Lots Of Gas From State Budget Crash, Plus: The Ministers Of Defense

This is one of my favorite weeks. St. Patrick’s Day Wednesday and St. Joseph’s Day Friday, and then the first day of spring.

While St. Patrick dealt with snakes (wouldn’t he do well in politics?), St. Joseph is the patron saint of Sicily where my father was born. Sicilians prayed to the spouse of Mary to end a drought in exchange for a mighty feast. Lo and behold the rains came producing fava beans, baby. So now each St. Joseph’s Day weekend I eat fava beans and stuff myself with zeppole, cream/custard filled pastry, and throw a feast in honor of St. Joseph (my middle name). And maybe that’s why I’m a gas bag. Too much beans.

I wonder if city bean counters have their own patron saint as they prepare a critical budget for Mayor Bill Finch to submit to the City Council in three weeks. Maybe St. Anthony? They could use a few miracles to keep a tax increase down, no?

All this talk from Jodi Rell’s bean counters urging cities and towns to spend reserves must have local budget makers nervous. Rell wants to cut aid to cities and towns. Spending reserves will make Wall Street anxious to pounce on local bond ratings. Weakened bond ratings cost municipalities more money for borrowing, capital improvements, etc. Bond rating agencies don’t like municipalities raiding fund balances, aka savings. I’m no accountant, but Rell’s chief budget director telling municipalities to drain reserves smacks incredulous. Sure, spend all your savings, have a blast with your credit card, run up more debt. Naughty boy.

Connecticut has become too expensive. The state budget is a mess. The next governor will face a nightmare because Rell has pretty much taken her hands off the steering wheel. What a crash. Major employers threatening to bail out doesn’t make things any easier. From The Hartford Courant:

Connecticut’s biggest private employer is determined to do more of its work outside its home state and other “high-cost” locations, top executives said Friday at an investors’ conference in New York.

“Anyplace outside of Connecticut is low-cost,” United Technologies Corp.’s chief financial officer, Gregory Hayes, told Wall Street investment analysts — paraphrasing previous remarks by another UTC executive, Jeff Pino, president of Sikorsky Aircraft.

“Even if work has to stay in the U.S., there are opportunities to reduce cost by moving out of those high-cost locations,” Hayes said.

Hartford-based UTC employs 26,000 of its 205,000 workers in Connecticut, largely at Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and Hamilton Sundstrand.

UTC did not present a plan for reducing its home state employment base, and executives did not indicate that a plan is in the works, or that a specific division or group could be targeted.

In an interview with reporters later Friday, UTC chief executive Louis Chênevert insisted that the company would keep not only its headquarters in Connecticut for the foreseeable future — at least the 10 years he expects to remain in charge — but significant manufacturing operations also.

“The fact is, we’re the largest employer in Connecticut and we will remain the largest employer in Connecticut for the next decade,” he said in response to a question from The Courant. “And it’s that simple.”

The state’s second-largest private employer, Stop & Shop, has about 15,000 employees in Connecticut.

The executives’ remarks come as Pratt fights in a federal appeals court for permission to shut down one of its last three major Connecticut factories, in Cheshire. That factory and a smaller repair unit in East Hartford employ about 1,000 people. The jobs would be moved to Columbus, Ga., Singapore and Japan.

Ministers Weigh In

The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, a group of African-American clergy that hasn’t been bashful about supporting candidates for public office, is not happy with the way the mayor handled the dismissal of Marion Evans as city health director. This is an interesting political showdown to watch. African-American ministers have discussed a boycott of candidate appearances in their churches until the matter is satisfied. Just what will satisfy the ministers is unclear. Finch is searching for a new health director.

Tasty Taberna, Meet Musto At Black Rock Library

Ms. Mo and I dined at La Taberna on Madison Avenue for the first time Saturday night before the Fab Faux concert at The Klein. Check it out, a nice blend of Spanish and Italian cuisine. A mighty fine paella classic.

State Senator Anthony Musto will appear at the Black Rock Library on Tuesday night from 5:30 to 7 to discuss the current legislative session and answer your questions. Check out Anthony’s website www.senatedems.ct.gov/Musto.html



  1. *** If Finch is seriously thinking of running for Mayor again he’ll probably try to hire a minority to fill the Health Director’s spot. However, as things continue to go sour for him & his admin. he may just decide to bail out of running altogether. His old CT senate seat seems within possible future reach if helped by the party & the fact that Russo is no longer interested for now & no other real political threats have shown an interest yet!*** Time will tell. *** CT’s high-cost economy along with its taxes & lack of strong political leadership seems to be headed towards much harder times in every sense of the word. As industry & solid businesses (large & small) and people in general continue to leave the state, whatever developments may unfold will be far & few between. As B.B. King would say, “the thrill is gone” and gone to stay! *** Voters in Bpt really need to organize, think & clean house to send a clear political message in this year’s upcoming elections in “hopes” of seeing some real positive changes in this state & city. ***

    1. Finch is doing the tough work during hard times–a few tweaks of the staff removing some of the leftover adm cronies and putting a few bright people who deserve a position–and you have a mayor who will be a good mayor when things bounce back.

