Russo Secures Funds For Ed Audit, Plus: Gusto Versus Musto And The Opie Factor

Republican State Sen. Rob Russo has secured $250K in state funding for the first-ever forensic audit of Board of Education finances. Details will be shared at a formal announcement Thursday morning at City Hall on Lyon Terrace.

Board of Education finances have become a hot-button issue as board members grapple with gaps between revenues and expenses, potential layoffs,  delayed openings of new schools and possible closures of old ones, bickering with Mayor Bill Finch over adequate funding, and a host of agonizing social issues that accompany education in an urban environment.

Fortunately, OIB has a few resident accountants so hopefully they’ll help us explain what the hell a forensic audit means, but in general terms forensic auditing incorporates investigative tools that could be suitable for use in a court of law. That’s not to say a witchhunt is going on, but for years education critics have questioned just where the money is being spent in a budget that is now more than $200 million. It’s also not a process that will happen quickly, but will eventually provide answers to money questions.

A forensic audit was a centerpiece of State Rep. Chris Caruso’s failed mayoral bid last year. Ironically, Russo has pulled off in just three months in office something that no one in the city’s legislative delegation has come remotely close to accomplishing.

Marilyn Moore Qualifies For Ballot

Add another primary to the list for Aug. 12. Marilyn Moore, who recently served as legislative assistant to State Sen. Ed Gomes, has qualified to challenge Democratic endorsed candidate for state senate Anthony Musto, the Trumbull town treasurer. The winner will take on Republican State Sen. Rob Russo in November.

The district includes the northern and western portions of the city including Black Rock, half of Monroe and all of Trumbull. Moore needed approximately 1,000 validated signatures to qualify and apparently had a lot to spare. She left OIB a telephone message on Tuesday full of gusto and ready to work on raising funds. Her alliance with Gomes, a friend of labor, could prove fruitful in a primary. City Councilman Bob Walsh, a seasoned campaigner on the West Side, supports Moore. Musto must galvanize elements of the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee, along with his Trumbull core support. Neither candidate is particularly well known, but primaries are all about identifying friends and yanking them out the door. Using the small turnout for Russo’s win in the March special election as a yardstick, the primary turnout might be in the mid teens.

Democratic endorsed candidate for Congress Jim Himes, seeking to unseat Republican Congressman Chris Shays, launched his first television spot (a cable buy) Tuesday night, with a Mayberry sort of feel. Jimmy did this and Jimmy did that. Not the way I’d introduce an unknown candidate, but Himes is a nice guy so maybe the Opie launch will work in some areas. I’m waiting for official confirmation from election officials whether Lee Whitnum, the unorthodox candidate from down county, received enough validated signatures to wage a primary against Himes. See link to Himes spot below.



  1. Great news — any word on Lee Whitnum’s effort? I think today was the last day for registrars to certify the petitions.

    BTW, I think Moore was Gomes’ LA (legislative aide), which in most offices handles the constituent service work.

  2. Come on, people!

    Yesterday Keeley was mentioned several times for his controversial taking of money as a “paid fund raiser” for non-profits while chairing the committee that dispenses grant money to these non-profits.

    No matter how you paint it, Keeley taking money from the very groups he provides grant money to is unethical and very illegal.

    There are a lot of you out there who know a lot more than you are posting. Tell us what you know and tell us now. A man like Keeley should not be in public office.

    There must be an official accounting pertaining to his “consultant” fees and his dispersal of grants. Don’t ya think???

  3. Yahooy

    Keeley got $200k for the FBI as part of the Downtown Plan. Are you inferring that he is on the FBI pad? He also helped get $6 million for Phil Kuchma’s project. I hear Kuchma is paying him off in all the Two Boots Pizza that Bob can mangia. Let’s investigate Chris Shays for earmarking money to Mr. T.

    In fact Keeley as chair of the house bonding has gotten so many grants for Bridgeport and Downtown he is now known as W.T. Grant. That is his job to bring home the money to Bridgeport.

    No Squid Pro Quo there.

  4. City Kitty: Relative to yesterday’s posting of “comments”. I too have been asking: where is the Magic Johnson development? But then where is the high rise condo development on Remington property and why hasn’t Steel Point at least have gotten to the point of presenting detail plans with an application for the Zoning Commission for approval? During an economic lull is the time to start construction so as to be ready when the recovery is in full swing; and it’s the time that construction companies and those that supply materials will give the best bargains.
    I too am baffled!

