The Political Buzz Of Party Insiders


This forum should be a beauty. Former State Rep. Chris Caruso and ex-City Council members Lisa “Honey” Parziale and Rick Torres on the same panel discussing the ultimate insiders of politics, town committees. All three have served on town committees, with Caruso and Torres once chairs of their respective Democratic and Republican parties in the city. And all three are not short on opinions.

In March, Bridgeport’s 90-member Democratic Town Committee will likely have a number of primaries in 10 districts. When that battle is done the next task is electing a chairman and other party officers. Town committee members conduct party business and endorse candidates for public office. The chairman selects delegates to respective state party conventions. Mayor Joe Ganim would like to line up as much delegate support as possible at the state gubernatorial convention in May.

Ganim’s long-time friend Mario Testa has led the Democratic Town Committee, in his latest run, since March 2008.

In 2007, Torres’ disdain for the city’s Democratic insider politics was such that he, as the Republican town chair, endorsed Caruso in the Dem mayoral primary. For this act of political infidelity Republican Party operatives promptly booted Torres as chair. Caruso, running as a party outsider, lost the primary to Bill Finch in a close vote. Torres would go on to be the Republican standard bearer for mayor in 2011 and 2015. He also ran for mayor in 2003, as did Caruso.

The community action group Better Bridgeport will shed light on the town committee process be it Democratic, Republican or Working Families, at a morning forum October 28, 10:30, at Burroughs Public Library Downtown.

From Better Bridgeport:

Democratic Town Committee
Republican Town Committee
Working Families Town Committee

You’ve probably heard of them, but how much do you know about them and how they affect the lives of people in Bridgeport?

How can any town committee improve Bridgeport’s civic climate? How can people become more involved?
A town committee’s primary function is to select and endorse candidates to run for political office. They also raise funds and provide campaign support. In some communities, they inform, educate and highlight issues to draw more voters to their cause. They should represent community diversity and advocate for shared interests.

In Bridgeport, where the Democratic Party has a 10:1 voter registration advantage over the Republican Party, DTC-endorsed candidates usually go on to win the general election, especially when there is no primary. The DTC has had the same leadership for decades. Many citizens feel disenfranchised. This contributes to low voter turnout.

What can we do to make things better?
More citizens need to become informed, get involved and win seats at the table. Let’s discuss what healthy and vibrant committees look like, what they can do, and how you can run for a seat on a town committee.

A panel of current and past Bridgeport town committee members will share their experiences, insights and personal opinions.

Panelists: Sauda Baraka, Christopher Caruso, Vincent DiPalma, Lisa Parziale, Rick Torres



  1. This ought to be quite informative. If Hearst Media’s editorial staff had any balls they’d give this front page coverage. The people must know how the party committee system works.

    The DTC is a corrupt organization, worse than Tammany Hall. The State Democratic Party doesn’t give a shit what goes on in Bridgeport politics until it needs the votes to put over a candidate for statewide office. (Party leaders may be somewhat alarmed that Joseph P. Ganim is seeking the governor’s office, dismayed at the thought of a convicted felon and disgraced attorney becoming the party’s standard bearer.)

  2. Bogart sticks his neck out for nobody in Casablanca.
    Thank goodness that a little noted part of the governance process can be a public subject and “secret” no longer. Here’s an opportunity for those who have been in the know at one time or another to make the facts public. Will it make a difference? Do people care about how politics works in the City? Are voters and taxpayers really concerned about how folks who run for office are actually selected? And in turn appoint others to carry out the “party line”? Time will tell.

    1. The three political parties represented on this panel are all corrupted to some degree. The DTC is corrupted by entrenched interests and a rank and file that is easily manipulated by the chairmen and the district leadership. The Republican Town Committee is corrupted by inertia and a lack of interest from the state and national committees. The Working Families Party is corrupted by self righteousness and a leftwing ideology that is out of place in contemporary America. None of them is working for the good of the people of the city of Bridgeport. 

      The DTC has ruled Bridgeport into the ground. The municipal payroll is bloated with people that owe their employment to political favoritism, not academic qualifications. The school system is failing, turning out dozens of dropouts with no marketable job skills, no ability to resolve conflict. This has created a permanent criminal underclass that settles all disputes with firearms, no matter how trivial. The BOE is so caught up in pettiness, bickering and lawsuits that not a one of ’em is able to see the root causes.

