Congress Street Bridge, Plus: Big Vote, Big Budget, Bulldozer And Lori’s Loot

Weekend update: I received a call Friday afternoon from Congressman Jim Himes who left a message explaining that I was ahead of myself the other day when I questioned the whereabouts of the dough to replace the Congress Street Bridge which candidate Himes used in 2008 to highlight the city’s infrastructure woes.

Mea culpa noted here. The congressman and Mayor Bill Finch have scheduled a news conference for Monday morning at the foot of the bridge to announce the money has been secured to take it down. Himes noted that he’s spent a lot of time working to nail down funding for demolition. So kudos to Himes.

What’s the timeline for removal and replacement? Well, taking down the stuck-open bridge that had connected downtown with the East Side is a good start. More details coming on Monday.

News release from the congressman:

Himes Secures an Additional $8.5 million for Local Transportation, Education, and Public Safety Projects

WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) has secured an additional $8.5 million for federal investment in local projects with the passage of a comprehensive agreement between the United States House and Senate on remaining 2010 fiscal year spending bills. The bill passed the House yesterday and is expected to be taken up by the Senate over the weekend. The Consolidated Appropriations Act combines the appropriations bills for the Departments of Transportation, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services, and Commerce and the agencies related to spending in the areas of commerce, justice, science, military construction, financial services, and state and foreign operations.

“This funding for local community projects creates jobs and helps make our communities even better places to live, work, and raise a family,” said Congressman Himes. “These investments are an essential piece of my effort to turn the economy around and put us on a path toward economic stability.”

The Consolidated Appropriations Act increases funding for infrastructure, health, and education to create jobs immediately while investing in our local communities and workforce for the long term. It invests $1.4 billion in training and support services for workers impacted by mass layoffs and plant closures. To support small businesses – the engines of job growth in this country – it provides additional lending funds for firms having trouble borrowing capital in this market.

As part of our commitment to our veterans, this bill increases funding for services to the men and women who served our country–including increases for mental health services, health care in rural areas, and assistance to homeless veterans. It boosts funding for military construction in order to make sure our troops have all of the facilities they need to help keep our country safe. It also provides increased funding for state and local law enforcement to keep our communities safe here at home.

Local investments are listed below. For more information on individual projects, click here. The Congressman will hold local events highlighting the impact of key projects in coming months.

$500,000 for the Demolition of Congress Street Bridge
Bridgeport, CT

$2,435,000 for the Bridgeport Intermodal Transportation Center
Bridgeport, CT

$2,000,000 for the Stamford Urban Transitway
Stamford, CT

$250,000 for the construction of an affordable housing development
Darien, CT

Public Safety
$175,000 for In-Car Camera Technology Upgrade
State of CT, Dept of Public Safety

$900,000 for Family Re-Entry, Fresh Start Re-Entry Program
Norwalk, CT

$500,000 for the Courage to Speak Foundation
Norwalk, CT

$350,000 for the Lighthouse Afterschool Program
Bridgeport, CT

$700,000 for ABCD for its Total Learning Initiative
Bridgeport, CT

$100,000 for Voices of 9/11
New Canaan, CT

Health Care
$325,000 for Bridgeport Hospital facilities and equipment

BOE Vote

Okay class, the jockeying has begun for president of the Board of Education and three candidates are in play.

Veteran board members Bobby Simmons and Barbara Bellinger are involved in a three-way split with newcomer Leticia Colon who is Mayor Bill Finch’s first choice. Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa likes Simmons. Bellinger is a retired vice president of People’s Bank who has long been involved in a variety of city affairs.

The nine-member board is scheduled to choose officers Monday night. Could former City Councilman Pat Crossin step up as a compromise candidate? The mayor is looking to exert more control over the BOE, especially with the agency representing the biggest piece of the city budget with a critical budget cycle approaching. Colon is a disciple of South End District Leader Mitch Robles. Mitch and Mario haven’t been the best of buds since Mario became chair against the mayor and Mitch’s candidate nearly two years ago.

Sitting back and watching all of this is Superintendent of Schools John Ramos. What’s his future? Depends on the new BOE president.

Clean It Up

I had lunch at Two Boots on Fairfield Avenue Thursday afternoon. The city has the beginnings of a nice restaurant district that includes Two Boots, Épernay Bistro, Café Roma and Joseph’s Steakhouse. But that piece of downtown north of Fairfield Avenue on Main Street up to the connector/Bull’s Head is a mess. Not all of it, but most of it. The Shehan Center is nice, a couple of other buildings renovated, but in between so much of it is crap. And it’s been that way for how many decades? Why not condemn most of it, demolish it and make it development friendly. Yeah I know, lots of money is involved. And what do you do with the old Poli and Majestic theater? Well, why not start with the buildings that provide the least point of resistance?

