Wow, A Development Chief, Plus: Handicapping Tsunami Tuesday

Donald Eversley, recently an economic development guru in Providence, Rhode Island, is Mayor Bill Finch’s pick to serve as chief development official.

On paper Eversley has an accomplished background: Brown University, graduate Penn Law School, nearly four years as president of the Providence Economic Development Partnership. Eversley was appointed by Providence Mayor David Cicilline, but his contract was not renewed last year, according to the Providence Journal. Cicilline announced it was simply a case of wanting to reorganize government.

Eversley’s appointment comes after an exhaustive search and nearly eight months since Finch assumed office. Eversley also had worked in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration. Finch is a big Bloomberg fan.

Tsunami Tuesday

One month away from Aug. 12 and our local version of Tsunami Tuesday, a day of Democratic primaries for congress, state senate and a bunch of state house seats.

Let’s start with the congressional race in which Lee Whitnum, whose claim to fame was a fling with John Kerry between marriages in the early 1990s, challenges Democratic endorsed Jim Himes also of Greenwich. Himes should have no problem lancing Whitnum while building up his name recognition and campaign skills for the big show against Congressman Chris Shays of Bridgeport in November. I love the dichotomy of the general election race: a Greenwich Democrat against a Bridgeport Republican.

The state races add a different dimension with the prospects of Connecticut’s public financing system. Democratic-endorsed state senate candidate Anthony Musto, the Trumbull town treasurer, faces a challenge from Marilyn Moore, former legislative aide to State Sen. Ed Gomes. The senate district occupied by Republican Rob Russo includes Trumbull, and parts of Bridgeport and Monroe. Musto, a nice guy with star looks, has the backing of the Dem establishment. He’ll qualify for the public financing. Moore, out there sweating for donations in the hope of receiving free loot, cannot be competitive without the public financing.

State Rep. Chris Caruso is being challenged by City Councilman Carlos Silva. Caruso’s off to a late start putting together a campaign organization. He just recently secured a treasurer OIB friend John Soltis, but the incumbent is so popular in his legislative district that he can afford to start late. The strategic mistakes and organizational gaffes that marred Caruso’s citywide mayoral primary loss to Bill Finch last September, cannot bite him in his home district.

Incumbent State Rep. Andres Ayala was denied the Democratic endorsement by Lydia Martinez, who had previously occupied the assembly seat that covers the East Side. Andres lost a town committee battle over there in a fight with his uncle Tito Ayala in March. Yes, you can choose your friends, but not your relatives, but that doesn’t mean blood always sticks together, especially in city politics.

City Councilman Eze Santiago will try to parlay support of the party establishment into a victory in the 130th State Assembly seat that covers the South End and portions of West End and East Side. He’s being challenged by party veteran Chico Rivera and newcomer Sylvester Salcedo. Once again, public financing is a key component to making that race competitive.

In the East End, State Rep. Don Clemons, who enjoys support from most party regulars, faces a challenge from Bill Stewart who’s backed by Paul Ganim, the Judge of Probate, and brother of Joe. Paul Ganim has been making the rounds as he tries to position himself for a possible mayoral run in 2011.

Former City Council and Board of Education member Auden Grogins has qualified for the public money in her challenge against the endorsed State Rep. Bob Keeley. This one, in particular, has the attention of Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa who supports Keeley. It’s not so much that Mario adores Keeley, it’s more about factions of the party Mario is fighting with that support Grogins. Mario wants Keeley to win to assert control over the party. For instance, John Stafstrom, the former party chief that Testa dethroned, supports Grogins. This one has a variety of dynamics at play, the longest-serving legislator in the city’s history being challenged by a long-time pol with a strong voter base in Black Rock, a key precinct in the assembly district. Despite losing her citywide Board of Education seat last September, Grogins was the leading voter getter at Black Rock School, the highest turnout precinct in the city. She’s working hard. Keeley should do well in his home precinct at Central High School.

That leaves Longfellow School, a small turnout area, but still important in the mix. That precinct generally serves voters east of Ellsworth Street, including P.T. Barnum apartments. Testa ran Finch’s primary day operation at Longfellow last September and delivered for Finch. Testa’s performance for Finch was one of the reasons their relationship has become shaky. The town chairman feels that Finch ceded too much credit to Stafstrom in Finch’s primary win over Caruso.

