Shays Is Out, Plus: If The SHU Fits, Fabs Sizes Run, And On The Mark

Former Congressman Christopher Shays has made a decision. He’s not running for governor. He has circulated an email to friends that financial circumstances prevent him from taking the leap after moving several months ago to Maryland. Shays also provided a statement to

A Shays guber entry would have been a game changer. A couple of internal polls independent of Shays showed him a top-tier candidate. One candidate breathing easier, make that two candidates breathing easier are GOP front runner Tom Foley, former ambassador to Ireland and Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele who has low name recognition. A Shays run would have cut Fedele, who’s counting on Fairfield County Republicans for support, off at the knees.

Your SHU Size

Could the building occupying Fitness 4000, the former Italian Community Center on Park Avenue, be fitted for Sacred Heart University dorms? My oh my, another North End versus SHU administration fight?

Several sources this week wonder about this happening. That would be some fight. SHU has a split presence between Fairfield and Bridgeport but loves to identify itself as a cozy suburban school even though its dorm students reside in Bridgeport.

SHU President Anthony Cernera has done a nice job growing the university but is another in a growing group of regional elitist figures (paging Philip Sheringham, People’s United Bank, paging Fred DeLuca, Subway) that give lip service to the city, even though Bridgeport is part of their success. Wouldn’t it be nice if all these wimpy executives said you know what, the state’s largest city is special to us, important to a vibrant Connecticut, count us in. Nah, it’s just easier to cash their paychecks and lift their middle fingers. And most of their board members go along with it.

SHU’s room and board is now a mighty big ticket, not Ivy League level yet, but getting close and part of the reason for the growth is Bridgeport dormitories and North End rentals providing easy access to the college. North End residents have complained about beered-up SHU students creating havoc in their neighborhood. A space-challenged SHU is scouting areas for more student housing space. Hey, plenty of places downtown!

Fabs Still Wants It?

Former Mayor John Fabrizi would love his old job back, but how much fire does he have to get back in the game? Fabs is thinking seriously about forming an exploratory committee for mayor as several pols poise an eye on the 2011 municipal election. If Fabs moves forward it will be, for now at least, without the help of Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa. Mario’s not inclined to embrace Fabs. For now he’s sticking with Mayor Bill Finch. But the big question remains: can Finch defeat State Rep. Chris Caruso who’s got his eye on the mayor’s seat? This budget cycle is crucial to the mayor’s success and from what I hear he’s prepared to do everything he can to beat back a tax increase, even if it means massive layoffs.

Mark It Down

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton recently entered the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. I’ve lost track of all the candidates for governor, but with Shays opting out of the race a door has opened for an alternative to leading GOP candidate Tom Foley. Boughton trotted out a bunch of endorsements of his candidacy on Monday. From the Boughton campaign:

(Danbury) – The Boughton for Connecticut campaign announced the endorsement of 35 prominent Republicans who will join the Boughton campaign.

“Mark Boughton has been an outstanding mayor in Connecticut and will be an outstanding Governor of Connecticut. said Mayor Ryan Bingham of Torrington. I am proud to endorse him and will be working hard to secure the nomination for the Boughton campaign”

“Mark Boughton is a proven leader who has the right blend of experience in the legislature as well as that of a chief elected official” said Mayor Tim Stewart of New Britain. “Mark is a fiscal conservative who has the vision to lead Connecticut through these difficult times–I am proud to support him”

Mark Boughton stated, “I am honored by the support of these hard working Republican and community leaders in Connecticut. As I travel around our state, I am heartened by the positive feedback I have received by our residents about my candidacy.” Boughton continued, “in the end, this election is not about me, it’s about the people who are struggling day to day to make ends meet. Having the endorsements of these grassroots Republican and community leaders, will help us drive our message of revitalizing our economic development strategy to create jobs, redesigning our state government to one we can afford, and rethinking the relationship of government and the people that it serves.”



  1. SHU ewww I would not spend a dollar to go to that overpriced nonsense only care about profit so-called Catholic value school. It is a shame they want to put their dorms in Bpt but when they are sending you applications it never mentions Bpt and the strange thing is I am shocked they do not. Suburban schools always tell the main cities and attractions nearby. I feel sorry for Bpt residents of the North End. I never hear about UB kids who dorm getting wild and drugged up like these SHU. All I have to say is the school is a big waste overpriced and preaches a so-called Catholic value style that is clearly not present at this school of all we love to do is collect big money. This is not a Republican or Democratic thing it is a community thing and I am concerned SHU really does not give 2 shits about North End residents.

