You Can Always Go Downtown, Plus: Big Mac Blogs From Inauguration And Mayor Comments On Barack’s Day

Do you want a job? The Downtown Special Services District is looking for a “managing director.”

A number of OIB friends have applied for the position such as William Murphy, a guy who knows how to get things done, former community-relations guru for United Illuminating and current staffer for the Barnum Festival; and Nancy Hadley, the top development official for former Mayor John Fabrizi who was at the helm when things were looking up for downtown before the economic crash. Mayor Bill Finch let Hadley go, the mayor said, because the politicians didn’t like her. Some would argue that’s a pretty good reason to have kept her.

The challenge for DSSD commissioners is determining the correct skill set needed for the job. Do they want someone politically savvy that can communicate downtown’s interests to City Hall? Do they want a simple logistics skill set that makes sure downtown is tidy and security details are doing their job? Is it a marketing maven that knows how to drive people downtown to various tourist attractions? Or, perhaps, a candidate with grant-writing experience?

Historically, the DSSD director supervised security and clean-up of downtown, and marketing of special events such as a summer concert series. The organization was created roughly 20 years by a vote of downtown property owners following authorization by the City Council establishing a special taxing district to make downtown life more hospitable. Downtown property owners pay an extra tax collected by the city’s tax office that cuts a check to the DSSD. The director works at the will of a commission made up of downtown property owners.

To review a complete description of job responsibilities click on the Do It Downtown graphic on the left side of the OIB page, then click Managing Director Applicants.

The description makes clear that no elected official will be considered for the job. Former State Rep. Bob Keeley, now a city school teacher, had the job for many years while serving in his legislative seat. Some commission members viewed Keeley’s seniority in Hartford as a plus for the job. Other commission members, however, such as Phil Kuchma, developer of the Bijou Square project on Fairfield Avenue, thought Keeley was ineffective, did not show up for work and continually leveraged his friendship with former House Speaker Jim Amann to maintain job security. Many commission members feared moving against Keeley would attract the wrath of Amann, the most powerful legislative figure in Hartford.

Amann was not afraid to make a well-placed call on behalf of Keeley who had pledged his support to Amann for governor. Keeley and Paul Timpanelli, the 20-year chief of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, detested one another while sharing the same floor space at 10 Middle Street. Timpanelli supported Bill Finch, who worked for the business community, for mayor in 2007. Keeley supported State Rep. Chris Caruso, some would argue simply because Timpanelli was supporting Finch. So it goes in city politics.

When Auden Grogins, the blonde banshee from Black Rock, decided to primary Keeley last summer, few believed she had a chance. He was the longest-serving legislator in the city’s history. Grogins worked her ass off and caught Keeley napping. When Keeley lost to Grogins the commission fear factor was gone, and Keeley knew his days were numbered. He lined up a teaching job.

Commissioners are looking to fill Keeley’s old job before spring. The salary, I’m told, is negotiable.

Tom McCarthy Reports

I’m excited. In fact, I’m getting whiplash going back and forth from my desktop tube to the tele. I spent 30 minutes this morning on Jim Buchanan’s show on WICC chatting about the new president and the potential impact his stimulus package can have on Bridgeport. As always, Jim, thanks for having OIB on the radio. City Council President Tom McCarthy’s in the thick of the action in DC and he files this initial special 9 a.m. report for OIB followed by 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. updates.

Lennie, I am waiting in the Blue Line for entrance into the Inauguration. There is a mass of people all waiting for the security check. The security seems less organized than at the convention, but the reality is that they are dealing with millions of people not thousands. The energy is amazing. The crowds are chanting, “Yes, we can!” and “Fired up, Ready to go!” People have already been crying at the momentous moment. It really is moving. It is also cold. The warmth of the crowd is keeping us going. I am very glad I made the trek. The crowd just started singing,”God Bless America.” This is truly an American event.

11 a.m.: I am now in place at the foot of the Capitol. The crowd is trying to figure out the best places to stand in order to see Obama. There seems to be 5 different levels of sections. The first section is on the Capitol steps: the super big shots (not me). Next is the seated big shots: Congressmen, etc. After that are the medium shots. These are seated folks who are directly in front of the Capitol steps. This includes Mayors, etc. (Not me.) Then there are four sections right after the seated area. These are standing areas for the definitely not important shots. This is where I am. After my section is one more ticketed standing section and then the Mall. The Mall is non-ticketed and completely open to the public.

The Marine Band is playing. In between songs dignitaries are being introduced. The loudest hurrah came for Gov. Howard Dean, outgoing Chair of the Democratic National Committee. The loudest negative reaction came for Gov. Schwarzenegger. The crowd is ready.

