Budget Impact On Finch’s Reelection, Himes’ Ear-Splitting Constituents

One week away until Mayor Bill Finch submits his recommended spending plan to the City Council for the budget year that begins July 1. That’s when City Council Budget Co-Chairs Bob Curwen and Angel DePara get a crack at it before it goes to the full council.

The budget will include more dough for city libraries per a referendum approved by voters. Also, additional money to fund pay increases for uniformed services. Last year the city received a huge break when the Connecticut Legislature approved a two-year moratorium on payments to the city’s bond-funded pension plan. The move delayed a $25 million payment for police and fire pension obligations. The rationale provides the city a grace period in anticipation of a market rebound. Can you imagine if the city had to budget that number this year? Yikes. Well, unless the state extends the authorization it will be due next year. But, one budget at a time.

The city can bring on 20 new cops, if it so chooses, through recovery moolah secured by Congressman Jim Himes, but with strings attached. Bean counters cannot use the stimulus dough to fund existing positions nor layoff 20 cops to make way for the new. The money is supplemental to current budgeted strength.

This is a crucial budget for the mayor. He cannot afford a tax hit. One person stands between him and reelection next year, and that’s State Rep. Chris Caruso. For all the political meowing about the mayor I see  no one on the horizon who can step up as a serious threat beyond Caruso. The black community talks about finding a candidate because of dissatisfaction with the mayor over a variety of issues. Okay, who could that be? What candidate has the stature, money and political support to pose a serious threat? I don’t see one. There’s a movement to find a “black candidate.” The more black community political operatives hammer home that myopic message the greater the challenge to find a compelling candidate. That strategy does nothing more than split a community, especially one that has not, after all these years, coalesced with the Latino community. Former State Senator Ernie Newton? Ernie’s plotting a political comeback after several years in the joint, but I see him going for his former state senate seat in a few years, not a futile effort for mayor.

As for the Latinos, one name that pops up is State Rep. Andres Ayala who also served as City Council president during the John Fabrizi years. Andres is unknown outside his East Side state rep district. That doesn’t mean he cannot build his stature, but that takes lots of work and money. Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez had acted like a candidate taking the mayor to task on Freedom of Information requests and living conditions at P.T. Barnum Apartments. Talk to Carmen’s closest friends and they say she’s not going to play. And even if she were interested what’s Carmen’s fund-raising ability?

Can Johnny Fabs make a comeback? Not without a coalition to put it together for him. Fabs has always relied on the political process to create opportunities for him. He doesn’t have the fire in the belly to create his own. His strategy is to hang around, hope Finch implodes and the party runs into his wide-open arms. That’s not going to happen. Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa has told him you had your time.

For all the fun I’ve had about a Joe Ganim comeback, Joe’s priority is his family. He’ll readjust on the family compound in Easton and and get his life back together after a long prison sentence. Could his brother Probate Judge  Paul Ganim make a play? Paul, who is up for reelection this year, has a safe seat. Why give that up unless it’s a sure thing? Rules of conduct for probate judges do not allow an incumbent to maintain the seat while seeking office for another so unlike other elected positions it would not be a free run for Paul.

So that leaves Caruso. What makes Caruso a threat? Super popularity in his legislative district, citywide name recognition and the ability to pounce on issues such as Jodi’s Jail. Money? Caruso doesn’t need as much dough as unknown challenge candidates. He’s run for mayor against Fabs and Finch and each time came close. Caruso is an establishment fighter. The business community doesn’t like him. Nor the editorial board of the Connecticut Post. They think he’s narrow-minded. Can Caruso buff a message that appeals to a broader audience?

Does this mean we’ll not see a large field for mayor next year? We could see several candidates. Unclear who they’ll be.

The mayor will have lots of loot for his reelection. If I’m Finch I say come take a dip with me, plenty of room in the pool. Why? The bigger the field the more the anti vote is split in a primary. Used to be the Republican candidate was ready to pounce in the general election beneficiary of a party split. No more. Zzz zzz Zzz zzz Zzz zzz! Local GOP is in a rebuilding state if you can call it that.

Labor Secretary Visit

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Congressman Jim Himes this afternoon will visit The WorkPlace Inc., a job training and placement center downtown partially funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Solis and Himes will tour the center’s facilities, interact with job seekers, and discuss training and employment opportunities in the renewable energy, weatherization, construction and retrofit industries.

The WorkPlace Inc. administers workforce development funds and coordinates providers of job training and education programs to meet the needs of residents and employers in southwestern Connecticut. www.workplace.org.

Himes had weekend constituent meetings to address flood issues. www.doingitlocal.com caught up to him and some noisy folks in Darien unhappy about the health care bill. Jimmy could have slipped out the back door. Ouch.



