Merrick Alpert Visits, Mother Rell’s Keno, GOP Speaks, The Blonde Banshee, And Clemons

Chris Dodd’s mired in a mortgage-load of dung and it doesn’t look like things will get better for Connecticut’s senior senator any time soon.

The Q Poll released this week validates Dodd’s leaky ship. Most revealing to me in the poll, however, wasn’t Dodd’s obvious general election issues, it was more how close his announced primary opponent Merrick Alpert,  so unknown to serial Dem primary voters, is running to him.

Alpert visited the state’s largest city on Thursday and we caught up for a chat at Ralph ‘n’ Rich’s about all things Bridgeport. (For Alpert’s background check out

The Mystic resident who trained from New London to Bridgeport has just enough political experience to ask the right questions but not so much that he has all the answers. As we chatted, a couple of OIB friends came up to say hello and he had a bunch of questions about what the Park City lacks, what it needs, and how he can help if given the chance.

Fundamentally, the most basic question came up: what can Chris Dodd claim, after 30 years in the Senate, that’s his own in Bridgeport?

Yeah, Dodd’s been a friend to unions and he offered the Family Leave bill, yadda, yadda; but what infrastructure project, public improvement, educational institution, streetscape, landscape, personal interest project can Dodd claim as his own?

It seems to me that Iowa, during Dodd’s disastrous presidential effort, received more attention from him in a few months than Bridgeport in 30 years. Yes, when L’Ambiance collapsed Dodd called, when Mary Moran filed for federal bankruptcy Dodd showed up, when UB Law School announced its departure, he called and showed up. But what else beyond lip service? What can Dodd point to in Bridgeport and say, that’s mine!

I’m waiting for the Dodd campaign to let OIB readers know. I’m willing to listen. Meanwhile, Alpert has a pretty good story to tell about a product of a single mom, military service, law school, starting his own business.

Alpert’s not living a life of illusion. He has a tall order taking out an entrenched incumbent who’ll have the majority support from the state’s political establishment. But that’s the part Alpert seems willing to both take on and persuade. Whether he makes it, or not, it’s not because he sucked up to the pols.

More on Alpert soon, including a Pol Pod.

Roll With Rell

Get a load of this, according to the Hartford Courant item below, Governor Rell wants to legalize Keno, that bingo-type gaming thing. Well I wish Mother Rell would go a notch above that and call for the expansion of slots, renegotiate the compact with the Mohegans and Pequots, and wire a whole shitload of that dough to Bridgeport.

Yeah baby, slots in every bar, gin mill and tavern. Connecticut is already the biggest bookie in the country, what’s the the diff? What do you say?

Gov. M. Jodi Rell offered a supplemental budget Thursday that would cut $1.3 billion in spending over two years, close some inland state parks, consolidate state agencies, shutter courthouses, and legalize Keno gambling to balance the cash-strapped, two-year budget.

The new budget would require no new taxes or municipal aid cuts and would reduce spending by 1.4 percent below the level for the current fiscal year. An actual year-to-year cut in state spending is rare because of general inflation and an even higher rate of inflation for medical services, which accounts for billions of dollars in the state budget.

The Keno games would generate an estimated $60 million per year in new state revenues.

The supplemental budget is in addition to the one that Rell offered in February, and it is designed to combat a plan by Democratic legislators to raise taxes by more than $3 billion over two years. By contrast, Rell says her budget requires no new taxes – particularly in the state income tax. If the state can avoid tax increases, it will have a competitive advantage when the recession ends, she said.

Finally, the local GOP speaks, a statement from party chair Marc Delmonico

Bridgeport Republican Party Expresses Concern Over City Leaders’ Commitment Towards Improving Education

President Obama’s commitment towards reforming the education system gives welcomed assistance to a cause for which the Republican Party in Bridgeport has always been committed. This is a historic opportunity for Bridgeport to set itself upon the right path.

We feel education is the most important issue confronting Bridgeport. A city’s education system has such far-reaching consequences for its future. We know many of the children we teach or don’t teach today will be the residents of our city decades from now. If Bridgeport is to firmly set its future on the road to progress, it must first solidify its education system.

