Hail To The Chief, Plus: Rell Stumps For Russo

Well, that was a fine farewell for former Police Chief Bryan Norwood who resigned to take the top job in Richmond, Virginia. Saying sayonara to friends at Miss Thelma’s on Fairfield Avenue the other night, Norwood had apparently parked his car in a reserved lot. After the event he discovered it missing. Gives new meaning to the cops that had his BMW towed: Bye, My Way.

Governor Jodi Rell visited Bridgeport Wednesday afternoon in an appearance with Republican State Sen. Rob Russo who was instrumental in helping officials at Lacey Manufacturing secure a $5 million state loan to save 250 jobs at the Barnum Avenue plant. Russo is working overtime trying to keep the job he won in a special election in March. Company officials thankful for the assistance greeted Rell and Russo.

Russo’s Democratic opponent Anthony Musto, the Trumbull town treasurer, has been awfully quiet, publicly at least, and it has some Democratic operatives wondering if he has the fire in his belly for this race. Guess how many press releases the Musto campaign has issued? That’s right, zero.

No positions, no issues, no statements. Nothing. Maybe that’s the game plan: keep it nice and quiet, send mailers, make phone calls and ride the Barack wave. Trouble with that is Russo, a city resident, is working day and night highlighting several accomplishments in Bridgeport alone to persuade voters to keep him in office. The candidates are scheduled to meet tonight in a forum at the North End Library.

Press releases in the congressional battle between Chris Shays and Jim Himes, however, are an exercise in statement wars. The camps issue multiple releases a day on this, that and the other thing. The Hartford Courant issued an endorsement of Shays the other day while saying nice things about Himes. In fact, the Courant editorial board decided, screw it, we’re endorsing all Connecticut incumbents in the House of Representatives.

Just 11 days left. Who’s your pony? Please excuse me now, I must tell Joe Biden to stick a rag in his mouth. Oh, I know, maybe he can use one of Sarah Palin’s $10,000 leathers.

News release from Shays

Shays Critical of Federal Regulators at Hearing

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Christopher Shays (CT-4), a senior member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, submitted the following opening statement at a hearing today entitled “The Financial Crisis and the Role of the Federal Regulators.” Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, former Treasury Secretary John Snow, and current Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Christopher Cox testified about the roles and responsibilities of federal regulators in the current financial crisis.

The following is Shays’ statement:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. After three hearings on the causes and effects of the financial crisis, it’s become clear those tasked to monitor and regulate our complex credit systems were caught flat-footed as a virulent infection in the U.S. mortgage market quickly blossomed into a crippling case of global financial paralysis.

Even at the peak of the housing boom, warning signs were flashing. But regulators either ignored the alerts or failed to grasp their ominous implications. We need to know why current safeguards proved inadequate to detect or prevent this unforeseen, but predictable, market collapse.

It would be dangerously simplistic to say the only, or even the principal, cause of this regulatory shortsightedness was “deregulation.” Keeping the Glass-Steagall Act in place might have changed the pace and shape of the current crises, but it would not have prevented it. The forces at work behind the mortgage-backed feeding frenzy would have chewed through or flowed around any Depression-era barrier.

The gerry-built network of national and global market watchdogs clearly lacked the information, coordination and agility necessary to keep pace with the blindingly complex machinations of the modern financial bazaar.

Start with monetary policy. In the waning years of the Clinton Administration, with the “dot-com” crash dragging down the economy, the Federal Reserve response was to provide easy money that kept flowing even after the marketplace regained its footing.

The resulting asset inflation irresistibly drew investors to acquire risky products they didn’t understand, and lured homeowners and home buyers into mortgages they couldn’t afford. Easy money spawned dumb lending and dumb borrowing, and huge growth with little real capital to back it up.

In that environment, sharp players in high finance were able to exploit regulatory gaps, blind spots and at times an unwarranted faith by regulators in the ability and willingness of market actors to restrain or police themselves. That seemed particularly true at the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), no matter who was in charge or what party held the White House.

In April 2004, the SEC relaxed capital ratio requirements for broker-dealers with assets greater than $5 billion – inclusive of Morgan Stanley, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, and Goldman Sachs – allowing lower reserves against possible losses. That change freed these five banks to shift billions of dollars into new, exotic and unproven investments like mortgage backed securities.

Leverage ratios- the multiple of debt to capital – ballooned from the teens to well above thirty. The SEC answered critics of this high-wire leverage strategy by pointing out it was only available to large firms. But that only guaranteed large losses when the fall came.

