s that simple!

  3. As far as Finch’s budget gap is concerned I must say that my pockets are a bit lighter thanks to the furloughs we were forced to take. But if this is what we have to do to save our fellow employees, so be it. However this only promises to save our employees for 5 months–who knows what happens next? As far as sacrifices go, I want to know who Finch is going to sacrifice in his crew to balance the never-balanced Sherwood budget.

    Maybe Finch’s New Year’s Resolution should be to replace those who can’t add or subtract to be in charge of the city budget.

  4. Hugh Cares, thank you for your sacrifice. You have made several good points. The mayor’s office and/or staff must also be made to sacrifice and I will be looking for a comment from the administration regarding it. Who has been sacrificed among you, Mr. Mayor? I have been contacted by a source that the supervisors have agreed to a 10-day furlough. Are you going to impose the same on yourself and your appointments? I believe such an directive is certainly in order. And, please Mr. Mayor, do not send a thank-you by way of a $6M dollar advertisement in the CT Post–or I will really be very very very angry with you!

  5. Although it is admirable of city employees to take the furlough program it does not solve the long-term problem.

    The city is bloated and needs some high-colonic therapy.

  6. I’m not sure what is more frustrating:

    The fact that the City is run very poorly and it continues to depend on employee concessions/layoffs to fix itself.

    Or the fact that even when employees try to sacrifice and give back, the “negotiators” sent in by the City are continually unprepared, arrogant and not knowledgable enough to make a decision that makes sense.

    Employees want to help, when will Management stop playing games?

  7. *** Happy New Year to All! *** Nice to read some positive blogs on the city’s coming new year perspectives & “$” budget. Unfortunately I think things will get worse before they get better due to the quality of the leadership steering Bpt.’s own Titanic! It seems that for every #2 steps forward the city takes, it ends up taking #1 step backward due to its quick-fix deals, etc. At that pace, very little will be resolved by the new fiscal year July 1st “2009”, but raising the property mil rate & city services and licence fees on everything! Also a study on downsizing certain depts. & going (temp. seasonal) on more city jobs thus collecting unemployment during the off season like Parks & Rec. is an idea to be looked at. Which will make any local elections forthcoming in the Fall very interesting! ***

  8. I agree with Mojo and the quick-fix deals. Some of these deals end up hurting Bridgeport and tarnishing her image. Here is the latest example. The city now wants to charge the Irish Parade $10,000 to hold their parade. They also want to charge the Barnum Festival and the Puerto Rican Day Parade. All three bring a positive influence on Bridgeport and much-needed revenue to city merchants.
    Now one of the councilmen wants to charge movie companies for using our streets and sidewalks. The state and Bridgeport are seeing an increase in movie-making activity in the city and this nickle and dime proposal will surely drive them out of Bridgeport.
    Let’s find out what the actual deficit is once and for all. Driving things out of Bridgeport is not a way to fix the deficit.

  9. KUDOS to Mayor Finch for proposing a $970 million stimulus package. He seems to be taking a bold move to secure funds for The Park City. But Early is GOOD and LATE is bad (wink). Some people “think outside of the box”, but The Mayor is thinking outside of the city! His idea has enormous upside and marginal downside. Don’t be surprised if Bridgeport becomes a shiny example of the new administration’s goals and strategies.

  10. *** If somehow the city of Bpt. were to be picked as one of the example cities in which the Obama stimulus package development plans & study is used, it would be a much-needed blessing for all! I can hear Finch taking credit for the minor possibility already, like a typical politician thinking “$GREEN$”. ***

  11. The capital investments which the Mayor is looking for are nice and the City benefits from them, but they do nothing to address the critical problems with the City’s operating budget (funded by state and local taxpayers) which is taking on water faster than the Titanic. The Mayor needs to level with people about how bad the problem is and present a long-term plan for addressing it. A long-term fix is what is needed, not just a plan to get the Mayor past the next election.

    A word of caution to Council members. About the only good thing that can be said for the four-year mayoral term is that every four years Council and Board of Education members are required to run for office without a Mayoral candidate to hide behind. This is one of those years and voters WILL demand accountability from those who are on the ballot. This means you! Good luck. You are going to need it.

  12. The nuts and bolts city worker is making all the sacrifices so far. They are taking the furloughs, the layoffs and the zero pay increases. In the meantime the appointees are sacrificing nothing. I have a list of people the mayor should lay off or replace.
    1. One of the following three should go from the mayor’s office. Rubin, Tyrone or Castillo.
    2. John Gomes, Santiago & Curry.
    3. McCarthy or Osborne from labor relations.
    4. The Greeter.
    5. Fire Department information Officer/chief’s aide, he should go back to a firehouse.
    6. Part-time worker in Economic Development Office.
    7. Horse Patrol in the PD.
    8. Community cops on Old Town Road.
    9. At least 1 city attorney.
    10. Reduce the number of supervisors in Public Facilities.
    11. Combine all senior activities at the Eisenhower Center.
    12. Get rid of Port Authority.
    13. Take away all the take-home vehicles with the exception of mayor and the Police & Fire Chief. (When will this be done?)
    14. Fire Sherwood & Feeney and hire someone that knows how to properly handle a city budget.
    15. Fire the person that monitors utility costs in the city; this is another political job.
    16. Fire the mayors press secretary.
    These are just the tip of the iceberg. Of course none of this will happen bcause it makes sense and hurts the political appointee and would help the nuts and bolts worker.

  13. It would be UNHEARD OF for a Mayor to solve a national problem within city limits–it’s never been done before!

    FORMER CITY OFFICIAL thinks Bridgeport is alone in its inability to solve America’s long-term spending problem and looks to City Hall for a solution. He’s wrong twice. We live in a world created by inflation which is the result of our spending binge. The problem, once national, is now local too. No Mayor can single-handedly solve the problem. They have to balance budgets. First things first.