But Grogins has her share of support in Longfellow School as well. Black Rock District Leader Danny Roach knows the Longfellow territory well. He, too, delivered for Finch. Remember all the chatter about Caruso blowing out Finch at Black Rock School? Didn’t happen. Finch actually won the precinct by one vote.

Primaries are strange birds, with a premium on voter identification and dragging them to the polls.



  1. Sylvester all you need to do is hit up a town committee meeting and find somebody who is unhappy with the way the party is going and you have a chance to build some alliances.

    Running against two people that have deep roots in the community is hard to do but it shouldn’t deter you from your message. Establish the fact that you aren’t beholden to ANYONE and if elected you will have the interests of the district not those of you bank account or nepotism.

    I currently live in Fairfield and stay tuned to Bridgeport politics because that’s where I was born. I wish you the best of luck.

  2. Grogins is no slam dunk in Black Rock. Her alliance with Finch and Roach may actually help Keeley in Black Rock.

    If Sly qualifies for public financing he could run a competitive race and even pull an upset.

  3. Last time there was a political debate in Black Rock it was sponsored by Joe Celli at the Black Rock Art Center. Ol’ Snake Oil Joe was trying to make the fate of his decrepit art center a political issue. Fortunately for those of us that live and work in Black Rock his efforts failed miserably, which is why Celli talked his way into a job with the city of New London, tail between legs. Keeley was a supporter of this crook, and that can be explained by the old saying “birds of a feather flock together.” Keeley must be a crook. Why else would he have supported Joe Celli’s dog-and-pony show for so long? (Celli left Melissa Bernstein out to dry: she doesn’t even know that the Finch administration is determined to kick IPA out of the building at 2838 Fairfield Avenue. I seriously doubt Snake Oil Joe had the decency to tell her that the arbitration proceedings are non-binding–even if the Oil Man gets a favorable ruling the city will still kick him out on his ass.)

    My money is on Grogins. Say what you want about The Kid hanging out at Matty’s Corner, “drinking from the Holy Grail.” I am my own man, not beholden to political ideology, not concerned with the minutae. Keeley will be judged by his behavior, which has been despicable.

  4. Hey Kid

    If Keeley is judged on your spelling. Keeley will be a shoe-in!

    The only thing you’re going to beholden is your Holden Caulfield. Have a Catcher in The Rye and Soda, at Matty’s, on me for the All-Star Game.

  5. Up On Bridgeport is 100% right Black Rock is not a slam dunk for Auden. Kelley has alot of support in Black Rock. So I think she can beat Keeley he will win Central big and Black Rock will be a battle and I think Keeley will pull it of there. And Longfellow I have no idea who will win there. I’m voting for Keeley at Black Rock. And Lennie you are wrong Winthrop has the most voters during a presidential year and during the midterm elections.

  6. Hey, Snake Oil Joe,
    Are you paying for the “Catcher in the rye and soda”? I’d alert the media, given your aversion to paying for anything, least of all someone else’s cocktail.

  7. We got yer handicapping right here:

    Re-elect Clemens ’08 [sic]
    Re-Elect Ayala 2008
    Carlos Silva for State Rep. ’08
    Martinez for Stated Rep. 2008 [sic]
    Friends of Keely 2008 [sic]

    Up for grants this week. I guess Mario’s Musto fundraiser didn’t deliver.

    On the upside, the Bridgeport Kid could probably get a job at the SEEC — they are looking for a secretary and they don’t care how you type.

  8. Hi donj:

    Clarification. My reference to turnout at Black Rock School is about percentage turnout. Certainly, other precincts have many more registered voters, but recent elections show that the percentage turnout in Black Rock is the highest.

  9. Black Rockers are, by and large, a politically active bunch. What with developers trying to build condominiums on every piece of dormant property, there is a lot of community awareness. At least one allegedly “not-for-profit” organization’s leadership thought they could pull a fast one and move into a piece of prime real estate in Black Rock. They only succeeded in dividing the neighborhood and met with some fierce opposition.

    Grogins lives in Black Rock; Keeley doesn’t. Grogins cares about the neighborhood; Keeley does not. Nor do his cronies.

  10. Bridgeport Kid

    Maybe you should change your name to Black Rock Kid.