  5. City Kitty and Con are right.
    It’s like Magic.
    A typical Bridgeport Disappearing Act.

    Himes’ ad kind of reminds me of the Seinfeld episode about Jimmy. Jimmy should be going after Chris Shays and his alignment with Joe Lieberman.

  6. After reading today’s CT Post I am even more confused with the city’s attack on the fund balance deficit. And I realize that the language used by a reporter may not fully capture the gist of the “policy” but if our new policy is to establish a “goal” then it is not a policy and I do believe that credit rating agencies will simply see right through this.
    This year’s budget includes a one-time revenue item of $4.5 million for the sale of Steel Point. If that does not happen, even if we squeeze out the goal of $2.5 million, we slip another $2 million behind.
    The article projects an optimistic fund balance of $15 million at the end of this year but there may be other gimmicks creating inflated numbers here.
    And to suggest that it will be sufficient to replenish the balance by setting a set-aside goal of 10% of the fund deficit a year while this deficit has been growing for the past ten years is a totally unrealistic way of dealing with the problem.
    And the last sentence in the article that suggest that tax revenue from Steel Point could make the problem go away is totally false and misleading. The bulk of the tax revenues generated by Steel Point are earmarked to be used by the developer to retire the debt that they will take on as a special taxing district.
    It seems as if the old adage “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there,” should become the new motto for the city of Bridgeport.

  7. Gossip Of The Rialto

    Moving On Up!

    The Connecticut Post is reporting on their website that Senator Joseph Lieberman is receiving the Jefferson Award.

    The “George” Jefferson Award.

  8. Bob

    I am glad I am not the only one confused with both the article and the press release. If I remember correctly the money that made up the city’s fund balance was the year-end surplus (surplus being the excess gained by collecting more in revenue than what was spent). That surplus went into something called fund balance.

    If we have to get $39 million (8% of the total budget) and we are at $13 million, the goal would be to have a “fund balance” or surplus of $2.5 million each year. This means we are looking at just over 10 years to replenish the fund balance account. Actually that yearly nut would change higher since the budget would increase yearly.

    Is the city generating that type of surplus now? Is this what was budgeted or planned to be budgeted into the contingency account?

  9. Musto gets my vote in the primary but Russo gets my vote in November … well who the hell will vote for Moore, she worked for Gomes. Do you think I want my district to look like Gomes’ district? Hell no his district is a dump. I sure as hell won’t vote for her.

  10. CONGRATULATIONS TO ROB RUSSO! Finally we’ll get the answers to questions we’ve been asking for years. They’ll be lots of people with diarhea tonight!!! For that Rob Russo should be given the Medal of Honor.

  11. As an employee of the board of ed I look forward to the audit. First for the accountability of my tax dollars. Second to look for cost savings. Third to find abuses and clean up the mess. A district with such a high dropout rate and so many overpaid supervisors needs to be scrutinized. Hope they start with a survey of rank-and-file employees who have had to be quiet for fear of losing jobs.

  12. Because of the popularity of the CSI shows the term “forensic” implies investigating as a result of a crime. That’s not necessarily the case here with the BOE.

    I happen to think that a forensic audit is premature in this regard. Forensic financial investigations swing beyond those that watch for compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP) and Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS). If I were Finch, and thank God I’m not, I’d like to see an Operational Audit which would examine the current practices and procedures. That’s where we are in trouble. It’s all about how the BOE is being managed. What are Ramos’s priorities; is the money allocated actually spent as agreed; where are the areas for which much money is spent and little ROI is realized? These are but some of the many areas that can be reported upon in an operational audit. Going right into a forensic audit is a really stupid thing to do.

    Many times we have stated that Finch is really impotent when it comes to influencing Ramos. Therefor, the burden of implementing the forensic audits recommendations will fall upon Ramos. Fat chance that anything will change. The report could call for Ramos’s removal. Who has the cojones to do that?

    On another matter….Tom Kelly…Do you realize that besides his mother no one else is supporting Keeley with respect to allegations associated with his “consultant” fees paid by the non-profits who receive grants from his committee.

  13. PS

    $250,000 is not nearly enough to do the job unless we engage the firm of Footum & Tickum, CPA’s. With these guys 2 + 2 can be anything you want it to be.

  14. $250,000 is not nearly enough to do the job unless we engage the firm of Footum & Tickum, CPA’s. With these guys 2 + 2 can be anything you want it to be.

