The Road To Manny’s Mansion–Who’s Minding The Store?

Events can suck the oxygen out of a government administration. In the short term, at least, the city authorizing a radioactive developer to install a taxpayer-financed $400,000 driveway/roadway to his own waterfront mansion in Stratford (while having a business relationship with the airport manager) as part of a municipally owned airport improvement project, looks like air-traffic controllers on a snooze. From top to bottom no one with any serious influence in the decision-making process said, okay boys and girls, let’s step away from this.

As the City Council meeting was on the verge of breaking up Monday night, West Side Councilman John Olson proclaimed, “Everything we know we read in the papers. But we don’t know why it happened. We don’t know why we weren’t told. It may be because of the inherent desire of both the executive and legislative branch to keep things under wraps … Whatever it is, many reputations have been hurt badly, all the way from the mayor down to every one of us. And it’s a damn shame because it should not have happened.”

And that’s part of the problem with the city’s legislative body. For years it’s acted largely like a mushroom–in the dark and fed a lot of crap. If members of the city’s flaccid lawmaking body aren’t asking the right questions, why should the executive branch provide them more than they should know? It’s human nature.

According to minutes of meetings, the City Council authorized the money that led to controversial developer Manny Moutinho receiving the work to enhance the gateway to his Lordship mansion. No one, except East End Councilman Andre Baker, raised concerns about where this appropriation would be going. Okay, the council approved the money without knowing who’d get the work, but what about all the government employees involved in the process of authorizing the work to Moutinho?

Let’s give everyone the benefit of the doubt city officials–top to bottom–did not know about the lengthy business relationship between Moutinho and Airport Manager John Ricci, now suspended with pay pending a city internal investigation. Let’s give everyone the (dubious) benefit of the doubt they did not see the screaming headlines in the CT Post (and little OIB) about Moutinho as the subject of a federal probe into sewer work in the town of Trumbull. But where was the common sense–be it city lawyers, mayoral appointees or the mayor himself–wondering why work was approved for a developer who put money in his pocket to enhance his own property?

Ricci says hey, I told everyone I had a conflict.

City lawyers say hey, not our job to worry about that.

City purchasing officials overseeing the bidding process say, hey we were kept out of the loop.

Mayor Bill Finch says hey, we’ll get to the bottom of this.

Will they? Who’s minding the store?



  1. As I said in my recent commentary (which the CT Post declined to print), this debacle reflects how business is conducted by and with the city council. They don’t ask questions, so why give them detail? Do they know what they are voting on? Do they know what is in the consent calendar? Have they read any of the material provided them? They just vote.
    Is the city council dumbed down to the point where there is no fear someone may call attention to something that needs an explanation?
    Is this by design?
    I expressed concerns to the council president. I asked questions. Look how they dealt with me. I will share my experience in court.
    This reflects what the Bridgeport city council has become.

  2. McCarthy should have been put to pasture many a year ago. His two jobs are in conflict and his hair-trigger temper does not serve well when he is in “Labor Relations.” Where I work we have our own “Labor Relations” apart from McCarthy’s rule. I pity the city workers who have him and Osborne to deal with.
    One great thing is if the Union steward or Union council have a thumb nail for a brain they can beat McCarthy at anything and watch him storm out of the room in a hissy fit.

  3. Whatever happened to “CitiStat?”
    When the fake city license plates and the fake expenditures were brought up to “The Boss,” heads rolled and the “Bringer Uppers” were let go and a whole new era of “Friends Of” were CitiStat-ing.
    Plates and VIN numbers were mysteriously let go in the purge of decent honest people.

  4. The “Fixer” has some very excellent insights on the City from Hell, maybe he/she can add to the fake-plate Ford Escapes.
    I’m outside of the Annexed, but I’ve heard plenty about workers working at “Officials'” houses in neighboring towns during the hours of Taxpayer dollars.
    In this economy you want to sell one of your town homes, it needs “Fixing.”

  5. On another note:
    Is anyone worried about our Public Facilities now that one friend of is being “Parked” while another friend of takes over the all-important job of our “Public?”
    I realize no qualified person wants to work here, but this is scary.

  6. It’s too bad about this whole mess. It looks like this is going to get even bigger than the Ganim disgrace. Ricci and Manny are small-change schmucks. They deserve what they get. I’m mostly concerned with the capital BOE spending on new and remediation construction. It doesn’t make sense to me why one particular player is involved in the ‘deals.’

