The Library Referendum: Yes Or No? Plus: Abate Flushed

I was looking to create a little trouble Wednesday afternoon. (Yeah, I can’t help myself.)

So I called Jim O’Donnell, the genial president of the Bridgeport Library Board, to elicit an update on the November referendum to determine library funding. Voters will decide whether one mil shall be appropriated to fund library services.

Basically, one mil in the current city budget represents roughly $6.9 million. O’Donnell says current library costs, soup to nuts, including salaries, books, fringe benefits, maintenance, utilities, debt, all the expenses cover to cover are roughly $6 million.

In making a case to voters to approve the referendum O’Donnell says “We’re going to do what the Board of Education has failed to do.” That means tell voters precisely how their money will be spent. I like the BOE comparison. Do you think Superintendent of Schools John Ramos, who makes roughly a quarter of a million a year, has done an adequate job explaining where one third of the overall city budget is spent? Shoot, Ramos had a hard time explaining last week how he lost track of $2 million that ended up back in the general budget and not spent on the kids.

O’Donnell called the library an economic driver that can be an asset to recruiting business, adding it’s the highest trafficked city department. (Unless, of course, it’s tax time.) No argument here. I’d like to see the Historical Collections of the Bridgeport Public Library finally land an adequate air conditioning system before the reservoir of artifacts, photos, news clippings, diaries, etc. melt into oblivion.

During the course of our conversation, Jim said by the way I met with the mayor a few weeks ago right after the state judge paved the way for the referendum question law–that Mayor Bill Finch’s city attorney opposed–be decided by voters. O’Donnell, a lawyer, argued that a little-known piece of state law allowed voters to decide the question. The judge agreed with Jim.

O’Donnell said the mayor told him that he was a big supporter of the library and would vote yes in the referendum.

I’ve spoken with a few pols who say they’ll tell their peeps to vote no to the question in November, the city cannot afford it. So I reached out to City Hall. Hey, what’s the mayor’s position on this?

The mayor confirmed that it’s for the voters to decide. “I am a strong believer in the public library system and I encourage everyone to vote on this issue. I also realize we are living in very financially challenging times and understand the concerns that taxpayers have about additional spending–even spending for such a noble purpose.”

Okay, now we’re talking. That is the response of a professional politician, and as far as I’m concerned we can use a little more of that from the mayor. Even if the mayor wants this thing to sink he does it in a way that does not pit library against taxpayer. And that’s a good thing whether you agree with giving the library more moolah or not.

I Can’t Abate!

The Water Pollution Control Authority fired long-time Director Andrew Abate Wednesday night saying, according to the Connecticut Post, he was negligent in his duties involving sewage flow into Long Island Sound. Abate has been a controversial figure covering several mayors. I’ve got some catching up to do on this story. From Keila Torres of the CT Post:

BRIDGEPORT — After nearly 20 years on the job, Water Pollution Control Authority Director Andrew Abate was fired Wednesday night amidst claims that his “negligence of duties as general manager” allowed for billions of gallons of mixed sewage and storm water to be illegally dumped into Long Island Sound.

The unanimous decision was reached after less than a half hour of deliberation by board members of the WPCA, which runs the city’s sewage treatment plants. The discussion was held in executive session, which even Abate was not allowed to sit in for.

“We found he failed in his duties. We’ve decided we wanted to go a different direction with management,” said Michael Feeney, chairman of the board and the city’s chief financial officer.

Feeney said there were a “host of reasons” why Abate was fired, including his failure to monitor monthly operating reports and his failure to ensure compliance of environmental regulations and of present and past consent orders issued by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Abate, who sported a look of defeat after the decision was announced, said he was surprised by the board’s vote and claimed it was “not true” that the city’s past environmental violations had been, at least in part, his fault.

His attorney, former mayor Thomas Bucci, said he wouldn’t comment on the “reasons they are manufacturing” for the firing, but claimed his client was innocent. “He’s done nothing wrong. A bunch of amateurs are sitting in judgment when their own consulting engineer has stated in writing this week that he has done nothing wrong,” Bucci said.

Feeney said the investigation into Abate’s role in the environmental law violations began after the city and the DEP agreed on a consent order which waived up to $1 million in past penalties that had been slapped on the city.



