The Power Of Residency

How much juice do unions have in city elections?

It ain’t like it used to be. OIB has had a few intriguing exchanges the past few weeks about city unions losing their political influence–particularly police and fire employees that had been electoral powerhouses–as more of them have moved out of the city. I checked with the city and the approximate count of  members of uniformed services that live in the city is only about one third. Keep in mind that all members of uniformed services are unionized except for the respective chiefs of police and fire and one deputy/assistant in each department.

The economic impact of city employees that live in the city cannot be ignored. They pay taxes and rent, shop locally and take a much broader interest in all things Bridgeport including elections. City officials, especially mayors negotiating union contracts, will offer a lot more respect to unions with voter clout. And sometimes in the city’s history, some say, it has gone too far such as former Republican Mayor Nick Panuzio granting 20-year-and-out pensions to uniformed services, since reversed.

City employees living outside the city has not gone unnoticed. David Dunn, the city’s acting civil service personnel director, is working on a proposal he’ll bring to his commission, and then the City Council, to evaluate ways to enhance city residency through hiring incentives and modified fee structures for civil service examinations. Current testing fees are $10 for residents and $40 for nonresidents.

Dunn was appointed acting personnel director following the commission’s termination of Ralph Jacobs in August. Jacobs is appealing the firing in state court. Dunn is expected to share his recommendations with the Civil Service Commission in January.

Épernay All The Way

Largest turnout yet for an OIB party, and quite the eclectic crowd including Democratic gubernatorial candidates former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy and Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi, and Republican congressional candidate Rob Russo. What a hoot, State Rep. Chris Caruso, State Rep. Auden Grogins, the blonde banshee from Black Rock, former State Rep. Joe Grabarz. Former Mayor Johnny Fabs as well. And a whole bunch more including The Bridgeport Kid, Grin Reaper, Grin Ripper, Nancy Hadley, MCAT, Black Rockin, Harry Neigher and Big City Of Dreams.

Thanks to chef Peter Wroe and staff at Épernay for their hospitality. Check out Épernay on Fairfield Avenue. Great stuff.

Épernay party
Scenes from Épernay. At center sipping a ginger ale is stepdaughter Kaitlin. Do I see, far right MCAT and The Bridgeport Kid?

Smith, Hadley
Mr. Doing It Local David Smith and Nancy Hadley, the city’s former director of economic development.
Biggs, Kuchma
Jim Biggs, retired president of People’s Bank and Phil Kuchma, developer of Bijou Square on Fairfield Avenue.
OMG, it's me and State Rep. Auden Grogins, the blonde banshee from Black Rock. Where's Bob Keeley?
OMG, it's me and State Rep. Auden Grogins, the blonde banshee from Black Rock. Where's Bob Keeley?
Former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, Democratic candidate for governor and David Dunn, the city's acting civil service personnel director.
Former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, Democratic candidate for governor and David Dunn, the city's acting civil service personnel director.
The ultimate blackmail photo. Former State Rep. Joe Grabarz, left, the legendary Local Eyes, center, and big John Gilmore, former scibe for the Connecticut Post, now marketing man extraordinaire.
The ultimate blackmail photo. Former State Rep. Joe Grabarz, left, the legendary Local Eyes, center, and big John Gilmore, former scribe for the Connecticut Post, now marketing man extraordinaire.

BCAC Event Tonight

The Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition will host its annual Bridgeport Children’s Issues Forum tonight 6:30 – 8:00 at Mount Aery Baptist Church, 73 Frank Street.

The city’s eight-member state legislative delegation has been invited for a conversation about issues facing Bridgeport’s children. This year’s discussion will focus on education, health care, and safety net.

After introductions, audience members will address legislators on ways in which the “Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, our community, and our legislators can work together on what Bridgeport children and families need most in the current economic downturn. This annual forum is an opportunity for Bridgeport legislators to report on the outlook at the state level and discuss what they will do to support Bridgeport’s children and families. It is also a time for community members to demonstrate their support for these critical issues affecting children and families. More than 100 parents and community and business leaders are expected to attend.”

BCAC is a coalition of organizations, parents, and other concerned individuals committed to improving the well-being of Bridgeport’s children through research, advocacy, community education and mobilization.



  1. Lennie your political side is showing. The deadbeats you mentioned; have any of them contributed a posting on OIB? Were any of the regular posters at the party? Sounds like it has turned into a political gathering of AH’s. Yesterday I thought about going but decided to stay home. With the guest list you posted I am glad I did.

    1. TC, (Mr. Scrooge) you missed a fun time. Yes, many regular posters were there including Grin Reaper, Grin Ripper, The Bridgeport Kid, MCAT, Black Rockin. What do you want me to do, list all 100 people that attended?

