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
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.