Why Can’t We Be Friends? Plus: Rowland, Joe And Ernie, And What Gives With GE?

Update: Check out ferry relocation observations by Tom Kelly and Nancy Hadley under comments. Bring on the AC and caffeine!

It’s getting a little testy out there in primary land. Guber candidate Ned Lamont pokes endorsed Democrat Dan Malloy after a Courant piece questions the actual amount of jobs Malloy created as Stamford mayor. Malloy fires back at Ned.

Yes, one big happy family. And the GOP? Poor Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele, outspent and unknown, even Governor Jodi Rell has thrown him under the bus, and maybe threw the bus in reverse. She won’t endorse her own loyal servant LG. Say what?

Because the governor’s chief of staff Lisa Moody, for whatever reason, doesn’t like Fedele. Shows ya how things are decided in Hartford. So Fedele pounded GOP guber-endorsed Tom Foley the other day after a Courant piece about a couple of Foley scrapes years ago. Tom Foley, proclaimed Fedele, has a lot of explaining to do about his incarceration. Good grief Michael, it was one night in the can! Jodi has locked Fedele in a closet for four years.

Hey, I know how we can settle this. Former Governor John Rowland starts a fill-in radio gig on WTIC in Hartford later this week. Maybe John should invite all the candidates on to judge their purity. No wait, let’s add Joe Ganim as John’s sidekick. Joe’s time officially ends in three weeks. And maybe John should add former State Senator Ernie Newton as the producer. Ernie, you game? And Leonard, what about you? Ah, I think I’ll just listen in.

State Rep. Jack Hennessy will not have a primary. Bob Barnes, the retired jeweler, has dropped his candidacy. Upon closer inspection there was some question about the legitimacy of some petition signatures. Oh, well.

From Ned Lamont:

Lamont Campaign Calls on Malloy to Take Down Misleading TV Ad

New Haven, CT – In light of today’s front-page Hartford Courant story revealing that Dan Malloy misrepresented his record of job creation as mayor of Stamford, Ned Lamont’s campaign called on him to take down his new television ad that highlights Dan’s claim that he created 5,000 jobs. Dan’s claim ignores the fact that Stamford lost 13,000 jobs and unemployment increased by 58.7 percent during his tenure as mayor.

“Job creation is the single most pressing concern to the people of Connecticut in this economy, and I’m disappointed to see in today’s Hartford Courant that Dan Malloy is inflating his record on this issue. Unfortunately, it’s something that career politicians do all too often,” said Lamont campaign manager Joe Abbey.

“The facts brought to light today show that despite the claims Dan makes in his TV ad, the city of Stamford lost 13,000 jobs during his tenure as mayor. He should do the right thing and take this misleading ad off the air.”

Malloy statement:

“My record on jobs and economic development is crystal clear: during my time as Mayor, Stamford added nearly 5,000 new jobs. That’s an indisputable fact. Actually, that number is probably conservative. RBS, UBS, Purdue Pharma, Bank of Ireland, Jeffries, Thomson Reuters, Fuji, NBC, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Carol Lee, Aon Insurance, Greenwich Associates, Lloyds of London, NBC, Rockefeller & Co., Unilever, Columbus Circle Investors, Burlington Coat Factory, Modells, Hampton Inn, Rochdale Securities, Gartner Group – all of these companies, and others, brought new jobs to Stamford. As a result, small businesses across the city flourished from this increase in people working in Stamford.

“So why is Ned Lamont attacking my record on jobs? Because he doesn’t want to talk about his own. In his time as CEO Ned laid off most of his workforce, while paying himself hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those are the facts. We’d have more facts if Ned would release his business and personal tax returns for the last 10 years. I’m happy to do the same. For a guy who claims to have ‘hired hundreds of people’ I would think he would want to release these records.

“My life and record are open books. Ned’s should be too.”

Ned’s rejoinder:

Lamont Campaign: The Question Still Stands

“Today’s article in the Courant casts doubt on Dan Malloy’s record as an elected official in Stamford. As the Courant reported, the Department of Labor found that the city of Stamford lost 13,000 jobs and the unemployment rate rose by 58.7% during his tenure,” said Campaign Manger Joe Abbey.

