Education Politics: As Voters Itch, Mitch Does Switch

If you think screaming at a public hearing doesn’t matter, the recent machinations involving the Board of Education will set you straight. A few weeks ago it was a lock. Roosevelt School in the South End and Dunbar School in the East End, among the worst performing schools in the state according to state and BOE officials, were slated for closure. It was done, no turning back, a lock. Well, someone picked the lock to reopen the schools. Come September, they’ll be open. The reversal is a study in how governmental reform collides with pragmatic politics.

A few weeks ago a noisy gathering of parents showed up at a Board of Education meeting with signs, with lungs, with rhetorical glare suggesting institutional racism was behind the school closures. What about Black Rock School with all those fancy pants?

Underneath the sheets politics come into play. Example: The South End where District Leader Mitch Robles holds court. Bridgeport politics is divided into 10 districts with 10 individual leaders. Robles, arguably, has the tightest turnout operation. The candidates Mitch supports have a habit of winning. That’s because Mitch has schmoozed a loyal following of voters he can count on. When he needs them they’re there. When they need him, he steps up. That’s how it works. Well, Mitch heard the call–don’t close our friggin’ school–and did the switch. Mitch ran for cover, Mayor Bill Finch ran for cover, and as a result some BOE officials did the same. “This is not the time to piss off voters. We need them in the gubernatorial primary, and we need them in the mayoral primary next year.” So now, when Mitch needs their votes to deliver his candidates he can say to his peeps when they wanted to close the school I said no. The school remains open.

BOE bean counters must look at other areas to cover the savings they thought they had with Roosevelt and Dunbar shut down. Today is July 1, a new budget year. Layoff notices will go out to some teachers, teachers aides, etc. So it goes.

From State Elections Enforcement Commission:


HARTFORD, CT—June 30, 2010 – Today the State Elections Enforcement Commission awarded the first grant to a publicly financed candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

Meeting in a regular session to review 7 grant applications, the Commission unanimously voted that Nancy Wyman’s candidate committee had satisfied the legal requirements to qualify for a grant of $375,000 for the primary election.

Wyman is Malloy’s running mate for the 2010 elections, and on June 3rd Malloy also qualified for a grant from the Citizens’ Election Program.

The 2010 elections are the first regular elections in which public campaign financing is available to candidates for statewide office as well as general assembly candidates. To date, one State Senate candidate and thirty-two candidates for State Representative have received grants for the 2010 elections.

To qualify for public campaign financing, candidates must demonstrate they have adequate support from the public. Candidates may accomplish this by meeting a two-part threshold that sets requirements for the aggregate amount of money which must be raised and the minimum number of individuals who must have contributed between $5 and $100 to the candidate. Participating candidates may not take funds from lobbyists, state contractors or PACs.

Candidates in the August 10th primary have until July 16th to opt “in” or “out” of the Program and to apply for a primary grant.

Funky Thursday

Hey, this is cool stuff and you should check it out. Downtown Thursday concerts kick off tonight starting at 5 at McLevy Green. The Special O Band includes Bridgeport Police Lieutenant Ron Bailey, former vice squad cop extraordinaire who’s now trying to reel in sick time (talk about rhythm and blues).  These guys are good.

You are invited to the first Downtown Thursdays concert on McLevy Green, this Thursday, July 1! This week’s concert features the sounds of The Special O Band.

The Special O Band is a funk/groove/R&B band made up of: Ed Fraser (keyboards), Pat Williams (guitar/vocals), Keith Bass (guitar), Matt Jones (vocals/percussions) and Bridgeport P.D.’s own Lieutenant Ron Bailey on drums and vocals. As part a special kickoff to Downtown Thursdays, Chief Joseph Guadett will be taking the stage with the band! They’ve played D.C., N.Y.C. and all over CT. They’ve opened for Blue Magic, the Delfonics, Escorts, Chi Lites, Persuaders and Kool & the Gang. They play their own originals as well as covers of Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, Kool & the Gang, James Brown and many more funktackular bands. In other words, they’re just what the Doctor ordered for winding down after a busy Thursday at the Office!