      The city is cluttered with abandoned factories and untreated pollution. Thousands of acres of former industrial property is untaxed due to multiple year abatements, shifting the tax burden onto the backs of homeowners in Black Rock and the North End. There is litter everywhere because too many people simply don’t give a shit, take no pride in the place they live. 

      No one needs to ask “How did we get here?” or “How do we fix this?” We all know the answers to those questions. Joe Ganim’s answer, like the mayors that came before (and after) him is to sweep it under the rug and build something while promising jobs. This year he’s selling snake oil in bottles labeled “amphitheater” and “MGM casino.” This charlatan won re-election by appealing to the poorer communities in Bridgeport, the people living in neighborhoods plagued by crime and violence, the places where angels fear to tread. He played on their feelings of despair and anger and disenfranchisement. They bought into the myth of his redemption and voted. He was helped in no small measure by a well-oiled absentee ballot operation. (The $20.00 per vote didn’t hurt his chances.) 

      In case that doesn’t work out Mr. Ganim is puffing himself up, trying to look gubernatorial, crashing a private party of Democratic fat cats, cracking jokes about his sordid past. As if that will cover the slime staining his expensive suit. 

    2. JML, Rick was all ways in the fight in Casablanca to the point that he lost everything. Hopefully you really LISTEN what is said at the forum because asking questions one thing but needs to listen and to in what is being said. You have two of the best with Chris Caruso and Lisa Parziale who know the in and out of the DTC as for the Republican Town Committee, really. Take notes and listen.

      1. Ron,
        What is your evidence that I have not been listening regularly in order to ask the many questions that I do? You almost seem a bit patronizing in this post by approving a couple of the panelists, ignoring others and making no comments about others who might be on such a lineup? Will you be in attendance? Perhaps your voice can be raised in public on such topic that has not been raised in the decade of OIB in such a public manner!!!(Or did I miss a previous community program where Testa or Stafstrom or (?) routinely made DTC participation common knowledge? And cared to show that there is no connection between secret clubhouse political action and corruption?)
        Where has such an idea surfaced in Bridgeport before? Time will tell.

        1. Better Bridgeport states, A town committee’s primary function is to select and endorse candidates to run for political office. They also raise funds and provide campaign support. In some communities, they inform, educate and highlight issues to draw more voters to their cause. They should represent community diversity and advocate for shared interests. Really, “In some communities, they inform, educate and highlight issues to draw more voters to their cause?”

          JML, the concern and issue of the forum is the DTC, Sauda Baraka is not on the DTC and never held a position on the DTC, I like her and respect her. Rick Torres and Vincent DiPalma have nothing to do with the DTC. As for Christopher Caruso and Lisa Parziale, you couldn’t two better individuals to inform the voting public about the DTC.

          1. Ron,
            Better Bridgeport is sponsoring a program to inform the public about the role of parties in our municipal governance process. Did you miss that? Did any part of the message say that this is about the DTC?
            Rick Torres was invited to give some perspective on RTC functions as a past candidate. Sauda Baraka was invited to talk about forming or reforming a local Workers Families Party recently. The other panelists represent past experience with DTC matters, past and current. However, the discussion should be more a review of what can be rather than what holds us today, I expect.

            There will be a moderator to provide questions to the panelists and I expect that the public will have time for Q&A. Hope you will be there to witness and contribute. Time will tell.

  3. DB, you wear this out, “shifting the tax burden onto the backs of homeowners in Black Rock and the North End. That’s not what happened, the homes in the North End and Black Rock are being taxed by what their homes are worth like every other home in the State. This wasn’t some diabolical scheme to tax the hell out of those neighborhoods while leaving the other less affluent neighborhoods alone.

    You want to pay less taxes than your affluent neighborhood pays, there are many homes for sale in the East End, East Side, West End and the South End. Those neighborhoods pay less because their homes are worth less. LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION

    1. Donald,

      REREAD THE FUCKING COMMENT. The city is clustered with former industrial properties that cannot be taxed due to decades-long abatements. O & G owns about 300 acres of prime waterfront property that is taxed at a sweetheart rate of about $250.00 or so. Homeowners in the North End and Black Rock pay well into five figures for properties that are less than an acre. That’s not right. It’s not an issue of “location location location.” It’s about fairness and the lack of foresight on the part of previous administrations.

      All of the poorer neighborhoods in Bridgeport were built near industrial sights that were abandoned by corporate interests. Now the toxic chemicals leach into the soil, contaminate the air. Get off your high horse. Not everything is about the black man versus the white devil.