12:30 p.m.: President Barack Obama. Those words make me feel better for our nation and the City of Bridgeport. In the words of President Obama, let’s face the icy waters and meet the challenges head on. Inner-cities across America have a new friend in Washington. Let’s hope that the change that is coming will remember cities like Bridgeport as we face our icy waters. Tears and cheers filled the crowd. Those gathered today were looking for a leader to take us in a new direction. I have hope. Tom

Tom's view of the Capitol
Tom's view of the Capitol

It’s Finally Here

Mayor Bill Finch is attending Barack’s inaugural festivities today. The mayor attended events at the U.S. Conference of Mayors before the inaugural activities. See Finch’s statement below:

Inauguration of President Barack Obama Seen as Boost for Bridgeport

A statement from Mayor Bill Finch

Today [Inauguration Day] is a historic moment for our country. I am proud of my party, and prouder still of all the American people who believed in and have been inspired by President-elect Barack Obama’s message of hope and change. Less than eight weeks ago, I stood in the well at Mt. Aery Baptist Church as host of a get-out-the-vote rally for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. The hundreds of people who came to the rally that evening weren’t sure what Election Day would bring, but they firmly believed that Obama was the key to bringing much-needed change to Washington.

Today, as Barack Obama is sworn in as the country’s 44th President, and first African-American, I firmly believe that his message of hope and change will mean great things, not only for our country, but also for the City of Bridgeport.

When we announced our “shovel-ready” infrastructure project list on Dec. 30, I reiterated a point that then-candidate Obama had made several months ago during his visit to the National Conference of Mayors meeting in Miami Beach. He told us then that ‘cities are not the problem, they are the solution’ to many of the nation’s challenges. I firmly believe this is true and that the nation’s cities hold the key to change. But our dire economic crisis means we need help to make that happen. I am confident that President Obama will take his own words to heart and do all he can to help cities like Bridgeport turn the corner and prosper.



  1. I find it interesting that the Bridgeport politicians who are down in DC were not down with Obama. They were the ones playing follow the leader and supporting Hillary because the state chairwoman was supporting her.
    They were definitely not in the trenches come Primary Day and many of them chanted the refrain that “America is not ready for an African-american President.”
    And those who worked for Obama know that they are the ones who really took part in this moment in history regardless of where they may be today.

  2. The only thing historic about today is the insane amount of money that is being spent on the festivities.
    Republicans who still have a work ethic aren’t able to accomplish anything in the office today since the Dems (who feel they no longer have to work) are too busy watching and crashing our servers! He’s sworn in; let’s move on and pray he doesn’t waste another $150 million.

  3. Why don’t you go to the registrar of voters and get the figures? It’s been 2 months since the election and all of your candidates won. What more do you want? Like I said if it’s that important to you do it yourself. So you are gone from this site that’s too bad as we have had some good give and take in the last 2 months.

  4. “Bridgeport Now” LIVE Tuesdays at 8pm on Ch 77

    Today – Jan 20
    The events with the new president are almost majestic, so much hype, right?

    Well we have something majestic in Bridgeport. It’s even called the Majestic Theatre and very few Bridgeport residents know much about it. Tune in today at 8pm to see pictures taken inside and listen to a discussion with a city council person about its fate.

    Also, Urban Green builders, they were given 36 city buildings. What is the status? Let’s have oversight not only of the $700b U. S. taxpayers gifted to bankers, but oversight of our local city-financed plans also. We is looking over this. Is Urban Green still in charge?

    Special focus is the Arcade. Charles, the historian, is unavailable for tonight’s show.

    Call in also to voice your opinion about Obama, after 8:3pm.


    Main story is about the General Electric Plant: City says will not be demolished.

  5. donj, I didn’t realize we were in the presence of someone important enough to rate their own towel boy. Why weren’t you down in D.C. today sitting at the right hand of Obama?

  6. (click the titles for the full articles)

    Amann Officially Declines Job Offer
    by Christine Stuart | January 20, 2009 3:52 PM
    Posted to State Capitol

    Former Speaker of the House James Amann visited the Capitol Press Room Tuesday afternoon to tell the media he had officially declined newly elected Speaker of the House Chris Donovan’s six-figure job offer, which according to Amann had been revised Monday into a part-time position with a $60,000 salary.

    “I am not a rich man. I have to work for a living,” Amann explained. He said if he had accepted the job he would have given Donovan 200 percent, however, many even within the Democratic caucus wondered if it was realistic for Amann to work for Donovan, fundraise for the MS Society, and run for governor, all at the same time.

    “I regret that Jim will not be joining our team in the Speaker’s office, but understand his decision. He and I had a chance to discuss these matters at length yesterday and again today, and it became clear that his sense of the demands of his political work differed from mine to an extent that it made employment in my office unrealistic,” Donovan said in this written statement.

    Setting aside their own personal feelings for Amann, Democratic insiders said the entire Democratic caucus felt it was wrong to offer Amann the job. Many said they were unware it had even been offered to Amann until shortly before the press release was issued on Friday.
    [ … ]

    Amann May Not Take State Job Afterall
    by Christine Stuart | January 20, 2009 8:24 AM
    Posted to State Capitol

    Former Speaker of the House James Amann, who was expected to start his new job as a senior adviser to the newly elected Speaker of the House Chris Donovan Tuesday told WPLR’s morning hosts Chaz and AJ that it’s still just a job offer.

    “The Speaker is brand new, he doesn’t need any of this continued criticism,” Amann told Chaz and AJ this morning explaining that he was leaning toward not taking the $120,000 a year state job.

