The Conroy Skinny: City Cleared, Choo Choo Charlie Survives

Attorney Chuck Willinger is euphoric. So is Joe Kasper, former owner of a city engineering company. Lawyers for the city are thrilled. Developers Al Lenoci Sr. and Al Lenoci Jr. aren’t devastated. Lawyers for developer Alex Conroy, who brought a lawsuit claiming that all of the above conspired with former Mayor Joe Ganim to blowtorch his development of Steelpointe, are disappointed.

 A jury in Waterbury Superior Court offered a mixed bag Thursday after three months of testimony and arguments, finding Ganim and the Lenocis liable, but awarding a fraction (about $300K) of what the plaintiff sought, exonerating Willinger and Kasper. On Friday the jury cleared the city of wrongdoing. The jury concluded that the Lenocis should be responsible for $50K. Considering their potential exposure, that’s a victory.

Clearing the city was correct. The jury had initially released the city from responsibility, but Judge Barry Stevens ordered them to make their decision consistent with a set of questions they had to weigh before issuing a decision. This was not an easy case for the jury. They had to measure the allegations against Conroy losing his financing for Steelpointe three times.

I testified in the case for two days in March about what I knew and came away feeling my impact was marginal. My falling out with Ganim in the summer of 1999 left me out of the loop regarding key details that led to the former mayor redirecting the Steelpointe deal to the Lenocis. Clearly, Ganim wanted to slide the Lenocis into the deal. But what, specifically, did he do to make that happen? He also wanted to make sure that state money was solidified before making a change. Joe always liked to use other people’s money.

The city should not be liable for Ganim’s actions. What city officials were trying to torpedo the deal? City taxpayers have already footed $1 million in legal expenses, including Ganim’s fees because he was sued in the performance of his city position. Conroy’s lawyers will seek punitive damages and legal fees. Why did Willinger walk? A couple of things: one, no clear evidence linking Willinger, the landuse attorney hired by Ganim to represent the city, to aiding Ganim and the Lenocis, his longtime clients. Chuck is also smart and clever. He bends, but doesn’t break. Was Chuck a big player in politics? Yup. Big contributor? Major. Did the feds want to charge him? Yes. But didn’t. Evidence was short on Chuck. He’s a survivor.

City Hall statement on Conroy decision:

City Attorney Mark Anastasi said, “The Finch Administration refused the plaintiff Alex Conroy’s settlement demands. Conroy sought substantial taxpayer dollars as payment of a project that he never constructed. Mayor Bill Finch rightly was convinced that the City was not liable, and had the courage and confidence in the jury system to fight Conroy’s unjustified claims. Today, thanks to the Mayor’s integrity and the successful legal representation of Attorneys Craig Raabe and Edward Heath, the City has been vindicated and justice has been served.”

Mayor Bill Finch added, “The City is in the process of assessing next steps and will make a decision next week regarding future legal action. I will pursue every opportunity to recoup taxpayers’ costs for this trial.”

Ballot Qualification

I checked in with Democratic Registrar of Voters Sandy Ayala this morning. So far, only Auden Grogins, who’s challenging State Rep. Bob Keeley, has qualified for a primary Aug. 12. Other potential challengers in state legislative races are submitting petition signatures in pieces. They have until 4 p.m. on Tuesday to submit enough validated signatures–five percent of registered party voters–from respective legislative districts. Maybe OIB friends such as Sly Salcedo and Chico Rivera, both of whom want to challenge party-endorsed Eze Santiago for the state rep seat being vacated by Felipe Reinoso, will give us an update.

Hey, I’ll be starting a new feature soon called Pol Pod. I’ll be going into the community to interview the greats (and near greats) in the political, governmental, neighborhood and business sectors for posting as an audio file. I have a couple of requests. How long do you want them? I’m thinking your attention span might be 5 or 10 minutes. Also, throw some names at me.



  1. My understanding is that the jury found that Ganim was acting outside his duties as Mayor, in which case he may end up having to reimburse the City for his legal fees.

  2. I had an opportunity to watch CSPAN last night. Joel Klein, Chancellor of the NYC Schools, was the speaker. The topic is Urban Schools Management.

    His message… will never fix poverty in this country until you fix education.

    I won’t bore you with his discussion. Klein unequivocally states that effective committed leadership is absolutely essential for a school district to achieve satisfactory service delivery results.

    Why can’t we get someone like Joel Klein?

