Compromise On Ethics Bill Blows Up, Plus: The Politics Of The Budget

Republican Gov. Jodi Rell and Democratic legislators thought they reached a compromise to revoke future pensions of public officials caught in scandalous acts, but Republican leaders don’t believe the bill is tough enough. The bill would not apply retroactively. So the pensions of John Rowland and former State Sen. Ernie Newton would be safe.

Details of the bill were still being worked out this afternoon with a possible vote tonight. State Rep. Chris Caruso had been on a one-man Jihad the past few days for the bill to be made retroactive, but constitutional issues created concerns for a number of lawmakers. The U.S. Constitution states you cannot pass a law to punish someone retroactively. The bill, as currently drafted, would give a superior court judge the power to revoke pensions.

In a statement today Rell said, “This is a victory for clean government and really, a victory for our citizens. This bill represents the hard work of both chambers and I appreciate the leadership of the lawmakers involved in forging this compromise. Our government works best and accomplishes the most when it leaves partisan rancor behind and listens instead to the will of the people. These are reforms that the people of Connecticut have long awaited and rightfully demand. These are common-sense measures that will apply to all. They represent the finest tradition of public service doing what is right, for the right reasons.”

Why do I get the feeling that Caruso will have a different point of view?

Slammin’ traffic day on OIB Tuesday. With more than 1,500 page views it was the second highest passenger day eclipsed only by the night Democratic Town Chairman Mario Testa won back his old job last month.

By the way, I just learned that OIB won the Fairfield County Weekly’s “Best Of” in the blog category. Thank you, everyone. I’m open to suggestions for our next party. How about Captain’s Cove in early May? First round on me!

Okay, so what’s going on today? A little thing called a public hearing for a big thing called the Bridgeport municipal budget that takes a Doberman’s bite out of library staff, school-based health clinics and your wallet. I wonder how many different groups will show up at the city council chambers at 6 p.m.?

Mayor Bill Finch’s first budget isn’t making anyone happy and in fairness to him he was put in a tough spot by the budget he inherited from his predecessor Johnny Fabs. Bridgeport school officials are not happy with the proposed budget, but that goes with the territory. Board of Education President Max Medina is an OIB reader so I hope he’ll share his insight about the difficulties of this budget-making process.

City council members, knowing they must face voters next year, (mayor enjoys a four-year term, council a two year) will be listening tonight and examining the budget to see what they can replace, save and cut. Just how many lock votes Finch has for the budget is unclear. The mayor does have veto power over the budget, but that will not come, if Finch decides to use it, until much later in the budget process.

The relationship between the mayor and council appears reasonable but hardly cozy, and the difficulty of this budget is weighing heavily on the minds of council members contemplating higher office. Council member Rich Paoletto announced on Tuesday that he will not be challenging State Rep. Chris Caruso in an August primary. City Council President Tom McCarthy wants to challenge Republican State Sen. Rob Russo in November, but it looks like Big Mac is leaning against it in part because this budget is a beast. And even if Big Mac jumps into the race he might be facing a primary from Trumbull Town Treasurer Anthony Musto who is expressing a desire to run.

After the way Russo croaked Tom Mulligan in the special election for state senate in March there is a sense among some Trumbull pols to pick one of their own. Mario Testa will have a say in this, but he’ll need a strong candidate in Bridgeport to take out Russo.



  1. MaxMedina is part of the problem along with the other robber barons we elected to the Board of Education. You just keep asking and asking and spending and spending with lousey results. How many of the retired administrators have they hired/ Why did they allocate money for the local high school basketball teams to play in the arena( We need this). You built all of these schools and you are now crying that you need more tradesman one would think the opposite would be true.You spent $100,000 on a parents ed center on Boston Ave and it sat there for 4 years with nothing getting done and noone knowing why? You perform a forenic audit and make the corrections they will cite and I will become a supporter until then I dont trust you and think your like the person in a movie show that yells fire. I will be leading the charge to have you all chellenged in the next election.

  2. Maybe I will vote for this budget…


    waah! waah! I want to vote against the budget RIGHT NOW!!! waah! waah! Why can’t I? waah! waah! Caruso didn’t win and make me OPM Director! waah! waah!

    GOT YOU!

  3. This is just really sad. This situation with the schools is a catastrophe. Kids are going to have to keep switching schools, the classroom sizes are going to stay overcrowded. I’ve tutored in Bridgeport and teachers just don’t have a chance to help these kids succeed with such big classrooms and no supplies. This has just gone too far and a line has to be drawn.

    I have to believe now the money for a forensic audit of the BOE will be approved in Hartford. With a situation like this one, there should be an outcry if it isn’t. And if that audit comes back and shows serious mismanagement in the BOE, some heads need to roll. Those officials have been on that board for plenty of time to start getting better results and things have only gotten worse. And now they’re threatening to shut down schools if they don’t get even more money added to their huge budget, when they could definitely find 5 million dollars in their wasteful ways.