        1. Renters also pay taxes, the landlords taxes go up just like those in Black Rock and in the North End and then the landlords pass the tax increase on to the renter.

          1. Exactly. If the rotting industrial buildings were rehabilitated and replaced on the grand list the municipal budget would be as black as night.

  4. A few observations.
    1) Who is Better Bridgeport? And please, give be names and what they have had success with.
    2) Unless they want to pack the DTC with unemployed or retired members this is a terrible time for a forum of this type. But then again maybe Better Bridgeport is packed with suburbanites and do not want to be in the city after dark.
    3) If you really want to know how to select a slate of candidates here’s the secret. Make it diversified. Make it with people who know the neighbor hood in different ways. Schools, long time residents, neighborhood watches, etc. And lastly get 9 people who are willing to work their asses off going door to door in the coldest months of the year.
    Do that and you will have a good chance at succeeding.
    Good luck.

    1. Chairman Mario’s Four Rules and By Laws of the Democratic Town Committee.

      Rule #1. No Member or future Members of the DTC will be taller then 5′ 7” inches.
      No wife or Significant other, or a intimate relationship with a DTC member shall be taller then 5′ 7” inches at anytime.

      Rule #2 All Female members and female quest shall wear Penelope Wedge Pumps
      at all times while in the presents of the Mayor and Chairman of the DTC.Ect.Ect. Ect.

      Rule #3 All members of the DTC and their Family’s shall Dine at Testo’s Restaurant or Pizzeria at least once a Month ( take out orders will not count)!

      Rule #4 All members shall (Tithe) back to the DTC if they want to keep thire City Jobs or remain on the DTC.

      Some of these people have been fired or relocated because of their height restriction.
      see below:…41849.52207.0.53022.….0…1.1.64.img..3.10.1850.0..0j0i10i30k1j0i24k1j0i10i24k1j0i30k1.0.MHQPii6-UoI#imgrc=dX3mqjDzYu3AyM:

  5. What the city of Bridgeport CANNOT lose is any taxable real estate. There’s not enough as it is. A casino would necessitate another abatement. Unless, that is, MGM is true to their corporate word about the money they say will be spread around. That shouldn’t be counted on just yet. At this poiny it looks like a  carrot dangling from a stick. Same with the amphitheater. The stadium wasn’t as successful as it had been in the past. Jim Koplik et al, are promising the amphitheater will be a big huge success but it will only do business during the warm months, same as the baseball team. 

    Why does Joe Ganim think another concert venue is necessary? We have Webster Arena, Klein Auditorium, FTC. The  Poli & Majestic theaters will provide another venue if the city and developer can reach an agreement that is fair and equitable for the people of the city of Bridgeport. The baseball stadium should remain a baseball stadium. An MLB farm team with top shelf talent and the marketing strength of a major league club would be successful. 

    For too long City Hall has been giving away the farm a piece at a time without any thought toward the long term consequences. 

  6. DB, I understood every Fucking thing you wrote. Contrary to popular belief I have the ability to read and comprehend. Common sense should have told you that I agreed with 99% of what you wrote, but had problems with just that one part.

    Now get off that high horse that you like to ride on for one second and explain to me where I alluded to race or ethnicity in my post. Why is it that everything that i write YOU SEE COLOR?

  7. About tax breaks, they have been abused with McClutchy with Finch, sometimes with the Senior high rises as well
    However, as with anything else the intent is good

    There is not doubt there is what is called a financing gap on old buildings and lots in Bridgeport. That is when the after development market value falls very short of the actual Total Development Cost.
    The way it is supposed to work, you take the TDC that includes acquisition, construction period interest, management fees, soft costs, hard costs, taxes during development, etc, get the TDC number then add up the grants, tax credits, Principle, Interest, Insurance, Taxes, and operating costs and add in a certain percentage of monthly profit. So you subtract the effective monthly income based on effective demand from the total monthly expenses figuring in vacancy rates. Whatever the shortfall is, you take it off the monthly tax payment. You calculate how much of the annual tax bill you have to shave off, then present it to the Council for approval. The Council can also incent development by offering City property at a discount. Please don’t broad brush everything my former colleagues!

  8. Wish I could be there representing the LWV but I will be in New Orleans attending a national meeting of seniors who live in Continuing Care communities like Watermark at 3030 Park. May there be a chapter 2 on another date. Lennie’s report will be my source to keep up. I congratulate BB for a great idea.


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