  2. The SHU student residence problem for the North End residents falls squarely on the administration. They have basically taken a hands-off policy as it relates to enforcement of illegal residences being occupied by SHU students.
    There is no enforcement of zoning laws, fire codes and housing codes.
    What this administration does not realize is that they have placed the city in a bad liability situation as it relates to these illegal occupancies. The city (mostly the police department) knows where these houses are and do not notify responsible agencies.
    I know what I am about to say will not go over well but here goes. With 40 years of firefighting and fire investigation behind me and studying various large life loss fires around the country I can tell you with certainty there will be a fire in one of these former one-family houses that is going to kill students. You increase the risk of fires when you put large groups of unsupervised kids or adults in these dwellings that’s why there are strict fire codes for rooming houses and multiple occupancies.
    The liability comes in because the city knows these places exist and the city has no track record of enforcement even when they know where these places are located.
    Example: While this fire did not involve SHU students it did involve an illegal occupancy where a 1-family dwelling was rented out to several different people. I asked an enforcement officer for housing if a summons or violation was issued to the dwelling owner after the illegal occupancy was discovered and the answer was NO they already had a fire DUH!!!

    1. Didn’t the P & Z change the rules a few years back to accommodate these illegal housing situations? Wasn’t it under the watch of then-Mayor John Fabrizi, ED Director Nancy Hardly and a former head of Planning and Zoning where the rules used to be no more than three unrelated adults? And this was done under some bogus claim that the “three unrelated adults” rule was discriminatory?

      1. Grin: Zoning can’t change the housing code or the fire code. Three or more unrelated people in a house falls under a rooming house occupancy and thus subject to strict fire codes such as central station alarms, sprinklers and the like.
        The owners of these occupancies don’t know the time bomb they are sitting on. If there is a tragedy they can be subject to arrest, they can be sued civilly and lose everything they have. In many cases their insurance companies will not pay for repairs because they were unaware they were insuring a multi-occupancy dwelling. It’s called fraud.

        1. But TC, by getting the P & Z to change it can at least give the false impression to property owners that it is OK.
          It was a bad idea then and it still is. And it takes away one enforcement vehicle the city had at its disposal to crack down on this problem if we ever have an administration willing to do so.

          1. It doesn’t really take away any enforcement tool from the city that I am aware of. Let me know which enforcement tool was taken away. I don’t mean that last sentence to be a challenge I am really interested.
            The owners really can’t plead ignorance that is not a valid defense. In fact their insurance applications will show they are committing fraud, and these applications would be available to law enforcement if there were a fire.
            What pisses me off is the firefighters that will respond to one of these fires will have to deal with it at the time and later on when the memories come back.

    2. Having lost a friend in college who died in a fire while living in a makeshift bedroom in the basement of an overcrowded house, I share TC’s concerns that these are tragedies waiting to happen. SHU should get more involved in ensuring their students are in safe living conditions. Unfortunately, my school learned too late. When they started checking, they found fire code violations everywhere.

  3. I like Shays in the fourth, will he run?

    Finch should not have a chance, but I am starting to think Caruso is a bag of wind as well.

    Are there any new fresh people for the mayor’s office?

    Same played-out faces means the same played-out politics.

        1. Now, now Grin … I am feeling more Blue than Red and White today … Shays would have won … now I think the advantage turns to the Dems … I hope it is Malloy at this point. Lamont and Foley are too far to the extremes for me …

  4. I hear that Sacred Heartless University has its eyes on Notre Dame H.S. for further expansion. Closing ND and merging enrollment with Kolbe-Cathedral and St. Joseph’s in Trumbull.

  5. What a great turnout for Jose “Chico” Rivera yesterday at St. George’s. Col. Tom Kanasky did a beautiful job of capturing the good and the bad of his fallen Semper Fi friend.

    It was a great Last Hoo-Rah for Chico!

  6. Bridgeport Now Live TV Program–Tue Feb 23 at 8pm.

    Tonight’s guest: Bridgeport City Council member Bob Walsh.

    We will discuss …

    – Steel Point: will just doing a little rehab to current Pequonnock Yacht Club building count as first benchmark milestone? Will there be unlimited postponements? Who is doing oversight and what’s going on with this empty field?

    – Remington Building: what should city council do, with back taxes, blight, contaminants and anti-blight?