    Wondering: a lot of your potential “fires” seem to be “nuts & bolts workers”. It doesn’t make sense to me.
    You’re balancing the budget with worker’s blood. Maybe you have a personal agenda.

  14. Local Eyes; No personal agenda here. I don’t work for the city nor do I have any relatives working for the city. But do you really think that Gomes, Curry & Santiago from a new department called CitiStat are nuts and bolts workers? Do you think that a $40K a year greeter is a nuts and bolts worker? Getting rid of the community policing cops and the horses would put those cops back on patrol.
    The FD information officer would go back to a fire house; why pay a captain’s salary so he can speak for the chief? Is the chief a mute?
    McCarthy and Osborne are not nuts and bolts workers in labor relations. They contract out most if not all of the contract negotiations with the city unions.
    Do you think that the mayor needs 5 mayoral aides and a spokesperson for $80K? Do you consider them nuts and bolts workers?
    Taking away city vehicles? Nuts and Bolts workers?
    Sherwood & Feeney are the financial people that submitted Fabrizi’s last budget that Finch inherited and it was a pie-in-the-sky budget.
    My nuts and bolts workers to cite a few are the clerks in city hall that deal with the public every day. They colllect the taxes, register home sales and do a myriad of things that keep the city going and they do it with very little salary. My nuts and bolts worker is the public facilities worker that’s plowing the snow, filling potholes, picking up garbage etc, etc, etc.
    BTW the only people I said should be fired are political appointees 3 of whom are part of a new department started by the Mayor. Oh yeah I did ask for one salary of $91K from labor relations and one from the city attorneys office and they are not nuts and bolts workers.

  15. Wondering,

    I agree with much, but not all, of what you have suggested. For example, I think that CitiStat is a good idea. The City clearly needs to be much more professional about how it manages its resources. Whether the right people have been chosen to implement it is another issue. I have my doubts.

    Local Eyes,

    No, all of Bridgeport’s problems are local. But, they are the ones that we can–and must–fix.

  16. As usual there are great solutions posted for our great problems.

    Ken Dixon’s column today reminded me of the Congress Street Bridge battle less than a year ago with Finch and Keeley. The city wanted Keeley to give up $5m bridge money to be spread around downtown for matching GE money. Bob would not succumb and now the first thing on Finch’s infrastructure palette is the Congress Street Bridge.

    Also a great Last Hurrah for Keeley in CDA money for Sikorsky Airport.

  17. Former City Official; CitiStat may be a good idea but that is an idea that came out of Baltimore which is quite a bit larger than Bpt. We are spending between $180 K and $200 K for these 3 jobs. They would need to find a hell of a lot of waste to justify those salaries. Maybe I am wrong, we will see what they accomplish and then revisit the subject.

  18. Wondering brings up some very good points regarding the CitiStat program. I feel a one-time expenditure of an operational audit would be better served to root out waste and bring about a more efficient government.

  19. I would like to take a moment to point out a common problem on this blog: taking one person’s comments out of context and misrepresenting them in order to make another point. This happened to me. Mayor Finch has done an ADMIRABLE job in trying to close up the budget deficit. One of the self-important clowns on this blog had the unmitigated chutzpah to slam me for saying as much, dragging out that hoary old evergreen about Finch laying off members of the Bridgeport Police Department and then “rescinding” the order.

    Hey pal, go shave your head. There are plenty of whiners and complainers on this blog. The federal constitution guarantees the right of free speech to all Americans, and that includes the right to whine and moan and complain and endlessly carp. But our nation (and our city) was built on ACTIONS, not words. If all you can do is whine and moan and complain and criticize elected officials for not doing the job you would have them do, the way you want them to do it, well … You are a part of the problem, not the solution.

    I don’t live at city hall scraping up the stray crumbs of gossip and pseudo-intrigue so that I can boost my ego and claim to be “in the know”. I really don’t give a shit. This city is a disaster, and all anyone here is willing to do is complain. That also explains why there is so much litter and urban blight in Bridgeport: people are so busy complaining, trying to get someone else to push the broom and bend over to pick up the sandwich wrappers that it NEVER gets done. It is past time for people to roll up their shirtsleeves and get busy cleaning this city up. YOU LIVE HERE. STOP WAITING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO PICK UP AFTER YOU.

  20. Bpt Kid it’s a hoary old evergreen as long as you are not the one being laid off. BTW who the hell are you that you can’t be taken to task for your misstatements?
    These are tough times and Mayor Finch has a tough task but do it right the first time. The Police list is just one example. Announcing that you are laying off nurses, librarians and such and then changing your mind is wrong. Get all your ducks in a row, double-check your facts and figures and then make your cuts. If you think it’s easy to get that layoff notice or be told you are being laid off is easy try it sometime. Just do it right the first time. I suggest you practice what you preach about cleaning up this city. I do it every day. Literally. If my neighbors put out stuff to be picked up and it’s there for a few days I take it to the transfer station.
    Politicians need to know people care and people are watching; if you think that’s wrong, tough, I earned the right.

  21. *** #20- Sure seems like a lot of whining, complaining & then some to make a point about a dude complaining about another dude’s actions in that dude’s city? All taking place on the dude’s favorite “clown” blog forum called OIB. “Wow”, all these problems & no solutions in sight! If it’s this bad locally, I wonder how the rest of the Nation is getting along? Time will tell all with or without people’s help. ***

  22. Hey Wondering, there is nothing wrong with “shaving your head”. The worst thing that can happen is people could confuse you with Britney Spears. It happens to me all the time.


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