  3. Yahooy.

    Sorry I missed the show last night. The Liberty Rock only has CSPAM. He’s right and I hate to admit you’re right. Education is the great equalizer in life. Pat Moynihan was also right when he said throwing money at the problem does not solve the problem. It’s all about leadership or lack of leadership. Much of what you and Bruce Hubler, among others, have espoused on this blog.

  4. Gossip Of The Rialto!

    This just in from The View.

    Sex And The City announces sequel scheduled for release in 2020.

    Geriatric Sex And The City is to be a murder mystery featuring a new character. Polly Grip, a Cream of Wheat cereal killer who gums her victims to death.

  5. Joe Ganim should have to reimburse B-port for those fees that were paid out for him. He was acting on a personal level to line his pockets, rather than as a mayor. With all his money, he still wanted more.

  6. I remember the day that Joe Ganim decided it was time to add the Termination of the Conroy contract to the agenda for a Council Vote. He was sure as hell acting as Mayor of Bridgeport that day. Before the meeting he called for an executive session which is held away from the public in the rooms next to the council chamber. He told us that he wanted to discuss an item in the agenda: the termination of Alex Conroy’s contract with the city. He began by saying that Alex could not rent the stores or find investors for the project. His administration never provided documents to back up any of the city’s position which I and others founds suspicious. I asked what impact would the termination have on the emminent domain process taking place at Steel Point; the City Attorney and the mayor were of the opinion that it would have no effect. They were wrong and if anyone researched the court ruling on the last remaining marina, the Judge made it clear that the termination also applied to the emminent domain process. Towards the end of the meeting there was silence and everyone in the room knew that Ganim was bullshitting us and he had a hidden agenda. Ganim then said, “Don’t worry guys we will have development on Steel Point, there is a developer proposing a 500,000 sq. ft. office building.” Silence again.
    I broke the silence by asking, “Who is the developer?” Ganim didn’t answer my question.” I then asked, “Who? Kasper Group? Lenoci?” The mayor again did not anwer. Bob Walsh jumped in and asked Joe Ganim to anwer my question and Lisa Parzialle also jumped in. We got no response from the mayor. Our answer came when the sealed indictment was opened and the Post reported the details of the indictment. From day one there was a conspiracy involving city employees and it was further confirmed when Hines was mentioned in the civil case trial. During the developer selection process on several occasion Dennis Murphy tried to influence my vote by constantly pointing out that Himes was a great choice. “Take a good look at Hines, they have an excellent proposal.” Hands down, Alex Conroy had what it required to make the development a reality. Keep in mind that the tax incremental financing worth $200,000,000 was the idea of Alex Conroy and for anyone to suggest that Alex did not bring anything to the table, you are simply a liar.

  7. Hey, Lennie,

    You should interview the great Delman Mangrove for the OIB audio, if you can. As he states in his essential “A Layman’s Guide To Perspicacity”: “Never give an interview to anyone other than Marcel Marceau. If silence is good enough for J.D. Salinger and God, it’s good enough for me”.

    If you can’t get Mangrove, you might try my neighbor Jerry “The Jokester” Pantolino, the guy on our block who starts every conversation with “If Jasper McLevy was alive today … he’d be trying to claw his way out of that damn coffin … we’d call him ‘Casper’ McLevy. Get it?”

    He’s a real Bridgeport character I’m sure your listeners would love to listen to over and over again. His voice is like fingernails on a coffin lid.


  8. yahooy,
    The reason Chancellor Klein is in NYC is solely because Bloomberg blew away the elected NYC Board of Ed and made the Education department report to him. He led the change in the city charter and got State approval to make this important change. He put the responsibility for educating the city’s children entirely on the Mayor. Chancellor Klein reports to Bloomberg. New Haven blew away their elected Board of Ed many years ago. The Mayor appoints members to the Board of Ed. The Superintendent in New Haven reports to Mayor DeStefano. New Haven has rebuilt or built all new schools in the last 10 years with about a billion dollars from the state. Several years ago Hartford’s school system lost local control and was run by the State. The State threw out the elected Board of Ed. The State then poured in millions of dollars and eventually restored a local board of ed with a couple of positions elected by the constituency but the majority appointed by the Mayor. Mayor Perez appointed himself among others to the Board and the Mayor chairs the school building committee.