    “Maybe people have the perception it’s a no show job,” Amann said. He said people may think “I’ll just be running for governor and collecting a check.”

    Amann said he spoke with Donovan yesterday and “batted around some other options,” such as a part-time position. “I’m leaning toward probably calling Chris today and telling him it’s not worth it for him,” Amann said.
    [ … ]

  7. Amann is exactly what is wrong with politics. They just can’t walk away. Politicians want to collect money even when they leave office. If Donovan can’t do the job by himself maybe he should step down. In any event this move by Donovan is disgusting more so when the state will be laying off workers to cut into the deficit created by these morons in Hartford. How many low-echelon jobs could be saved with that $120,000 they wanted to spend on Amann? I know one thing I would not vote for him if he is running for dog catcher.

  8. Amen to Amann. He doesn’t have a prayer; his political career is over. He should have taken this job and walked away from running for governor. How is he going to try to paint himself as a fiscal conservative after this fiasco?

  9. *** Good political move for Amann in not accepting the state job! *** Great day in History for the Obama & Biden families, the Nation’s Dem. Party & America and its citizens, friends & allies around the world! *** Even if you didn’t vote for Obama, as Americans we all must stand together to help in any & every way possible to get our country back on track & concentrating on basic values, home & abroad. It’s far too easy to point the finger of blame @ others for many of our own selfish decisions in life. Whether it’s through being more economical with our “$” and conservative in our spending. Or conserving energy in one way or another through economical transportation, recycling, carpooling, public trans. etc. There are many basic simple ways to get involved in your community’s well-being, volunteering is one of them! *** And last but not least, voting for the right individual political candidate that’s the “people’s” best choice, not the party that’s endorsing them! *** “CHANGE, YES WE CAN”! ***

  10. Dumb move. $120,000 to do a job you once did for $40,000 and you say “no”.

    What makes Amann so sure that he will become Governor? What if a “Dick” comes into the picture next? What if DeStefano announces his candidacy?

    Amann would have been better off dropping his Dream of being Gov. and taking the $120,000 job.

    City Kitty is celebrating “Obamanomics”. The dow dropped 44 points below 8,000. The highest drop during any inauguration in history. Can’t go on blaming Bush anymore.

    1. *** You like to say what if; What if you knew a woman who had syphillis & was pregnant again. She already has #8 kids, #3 of whom are deaf, #2 legally blind & #1 who’s mentally disabled! Would you recommend if asked, she have an abortion? ***

  11. Lennie, Why is everyone saying that Obama is the 44th President of the United States?

    Is it because Grover Cleveland is counted twice for having served 2 nonconsecutive terms as President?

    Obama is the 43rd President of the United States.

    While there have been 44 presidential administrations, there have been only 43 presidents; Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms in the late 1800s.

    Maybe Obama is counting Al Gore’s victory.

    1. *** Since you’re up on Presidents; on next election day if your vote was the #1 vote that breaks the tie for the next President, which candidate would you vote for: #1, #2 or #3?
      1. Associates with crooked politicians & consults astrologist. Had #2 mistresses, chain smokes & drinks alcohol everyday!
      2. Kicked out of office twice, sleeps ’til noon, used opium in college & drinks whiskey every night.
      3. Decorated war hero, vegetarian, doesn’t smoke & drinks an ocassional beer. Married & never cheated on wife! ***

  12. Bridgeport Now–tuned into your program last month when I had a night off from work. I was dismayed at how unprepared and disjointed you were. I like many of the ideas you posit here but get your act together with your public access program. I’m surprised Soundview Media lets you broadcast such a jumbled mess.

  13. WOW! All I can say is WOW! Keep drinking that KOOL-AID, people. You’re all brainwashed and cannot even see it. The media, the machines–disgusting! Glad I am not a part of it! Little lesson if you want to get out of club–COMPARE NEWS CHANNELS PEOPLE! You’re being brainwashed. You get what you vote for. Spread the wealth (it’s the patriotic thing to do), Get rid of GOD in everything we know (the atheists will be happy), No prayer, No English, Abortion … WOW! But don’t worry the Messiah has come and he will make things all better! Read your textbooks people, it didn’t work before and it won’t work now. Communism over Capitalism??? Socialism is good? We are heading in this direction. I know that I like my money, I like going to the doctor of my choice, I like not having the govt. not being so large etc. WOW!

    We are so worried about everyone’s feeling (Group Hug) that we are losing our way. This is sad! So sad! WOW!

    But the Messiah has come. HE’S A SUPERSTAR! Oh and I just love the hate-filled comments those rappers Jerzy and Little Jerzy are spewing. No matter who is the President–Remember they are the President and it should be treason to disrespect your President. I am ashamed of Americans for the way they treated Pres. Bush! Ashamed! But take it for what its worth. Look what is spewing what! In other countries it’s treason!

    Obama is our President you all elected him and I unlike you won’t disrespect. I hope he succeeds in the appropriate areas and doesn’t in areas that are just not good for America.

    I sincerely hope America is not losing its way! WOW.


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