Downtown Thursdays is a weekly after-work concert series, taking place on McLevy Green after work (5-7) on Thursdays in July* and August. A new band will play each week. Tiago’s Restaurant will serve drinks every week. Join us after work as we celebrate summer—and the end of the work day! You’ll enjoy the sound of great live outdoor music and the taste of cold refreshing drinks. Bring your friends and family downtown with you and stick around for dinner. Visit to find out more about downtown’s array of exciting restaurants, cafes and delis.

As part of Bridgeport’s recovery from last Thursday’s tornado, the American Red Cross will be fundraising at this week’s event. Please extend your neighborly support to their ongoing relief efforts.

Find us on facebook:



  1. Mickey Sherman Tax Case Deal … “Defense attorney Mickey Sherman … entering guilty pleas in Bridgeport federal court to misdemeanor tax charges on returns he filed in 2001 and 2002. He owes more than $1 million.

    Attorney Willie Dow who carved out a nice plea deal on behalf of former Governor John Rowland has done the same for Sherman. Translation: if you’re ever in trouble hire Willie. The misdemeanor charges, each one carries up to one year in prison, should keep Sherman out of the can, and that’s pretty darn good considering the amount Sherman owes.”

    Crank up the water works machine … Rowland got a partial pass … Sherman likely to get a big pass … and the screws got put to Mayor Joe … I feel like a summertime golden oldies radio show is about to start … let’s see if we can get all this out of the way by noon …

  2. Post Tornado Observation #1
    Took a look at Downiown on Sunday to get a better look at the effects of last week’s tornado.
    Although things looked pretty bad, to those who do not know DT or have not been there lately, they wouldn’t realize most of the boarded-up buildings that are marked as structurally unsafe to firefighters and other public safety personnel, were in disrepair long before the tornado hit and will remain that way long after.
    Why hasn’t the city used their anti-blight ordinance to enforce property owners to fix ’em up or give ’em up? Because the city owns most of the buildings!!! And they continue to cut breaks to the anti-development companies that own the development rights.
    It will be interesting to see if some of these deadbeat developers now try to claim damage from the tornado to cash in on their inactivity.

  3. Post Tornado Observation #2
    How about the vacant lot at the corner of Main St and Congress? The Finch administration made a big to-do over bulldozing an old deli and then what did they do??? NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! What a disgrace.
    Ganim had it right when he would at least grass over empty lots but Mayor Green Jeans simply lets sit a dirt lot on MAIN STREET Bridgeport. If he couldn’t afford grass, then at least put up plywood fencing like you would see at construction sites in real cities. Use it to advertise Bpt. Use it to advertise the site. Use it to advertise upcoming events. Instead they chose to advertise the incompetency of our economic development initiatives.
    It’s no wonder someone in the administration decided this would be an excellent burial ground for tornado debris such a trees, tree limbs, tree stumps.
    Let’s have a contest to name the vacant lot.
    The obvious choice would be Trees Company but I will nominate Son Of Steel Point!!!

  4. Post Tornado Observation #3
    Let’s have a pool. Let’s guess how much damage RCI Marine is going to claim as a result of the tornado. No sense not trying to make money off of that empty lot. Their fancy fences are showing a little wear and tear. But be worth $100,000. Maybe someone can get inside the yacht club and do some damage and put in a claim for that.
    And then they can go ahead and claim that as a result of all of the negative pub from the urban tornado, they had to put off their plans for another 10 years.
    Hey Countdown, I am still waiting for all of these Lease Commitments they were supposed to line up at the big Las Vegas Convention earlier this year. Not a peep. Not a chance.

  5. Tornado Observation #4
    The copper roof on the Eisenhower Center was partially blown off. Solar Panels that haven’t worked in 25 years destroyed.
    In the Connecticut Post they didn’t even list this as part of the damage.

  6. I repeat my message from an earlier post … These are two of the worst performing schools in the BOE under the same management for many years.

    Why isn’t radical surgery in order?

