On A Roll In Black Rock, And Épernay Party Time!

Minority party representation.

That was part of my pitch to a sweet gathering Tuesday night at the Black Rock Library discussing Bridgeport government, how it’s supposed to work and how it really works.

Lots of OIB friends attended, and I met a bunch of new folks in town eager for city information. State Senator Ed Gomes, City Councilmen Angel DePara and Bob Troll Walsh, marketing guru extraordinaire Caryn Kaufman, retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez and hubby Judge Dale Radcliffe, newly elected Board of Education members Pat Crossin and Maria Pereira, Library Board member Sly Salcedo, former State Representative Bob Keeley, former City Clerk Tom Mulligan, The Bridgeport Kid, John Soltis (John from Black Rock) and a whole bunch more.

Fairfield University professor Don Greenberg opened the discussion highlighting sections from the City Charter, the role of the mayor, City Council and various boards and commissions. Then it was loudmouth Lennie’s turn to talk about a brief history of Civil Service (Socialist Mayor Jasper McLevy’s gift to the city) the mayors I’ve covered and worked for and some of the items the city needs to work on.

We touched on a boatload of topics. Jim Carbone, who built Modern Plastics in the city’s West End, talked about the need to break the Dem stranglehold on the city. My suggestion was minority party representation on the City Council. Trumbull has it for its legislative body. Why not Bridgeport through a charter change? These things don’t happen overnight, I explained, but that’s an area where city Republicans can make their mark, especially after losing two BOE seats (under minority party representation) to the Working Families Party.

I did not notice, while I was frothing about the successful work of the Working Families candidates Sauda Baraka and Maria Pereira, but there was Maria in the audience raising her hand as I was talking about the hard work those candidates put into getting elected.

Lots of questions from the audience.

Can Mayor Bill Finch get reelected? Yes, I responded, but he has some work to do. He must focus on marketing the city, building coalitions in state government to aid Bridgeport projects, and meeting regularly with private sector decision-makers for business recruitment.

Will Steel Point development ever happen? I passed that baby right over to Nancy Hadley, the city’s former director of economic development, also in the audience. Part of the problem in the past, Nancy explained, was the lack of all the parcels assembled for the task. She now thinks all the pieces are in place for the developer to move forward and make revitalizing 52 acres on the East Side a reality. Let’s hope so.

Why is Mario Testa, Democratic Party chair, involved in politics? He likes the game, I explained, the power, the positioning, leveraging local political support for a say in state politics. That’s what party chairs do.

Is there hope for the city? Yes, yes and yes. Never give up.

Party With Us

Okay kids, mark your calendar. Monday, Dec 7, 5:30 p.m. Join us for our annual holiday bash, at Épernay Bistro, 272 Fairfield Avenue, in beautiful downtown Bridgeport. If you’ve never tasted Chef Peter Wroe’s food you haven’t lived. Check out Épernay and join us to spread the best rumors in town. First cocktail on OIB, plus sweet eats by Peter who is opening the joint especially for us. Épernay is usually closed on Monday. Check out www.epernaybistro.com.

A Body Slam From Chris Keating, Hartford Courant

Linda McMahon, in her campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, has repeatedly distanced herself from the business that made her rich and propelled her aspiring political career — professional wrestling.

In TV commercials and campaign brochures, McMahon mentions that she operated a highly successful business with her husband that had once gone bankrupt. But the commercials never mention wrestling.

Now, one of the best-known champion wrestlers of the 1970s and ’80s is bursting from behind the curtain, vaulting the ropes and trying to disrupt the match in progress — an annoyance and political distraction that McMahon does not need.

Superstar Billy Graham is speaking out against the woman he says made millions from the violence, sexual exploitation, blood and excesses of professional wrestling. What outrages him particularly, he says, are recent attempts to sanitize the wrestling mega-enterprise whose sexy women wrestlers once performed in “lingerie matches” and were still posing nude in Playboy as recently as 2008. He views this toning down as a huge act of hypocrisy — an attempt to graft a family-friendly face onto a business that has been anything but.

After operating the highly successful World Wrestling Entertainment empire for years with her husband Vince, Linda McMahon has resigned as chief executive officer and is campaigning full time against four fellow Republicans for the right to face Dodd in November 2010.

Graham makes no bones about his love-hate relationship with the McMahons, which started years before Linda McMahon emerged as a candidate for public office. The WWE, an attorney for Vince McMahon and Linda McMahon’s campaign all denounce Graham as a bitter former employee with zero credibility.

Nonetheless, his promise to dog her campaign threatens to keep the gritty and, to many, unsavory aspects of professional wrestling’s past a part of McMahon’s run for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

For the full story: www.courant.com/news/politics/hc-superstar-mcmahon-critic-111.artnov18,0,2728609.story

Superstar Billy Graham
Superstar Billy Graham

The Maltese Falcon

The Big Read Closes in a BIG Way!

