Rip Out Your Friends, Baby!

The game is on as we close in on Aug. 12 Tsunami Tuesday. Over the next several days we’ll take a look at some of the intriguing primaries. Let’s start with the battle royal between State Rep. Bob Keeley and former City Council and Board of Education member Auden Grogins.

Taking out an established incumbent such as Keeley, the longest-serving legislator in city history, is a mighty task. This race is spirited because of Grogins’ door-to-door campaigning and phone work. When the candidate works hard results follow. Grogins also has a strong mail plan that contrasts her voting record on the City Council with his in the legislature. When you’ve been in Hartford as long as Keeley it’s impossible not to vote for tax increases. Goes with the territory. If you want stuff for your district you’ve got to play along.

Keeley has weapons. He’ll play Santa Claus in the final 10 days bolstered by outgoing House Speaker Jim Amann who’ll try to reinforce all the stuff Keeley does for the district. Amann’s running for governor and Keeley’s pledged his loyalty. The Keeley camp will return the mail fire by linking Grogins to her tenure on the Board of Education, not the most well-liked body in the city, and support from Mayor Bill Finch who’s not popular with taxpayers.

I expect Grogins to be competitive at her home base Black Rock School and in Longfellow School, a turf that District Leader Danny Roach, a Grogins supporter, knows well. She may also run up a small advantage with absentee ballots.

The bigger question is how close can Grogins stay to Keeley in his home base at Central High School–home to Brooklawn, West Side and lower North End–the biggest piece of the legislative district where he is known best.

Keeley has the support of Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa who ousted party leader John Stafstrom, a Grogins supporter, in March. (Yeah, I know Cynthia King was technically party chair, but it was Stafstrom’s show.) The area of the city Stafstrom has the strongest standing is Central, also his home turf. He represented that area on the City Council and the recent Democratic Town Committee primary in that district showed that Stafstrom still has strength there.

The Central voting precinct has roughly 2,000 registered Dems between the 132nd and 133rd City Council Districts. Pols supporting Keeley that know the area include Councilman Bob Walsh and City Council President Tom McCarthy. City primary turnouts have been pathetically low. Will even 20 percent turn out at Central? What is that, 400 votes? Is Stafstrom worth 40 or 50 votes for Grogins? Probably. What can Rabbi Stein deliver for Grogins from his congregation on the West Side? Another 30 or 40? What other votes can she pull from door-to-door and phone identification? Can she manage 150 votes to Keeley’s 250 votes at Central? That’s doable.

That places the burden on Black Rock School, the highest percentage turnout area in the city, and Longfellow, one of the lowest, and an absentee ballot operation to make up the difference. Can she win Black Rock School by 60 or 70 votes? And Longfellow by 30 or 40? If so, it’s a tight one. If not, ball game.

For the most part, the camp that identifies its friends and drags them to the polls wins.

News release from Mayor Finch:

Mayor Finch Orders Revamping of City’s Bidding Process

BRIDGEPORT, CT (July 31, 2008) – Mayor Bill Finch today ordered the city Purchasing Department to revamp certain aspects of the city’s bidding and selection process to ensure consistent fairness for all bidders.

“I have been very concerned about the process since I took office in December,” said Mayor Finch. “Revamping the process will decrease the chances of an accidental mishandling of the paperwork, allow for additional training of those conducting the bidding and selection process, and will allow bidders and proposers to correct deficiencies in a timely manner to the extent that the law permits. In the end, the process will be fairer for all bidders, ensuring that Bridgeport is served by the most qualified bidders at the best price.”

The impact of the mayor’s order is that a number of outstanding bids, including the selection process for a construction manager for the planned Discovery Magnet School , will be redone.

“The city is always committed to choosing the best and most qualified vendors, but it also wants to ensure that its processes are as fair as they can possibly be,” said Bernd Tardy, director of the city’s Purchasing Department. “At the direction of Mayor Finch, the city is revising its process for the selection of professionals and consultants to be more inclusive by preventing technical and other defects in bid submissions from eliminating otherwise qualified vendors from consideration.”

To this end, Tardy said, the city will be:
1. Modifying the Request for Proposal (RFP) form to highlight required components and provide a correction period;
2. Releasing an Evaluator’s Guide for selection process participants;
3. Facilitating a best practices workshop for selection committees to make the selection process more consistent across the board; and
4. Encouraging joint ventures with minority construction firms in the bidding and the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process.

