Throw The Bums Out

Hey, I’m casting my magic wand and blowing fairy dust in your general direction. (Are you feeling gooey all over?)

You are now the most powerful person in the city of Bridgeport (does that make you mayor?) with all-knowing, all-telling indiscriminate authority to do anything you want with these languishing economic development projects. You are, in fact, a benevolent dictator.

What would you do? I am granting you this irrevocable influence after going to school on Countdown’s rant about Steelpointe, Canyon-Johnson and a host of other holding-pattern land grabs.

What do we do with these projects and the developers that were supposed to develop them? Okay, the economy sucks, do we get down and whine on the rock and soil and blowing Big Mac wrappers? Or do we say screw it, you phony bastards wanted to develop these projects and now you’re telling us this and that, wailing about the economy, blaming Wall Street, pointing fingers at market conditions and credit access and the gremlins that ate your bank account.

What do I know about crafting a land disposition agreement? Not a fucking thing! And you know what–I don’t care. You promised to do this, you promised to do that. You trotted out Magic Johnson who pied-pipered us from city hall to the South End with ear-splitting piping that the magic was back in Bridgeport.

And don’t even get me started about those blood-sucking development ghosts that promised us $4.5 million the past two budget cycles for Steal Point (I stole that line from OIB friend Tom Kelly).

So, I ask: what do we do? Throw the malingerers out? Start a new request for proposals? If you’re Donald “All I Have To Do Is Dream” Eversley (okay, that one was a bit lame) do you say I am the economic development god and you guys are toast?

Tell you what I’d do (now you’re in real trouble) if I’m Mayor Finch–I’d summon City Attorney Mark Anastasi to the office and tell him to Anastasi these development blowhards into a state of panic. One dose of Anastasi-speak (trust me it’s like listening to Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting) and these disrespectful cetrioli will find a way to make good on their promises. Or, they’ll just go away and we start all over.

Okay, your turn.



  1. I would like to hear SOMETHING from Eversley, and then sic Anastasi on ’em. Why should these groups be able to string us along during the tough times, and then come back when things are good? If they are serious, then I think they should show us some good faith. I understand the economy is bad for everyone, but if they are not serious, then we should pull the plug.

    A question for those in the know for the sewage deal. As I understand it, at many points throughout the City, the storm sewer is tied into to the sanitary sewer. This certainly will tax the operating ability of the sewage treatment facilities. Are there plans in the books to work to separate these systems as they should be? Seems like a no-brainer for an infrastructure improvement project–improve flow for the taxpayer and maybe open up capacity for those out-of-town projects that could generate revenue.

  2. The City is under court order to seperate the sewers. They have a full plan in place. As they have gotten funds, they have started to seperate. There is much more to do. They should target the downtown and southend sewer seperation first for development capacity. Since the studies are all in place, with money this should be ready to go.

    Any money that comes should strengthen the City’s infrastructure for the future not simply go to pet projects.

  3. If the Mayor isn’t prepared to seriously focus on the languishing economic development projects because of all of the short-term budget issues he is facing, there needs to be a series of legislative hearings so that the sun can shine bright on the principals. I mean a true public airing of the status of each project; from OPED’s perspective; from the Housing Authority’s perspective (remember that the Housing Authority owns about half of the property in that Canyon Johnson deal); then put the developers on the carpet to explain the status of each and every project and their intentions. I hate the idea of having to put all of this out in the open because it could become a show and tell without real substance. However, the New Haven and Norwalk progress in the last year despite the tanking economy should tell us all that this hiatus has gone on way too long. Something is wrong, really wrong.

    It was a year ago this month that the Land Disposition Agreement was executed with Steel Point. All of those milestones have expired and the newspaper reported that both sides have the ability to walk away.

    It was over a year ago that the Memorandum of Understanding was executed with the Canyon Johnson deal. That MOU expired in June I think and there is nothing out there but smoke and mirrors. Then Magic Johnson appears on ‘Morning Joe’ two weeks ago and proudly states that his investment fund is $500 million plus, strong and ready to invest in urban areas. He even had the audacity to say he is ‘sitting pretty despite the economy’. So where the hell is he?

    I know there is a short-term budget crisis. I know the city’s economic development team is demoralized, understaffed and in short-term crisis mode. However, Bridgeport needs a strong robust economic development effort now more than ever. STRONG STRONG STRONG.