      As for my “political side” showing, good grief, this is a politically-based blog/webzine. Long live politics.

      1. Yeah I know it’s a political blog but Jesus to use Malloy, David Dunn, Joe Grabarz??? and not mention one OIB blogger. Hey it’s your show. Don’t be a wise ass I did not expect every name just one or two.

  2. TC doesn’t realize that he is the only real blogger. All other blogs are posted by a group of us illegal aliens living in Lennie’s and Mo’s basement.

  3. Lennie based on your numbers that would mean that approximately 300 cops and firefighters live in the city. Just for argument’s sake assume they are all married and have at least 1 parent alive and living in Bridgeport. That represents a voting block of 900 people. That certainly is enough votes to control a primary outcome and in the last election it was enough votes to control the mayoral election.
    It seems to me that the union leadership is politically naive and does not realize the potential power that they have.
    Politicians are in a no-win situation on this issue if they are honest about it. Slap!!! Honest???
    You would want as many teachers firefighters and cops living in the city as they are a stabilizing influence, pay their taxes and by living here are on duty 24-7. This is especially true of our police officers who do manage to keep some level of sanity in this circus.
    On the other hand a politician looking at the potential of getting votes would say let’s get them all out of town and that way I really don’t have to kiss the unions’ collective butts every election year. Interesting dilemma with no real solution.

  4. TC, don’t be Scrooge-like and name call. If you didn’t come, you can’t criticize Lennie. It was a great gathering, I think it was the best one I ever went to. Don’t forget Rob Russo, he showed up and many business leaders as well as several journalists. That’s a credit to your success. It was a great opportunity to talk to candidates, incumbents and others in an informal setting. I think you are the one who missed out. I had a perfectly lovely evening. Thanks Lennie and Mo for being great hosts.

  5. anna and yahooy were joined at the hip last evening. yahooy claims he got scrooged by Grimaldi. Rudy Marconi was laying some cable trying to telegraph his Lt. Governor signals. Chris Russo looking pretty sharp along with MCAT. Bridgeport residents do get some extra credit for living in the city when taking the test. Problem is too many take the money and run out of town. Look at all our former mayors who have flown the coop. The Reaper is looking pretty Ripped these days. I got localized last night. Thanks Honey (Mo) and Lennie for a lovely evening.

  6. P.S. Still waiting to hear how much of an abatement Andy Abate got on his WPCA rebate check? Must be a confidentiality clause in water and sewer separation agreement.

  7. Many of my fellow city residents love the city of Bridgeport. This is a hard-assed place. To quote an old movie theme, “If I can make it here I can make it anywhere …” For not a few of us saying we’re from Bridgeport is a badge of honor: I live in a tough place, and I’m surviving.

    Did it occur to anyone that the unionized municipal employees live outside of town because they can afford to purchase homes in Milford, Stratford, or Trumbull, that maybe they want to move up in the world? Owning a home in the ‘burbs is part and parcel of The Great American Dream. Working for the city of Bridgeport is just a gig for a few of ’em. Why bother to live here? They know better than the average bear that tax dollars are misspent, squandered on the salaries of unqualified administrators. The municipal payroll is larded with incompetents that owe their jobs more to political skills (or blowjobs) than any professional credentials.

  8. “Bridgeport Now” Tuesday Dec 8th at 8pm on Ch 88.

    –The Workplace CEO, local Bridgeport company getting federal Green job money.
    –Ellsworth Field expansion controversy
    –100 year old Pequonnock Yacht Club forced to close
    –Fire safety in Bridgeport

    Looking for a job? Want to get trained for the green collar jobs? Curious where some stimulus money went apart from financial bail outs? And how can Bridgeport compete and get more businesses to come downtown, which is key to reducing taxes, if the workers are not trained well enough?

    Well, tune in tonght to find out. On Nov 18, Labor Sec. Solis and Rep. Himes announced Recovery Act green jobs grants for Connecticut via teleconference, which “Bridgeport Now” producers attended. The head of this organization on the program tonight:

    Joseph M. Carbone, President & CEO, The WorkPlace, Inc.

    The WorkPlace, Inc. helps people prepare for careers and strengthens the workforce for employers. As Southwestern Connecticut’s Regional Workforce Development Board, it administers workforce development funds and coordinates providers of job training and education programs.

    Government press release:
    “Nov 18 – WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) will announce the release of green jobs grants that will be awarded in the state of Connecticut, including a $60,000 award for The WorkPlace, Inc. in Bridgeport. These Recovery Act grants will support job training and labor market information programs to help workers find jobs in expanding green industries and related occupations.”

    Also on the program, co-anchor Mike discusses fire safety after Remington Building fire. In other stories, a success with our ongoing story as today the CT Post discusses how our Bridgeport Airport safety project is now finally going forward.