“Dan and his chief strategist, Roy Occhiogrosso, have a long history of running negative, personal campaigns — in fact, Occhiogrosso tried to make this same false attack against Ned and his company in 2006 and it is just as false today.”

“Despite Dan’s attempt to change the subject, the question still stands: will you take down your misleading ad, and if not, why not?”

And yet another Malloy response:

Malloy: ‘The ad is accurate – will Ned disclose his records?’

“We’ve answered the question. Our ad stays up because my record is clear: under my leadership Stamford added nearly 5,000 new jobs. In fact, the number is probably higher than that. The questions still outstanding for Ned are as follows: Will you release your personal and business tax returns for each of the last 10 years? Will you tell the people of Connecticut exactly how many jobs you created, and when? Will you tell them how many people you laid off, and how much you paid yourself in the process?”

If you want to meet Dan Malloy and his running mate Nancy Wyman, they will be in Bridgeport tonight from 5:30 to 8:30 at Murphy’s Law, corner of Fairfield Avenue and Broad Street.

GE Demo All Wet

City Economic Development Director Don Eversley was not happy about rejection of GE’s plan to demolish its massive plant on Boston Avenue. GE can come back with another demo proposal.

From Keila Torres, Connecticut Post:

The city’s Inland Wetlands Watercourses Agency on Monday night denied General Electric’s plan to deconstruct its Boston Avenue plant.

The P&Z’s vote was tabled last month after the public hearing. “I’m not comfortable making any kind of decision or a vote right now,” said Commissioner Anne Pappas Phillips.

Phillips said GE did not provide enough information last month to prove that no materials, soil or hazardous waste would make their way into nearby Stillman Pond during the two years it would take to deconstruct the 13 interconnected structures and powerhouse on the 72-acre property.

Commissioners Barbara Freddino and Gail Solis asked if more information could be provided by GE about the deconstruction process, but both Land Use Director William Minor and Assistant City Attorney Edmund Schmidt said no new information can be obtained after a public hearing.

The P&Z’s wetlands consultant also reminded the P&Z that the state Department of Environmental Protection would monitor activity on the site during the process.

After a brief discussion, Commissioner Tom Fedele made a motion to approve the project, but only four of the seven commissioners present voted in favor of the deconstruction. Because the application failed to get the five votes needed to pass, it was denied. Commissioner Carl Kish abstained because he was not present for GE’s presentation.



  1. Long night at P & Z with Ferry proposal for Seaview Avenue ending just before 1:45 am. Rizio and Willinger were in a 15 rounder, accompanied by each respective corner’s men and women.

    A few jabs and body blows but no knockout punches delivered by either side. Chuck was doing a little shadowboxing representing downtown interests and Ray was doing his Ferry Shuffle.

    I’m down but not out for the count.

      1. Much of the hearing was based on passionate testimony and bravado on both sides.

        The crux of the matter is whether a privately owned company should have the right to expand their business model, making it more efficient and profitable. Much of the opposition countered that the Ferry Company is part of the Inter-Modal project and should not be allowed to leave that synergy. However, one must also realize the Ferry Company is not controlled by regulatory commissions like the GBTA(D) or the railroad. Chuck Willinger said the DOT could prevent the Ferry Company from moving if it upset the balance of the Inter-Modal concept. The Ferry Company countered to say they would stipulate to providing alternate forms of transportation vis-a-vis dedicated shuttles and water taxis. Traffic studies were discussed and I think from a practical standpoint it is clear the Seaview Avenue location provides a better traffic staging area.

        The CAM reports seemed to favor the argument the site should be better suited for a deep port use. Chuck Willinger tried to imply that once this site is changed we sacrifice any chance of getting it back to a deep water use. The President of Coastline Terminals, an employee-owned stock company, stated based on the cost of harbor remediation and dredging of the harbor with an 80/20 split State to City cost of dredging at a cost of more than 40 million dollars that it would not be economically feasible. Coastline Terminals will be keeping part of the property in a subdivision role to accommodate fruit and vegetable cargo ships with their refrigerated terminal. Interesting that with all the concerns about the deep-water port no one brought up the issue that the city at one time wanted to put up a 50-story condo project on that property. BTW–Whatever happened to that much-heralded Barge-Container project that was ballyhooed by Bill Finch for years?