I asked Nancy Hadley, former development director for the city, to provide some background and update regarding downtown properties. Nancy (thank you) writes …

1. The Ganim Administration used eminent domain and purchased most of the eastern side of Main Street, south of the Sheehan Center and Elderly housing for about $5 million in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Purpose was to replace the court facility on Golden Hill. The design was to be a court facility similar in size and shape to the Meriden State court complex. The buildings were to be two story spread out over that acreage. They then waited in the queue for the Court Administrator to decide it was Bridgeport’s turn for the design and construction money.

2. The Ganim Administration and BRBC Foundation conducted an RFP in 2002 – 2003 for the development of fifteen (15) of those properties on the eastern side of Main Street. Several developers responded. Eric Anderson/Urban Green Builders was chosen and approved by City Council.

3. The Arcade on Main Street was part of that RFP. The rest of the 14 properties assigned to Urban Green are on the eastern side of the street where Golden Hill and Main Street intersect.

4. In 2004 the Fabrizi Administration arrived. The Urban Land Institute was brought in to help figure out what Bridgeport needed to do to grow its tax base and strengthen its economic development future. The ULI report ( basically said that Bridgeport’s economic development and land use policies sucked and were detrimental to investment in the downtown. On the parking issue, over 11,000 parking spaces existed in the downtown in a hodgepodge collection of private lots and structures. The zoning regs required the development of an additional 1.5 parking spaces per one unit of residential/commercial. The development costs and cost of financing versus the market rents or sales prices left a huge gap if the developer needed to include that high level of parking. The state delegation couldn’t seem to get Bridgeport money from Hartford to fill the construction gap like was being done in New Haven, Hartford and Stamford. Bridgeport’s zoning regs made absolutely no sense.

5. They needed a complete overhaul to instill confidence that ‘pay to play’ was over.

6. Over $1 million was appropriated by the City in 2005 to do a complete comprehensive overhaul of the city’s master plan, economic development strategy, housing policy, zoning map and zoning regs. Neighborhood Revitalization Zones and a Downtown Task Force began their work to hit this issue from the macro level down to the neighborhood level and from the bottom up.

7. In 2005, while all this zoning rewrite stuff was going on, Eric Anderson got to work on the Arcade and decided to focus on buying the only two properties in the downtown that had their own structured parking; the City Trust block and 144 Golden Hill at the corner of Main Street. City Trust had a structured garage off John and Bank Street. 144 Golden Hill had a structured parking level off Golden Hill. Those three properties didn’t need additional parking to get a building permit. Remember, two of those three properties were outside the RFP. They had a shot at financing because they didn’t need additional parking. So, Eric Anderson got going while he was waiting for the City to fix its nutty land use policies and regs.

8. Fast forward five years later:

a. Eric Anderson and his partner Martin Ginsberg have completed the $32 million historic restoration of The Arcade. US BanCorp based in St Louis Missouri invested using New Markets Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits and $2.1 million from the State Bond Commission (note: the State’s investment was less than 10% of the Total Development Cost). Result: 23 apartments are fully occupied. The Main Street Pharmacy opened last week. The Pharmacy is now open and will deliver anywhere in Bridgeport. The Arcade Bar and Grill will open soon. The Arcade is now in lease-up. 144 Golden Hill is part of that financing package. The 44 apartments are 95% rented and the office space is now fully rented. The street level retail space is in rent-up. Come downtown and take a walk in the Arcade. It will knock your socks off.

b. Eric Anderson and his partner Martin Ginsberg have completed the $45 million first phase of The City Trust Block historic restoration. The City Trust and Liberty Bank buildings are open with a new glass atrium connecting the two. Wachovia Bank based in North Carolina invested using New Markets Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits and $3 million from the State Bond Commission (note: again, the State’s investment was less than 10% of the Total Development Cost). Result: 117 apartments over 95% occupied. The new restaurant, Amici Miei and CitiBank is in full operation. Tenants get room service!! Downtown now has an all-season patio. I am proud of living downtown. In the past 2 ½ years my electric including heat bill hasn’t gone over $80 per month thanks to the geo-thermal wells. Can’t beat that!

c. The remaining 14 properties on the eastern side of Main Street have been waiting for the final approval of the new zoning map and regs so the Downtown Village District regs become operational. Among many great things in that new DVD zone, the parking requirement will be reduced officially to 0.5:1 plus incentives to bring the parking requirement down to 0.2:1. No financing institution in their right mind would finance a new deal without the new zoning in place. Who thought that the PZC would take four long years to do what ULI recommended? I know I didn’t. I didn’t want those 14 RFP properties developed with a 1.5:1 parking requirement despite what the 2002 RFP stated. A sea of parking garages is not what Bridgeport’s downtown needs. We are a transit-oriented city. We need to act like it. So, the new regs take effect Jan 1, 2010. A subcommittee of the Downtown Task Force is now working with OPED to put together the draft ordinances that need to be passed by City Council to implement the parking/transportation mobility sections of the DVD.