    And finally, PEQUONNOCK YACHT CLUB, INC. v. CITY OF BRIDGEPORT ET AL (SC 16500), property taken by eminent domain, which is not supposed to be used for building a shopping mall or luxury condos. They won their case to stay, at the CT state Supreme Court level then it reversed after the New London precedent, which now, can you believe it, Pfizer is moving out of there so the whole thing should be moot. They should now stay, some are saying. This is a 100 year old club that is part local history, and forced to leave for the Steel Point project that never got built.

  9. That photograph of John Gilmore with Joe Grabarz and Local Eyes makes John look like Father Flanagan of Boys Town fame.
    I can hear him now, “There are no bad politicians. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example.”
    Bless him.

  10. As to out of town workers: “Open up that Pandora’s Box and you let out all sorts of Trojan Horses!”
    (OK, I swiped the line.)

    By the way, please correct me if I am wrong, but I think Dave Dunn negotiated the contract to let cops and firefighters live out of town.

    1. Stone–Thanks for remembering Peter Dauk. Peter and Bill Seeley were always the life of the Pullman and Comley Christmas Parties at Jack Prince’s on Main Street.

  11. Let’s not forget about retired members of the uniformed services still living in the city. There is still a very significant voting bloc left in the city. The trick is organizing the vote and delivering them to the polls come election day.
    I would venture a guess that between police and fire, both active and retired, including spouses and family there are at least a thousand votes out there. Even if only half manage to vote that is still roughly 500 votes … a very significant number. Who is up for the challenge … TC … whadya say?

  12. I am not up to the challenge but I will contact the leader of the retired Firefighters group and speak to him about it. Maybe he can contact both the PD and FD union heads,they are all missing out on an opportunity to have a say in what happens in elections. I am very surprised at this. The city has been eating away at their benefits and their pay packages thinking that there was no political juice held by these unions. To this point the city has been right because the unions are not aware of the power they hold. Based on Lennie’s numbers alone I thing you can conservatively say they’re a block of 900 active PD & FD add in about 300 retired and potentially you have 1200 votes. My house for example there are 3 voters add in relatives you have another 5 for a total of 8 in one family. Do the math and the number is way up there, all untapped.

  13. I think it is safe to say that a good number of city employees have chosen to leave the city because of the lack of faith in the public schools. Most would wind up paying a private school tuition on top of their already high property taxes. Can’t say I blame them … they want the best for their children and Bridgeport schools are not providing that.
    Perhaps by giving city employees a property tax offset of 50% it would attract more employees to stay in the city. The savings realized would help defray the cost of private school tuition. Just a thought.

  14. Okay sports fans … What are the odds that Mr. Ned Winterbottom winds up employed by the city of Bridgeport after he is canned in Stratford? I’m hearing that it is already in the works … and the kicker is, it is rumored to be in Civil Service … could you imagine … Dunn and Winterbottom working in Civil Service? Someone please tell me that I’m getting bad information … this is too much …

    1. Employees complained about Ned until they got stuck with Larry O. Yeah bring Ned back but as head of Labor Relations. He will be a welcomed relief. As least he is well qualified unlike that buffoon L.O.

  15. *** Sorry I didn’t attend the shindig last night there Lennie, I’ve been Rx. a new diabetes med. & I’ve been having a hard time tweaking it along with the food hour’s consumption. Glad to hear it was a success, also can you post some more pictures of the party guests that showed, everyone looked very cheerful indeed. In ending, the fact that so many political guests showed, as well as city employees & OIB bloggers past & present says your website forum is popular, and that’s a good thing. Besides, through your web invitations, word of mouth & the Xmas holiday celebrations spirit in general, it’s not like you can actually control who came or not! *** As for the exiting of city workers & people in general, economics plays a big part anywhere when jobs are scarce, public education is not a priority, taxes are far too high for the minimum city & state services received, as well as the rising cost of your everyday necessities in general. Unfortunately, it seems like things always have to hit rock bottom first before anything of real substance is done to work towards improvement. *** Time will tell all. ***

  16. Park City fan you hit the nail on the head. It’s the school system. If we had a good school system people would stay in town. I stayed but it took me working 2 jobs to pay for the private school tuition. Did my kids get a better education maybe but what they really got was security and safety.
    Until this school system realizes that they have to change what they are doing in educating our kids it will never be inviting to send your kids there if you have an option.
    The magnet programs are good but after that it sucks and thus the 68% dropout rate. The educators have to realize that not all kids are going to go to college. There have to be programs that get these kids ready for the work world. We are building schools for aquaculture and for Science but nothing for the work world. Just look at the kids that apply to Bullard Havens every year, they turn away hundreds every year because of lack of space.


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