    Lennie writes about Tsunami Tuesday. There is such an undercurrent of support for Keeley in Black Rock, that it’s forming a riptide. Sea you later.

  11. An undercurrent of support?! What cave do you live in? Bob Keeley is a crook! He blackmailed the DSSD into renewing his no-show job as “coordinator.” And word on the street is that he hired himself out as a grant writer, helping individuals and organizations to apply for state funds. As Mr. Keeley sits on the bonding committee (the committee that authorizes these funds), it would appear to be a conflict of interest. Unless, of course, Mr. Keeley is receiving kickbacks for his efforts. In that case, it’s a felony.

    At least he doesn’t park his car illegally at GBTA bus stops. Which is a lot more than can be said about a scofflaw like you, Mr. Celli.

  12. Black Rock Kid

    Did you know that Grogins is illegally blonde? Did you know that Grogins is endorsed by Bill Finch?

    Come up to New London sometime and I’ll show you a Whale of a time.

  13. It would be a good idea to change your screen name to “Up Yours, Bridgeport,” because you don’t care diddly-squat about the city.

    Are you related to Leona Helmsley? You share her disdain for the working classes.

  14. Black Rock Kid

    We are having a little soiree this week. It’s a costume party. I’ll be dressed as the “Queen of Mean!” I’ll put a collar on you, keep you on a short leash and make you bark like a dog.

  15. So much animosity here for a Monday. I guess nobody “got lucky” this weekend!

    Forget the spelling errors for a while and look for the substance…if there is any to the blog…or is it blah, blah, blah!

    I’m in Keeley’s district and might consider voting against him if Grogins campaigned outside of Black Rock. I don’t know a thing about her (assuming it’s a her because I never even saw a pic)!

  16. Call the FBI! The shameless Bridgeport Kid has proof the Keeley blackmailed the DSSD and takes kickbacks!
    Call the Parking Enforcement Police! The nameless Bridgeport Kid has proof that Joe Celli parks at bus stops!
    However we can not be sure based on his post which one he considers the more egregious offense because he has failed to do anything about either one.

  17. The Bridgeport Kid is very upset because he hasn’t had the title of Crony conferred on him by Auden. So, I hereby knight you Sir Bridgeport, The King of Grogins’ Cronies. Now, good night.

  18. The only costume you ought to wear is that of an honest man, Mr. Up Yours, Bridgeport. Anyone who sees you wearing it will know you’re only joking.

  19. I would like to issue a warning to anyone applying for a job with Up Yours Bridgeport’s newly created office in New London. If he likes you he’ll paste your resume in the front window of his office.

  20. Gossip of The Rialto!

    Finch Finished Flopping

    Bridgeport to name New Economic Development Chief.
    Three o’clock press conference to introduce gentleman from Providence. Finch says it was: ‘Divine Inervention’.

    New OPED director says he wants to get his engine started and will not be a mope head.

  21. Bridgeport Kid, PLEASE stop talking about Joe Celli. Not because anything you say is untrue, but because the mere thought of the smarmy bastard is ruining my otherwise pleasant day.

    I feel like I should go wash my hands now that I’ve typed his name…

  22. From The Boston Phoenix:

    Cicilline leads charge to replace economic development guru


    By IAN DONNIS | June 7, 2007
    Three years after Donald C. Eversley was ceremoniously introduced as the president of the Providence Economic Development Partnership, the partnership — at the behest of Mayor David N. Cicilline — has moved to not renew Eversley’s contract.

    The move caught Eversley, a 1980 graduate of Brown University who returned to Providence from New York City, by surprise. Asked why his contract was not renewed, Eversley says, “I have no clue. I’d be happy to [stay]. I think there’s a lot more to do. I think we’ve done some critical programs, we’ve created some dynamic programs, but a lot of the infill [of economic development] still needs to be done.”

    Cicilline, who serves as chairman of the PEDP, describes the non-renewal as part of a reorganization to improve Providence’s economic development efforts, with the likely addition of a Cabinet-level post of economic development director. He finds no fault with the performance of Eversley, whose contract expired in April and who has agreed to remain in his job, with a $110,000 salary, until the fall.