The current situation is saddening. In an article dated May 7, 2009, the CT Post detailed the lack of progress the city has had in addressing the debilitating dropout problem. Independent studies have used such extreme language as “dropout factories” to describe some of our schools. The Board of Education continues to blame severe underfunding. Amidst the bad news, however, we see promise in the audit of the BOE currently under way. This audit can be a tool for leading the education system down the right track. If it can reveal the details and inefficiencies in the current operating budget, not only does it help us improve the system, but also allows us to make a case to the state for the areas in which it is underfunded.

However, as hopeful as we are in the success of this audit, the Republican Party has become deeply troubled by the lack of commitment to serious reform seen from the leaders of this city. We are discomforted by their detachment and lack of urgency towards the issue. This has not only been our observance, but from the leaders themselves. At a recent finance committee meeting, Councilwoman Susan Brannelly of the 130th District stated the Council’s Education Committee was “hands off.”

Proof of this is obvious from the handling of the audit. Despite former State Senator Rob Russo securing $250,000 in state funds for Phase III of the audit in June 2008, the Council has just now approved it, almost a year later. In addition, they have shown no concern about the committee selected to oversee the audit. As of now, an audit oversight committee will consist of members of the Administrator’s and Teacher’s Unions, all nine BOE Board members, representatives of the City Council and the BRBC. This committee will make decisions concerning the audit. The conflict of interest in this board is obvious. While we are not accusing the integrity of these people, we do believe the makeup of this board severely undermines the legitimacy of the audit. We must ensure an appearance of no impropriety in the audit process.

The members of the City Council must be reminded of their responsibilities as our elected officials. They are representatives for the parents, children, teachers and taxpayers of this city. We elected them to defend our best interests in an honest and open manner. We want transparency in our city government. Taking a “hands off” approach and burying our problems in the bureaucracy is not the kind of leadership we need.

It’s time for the City Council to remember they work for the people of Bridgeport and they owe us a transparent government that is responsible to our future. We urge the City Council to reexamine the makeup of this oversight committee in an open public forum and show a more vigorous commitment towards fixing our education system. Our city leaders must realize with an improved educational system, economic success will follow. The future of Bridgeport depends on it.

News release from Auden Grogins


State Representative Auden Grogins (D-Bridgeport) was honored with a “Children’s Champion” award by the members of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance during a ceremony held at the State Capitol on Thursday. Rep. Grogins was nominated by the Bridgeport Association of Young Children and the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition.

“I am proud to receive this award and to be recognized by this outstanding organization as an advocate for young children. As past president of the Bridgeport Board of Education, I know first hand the educational needs of young children and education is always my first priority,” Rep. Grogins said.

“Auden is a proven friend to children not only for her legislative record, but her continued commitment to early childhood development and support of her local organizations that improve the lives of Connecticut’s young children,” said Shaun McNally, CT Early Childhood Alliance executive director.

Rep. Grogins, a member of the Education Committee, sponsored bills this session that seek to improve children’s lives on issues ranging from autism spectrum disorder to students who suffer from asthma. She has also been a strong advocate of seeking education funding for the schools in her district. Rep. Grogins co-sponsored a bill passed by the Education Committee that increased ECS funding for Bridgeport by 2 percent.

The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance is a group of organizations and individuals committed to improving developmental outcomes in the areas of learning, health, safety and economic security for children up to the age of eight.

News release from Don Clemons


State Representative Don Clemons, who represents Bridgeport in the Connecticut General Assembly, helped lead passage of a bill in the House of Representatives that raises the age students are allowed to drop out of school from 16 to 17.

Clemons backed the change in state law because he believes dropping out at 16 is not sufficient for surviving in today’s economy. In particular, he finds the disproportionate number of drop outs in the African American, Latino and urban communities as a principle reason for the state’s swollen achievement gap.

“Dropping out at 16 is simply not an adequate standard, and having a law on the books that allows kids to do that sends a wrong message,” said Clemons, who chairs the legislature’s Black & Puerto Rican Caucus. “If we are going to advance the needs of generations coming after us, then this is one important change we can make that will have a positive impact.”

The proposed change was approved by a vote of 130-16 in the House. Students who have reached the age of 17 and wish to withdraw will need the permission of a parent or guardian. If the legislation becomes law, it will take effect on July 1, 2010.