        Much of the opposition to the ferry relocation mostly dealt with the downtown community feeling they would be greatly negatively impacted if the ferry were allowed to cross the pond. If you want to positively impact downtown get more jobs and buildings built. It is not and should not be the responsibility of the Ferry Company to subsidize downtown. Ernie Trefz gave a nice speech about his and his company’s commitment to downtown and the city. No one could dispute that but also be realistic that this is more about Ernie losing parking revenue in the former muni-garage on Water Street for Ferry parking.

        Lawyers in their presentations always try to paint a picture based on their interpretation of the statutes. They use words like “must,” “will” and “shall” like it is set in stone. Maybe Rosetta Stone is more like it. Sometimes things can get lost in translation and should not be taken for Gospel Truth.

        Brian McCallister the CEO of the Ferry Company was poignantly funny in his descriptions of trying to deal with the last 3 mayors. He really demonstrated in his presentation why things never get accomplished in Bridgeport.

        Nancy Hadley and her group put on a passionate front but this really should be about a free market system for a Bridgeport-based company that is not looking for the proverbial Bridgeport hand-out.

        Not allowing the Ferry to move, in my opinion, will bring about more subtraction for the city instead of addition by subtraction.

        The evening was long and the audience was very attentive. However if you can’t take the time to show up like other people did then you should not be able to do a ghost sign-up and have your letters read into the record.

        Finally from a professional appearance and from a first impression regarding Mr. Eversley. His appearance last night was sloppy and his posture slovenly. It’s no wonder we can’t attract anyone to come to Bridgeport. It perhaps could best be put in nautical terms. “Shape Up Or Ship Out!”

  2. Coffee, you say? How about a stiff drink in a rehydration chamber! The Council Chambers does not and never has had air conditioning. It was way over 80 degrees all night! The hallways have the A/C but not the Chamber and the vending machine in the basement doesn’t sell water bottles.

    It was a classic battle of the land use attorneys. The PZC meeting didn’t start until after 7pm and the Ferry Boat item was the last on the agenda. Rizio didn’t start his presentation on behalf of Coastline Terminals and the Ferry Boat company until around 7:45pm. The opposition to the ferry boat relocating to the other side of the harbor didn’t start their presentations until 11pm and finished around 1:15am. Rizio’s rebuttal thankfully lasted only about 30 minutes. The gavel came down at 1:45am. No decision was made. It was unbelievable. Just plain unbelievable.

    The thing is we all shouldn’t have been there in the first place! The Finch administration and the State of Connecticut should have all parties assembled in a locked room with special chairs that have the back legs shorter than the front legs so nobody can lean back. No one comes out until this grudge match between the Port Authority and the Ferry Boat Company is resolved in support of the City’s Master Plan. Intermodal transportation center means just that, intermodal transportation center. A truly unbelievable night and early morning!

  3. So this is the essence of what Nancy Hardly said. The city should lock parties in a room and nobody comes out until they all agree that the ferry stays downtown.
    A truly unbelievable comment.
    And if the ferry boat company decides it will simply move out of Bridgeport, then what???
    We will get what we deserve.
    And memo to Nancy Hardly. THERE IS NO PORT AUTHORITY!!!

  4. Since the city is now totally supportive of an East Side Railroad plan (which will railroad taxpayers into bailing out Sal DiNardo), hasn’t the city by its own admission and actions diminished the impact of the inter-modal center?
    How can the city argue on one hand the ferry must stay downtown because it is a lynchpin to the intermodal project while at the same time it is saying there needs to be another train station so as to spur economic development in another section of the city?
    And the professionals pushing this jello-like argument think no one would Hardly notice the shift.

  5. I’m sitting at a table in the fifth-floor restaurant of a major hotel overlooking the Inner Harbor of Baltimore–the Mecca of Waterfront Development in America.

    Outside there is a harbor ringed with restaurants, housing (condos), hotels, a marina, a tall ship, water taxis and an old power plant converted for commercial use by a book store chain and a nightclub/restaurant.

    Before someone gets all mushy and says “we should have that, too,” the city has one other thing. It has a job base, banks, insurance companies, etc. All of these enterprises generate taxes.

    So I was wondering, how many job-holding, taxpaying people have joined Mayor Finch at his brown-bag lunches to share some ideas? And what were those ideas?