  1. I’m guessing Bucci is loving that Finch is Mayor. Bucci is going to line his pockets with these terminations if he can prove they are flawed.

    Bucci definitely has the upper hand in the Ralph Jacobs case …

    As for Andrew Abate … Let’s just say the Mayor has been very vocal about wanting to get rid of him and in fact made a failed attempt to do so during his “Cost Cutting” layoffs last year … And here we go, another termination done behind closed doors and not even the targeted employee allowed to sit in??? I don’t know but it kinda smells funny …

    John Ramos better watch out, Finch just might try to can him next with his puppeteer BOE candidates … Ooops, did I let the cat out the hat …

    1. It’s “cat out of the bag” but you are right on, Celia. Tom Bucci is going to make quite a name for himself and a bundle of money on these cases. I like when he said that a bunch of amateurs are making decisions that they know nothing about. That about describes this whole Finch administration, doesn’t it?

  2. I really have no problem getting rid of Abate but I don’t think the firings went far enough. I think Feeney should also be fired as he was the Chairmen of the Board. This board was charged with overseeing the WPCA. Feeney stated the following; Feeney said there were a “host of reasons” why Abate was fired, including his failure to monitor monthly operating reports and his failure to ensure compliance of environmental regulations and of present and past consent orders issued by the Department of Environmental Protection.
    This has been going on for awhile. I have to ask Feeney what he did in an attempt to rectify the problems?
    I was at a meeting when Monroe wanted to tie into Bridgeport’s sewer system and I can tell you this, Feeney did not have a clue when asked about the sewer system. He is a totally clueless person who must have a big donor as his backer because he is still employed here.

        1. Maybe we need to get an updated list of our commissioners and their residences. I would be interested in serving on a board or commission and I’d like to know if someone from another town or city is taking that seat. Lennie you think you or one of the bloggers could get us that list? It might be interesting to see how many seats are unfilled, also.

  3. Finally, I disagree with The Mayor.

    While Bill Finch is happy to let the voters decide on the upcoming Library referendum, I see a different issue taking shape. Jim O’Donnell, Bridgeport Library Board President, is simply picking the low fruit on the tree. The Jasper McLevy statute was custom-made for the libraries’ benefit but hears little relevance in today’s internet-centric world.

    Here’s the point: The internet is the digital version of yesterday’s library and the progenitor of this blog!

    Unlike other depts, The BPL system wants their own mil.

    How greedy can you get?

    If the Historical Collections of The Bridgeport Public Library system don’t have an adequate air-conditioner system today, it’s only because The BPL didn’t make it a higher priority yesterday.

    1. Why are you, a citizen of Trumbull, so concerned about this library referendum? We’re all entitled to an opinion, but this doesn’t affect you one way or the other. You will not have to cough up any more in tax payments.

  4. Doctors take a Hippocratic Oath. In Bridgeport, our elected leaders and commissioners seem to take the Hypocritic Oath.

    The WPCA during the Ganim corruption case should have given the boot to Abate after it was disclosed that Ganim received an extra benefit of sewers being given to him on Sailor’s Lane with Abates’ knowledge. They did nothing.

    Now the WPCA wants a change, and similar to the Ralph Jacobs case, really cannot show cause. Bucci is going to have lunch and dinner as he eats up these two cases.

    I wonder how much outside city counsel is going to cost us on this one.

    Andy Boy gets Abated and I’m still waiting for my $600.00 Rebate from Finch.

  5. BTW

    Why doesn’t the council, besides Walsh and a couple of others, grow some balls on Steal Point?

    If the Port Authority could put out an RFP and announce the developer in less than 5 months, then why can’t we break up Steal Point and do the same? The way Christoph glowingly talks about the global, coastal, positioning of this project, it must have some greater value than $100k per acre. Furthermore, are we saying that his property has not appreciated in 12 years?

    I don’t care what TC says. Donna Curran, Walsh, Pivirotto, and one other person are looking pretty good on their non-LDA vote in 2007.