The SEC also appears to have outsourced oversight to those with the least incentive to blow the whistle on excessive risk – the companies themselves. Part of the deal in 2004 was supposed to give the agency greater visibility of bank and holding company balance sheets. But the Commission never took advantage of this wider window into the shadowy world of risky assets and high leverage. Over the past eighteen months, as financial storm clouds gathered ominously, the SEC did not complete a single inspection.

Stronger capital reserve requirements and lower leverage spreads may not have prevented the current crisis, but there’s little doubt more prudent SEC actions and more aggressive SEC oversight would have reduced the massive losses for which the American taxpayers are now on the hook.

But the SEC was not alone in enabling and accelerating the meltdown. The Commission did try to regulate one of the most hazardous new elements of the mortgage-backed boom: credit default swaps. In 2000, the Republican Congress and the Democratic President agreed to exempt the swaps from SEC purview. Meant as insurance against risk, the off-book swap contracts actually compounded risks when underlying subprime assets all lost value at once.

The head of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission at the time warned that undisclosed, unregulated credit default swaps posed a grave threat to financial safety and soundness. She was shouted down by the old bulls and precocious savants of Washington and Wall Street who claimed the mere mention of additional regulation unduly interfered with derivative transactions.

Had Brooksley Born’s warning been heeded, we would not be waiting nervously to see how much of the estimated five hundred trillion dollar derivatives pile will implode, and who else will get sucked into the vortex.

A reformed regulatory structure equal to the task of unraveling this crisis and preventing the next will nurture productive capital flows and foster innovation. Government needs to be far more vigilant about understanding and managing systemic risks.

The “too big to fail” rule should be repealed and private greed on a grand scale should not merit public rescue. High risk ventures that threaten systemic integrity need to be fully capitalized by their private sponsors or prohibited altogether. No one has the right to juggle knives on a public bus.



  1. Lennie you just can’t resist another swipe at Sarah Palin. Every day another jab. Just like the rest of the leftist press.
    I need an answer to this question. If Obama wins and right now it looks that way if the polls are to be believed; after Obama raises taxes on businesses making over $250 K who is really going to pay for this tax increase?

  2. Are you kidding?

    Himes … fully qualified … hardly.

    It has been a long time since I have seen a congressional aspirant so ill-equipped to hold office. He is nothing more than a pretty plant to hold the dems numbers in the house.

    Normally, I think that Rhodes Scholars and Phi Beta Kappas are absolutely needed in elected officials. Himes while demonstrably intelligent is an empty shirt. He reminds me a lot of Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney. Himes is Mahoney.

  3. Wondering, I’m not yet persuaded that this presidential race is a done deal. Too many close battleground states, although the early voting appears strong for Barack. But yes, Biden has a way of allowing tongue to get way ahead of brain.

  4. Lennie is right. Just think about this — McCain remains steady now at 42 to 46% in the polls — never going above that mark. I suspect there is a very quiet conservative middle holding out and will do their speaking at the polls. Remember folks, this country is made up primarily of a “conservative middle.” It is the excited “left liberals” that are making all the noise right now — and actually I think we should shut down our noise if we want to win. We must remain cautious and suspect. We are letting our excitment get the best of us. Shut down, shut up — play it like the Republicans — and these comments are meant for me most of all.

  5. I feel pretty confident in my prediction of an Obama victory of 52-48. Shays and Himes too close to call. Something that might tip the scales would be for Biden to start appearing in the national media and be interviewed. He seems to have become hidden from the national press. Is he afraid to have to answer why he found so many faults with Obama during the primary but now “found religion”, or is the party afraid that he’ll put his foot in his mouth and make Palin look a little better than they would like?

  6. I just heard that the city employee e-mail system is being used to spread pro-Obama campaign info. Isn’t this wrong? There should be a policy that prohibits the use of city e-mail for partisan or personal business. I know there was where I used to work. Am I naive to think that the administration would put a stop to this and punish those involved? Pobably … but then OIB!!!!!!!!!

  7. Joel Gonzalez #7, I see a certain growth in you with your comment. Although I will be voting for your Democratic opponent, I am glad that there will voices of color at the table in the Republican party here. There should always be a strong two-party system. I do not see an open door big tent policy with the Republican party.

  8. Joel Gonzalez // Oct 23, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Mojo and Eze, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you both ahead of time for your vote and support.

    I ask all the voters of the 130th. to do the smart thing (like Mojo and Eze will do) and “VOTE LINE A” for quality and unique A-1 Representation.