 “I commend Mayor Finch for his steadfast commitment and for stepping up to the plate to guarantee that all qualified bidders have the opportunity to be included in the selection process,” said Deborah Caviness, director of the city’s Office of Small and Minority Business Contracting.



  1. Beautiful day to go down to the Vibes and get your groove on. I hear the stuffed mushrooms are delicious.

    Grogins and Keeley to open event with duet song on their records from Gigi. “Ah Yes!, I Remember It Well!!”

    If the Dodgers play the Red Sox in the World Series the headlines in Boston for opening game at Fenway will be:

    “Manny, Happy, Returns!”

  2. Dateline: 8/1/08
    Place: New London Harbor

    The Explorer of The Sea just docked moments ago with Five Thousand guests on board. I’m going to be tied up the next few days.

    The Bridgeport Kid! There are some wonderful opportunities up here. Sell your good vibration tickets, and why don’t you stow away for the weekend and I’ll show you the town. I guarantee you a whale of a time.

  3. How can anyone in their right mind support Jim Amann for Governor?

    He has no chance against a Dan Malloy or a Dick Blumenthal.

    Now maybe Keeley is just playing the game. But if he honestly believes Amann is viable, it shows one thing, — he’s been in Hartford way too long.

  4. Good Morning OIB. Today is the first day of August, but not the last day of intimidation over at the Health Department. I have reliable sources that “The Mask and Friends” have stepped up their bully tactics now that the blog is smearing their names.

    Bill Finch needs to step in and get rid of that so called Dr. Evans and hire Dr. Dre to be his health Director just to send a message. At this point they could hire Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s and he would do a better job of running the Health Department and most city departments.

  5. I would suggest the Black Rock non Art Center is a huge issue in Black Rock. Keeley has helped fund that disaster and Auden is against it and is for putting it up for sale.
    Good for her !!

  6. Has Keeley prepared the list I asked for? You know, the one where he lists all of the money he received from non-profits for “consulting” so that we can compare that list to the list of all grants his committee has provided?

  7. Yahooy,
    A list of all those consulting fees is only one necessary document. Keeley needs to provide bank statements showing who’s holding the money for him.

  8. BRAC is a big issue among the small minded. I remember when Fabrizi tried to pull the rug out from underneath Joe Celli at the behest of Danny Roach and his landlord the Ganim Family. (Not to be confused with the Addams Family although there are certain similarities. Monsters v. Mobsters).
    One of the brainstorm suggestions was a bank branch with a drive-up teller. Now that is a real economic development engine for the Black Rock.
    Why then is Auden and her supporters (who would never set foot in that building) stopping by for a debate? Or should that read stooping by for the debate?

  9. Auden Grogins and her supporters are stopping by for the debate because it is not being sponsored by BRAC. Fabrizi (and now Finch) want the BRAC out of the building because it is prime real estate that should and must be on the tax rolls.

    The suggestion of a bank is a very sound idea. A bank would permit local residents to do their banking(and spend their money) in Black Rock, instead of having to truck into Fairfield. A bank would also offer services like accounting and money management, as well as encouraging investment in Black Rock by offering mortgages and business loans.

    The problem facing the art center is one of its own making: Joe Celli thought he could do an end run around the terms of original lease with the city. No one questions the value of arts and culture. Many people do question Joe Celli’s integrity and sincerity. He has been using the art center and his “nonprofit” organization, IPA, to line his pockets with cash. Until Melissa Bernstein took over day-to-day management of BRAC, virtually nothing was happening there.

  10. In case people out on the Rock didn’t know, there is a People’s branch in the new Black Rock Stop and Shop. There is almost universal agreement among planners that drive up windows are the worst type of development. No foot traffic in the neighborhood. No spin-off business. But we all know it is all about the Ganim’s increasing their real estate holdings on the Rock. Nothing more.

  11. There are more than a few people that simply don’t want to go to the new Stop & Shop in the West End (it’s not technically in Black Rock).

    Joe Celli has the unflattering habit of blaming everyone else for his misfortunes, in this case Danny Roach and Paul Ganim. Joe Celli has a problem with Mr. Roach, but it isn’t mutual. Mr. Celli would have you believe that Danny Roach is the root of all his difficulties with City Hall. If Mr. Celli would have anyone listening believe that Danny Roach is behind BRA’s efforts to remove the art center from 2838 Fairfield Avenue. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Celli forgets that Mr. Roach has a family and a business (a tavern, as Joe obsessively points out). He doesn’t have the time to hassle anyone.