    With this background it may be time to evaluate whether Bridgeport needs to rethink its elected Board of Education. What we have now is not working, despite the professionals that are hired. Think about it, would you want to be Superintendent in Bridgeport? An Elected Board, an Elected City Council, A Mayor, A bunch of Unions, a bunch of parents, a recently engaged business community, and oh yes the primary customers, the children who desperately need to learn. Getting angry at the Superintendent isn’t the answer. He gets paid a lot of money and is very smart. But the environment to succeed is really flawed. Fixing the policy leadership is in order. Then someone like Chancellor Klein will be effective. I actually think Superintendent Ramos could be much more effective if the policy-making structure was improved. Super Ramos has too many ‘bosses’ to satisfy which makes success almost impossible.

  9. Good Afternoon, OIB fans.

    Lennie: Many thanks for the “cheerleading” plug yesterday…been struggling with a careful balance between attention to clients and court hearings, and the race to get signatures…still trying to meet the 290 minimum requirement and it’s a tough campaign trail out there in the 130th…voter apathy, non-voter aggression “you’re all the same…crooks…every one of you!”, language barriers, cross cultural identity issues…”are you Chinese?” “Yes. Half and half Filipino, too.”, zero personal recognition for me…darn! everyone knows Chico!…But it’s prime signature collection time, so let me get out of my court suit and get back curbside…where the political rubber meets the road. Have a great weekend everyone. More updated info on Monday afternoon from the Registrar of Voters’ office, Sandy Ayala. Keep the faith…

  10. ooo and Joel Gonzalez It was on a private bus but yeah I was shook to see you there I was always wondering which person still has a Russo sign in his yard…and wow it’s gonna be funny to see a McCain sign where u live at because everybody around that area will sure have Obama signs and be Obama supporters…lol can’t wait to see that when are u getting your McCain sign and which polling place u vote at because if you are in the same district as me I will vote for u.

  11. Countdown-Sounds like a good case study for privatization. How did the Edison Project for schools ever work out. Would you care to comment on why Finch has not appointed an Economic Development Director. Perhaps he is waiting for direction from the BRBC. Maybe we need another ULI Report. Do you support privatization of Economic Development department?

  12. countdown, seems like NYC, Hartford & New Haven got some amazing results from having their BOE and superintendent report directly to their mayors. Why can’t something like that happen in B-port? It worked for them, so it could work for us too. Ramos and our BOE members still have no credibility in my opinion. I wish I hadn’t voted for them, and I never will again. Max is the biggest disappointment of them all, I always thought he had good intentions, but he proved that he doesn’t.

  13. Con Filardi – yes I am sure that the Transfer Station supervisor is out on a PAID suspension. He had his keys and ID badge taken away and is only allowed back on Friday to pick up his PAYCHECK. The City’s policy is to keep the person on the payroll while they do their investigation. Once they have the evidence they need, then they bring him back for the actual discipline. The latest rumor is that the supervisor’s supervisor is protecting him. Seems that he knew about the lying and stealing all along and looked the other way. So his job may also be on the line. He needs to downplay it to save his own ass. Maybe that’s the problem. Too many chiefs and not enough indians. (No disrespect intended)

  14. Thanks “In the Know” for the explanation. Having been to the transfer station a couple of years ago and having gotten into a heated discussion with “supervisor” I don’t have a very high regard for him and his conduct toward the public. He along with the police share a disrespect for the public which baffles me. They need a lesson on how to interact with the people who pay their salaries.
    “Tom” and “Countdown”: With regard to the BOE, I tend to believe that it is out of control budget-wise; has too many chiefs and few indians; is not producing the results that it should; and therefore it should be turned over to the State as was Hartford. Let the State sort out the problems and then return it to the City and put directly under the Mayor’s control. I think you’re both on the right path.

  15. In the know – so who does the investigating of that transfer station supervisor? Seems to me like something shady was going on over there. I guess he gets paid because he’s innocent until proven guilty, and then if he is guilty, does he get arrested, fired or both?

  16. No good news on tv tonight, the stock market went way down today and oil prices went up again. I just can’t figure why Connecticut pays more for gas than any other state. Why is that? Our government doesn’t seem to be taking any steps to deal with this either. Where are Shays, Dodd, Rell, etc. when we need them? (Shays is probably in Iraq.) What is it going to take for them to remedy this? A friend of mine from Rhode Island says he pays between 3.99 and 4.03 a gallon for regular. I paid $4.33 today! $25 buys less than 6 gallons.

  17. To In the Know and the Grin Reeper. Regarding all your nasty comments on your labeling of the “No Show” Supervisor over at the Transfer Station, it seems as if you really don’t know anything at all. And you should check out your source of information before you start running off at the mouth. The accusations being made are without merit.