    Are these parents idiots who want their children to continually be dramatically under-educated not able to climb out of a welfare/working poor/public assistance lifestyle? … In many cases they are and in many cases they have been malignantly manipulated by non-productive, hurtful board members.

    Having attended these BOE meeting, this is the result of two equally harmful elements:
    1. Racially charged and manipulative Board Members Simmons and Baraka who play to the absolute lowest common denominator as evidenced by this school closing fiasco.
    2. BOE Superintendant Ramos–Nice man who is not tough enough to do what needs to be done. Never should have rolled over on those schools; it was the right plan.

    You have got some very good members in Crossin, Bellinger, Cunninham, Colon and a festering sore with Simmons and Baraka.

    Lastly I continue to be disgusted at how Black Rock School continues to be labeled as benefiting because it’s in a better, more affluent neighborhood and/or a “white” student body. Again driven primarily by Simmons and Baraka.

    People who know have told me two things about BR School .. Active, involved parents … Also that approx 65% are minority students.

  7. Just what did Mitch Robles and the other East Side politicians win by keeping Roosevelt and Dunbar schools open? These are 2 of the worst performing schools in the state. They needed to be closed. Dunbar is operating at 50% capacity.
    What did the parents win by yelling and screaming to keep the 2 schools open? They won the right to have their kids go to two non performing schools. They won the right to have their kids fall further behind the learning curve. Were these parents screaming about the school ratings? No. Did they understand their kids were being shortchanged?
    To Ed Gomes, take the institutional racism charge and stick it where the sun don’t shine. You have been crying racism for years. Where the hell have you been as these 2 schools were failing? To point to a school like Black Rock which is working and yell racism is pure bullshit plain and simple.

  8. I can sweep out the lawyers by noon.

    There is no comparison. The other guys ducked for as much cover as they could find when they got pinched.

    Little Joe decided to play Little Caesar. “They can’t do that to me, see; I’m Rico, see?”

    In the movies, Rico got whacked by the cops. In Bridgeport, Joe got sent away by the feds. Joe done good.

    Really John, I thought you would be happy to have everyone coming home to the bosom of Bridgeport.

  9. I don’t mind “everyone coming home to the bosom of Bridgeport.”

    What troubles me is the continued effort by some to bring back the bad old days with them.

    If that is to be the philosophy of the city maybe we should just have the Hells Angels sit on the City (Common) Council and select commissioners from the remnants of Art DelMonte’s CB Patrol.

    What did we learn from the trip to China and what will we learn from a rumored trip to Egypt?

    Let’s put these traveling people on a Greyhound to Asheville NC to see a thriving restaurant district, or Dayton OH to see a downtown working with a small ball club or Milwaukee WI to see lakefront redevelopment.

    If you just bring back the past all you get is the past and we already have that now! (Gee, that sounds kinda Pogoesque!)

  10. Pogoesque? You surely refer to “We have met the enemy and he is us.” That’s in Latin on the city seal, right?

    It’s Groundhog Day every day in Bridgeport, Conn. Instead of February 2, I like to think of it as Dec. 6, 1941. Used that in a lead for a story one time at The Tele. It must be right, the editors didn’t change it.

    When I was a GA reporter I was dispatched to do a story one winter Tuesday night on the Laurel and Hardy Fan Club chapter. Maybe it was Feb. 2. They were called “Sons of the Desert” or something. It sounded appropriately Barnum-esque.

    The Sons showed movies in the backroom of Dolan’s, that gin mill on Middle across from the post office. The room was an art deco treasure with cushy leather booths and drawings of musicians playing swing on the walls. The room was hardly ever used. It was locked in time. You could just about hear Artie Shaw. Begin the Began? Begin? Begun? Whatever.

    The Sons showed a couple Laurel and Hardy movies rented from the library. They all wore red fezes and red vests. They were a very happy lot, drinking small shots and short beers. They brought in trays and trays from the bar throughout the evening.

