The Race For Votes, Saints A Popular Spot For Pols And Neighbors

Saints improvements
Improvements at Saints.

On Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mayor Bill Finch is scheduled to join Democratic City Council members Sue Brannelly and Steve Stafstrom for a planned beautification at St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea in Black Rock. Could their Republican opponents Rick Torres and Phil Blagys be far behind? So far the council battle for Black Rock has been a campaign of cordiality. Politicking is civilized in The Rock. Please, someone start a fight.

Brannelly and Stafstrom kicked out this invite on Facebook:

For the past several months, we have been working on making improvements to our neighborhood parks. First, was the restoration of Seabright Beach. Now, we are in the process of refreshing St. Mary’s. This week, the City started various sidewalk improvements, including creating a ramp at the end of the seawall and repairing damaged sections of the sidewalk along Ash Creek. You will also soon see the instillation of dog mitt post and repairs to the deco lights, among other improvements. Now we need your help to finish the job: this Saturday, Sept 28th we need volunteers to help re-plant the flower beds along Eames Blvd. Groundwork Bridgeport and the City will provide the plants and tools. We just need your hands to help with the digging!

Brannelly and Stafstrom recently launched a campaign website.

Torres and Blagys will soon launch a Facebook page.

The City Council has been a GOP desert for years, but Republicans believe they have a decent shot at capturing at least one if not both seats on the city’s budget and legislative body with Torres and Blagys, two well-known figures in the neighborhood, running in the 130th District.



  1. Of course this is positive. I think St. Mary’s is Rick Torres territory. I am wondering if there are other parts of Black Rock that are more in need of attention and beautification. Maybe that is where Torres and Blagys will focus on.

    On a side note, I have noticed the Mayor’s beautification signs popping up all over the city. Honestly, some of the homes are downright embarrassing. When these signs are given out indiscriminately, it cheapens the honor and begins to look like sign pollution. Even on Mayor Finch’s block, all the homes have a sign except for the new owners of the home on the corner of Noble and Crown. Now that home deserves a sign. That home has been completely landscaped and shows pride as part of the gateway to Beardsley Park. I wonder who is responsible for this. The decision of who gets this prestigious award, that is. Fire them!

  2. *** It’s election time, time to clean up and improve certain neighborhoods to save face and hoepfully gain some much-needed votes for the incumbents and the Mayor who wants to keep them on the council instead of some new faces or Republicans! This is a perfect opportunity for the challengers to walk and hold some political signs pointing out many of the Finch Admin. and Council screw-ups, no? ***

  3. Well then, this registered Republican and volunteer treasurer for Elect Rick and Phil will start. Note, the ONLY sign I had in my yard for last year’s election cycle was for Auden Grogins.

    Sue and Steve have a voting record to run on.

    They were both there and voting during Driveway Gate. They were both there and voting when one of the highest taxed cities in America voted to raise taxes again. They sent back a budget with higher state income–and essentially NO budget cuts–I think the number is a resounding 1/10 of 1% budget cut. It helped that our state rep assured them state Pilot and other income would in all likelihood be restored and what amount of increase they could expect. When the state funds were increased, and we had a budget income from the State surplus this year, a fellow council person requested the funds be applied to reduce the new mil rate, Sue said no, the excess funds will go into the city fund.
    David Walker, the former comptroller general of the US Federal budget, offered to roll up his sleeves and sit with the budget committee and go over the budget line by line to help, both at public city council meetings and in private emails. JML can attest Dave Walker did sit with him and go over the city budget line by line. Sue, the co-chair of the budget never took Mr. Walker up on his offer. Folks, it is kind of a big deal when President Clinton called David Walker and said you are one of the most respected experts in government finance and accounting, please head our government accounting division. So help me, I cannot for the life of me figure out why our city council budget co-chair, Sue would not take the free advice, help and counsel of David Walker.

