How The State Budget Impacts Caruso’s Future, Plus: New Radio Show

Who’s winning the public relations battle over the state budget?

Right now, Gov. Jodi Rell. If not for Rell there’d be no discipline in the budget-making process in a state already one of the heaviest taxed in the country. You can thank tax-happy Dems for that.

The Connecticut Legislature is headed for a special session because Dems say they haven’t had enough time to meet statutory requirements in light of Rell revising her budget. There’s gamesmanship on both sides that’s always part of the process. But the Dems are doing this at their own peril. Last year the nation got mad at the Republicans and the Barack tsunami hit. These things run in cycles and now the Connecticut electorate is mad at Chris Dodd and the way the Dems are handling budget negotiations could impact their super majority in the 2010 election.

But of course Mother Rell is playing this super majority thing to the max. I’m trying to give you tax relief but these shameful Dems are getting in the way!

Come next year, assuming Jodi seeks reelection with a still-strong approval rating, she will tell voters when the Dems tried to tax you into the poor house I said no. The Dems will say when Rell tried to eliminate your job and services we said no.

Next year features a spectacular gubernatorial cycle with Dodd’s job on the line. And line is the key word here. Rell has never run as a Republican with a strategy to help the GOP ballot and this pisses off party regulars. She runs on her own transcending the party apparatus. In 2006 she croaked her Dem opponent New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, but it did nothing for the down ticket. In fact, she tanked Alan Schlesinger, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate to reelect Joe Lieberman. Schlesinger secured just 10 percent of the vote.

Jodi never puts her prestige on the line with the electorate to give her a GOP legislature she can work with. Yeah, if you’re a GOP legislative candidate and you show up for a party event she’ll take a picture with you. But for the most part she cherry-picks candidates she wants to help. She helped former State Senator Rob Russo, but did nothing for former Congressman Chris Shays. She likes Russo, but she’s not crazy about Shays. So it goes.

All of this legislative posturing has ancillary impact on the mayoral election in 2011. Barring anything unforeseen I expect State Rep. Chris Caruso will run for mayor again. Caruso has run for the job twice and both times lost by the light of a strategic dimmer. Turn the dimmer just a bit to talk about all the things voters care about–not just corruption–and Caruso would be mayor today.

Caruso’s 2007 mayoral campaign did not appeal in particular to a female voter that cares about education, public safety, neighborhood vitality and economic development. Male voters care about that stuff too but women tend to look beyond a knee-jerk reform message. Bill Finch’s polling showed him down 10 points to Caruso two months before primary day. It was Caruso’s to lose and he accommodated Finch.

Caruso is still a threat in a mayoral primary because of his super popularity in his legislative district. Caruso does not run up large numbers in the lower North End/Lake Forest/Whiskey Hill areas, he runs up extraordinary numbers. Part of his problem is the rest of the city.

But this is also a tricky legislative cycle for Caruso that no doubt will come into play if he runs for mayor.

Caruso’s legislative record has morphed into a liberal’s liberal. Yes, on a mayoral level he runs against the big bad political machine that he claims has ruined the city. But he’s also on record supporting the highest tax increases in the state’s history, unless he decides to reverse his position in the extended budget cycle which would alienate his union support base.

Caruso’s tax record, as a result, leaves him vulnerable to a campaign charge in 2011: “Chris Caruso pushed through the largest tax increase in state history. Just imagine what he’ll do as mayor!”

Now some of this depends on Finch’s next two years, two years that will not be easy, but I know Finch’s political strategist Adam Wood a bit. I gotta think Woody is sharpening his teeth.

News release from the Connecticut Legislature’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus


Members of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus of the General Assembly called the Governor’s recently released budget an affront on Connecticut ‘s poor and neediest. They feel that Governor Rell’s latest proposal targets the most vulnerable populations of the state by shredding Connecticut’s social safety net.

“People in our districts are going to bear the brunt of paying for the state’s economic problems,” said Caucus Chairman Rep. Don Clemons (D-Bridgeport). “People on Main Street didn’t create this recession, Wall Street did, but people in my district are going to pay for it.”