  1. *** If indeed the state does not approve an extension next year (election year) and the city has to come up with that obligation money, etc. Finch & the council will have to raise taxes starting July 1st “2011”. This year they’ll just break even with the budget & 5% across the board in city government cuts but election year might prove quite interesting. *** “Time will tell.” ***

  2. Lennie you are right on the money. There are no viable candidates other than Caruso at this point. The only person who has made any waves has been Carmen Lopez but I think her temper will hurt her if she decides to run. Most of the black politicians work for the city and with the Finch administration’s reputation for firing people who disagree with them who would want to take a year’s vacation without pay to run for mayor?
    The Republican party in this city is dead. They just refuse to lay down. I anticipate them coming up with a no-name candidate 6 months before the election just to make a token appearance.
    What pisses me off is I have only 2 choices for mayor as I see it today, Finch who I don’t like and Caruso who I have not agreed with in the past.
    My suggestion to Caruso is get a platform and stop with the unnamed corruption. Tell us what you are going to do about a 62 or 68% dropout rate. Tell us what you will do about the illegal student housing that is widespread in this city (just found a student rental home here in the upper East Side). Tell us how you are going to build a working relationship with city employees and together bring this city back. Tell us how you will not willy-nilly fire employees that don’t always agree with you. Tell us how you will get businesses to relocate and even stay in Bridgeport, it’s obvious Finch does not have a clue. Tell us how you will use UB students as interns. I guess what I am saying to Caruso is have a platform that will give people hope.

  3. “Could his brother Probate Judge Paul Ganim make a play? Paul has a safe seat. Why give that up unless it’s a sure thing?”

    I’m pretty sure the judge of probate spots are up in even-numbered years, so Ganim wouldn’t have to resign to run. All he’d have to fear would be retribution from the DTC, and he probably wouldn’t even really have to fear that.

  4. Chris Caruso needs to be a coalition builder. There are enough groups of angry citizens out there. Caruso needs to bring them together in a united front against Finch. Take the former employees: Joe Minopoli, Marian Evans, John Gomes, Mike Lupkas. They have nothing to lose at this point and would love to help bring Finch down. The black ministers have been totally disrespected. Judge Lopez and Marilyn Moore are angry. That’s just a sampling of people who are disgusted with this administration. Can you imagine if all these folks united behind Caruso?

  5. If the current mayor is alienating the Black and Puerto Rican communities all they would have to do is find a candidate sympathetic to their needs. Not necessarily a Black or Puerto Rican. Those who can count and know that by the numbers these two communities represent the majority of Bridgeport voters should be lining up to garner that support as of yesterday.

  6. Hector you know as well as I do chances of that happening are very slim at best. These two sides don’t really get along and there is too much macho bullshit involved so the vote would be split.

    1. If it’s a “MACHO” thing then let us let the women decide. There are enough bi-racial babies/children to erase whatever differences we may have. If we can learn to love together, we should be able to learn to live together. When we realize what hurts one of us hurts all of us together we can find the remedies. Maybe this mayoral election will serve as the platform to jumpstart this type of thinking. Esp. after all the hurt P.T. fire, taxes, Health directors firing, loss of jobs etc. etc. Whoever the next mayor is they will have to convince the voters the concerns of the citizens of Bridgeport far outweigh those of the people they have been trying to market/sell Bridgeport to.

  7. So it looks like the campaign for mayor is getting underway and the same mistakes appear to have started.

    We’re looking at coalition builders, rather than candidates with qualifications.

    A mayor needs to be a serious manager. He has to manage people with different skill sets for the benefit of the general public. What is important in a good police officer will be different than a capable office worker and/or administrator.

    A mayor has to understand contract negotiations. Knowing where can he afford to cut and where additions have to be made is important.

    A mayor has to be forward thinking. What does a mayor need to do to attract business and development to the city? The ultimate goal in this area is job creation. After all, without jobs, city residents won’t have the money to pay the taxes that pay the salaries and extensive health benefits of all the employees in town.

    It’s not an easy job. Coalition building is only the first step. After a candidate wins the office, what then?

    So when the candidates come knocking, voters need to determine if they can DO the job, not just WIN the job. There is a difference.

    1. There’s nothing wrong with building a coalition to win an election as long as you have a plan of action when you win. Finch had and still has no plan. He knows nothing about managing a diverse workforce; but he does know how to bully and intimidate. He knows nothing about contract negotiations; but he does know how to lie to the unions to get givebacks and then screw them by hiring and giving raises to his friends. He knows squat about economic development unless it’s that GREEN bullshit. Plain and simple, Finch and his administration suck and need to be replaced sooner rather than later. I for one will take my chances with Caruso or anyone else who runs. ABF (Anyone But Finch).

      1. Finch is now after one of the union presidents and has instructed Civil Service to test for his job. ONLY his job, not anyone else. If there were tests given for competence, we wouldn’t have Feeney, Nunn, Wood, Kabel or Osborne. In fact, we wouldn’t have Finch either.

  8. Gilmore has it right which is why Bridgeport always seems to get it wrong.

    Coalition building in Bridgeport means giving jobs to people that frequently are under-qualified and very often lazy and inept. Evidence abounds within the City Council, City Labor dept, etc. That’s how Mayors are elected and that’s how they administer the City.

    Nothing with the current administration has disproved this theory

  9. *** Good mayors in general do not take preschool courses or graduate from a mayor’s academy. They’re usually family-oriented, community-minded, common-sense middle-class people that have good ideas about bringing positive change to old city government ways that do not work anymore for whatever the reasons! They have done their homework, picked a team & made a plan that can adapt to unforeseen events along the way! And as time goes by & experience is gained, hopefully the ills of politics, money, power and greed do not overshadow the original good intentions & plans that were part of the original dream. Candidates may be chosen & elected for the city position but a good Mayor is actually made or broken while serving in office with their hand-picked team. *** Bpt. needs a few good men & women with commonsense that will surround themselves with a good team that strenghthens their weaknesses and listens to the community’s needs & concerns, draw a good sensible plan of action & move forward towards that mission without individual, selfish, political concerns! *** In Bpt’s case, that could be like looking for the “missing link?” ***


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