d. The remaining 14 properties on the east side of Main Street have also been waiting for CHFA, GE MONEY and/or State Bond Commission action on the package. Eric Anderson and his partner/ investors have been in a bureaucratic and political struggle for three years trying to get to a pro-forma that makes sense. Earlier this summer, the latest round of CHFA financing awarded four projects in Stamford, one in Meriden and one in Avon.  Shortly after that meeting, CHFA started to process the Downtown North project paperwork in earnest. CHFA also finally awarded almost all of the $25 million in GE MONEY investment that had been sitting there for over two years. They funded two important Bridgeport projects, the Kuchma half constructed mixed-use building on the corner of Fairfield and Lafayette, and 333 State Street, the abandoned hulk at the entrance to Housatonic Community College. Great that CHFA finally decided to fund those two projects but the original deal was that $25 million from GE MONEY was going to be matched by $25 million from the State so Bridgeport could do $50 million in gap filling for downtown projects that would increase the tax base. No, that isn’t what happened but my mom taught me that beggars can’t be choosers.

Back to Main Street. They are still waiting for the gap filling financing assistance from the State. The marketing of the retail space at 144 Golden Hill at the corner of Main Street is very difficult with the crap that is on the other side of the street. I walk my dog up and down Main Street every day. I hate that side of the street.

Eric Anderson and Urban Green’s vision, bullheadedness, and force of nature brought City Trust, Arcade and 144 Golden Hill to reality. He has the biggest stake (around $80+ million with $5.1 million of state bonding to fill the gap) on the success of the eastern side of Main Street. It is Eric Anderson’s signature that is on the financing of City Trust, Arcade and 144. Look, I’m happy that the State just helped Stamford’s General Re, Hartford’s United Health Care and now Starwood Hotels in their efforts to move from White Plains to Stamford. The State helped them with tens of millions of dollars of state bond money. In my opinion it is way past time to help Bridgeport over the tipping point. Why fund $15 million for another juvenile detention center that does nothing for the tax base? I am all for finding $2 million in bond money to knock down the Congress Street Bridge but I want the projects that grow the tax base funded with bond money before they spend another $40+million to build a new Congress Street Bridge. REALLY! Fund the projects that the City wants and desperately needs that supports their sustainable/smart growth land use policies to grow the tax base and add jobs? As far as I am concerned there have been lots and lots of plans for Bridgeport’s developments (Magic Johnson, World Trade Center et al.) but it has been Ernie Trefz, Eric Anderson, Phil Kuchma and Mr. Carson at the former People’s Bank that have put their money where their mouths are and done something really incredible to help Bridgeport’s downtown. The eastern side of Main Street is waiting for the State to do their part.

9. What about the other properties that are not in the Urban Green Downtown North bundle? The balance that was supposed to be for that new State court house complex? I am told that the money that the State had appropriated to design the new court house complex was transferred to handle the overruns at the Juvenile Court and Detention center on Water Street. So, no design money and the properties, all owned by the city, are sitting there waiting for the State to agree to partner just like they have done in Stamford, New Haven and Hartford.

10. I think the DSSD has asked the Mayor to help demolish some of the buildings that are too far gone. I am not sure of the status but I think there is movement to clean that area up while we are waiting for the zoning and the state financing to happen.

11. As for the Poli and Magestic. Leave them just the way they are for now. There isn’t money and there isn’t a market.

12. As for the consolidation of city offices? Absolutely essential but instead of building a new government center with bond money, use the lease of the city offices as the catalyst for a private developer to attract financing to build a building that would house government offices as well as private uses. Again it’s all about growing the tax base and get more foot traffic in the downtown.

Lori’s Loot, From The Hartford Courant

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport in 2004 quietly paid tens of thousands of dollars to two men who claimed they were abused as teenagers by the second-highest ranking member of the diocese and another priest who now serves as pastor of a Greenwich parish.

In exchange for $20,000 payments, the two men agreed not to sue the diocese or the two priests — Monsignor William Genuario, who was vicar general of the Bridgeport diocese for nine years and remains a priest in good standing, and Monsignor Frank Wissel, pastor at St. Mary Parish in Greenwich and founder of a home for underprivileged boys in Bridgeport.

In a two-page settlement, a copy of which was obtained by The Courant, the diocese agreed to settled the “disputed claims” in order to avoid “the inconvenience, expense and uncertainty of litigation.” But Wissel on Thursday said that he was surprised to hear that the diocese paid any money for claims against him and that the allegations were “completely false.”

Michael Dolan, attorney for the diocese, wrote then that the $20,000 payments were designed to cover three years of weekly counseling and therapy for the men, at $125 a session. Nine days after signing the agreement, their checks — signed by Bishop William Lori — were issued.

The allegations make Genuario, who has been accused by victims of failing to act firmly on abuse complaints against other priests, the highest-ranking member of any diocese in Connecticut to be accused of abuse. They also raise questions about Lori’s handling of complaints and his assurance that all credibly accused priests were relieved of priestly duties.