    If there were any Smart Republicans, another oxymoron, in Bridgeport, they should be making hay on this issue. Not even a press release. I know Tea is the non-taxing beverage, but the Royal Tea Party could win on this issue and win, and they’re based in Trumbull.

    Maybe we need a third party in Bridgeport. We could call it the Honest Tea Party!

    I have to sip out of here.

    1. The more I see of this development the more it looks like Stamford. When they redeveloped Stamford it did not benefit the residents, it only pushed them into corners, or out of the city. Am I wrong to assume that by taking a Homeowner’s home only to replace it with more homes they are deciding that one population is better than the other? The people who lived in those homes were/are friends of my family. Some helped to raise me and many others. Now they have no recourse as the statute of limitations has passed. In many ways it’s sickening. Some of you may remember the plight of the Scintos who wanted to build on the north end. If you ride up to the north end now you can see that people are building homes in their driveways. To accommodate the planned exodus of people from Bridgeport’s coast. Don’t be surprised if the lake gets filled in so they can build on it.

  6. I hear that Finch called Roto-Rooter the other day and they refused him service. He has too many Troubles to go down the drain.

    Even Bridgeport-based Royal Flush had to give him a poker-based answer in denying service, claiming that, “he had run out of markers”.

  7. On Andy Abate, shortly after Joe Ganim resigned and John Fabrizi became mayor, City Councilman Ed Gomes and myself met with the mayor and demanded that Abate be terminated.
    This was based on testimony given in Ganim’s corruption trial where it was acknowledged that the Kasper Group, a major contractor of the WPCA, had performed free work on property owned by Andy Abate in Massachusetts.
    Our point was that although the federal government choose not to pursue charges, this was a direct violation of the city’s ethics code and grounds for dismissal.
    We then had to have another meeting with the mayor and the city attorney. Still no action.
    Then we scheduled another meeting at which time we were told that Andy and another high-ranking member of the WPCA applied for and was granted membership in the Supervisor’s Association and as such could not be terminated.
    Andy also sat on a Monroe land use board and could be very instrumental in assisting the Ganim family in projects they had going in that town.
    We then suggested that if he could not be terminated (which we did not buy into) then his position could be privatized and have a third party oversee compliance and the operation of the facilities. This was never pursued by the Fabrizi administration.
    I do not know all of the particulars of whatever charges were brought by the WPCA Board but there are many reasons that this action was long overdue.
    Can you add any more insight into this Lennie?

    1. Mr. Walsh,
      Thanks for the info and history lesson. Do you know what the Steal Point legal entity is of the entities that are seeking the entities of the Steal Point entity?

      Seems to me to be a (il)legal game of hide and sneak.

      1. Dear UOB,
        I have requested a paper trail of the structure of the Bridgeport Landing Development LLC from the moment it was granted development rights through today.
        This should include ownership and status of members and managing members.
        I have been told that they will work on this but it will be difficult.
        It shouldn’t be difficult. But we shall see what we shall see.

  8. Let’s be clear:

    The BPL wants the same special treatment as The BOE, meaning we might have the same problems with the BPL that we already have with the BOE.

    Once this law gets passed, it will be hard to reverse.

    Bonus Fact: The Fairfield County Medical Association was established in 1792–now that’s what I call “old money”.

    1. Dear Eyes,
      As I see it the biggest difference is that 80% – 90% (depending on whose number you use) comes from the state of Connecticut.
      Maybe if 90% of the library budget came from the state this wouldn’t be such a big issue. But it is a BIG difference.

  9. Up on Bridgeport; My statement on Curran was that her vote at that time was meaningless as the resolution had more than enough votes to pass. The vote took place at election time and I stated that her vote at that time would be used against her. It was and she lost. She should have abstained or voted with the majority so that her vote could not be used against her in the election and she could live to fight another day. Pivoroto is also gone.

    1. TC, C’mon give me a break. Elaine is gone because she decided not to run.

      I’ve read your political pontifications over the last several months. You were one of the biggest political bandwagon jumpers this city has ever known. I remember when you and your son infiltrated the Guman campaign and went running to report back to Fabrizi! When your lovely wife gets Asylum Streeted you change your tune.

      You may be correct in the pragmatics of the Curran vote although she got swamped at Longfellow. However I would rather have her vote on principles and not on pragmatics.