    The bottom line is that I served (honorably) 6 years 1995-2001 as City Councilmen in the 131st. District, I was endorsed and supported during these years by Mitch Robles, the late Domingo Robles and Americo Santiago, the father of my Democratic opponent. They never complained about my service to the district, I left office leaving behind:

    1) A remodeled Wentfield Park
    2) Paved Street
    3) The Mutual Housing site on Fairfield Avenue
    4) A remodeled Seaside Park
    5) The foundation for the new Cesar Batalla School
    6) Chavez Bakery on State Street
    7) The West Side Police Station
    8) 75% Drop in murder rate
    9) Cleaner Streets, fewer burned and abandoned buildings
    10) The Bluefish Stadium and Arena at Joel’s yard
    11) $51 Million in the Rainy Day Fund

    No one can dispute or make these factual Claims. Especially, Eze Santiago and Rafael Mojica. I still have my Democratic principals and ideas. Republicans, share them with me and I’m honored for the priviledge to serve under the Republican banner. For too long the 130th. district has gone without Republican representation and tha is exactly what is needed now in order to send a message to Hartford that we want progress and reform, which the Democrats have failed time and time again to deliver. I will do for the 130th. district, what Rob Russo has done for the 22nd Senatorial district.


  9. I just heard that the Recreation Dept., led by the illustrious Charlie “I used to be an electrician and am not at all qualified to lead this dept” Carroll has eliminated the entire afterschool and night recreation programs. They literally threw kids from the poorest neighborhoods out on the streets with no regard for them. Yet they keep the entire recreation staff. To do what I ask? They keep Gene O’Neill even though they fired all the parks police. They keep Jack “internet Porno king” Hendricks who is already collecting a city pension. So what is wrong with this picture? They cut programs and people who actually work and keep these political hacks. This city will never get ahead as long as the political flunkies are making the decisions.

  10. After Robert Kennedy’s time as U.S. Attorney General, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and a host of other federal agencies that have authority over criminal matters went after corruption in big cities. The feds cleaned Chicago’s house so well that Richard Daley was elected mayor on a reform ticket. The investigation of political corruption in New York City went on for years and brought down several administrations, including Mayors Wagner and Lindsey. (Wagner was on the take; Lindsey was naive enough to believe his subordinates when they told him that everything was on the up and up.) If all of these things being said about Finch are true–that he’s cleaning house in order to make room for friends and friends of friends, that all of this stuff about layoffs to balance the municipal budget is just a bunch of bullshit–then where are the feds? They ought to be investigating the DTC machine that Caruso railed about during his losing primary campaign last year. I’ve seen the machine in action, I know it exists, but no one is DOING anything about it. Where is a vigorous free press to investigate and report all of this malfeasance? I haven’t seen anything to prove the allegations, only read about them in various posts here. Show me the evidence, show me the names, just show me something to prove all of this. I have no doubt that Finch has put friends into cushy city jobs; every elected official does that sort of thing. I’m not going to believe anything without proof.

  11. Musto and Himes aren’t paying attention to Bridgeport, they are counting on Obama to bring them to the holy land. They do not care about Bridgeport, they can say they do all they want, but if they aren’t paying attention to the city now … how the heck are they going to do it if they ever get elected? Rob cares, always has and always will; he like Shays has made his home here, let’s keep them both in office.

  12. I need an answer to this question. If Obama wins and right now it looks that way if the polls are to be believed; after Obama raises taxes on businesses making over $250 K who is really going to pay for this tax increase?

    So asinine. You might as well claim that Obama is going to raise taxes on churches with over $250,000 in contributions — such a claim is equally valid, which is to say, total nonsense.

  13. TMYB do you even live in Bridgeport? Come over to the East End and you will see who is not paying attention to the city and that is Shays. The Himes campaign have been working their butts off in Bridgeport. When election day comes I will be casting my ballot for every Democrat because the Republicans are for the rich people not for people like me who work hard and live paycheck to paycheck. And I am bringing all my friends from the East End with me to vote at Harding.

  14. “When election day comes I will be casting my ballot for every Democrat because the Republicans are for the rich people not for people like me who work hard and live paycheck to paycheck.”

    donj … are YOU KIDDING ME?! Rich people … not people like you?!?! Shays LIVES in Bridgeport … HIMES LIVES IN GREENWICH!!! Himes working their butts off in Bridgeport? Where? I haven’t seen any of that. I dare Jim Himes himself to spend a night in the East End, this guy sees exit 27 driving on 95 in his Prius and locks his doors. Do your research donj … Shays has done more for Bridgeport than anyone.

  15. Also I could care less where Shays and Himes are from, what I really care about is who is going to work in the best interests of the people of Bridgeport and it sure is not Shays. I voted for him in 2006 simply because he was the hometown kid. But this year I sure as hell will not vote for him because he might live in Bridgeport but he sure caters to the needs of the rich people in the suburbs not to regular people in Bridgeport. Vote Obama Vote Himes.