    – Conflict of interest at city council? Latest case: an apartment building getting fixed up. The role of city attorney and details of a settlement not revealed.

    – Dr. Marian Evans: what were issues with handling of ex Health Director?

    Then, not relating to Mr. Walsh …

    Board of Education in Bridgeport update:
    Today some information was to be due regarding overtime of approx $1 million at Custody and Trades.

    Other issues at the B.B.O.E. that I am hearing about:
    – Budget has $700,000 deficit with 52 fewer positions?
    – Legal expenses $1,400,000 … for what?
    – Possible fiscal mismanagement with $3.5 million lapsed back to the city last year?

    1. Grin,
      Good of you to notice. And to guess that more people are familiar with ‘sexually transmitted disease’ than with a Doctorate in Sacred Theology? You are probably right, you know.

  7. Habitat for Humanity, health clinics, read-alouds in Bridgeport public schools, volunteering at soup kitchens, millions and millions paid over the years to Bridgeport through the PILOT program, sport teams paying to use facilities at Harbor yard, Woderland of ice, park and rec dept, Fairfchild Wheeler golf, supporters of the Sheehan Ctr, attendees at civic event throughout the city, graduates, staff and faculty residing in Bridgeport paying taxes and supporting local merchants, enrolled students and parents purchasing goods and services up and down Main Street, athletic, theatrical/musical events and lectures provided on campus and available to North End residents which provide a great opportunity for entertainment and intellectual growth and development, an accessible administration that meets regularly with local officials, an employer with nearly 1200 faculty and staff, a nationally ranked institution that brings thousands of prospective students and their parents to the area who again spend money at hotels, and restaurants, and great alumni and currently enrolled students. The top ten places in the United States to live are in communities that include a college campus … and there is no doubt that from time to time young undergrads will cause temporary aggravation to residents in the North End … this happens nationwide within neighborhoods near Boston College, Holy Cross, Fordham, UConn, Quinnipiac, Providence College, Penn State, Villanova, etc. … and such incidents represent a mere 3-5% of the overall student population … and for a 6000-student body, let’s not condemn the remaining 95% with your rhetoric that all students are problematic. Does all of the above describe a poor citizen of brgport? As far as other property on park ave…let’s all pray that SHU has some interest … if not, will we find ourselves with dormant property like 90 acres … does anyone remember the decision not to accept the Little League headquarters? I do!

    1. Pioneer, nice to hear from you, and lots of great points. SHU is a major asset to the region. No doubt. Would be nice if Cernera had the same passion for embracing the city as you’ve shared. But this cuts both ways. SHU’s success is due in part because of what Bridgeport offers students and faculty such as those entities you write about. It would be nice if Cernera embraced the city and Mayor Bill Finch embraced UB. SHU and UB would make perfect bookends for Park Avenue.

    2. Blame Jackie Cocco on the Little League fiasco and the NIMBYs in the North End for chasing the Little League Headquarters to Bristol. Another case for getting rid of the do-nothing Hennessey who is busy playing solitaire on his computer and doing absolutely nothing for the good of Bridgeport, not to mention the North End (around Sacred Heart Univ).

  8. Looks like Bridgeport is losing out on more federal money:

    Connecticut did not receive any of the $1.5 billion in federal transportation funds announced last week. All the big honchos from CT met today with Transport Secretary Ray LaHood. Here’s what Himes said:

    “I was very direct with Secretary LaHood that, given Connecticut’s contribution to the national economy and the transportation challenges we face, the TIGER grant awards were completely unacceptable to us”

    Bottom line, we need all the money we can get, and it’s stimulus money time … Feds giving money out all over the place. We will get some of that with new boardwalk Downtown Services is rolling out, and it looks good from pics I saw. What? You don’t know what I am talking about? When you get off the train station, you are already on a boardwalk. They are gonna expand that across the bridge to Steel Point.

    Anyway, now with the Congress Street Bridge money gone–Rell getting back at us now since we oppose a prison in a residential area, we need all the money we can get … and our reps kinda missed the boat on this one I think. Prolly gonna be in the Post tomorrow maybe with title: “Connecticut Delegation Presses Transportation Secretary on Grants”

  9. Pioneer: All that is wonderful except if you live in one of the neighborhoods were these kids are packed into one-family homes. Then the noise starts, the loud music and most of all the parties where you end up with large groups of underage kids drinking and raising hell.
    You miss one important point these kids should not be living in a one-family residential neighborhood. That means they are not supposed to be living with 3 or 4 or 5 or more kids in a regular 1-family home and neighborhood period.
    Other than the dorms that were built when the university decided to expand from a drive-to school to a regular college all of the housing is in Bridgeport. SHU has not expanded into Fairfield. Let the church move Notre Dame and build dorms there.
    BTW how much tax money do we get for the dorm on Park Ave? Zero.
    SHU administrators are a bunch of elitist snobs.