Experience LIVE Radio Drama

FREE This Thursday

Bridgeport and Shelton’s Big Read for the fall of 2009 concludes this Thursday, November 19, with a fabulous Live Radio Show Adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s classic crime drama, The Maltese Falcon.

Performed and adapted by Connecticut Free Shakespeare, the show will be broadcast live on WPKN-FM 89.5 radio.

The audience, both at the theater and those listening on WPKN, will hear a story that employs Hammett’s knack for engaging dialogue and his understanding of the depths of the human soul.

The radio performance, replete with period music and real sound effects, will bring back old-time radio for a an evening of unmatched entertainment.

Whether you attend the live broadcast at The Watermark in Bridgeport or tune in live to WPKN, the falcon is sure to circle in your imagination, making you wonder why radio drama is no longer as popular as it once was.


This Thursday, November 19th

Preview performance: 3:30pm

Closing performance: 7:30pm


The Audiorium at The Watermark, 3030 Park Avenue, Bridgeport

*Refreshments courtesy of The Watermark at each performance!*

 Support The Arts

December 3, 4, 5, 6 Bridgeport’s Artful gifts trail. City art organizations will open their doors for holiday shoppers and art lovers this season. The city will be alive with original art and hand made gifts at ten Bridgeport art venues. Throughout the first weekend in December.

The groups have come together to create art lovers “trail” accessible by car, that tours from Black Rock to the East End through Downtown. The venues included will be Framemakers Frame Shop and Art Gallery, Port Coffee House, The Gallery at Black Rock, Day One Skate Shop and Artspace, City lights Gallery, The Bridgeport Public Library, Reads Artspace, Am Fab Art and Design Center, The 305 Knowlton Street Artist Studios, and Avant Garden Temporary Gallery. Our city has a lot to offer by way of interesting, affordable handmade art and gifts and we want to let the public know that shopping Bridgeport can be a unique and rewarding experience.

The participating art venues will all be hosting events and shows during the course of the long weekend starting Thursday night with a first Anniversary Celebration at The Gallery at Black Rock with a new Show of works on Paper by Charlie Walsh. Saturday and Sunday all venues are open to the Public with affordable and original gifts and Artwork. A tree lighting on McLevy green will be supplemented by a party with Mrs. Clause at City Lights Gallery and open Gallery at Reads Artspace. Throughout the city there will be art and handmade gifts for sale. Many of the venues will have an eye to the affordable art and gifts with Holiday Shoppers in mind.

The groups have banded together to let the public know that there is Fantastic art and great shopping throughout the city during the holiday season and year round. There will be something for everyone throughout this weekend.

This will be a great way to get your shopping done have fun and support the Arts in Bridgeport.

For information please contact Eileen Walsh at The Gallery at Black Rock, 203.814.6856



  1. Lennie I disagree with you on minority representation on the council. The Republican party in this city is made up of a bunch of lazy people that do not want to do the work necessary to get elected.
    This past election you had 2 candidates in Black Rock who worked hard and made an attempt to win. The question here is how involved in their community were they before they decided to run?
    In my district the 2 Republican candidates did not walk the neighborhood, did not put out any literature and did not show up at the polls on election day.
    The Republicans as is their wont will wait until 6 months before the election for mayor and then throw some no-name into the fray as their mayoral candidate. Why don’t they have a candidate now who is speaking out on issues and getting himself/herself known now.
    Putting Republicans on the council because we need minority representation is nothing more than a liberal feel-good move. What the hell are they going to accomplish and more likely than not will end up getting in line with the Dems.
    If the Republicans want representation they need to get off their collective asses and do the hard work it takes to get elected.

    1. TC, we saw two WFP candidates snatch BOE seats from the GOP so maybe they too would benefit from minority party representation. It could bring candidates to the table that otherwise would not play in the city’s political process for fear they could not overcome that dreaded “political machine” (which sometimes is more like a jalopy).

  2. OIB Rumor Mill:

    Let’s face it: after several out-of-control parties, the OIB crowd has gathered a well-deserved reputation. I’m talking about the kind of debauchery that makes The Rolling Stones look like altar boys.

    Hidden OIB cameras (they don’t call me Local Eyes for nothing) show Chef Wroe chasing Lennie with a butcher cleaver until he agreed to hold the party on a Monday night.

    In other news, it was determined that Sarah Palin, that sugar-coated witch, quit her job as Alaska’s Governor to write a book about her hunky husband. Sarah Palin calling herself a rogue is like Hilary Clinton declaring herself “Rambo”.

    It never stops. THIS ole world still looks the same but it’s 2009–we’re ALL minorities, right?