    Look at what the private sector is doing in downtown Bridgeport. Forstone Capital and Spinnaker just bought 225,000 square feet in downtown Bridgeport from Peoples United Bank. They now own everything State Street to I-95 between Broad and Main Street. They know that Bridgeport is a excellent real estate investment. Forstone also bought all of Lafayette Circle, Joseph’s Steak house property and the office building/parking structure on Fairfield Avenue–all of it from the Landmark Group. They know Bridgeport is an excellent investment. They saw the new master plan, the proposed zoning map and regs and decided that Bridgeport was finally going in the right direction.

    So what do I hear that City Hall is planning? Selling more city property in smaller chunks without the new zoning map and regs in place? I know the City is cash-poor but a garage sale of city-owned real estate without strategic RFP’s’s and planning is absolutely shortsighted. It is absolutely the wrong thing to do if the goal is to really grow the tax base and create a vibrant economy in the City. That new zoning map and regs, if adopted, will strengthen the caliber of the developments especially downtown. The good developers, the really good developers need to know that what they want to do will add quality and value to other deals that will be put through the same set of standards. It makes it harder for the stupid, low-quality backroom deals to happen. The PZC has to cross the finish line and adopt the regs. The Mayor should not have accepted Fardy’s resignation from the PZC. It is now more than ever that the PZC has to be strong and lead the city out of crappy economic development/land use policy decisions.

    So we have a Planning and Zoning Commission with more Commissioners leaving this month without getting the zoning regs done.

    So we have developers that have control of city-owned property doing absolutely nothing.

    So we have a city flirting with a Financial Control Board takeover.

    Not a good time for really growing Bridgeport’s tax base.


  4. If I had the power I would do the following:
    1. Order Mayor Bloomberg’s hand-picked Economic Development Chief Eversley to move into Connecticut or be replaced.

    2. I would get rid of Magic Johnson and re-bid that site. Tying up 11 acres for an empty promise is just dumb.

    3. I would cancel the Steel Point Project and re-bid this also. More empty promises and no money. Another bad deal.

    4. Put together a package to enlarge the sewer treatment facilities and tell Trumbull that unless they split the cost they will not be able to expand their use of our facility. Monroe, I would just tell them to screw off.

    5. Put together an an ordinace that would require developers to put money up front when they are tying up large pieces of Bpt Realty.

    6. Put together an economic package that would offer tax breaks and incentives to developers who come to Bridgeport.

    7. Put together a partnership with local utility companies that would offer utilities at a beneficial rate for a set period of time.

    8. I would reorganize the zoning office with people that actually give a shit and are developer friendly. Doing business there at present is like getting a hemorrhoid operation.

    9. Bring back Nancy Hadley. I don’t care if she pisses people off she got things moving while she was here. BTW the only ones that got pissed off were the people with their hands out.

    This is not rocket science it just takes someone NOT ON THE TAKE and someone that actually wants to work everyday.

  5. countdown: Nice article and it’s all true. Just to let you know the next candidate that Finch and company plan for the Planning and Zoning Commission works part-time for a certain attorney that handles most of the development projects going before that board. One can see where that commission is going. First it was Gail Solis a Timpanelli cohort and now this part-time worker for a land-use attorney.
    As far as the selling of city-owned property one should look in the town clerk’s office and you will see that most of this property has gone to 27 LLC’s. These LLC’s are run by one person along with an attorney in the city attorney’s office. It’s politics as usual.
    Fardy’s resignation was accepted because it removed an impediment that stood in the way of the games now being played on Main & Old Town Rd. She was removed because a certain land-use attorney was afraid of repercussions he feared were coming after a certain North End project was passed and then changed.
    If I know all this why don’t the Feds?

  6. Wondering:
    Now my headache just turned into a migraine. What is the matter with this City? Maybe it really is the city of insurmountable potential. No, I just can’t go there. This time this City MUST cross the tipping point and do what is right for all of the residents of this wonderful place.

  7. Lennie- Thanks for the props.

    Much of what is being said is very true and I understand much of what is being said is based on hindsight. The LDA was flawed from the start and legislatively hurried by the Fabrizi administration.

    Steal Point is a Pyramid scheme. Recently, as of 3 weeks ago the Peqounnock Yacht Club approached the city to try to stay at their present location. The Finch administration basically told them in no uncertain Irish term to “Feck Off!”. A deal could have been crafted to keep PYC and take their $4.5 million for relocating to stay and be part of Steal Point. I’m sick and tired of these land-grabbing “Daisy Chains” that are deflowering our city. Tell RCI/MidtownEquities/RexGroup to shit or get off the pot. Break down the project into quadrants and auction or re-bid the project to the highest bidders. Get the property back onto the tax rolls going into the 12th year of non-development.

    Canyon-Johnson as I have written before is a disappearing Magic act.