      You’re a hypocrite and need to go to the Principal’s Office for detention and write on the chalkboard 100 times, “I will no longer hypocritize as I try to democratize”. Then you have to go outside and clap the erasers. No recess or smoking for a week.

    2. TC,
      And this is the independent voice and vote that you were promising to bring to the council?
      Abstain (which you cannot do unless you have a stated conflict of interest) or simply go along with the majority. Hide with the majority rather than stand alone. This pretty much sums up the problem with the council today and apparently it would have continued had you been elected.

  10. Up on Bridgeport & Walsh:
    First, Up on Bridgeport. Attend 1 meeting and that’s infiltration? You are full of it. There was nothing of consequence discussed and after hearing John I decided that I could not back him. If that’s infiltration so be it.
    Running in a primary in my district is getting off the bandwagon; so be it. BTW I was never a Finch backer. Pivoroto could not get the votes to run. She did not have the backing.
    Bob: voting on principle knowing that in a day your opponent is going to slam that vote down your throat at the polls is politically dumb especially when the vote did not matter in the outcome. Her vote against Steel point which turned out to be right. Her opponents slammed her at the polls with handouts about her vote and she lost. Now she is sitting on the sidelines.
    Up do they still use erasers?

    1. Elaine decided not to run. Walsh and Brantley prevailed in the primary of 2007. I know they still have the clap but not sure about the erasers. Were you a closet-Caruso-backer or a Fabrizi-hoping-that-Finch-would-lose hacker?

      1. I did not like Caruso because he kept yelling corruption and then could not produce the corruption he was talking about. Fabrizi was done in my eyes after he went to court as a character witness. I was actually rooting for Paul Ganim but he decided not to run when the poll that was taken showed he could not win. I really had no horse in that race.

    2. You don’t make sense. During the past primary, you and Barney slammed Paoletto and Curwen on just about everything. You both lost! Donna Curran did not lose by a large margin. If her Steel Point vote was such a big deal for the 130th voters, why didn’t she lose by a much larger margin?

      1. It wasn’t only the Steel Point vote that sank Ms. Curran. Her support of Joe “Snake Oil, Anyone?” Celli and his “nonprofit” art center was a factor as well. But let’s not overlook the machine that Mr. Caruso was squawking about. The DTC district leader (or ward heeler, depending on your point of view) for the 130th district was able to turn out the vote. It was an off-year election, so his job was made that much easier.

        Mr. Caruso could actually prevail in a primary and general election if he would heed some advice: start shopping at Joseph A. Bank or Men’s Wearhouse; tell his barber he’s tired of looking like an asshole; and look for a few more issues to campaign for. Ranting about a “corrupt political machine” will only go so far. Oh sure, it’ll get you on the dance floor, but it’s only a box step.

  11. This business with Abate doesn’t appear to be part of the same bolt as the termination of Ralph Jacobs. From what was written in the Post, the board had good reason to dismiss Mr. Abate from his duties.

  12. Here is an alternative financial plan for Steal Point. If the developer is going to give a $500k non-refundable option payment to the city for the whole project, then they should be forced to pay property taxes on all 50 acres.

    Do any of the council members, sans Walsh and Baker, have any financial moxie? Or are they all looking for another free trip to Miami similar to their Midtown Equities sojourn?

  13. TBK, thanks for complimenting me. Your frequent quotes express your admiration. There’s a reason I never quote you.

    Thank goodness you missed my earlier posts, otherwise you’d know about my connection to the upcoming referendum and my steadfast resolve to defeat it.

    In addition, if your pet goldfish are puking, maybe it’s because they don’t like where they live.

    Bonus: Shortest Book in the world: Making Friends While Blogging by The Bridgeport Kid.

    1. My, my, aren’t we sensitive. I could care less about your “connection” to the library issue. (As if anyone gives a shit that you’re being “watched” by your “people.”) It is a done deal, to be approved by registered voters FROM THE CITY OF BRIDGEPORT. There are many more people that are for it; you are outnumbered by the citizens that live and work and vote here, not some twittering clown that thinks he can change the course of mighty rivers with a mouse click.

      Get over yourself, bud.