    I think — since this is Russo’s project — that this is rather the point.

    We should place our bets now on how many Democratic electeds are implicated by name with the caveat that the specifics of the alleged wrongdoing were outside the scope of the audit. The report will is destined to be conspiracy-porn for the RTC for years to come.

  15. Now we’re getting somewhere. Nice job, funded by the state as well. He followed through with his promise, I’m really surprised he did coming in as a freshman senator in the minority party. This audit won’t provide all the answers, but it will definitely get the ball rolling, and hopefully its results will be encouraging to do this in other departments. Gotta love progress!

  16. Most auditors rely on the numbers that their client gives them. The auditors check to make sure everything adds up and follows Generally Accepting Accounting Principles. A forensic audit, amongst other things, involves investigation to verify that the numbers are correct, that the specificed items were purchased and ended up where they should, that the payroll went to actual people performing actual jobs, etc.

    It’s hard to know why anyone would be against this.

  17. Sometimes the naiveté on this blog makes me want to puke.
    1) 250 K is not enough to scratch the surface for a BOE audit that would make any sense.
    2) Jodi Rell would have done the same for any Republican that prevents a veto proof majority in the Senate.
    3) Russo is just the recipient of political windfall; it has no reflection on his abilities. (The same can be said for the recent Shays grant)
    4) Marilyn Moore was Gomes’ aid and she doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of beating Musto or Russo. Another example of Bridgeport Democratic cannibalism.
    5) Finch’s press releases suck. They are boring, they sound like they are written by a 5th grader, and the last one unintelligible double talk.

  18. Johnb: Who’s asking you to read “this blog”.
    1. $250,00 will do an audit very adequately.
    2. Hooray for Jodi. She’s done for Bridgeport what no one
    else has been able to do.
    3. Good for Russo. I hope he stays in the job just as long as he wants to. He’s produced more of result for us than his predecessor did in all the years he was in Hartford.
    4. Agreed. MM doesn’t have a chance.
    5. Agreed. Finch’s releases are pathetic.
    6. I suggest that you “logout” forever.

  19. Marilyn Moore???

    Good grief. I hope that the Democratic Party and all of those in Finch’s former district stick it back to Gomes in his eye like Gomes did to them with his secretary. He should say in his old district.

    The old man’s gonna have problems two years from now.

    Too big for his britches….

  20. A question on the audit: does the $250K include the cost of complying with the audit? Forensic audits of corporations require the companies to take on additional staff, including some legal staff, for the duration.

    “The old man’s gonna have problems two years from now.

    Too big for his britches….”

    Yeah, those uppity state senators really get on my nerves too.

  21. Let’s see Charlie Brown, marlys, johnb; which one of you is taking on Senator Gomes this year? Talk is cheap. If you think he can be beaten why wait two years. There is an election this year. Step up to the plate and take your best shot.

  22. A forensic audit means the full CSI treatment — expect test tubes, saliva tests and enough gadgetry to fill several episodes. DNA = Dollars Not Accounted for…!
    Horatio and Grissom right here in The Park City (smile).
    Can justice be far behind ?

    New TV show: CSI: Bridgeport BOE

    Just in: Rob Russo emerges as new local hero

  23. I know nobody takes him seriously, but – In Joel’s posting yesterday (in the middle of the night again) he actually dug up and wrote me the entire state law regarding an annual $50 license fee for hairstylists and wanted to know if I paid it. He also said that because of what i do for a living, why would i go to council meetings sometimes or be interested in whats going on in B-port. Becuase I live here and its my right to do so! coming from a guy who works at the zoo and talks to the animals all night, what’s the difference between me and him both having interest in B-port politics? He’s such a creep and he needs to do something better with his time than look up laws and post them on here. Anybody who would vote for this guy has to be kidding.

  24. marlys,
    My apologies. I thought you were dissing the Senator. I may have to take my sickle to one of my happy fingers for being to hasty in my retort.

  25. Hello to all my friends and foes !!! CITY KITTY my feline friend you are so right about Joel !! A wierd freakin one !!!havent been on in awhile now working nights for awhile !! And unlike Joel I need my rest !! Again a hello to my friends and foes esp LENNIE , JOHN from BLACK ROCK , WONDERING , TOM KELLY , I have been watching the postings and enjoy the banter !! When I get free from nights I’ll be back and well raise hell then !!!!!!