    The gentleman you are speaking about happens to be one of the most dedicated superivisors in the City who cares about the well being of all his employees. He is genuinely one of the most honest, trustworthy, and dedicated employees I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. Those that know him well are aware of his honesty and integrity in representing the City of Bridgeport and he always conducts himself in a professional manner. It’s unfortunate that a few disgruntled employees have gone to such great lengths to create such a vicious attack on this man’s character. This so called “No Show Supervisor” is always present at work and would never risk losing his career by entertaining the thoughts of being involved in any type of illegal activity. He doesn’t need the protection of George Estrada or John Fabrizi because he hasn’t done anything wrong. This guy works his ass off for the City, and your comments are nothing but malicious gossip.

    Also, your comments about the management team over at Public Facilities are way off base. In comparison to other City Departments, they have the best management team in the City.

    I have read all the comments posted and the only accuracy in any of your statements is the fact that he does indeed ride a motorcycle.

    Should this “No Show” supervisor happen to see any of the comments that have been posted thus far, I would like to say, ignore the ignorance of the Grin Reeper and In the Know. Continue to hold your head high and maintain your digninity at all times. You should be proud of the many accomplishments and improvements you have achieved over the years.

    It is an honor and privledge to work with you and you have my utmost respect.

  18. Lennie, I suggest you go out to the Fort Dicks Prison Community and interview Joe Ganim in your first OIB audio interview. Do not allow him to plead the fifth.
    Lennie I don’t think you should give anyone who hides behind handles and doesn’t participate in the blog the opportunity of an interview. They can come here any time and express their views. Why should you go to them? You should be approaching more potential ad customers. Where do you expect to find the great ones?
    Are you going to the cemetary to interview Barnum and Jasper? There is a reason why you are asking us to throw in some names — you can’t think of any. Try the latino version of OIB, Sólo En Bridgeport (SEB) and target the growing latino market, “Muevete Univision y Radio Cumbre, aqui viene Lenni Grimaldi.”

  19. LBMST, I agree with your position and whoever this supervisor is should feel good to have people like you speaking on his behalf. I work for the City (Parks Dept) at the Zoo and I have been selected for lay-off for no reason other than the fact that I have been very vocal about folks in high places. I have bumping rights and I’m not sure where they expect me to bump to. Some Park Supervisor has been going around stating that the finger guy has been verbally attacking and complaining about Parks employees. They are already setting the stage for a hostile environment with other Park workers. I know that other Ass Kissing City Employees are used to carry out or further the agenda of High Level officials with an ax to grind or in need of job openings to accomodate their Ass Kissers. Tell your friend to be strong, have faith and he will prevail in the long run. The last thing he should worry about are blogger’s negative or untrue comments. If I had friends like you, I would be making more enemies.

  20. Yahooy:

    His message…you will never fix poverty in this country until you fix education.

    You heard the opinion of one man and you accept it as fact. Was Mr. Klein having a debate with anyone ready to respond with an opposing view to his position?

    What does Joel Klein know about poverty? Joel Gonzalez knows about poverty. Poverty is a factor that plays a role in education and should be fixed first. A malnourished or hungry person/s can not concentrate and is/are mentaly distracted by their hunger and financial crisis. Poverty must first be addressed. Try giving a poor starving person books and tell them if they educate themselves their hunger and poverty will go away. Many kids drop out to go to work or hustle on the streets in order to eat better, dress better and try to aquire the luxury things in life. Imagine trying to do your homework in a home with no electricity, because it was cut off for non-payment of the electric bill. Do you think Joel Klein has gone through this? Joel Gonzalez has!

    I say, “You will never fix Education in this or any country, unless the poverty issue is addressed in tandem.” Joel Gonzalez has been to El Salvador. Joel saw with his very own eyes, children whose parents would not send them to school because they had to work selling candies or beg for money. In El Salvador the Government provides some financial assistance with the condition that they make sure that their children go to school. It is obvious that if a person has an education, they stand a better chance of finding a job or forming their own business, thus staying above the poverty level.
    Joel Klein could not walk a minute in Joel Gonzalez’ shoes.