  1. It was in the CT Post a few days ago that state rep Ayala helped get a judge nominated for the supreme court, no press releases, no coverage in OIB … This Grogins lady sneezes and she sends out a press release and Lennie puts it in the weekend blog … hmmm

    1. *** B/F, Ayala & other CT Latino politicians were raising support for a Latino pick by Obama in general, not necessarily Sotomayor @ the time. But if it was of any real help down in D.C then hats off to them for picking a great choice! ***

  2. When all BOE members were added to the oversight board for the audit it turned an independent board into a politicized group. Not to mention the representatives from the teacher’s and administrator’s unions. Why can’t we even try to help our kids and clean up the school system without leaders trying to skew things their way? The City Council should be ashamed for not doing right by the school audit.

  3. Lennie … as this is a Bpt political website, and you being a respected political investigative reporter … and Mr. Ayala is not one to toot his own horn like so many other full-of-shit politicians do … it would have been nice to see you reach out and cover that story of how a fellow Latino helped in getting someone to be nominated for the land’s highest court.

    1. “Respected political investigative reporter”.

      Lennie, can you investigate if it’s true that Bill Curry is entering the U.S. Senate race or are you going to wait for the CT Post to do it for you?

        1. A close family member did not say that to me.
          Bill Curry is seriously considering running. I’m not so close to Curry to the point that I’d be able to ask him myself . If you have his phone then call and ask him. In reality, I would not want Curry to enter let alone win the Democratic endorsement or primary. The weaker the Democratic candidate the better for Simmons or Caligiuri.

  4. Hey BF, although I think it should be BS, if you think Andres Ayala got Barack Obama to appoint the first Latino Supreme Court justice just by lending his name to some press release, why don’t you have him whip up another Press Release, demand $100 million in stimulus money for Bridgeport and life will be grand.
    By the way, have you gotten around to pinch that BOE supervisor that you claim is trading stolen property?

    1. Hey Grinner … You are turning something positive that a member of our Bpt delegation did … no one said the president nominated her because Ayala said so, he lead a delegation that pushed for her and she was nominated … the CT Post had coverage why not OIB was all I was asking … also, to answer your other smart-ass question … I am not a detective nor did I claim the BOE supervisor did anything … I overheard a lady at a coffee shop talking about it and lo and behold it seems the lightbulb guy did do it from what has been posted here and what has been said at city hall … and if you knew anything about procedures a sworn complaint would have had to be filed against the dimbulb to have any action taken by anyone other than the BOE or the BOE constables.

  5. With the cast of characters on the audit committee we can now say that any honest audit is dead. Why the hell would people (BOE) responsible for all of this BS be put on the board?
    The BOE and the board have a $5.1 million surplus in business that can be considered bad planning. The BOE held Finch’s feet to the fire last year screaming for more money; now we find there is a surplus that the BOE is trying to spend before the end of the budget year. They did the same thing last year.
    Bpts Finest Ayala could have sent a press release to Lennie; what’s it take, 5 minutes? If Ayala did anything he may have sent a letter or e-mail representing the Hispanic caucus.

  6. I guess I will repeat myself if it helps some understand what I said … this is not Ayala looking for publicity like some other full-of-shit politicians … so why would he send a press release??? This is me, a member of the Latino community asking why OIB … which is a BPT political blog … didn’t cover something that the CT Post did … period.

  7. Bpts Finest: did you ever think that the Post has a full-time reporter covering the capital? I am sure that Ken Dixon covered that for the Post.
    With all the BS coming out of Hartford the Post sees fit to have a full-time reporter there. As far as I know Lennie has no one covering the capital.
    Don’t you think that you are overblowing what Ayala may or may not have done?
    You have posted nothing but negative stuff on the nomination. Why not rejoice in the nomination and the step forward it has meant.
    Do you expect 1 man to cover every utterance coming from Ayala and the other reps we have in Hartford by himself?

  8. TC … how have I been negative about the nomination? I am very happy that a Latina has been nominated and a sidebar she saved baseball by ending the strike. I’m sure Lennie reads the Post and he could have mentioned something on the nomination and the fact that Ayala pushed for it … the fact is that Ayala doesn’t post here or toot his horn like Grogins does by sending crap to him every time she farts, so Lennie does not push any of his accomplishments … His blog, he does as he pleases of course.

  9. Merrick Alpert Who? A Pol Pod interview? Straight out of left field! Lennie you have known about Simmons and Caligiuri–the two Republican candidates for U.S. Senate–and I haven’t heard you announce any OIB Pol Pod interview of them? Lennie, did you tell Merrick about Bill Curry’s future announcement of his entrance into the race for U.S. Senate? It looks like Merrick will have to first figure out how to beat Bill Curry before he gets to Dodd. Merrick should try working his way up the political ladder and run for lower office first. Both Republican contenders for Dodd’s U.S. Senate seat have done just that.