      It took Bush 8 years to destroy us and it will take Obama some time to undue Bush’s mess–Finch can ride the tough times out and again if he dumps the Madison ave cronies and hires deserving people he will be fine going forward.

      1. Other than Charlie Carroll who else has been hired that’s part of the upper Madison Ave crowd? I am afraid you have to look at Stafstrom & Robles for most of the mayor’s hirings.

          1. Yeah Sherwood would be a leftover but Madison Ave? So we have Carroll, Sherwood, Dunn; I can’t remember anymore but let’s get a list together. Dunn does not hang at Madison Ave but he knows the players there.

      2. *** Hard times no doubt, however just how many of these so-called bright people who deserve a position are there; and what are they actually doing & how well? You must be one of those bright people that’s thankful for a job & willing to subscribe to the overall secretive smoke & mirrors administration that is also part of the past & present political structure here in Bpt. Let’s not blame it all on the Fabrizi & Bush admin. for all the present-day problems in Bpt & City Hall. Like building structures, it’s the foundation that has to be strong in order to withstand any storm! ***

      3. Few tweaks of the staff? Removing some of the leftover adm cronies? Really, and when can we expect to see that? Feeney? Nope. Sherwood? Nope. Kabel? Nope. Osborne? Nope. Felipe? Nope. CH Consigliere, you are full of shit.

  2. Lennie, the IMA has been clear on their requests …

    1. A public statement from the Mayor denouncing the Media reports of Dr. Evans’ departure

    2. A formal apology to Dr. Evans and the AA Community

    3. That the Mayor provide a letter of recommendation to Dr. Evans

    Some were also demanding she be reinstated until a replacement was selected, but I think they realize the Mayor is not even willing to consider such …

    This was just a termination gone wrong … Nothing new for this administration. They really should have handled it better, by announcing the search and leaving Dr. Evans in place until the new Director was hired ….

    Rumor has it Warren Blunt wanted the job … This would be the wrong person to give it to …

    In order to avoid further hits on this, the Mayor definitely needs to hire an extremely qualified minority who is not a Bridgeport person.

  3. On another note … Elitist Congressman Jim Himes is not supporting a bill that will remove credit checks from employment considerations … Bad move … Doesn’t he realize 50% if not more of his constituency has bad credit? As hard as it is to obtain employment, the personal financial matters of an individual should not be a condition of employment …

    1. Celia: I agree with you. If a person has a bad credit score and has been out of work for any length of time how are they supposed to pay their debts if they can’t get a job because of a bad credit rating? It sounds like he wants to create another class of people that will never get out of debt because of their credit rating, makes no sense to me either. It’s just another case of the wealthy politician not having a clue about what the poor and middle class are going through. I know a lot of people who are in debt and having problems meeting their financial obligations because they are on unemployment. I don’t know a single one of them who would not like to get back to work and pay off their debts.

  4. For followers of the city’s political scene it should be noted here that the North End’s Frankie Smerglinolo has passed away. He’ll be missed.

    Frankie was a foot soldier in the political army of the late Richard Pinto. And like Richie, Frankie’s word meant everything. It was worth gold if he gave it to you.

    He never held any major offices, wasn’t a widely known figure outside of the practitioners of the city’s largest industry and major sport – politics. He had a nose for crap spewed by lesser people and loved the interaction he had with people.

    Frankie spend many nights at the diners on Main Street after Common Council meetings, town committee meetings or sessions at campaign headquarters. Along with the other North End players, Frankie would assess positions and motives of the political players of the hour.

    Frankie was a people person. He knew what the people in the two-family homes and small Cape Cod houses in the North End thought about the issues and the people who came knocking at their door looking for votes.

    The city needs more people like Frankie, people who just want the city to be a better place.

    RIP Frankie. You’ll be missed.

  5. Why would any major employer move into this state or even stay in this state? Everything costs more in Connecticut.
    1. Utilities rates are out of control (so much for unregulated electrical rates).
    2. Gasoline is more expensive.
    3. The mass transit system is barely functioning.
    4. Housing costs are out of sight.
    5. Property taxes are higher than most other states.
    6. There is a state income tax.
    7. State sales tax.
    8. Those idiots in Hartford have taxed everything you can think of.
    9. Labor costs are a lot higher here in Connecticut than in most other states.
    10. Unemployment taxes are higher than in other states.
    These items along with others I can’t think of right now are what’s driving companies out of the state and are what’s keeping new companies from moving here.

  6. Damage has been done to trees at St. Mary’s in Bridgeport, looks like with a chainsaw. The police are investigating and it is blocked off from cars.

    Punch this up in Google:

    tree massacre bridgeport

    1. *** Sad to hear about any destruction done to Mother Nature’s Green eco-oxygen trees! Why & how can people be so ignorant & destructive in this day & age of “2010” is beyond me? Hope the vandals are caught & made an example of for all to see! ***

    1. “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

      Hey Cat, funny you should write that. I received the Census form in the mail today. No liver or Chianti came with it. I have plenty of beans.


Leave a Reply