  26. Con, sounds like Johnb hit too close to home. You’re a Bush loving Republican so why would you say anything else. Rell didn’t do shit for Bridgeport until it was to the republicans advantage to do so. All she has done has been contribute to the downfall of all the large Cities. Russo voted to take away $1,000,000 bucks from the city by voting against keeping the current rates that have been set since 2003. ONE MILLION, where the hell did he think that one million was going to come from? And everyone is saying wow, the Governor is giving Bridgeport 250K … BFD. He is taking credit for something that other Senators and Legislators have been trying do too. Except Rell only cares about maintaining her veto proof majority. Yahooy had it right about the cost. RELL and Russo are no friends to the needs of this City or any other. Rell has taken away money for roads, reduced PILOT payments, took away Early Reading Sucess money that will kill the full time Kindergarten. This audit money was nothing more than political maneuvering. I am no fan of Finch’s but when he went to talk to her she basically told him you’re getting nada amigo. Then all of a sudden this money appears. Rell is a do nothing governer who has gotten the don’t beat up on Grandma recovering from cancer protection and she has managed not to do anything illegal. Fine criteria for the CEO of this state. This state is going to hell, from surplus to defeict in less than a year, so go ahead keep her and her ass kissing, Bush loving, city foe, Senator up there.

  27. Hi Joel Hater….totally agree. he had a hell of a nerve writing that to me. I know everyone thinks he’s totally nuts, but it didn’t stop the republicans from endorsing him. talk about the bottom of the barrel. Up yours Joel! I’m a taxpayer and I can go to any damn meeting I want to and I will.

  28. Anyone who drinks the Shays, Russo, McCain Kool aid is midnight on my sundial. I am mad as hell at Bush and the Republicans, (that means you too Liberman) for ruining everything that made our country great. (I think Bush should be impeached, or have to go duck hunting with Cheney for lying to this country. Maybe after Cheney shot Bush the secret service would take out Cheney.) Shays and Liberman both kissed Bush’s cheeks, face and ass. Russo stands for all those values and I’ll be damned if I’ll cut him any slack. Also, did you ever notice how Shays was a conscientious objector in the Vietnam War, but he has no problem sending your kids to be blown up for the next 100 years. Talk about a two faced liar. He and Lieberman should go to Iraq with substandard equipment, no extra protection from the government, and walk around trying to find IED’s. They wouldn’t last 5 minutes. 4,131 soldiers have died, 30,333 have been wounded, and over 1.2 million people have died due to this fabricated war. And that is without today’s count.

  29. good posting clichebpt – right on! Lieberman is sickening and a big phony, Shays is a major disappointment and well, we won’t even discuss Bush. the 3 of them deserve each other, but they don’t deserve our votes.

  30. clichebpt:
    Lets get somthing straight.
    I was 7 years underground in America while Shays was dancin a hula as a c.o. in the pacific, Viet-Nam era, I wonder if he still wears his hula skirt like FBI Hoover did.
    Read between the lines, Con makes sense, I can see that. You are both on the same side.
    Indignation sometimes enrages us, the enemy is Bush et all, disguised as “Homeland Security”.
    They try and often confuse us.
    Nice that we are all on the same page. Slante

  31. clichebpt i agree shays must go and everybody in bridgeport feels the same way…. the only people who want shays to stay is the people in darien the rest of those towns. but come november bridgeport stamford and norwalk will vote in record number for jimmy himes meaning that those small towns wont mean much….lenniw whio do you support because its seeming you like republicans now and remember this is bpt no place for a republican

  32. City Kitty:
    Did I hit a nerve?
    Silly Kitty wrote:

    “I know nobody takes him seriously, but – In Joel’s posting yesterday (in the middle of the night again) he actually dug up and wrote me the entire state law regarding an annual $50 license fee for hairstylists and wanted to know if I paid it.”

    First of all Dum-dum, learn the difference between the middle of the night and early morning. Second learn the difference between State Laws and City Ordinances. Did you send your $50 to the State? The reason you are upset is becasue I know that you tried changing the Ordinance to save $50. The only reason you went to the Council Meeting was to see how your money saving plot was going. It looks like the resolution was tabled, withdrawn or maybe you are expected to continue attacking Republicans and certain Democrats before you get your reward passed by the Council. One thing’s for sure, Bob Walsh won’t be supporting you on that one.
    It’s a shame how some people sell out for so cheap. I have nothing against people going to Council meetings and Lobbying for changes, just as long as it’s transparent.