    Finally, everybody that works for the Finch administration should be forced to read the “Undercover Economist” by Tim Harford. It deals with the economic theory of scarcity and is a great economic elementary primer for everyone.
    In Bridgeport’s case it would be applicable to the development “Golden Rule”. The man or the woman with the Gold, rules. We have the gold we just don’t know how to go for the medal, or as in this case, the metal.

  8. BTW–The Pequonnock Yacht Club has entered into a purchase contract to buy the Oyster Marina, next to the old Chart House, in West Haven.

    Bridgeport gets Shucked again!

  9. MOST of the discussion here focuses on the need to develop real estate. The editorial board at Local Eyes has concluded that developing people makes more sense–upgrade their minds and the real estate will follow. In today’s times, the ultimate act of creativity is extracting a dollar out of the American economy.

  10. countdown- Epiphany Sunday isn’t until January 4, 2009.
    Thanks for the Litany of Aints. I have to prepare for my Thursday evening Novena and get my tenor tuned for the Stabat Mater.

    Local Eyes- You must be a creative genius.

  11. Well said, Local Eyes.

    Successful organizations, public or private, understand it’s ‘people quality’ that has the greatest impact on results. Talent, from top to bottom, is the real competitive advantage when you’re running a city … or running a business. Creative ideas, plans and strategies are useless if you don’t have the right people in the key jobs who can implement those plans.

    Want a good predictor of whether an executive (CEO, President, Mayor) will succeed (or fail) in a challenging environment? Just look at the quality of the team he/she picks to make the RIGHT things happen.

    That’s why I’m optimistic about the future of this country under President Obama. But just a little skeptical that Bridgeport’s resurgence might be just around the corner.

  12. *** It’s nice to have fantasies & unrealistic dreams about redoing some of the slow-moving new development contracts that were worked on for long periods of time by the Mayor’s admin. & councilpersons, state of CT and attorneys & investers on both sides. Spend more time & money to re-bid sites, etc. in hopes of finding other developers that are not feeling the economical recession in America and willing to invest in wonderful Bpt. Conn.??? Also, tie up state courts & taxpayers “$” to try & break off or re-write some of these development contracts as well? How about other venues to ponder like maybe a golden handshake for those very close to retirement, lay off political cronies, streamline & consolidate certain depts. as #1. Stop selling real estate prop. to non-profit organizations unless they agree to pay taxes; and find a way to tax (money-making) non-profits 50% of their prop. market value. Stop paying rent or leases on property that is privately owned to house city sevices, like the Old Green Mills library, Cabaret Center, etc. Also, move with much more energy to sell Pleasure Beach to the feds & the Bpt./Stratford airport as well. Invest in gem money makers for the city like Seaside Park & Fairchild Wheeler Golf Club to draw more visitors & citizens! Expand what the city has now in teen summer jobs @ min. wage to help clean & beautify the city in areas that draw visitors first, then needed neighborhoods later to try & get citizens involved as well, even if it’s just cosmetics at first! Have those on community service as ordered by the courts work on local playgrounds cleanups and graffiti removal. Now some of these ideas will need the cooperation of certain city unions but in the end it will help everyone willing to be a part of Bpt. first! Those seem like less expensive dreams for the city! ***

  13. I’d focus on neighborhood revitalization. Forget these big projects like Steel Point and Canyon-Johnson. We’ve been hanging our hopes on these for years. Are they going to save this city even if they do happen? No. Let’s focus on strengthening our neighborhoods, removing blights, attracting restaurants and bars, adding more attractions, and improving streetscapes. I know many people who are looking for someplace to move, and they all have focused in on Black Rock. I tell them they’re missing out on tons of other great areas in the city (like mine). I tell them about some hidden gems we have and great people. But when they go look at places to rent in those areas, it just doesn’t have that cozy feeling that Black Rock does. Let’s develop strong neighborhoods and people will start looking to move here. Once that starts to happen, then we’ll see a number of developers for Steel Point appear. The Big City of Dreams, if you build it, they will come.

  14. You’ve been drinking too much of the Chris Shays Kool Aid.

    Houses don’t grow your Grand List. Real jobs bring about real growth. Housing is very costly from the revenue and services side of the coin. Shays thinks that Bridgeport should be the bedroom community for Stamford. He once told me that Stamford was building 20k more housing units. I told him that made sense because they had 40k more jobs than Bridgeport. We are a city of 16 neighborhoods, some good and some not so good but with mostly good people. We all can’t live in Black Rock or Crooklawn.

