The Knot Of Layoff Notices, Plus: Voter Reg Surge

Receiving a layoff notice sucks, and it’s especially crushing when Mayor Bill Finch could have been pragmatic presenting his first budget to the City Council that would have avoided layoffs, and the anger and frenzy of public demonstrations.

After Finch proposed his budget he was telling people privately how proud he was going after those “non-essential” public health workers and library staffers. No one would dare blowtorch them, he said. As a long-time city hall employee said of Finch, “He’s like a little kid saying look at me, mommy.” His honor and his advisers, the same ones that built last year’s budget that has created havoc this year, didn’t expect the outpouring of anger, radio commercials and public demonstrations attacking Finch’s judgment. No one will really care, they thought. But, as we’ve seen repeatedly in Finch’s first six months, his psychosis mandates that he’s right all the time and everyone else is stupid.

The Connecticut Post has doggedly pressured the city for a list of city employees on the layoff hit list. The “most transparent” administration in history, as Finch promised, balked claiming the only obligation required releasing positions, not names that actually received layoff notices.

City Attorney Mark Anastasi said hold on a minute–you have to release the names. Kudos to Anastasi for issuing a judgment that went against the mayoral grain.

The layoff hit list, unfortunately, extended to Mary Witkowski, head of the Historical Collections of the Bridgeport Public Library. So, let’s dump the person that knows more about the city’s history than anyone on the planet, the official city historian, in exchange for the official city forger. (See post, Next Time Use Disappearing Ink.)

I covered, as a reporter and commentator, mayors John Mandanici, Lenny Paoletta, Mary Moran and John Fabrizi and worked for Tom Bucci and Joe Ganim. Never in those 30 years have I seen the Bridgeport City Council more active in trying to repair a chief executive’s gaffes than the current legislative body.

The council will issue its budget response to Finch in a few days. Here’s hoping sanity rules, and jobs are restored.


Yes, within the next few weeks, all local and federal legislative candidates will receive endorsements from their respective parties. Congressman Chris Shays will accept the formal GOP endorsement at the Republican nominating convention Saturday afternoon at Darien Town Hall.

Shays’ Fourth Congressional District opponent Democrat Jim Himes will be formally endorsed at the nominating convention Monday night at Cesar Batalla School, 606 Howard Ave. in Bridgeport. The Dems will host a party for Himes after the convention at Matty’s Corner on Fairfield Avenue in Black Rock.

Mark Your Calendar

It’s OIB party time next Thursday May 15, 6 p.m. at Captain’s Cove Seaport. First round is courtesy of OIB, then it’s happy hour (yes I timed it that way) and the Cove is putting out Buffalo wings, Swedish meatballs, spring rolls and platters of this and that. Or, if you like, bring along a pitchfork and go digging for oysters in the harbor. Bring friends!

Let’s Vote

Secretary of State reports voter registration surge. Interestingly, more than 2,000 of the new voters come from Bridgeport. Park City numbers much higher than Hartford and New Haven for this time period. See state news release below:

Connecticut Voter Registration Off the Charts

Young People Lead the Way as Voter Registration Surge Continues

Hartford: Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz reports that record numbers of Connecticut residents are registering to vote. In the ninety days since the February 5th presidential primary, nearly 34,000 residents registered to vote. Young people (18-29 years old) appear to be the driving force behind the latest registration surge; more than 12,000 18-29 year-olds registering in the last ninety days. The latest registration numbers closely mirror the registration over the ninety day period prior to the February 5th primary when an incredible 40,000 Connecticut residents registered to vote.

“With young people leading the way, Connecticut residents are registering to vote in impressive numbers,” said Bysiewicz. There is an incredible renewed sense of enthusiasm and interest in the political process,” said Bysiewicz. “The surge in voter registration we experienced before the February 5th primary has continued through April and into May.”

Currently, there are 1,925,328 registered voters in Connecticut. Among newly registered voters nearly 14,000 Democrats and 4,500 Republicans registered to vote. Additionally, 15,000 unaffiliated voters registered. Of the nearly 34,000 newly registered voters, more than 12,304 are between the ages of 18 and 29. Since February 5th, among newly registered younger voters, Democratic registration has outpaced Republican registration: 5,010 to 1,369.