    It was something other-worldly. It was definitely not 1980, I thought over shots of rye laughing with the guys and watching the movies. It felt like I wasn’t born yet. It felt like the 1940s, no 1930s. Dec. 6, 1941. Yeah, that worked, thought I.

    The artistic process at work. Who knew? Only in Bridgeport.

    I think it is wrong to think of these days as a return to the bad old days. The bad old days never left. The people keep on dreaming of good old days that never existed. They were bad old days in the good old days.

    Good new days cannot come until we are dead, like the last group of people from the bad old days. Then Bridgeport will have new bad old days for whoever is around.

    It all makes sense, don’t you see?

    1. Jim,
      You should be happy to know the old Dolan’s (changed to Mr. ’40s in the ’90s) is still standing (the tornado spared it) although it is the only thing standing on the block. Of course nothing goes on there.
      That was one of the properties taken by Ganim in his downtown land grab. And the city refuses to do anything with it just in case they develop the block one day.
      Was it every Tuesday? The first Tuesday? Who knows, maybe the meetings are still going on.

  11. Dolan’s was a classic with “Trains to New York” sign. A lot of Chief Engineers on the Red Nosed Express hung out there when Fleischmann’s was 90 proof.

    Lennie for the 4th of July holiday should feature a take-home Bar Exam, where we would try to list all the old bars that were in Bridgeport.

    If we weren’t in this metric world, I could wish everyone to have a Fifth on the Fourth!


  12. The majority of Black Rock School students–excuse me, “scholars”–are non-white. Many parents are non-English speakers. The school functions as well as it does because of parental involvement, backing and support.

    Why would anyone want to keep a failing school open? Where was the support to boost scores, promote discipline, and generally get involved? Why weren’t the community activists in the schools before?

    Now people will be out of jobs–many of whom have been working 20+ years and don’t make more than $25,000 year.

    The whole thing stinks.

  13. Aw crap, here comes “Jimmy’s Way-Back Machine” where “Yesterday is today and tomorrow never comes” is the most played song on the jukebox.

    Well, we ain’t got no jukeboxes here in the real world.

    The rendering plants of the South End are gone, along with the Herald, The Telegram, Sol’s Cafe, GE, Pederson’s Custom Made Golf Clubs, the entire tool and die industry and all the bloody jobs that used to be here.

    There was a time when PA miners and steelworkers left the Poconos and came to Bridgeport for work. Crap, the old News Corner used to sell PA and German newspapers.

    Now people are buying country homes in PA and telling their new neighbors they come from Fairfield County in Connecticut (not Bridgeport) while they try and get used to Ying-Yang or Ying-a-Ling beer, the nation’s worst brew.

    Maybe we should just change the name of the city and try and trick people into thinking they are coming to someplace new! There’s an economic development plan we haven’t tried before … TRICKERY!


    Been there, done that, dating all the way back to PT himself!

    So let’s all sing, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, the sun will come up tomorrow …

  14. The BOE is a bunch of pansy-ass losers who want nothing more than say you handle it and it better not involve me.
    Not closing those two eyesore schools was the stupidest move in a ton of stupid moves.
    The only dumber move would have been the Bodine building and I would be surprised if that doesn’t get brought back to the table and passed as it is out of character for the BOE to do anything right.


    1. Don’t be surprised if the BOE ends up in one of Sal DiNardo’s buildings or for that matter both buildings on South Ave in Bpt. It’s in the works.

  15. Lennie, I’ve warned you before. Walsh is bigger than you. I’m bigger than Walsh. Gilmore is bigger than me. And Kelly is hefty enough to throw any or most of us out of wherever he is at.

    Gilmore might be a problem Tommy. That’s a pretty thick chunk of Mick.

  16. And now, back to our regularly scheduled program from the Gaelic American Philosophy Society …

    Ah Sean, you are in a black mood today. You left out the Topstone Cigar factory in your list of things you miss. What’s the matter, man? Longing for a Presidente Maduro?