Minneapolis attorney Jeffrey Anderson, who represents both victims, said Thursday they were shocked to learn that both Genuario and Wissel are still active in the ministry. He said the men were led to believe by church officials that wouldn’t be the case.

Get Your Bids In

The state needs moolah so the governor wants to sell off a bunch of properties including three parcels in Bridgeport. Hey, why not include the property on Virginia Avenue slated for a juvenile detention center? News release from the governor:

Governor Rell Identifies First Round of State Assets to Be Sold to Raise Cash

Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced the first round of state assets to be offered for sale in an effort to meet budget requirements and reduce the current budget deficit – a list that includes the Seaside Regional Center in Waterford and the former Nathan Hale Hotel site in Willimantic.

Other surplus properties the state plans to sell include a building at 7 North Street in Litchfield, the Bristol Armory and numerous small plots owned by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

The budget approved by the Legislature in September calls for raising $15 million from the sale of state assets in the first year of the budget and $45 million in Fiscal 2011. The budget does not identify the properties to be sold, leaving it to the Rell Administration to develop a list of surplus assets.

“This is a chance for the state to realize much-needed revenues and for residents, developers and others to buy prime property and other assets,” Governor Rell said. “These properties range from an outstanding waterfront location to dozens of spots owned by the DOT across the state. We must do all in our power to meet the goals of the budget and reduce the current-year budget deficit. Selling these parcels will bring in cash for the state without adding to the burdens on taxpayers or employers.

“The new budget passed by the Legislature has been in effect just a few short months but is already millions of dollars out of balance,” the Governor said. “My hope is that these asset sales will help prevent that problem from growing any worse – and perhaps even help to turn it around.

“This is only the first list of assets we intend to sell,” Governor Rell said. “We also have a special Web site – – where people can get all the details on the property, including information on how to make a bid. As we complete the appraisals and other technical details necessary to make additional state-owned assets ready for sale, more properties will be coming on the market in early 2010.”

The first list of assets to be sold includes:

•Seaside Regional Center, Waterford: Originally opened in the 1930s as the Seaside Sanitarium, it was reopened in 1959 as the Seaside Geriatric Center and redesignated in 1961 as the Seaside Center for the Mentally Retarded. Closed in 1996, it is a beachfront property near New London on Long Island Sound.

•Nathan Hale Hall (formerly the Nathan Hale Hotel), Willimantic: The building was built as a hotel in 1926 and converted to a college dormitory in 1969. It has been closed since 2001.

•7 North Street, Litchfield: This building is known as the old Litchfield Jail. Portions of the structure date to 1812.

•Bristol Armory, Bristol: Built in 1928, this is one of nearly 20 armories located around the state. The Military Department has indicated that as a result of its budget reduction plan and current force structure it no longer needs this armory.

•DOT properties: The DOT has identified more than 40 parcels of land – ranging from more than 2 acres in New Milford to as small a plot as 0.12 acres in Montville – that it is ready to sell. Additional parcels of DOT-owned land are expected to be offered in future rounds of asset sales.

Last week, the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) auctioned off surplus state heavy equipment, raising $432,900 on the sale of 202 items. The largest sale was a John Deere 544E Loader, which brought $17,750. In 2009, DAS has also five auctions of surplus automobiles, raising nearly $2.6 million.

A list of DOT properties to be sold is attached.

Hebron Rd – 1.17 acres

Albermarle Road – 0.58 acres
Albermarle Road – 0.48 acres
Central/Asher – 0.13 acres
Central/Gorham/Asher – 1.14 acres
Charter Avenue – 0.14 acres
Charter/Central/Asher – 0.44 acres
Charter/Central/Asher – 0.76 acres
Douglas Street – 0.25 acres
Gorham/Hillcrest/Asher – 0.45 acres
Gorham/Hillcrest/Asher – 1.39 acres
Hillcrest/Asher/Taft – 0.48 acres
Hillcrest/Asher/Taft – 1.28 acres
Maplewood Avenue 0.15 acres
Taft/Asher/Albermarle – 0.60 acres

Bozrah St Ext – 0.27 acres
Bozrah St Ext – 0.54 acres

Daisy Court – 0.07 acres
Myrtle Ave – 0.18 acres
West Ave – 0.21 acres

Route 31 – 0.63 acres

Division St – 0.20 acres

Route 77/Mica Hill – 0.52 acres

North-East Side of Route 2 – 1.65 acres
North-East Side of Route 2 near Willowbrook – 0.21 acres