    I’ve voted Republican in Bridgeport for a few years, and I just don’t understand how you couldn’t now. I know this site is mainly Democrats and I just don’t understand what it would take for you to switch your vote. Now they’re messin’ with your kids and that’s still not enough? What would it take? Punching your mother in the face? If they have the audacity to continue their ways at the sacrifice of children, they just don’t care about your vote at all. They know they’ll still get it in November, so they can just get away with this. So sad.

  4. Big City; Dont get discouraged this may seem like a Democratic site but if you read all of the past blogs finch has not been given a pass. the problem with the republican party is that they never put up a viable candidate and you never hear from their leadershi(???) until its election time. if there was a viable republican candidate he would be having a field day with what has been going on in the Finch Administration. But as usual nothing has been said by any of their leaders.
    The BOE has run these same scare tatics every budget year. I challenge them to do what they claim they will do without getting their full budget request. Who ever puts in a budget request for exactly what you need? Budgets are always high and cuts are anticipated by people that really understand budgets. Not the BOE according to them.

  5. I am totally sick and tired of this BOE punching holes in the budget. Greedy pigs, the more money they get the more money they keep crying for. An audit would make them show where they are spending all our tax dollars. Paying retirees as consultants and renting basketball courts when the schools already have them is just a big waste of money, but as long as the council keeps feeding this hand that bites us, they will continue doing the same damn thing forever.

  6. If it was up to Caruso, everything would be retroactive. The Democratic primary he lost for mayor in 2003 and then in 2007, and laws to suit his political revenge. What I want to know is, what’s he doing to bring back more loot to Bridgeport. Oh, it’s all about corruption, ain’t it.

  7. Hey Wondering, don’t paint all Republicans with the same, negative brush you use for Bridgeport’s RTC. Some of us might be a little more controlled with the rhetoric than you’d prefer but our disappointment, if not outright disgust, with Bridgeport’s dilemma(s) has certainly been made clear. Just go to the archives and read some of my posts.

    Frankly, I’d be hard pressed to outdo some of the mutimegaton insults (critique) you and Yahooy launch towards city hall. Great stuff! Besides, the next opportunity for real change is 3 1/2 years away. I’m both a pragmatist and a realist. And just torching this blog with observations about the obvious, isn’t going to make much difference between now and 2011. But if you come up with a way to FORCE some change and to implement practical solutions, I’m sure there are many who’re willing to get involved. I’ve tried, but it seems the mayor has lost my number.

    In the meantime, if you want to assign “party” accountability for Bridgeport’s problems, try starting with the Democrats. Last I checked, they’re at the helm… and at the controls.

  8. I understand what you are saying and the fault lies directly with the democrats no question. I was not trying to lay it anywhere else. The Republican party can not expect to win seats or the mayors position by being quiet and waiting until a few months before the election. time and time again they have done that and have walked away empty. I dont mean talking on this blog but talking at the budget hearings council meetings and to the press ( I know thats hard to get their attention) but how does a heavily democratic city get to know the otherside of the coin.
    The last candidate offered up Bill Garrett really did not have a handle on the city or its problems. The two aldermanic candidates were not known by the people in the neighborhood they were seeking election in.
    Its a monumental effort that I believe ( right or wrong )
    should start now.
    The last Republican council person lost in Black Rock because there was noone to advise her that a no vote on Steel Point was a waisted vote after the tally was in and this cost her the reelection. Sound political advise would have told her to vote yes or abstain so she would not give the opposition ammunition for the next days election

  9. Bruce-

    To be a Republican nowadays is to clearly identify with the right of center. The national party is amiss and no one man can change the fact that being a Republican stands for many things that Bridgeporters cannot stomach. State Republicans hate Bridgeport You know that and I know that.

    No one man will change this. There’s no more Goldwater, no more Chaffee anymore. The state party is about suburban (read: white) protectionism and the Dems aren’t that much better. The national GOP? Corrupt, embarassing, pathetic…

    Why continue to conform if you are a moderate. If a party takes a rightward shift and you are a moderate then break the mold…even if you piss off some yacht driving buddies of yours. The Republican Party locally is in shambles.

    Don’t begin our journey with a tremendous weight around your neck. Think Bloomberg…not Torres, Garrett, etc. If you are fiscal conservative then think about how much more money you would need to expend just to get folk in Bridgeport to change their ideas about Republicans post-Bush, Cheney.

    You are too good of a businessman to not realize this.

  10. Yahooy,

    Thanks for the defense/compliment. How’d you know I was a member of the Mickey Mouse Club? Did you by any chance graduate from St. Ann’s in ’58?


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