  10. So Mojo, Bpts Finest and Ayala–acording to B.F.– are Sotomayor admirers. I have been reading on Sotomayor’s rulings and the numbers of reversals by the Supreme Courts. Sotomayor has a reversal rate of about 85%.

    This means that if Sotomayor were a sharpshooter who could successfully shoot an apple from a man’s head from 30 feet away 15% of the time, there would be an 85% chance that the three volunteers who put the apple to their heads–Mojo, Bpts Finest and Ayala–will end up with a ‘Roto Mayor’ (major hole) in their heads.
    If Sotomayor were an Airplane Pilot with only a 15% successful landing record … You got the idea.

  11. Finally, the local GOP speaks …
    Lennie, are you implying something?

    Marc Delmonico should speak to the Republican town committee regarding asking Gov. Rell to pull back the
    $250,000 school audit funds.
    I’d like to hear from Bruce Hubler about his take on the BOE auditing process and his experience with it.

  12. While I understand Rep Clemons having the dropout age raised from 16 to 17, it really is not addressing the problem.
    The problem is that we have kids that are bored and see nothing for themselves in the future. The kids that are ready to drop out need to be stimulated and know that what they are learning will help them when they get out of school. Educators tell us that the parents need to be more active in educating their kids. Well in theory that is correct. The facts are the most of these kids that are dropping out are from single-parent homes.
    We generally have the mother raising more than one child who is out in the workforce trying to earn a living for her family. She gets these kids off to school gets ready and goes to her job. She gets out of work and now must get supper ready, kids bathed and if she is still standing try and do homework that she may barely understand.This is a recipe for failure.
    I know many of these single mothers through my affiliation with youth baseball. They are caring but overwhelmed mothers who are doing their damnedest to make sure their kid survives.
    We need to offer educational services that will get these kids ready for the real world of work. Contrary to popular BS not all kids are going to college. The educators know this; they gear their programs for the college bound and warehouse the rest of the kids. With a 68% dropout rate there should be a major push by educators to rectify this statistic. There is not.
    Let’s look at getting these kids ready for the workforce with programs that will train them for these jobs. Learning who the 14th president of the US is just bullshit for these kids when they get to high school.

  13. So TC,
    You support taking $7.5 million away from the current BOE budget to cover Finch’s incompetent budget director who missed revenue estimates by $20 million.
    You support level funding for the next year’s BOE budget.
    And you support the BOE doing everything possible to motivate the kids to stay in school and not drop out.
    Simply amazing.

  14. It is too easy to fall back on blaming the current administration for the financial mess Bridgeport is mired in. A little shortsighted also. There has been a deficit in Bridgeport’s budget for a few years; Finch should not be held accountable for the sins of mayors past. He is trying to effect repairs, and anything he does will take time. We can’t behave like a bunch of third-worlders, wandering around in the streets after liberation from despotism, holding our hands palm up while shouting, “We’ve had democracy for seven days. When’s this shit s’posed to get better?”

    Want your children to receive a good education in Bridgeport? Enroll them in a privately run school.

  15. Of course it is irresponsible to blame the financial mess solely on Finch. He inherited too many years of “pay to play” economics that have kept our fair city mired lower than whale shit. But this mess is being perpetuated by Finch who doesn’t tie his shoes without a call to Madison Avenue.

    Voter apathy has impacted any progress we may have seen permitting The Calamari Creep to do just about anything he wants. Maybe … just maybe we can start by electing some really good people first to the council then to City Hall. Enough is enough.

    Cutting headcount is not the only answer to stability. A damn good one, but not the solution. It drives me crazy to see the potential being wasted by Finch who hasn’t got a single clue as to how to pull the trigger on plans for meaningful revitalization.

    All it takes is one or two dedicated candidates for office to effect a beginning to the overthrow of the Cannoli for Lunch Bunch. Looks like we have some aspirants that fit the mold. Hope so.

  16. OK, let me see if I’m following this right.

    Finchmeister has dumped Stafstrom who got him in the big chair and he breaks bread with Mr. Mario?

    Ayala doesn’t toot his horn but Grogins does? Does she own stock in that cute little energizer bunny?