Route 59 – 0.15 acres

Route 32 – 0.20 acres
Route 32 – 0.50 acres

Ferris Dr – 0.54 acres

Route 630/Preston Rd – 0.23 acres

Route 184 – 0.31 acres

Old Chester Rd – 1.37 acres

Route 138 – 0.31 acres

1080 Bridgeport Ave – 0.46 acres
2 Pearl Hill St – 0.15 acres
North-East Side of Clark St – 0.44 acres

Route 32 – 0.12 acres

Maple Hill Ave (east side) @ Robbins Ave (south side) – 0.49 acres

376 Danbury Rd – 2.18 acres

Route 7 @ Elm St – 0.09 acres
Martin Luther King – 0.13 acres

Essex Rd – 0.65 acres

Route 2/Ross Rd – 1.92 acres

Sayle Ave – 1.80 acres

Oakdale Rd – 0.16 acres

John Fitch Blvd – 0.04 acres

I-395 – 0.54 acres

Route 8 – 0.35 acres
Route 111/15 – 1.66 acres

Route 30 – Hartford Tpke – 0.57 acres

Austin Rd – 0.11 acres

Dayton Rd – 0.32 acres
Vauxhall St Ext – 0.14 acres

461 North Main St – 0.33 acres

Lee Lane – 0.36 acres

News release from Barnum Museum

A Tradition continues … the annual reading of “The Night Before Christmas” by Mayor Bill Finch’s wife

Tuesday at The Barnum Museum

On Tuesday, December 15 at 11:00 a.m., Sonya Finch, wife of the Mayor of Bridgeport Bill Finch, will continue the time honored tradition at the Barnum Museum of reading “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore to children from the Housatonic Community College Early Childhood Lab School. Mrs. Finch has extended an invitation the general public to bring their young children for this special occasion.

The museum is decorated now through January 9, 2010 with the fantastic “Celebrate the Season” displays that interpret the evolution of the Christmas season. The period rooms are decorated for the holidays in styles reflective of the 19th Century, detailing how Christmas actually came to be a tradition in American society. Trees of various styles are representative of a range of years from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

What: Sonya Finch reads a holiday classic tale to children

When: Tuesday, December 15 at 11:00 a.m.

Where: The Barnum Museum, 820 Main Street, Bridgeport, CT 203-331-1104 Cost: Adults: $7, Seniors and college students: $5, Children 4 – 17: $4, Under 4: Free. The reading and tours of the Victorian displays are free with General Admission.

Regular Barnum Museum Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.,

Sunday, Noon – 4:30 p.m.

News release from Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition

Bridgeport Residents Share Their Pain

“Feel our pain,” Bridgeport residents told their legislators. Intent on describing the problems they confront in their daily lives, Bridgeport residents faced their legislators at the annual Bridgeport Children’s Issues Forum.

The Forum was presented by Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, BCAC. It was held December 8, 2009, at Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport.

More than 100 people attended the Forum. Five of Bridgeport’s 8 legislators were present: Rep. Andres Ayala, Rep. Chris Caruso, Senator Ed Gomes, Rep. Auden Grogins, and Rep. Jack Hennessy.

This annual forum is an opportunity for Bridgeport legislators to report on the outlook at the state level and discuss what they will do to support Bridgeport’s children and families. It is also a time for community members to demonstrate their support for the critical issues affecting children and families.

This year’s discussion focused on major topics in education, health care, and safety net. The state budget and plans for the budget deficit mitigation were hot topics as well.

BCAC Chairwoman Frances Newby told the attendees, “The Forum presents an opportunity for legislators to commit to actively working together – as they did last year – to improve education, health care and safety net services for Bridgeport’s children.”

Newby welcomed the legislators and the audience members. Rev. Anthony Bennett, past chair of BCAC and pastor of Mount Aery Baptist Church, also welcomed participants.

Barbara Edinberg, Acting Director of BCAC, said, “Tomorrow is the Appropriations Committee hearing on the deficit mitigation plan. It is more important than ever that we keep the issues so important to children on the radar screen and that we protect critically needed health, early care, education, and safety net services for struggling families.”

Edinberg concluded, “The state cannot afford to be short-sighted – cutting may save some dollars today but we will pay in the long-term.”

After introductions, audience members who sat in five circles of around two dozen people each, devoted fifteen minute time segments to discussion with one of the legislators. Each time segment was devoted to one of the priority issues. Audience members shared their personal stories of hardship with the legislators.

One woman from Bridgeport described the suffering in her family since her husband lost his job last year. With the job loss, the family also lost health insurance. Now the family has to decide whether a visit to the doctor is important enough to risk getting behind on rent. She asked, “What do we do if one of us gets really sick? Will the emergency room be able to take care of us?”

Other parents and grandparents in the room asked legislators about funding for schools to help reduce overcrowding in classrooms. The legislators agreed to meet as a delegation to advocate for increased funding for Priority School Districts which include Bridgeport.

Still other participants talked about losing their jobs and needing to apply for state assistance for the first time.

All legislators present committed to meeting with the legislative leadership to prioritize budget cuts and try to minimize the impact on children.

The state budget deficit weighed heavily on the minds of legislators and audience members alike. The legislators said they welcomed input from parents and other community members as they face difficult decisions.

Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition (BCAC) is a coalition of organizations, parents, and other concerned individuals committed to improving the well-being of Bridgeport’s children through research, advocacy, community education and mobilization.