The nearly 34,000 newly registered voters represents a significant increase from the same 90-day period last year (February 5, 2007 – May 5, 2008), when 13,771 Connecticut citizens registered to vote.

“This past February, record numbers of young people cast ballots,” said Bysiewicz.  “In this time of economic insecurity, war, and environmental peril, young people clearly want a say in the direction of this country.”

The Office of the Secretary of the State maintains an aggressive voter registration program working closely with community groups, high schools, universities and others to expand civic involvement among Connecticut residents. As part of her effort to increase voter registration in Connecticut, Secretary Bysiewicz this past year registered nearly 2,000 high school students. She has also conducted more than 200 voting machine demonstrations highlighting the new machines and registering voters. The Office of the Secretary of the State regularly registers new citizens to vote at naturalization ceremonies across Connecticut.



  1. Too bad the article appeared in the CT Post online before anyone at the library had been notified. Those who are being laid off are professional librarians with, cumulatively, well more than 100 years of institutional knowledge…many very close to retirement.
    Business as usual?

  2. Bruce Hubler has eloquently addressed this issue many times on this blog. It is not only a leadership issue but also a management issue.

    Bill desperately needs a mentor or a Board of Directors that can help him think through issues and the consequences of his decisions. Presently the inner circle of his administration sans Andy Nunn have no experience outside of the political arena. They are not relationship builders. They don’t know the key players in the business community and in my opinion are basically clueless. Clearly, Bill has wasted too much time on political B.S.

    Still no Economic Development Directorand no Public Facilities Director after six months on the job. How many times on this blog have we discussed the need for an operational audit? There is a global company based in Westport called Terex. There top level executives incluidng the CEO and COO go around the world to their plants working on the factory floor with their workers. It is not only a leadership exercise but a management exercise of interacting with the workers in finding solutions to maximize efficiency and profit. You have to enroll your employees into your problem solving and allow them to buy into your program. The unions also have to invest into this critical thinking process. For example; The city should be allowed to have some flexibility to hire outside inspectors on a just in time basis. If and when the economy turns around and some of these projects ever get off the ground the city will need to have more inspectors working. The union should allow the city to go to an outside vendor or hire temporary inspectors on a per diem versus the cost of processing a new employee and benefits etc. This could be accomplished by allowing the outside inspector no to work more that 19 hrs. a week.

    Bill, as Judge Judy would say; “You’re not listening. You need to put your listening ears on!” He has to learn to listen to his customers. Who need and want our store to be successful.

    “Leaders Do the Right Things and Managers Do Things Right!”

  3. Moonbeam’s train is headed for a wreck. The mayor is clearly off track. How could he eliminate Mary Witkowski from her job? This Finch is a leader impersonator, I doubt could run a TOY TRAIN!!
    Is there such a place for “recall” in Bridgeport law, because if so, let’s get on with it and make the pain that much shorter.

  4. All economic decisions that cut spending are tough. But we have seen what happens when a leader does not make any difficult cost cutting decisions to fix the budget. You get way more spending than income and then in the final analysis you are blamed for the budget woes for not taking any tough action.

    Everybody cried for change and now when change begins to happen, nobody likes it.

  5. All of you make a lot of sense to me but I think a more comprehensive approach to the problem must be taken. More employees should be furloughed but they should be selected from ALL departments; audit the Education Department where I’m certain there are some huge leaks and get rid of the dead wood; limit the number of vehicles given to City employees; eliminate SUVs from the vehicle pool; call the unions in and re-negotiate all employee contracts; medical coverage must be re-examined and perhaps limited to HMO’s; viciously pursue tax delinquents; privatize many services, e.g. of electricians used to repair street lights; privatize the service of those who collect refuse and recyclables and those who maintain the parks and sewer system; put repair of roads out to bid rather than use public works. There are a multitude of things that can be done to reduce city expenses. Remember that with the elimination of every ten employees there is a current reduction for the need of one million dollars in revenue (without considering post retirement expenses).
    This city cannot sustain an increase in the mill rate. Such action will only act to discourage commercial development and force the middle class out.
    Whereas criticism is helpful let’s offer solutions which he may use in a comprehensive plan addressing the ills of the city.