    I’ll try to be sympathetic. I understand it is just not the same ever since the Irish joined the Yankees and Mohicans on the island of Avalon, is it? Missing Connie Mulvihill? Or is it Denis? Perhaps lighting a candle and saying a quiet prayer …

    I just cannot see, however, extending this crankiness to the “Celebrated Pottsville, Pennsylvania” home of the Yuengling Brewing Company and their fine family of products, including their porter, “brewed expressly for family and tavern trade.” It’s like scrapple or pepperpot soup–you get used to it.

    Now if you wanted to go after Stegmeier, I could understand. Your pals from The Bronx have probably moved to coal country in northeastern Pennsylvania figuring it is better to drive up mountains than climb up stairs. However, one slurp of a Stegie would probably leave them choking, from a “beverage” brewed fresh from culm-filtered water of the anthracite mines of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Now that’s Nittany Lion urine! Or panther piss as they would say elsewhere.

    And one nice thing about modern jukeboxes is you can get John McCormack singing “The Rose of Tralee” on CD without all the pops and whistles on vinyl records.

    Trickery and Bridgeport? I guess I do remember you warning me to carry a money clip instead of a wallet. That would not have helped the night I got jacked in the parking lot of Conti’s. That was armed robbery, although as a full-service community it is important to note Bridgeport is business-friendly to a wide range of felonious arts.

    1. Denis Mulvihill is my Great Grandfather. He worked as a stoker at a local mill and was elected to mayor. Connie is my Grand Uncle. We miss them both. What has your pathetic shanty family done for us? Don’t mention my family again in poor light.

  17. “Bridgeport is business-friendly to a wide range of felonious arts,” ah yes, there it be, laddy; we’ve now officially drifted into the world of Dickens and David Copperfield …

    That’s precisely the point I want to make, we have too many “Fagins” in Brigadoon on the sound. (And by the way, the mere thought of a “modern jukebox” is an oxymoron.)

    Yes, I miss a Presidente Madura, best piece of Connecticut Leaf Tobacco you could have for 95 cents, individual glass tube and all. But tubes, those for cigars and televisions, have gone the way of the Miss New York, the pirate’s ship that promised a bucket of gold to everyone in town. It was replaced by a desire for a casino, the NASCAR track promised by Lennie’s client’s, Mr. Hair, and a host of other three-card monte players.

    Maybe after the next tornado we’ll discover the Yellow Brick Road to the new wizard!

    We sure as hell ain’t doing anything that translates into working for it. The city’s plan for economic development centers almost exclusively on additional state and federal aid and we’re in the wrong cycle of the moon for that to be viable.

    To quote the famed Irishman at the old Bon Ton Bar, what’s needed is “a little touch of starvation.”

  18. Oh Seaneen, you poor, tired man. What you need is a vacation.

    Here you are looking for a yellow brick road when there are goldbrickers all around you, many of them elected to the City Council or rolled up as architectural renderings and faux-legal documents in the city’s Economic Development Office.

    Starving? Nay, say I. Surely we are rich, rich in mounds and mounds of luxuriously processed, warm and steaming, wholesomely, fulsomely, filling and fulfilling elephant dung.

    Yes, elephant shit.

    The circus never really left town. It just went to Kansas for awhile, maybe. Or you were just having a bad dream. You really are back in Oz now, the fairytale land of Bridgeport-by-the-sea, the Big Rock Candy Mountain of schemes and schemers. Please wake up. You’ve been having a bad dream. You don’t want it to change. That’s not you, getting all fuzzy and warm and idealistic and … liberal.

    I know better.

    Remember this is Bridgeport, home to some of your favorite people, and mine too. You wouldn’t want to do anything disrespectful to them or the memory of those that are no longer with us. They might come back.

    I think they will come back. Every time I think of the Christmas parties at the Barnum where they poured drinks on the plexiglass bar on top of the mummy, I’m sure they are coming back. I thought I could feel the spirit world right there at those parties–or maybe it was just something Pelton put in the drinks.

    Oh, one last thing. Were Rosicrucians impersonating the freakin’ Jesuits when you were in school? Fagin is from Oliver Twist, not Copperfield. Sheesh.


Leave a Reply