  33. Lennie since you don’t seem interested in mentioning other Republicans running for office, here’s a list of the endorsed Republican candidates.

    State Representatives:

    124th district Cecil Young
    126th district Joe Minutolo
    127th district John Pavia
    128th district Ramona Marquez
    129th district Phil Young
    130th district Joel Gonzalez

    State Senate:

    22nd Russo
    23rd Johnson

  34. Joel Gonzalez,

    Please stop posting here.

    You degrade the quality of this blog.

    Not to mention, your spelling and grammar is horrid.

    Get lost, you fool of fools.

  35. Clichebpt: You’ve made your position well. You are full of ill-placed bitterness. For your information, I’m not a Bush or Lieberman lover. I have consistently voted against both but we have a very fine governor and the results of the last election seem to indicate that the State’s voters agree. In so far as I’m concerned she has my support. She is there to protect the State’s interest, and sometimes that might mean taking an unpopular position for Bridgeport. I’m extremely pleased that she has supported our senator, Rob Russo, in providing $250,000 for an audit of the BOE. Criticism is always appreciated when it is fair, honest and decent.
    Thanks for your support, Black Rockin

  36. Joel – you are the moron of all morons. You didn’t hit a nerve on me, you simply get on everyone’s nerves. I wish your keyboard would explode so none of us would have to read any more of your endless crap. You must bore or annoy those zoo animals to no end, because that’s the effect you have on everyone on this blog. Go take a tranqulizer, sure as hell you need to.

  37. DiNardo files complete bankruptcy succumbing to incessant foreclosure pressure from the city.

    Mayor Bill Finch announces his intent to aggressively pursue all property owners who fail to meet their obligations by ignoring their property taxes.

    Says Finch…”While the DiNardo property is protected from foreclosure at this time by bankruptcy, the tax debt remains and accrues interests and penalties. Bankruptcy only allows the debtor time to reorganize any plans to satisfy all debt. Should DiNardo be unable to secure the funds necessary to pay his enormous tax debt, the bankruptcy laws provide that ownership of the property revert to the city.”

    When the hell did Finch come up with the cojones to act in a responsible manner?

  38. You know, this blog can be a dangerous thing. Most of the information I got regarding DiNardo came from these postings. Accordingly, I spent the last several months really pissed off at Fabs/Finch for allowing DiNardo to skate and continue to ignore his millions of dollars in property tax obligations to the city. When in fact foreclosure actions were filed, judgments had been entered and law days established. Appropriate and prudent action on the part of any municipal manager. This stuff doesn’t happen overnight. The process leading to an actual foreclosure law day is arduous and time-consuming.

    I still think Finch is the absolute worst thing that has ever happened to this city, but I don’t think he deserved all of the criticism he received about the DiNardo winks and tickles.

  39. Yahooy: I couldn’t agree more. Credit should be given when deserved and I applaud the fact that the mayor has proceeded against Sleeze DiNardo even though he received campaign contributions from him.
    Further, I don’t know if anyone has noticed but the Public Works Dept. is doing a better job in cleaning the streets. I would guess that the mayor has had something to do with that too.

  40. DiNardo is sharp…sharp as a marble. He acknowledges that the cleanup at Remgrit will cost $20 million. Therefore a soil sample has been reported on. The Brass property is equally contaminated yet he claims he has already paid $6 million “out of his own pocket” to clean up the Brass site so as to ready it for United Rentals occupancy.

    Seems to be a bit of a discrepancy. What does Finch have to say about the actual cleanup costs at the Brass site. Where’s that soil report. Wink Wink.

  41. I support Mayor Finch’s decision concerning the Remington Building — the owner knew about the taxes when he bought the building. Mayor Finch knows the score and plays to win!

    There’s only one thing worse than socialism and that’s selective socialism. Building owners who use bankrupcy laws to avoid taxes are chasing selective socialism and know little about Mayor Finch’s intentions concerning taxation and those who avoid it.

  42. What if?????

    Sally D loses Remgit to bankruptcy distribution of assetts to creditors. The city regains ownership. Sally D is off the hook for the $20 million clean up AND the $10 million in back taxes.

    The city doesn’t want to spend $20 million to clean up Remgrit..RIGHT?? (you never know with Finch’s crowd).

    The city decides to sell the property burdened only by a mandated $20 million clean up cost BUT no $10 million in back taxes. Sally D quickly drops his mopine at The Corner, rushes down to City Hall and buys Remgit.

    What do you think?


Leave a Reply