    They are both sitting there and voting on the land deal the city is trying to give to Sal DiNardo.

    Sue stood up at a community meeting and said she does not support the conflict of interest bill, HB-5724. Remember we voted on our city charter in November which says no city employees can be elected to or serve on city council? Steve supported the bill, but only with the grandfather clause (if you are reelected you keep your seat) because he thought it was more fair. Again, what does the charter say?

    Sue also stood at the pols and supported to have an appointed school board, not an elected school board.

    The citizens voted to give 1 mil to the libraries, the mayor opposed this vote. While the libraries are fully funded with the 1 mil, Sue is the city liaison to disperse these funds to the library, but they are never fully given to the library every year–the amount varies each year between 600K to 1 million dollars–the library board makes the request for full funds but they are never dispersed–why?
    Steve has been telling citizens he wants to repeal the 1 mil to the library because they do not ever use the full funds. Kind of a catch-22 on this issue if you ask me.

    The smut busters (at the time there were three of us) started a real plan to get the massage parlors closed, we heard from and worked with Marty McCarthy, the city council person who returned our calls and gave us real guidance and help. Sue came on board long after we had a plan in place with the help of Marty and Auden Grogins and citizen support. At the time we were starting the Smut Busters and investigating our options, Bob Walsh had an ordinance in committee (taken from a New Britain ordinance) to regulate our massage parlors. When Sue was asked why that bill was not supported or passed her response was, well look who brought the bill.

    Am I going negative, or am I looking at their voting record, public comments and drawing the wrong conclusions?

    1. Thank goodness we pontificate here because Jennifer Buchanan lacks the journalistic detachment needed to be politically neutral. I admire her wit and strongly opinionated stance, posture and position but impartiality isn’t her forté.
      Here’s why: maybe the reason Sue Brannelly didn’t accept Mr. Walker’s offer was she knew he was organizing her political foes and wisely chose to distance herself from his advice. Besides, the former Comptroller General was appointed by a President who was eventually impeached and who intentionally repealed The Glass-Steegal Act, my all-time favorite piece of legislation and of no small concern to events in Bridgeport.

      1. Eyes–I did disclose my bias from the start. I did not ever indicate I was an unbiased journalist in my post. May I also point out under Clinton our government and citizens were very prosperous. To your comment political foes, really? This is a sound and prudent course of action to increase our taxes. She could have also possibly earned a staunch ally in Mr. Walker–and the mayor too if the review had been done. An opinion of taxes must be raised could have also been the outcome also, no?

    2. They always do the beautification thing before an election but they never ask for input from the community. Remember the bike lanes installed the last time on roads that are desperate for repairs. I guess they think voters forget. Thank you Jennifer for reminding us of how one-sided the existing group is. Let us not forget how incompetent they were with the snowstorm last winter. We need some dissent to hopefully achieve something the voters want, not the machine.

    Steven Stafstrom and Susan Brannelly your City Council Members want to hold off EMINENT DOMAIN on the Black Rock School expansion, until after the election!
    Because Smith would not sell, the city threatened to seize the parcel through eminent domain. But Stafstrom said that process would have taken too long and could have jeopardized state funding for the project. The state is paying 80 percent of the expansion cost.
    Still, David Kooris, the city’s economic development director, said the city could pursue eminent domain in the future.
    You can’t make this stuff up!

    1. Ahhh Jimmy Boy! You still do not know of what you speak. The city isn’t using eminent domain at Black Rock School. Your info is wrong again, shocker. They don’t have to hold it off until after the election if they don’t need to use that parcel of property.

  5. Jennifer Buchanan, you said, “David Walker, the former comptroller general of the US Federal budget offered to roll up his sleeves and sit with the budget committee and go over the budget line by line to help, both at public city council meetings and in private emails. JML can attest Dave Walker did sit with him and go over the city budget line by line. Sue, the co-chair of the budget never took Mr. Walker up on his offer. Folks, it is kind of a big deal when President Clinton called David Walker and said you are one of the most respected experts in government finance and accounting, please head our government accounting division. So help me, I cannot for the life of me figure out why our city council budget co-chair, Sue would not take the free advice, help and council of David Walker,” so who did David Walker sit down with on the budget committee or with any council member?