    Paul Ganim’s real estate holdings in Black Rock are primarily residential properties, apartment houses and the like.

  12. “There are more than a few people that simply don’t want to go to the new Stop & Shop in the West End (it’s not technically in Black Rock).”

    So Kid – Just who are these people who “simply don’t want to go to the new Stop & Shop in the West End” and would you like to hazzard a guess as to just why they won’t go there?

    BTW – My wife and I shop there often.

  13. BTW,
    The debate is being held at BRAC, but it is sponsored by Black Rock Homeowners Association. The last debate held at the art center was a thinly veiled attempt by Mr. Celli to generate public sympathy for his dubious cause.

  14. I shop there too, the bargains are great. Some folks don’t want to go down there because of the proximity to P.T. Barnum. I could give a rat’s ass.

  15. Exactly, and speaking just for myself – “I could give a rat’s ass” about the people who won’t shop there “because of the proximity to P.T. Barnum.”

  16. Hey Lennie,
    It’s funny that you mention Rabbi Stein. I would love to see Keeley’s face when the good Rabbi pulls up with a bus filled with Jews ready to roll Bitches! (Roll as in ready to vote for all you squares.)

    As the days inch closer I feel the Momentum (quick plug for Lennie I have no shame shifting. Bobby you are in deep trouble my friend. You need to get off the bench and get in the game baby. Unless you have the Koren Women from BRAC giving hand jobs for votes consider your seat “At Risk.”

  17. Too bad the debate is in the Black Rock non Arts Center, but I can’t in any way appear to support that place, and be certain Celli will be saying something like he is community minded.
    Have that debate someplace else.
    Any word on the South End row house Celli quit claimed to his lawyer? Do you think Joe would try to hide something?

  18. John,
    I like to shop there because of the Southern delicacies that I can’t find anywhere else. The people that work there are friendly for the most part. It’s never hectic there.

    I still think a financial institution would be one of the optimal uses for 2838 Fairifield Avenue.

  19. The Stop & Shop is great and has been a tremendous asset to Black Rock. The employees are friendly and go out of their way to help if you need something.

    As for the BRAC, it should be put out for bid. The way Black Rock is hopping, I am sure we would get some great proposals.

  20. Bpt Kid – I’m with you on the benefits of shopping at our local Stop & Shop.

    As for my thoughts on the whole Art Center question, I give you this from

    “am·biv·a·lence – the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.”

    I’m suffering from BTA – Big Time Ambivalence.

    Now it’s back to work. Have a good day.

  21. Mayor Finch (and his predecessor) has gone out of his way to accommodate Mr. Celli, who is on the record catagorizing various offers by the city as “unreasonable demands.” In actual fact, it is Mr. Celli that has been making unreasonable demands. Paying rent that is far less than the city’s debt service on the bonds issued to purchase 2838 Fairfield Avenue from the Salvation Army. Or the offers of other space. One was the Black Rock library branch. Another was an entire floor at Eisenhower Center. (Mr. Celli’s biggest objection was sharing space with a senior center.) While he was making all of his unreasonable demands (unreasonable in the Biblical sense of the word) there was virtually no activity at BRAC. (Since handing over the reins to Melissa Bernstein there has been a noticable uptick in events at the art center. Ms. Bernstein has done a terrific job reaching out to the neighborhood, an uphill task considering all the enmity Mr. Celli caused.)

    Mayor Finch has promised to find suitable facilities for BRAC. 2838 Fairfield Avenue should be put out for RFP. The art center will survive. Thanks to Ms. Bernstein, it is in a much better position to do so. But it will be surviving at another location.

  22. I’m going to venture a prediction: Auden Grogins will ultimately prevail over Bob Keeley when the votes are counted after the August 12th primary. It will be close, but not so close for an automatic recount. Keeley will demand a recount anyway, as is his right. I also predict that he will make all sorts of angry statements that the primary vote was rigged, that the “corrupt political machine” wanted him out, etc. Keeley will be a whiny loser. Only difference between him and Chris Caruso is that Keeley will drown his sorrows with many drinks; Caruso was contented with two cheese pizzas.