    It seems to me we’ve had all the ideas presented over the years any city could want, dating back to the Ferry Boat Junction Restaurant, the Banana Boat and the HMS Rose–all of which have sailed away.

    Will someone just buy a bag of concrete and build something!

    1. John did you take a look across the street from where you were sitting? Last month, I was there and I crossed the street. I looked up and there was Mo. No, not Lennie’s wife; the Italian Restaurant that closed. There were four restaurants foreclosed on in one block and I won’t tell you about the ghetto part.

  6. How odd. All the Downtown business flakes want a government intervention into essentially a market decision on the ferry.

    This sounds SOCIALIST.

    I got it …



    MAYOR 2011

  7. For those of us without proper 59-foot yachts, floating around on the ferry is about as close to sailing on Long Island Sound as we’ll get. But for the economic health of the city, proper disposition of the GE complex is more important.

    The General Electric complex off Boston Avenue should be demolished. It is the most economical thing to do, and the best economic benefit to the community moving forward.

    For goodness sake the General is picking up most of the dime. This is not a fly-by-night outfit.

    Like everything else in Bridgeport it won’t be easy. Not that it is particularly easy anywhere in the United States. Most Americans are very suspicious of redevelopment. They have good reason. Many times it has not resulted in the promised benefit. Certainly that is so in Bridgeport.

    The heyday of blowing up the town for its good came in the late 1950s and 1960s. The only unqualified success may be along Bostwick Avenue, clearing out slums for an open industrial area. But the public doesn’t get that. It is not sexy. It is decidedly unsexy. No matter how many jobs are created and social ills alleviated, industrial activity involves trucks and traffic and usually pollution.

    Sexy redevelopment would have involved Downtown and the South End. It has not gone well. Plan after plan was born dead or died. People are trying again along Fairfield Avenue in a reuse project that involves rehabilitation. People dig that. It’s sexy.

    Business leaders and their political enablers would have greater success in convincing the general public to go along if they had real success for their efforts. It would give people a reason to trust them. Trust is absent. Look at Steel Point.

    The GE project makes sense, connected with use in Remington Woods, for the future economic health of the city. People have known safe-sure for 20 years, and suspected for years before that, that the complex was uneconomic and should be razed.

    Opposition to a GE plan bubbled to the top at the P&Z meeting the other night. The plan stalled, at least temporarily.

    It is telling that General Electric, one of the largest corporations in the world with headquarters next door in Fairfield, is being treated essentially the same as some construction mug from the Hollow with a garage and two beat-up Dodge pickups.

    People are suspicious. It is not a Bridgeport thing. It is an American thing.

    Well, the Bridgeport thing may be they have never forgotten nor forgiven the demolition of the Harral-Wheeler Mansion. And the list goes on from there.

    1. As much as I appreciate the history of Bpt, the GE plant should be demolished–consideration of retaining perhaps the first building along Boston Ave as a compromis–since that is the facade most recognizable to most people.

      That said, other structures should be identified today for future preservation–no one would let the Barnum Museum be flattened–there are homes along Clinton Ave that should be identified for preservation–we are not colonial Boston and we do not have the nondescript but functional mill buildings of Fall River, but efforts were made to restore and reclaim Columbia Towers.

      Regarding the Ferry–the issue is and always has been access–the railroad stone wall should be eliminated which would make Union Square part of downtown instead of it being walled off–then people arriving could see downtown–and appropriate waterfront activity.

      But that has been so obvious for years it’s sad.

  8. Interesting point Grin. In my opinion there should be a second train station in Bridgeport with an additional structured parking garage at the intersection of Barnum and Seaview Avenues. Seaview Avenue needs to be a four lane ‘Transitway’ between the I-95 exit ramps and Route 1 with that railroad viaduct lowered to permit truck and emergency vehicles on the way to the hospital. That in no way negates the downtown Intermodal Transportation Center, in fact it adds value and people. Shops, offices and housing would be built around the second train station. It would give the East End and East Side a transit center without negating the downtown. Look at how congested I-95 and the Merritt are between Bridgeport and the NY border. There are more than enough commuters to entice off I-95 and the Merritt to make the downtown and Seaview Avenue transit centers successful.