  6. El Rey- we all want change but not chump change.

    Con is right. All unions need to share in the pain and not just the gain. What has happened to Bill’s fleet vehicle program? Filardi is right about post retirement expenses. City employees including the Bored of Ed with a full time city car are taxed on this benefit as income. So if someone who makes a base of 100k a year with an additional 5k vehicle benefit and 25 years with city can increase their pension by about two-hundred dollars a year. In an age of actuarial ageism (people living longer) this can represent about 50k extra income not including any COLA language if any in their retirement package.

    A note of condolence to the Carroll Family on the loss of their sister Sheila.

  7. Mary Witkowski and our (that’s right: our) library system are municipal treasures; this administration is turning out to be yet another municipal disgrace.

    Could it be her efforts to encourage historic preservation have angered the machine’s money men, who’d bulldoze Beardsley Park if there were a few bucks to be made and they could get away with it?

  8. Lennie if you read the Connecticut Post article, it states that one service assistant was selected. According to city records my position is a service assistant working at the Bridgeport Police Department. Service assistant is another word for Janitor. I started working as Graffitti Removal tech under your old friend Patrick Coyne and about a year later he told me that I had to go and that I’d be imprisoned by Ganim at the Zoo with the animals where I belong. I have never worked as a service assistant, (janitor) at least not for the City. I have been at the zoo like ten (10) years. I did not receive a notice nor did my union representive. Why? Well had I not known that the notice was sent and not responded before the set dealine, I would have lost my bumping rights by default.
    When a lay-off notice is received, one must respond in writing to Labor Relations and state whether or not one is going to exercise their right to bump. Failing to to so would be taken as if you accept the lay-off. Good try Finch’s Bitches. Luckily I still have many friends around. I knew this was coming back in January when I decided to run and get back in the ring. And I was sure when they lost to Rob Russo. I understand that my notice was purposely withheld and that there were more than 10.
    Damn, I got to go back picking up cans.

  9. Bob Fredericks,
    Let us never forget that much of Beardsley Park actually was bulldozed in the 1960’s by the state with only a wink-and-a-nod given in “disapproval” by our state delegation, and city fathers of the time, in order for those who engineered and were in on the deal/invested in land along the Route 8 Corridor to make very big profits on land deals and development … The whole deal sucked the life out of Bridgeport and is responsible for much of the economic decay and regional environmental carnage that has occurred since … It must be remembered that it was largely suburbanites of Bridgeport origin, and Bridgeporters planning on becoming suburbanites, that engineered the deal — especially those connected with the Tedesco Administration. We were sold-out largely by our own for the proverbial “30 pieces of silver” … (Among those greedy, treacherous folks were the political and genetic forebearers of the pirates in City Hall today who are carrying on the parasitic looting and pillaging of the long-suffering populace of a long-suffering city …)

    Mary Witkowski could certainly find plenty of archival information to confirm the above claims/statements…
    She could also find plenty of information detailing the looting of the Wheeler Mansion, which was razed — along with much of our then-prosperous downtown — to make way for that life-draining transportation abomination known as the Route 25-8 Connector …

    The more things change in Bridgeport, the more they stay the same … (It must be realized that the Finch Administration is a direct descendant of the Tedesco Adminstration, only without the talent …)

  10. Latest news from city hall is that fich just hired Ezequiel’s cousin to the mayors office staff. I wonder what her salary is. He layed off all essential employees not for the budget, but to put his friends in new positions.

  11. A neighbor has confirmed that a few weeks ago she had seen a letter with the first name Joel at my old address of 5 years ago. These guys can’t even get an address correct.

  12. capitalist, I remember it well, having spent many a summer’s day escaping the mean streets of the East Side, swimming on the west bank of Bunnell’s Pond, dining on dogs and sodas at the beachside snack stand. Tedesco and Curran, the Testacrats of their day!