 From Linda McMahon’s campaign:

Linda’s upstart campaign to end business as usual in Washington and put people back to work is gaining momentum, and it is being fueled equally by growing support among Connecticut voters and impressive reviews by state and national political analysts.

Ten days after announcing 22 first-round endorsements, Linda today released a second round. We are thrilled to announce the support of four Greenwich Republican leaders:

•Peter Tesei, Greenwich First Selectman
•Tod Laudonia, Greenwich Tax Collector
•Dave Theis, Greenwich Board of Selectmen
•Peter Crumbine, Former Greenwich Selectman

As GOP leaders and activists across Connecticut continue to gravitate toward Linda, her growing momentum is reflected in public polling. The latest Rasmussen Reports Poll shows Linda has increased her lead over Chris Dodd, and now leads him 44% to 38%.

Linda’s momentum is being noticed by national media. FOX News’ Sean Hannity this week remarked on his show: “She’s outpolling Dodd.” Pollster Frank Luntz responded, “She’s going to do a smackdown” on Dodd.

Respected publications in Washington D.C., this week made clear her campaign is the one to watch. “She’s got the right stuff,” reports National Journal adding that “the first-time candidate is getting good reviews.” The Hill reports that Linda “is quickly becoming the frontrunner in Connecticut’s GOP Senate primary.” And despite Rob Simmons’s non-stop, shameless, negative attacks on Linda, respected Washington Post analyst Chris Cillizza believes Linda will be “hard to caricature.”

Meantime, there are signs that Rob Simmons’ vote-getting effort to redefine himself as a conservative may be floundering. Columnist Amanda Carpenter this week let the cat out of the bag regarding one of the worst-kept secrets among conservatives both in Connecticut and nationally: Simmons isn’t who he claims to be.

In a blurb titled, “Tea Party poser?” Carpenter writes in The Washington Times: “… past positions may come back to haunt Rob Simmons in the Republican primary against Linda McMahon. Mr. Simmons has modeled himself as a movement conservative, even brandishing tea bags and a copy of his pocket Constitution during stump speeches, but his voting record as a member of Congress will give the ‘tea party’ crowd pause.”

Carpenter goes on: “As a member of Congress, Mr. Simmons was a co-sponsor of the House’s ‘cap and trade’ bill and the Employee Free Choice Act, called ‘card check’ by its opponents. These two pieces of legislation are vehemently opposed by the free-marketers who drive the tea party movement.”

Today, as national news outlets report Congress is set to increase the federal debt limit by an astonishing $1.8 trillion, many fiscal conservatives are no doubt troubled to learn that Rob Simmons twice voted to raise the federal debt ceiling — once by $450 billion and once by $800 billion.

Linda’s consistent and principled opposition to job-killing initiatives like Card Check and federal debt increases is bringing into focus the clear contrast between her and her opponents.



  1. I think for the Mayor to push Colon or Crossin is a slap in the face to the incumbents. Bellinger would be the best choice as an HR Exec, however Simmons would also be a great choice as the Senior incumbent.

    Pushing Colon for BOE Prez is a BIG MISTAKE. She is clueless and would most likely use her position to benefit her employer Lud Spinelli/Optimus Healthcare, the operator of School Based Health Clinics … Talk about conflicts of interest.

    1. This is one battle that I hope Mario wins. Leticia has a definite conflict of interest with her employer running the on-site health clinics in the BOE. But this administration doesn’t care about conflicts of interest, obviously. Look at some of the inappropriate “relationships” in City Hall.

  2. As for the vacant buildings in downtown … The section near Golden Hill across from the theaters with wood panels painted green are envisioned for the “Government Center” Finch talked about, press conferenced the hell about, and has yet to do shit about … Maybe with the Annex tenant-free, he’ll finally keep his promise about putting that property on the market … Or maybe that was just another Press Release …

    Either way, even if he decides to finally start working on this, he won’t be around to finish it and enjoy it … He is done in 2011, that’s for sure …

    Also, he should start cleaning up Bridgeport before it gets to the slum levels it was at before … More and more vacant properties attracting graffiti, blight and crime. And where are those walking sweepers he promised to bring back? I guess that was just another press release and promise to look good …

    1. Say what you want about Joe Ganim, but if he were still mayor, those blighted properties would be razed and beautiful parks would be in their place. Sure, Ganim and friends would get a little kickback but the city would look a lot better.

        1. BARF, these are abandoned and blighted properties. There are no taxes being collected on them now and no one waiting in the wings to buy them and even take them for free. At least remove the eyesores and make downtown more welcoming.

  3. Lennie, your comment “Clean It Up” is well taken.

    “… that piece of downtown north of Fairfield Avenue on Main Street up to the connector/Bull’s Head is a mess. Not all of it, but most of it.”

    I have been thinking of this dead area of downtown, especially during all the commercial changing zoning requests by developers in tranquil north end.