    By the way, the concept of a second train station came out of an East End NRZ charette back in 2006 if I remember correctly. They drew it up and presented it as part of the East End Plan. Go ask Dave Barbour or Keith Cryan if you don’t believe me. So to say this is a DiNardo maneuver, I disagree. It is a sound transit-oriented approach to economic development despite who owns the property now.

    Here is the issue from my perspective. What differentiates Bridgeport from the other municipalities along the Metro North/Amtrak line? Why would someone choose to live or invest in Bridgeport rather than New Rochelle, Stamford or SONO? What makes Bridgeport unique and special? What is its competitive advantage? In my opinion, the confluence of rail, bus, ferry, cab and vanpool as well as 22 miles of waterfront. Intermodal transportation is one of Bridgeport’s fundamental economic development underpinnings. The Ferry Boat company is not like a Dunkin’ Donuts. It is a company that provides transportation, which has a very important public purpose. Uses go where zoning permits. Zoning is developed based on master planning principles. Master Plans are developed based on sound economic analysis. Free enterprise is allowed to build where land use policy permits. As of Jan 1, 2010, spot zoning should not happen in Bridgeport. Everyone worked too hard for five years with over $2 million spent to go back to the old days of let’s make a deal for this one or that one.

    The root cause of all this ferryboat relocation stuff is a lawsuit/grudge match over the charging of a passenger tariff. It has been contentious and frustrating for all for many many years. It is still in the courts. That doesn’t mean Bridgeport throws away its land use policies. Sorry, I don’t buy it. I didn’t say the chairs in a locked room comment last night in my testimony but I watched that method of successful ‘negotiation’ many times in the ten years I worked for the City of Stamford. This bad blood detracts from the best interests of the City. Someone(s) needs to facilitate a solution that works for the Company and the City.

    1. “… there should be a second train station in Bridgeport …”

      No, there isn’t a need.

      “… Look at how congested I-95 and the Merritt are between Bridgeport and the NY border. There are more than enough commuters to entice off I-95 and the Merritt to make the downtown and Seaview Avenue transit centers successful …”

      What are those “commuters” waiting for? The downtown train is always waiting and in need of ridership.

      I understand your professional opinion and I like you being so optimistic. New Rochelle, Stamford or SONO? They have tall buildings; are in close proximity to each other; they were developed in different economic times.

  9. The number of areas of docking is somewhat limited from the 22 miles of waterfront, but it should be enough for everyone to judge benefits of location.
    The ferry docking at Union Square has provided little if any economic benefit for Downtown. It may tie up traffic. It has left an awful image of Bridgeport to travelers for decades. There is no tangible benefit to the ferry for Union Square other than a docking point. Seaview Avenue provides a docking point and moves traffic.

    1. Jim, I agree there aren’t effective connections between the ferry and the downtown. However several things have happened and are in the works. Long overdue I admit but the DSSD, Downtown Task Force and down real estate community are engaged to change all that. I put the ‘Downtown Connections Study’ up on the Bridgeport page of my company’s website. That study, done by Arrowstreet out of Boston identified the ‘no-brainer’ improvements that include signage, lighting, and physical improvements. The funding has been identified. There are also simple improvements that have been done like turning the boardwalk lights back on, removing the graffiti, painting and lighting the rail underpass at Water Street. I spent ten hours last week at the underpass/staircases counting and interviewing those passengers who were going from the ferry to either the train, car, van or bus and vice versa. Did you know there are hardcore commuters who come from Long Island daily and take the train to Waterbury, Stamford, New Haven? Do you know there are ferry commuters who work downtown, at Bridgeport Hospital, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, and RBS Citizens? A couple times the boat was late and they were literally running to catch the train. Just in my ten-hour stint, a train got in late and a couple missed the boat. They use the ferry to avoid the bridges and congestion along the Merritt and I-95.

  10. “Bridgeport Now”–The Ferry debate continues tonight at 8pm on Channel 88, with a city council member representing a district involved.

    We will open the phones. This issue needs a forum and debate. We have some information from attending last night’s city council meeting.

    Until otherwise convinced, we are still in favor of the move. Bridgeport could get a boost by the ferry terminal moving and opening up that dock facility to a Stamford Cove-like evening spot. Much more to discuss. Tune in. Make your voice heard.