    The abrupt non-renewal seems curious, particularly since Eversley was welcomed back to Providence with a reception at Brown’s John Carter Brown Library, hosted by President Ruth J. Simmons and attended by Cicilline and Governor Donald L. Carcieri (Brown grads themselves), in March 2004.

    Eversley, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, previously served as director of Workforce and Business Development for the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation. He says he also worked during the New York City mayoral administrations of Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.

    City Councilors John J. Lombardi and Luis Aponte, part of the bloc critical of Cicilline, expressed disappointment about Eversley’s tenure. “I’m not sure it was as successful as it could have been,” Aponte says. “My sense of what the mission of what the PEDP was founded to do, it didn’t change,” when there should have been a stronger effort to attract and retain small businesses. Lombardi, who raps Eversley’s communication skills, says, “I did not find him user-friendly for the council.”

    Eversley, though, who claims credit for moving forward the Providence Economic Development Partnership — which was formerly known as the Providence Economic Development Commission, and mostly focused on aiding new restaurants, during the Buddy Cianci era — cites a litany of accomplishments.

    “I think I’ve put the city on the map in terms of economic development,” he says. “The PEDC was almost a secret organization hidden within the Planning Department,” with “no public profile, no marketing, no presence.” Now, Eversley says, the PEDP has a Web site, a magazine-style economic development guide, a seven-minute promotional DVD, created with the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, and a big display at T.F. Green Airport, “basically to create the sense that we are in the game, we know we have to compete.”

    Eversley says the PEDP has made about 50 economic development loans, totaling roughly $8 million, which have leveraged $50 million in project financing. The partnership, he says, has also funded about 500,000-square-feet of commercial development, including the renovated Dreyfus Hotel and the new homes of Cuban Revolution, Murphy’s, and the Olneyville Housing Corporation. Through loans, the PEDP has helped to attract and retain roughly 1000 jobs. “I think I created something dynamic,” he says, and the feedback from City Hall and the business community was “really positive.”

  23. Obama ’08 Jim Himes ’08 Russo ’08. On August 12 vote Bob Keeley. Why did Auden take down Keeley’s yard sign at Subway on Brewster Street and put up her sign? It’s getting bad out there.

  24. donj – what’s even more puzzling to me is that today I spotted some homes on the side streets off of Wood Ave. that have signs for both candidates on their lawns. Looks like a sign war!

  25. Why is Keeley using signs from old elections…wait…could that be another Keeley violation? Tom K, maybe Keeley has no soul! From the looks of him, I bet he never passed a sole that he didn’t like. The Bridgeport Kid has is right!

  26. BobBlackRock

    Keeley has so much soul he is known as the “White Shadow, especailly at P.T and Longfellow. Actually, Auden enjoy’s shrimp more than sole.

    They both are walking the soles off their shoes. It doesn’t seem to be helping either very much.

    Keeley strongly believes in recycling. Auden strongly believes in spending. That’s why her lawn signs are dripping in red ink. QVC anyone?

    Good seeing you the other night. Some of those women looked liked they came from the premier Sue Bar you double dare devil.

    Don’t forget our little wager. Longfellow’s Serenade or So Long Farewell.

  27. I wonder what our new economic development chief will think about situations such as the following…

    ZBA upholds cease order at storage yard
    Article Last Updated: 07/13/2008 11:35:34 PM EDT

    BRIDGEPORT — The owner of a Central Avenue storage yard for asphalt and construction debris has lost his appeal of a cease-and-desist order — but the fight may not stop there.
    The Zoning Board of Appeals last week upheld the order issued to J Videira’s Paving, which had stored processed materials for the city’s Public Facilities Department.

    Juveniano Videira, owner of the business at 214 Central Ave., was denied his appeal of the order at last Tuesday’s meeting of the ZBA.

    Videira’s lawyer, Raymond Rizio, argued the owner has a pre-existing right to store piles of processed materials on the parcel. He presented the ZBA with several images of the site dating to 1991 to show that such materials have been stored there since that time.

    “This is 22 years these people have been in business. Those piles you see from time to time are sometimes from the city of Bridgeport,” Rizio told the ZBA.

    But Zoning Official Dennis Buckley told the board the paving contractors could not store the materials without a coastal site plan review from the Planning and Zoning Commission. The business is about 50 feet from Johnson’s Creek. ZBA member Michael Lauro wondered whether heavy rainfall or a strong gust of wind would cause some of the debris or construction materials to flow into the water.