“It’s an outrage that the Governor is cutting programs and services that help senior citizens and the poor, placing additional burdens on them in these tough economic times,” said Rep. Toni Walker (D-New Haven), House Chair of the Legislature’s Human Services Committee. “In order to solve the problems we face, we need to have a more comprehensive solution, which could include a tax increase on those best able to afford it, instead of cutting services on our most vulnerable populations.”

“The members of the Caucus look forward to working on a real budget that preserves and respects the dignity and needs of the people of the State of Connecticut. Although we certainly accept that tough choices have to be made, we would not be doing our jobs if we did not speak up for those who in many occasions go unheard,” said Rep. Kelvin Roldán (D-Hartford).

Caucus members on this response: Rep. Andres Ayala, Rep. Jason Bartlett, Rep. Larry Butler, Rep. Juan Candelaria, Rep. Charles (Don) Clemons, Sen. Eric Coleman, Sen. Edwin Gomes, Rep. Kenneth Green, Sen. Toni Harp, Rep. Ernest Hewett, Rep. Marie Lopez Kirkley-Bey, Rep. Douglas McCrory, Rep. Patricia Miller, Rep. Bruce Morris, Rep. Hector Robles, Rep. Jason Rojas, Rep. Kelvin Roldán, Rep. Ezequiel Santiago, Rep. Toni Walker and Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield.

Bridgeport By The Sea

OIB friend Jeffrey Williams will launch his new radio show this Saturday featuring legendary radio voice Tim Quinn as his first guest. Check it out.


Jeffrey C. Williams, producer and host of the radio show At The Ritz! and publisher of the Bridgeport By The Sea Calendars, announces a new, live weekly radio show scheduled to run this summer. It is called, not by coincidence, BRIDGEPORT BY THE SEA, and will be broadcast Saturdays from 1-2 P.M. on WVOF 88.5 FM, the same station where the At The Ritz! shows are broadcast Saturdays from 3-4 P.M. The first broadcast of the new Bridgeport show will be on June 6 and run for twelve weeks.

BRIDGEPORT BY THE SEA will be a talk show and encourage listener call-ins. Each week a notable guest will join Jeff to discuss different facets of Bridgeport’s glorious past. Some who have already accepted guest invitations include Captain’s Cove founder Kaye Williams; pilot, aerial photographer, and former air traffic reporter Morgan Kaolian; author and Bridgeport historian Lennie Grimaldi; former Bridgeport mayor Leonard Paoletta; and Adele Barry Chappell, daughter of Ritz Ballroom founder Joe Barry. Trivia questions will be part of the show with Bridgeport By The Sea 2010 Calendars as prizes. Of course, Vaughn DeLeath’s 1936 classic Park City anthem, Bridgeport By The Sea, will open each week’s show, with a new, updated version of the same tune to close each show and maybe a little Ritz and Pleasure Beach Ballroom big band music in between to add to the fun. 

“The idea of this new program came from the numerous interesting conversations I had last year with those calling to purchase the 2009 calendars,” explains Williams. “Many people wanted to share with me their various stories of growing up in the Park City, and I was delighted to hear them.  However, I couldn’t help but think that these memories would be fun for many people to hear. So the thought occurred to produce a weekly show for everyone who may be interested to listen, enjoy, and even be part-of by calling in and telling their own Bridgeport stories.”

Coupled with that, the theme for next year’s calendar will be “Growing Up in the Park City.” Williams is putting out a call to those who actually did grow up in Bridgeport and perhaps would be willing to let him publish their memories. An announcement will be made soon as to which historic postcard subjects will be used in the 2010 edition of the calendar. Anyone with their own memories of the selected locations will be encouraged to send them in for possible inclusion in the calendars. Proceeds from calendar sales go to support both of the radio broadcasts and to maintain the internet websites where the weekly shows are downloaded and available for 24/7 play throughout the week.

Williams adds, “Like our calendars, this program will definitely be a home-grown project that will bring both history and nostalgic memories to those who remember as well as to  those younger generations who have no idea of the Bridgeport that once was.”  For more information call (800) 529-8497 or visit the website



  1. Caruso will run the same race just to prove a point and Yahooy will be there cheering him on. Corruption. Corruption. Corruption. I can’t wait.