    The Majestic Theater, also in area, should be restored with stimulus money. Has anyone asked for this? I mean if there was ever a time to push to get more funding for renewal in Bridgeport, it is now. The Klein Center is going strong, now need push for downtown events, would bring needed foot traffic for businesses.

    After all, they finally got such money for our broken Congress St. Bridge we’ve spoken of for a year on our TV program including when Himes was on the show. And finally this going to happen, Himes is making good on his word. I am not going to say we contributed to getting the bridge fixed.

    This press release came out of Himes’ office today …

    – Himes, Finch, ConnPIRG to Hold Press Conference on Federal Funding for Congress Street Bridge –

    WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4), Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, and representatives from the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group will hold a press conference on Monday to announce funding to demolish the Congress Street Bridge.

    Earlier this year, the City of Bridgeport obtained partial funding for the bridge’s demolition from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and appropriations funding approved Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives will provide the resources necessary to move forward with the project. ConnPIRG will also highlight a study encouraging continued investment in the many unsafe bridges across Connecticut, including completion of the Congress Street Bridge replacement.

  4. Let’s think out loud here: Opened around 1925, closed around 1975. That’s 25 from 75, that’s 50.

    OK, 75 from 2010, uh, let’s call it 110, that’s, oh — 75 from 95 is 20. Add another 10, that’s 30. OK, 2005 to 2010 is five. That’s 35. Yeah right, 35 years. No wonder I can’t balance a checkbook.

    OK, so the Majestic and Poli were active for 50 years and have been closed for 35 years. From somewhere in the late ’60s to when they closed, they showed crap. The hotel was a fleabag. OK, the food wasn’t so bad for awhile at the restaurant.
    The building was an asset until redevelopment destroyed Downtown by the mid-1960s. The theaters have been crap since … that adds 10 years before they closed to the 35 since they closed, to give us 45 years when the building was a dog. This subtracts 10 years from the building as an asset to Bridgeport from 50 years to 40.

    So by Jackass Math (mine), the theaters have been a detriment to Bridgeport for five years longer, 45, than they were an asset, 40. Doesn’t matter, argue if you want, the theaters are a bigger anchor-mooring on the community with each passing year.

    The Berlin Wall only stood 28 years.

  5. I attended the BCAC forum Tuesday evening. It was encouraging to see a good number of people in attendance. I was also excited for the format where we were broken up into groups to allow discussion about the problems this city faces in education, healthcare and unemployment.

    However, I left a little disappointed. Everything came back to underfunding and the governor being at fault. But Bridgeport has always been underfunded, and this year everyone will be underfunded. The city delegation fights to make sure state aid isn’t cut every year. This year we know cuts are coming, so why not focus our energy on tossing around ideas on how to get through this?

    Attendees in the discussion provided a lot of useful pieces of information for the rest of the group. One person knew where your kids could get free flu shots. One person knew the details concerning welfare benefits and how long they will last. One brought this problem to light, while someone brought another. Many of these points were news to the other people (including the legislators).

    It was clear to me what was really needed at this forum was working to find ways to foster better communication amongst the public. Instead of hoping for the state to spare Bridgeport, people needed to focus on helping each other more than ever.

    It reminded me of a couple years ago when a parent from Black Rock School was telling me they were trying to buy some textbooks and supplies for the school. They were having trouble getting the funds together, but thought they may able to, if they partnered with some of the city schools that were buying the same things. Buy more in bulk and reduce the price for everyone. There just wasn’t that level of communication and cooperation between schools.

    At the end of the forum, all the legislators of course supported all the different petitions, which said don’t cut funding in different forms. The legislators were going to anyway. I’d encourage BCAC to think about sponsoring another forum (possibly a longer one over the course of a weekend) to discuss how we can better use what we are going to get and how we can help one another.

  6. OIB Party flashback–

    To: C.C. aka black rock real estate authority first seen at Cap’ns Cove

    I apologize, I’m sorry, I was wrong. I might have an excuse but I do not have a reason.

    Repeat: I was wrong.

  7. I always wanted to see the Poli & Majestic shows put into use in one fashion or another. I thought (that was a mistake) that it would make a great location for a school for the performing arts.
    I now believe that this is never going to happen. I believe this building should be torn down. Tearing them down will give whoever is mayor one less thing to BS us about.
    Every mayor for the past 35 plus years has toured this site and said we need to save this property. Every mayor has done bupkus to make this a reality.
    Downtown is like an inoperable hemorrhoid. There are times it makes you feel good but most of the time it is a pain in the ass filled with false promises and no follow-through.