    But Rizio and Videira insisted that nothing from the storage yard has ever wound up in the creek. ZBA Chairman Michael Piccirillo asked Rizio if the state Department of Environmental Protection ever cited the company for not having sedimentation and soil erosion control, such as buffers or silt fencing, in place. “No, because we’ve been there so long,” said Rizio. “That doesn’t make it right. You can’t tell me that you’re not contaminating the water,” Piccirillo retorted.
    “But that’s a DEP issue,” Rizio said.

    Rizio also argued that the zoning office has never informed Videira that he is not in zoning compliance. “Mr. Videira even inquired at the zoning office [when he acquired the property] to ensure that this was a permitted use,” the lawyer said.

    Rizio also said the company obtained a building permit from the city in the late 1980s for additions. No zoning officials at that time mentioned that the business was not in compliance with the zoning regulations, he said. The ZBA members voted unanimously to uphold the cease-and-desist order and recommended the property owner apply to the P&Z for a coastal site plan review. Jack Videira, Juveniano’s son, said Thursday that the business owners were surprised the city accused them of storing material illegally for more than 20 years at the site. “We’re a little taken aback by the whole thing,” said the younger Videira. Rizio also said Thursday that he would appeal the ZBA’s decision before the state Supreme Court. “We feel very strongly we have a pre-existing right to be there. They don’t feel they have to start from square one,” he said.


    We need to reindustrialize. High-end tax-base is in manufacturing, not warehouses and storage depots — which are proven to cost municipalities more than they return in taxes. And they provide almost nothing in employment opportunities –very few jobs, and low-paying at that…

    The Urban Land Institute — highly touted by Timpanelli and the BRBC until they contradicted all of the BRBC’s preconceived notions — told Bridgeport to stop all storage depot and warehouse-type development because it is a terrible, counterproductive waste of tax base. It brings in heavy trucks that ruin roads. It brings in polluted materials and hazardous materials for storage (usually permanenent — it creates de facto toxic waste dumps…). It ruins neighborhoods and brings down all property values — commercial and residential… It ultimately destoys the physical and psychological health of the community from the noise, pollution, appearance, and general degradation that these types of operations visit upon the neighborhoods in which they are located…

    So what does Bridgeport do? It gives valuable industrial and residential/waterfront land to filthy pigs and tax cheats such as DiNardo and Videira!(It is a travesty that DiNardo got his filthy paws on our best industrial land? Who let that happen?!)

    We shouldn’t be allowing any more storage depots and warehouses in Bridgeport, and we should get speacial legislation to tax them at an astronomical rate to force them to ultimately decide to move… We could use the increased tax rates on these undesirable businesses to drastically lower the tax rate on desirable — manufacturing — businesses to keep them and attract them here… We should get our useless, do-nothing legislative slugs, that we keep returning to Hartford, to get appropriate legislation passed for us in order to allow this type of differential tax rate to play into an enlightened land-use/taxation policy designed to promote our economic renaissance…

    In any event, at least the ZBA is making the pretense at stopping these pigs from operating with impunity… Now all that we need are the FBI, EPA, and DEP to shut them down, fine them, and put them in jail…

  28. I heard Keeley has a woman, from Majority Leader, and soon to be Speaker of the House, Chris Donovan’s office managing his campaign.

    Grogins has a mind-trust of Finch, Stafstrom, Crossin and Roach.

    I think Keeley shines in this race. Everyone knows you can’t shine a Sneaker.

  29. Keeley is using old lawn signs because he’s cheap. Or too lazy to take them out to the recycling bin.

    Up Yours Bridgeport, the only thing that shines about Keeley is the seat of his off-the-rack trousers. You ought to take him to your clothiers so he can dress like a pimp too!

  30. Yea Baby!
    Then he can be the Mac Daddy and put your ass out on the corner of Fairfield and Brewster. Oh, I forgot Danny Roach controls that side and gets a piece of your action.

  31. Hey Up Yours Bridgeport,
    Did you offer food or beverages to that unfortunate volunteer I saw you with the other day, or did you shake the moths out of your wallet and buy him a cup of instant ramen and a diet Pepsi for his trouble?


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