  23. Vote Keeley. Auden will win or lose black rock. If she loses it will be by a slim margin and if she wins black rock the most will be 30 votes. Keeley will run up the numbers at central and he will win Longfellow. Also I expect Moore to win Bpt but by how much that will be the question. Like I said she must run up the numbers in longfellow and central and black rock.

  24. Auden was chased from her council seat and tossed from her BOE seat. Keeley will win by a large enough margin to retire her from Bridgeport politics completely. She will move out to the ‘burbs never to be seen or heard from again. THE END

  25. Keeley has left too many unanswered questions. Grogins, on the other hand, has a well-run campaign and clearly defined opinions on all the issues. Keeley, in person and in the propaganda his minions are mailing out to primary voters, is wishy-washy. He speaks in a passive voice, employing implication and indirection and never giving a straight answer.

    Time to start shopping the ol’ resume around to the used car lots in Bridgeport, the last refuge of chronically unemployable careerist political hacks. Used cars or insurance.

  26. Many Black Rock residents feel their social & economic status is above shopping @ the west-end Stop & Shop. Just like the lack of political representation & concern for everything east of the Black Rock borderline. Lets face it, many residents of Black Rock would rather have “Black Rock, CT.” put on their driver’s licence or as home of record than Bpt., Conn.!!! It’s no secret and the make-up of the local town committees have reflected that, on & off for years. So what can any citizen that falls in those forgotten boundary areas expect from Ms. Silver-Spoon Grogins; “Not a Damm Thing”! Now move down a bit towards the south-east areas of the #130th State Senate & Rep. district and you find nothing but inexperienced personal gain & nepotism running wild; with the voters in those districts supporting it or just too ignorant to understand or care for that matter about what’s going on in their own neighborhoods! Up in the North end, Caruso should have no problem because many of the residents there keep up on the local news and politics in their district & that’s a good thing. As far as Hennessy is concerned, who knows? Down towards the east-side & east-end; you have old-school politics against new-school politics. Where past political records should come into play to separate the “Doers from the Pretenders”! And in the State Senate races, Russo seems like the front runner @ his camp & Gomes on auto-pilot!

  27. The DSSD’s “do it downtown” website and promotional video are so poorly executed that I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

    What a waste of $20,000 clams.

    Not only is the “do it downtown” website layout and functionality terrible, but their myspace page is a feeble attempt at a hip or current online presence, and their myspace page advertisements constantly urge me to “find hot married women for fun”.

    Disgraceful lack of professionalism in this ad campaign.

    Don’t get me wrong — I go to bluefish games by myself unabashedly if my friends don’t feel like joining, I take my girlfriend to dinner at cafe roma, etc. — I spend money in downtown bpt.

    But, this jive-ass promo campaign for downtown bpt is unlikely to attract a single suburbanite (or even black rocker) to come downtown.

    I think it’s absolute bullshit.

  28. Today’s Gathering of the VIBE moment aka Local Ears:

    ” I shook the hand that shook the hand of P.T. Barnum and Charlie Chan…”.

    lyric from the song “U.S. Blues” by the Grateful Dead as appears on their album “From the Mars Hotel” circa 1974.

  29. It is downright laughable that the pseudo-idealists of Black Rock think the vapid, cold-hearted ghoul of the Board of Ed, Auden Grogins has any chance in next week’s primary. The reason why Bob Keeley has been in office for a record 12 terms is because he delivers for the people of Bridgeport and they respect him for it. When the citizens of this fine city go to the polls on August 12th, they’re going to see Bob Keeley’s name on the ballot and it will bring back fond memories in an episode of personal nostalgia.

    Grogins can make all the empty promises she wants to, but these are the kinds of statements made by a fringe candidate. When no one knows who you are, you can basically say anything you want to, because no one cares who you are in the first place. Look at all the propaganda that came out of Ron Paul’s mouth earlier this year. He had his army of newly involved activists that jumped on the closest bandwaggon they could find. This will no doubt occur with Grogins’ pocket full of supporters, but it will not reach far beyond that.

    The people who are going to decide this election are not the people that Grogins or Keeley definitely have on board. It’s going to be the people who don’t really care about what the candidates say, but still want their voice to be heard through the power of voting. They will step into those booths on August 12th and look down at the ballot. On one line they will see Bob Keeley who they are all familiar with. On the other line they will see Audin Grogins (a name that is so foreign, the sex of the candidate cannot be determined). Who are they going to vote for?

    I’m putting my money on Bob.


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