  8. *** Palace & Majestic theaters along with the entire block should be knocked down & cleaned up. The city is never going to find anyone interested in spending the type of money needed to fix that area up into anything worthwhile. *** Bob Simmons should be the next BOE president not ex-councilpersons with conflicts of interest or ? scams while on the city council in the past, enough of the B/S. *** Dodd must go & he can take the W.W.E. Queen with him! *** What’s with the $25 million given to the city for a 1st time homeowners program, where those on the list get help & first crack @ buying foreclosed properties in Bpt. to get them back on the tax rolls? *** B.C.A.C. discussion forum was the same as usual when it comes to talking on how to solve Bpt’s problems; blame everybody else “except” the local politicians (city, state & fed.) and the “political parties” & “voters” that keep these do-nothings in power! *** City unions will never have the political power they once had when more employees actually lived in Bpt. They’re too busy taking care of themselves first, let alone the dues-paying membership. *** FORGETABOUTIT ***

  9. Unfortunately, you guys are right about the Majestic & Poli theaters. I spoke with someone who is in the know about this business and he said that in order to make the theaters viable you have to have easy rear access loading docks. That means someone would have to purchase the church property behind the theaters for that access. I doubt that is going to happen. I imagine a little “lightning” as struck the old train station will occur at some time in the future and that will remedy the situation.

  10. Call me hard, but I don’t think the google-ized news of Bridgeport for Dec 12 is so bad.

    I was concerned for the little feller in this Conn Post story. Sounds like something I could have done:

    BRIDGEPORT — Hands down, a 6-year-old boy got the lesson of his young life Friday at the downtown bus depot. It happened when his hand and wrist got trapped in the coin chute of a change machine.

    Fire Capt. Luis Rivera said rescue personnel were called to the station about 12:15 p.m. after the boy got stuck up to his wrist in the change-making device.

    “His little hand was really stuck in there,” Rivera said.

    A Greater Bridgeport Transit supervisor unlocked the machine, he said, “but the little guy’s hand was still stuck in the intricate machinery.”

  11. *** BOE admin. leaders are especially fearful of Bob Simmons becoming BOE president; why, because he knows numbers & has always been an advocate against overspending & mismanagement in general. So look for the “usual” do as I say type of voting, instead of doing the “right thing” as individuals with a brain & backbone! *** Dodd’s time is up & any voters that have even a little political knowledge concerning his record in general would agree that it’s time for a change! *** Construction continues @ the Aquaculture School site where 4 years ago after the city buying the small acre of land from Captain’s Cove it was discovered that the site was “very” contaminated! Cost to clean up, very expensive so things were put on hold. So in 4 years what’s happened @ that site that now makes it “good to go”? *** Also $25 million dollars grant from the Fed. stimulus package awarded to Bpt. for a 1st-time home buyers program, that was over a year ago? The director of Economic Development I believe was to take charge & get the ball rolling on this city program, people are still waiting? *** I believe “2010” is the first year to start coming up with the “$” for the Police & Fire Depts. contract agreements as well as the new extra monies for the city libraries, should be very interesting! *** Oh, big thanks to Congressman Himes who has stepped up to the plate since becoming a freshman (Fed.) Rep. & has delivered big time on many items that have been on the city & state’s wishful thinking “to-do” list for many years; and I voted for Shays! *** Time to get back to basics, but the only way of doing that is to educate the voters on the “real political facts” & not promote a candidate. Let the records speak for themselves, then maybe voters will vote for the best qualified individuals instead of a political party! Voter’s “political record facts” education & registration drive instead of trying to promote a particular candidate. *** Don’t just settle for the same old stuff, write, e-mail, phone, sign up for public speaking, anything that legally gets people’s attention & voice your concerns in “2010”. Make getting involved #1 of your new year’s resolutions! *** Lennie, where’s all the other pictures from the shindig? *** Time will tell all. ***

  12. I agree with Nancy Hadley on most of what she says; however I disagree with her on a few items.
    1. The Congress Street bridge needs to be rebuilt. At the present time it cuts the city in half.
    2. The Poli & Majestic need to be demolished. They have stood vacant for over 35 years and they are an eyesore. They will never be developed.
    The downtown area is so rife with political BS I am surprised anything got done at all. Congrats to Mr. Anderson.

  13. A little off point but important nonetheless:

    Over here in Black Rock there are more than a few neighborhood grocery stores, the kind of business that is called a bodega in New York City. One of them, Nick’s Grocery, on the corner of Fairfield Avenue and Fox Street, has taken to charging sales tax on food items. This is a big no-no, as is charging sales tax and deposit on a paper carton of orange juice. (Last I knew, the paper cartons get thrown out, not returned for deposit.)

    1. Kid,
      In CT, as in most states, prepared food items are subject to the sales tax, while non-prepared items are exempt. So if you buy a sandwich, it’s taxed, but if you buy cold cuts and rolls, they’re not. If he’s taxing food that should be exempt, I’d turn him in. But he might just be following the law.

  14. ***Well I guess more holiday &/or any other OIB gathering pictures will be a great way of showing other bloggers just what a great time they’re missing by not attending! It also allows some bloggers an opportunity to match a face with a web handle which could come in rather handy in times of needed routine disciplinary action! *** Time will tell all. ***


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