    1. yahooy,
      What about the “School Buildings Committee.” MEMBERS include Holloway, Banta and Martinez plus 3 from BOE and 3 appointed by the Mayor. MEETINGS are held where and when? (I hear the 4th Thursday of each month. Is there one on June 27th?) MINUTES of those meetings are filed where? (City website? City Clerk office? Elsewhere?) MONEY in school building and renovation is around $500 Million. And what is the MISSION of this group?

      Keep a focus on MISSION, MONEY, MEMBERS, MEETINGS and MINUTES when you think of a municipal activity. Time will tell.

  7. O & G was ripping off the BOE for years with no one watching the store, they were where the buck stopped for all projects. Manny was and is small potatoes.

  8. The city council is outraged they were not told about the $400K driveway that was included in the funding for the updating of the airport. What a joke.
    The council has been voting for financial packages with scant information and paperwork for years and they did not say a word. This time they got caught and exposed.
    Now the council wants to hold hearings and ask questions, what a joke. There is no one on the council with investigative skills and they have no power to force anyone to appear before them.
    The council should be ashamed of themselves.

    1. Andy,
      Chapter 5, Section 5(e) of the Charter provides: “The presiding officers of the city council and of the several committees of the city council, shall have the power to compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses before the respective bodies over which they preside, by the issue of subpoenas and the administration of oaths in the manner and according to the rules governing the same in courts of justice, and when it shall be necessary to secure the attendance of witnesses before said boards or committees, the respective chairman shall have the right to apply to the proper authority for the issue of a capias ad testificandum for that purpose …”

  9. We have seen over two weeks of newspaper disclosures that have raised serious questions about the competency of Bridgeport city government and the action, or inaction, of a variety of city officials. Perhaps worse, those unanswered questions have had the effect of underscoring the widespread perception Bridgeport is a place where connections count more than facts or competence.

    It’s good to see some members of our complacent, compliant City Council have roused themselves long enough to begin asking questions about the $400,000 driveway project. It’s too bad almost all of the discussion took place in a closed-door Democratic caucus, with no record of what was said.

    There have been more than enough closed-door meetings and private explanations and justifications. It is time for the responsible city officials to answer questions about this dubious project in public and on the record. Bridgeport voters and taxpayers deserve, and the members of the City Council who represent them should settle for, nothing less.

    That’s not likely to happen, at least not anytime soon. This is, after all, an election year for the Council, with all 20 of its members up for reelection.
    I expect the next thing we’ll hear is Council members want to get to bottom of the matter but are unable to do so because of the pending internal investigation. You remember that investigation, it’s the one being conducted by the Office of Labor Relations, whose Deputy Director is also the president of the City Council and a member of the Airport Commission. A skeptic might even suggest that investigation will not be concluded until sometime after the November elections.

    The reputation of the City of Bridgeport suffers every day these questions go unanswered. The city Council has an obligation, and the power, to seek answers. That needs to happen now and not at some vague date in the future.

  10. Mannygate–Riccigate–airportgate–drivewaygate–councilgate–Bridgeportgate…Scandal… Nah, non of them sound catchy. Finch needs to address this now before it totally eclipses any positive press coming down the pike. Pick up the trash and put it in the dumpster. Get the names off the VIP list and let’s move on. These stories are getting more monotonous every day. Even Chosen 1 has become a ranting lunatic.

    1. Steve, have you stopped to think about what the CT Post will report next? It’s going to take a landfill (not a dumpster) to haul all this and any future mess away.

  11. Okay, so I am going to play “Captain Obvious” here but didn’t any of you council geniuses think to ask where the money was coming from for the driveway? Didn’t any of you Einsteins bother to ask when the RFP was going to be released? Didn’t you ask ANYTHING? Did you just gloss over the damned thing and approve it without any information? Even after you raised our taxes? Didn’t you do YOUR JOB?

    That’s what I see here, and an after-the-fact statement of outrage is not going to divert my attention away from the fact if the council members were doing their job, this situation would not exist. That is not to say the smarmy powers that be in the Mayor’s office would not have tried to grease Moutinho. And yes I said grease, because effectively, Moutinho got paid to improve his property.

    Attention Budget and Appropriations Committee: What part of the Budget was Appropriated for this project? If the money did not come from taxpayers, where did it come from? Is it a grant? Bond money? If so is there language within the structure of the grant or bond that allows for the physical beneficiary of this deal to also be the one to be the financial beneficiary? Alright, let me stop.



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