  13. I can’t help but wonder if there was ever a mayor that some of you people actually liked. Seems like every one of them is criticized on here for doing something wrong. I just can’t figure that out but I guess some people will never be happy with a mayor no matter who gets elected.

  14. Their legacies speak for themselves: Loot the treasury, screw the citizenry, enrich yourself and your machine co-conspirators, indicted or otherwise, and then scram for the suburbs. What, exactly, is there to like unless you’re on the payroll?

  15. I still don’t get how this administration justifies hiring political cronies while laying off long time employees. How big is the Mayor’s “staff” going to get?

    I agree that change had to come, but the change should be based on what makes sense not political revenge. If Finch even reached out and tried to talk to the unions instead of blindsiding them maybe they would have made some concessions. You can always cut if they say no. The new sheriff in town is more like Billy the kid or better — like Billy and the kids.

  16. I am very happy and impressed that so many more young people are registering to vote. It’s time to get rid of some of those rich old oilmen that Bush has put in power. The economy is destroyed and they are loving this war even though our young kids are dying in Iraq; it all comes down to oil. Bush spends billions on that war yet our people are losing their jobs and their homes! But they don’t care, its only about their money. Also, those old goats that are on the Supreme court should be tossed out, some of them are senile and yet they are making decisions for our country. Bush will be in future history books as the worst president ever.

  17. The problem with politicians is that we keep electing the same ones. Both parties are at fault. The people elected Bush to 2 terms and his only interest was the war and protecting big oil companies. Congress has a majority of Democrats and they have done nothing or attempted anything that would alleviate the oil crisis. Both parties are responsible for NAFTA that has taken thousands of job out of the country. We seem to be worried about the economy of other countries at the expense of our own.
    We keep electing Senator Dodd for example and what has he done; nothing. As chairmen of the Banking Committee he was out running for president while the home mortgage industry and banks were out screwing people getting home mortgages at outlandish rates. Perfect example: I sold a 1-family home and the person buying the house was given a 108% mortgage. That’s not a misprint 108% the 8% was used to cover closing costs. Down the road this person will be in trouble if they are not already.
    We should have term limits on all of these politicians instead of letting them serve for life. Let’s face it if you are a Democrat in Connecticut you can almost guarantee once you are elected you will more probably be reelected again and again no matter what. Example – just look at the common council.

  18. Tom kelley

    I am grateful for your kind invitation to accompany you to your dinner with Mo and “what’s his name”. I must decline. Besides, you should take a goumad. Surely there is someone of the distaff persuasion in this city that would enjoy your company for a few hours even if Grimaldi is picking up the tab.

    Enjoy. I want my identity to remain anonymous.

  19. Yahooy, I was looking forward to meeting you. Come on man, you are not in the CIA. Remaining a silent partner? Remember the Gong Show? Why can’t all you guys and gals come to the OIB event at the Cove, wearing a Paper Bag over your heads? Linnie would probably supply the paper bags, just ask!

  20. Hey Wondering, are you trying to say that you are supporting Ralph Nadder? You sound like a Democrat -The Party of Fear. “There are no jobs.” Repeat this for six months and a majority of job seekers will not get up to look for work. Before you know it the unemployment rate has increased and then blame Bush and The Republican Party for the situation. There are jobs out there, maybe not quite the high paying ones you’d like, but something is better than nothing. Creat your own business and be your own Boss, stay up long hours like you don’t think I should be doing. As I have told you many times, “Read Between the Lines,” and I’m not talking about the kind Fabrizi likes.

  21. Joel again where in my last post did I discuss jobs. i discussed term limits for all politicians local , state and federal. Once a democrat and a few repunlicans get elected they stay for ever. Take a look around Bridgeport and check th seniority on the council. Check ou Shays 18 Years ( or close to it ) Dodd almost 30 years. New ideas and enthusiasm for the job does not come from the same retreads. Joel if your going to comment on my posts at least get it right.

  22. Gonzalez

    There are two people on the face of the earth that I wouldn’t cross the street to get a look at. One is Jane Fonda, the other is George Bush. Congrats. You have become the third.


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