  16. Vote Milton Johnson for State Senator. Check my website under issues; and vote for Milton Johnson knowing that any one of your current representatives in Hartford could have done those things, but chose to not even try. How can they possibly have been representing your best interests? You can always lie on the blog, but be honest with yourself.

  17. marlys: I asked the question and your answer is no answer at all. Who is talking about churches? It is part of Obama’s platform that he will be raising taxes on businesses making over $250 K. Do you really think your answer below is valid?
    “So asinine. You might as well claim that Obama is going to raise taxes on churches with over $250,000 in contributions — such a claim is equally valid, which is to say, total nonsense.”
    Let me tell you when the businesses get their taxes raised someone is going to pay for that increase and it’s the consumer. Think about it!!!

  18. I see Chris Shays pulled a semi-Charlie Rangel in election cycle 2006. Shays has an RV that he owns and leased it to his campaign for about $10k. Talk about feathering your own nest. Not nearly as bad as Rangel but let’s see Shays wrangle out of this one. So much for the holier-than-thou one.

  19. marlys: I asked the question and your answer is no answer at all. Who is talking about churches? It is part of Obama’s platform that he will be raising taxes on businesses making over $250 K. Do you really think your answer below is valid?

    No, the plan is to raise taxes on individuals making over $250K. Businesses with $250K in income? Churches with over $250K in donations? No. If the shopkeeper or the preacher takes home $250K? Yes.

  20. #7- *** While you’re taking a lot of credit for things that were team efforts or did not happen during your service time to the city during the Ganim era, let’s just review a “few”!
    *** 1. Give credit where credit’s due, Wentfield Grant money was gotten by the long overdue work done by the west-side community council & Ms. Edith Diaz who got an article written in the Post for her commitment to Wentfeild Park. Yes you too were involved!
    *** 2. Every year money is set aside for paving of certain dist. streets. Each council person is given a list of the money available for their district, also the streets that public facilities wants to pave & why! It’s up to the councilpersons in that dist. to decide if they want any changes & the possible change in cost, depending on the size & length of the street? “It’s nothing new that any councilperson doing their job hasn’t done before!”
    *** 3. Most remodeling or cosmetics done at Seaside Park came while George Estrada was head of Public Facilities. You were not a councilman @ the time, also the big “$” push was when the city council approved $240,000. of the lo-cep funds to be transfered to Park & Rec. for some major work to be done on all parks in Bpt. especially Seaside!
    *** 4. Cesar Batalla school was #5 yrs. behind original schedule by the time everything was done. Again as I remember while sitting on the Bpt. school building’s construction committee, Fabrizi was Mayor & you were not on the council @ that time!
    *** 5. Once again, the city Blight program did not go into full affect ’til all the T’s & I’s were checked by the city attorney’s office & voted in by the council during the Fabrizi era. Power to foreclose on late tax deliquent prop. quicker, go after landlords to clean their properties, knock down fire ridden propertys & clean up the lots. Once properties were abandoned or foreclosed on then the city cleans the lots and sells them to get them back on the tax rolls. Again, you were not on the council then!
    *** 6. Bluefish Stadium, which just about everything in the stadium belongs to the city because when the Bluefish could not pay their taxes & other debts, they would pawn things in the stadium instead! To keep the lights on during the baseball season the city would agree to it! A stadium that had problems from day one, built by people that had no real experience in building baseball stadiums or what the state of the art type of equipment that goes in them. Built by the infamous Kasper Group which went bankrupt during the Ganim scandal and voted by Joel & his councilpersons @ that time to do lots of work for the city of Bpt. Yeah Joel, you most certainly can take credit for that biggie since it’s on your list of “I” did this credits.
    *** If you’re going to toot your own horn, be sure the music sheet you’re reading from is not someone else’s!
    *** As for my accomplisments during my #6 yrs. on the council, here goes- 1. Talked Fabrizi out of running for Governor. 2. Talked Caruso into running on his slate for city council. 3. Talked the Dem. moderator into becoming a Republican. 4. Talked Mr. Testa into running again for Bpt. Dem. Chairman. 5. Talked Finch into running for Mayor. 6. Talked Obama into running for President. 7. Last but not least, talked Joel into buying the mental scraps from the Congress St. bridge. However, the check bounced! ***
    *** In other words, let’s get back to reality & real known facts! *** Thank you, your next keeping it real & hope to be State Rep. for the #130th District, without the Hype candidate.


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