  21. Attention Rivera and Salcedo:

    Do not trust the voters list. The voters list has never been accurate or up to date. You will find that many folks are not at the addresses on your list. People move very often to complicate matters. When approaching the homes look for tell-tale signs of “nobody home” like no car on the driveway, check the name on the list with name on mail box or mail in it. If it checks out mark the name and come back later. Keep moving at all times. Go to Marina Village many folks in public housing stay there a long time, all units are close to each other and go back if no one home. Be honest and tell them, “THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY SUCKS”. Remind them that Republican candidate Joel Gonzalez is the only candidate with a proven track record of service and experience. Tell them why you are getting the signatures and who is Santiago and Robles and what they have been up to. I’ll take care of the issues and their concerns as I’ll be out there soon with my platform for reform. If you encounter any threatening situation, just tell them that the finger man is your friend and you best be left alone.
    Take care guys and good luck on your journey.

  22. Joel I swore I would not answer any of your posts but here I am. You have started referring to yourself in the third person; that’s not a good sign.
    What do you know about Mr. Klein; I venture to say nothing. What makes you think that he did not grow up poor? You make it sound like the only poor in this country are hispanic.
    You want to know what poor is? Poor is not having any heat in your apartment during the winter. Poor is when your mom heats up bricks and puts them in your bed at night so that at least the sheets are warm when you get in bed. Poor is eating potatoes as your main course at supper. Poor is going out during the day hunting for coal that fell off the coal truck to cook with. There were no school lunches or school snacks in the morning.
    Poor is an excuse for people and parents not doing their job in ensuring their kids are in school and learning. The problem is that babies are having babies and when they get to school age they (parent) are still babies.
    Don’t compare the USA to El Salvador please.
    BTW Chico does not need your protection in his day he would happily kick your ass. I don’t know Salcedo but I do know that he can also take care of himself.

  23. First of all, Joel Gonzalez, why would Joel Klein want to walk with shoes that have holes in them.

    You really scare me. You are an ignorant putz. I hope to God that voter apathy is eradicated in the next election. Otherwise, you and every unworthy parasite like Keeley and Rodgerson will be elected.

    You can’t cure poverty with entitlements forever. Sooner or later the poor have to fend for themselves.

    The adage … If you give a man a fish, he eats for one day. If you teach that man to fish, he eats forever.

    Education, dummy. Education is the cure for poverty.

    You fix education, poverty diminishes.

    That and many other simple concepts are way beyond your ability comprehend.

    Go away…far away. The city will be better off.

  24. LMBST – are you one of the supervisor’s girlfriends? There is proof of him leaving the job for several hours on many occasions to visit his girlfriends. It is pretty obvious when the guy’s city-issued truck is parked in front of a private residence all morning. Or when he is spotted at a Stratford beach. Or a pay-by-the hour motel.

    There is proof of him allowing haulers to dump illegally. There is proof of him putting himself in for overtime when he was not even in work.

    This has nothing to do with a few disgrunted employees. It is a long overdue investigation on a supervisor who has taken advantage of his position at a cost to the city of thousands of dollars.

    In the end, the truth will prevail.

  25. yahooy and City Kitty: The State will not just come in and take over the school system. A very strong respected state delegation and a strong Mayor need to request the takeover. The Business Community has to support the takeover because they will need to help with the solutions. The State put millions into Hartford under Tom Ritter’s strong Hartford leadership, and then after a few years put it back in the City’s hand with the Mayor controlling the appointments to the Board of Ed. Bridgeport needs to elect a strong and RESPECTED state delegation. Key words, strong and having personalities that GAIN RESPECT for the new Bridgeport.

  26. Countdown

    I agree with you. But, there is not one aspirant for public office that is strong and compelling enough to initiate a plan of action that will do for us what we need.


  27. yahooy,
    There has to be. They have to be found. They have to come forward. The future of Bridgeport needs strong, respectful, compelling LEADERS in the legislature who will command faith in the new Bridgeport. Grandstanding and buffoonery, if that is a word, has to stop. Bridgeport must have the very best serving this wonderful city.

  28. Countdown,

    You are entirely correct. Alas, I see very few of this year’s crop of candidates providing that kind of leadership. It certainly won’t come from either of the two House members–Caruso and Keeley–who are always touting their “leadership” roles.

  29. Keeley and Caruso are not leaders. They are blowhards–on missions that are only clear to them. The have not earned the trust and respect of their colleagues. Hartford sent lots of legislative staffers to help Caruso with his mayoral campaign in the hopes he would win and finally be gone from the legislature. Keeley is not effective in any way. If it weren’t for Jim Amann’s affection for Bridgeport, they would be sidelined to the back bench. The City needs real leaders.


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