    The State of Connecticut gave away hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits to companies like UBS, RBS, Diageo and GenRe to develop in lower Fairfield County. All this did was add to the traffic problems on I-95. Zurich Re gave 10 million dollars not to come to Bridgeport. The BRBC and Bridgeport’s and the area delegations should have demanded a tax credit moratorium until Bridgeport reached a certain critical mass. The city should have a billboard marketing campaign that says; “If your company was in Bridgeport, you would be at work or home by now.” Instead, all we have is a Bill-Bored.

    “The Big City of Dreams, if you build it, they will come.”
    It sounds more like nocturnal emissions to me.

  15. Off topic … heard this walking through city hall this aft … the building trades were willing to pitch in and take a 2-week furlough … even though they didn’t have to as the BOE budget is set in stone … but the super of schools will not turn the money over to hizzoner … hmmm … guess the BOE suits need bigger raises???

  16. What is one of the greatest nations? A Donation!

    Here is how you solve the Bored of Education funding issue. Form a non-profit charity that directly benefits Bridgeport schools. Everybody in the school system donates 3 days of wages. Then they get the tax write-off at the end of the year. When you give you receive.

  17. The teachers union will never give in and pitch in … with all the teachers there are if they gave 3 days … from 183 to 180 … that would help a lot … wow … they work a whole 183 days a year … hmmm … poor babies.

  18. Three days of wages for Dr. Ramos would be about $2600.
    An administrator making $123k would be about $1420.
    A teacher making $50k would be about $575.

    One-hundred-fifty administrators at $100k is equivalent to $115k.

    This giveback is based on a base yearly salary divided by 52 weeks x .60 = giveback. It also does not decrease pension benefit.

    It also should not be limited to teachers but extended to custodians, nutrition center, and all trades within Board of Ed staffing structure, except for seasonal or part-time hourly workers.

    You guys are the Finest, but you guys also get to work overtime. Inside and Outside. I just hope the city has the money to pay you guys in years 3 and 4.

    P.S. Memo to all city employees. The days of the $5.00 co-pay should be changed to $20.00. This would also help in controlling bloated healthcare costs. If the City was really progressive they should hire their own medical staff to cut costs.

  19. The OT will be cut by our new chief … for whom the interim should be removed and the job should be his … period … but it will save jobs and that is first and foremost … and yes we all wonder what will be 3 years down the line … I hope we are all healthy and in one piece to see 2011.

  20. Finest One- Good Health and Wealth. No offense to Gaudett, but didn’t he earn $160k last year as a Deputy Chief? Almost $70k in overtime above his pay grade.

    The readers should know how inside OT works. If you get called in and only work 10 minutes you still get paid for 4 hours overtime.

  21. Warren good point …

    Hey Finest, AZUCAR!!!

    Oh and to the post of the day, Lennie if I had the power for a day, I’d dismiss Charlie Carroll, Don Eversley, Andy Nunn, Mike Feeney and the entire OPM dept.
    – Tell the DTC to go to HELL and care less about the political ramifications of my decisions so I can finally truly move this city forward … Hence laying off all political cronies UNLESS they are doing their performance is up to par.
    – put in place A Performance Based System Citywide, no more steps or promotions, and all raises will be based on performance only …

    Then, within 1-3 months (I would hireback Hadley for interim)
    – Hire an experienced Econ Development Director with strong brownfield and mass project experience with less baggage than the aforementioned.

    – Hire a strong Finance Person that has a strong Financial Background in the Private Sector to come in and clean house in the accounting aspects of the city.

    – Hire a new Public Works Person that is determined to keep streets clean and get things done.

    – Eliminate CAO office, except for CitiStat and give Mr. Gomes full authority to eliminate deadweight in his dept.

    – And hand out a 15% pay cut to everyone including my Mayoral Salary …

  22. *** It’s amazing to read on this forum that some of the same bloggers that were calling for Nancy Hadley’s head when she was in charge of economic development are now wanting her to be brought back! It seems Finch let go of some of the people in the Fabrizi Admin. that were actually doing their jobs & had a feel for what would or wouldn’t work in Bpt.! Instead he kept some of the pretenders & added a few of his own cronies. The way things are going, it’s going to take Finch’s entire #4-yr. term maybe just to get back to where we “thought” the city was headed during Fabrizi’s final year in office. Will it be a republican like Shays, if he doesn’t run for U.S Senator, that gets Bpt. back on the yellow brick road? *** And speaking about brick roads, there are still openings for Bpt. Vet. Memorial Sidewalk’s Brick fund-raising effort. $50. & $100. commemorate bricks for you or anyone you wish for the Vets. sidewalk) **For info. call Lisa at 203-576-3964. **


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