  3. Lennie–

    Thanks to you and Don Greenberg it was a great night at the Black Rock Branch Library. Last night’s community forum was exactly the kind of event we strive to hold at the library. It was very well attended and was both informative and fun.

    Thanks again,

    John Soltis (John from Black Rock)

  4. Lennie what you are now saying is we should allow spots on the council for the Working Families Party in addition to seats for the Republican party?
    Why don’t we just say screw elections we can just appoint five Working Family Party candidates, five Republican candidates and 10 Democrats (unless another party shows up).
    Look I know you are baiting me here (but I have a slow morning so I will play).
    The Working Families Party got their two seats because they worked their asses off. If they had candidates in every district and worked as hard as the two BOE winners they could have won a few seats on the council.
    The Republicans are too dumb to see they do have a good shot at the mayor’s job in two years. Every now and then an opportunity presents itself, example Panuzio, Paoletta, Moran. They have done absolutely nothing to start positioning themselves for a run in two years. God knows the Finch administration gives them ammunition almost on a daily basis.
    By the way if they are showing FEAR of the dreaded machine I don’t need them in city hall when a touchy subject comes up.

  5. Good program last night. Thank you Lennie and Don for sharing your perspectives and thank you John (from Black Rock) for putting the program together. I learned some things I didn’t know and enjoyed a few laughs. I wanted to hear even more about how Bridgeport government impacts development.

  6. TC,
    If there were no minority representation on the BOE and the DTC were allowed to endorse two more candidates to run for those seats, would the Working Families candidates have won those seats working just as hard as they did?

    I wonder why Working Families focused on the BOE instead of the City Council, if they had two hard-working candidates?

  7. Working Families candidates had a passion for education and worked their butts off. Republicans had two good candidates in the 130th and the RTC sat on their butts.

  8. And I understand they ran for BOE because they were focused on education. But on the one hand you knock the RTC for not supporting a couple of its hard-working candidates, while it didn’t look like there was a Working Families organization behind their two candidates nor pushing its City Council candidates.

    The fact is minority parties struggle to have a voice in this city and I think that’s a loss for the city. The organizations that support them do have a difficult time finding new blood to undertake the work needed to win in this city because the success rate is low. However, I believe minority party representation could change that. The Council would obviously still be dominated by Dems; but Working Families, Republicans, Independents and any other party would have a good opportunity to have a couple seats on the Council. Then you have a City Council with multiple voices, which I think could only improve that body and the City government.

  9. “Black Rock Library discussing Bridgeport government” … I was unable to attend but see it was a great success. We have the theory on one side, and how things really get done on the other.

    I invite you both, Lennie and Don, to come on the weekly live TV program “Bridgeport Now” to talk more about these important issues. Maybe we could have Finch also Just take the full hour.

    Thanks to John Soltis at the library for having these great programs!

  10. TC:
    You state the case against “minority” party representation well: Ya gotta get the votes.
    A contrary thought is that some voice for the losers is needed. American cities have a tendency to lean toward one-party rule. There should be diversity inside a party, but in practice it usually devolves into a unified “machine.”
    A “minority” representative theoretically offers a contrary voice to slip in outside a dominant political party. In the Bridgeport situation, we usually think of the “minority” as the Repubs, but it has been under other names (Socialist is only one).
    “Working Families” could be viewed as merely a lefty split from the Dems. There have been splits from the right using the Repub label as well. It is not too much of a stretch to say that some Repub school board members elected in the past were really right-wing Dems using the Repub label.
    If people don’t give a damn, no system is going to work. The theory of minority party representation involves a cynical (or “practical”) calculation that ANY way to stop/slow a majority steamroll is good.

  11. Lennie,
    I am a big supporter of minority party representation on the council. You are correct in pointing out that it would have to be done by charter.
    In order to work (as I see it), the council would need to expand to 30 members, 3 per district of which no more that 2 could be from the same political party.
    If all went according to the logical scenario you would end up with 20 Democrats holding a 2/3 majority and 10 council seats belonging to the Republican, Working Family and even Green Party.
    But in reality, depending on the issue you could very well have the R’s siding with the more conservative D’s while the liberal D’s might reach out to the WF’s or G’s.
    Even in the scenarios that Town Committee talks about, if you had 2 Democrats running, 2 Republicans and 2 Working Family Party members running the battle may start out among the 4 minority party members but since the highest vote getter among them would be guaranteed a seat they might all work so hard that they could knock off a Democrat in a good year.
    When council members think first of trying to build coalitions with other council members to try to get their work done rather than with the administration, you will have a totally different functioning body.
    But here is the fly in the ointment. You would have to form a Charter Revision Commission to get the process started and they could ignore the minority party plan and simply recommend changes that would strengthen the mayor and party mainstream.
    Is it worth the gamble???