      1. Jennifer Buchanan, okay, I’ll wait for David Walker’s reply but it is you who is telling us what a wonderful person he is and what he has done but when I ask you to explain what, you said you can’t.

        1. My point is Sue is our council person, co-chair of the budget committee. She would not meet a constituent and government accounting expert who offered his time and assistance. I think it is pretty darn wonderful when free help is offered, if I wanted my house assessed for fire safety and you offered to give your opinion–at no cost–I would absolutely take you up on that offer.

  6. Points of clarification where I can offer them, please?
    Dave Walker was not opposed to governance in Bridgeport when he got here. He stressed to those who met him he had considerable knowledge about government structures and process as well as about accounting forms and fiscal reporting, among other things and he was independent.
    He was greeted by the Mayor in his early days here and was verbally offered an opportunity to serve on the Charter Commission before written requests went out. When Walker’s name, as a qualified independent, was not on the list he learned the Mayor had forgotten about the offer.

    Wallker attended several budget and appropriations session in the spring of 2012. I can remember at least one held at the University of Bridgeport where multiple City Council persons were happy to shake his hand in greeting and where he offered any assistance he could to their process. It has not been sought subsequently. David Walker and I have sat on more than one occasion to look at City financial info, such as is available, as a basis for understanding part of the reason why the City has become so weakened in financial strength. And while I continue to sit with current CC members as well as aspirants to review the financial facts (three meetings last week), Sue Brannelly has not seen fit to respond to questions I raise at CC meetings and I email to all members.

    LE, Dave Walker and others who are working for change in Bridgeport were not organized as “political foes” of Sue Brannelly when these offers went out. It is the smugness of the DTC gang in too many districts that leads some office holders, good people they are, to falsely assume opinions do not need to be credibly addressed.
    As Co-Chair of B&A she approved the numerous “ghost employees” in spring 2012 to the tune of more than $4 Million with full understanding of that situation from the year before. In September something happened, a decision was made, and $4Million in Full Time Compensation was removed from the Monthly Financial Report though it did not become public until December 6, 2012. Sue and Angel are not reported in B&A minutes discussing this major positive swing to the good.
    Neither can they tell you where this money was spent in that year, because all we get for the 12th month June financial report is a DRAFT, nothing final. There is so much not reviewed or monitored in City dollars that is important to the whole City that is ignored, but then, it does not offer the opportunity for a photo op, does it? Time will tell.

  7. *** Time for Black Rock to send a “voter’s message” that they are not happy with city govenrment empty promises and pipe dreams that are used as excuses to continue to raise taxes on properties that are worth less today than they were 10 years ago! And planting a few trees and flowers along areas by St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea is nice, however just a little too late in the season and too close to election time to be taken seriously by voters, no? *** LET THEM KNOW TAXPAYERS ARE NOT HAPPY WITH THE PRESENT STATUS QUO! ***

  8. Lennie, I can’t speak for Rick, but counter to what you may think, I will be far behind. Having spent thousands of hours over many years volunteering in my community, I find politically choreographed presentations of volunteerism mildly offensive. But to show I’m a good sport, I’ll provide my opponents some sound advice. After talking to dozens of people across all party lines as part of our “door to door” campaign, I’d find a way to keep the Mayor at home. They may want to check out Gore’s playbook to see how they handled the Clinton problem. Oh, and I just learned yesterday of a city-sponsored Fairfield Ave. cleanup scheduled for October and today they began a resurfacing of Ellsworth St., a main artery in Black Rock. Maybe we should schedule these elections more often. Any problem with ending with “time will tell?” Or has that already been taken?


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