    Now at the head table is Birdman, Mario, Charlie Chuckles, Tommy Mac and Johnny Fabulosi???

    Kocher Franks are still being served on Main and Capital and he now thinks he’s bulletproof while his two underlings try everything to throw kryptonite onto his desk? Especially the romeo who runs to the doc every few mins, hear from BOE people he strikes out in and out of city hell.

    The Fairfield Kid thinks the Bird is bulletproof, must be, kid’s never wrong. lol

    The Latino guy in blue seems to feel the blog boss doesn’t like Tito’s nephew JR? Memo to Lennie G, the Post did say the man is the rising CT political star.

    Memo to TC, the kids ain’t bored, they can make too much on the outside buying and selling, er, a, stocks?

    Did I miss anything?????????

  17. Reaper: I did not advocate anything you stated in your message other than the BOE should be looking at an alternative to what they are offering now. An alternative that will keep kids in school and give them the tools to work when they graduate.
    SOB you are wrong about the majority of these kids.
    Reaper I did advocate subtracting the $5.1 million surplus from next year’s budget. I did so because BOE has no plan in place to improve education for the Bridgeport kids.
    Bridgeport Kid the answer is not enrolling kids in private school. Most of the parents with kids in the Bpt system are lucky they can afford food let alone tuition.

    1. That’s the Fairfield Kid, where they can afford private schools, but the public school drinking fountains are gold and don’t need to go to private schools.

  18. Raising the legal dropout age to 17 is a law that can’t be enforced. Do you really think a 16-year-old kid who feels no connection to his school, is failing most subjects and gets no support from home or school will say jeez let me stay in school another year so that I don’t break the law? No, he will leave when he wants to leave. This will be another excuse for the BOE to ask for more money for truancy officers. Instead, they need to revamp the school system so that these kids feel a connection to their schools and actually see that education will change their lives.

  19. *** Promises that never transpire about what the kids need, BOE asks for more money every budget season only to mismanage & use to pay outstanding bills in the last quarter of the fiscal year. The BOE points the blame @ the city & the city points it at the state, and the state blames the feds! And around & around the blame goes & nothing that’s really positive happens except more “$” eventually is spent & the major problems stay the same! If ideas on what should be done to fix the problems were stock, it would be a great investment! Dropouts once turned 18 yrs. with no type of future plans should be drafted for 3 yrs. in the military with a GI bill after an honorable discharge, to get their GED & on to Voc. school or state & community college to continue an education. Automatic, Dropout, you serve Uncle Sam! ***

  20. If youths are dropping out of school at 16, what’s to stop other youths from dropping out at 17? When the law was that students could drop out at 16, students who were 14 and 15 were dropping out.

  21. Re: Keno in The Land of Steady Habits.

    “Rell’s budget proposal would borrow $400 million against future Keno revenues in 2011, in a tactic called securitization, which would help balance the state budget and would be paid off over 10 years.”

    This is the same kind of financial shenanigans that got Wall Street and USA bankers into so much trouble in the first place. Once again, Connecticut is using gambling to balance its budget. This blogger says BOO-HISS to this tactic which will be paid off over (gulp) ten years! This proposal merges two bad ideas: gambling and borrowing.

    In an unrelated matter, yesterday’s Sweetport festival combined good music, fantastic weather and the kind of location available ONLY IN BRIDGEPORT to produce a wonderful day and event!

  22. His biggest mistake was not replacing the budget director with a competent financial manager. He should have hired someone with the education and real experience to do more than add and subtract numbers (I am not sure TS can even do that but I am giving him the benefit of the doubt). He should have hired someone with an ability to analyze finances, make projections, plan for future issues, suggest strategic changes etc. … What he has is someone who takes an old budget (don’t believe the BS that they start with a zero base and develop a budget) and dusts it off. Then he knocks off some old one-time revenues (hopefully, although they missed a few of these over the years and created budget deficits later that had to be made up), adds some new one-time revenues or inflates the tax collection rate and comes to a bottom line. If he has a deficit, he pulls out his list of people he wants to stick it to and starts playing games. Then he hides some money here and there and gives raises to the favored and hires more people to sit and do almost nothing all day in his office so he can claim to have a department that he leads to justify a $120,000 salary for someone who’s job (that he does poorly) is active about 4 months a year. Mayor Finch may see the light someday … although it does seem that someone is protecting this unqualified and poor performing OPM Director. I wonder who???


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