  12. Bob, the problem with adding 10 more members means another $180K in stipend money. For what? To say we have Republican representation? BFD!!!
    Maybe what we should be looking at is Term Limits. Knowing that the entrenched politician can only serve so many years and then is out might encourage more people to get involved. Knowing that the machine candidate can’t run again and a fresh face will be filling that seat might encourage the minority party to get serious about campaigning and really trying to win the seat.
    Having people serve for 10 years or more is of no benefit to the citizens of Bridgeport as is seen with the makeup of this council.
    Other towns have changed parties after general elections; I cite Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull just to name a few. It took hard work and not just placing candidates on the ballot just prior to election time.
    Let’s stop crying “It’s not Fair” that we have no Republicans or minority candidates. Let them do the work. The constitution does not allow for a pity candidate.

  13. TC, since you’re so quick to label people as not being hard workers, why didn’t you run as an independent when you lost? Thought you had no chance, or would have to work too hard, to beat the two candidates on the Democratic line? For someone who was so passionate about running and opposing the Finch administration, I would think you would have had the desire to run independently of the DTC. If there were minority party representation, you wouldn’t have even needed the DTC endorsement.

    1. Big City: I did run independently of the DTC when I primaried the endorsed candidates. The party spoke, I listened. Ann and I campaigned for 4 months, went to every registered Democrat’s house at least once and dropped literature at every house at least twice. The people spoke … Ann and I did our best and the people spoke.
      I am still a Democrat and was not running against Finch I was running against 2 aldermen who I thought were not paying attention to the district.
      They won fair & square and you know what they have gotten back to what they once were and are working harder in the district. Mission accomplished.
      Just so you know our campaign literature did not mention Finch once. Do I go after Finch when he is wrong you bet I do but our campaign was not geared to getting Finch.
      Putting people on the council to get minority party representation is wrong. Period.
      Just for the hell of it what would you call someone that gets their name on the ballot and then stays home and does not campaign?

      1. So you contacted every house in your district so the two current councilmen would pay attention to their district more? And it’s less than a month after the election and you’re declaring mission accomplished?

        I think Republicans are looking to do a little more than just have the councilmen focus during election season. The time commitment they would need to put in to institute real change in city government would take more than four months. It would probably take years and a lost election or two before they would even get the chance to represent their district. Some of them have done this … for decades. I’d call someone who put their name on a ballot and didn’t campaign a placeholder. But all the Republicans I know worked. Maybe not as much as you would like, not as visible as you would like, or as successful as you would like. But I admire them, because despite the odds and despite losing repeatedly, they have spent years of their time dedicated to what they believe is best for this city. I certainly wouldn’t come on here and disrespectfully degrade them like I was some anointed hard worker who could condescendingly lecture them.

  14. Big City is onto something. Bridgeport is a Democratic community. Republicans have to work that much harder for a person to give them their vote.
    Helpful preconditions for Repubs:
    1) An unpopular Dem mayor, councilman, or both.
    2) A person popular with the neighborhood despite party.
    It obviously has been done.

  15. Maybe you wouldn’t but I did and I stand by what I said. To go on the ballot and not campaign and not even show up at the voting place on election day is wrong. I admire anyone that puts in the time and effort and tries to win, example the candidates in Black Rock. I go back to my original post and that is the Republicans should have a candidate for the next mayoral race lined up and out there so the people can get to know him. Putting a sacrificial lamb out there 6 months before the election is a waste of time.
    I am for a 2-party system and I wish that the Republicans were stronger because it would make the city better. Yeah I know that’s wrong for a Dem to say but I want the city to grow and prosper and it won’t with a one-party system.

  16. “On A Roll In Black Rock …” You are right about that Lennie! A Black Rock resident is jumping into the 4th Congressional race. Rick Torres will be announcing his entrance into the Republican 4th Congressional race.

  17. Lennie, have you checked to see if there are signs that the Working Family Party is an arm of the Democratic Party? Connections to ACORN and Unions are clear giveaways.

  18. In order to have a legislative body that works … I believe the council should consist of 7 city-wide positions, of which 3 seats are for minority representation. The highest vote-getter of all is the Council President.

    This would produce a much stronger council … that would be held accountable to the entire city, as their decisions affect the entire city and not just districts. They should also be 4-yr terms running during the midterm of the Mayor’s.

  19. Here’s more fuel for the fire:

    Walsh’s proposal keeps a strong Mayor system and creates a larger council body that is usually not productive. Stamford has 20 districts and 40 members with no stipends. It’s too large.

    Celia’s proposal creates a weak Mayor system with 7 competitors since they would be elected city-wide.

    How about keeping the 10 districts, have 1 representative elected from each and have 3 people elected at large. You could stipend them or not, they would have to work to stay elected or get burned out and leave. No need for term limits! No debate over minority representation, a leaner, cleaner group of banditos, and if you stipend, you save money!


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