  10. Hmmm read what this high Republican has to say about Shays not running … “We have certainly turned the page in the 4th District,” MacGuffie said in a phone interview, adding that Shays abandoned conservative principles. “We’re looking for new people. We’re looking for conservatives who favor small government, limited government.” Wow I thought being a hard conservative in the 4th was a bad thing and Shays always tried to present himself as a moderate and that’s why he won so many damn elections. Not a Shays Fan but I have to back him up on this attack.

  11. *** Too bad about Shays deciding not to run since he’s committed to his new job & financially it’s not a good time for him, etc. I felt he had a good chance of beating the current candidates that are running. *** SHU is known to have conservative school policies & strict academic requirements, too bad it does not cover outside the school dorms, or does it? *** Bpt housing & zoning inspectors are not performing their jobs as per city “job descriptions” because there’s not enough of them qualified & they have them doing a dozen different tasks throughout the day! No wonder the depts are ineffective in enforcement & getting worst as time & more (personal gain) admins come & go. *** Congress St. bridge is not of importance @ this time in Bpt’s Downtown Development Plans; wasn’t in the past & the way things are going, is not important in the present. Other than for emergency vehicles responding quicker to & from that part of the East Side, right now it’s not “$” well spent. *** Better Public transportation & varieties in general is what this state should be thinking of to help get a grip on the vehicle pollution, roads & highways congestion, as well as overall vehicle traffic #s and cost that goes with it. *** Last but not least, with what’s been said about possible future candidates running for (Bpt Mayor) & compared to what we have now; I hope Fabrizi or Caruso decide to run & good luck to them. ***

  12. Hmmm … “elitist snobs” a reference to SHU administrators who have committed 100% tuition scholarships to students from Bridgeport and other urban centers in Fairfield Cty for families that have income at or below $50K (this is for all Fairfield Cty when Ffld U has only committed to Bridgeport?). Do you not recall this press coverage in the Post? An administration that has offered top dollar to North End residents for their homes … North End residents who run to their doorsteps to secure better income from their homes when they decide to move that wouldn’t naturally occur in the free market … and for now, administrators who have indicated time and time again they would be satisfied with academic and recreation/athletic facilities on our side of Park Ave IF we supported them with housing projects on the Fairfield side of Park Ave … can you imagine impressive academic structures where we now witness a worn-out Jewish ctr … or Fitness 4000, etc. along Park Ave … truly outstanding buildings with first-class designs would seemingly be possible … buildings that would close in the evening … can you imagine such assets in our community? I have grown to appreciate this institution … and yes, I would appreciate fewer college kids in our neighborhoods … but by and large, since the university is here to stay … why don’t we try to reach out to them … why not better understand their future plans … and at the end of the day, rather than be at each other’s throats, why not share with them our overall appreciation for securing the property values we enjoy today … property values that quite frankly remain low on the totem pole of those seeking homes in Fairfield Cty who are not from this area. We have not all been here 30+ years! Spitting in their eyes achieves nothing … has it?

  13. Tom Foley, former ambassador to Ireland and Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele’s campaigns are off in pursuit of the support of the “Shays Lays”–those of us who were waiting for Shays to decide and left feeling screwed of hope.

    Lennie, when I sent you the video of the MOJO and Bridgeport Kid fight that never happenned, I sent you an attachment of a picture with one of the Republican candidates for Connecticut Governor.

    It’s time for Chris Shays to earn real money with the skills he honed the past 25 years. He will make millions by staying out of politics. Who knows, maybe Fox News will hire him!

  14. Pioneer: You state that SHU is buying homes in the North End. Are they putting students in these homes? If they are then that’s illegal. Are they buying these homes in clusters for future construction of high-rise dorms? If they are then they are looking to bust the 1-family zoning rules. Does SHU pay any taxes on these Bridgeport properties? I think not. I for one am not going to hold a pity party for SHU.
    You say we should support SHU with expansion plans on the Fairfield side of Park Ave. Do you think Fairfield gives a damn what we support on their side of the border? Other than the Fairfield side campus where has the university built on the Fairfield side?


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