  11. It’s very interesting for far too long the East End of Bridgeport has been the armpit of Bpt. Every time there’s a chance for something nice to come in the area people want to fight it. Transfer stations, Mt. Trashmore, waste plants; none of the people who oppose the Ferry coming to the East End said anything. The ferry would be great for the East End of Bridgeport.

  12. Nancy you say lower the railroad viaduct like it’s an easy project. When discussions were taking place for the still not done duty-free zone studies showed that to lower that viaduct and the attached tracks would cost in the neighborhood of $55 million. It would also mean we have train traffic at street level which in turn means traffic on the new 4-lane roadway would have to stop every time a train came into Bridgeport.
    This damned city can’t even get a railroad underpass open at the ferry. This city can’t get proper signage downtown directing visitors to local parking. We can’t get signage that highlights downtown attractions. What we are good at is forming committees, having meetings and accomplishing squat.
    We have a zoning commission that voted down a wetland proposal to take down the GE powerhouse and they did not understand the proposal. Time for another committee and more meetings.

  13. TC, so much for blogging with only a couple hours of sleep. The rail line has to stay as is but the new Seaview Avenue transit way would need to go down enough to allow trucks and emergency vehicles. Yes that would require pumps. Yes it is expensive but know that Stamford now has assembled enough fed funds to lower streets on three viaduct/street intersections. Bridgeport needs to stay the Land-Use course five years of effort produced.

  14. Nancy, I want to believe you but I believe TC, and Common Good is right up there when it comes to the dock.
    When I first saw Union Square in 1978 and environs it was ugly. It was ugly for a long time before that. A lot of work was done to make it easier to get to the ferry by truck and car through Railroad Avenue. It must be acknowledged. It is still a lousy way to get to the dock. The dock itself is a lot spiffier.

    It is still ugly and unwelcoming.

    Your point on pedestrian traffic is rarely, if ever, publicized. I do not know if it is a game changer or not, but it is worthy of discussion.

    But the fact remains the dock is fugly.

    If I’m docking in Bridgeport, I’m blowing off Downtown. The neighborhood is an anchor mooring.

  15. There was a good thing that happened last night. The East End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Implementation Committee, which has been in existence for several years testified. In addition, the South End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Committee had their plan approved by the City Council last month and the co-chairs of the NRZ Implementation Committee were there last night and one of them testified. The South End is now organized with all of the stakeholders and have implementation strategies to follow to improve their neighborhood, including the traffic congestion in and around Harbor Yard which screws up their neighborhood big time. Yes this all takes time and money but having the neighborhood stakeholders working together with priorities is a very good thing in my opinion. There are now six neighborhoods that have figured out how to plan within the parameters of the state NRZ statute, set priorities and work with all stakeholders to improve their neighborhoods. If you add the good works of the Downtown Task Force, there are now seven ‘neighborhoods’ that are organized with plans that have been officially approved by City Council or the Downtown Special Services District. All of the approved neighborhood plans are now up on the ‘Bridgeport’ webpage of my company website. Take a look. I think you will be impressed. Now I hope the seven chairs and co-chairs meet regularly to share goals not only for their specific neighborhoods but identify common goals they can work on together for the greater good of the City as a whole.

    As for the GE deconstruction project, there seemed to be real confusion last night on the additional technical information the Inland Wetlands Commission wanted. I really don’t understand what happened but it was clear the Commissioners wanted many more of the details of the deconstruction and the protections that will be in place for the waterways and neighborhood before they would decide. Because the public hearing was closed last month, they weren’t allowed to receive all of the information GE wanted to provide them. I sure hope they will figure out how to get that information from GE as quickly as possible so the building can come down in a safe and efficient manner. That building does not have an economic reuse and should be chronicled for historic purposes with pictures and narrative. GE needs to get that building down carefully and work with the private sector to build anew. I know it is sad to take down a piece of history but I live in a piece of history, City Trust and putting together the $30+ million financing package to rehab this building was a real tough go. I am also involved with the restoration and conversion of the former Park City Hospital that will reopen in a couple of days as 110 housing units. It took seven funding sources to amass the $23 million and a huge complex legal structure to get that job done. There isn’t the financial capital to restore or convert that huge GE building.


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