  14. Bob Walsh, thank you for your clear and concise definition of independent voice. Let me add two other points, not ruled or controlled, to go along with your point on voting. Abstain (which you cannot do unless you have a stated conflict of interest) or simply go along with the majority. Hide with the majority rather than stand alone. This pretty much sums up the problem with the council today and apparently it would have continued had you been elected. If you believe in something then stand up for it, don’t hide.

    1. Ron: You don’t get the point. Curran knew she was in a tough election that was to take place the day after the vote. She knew that her opponent was waiting at the copy machine if her vote was against steel point.
      I am not talking about anything here but political survival. She could possibly have won the election with a yes vote. It’s not like her vote was the tie-breaking vote, if it was that was a different story then you vote the way you feel and for what your position is. Her vote meant nothing in the outcome.
      Hey I could be wrong here but she lost and never got to do things she had planned for her district.

  15. Look at the long list of people who could think for themselves that have been axed. Hadley … Abate … Jacobs … Curry … Bakalar … everybody in central grants … Michele Mount. There is a running rumor that somebody even got written up just for speaking to the paper. I hope this person comes forward and brings this to the state labor board. When did George Bush start running this city???

    Look at everybody in TOP Position with an emphasis on TOP. People who can make decisions.

    Mayor Finch talks about diversity all day. Does he have anybody who is a minority in a top position? Not a key position; I am talking about CAO, CFO, Housing, Public Works, Parks, Police, Fire DECISION MAKING positions? This City has taken a step back because the answer is no. If you want to respond and mention Eversley, Caviness or Dr. Evans my answer to you is no!

  16. Whoaaaaaaaaa, the rumor mill is a-churning. The honorable Judge Carmen Lopez running for state rep in Black Rock against Audin Grogins??? Some huge rally of African-Americans and Latinos getting together to support the Judge??? OMG, that is Ginormous news, if it’s true of course. Word is, it is.

  17. That last comment would lead me to believe that you have no idea who you are and would not fight for your flag or have none. No flag, then you must truly be a Latino as they have no flag either. Or maybe you are just a tomato. That’s what should be done with those who don’t mind what you call them. Let’s just call them tomatoes.

  18. Oh, for the record Hector, I am half Puerto Rican and half German. I represent many flags. Latinos actually show up for their jobs and whatever elected office they hold, unlike you in the past. You must be a vago, sir.

    1. Los 10 Mandamientos del vago

      1. Se nace cansado y se vive para descansar.

      2. Ama a tu cama, como a tí mismo.

      3. Si ves a alguien descansar, ayúdalo.

      4. Descansa de día para que puedas dormir de noche.

      5. El trabajo es sagrado, no lo toques.

      6. Aquello que puedas hacer mañana, no lo hagas hoy.

      7. Trabaja lo menos que puedas, lo que tengas que hacer que lo haga otro.

      8. Calma, nunca nadie murió por descansar.

      9. Cuando sientas el deseo de trabajar, siéntate y espera que se te pase.

      10. Si el trabajo es salud, que trabajen los enfermos.

    2. You may represent many, but which are you true to? To call someone or group Latino you’d have to include Italians, Greeks etc.. If you need a lesson I am more than happy to teach, but it’s gonna cost you. You write like you may think you know me. You don’t.

  19. “town committee,” I hear what you are saying but Donna Curran did not lose because of her Steel Point vote. With Curran being the only Republican City Council member out of 20 members she had NO leverage in supporting the Steel Point vote in trading her support for another vote on an issue that she was supporting. The 130th voters is the one district that can and will at times elected a Republican. Curran’s election was because the 130th District Leader Danny Roach did not get out the vote.

  20. Hector and East Side … Let’s not lose sight of the important fact that one of our own is running for state rep in Black Rock … indeed a big deal. Can a Hispanic mayor be next?

    1. The right Puerto Rican would be mending fences already. If we expect to win a mayoral seat it is imperative that we start to work together NOW even if we are 2/3 terms away. I don’t think I could support a candidate based on their nationality and neither should any of you. I could however support a candidate based on their vision for the people of BRIDGEPORT someone who understands the disenfranchised and under-represented masses.


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