  2. Lennie, we Americans are by and large confused about our government already without those knowledgeable about how taxes work muddying the waters. If Caruso could double the income tax and eliminate the property tax, he’d do it, and Bridgeport would cheer. Finch would jump at the opportunity as well–because while up in the hills your neighbors might complain about being “heavily taxed” because of Democratic legislators, the complaints of millionaires are not heard so loud way down in working-class Bridgeport.

    1. Marlys, I think I would cheer that as well if Bridgeport benefits, but you set up an interesting strategy for a candidate. I taxed you on the state level to keep your taxes down on a local level. Would that fly?

      1. I don’t know what people would buy, but Bridgeport would definitely be paying more in taxes for today’s services if there were no income tax. And I hope you took the teasing gently–I live in the suburbs too, and see how short-sighted even my most liberal neighbors are when it comes to taxes.

        The thing is, a Bridgeport resident pays 4 times the tax as someone who owns the same car in Greenwich. But someone making $170K a year (Greenwich average) pays 6 times the income tax of someone making $40,000 a year (Bridgeport average).

        I’d say that the average Greenwich family is more able to pay up in the tough times than the average Bridgeport family–and much more than a homeowner in either place who’s lost their job and is looking forward to that July 1 tax bill.

        Rell is saying that we all have to chip in to get through this mess … except the people who can really afford to chip in. I have no idea if pointing that out is a winning formula–heaven knows that the Dems in Hartford have barely even tried–but even if Bridgeporters don’t know that the income tax sends money from wealthy towns to subsidize services for poor towns, you can bet that they know it in Greenwich.

  3. Lennie,
    This takes big balls … big crystal balls that is to come up with this vision of the future.
    So Mayor Finch and his Chief of Staff already have a strategy to label Chris Caruso as a tax-and-spend liberal while trying to defend themselves against their financial record of incompetency in setting a budget and determining revenues, poor judgment in maintaining the same fiscal management crew that has created budget problems in the past in place years into his term as mayor, weak-willed leadership in instituting his own policies in dealing with the fund balance pushing the city closer and closer to the financial brink, ducking his mayoral responsibilities when it comes to legally mandated pension payments (while other cities did not need to seek the same level of relief that Bridgeport has to) and the inability to veto bad line items in the budget that has exacerbated the current year’s problems and agreeing to labor compromises that will create more budgetary havoc as his re-election draws near.
    If I were Chris Caruso I would be salivating over the prospect of Finch trying to make taxes the major issue in another head-to-head contest.

  4. *** Lennie do you really think Bob is going to commit to any potential candidate for Mayor this early in the game? Bob likes to keep people guessing, it’s more fun that way! If there was anything I’ve learned from Bob while on the council, it was always keep them guessing, always get things in writing & when in doubt, always vote “no”! ***

  5. I think Bob makes important points. The opposition will most likely drill on the financial team Mayor Finch has in place. Calling Mayor Finch … you should have a better handle on things by now … fire TS and replace him with a qualified professional of your choosing. Don’t let Mike Feeney, John Fabrizi, Charlie Carrol or Mario stop you at this point. This is hurting you BIG time. If you don’t I believe it might just bring you down.

  6. Lennie maybe we should get Caruso to get married and have a child. That should make Caruso more appealing to women voters. Learning to speak Spanish can help Caruso gain more Latino votes. Just don’t teach him how to say “Corruption” in Spanish.

    1. Latinos can’t vote. Puerto Ricans can. Can someone show me 1 of these so called “latinos”? Maybe just describe their flag or the colors their military wears. Years ago it described persons of latin descent; all Spanish, Italian, Greeks etc.. Then it became a short description a la “colored”. It confuses me when people self-describe themselves this way. Remember if given a name let it be from a loved one; i.e. your parents, friends, teammates. Unless you’re ashamed of what/who you are.

  7. For you smart guys who are gonna say “Latinos can vote once they get their citizenship”, I say once they do then they’re Americans.


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