What’s The Bong Commission Smoking? Derail The Jail Events

Afternoon Update: This should be some week.

The State Bond Commission–or shall we call it Bong Commission? … depends on what they’re smoking, eh?–will take up Governor Jodi Rell’s preposterous proposal to shoehorn a juvenile detention center for girls in a residential area of the Upper East Side. Will they give Bridgeport a pipe job? State Rep. Chris Caruso will do all he can this week–leading up the Bond Commission vote–to derail loot approval for Jodi’s jam session. It’s a long shot. What Jodi wants, as it pertains to state bonding, Jodi gets. She controls the meetings. But if all five Dems on the committee that includes Attorney General Dick Blumenthal and Comptroller Nancy Wyman say no well it’s sayonara. Problem is looks like State Senator Eileen Daily, also a Dem member of the commission, will vote with Jodi. It’s easy to stick a prison in Bridgeport when you represent those sweet shoreline towns in eastern Connecticut.

Jodi’s an expert at spewing happy horseshit about why the facility is needed. No argument here. But if it’s so needed, why not stick it in a rural or suburban town? Because it’s easy to jam another tax-exempt property down Bridgeport’s throat. She proposes this thing in Brookfield, where she lives, they’ll come after her with hatchets.

Caruso, who can be a big pain in the ass, will do his part to give Daily agida leading up to the vote later this week, including a news conference scheduled for Tuesday morning in Hartford. I had a long conversation with the Big Wave, as I like to call Caruso, the other day. He’s cranked up about this issue, and why not. “Lennie, what would you say if they put this in Redding” (where I live)? Fine by me, I said, plenty of room up here, but I still prefer Jodi’s hometown Brookfield.

The state likes to create the impression this facility is for city kids. Baloney. The girls do require help and the facility is certainly needed, but residents come from all over the state.

Mayor Bill Finch served many years in the State Senate with Daily. Whether he can persuade her that this is an awful location I do not know. Daily certainly can turn the mayor into a hero by simply announcing that she will support another location in the city. This issue is a tough balancing act for hizzoner who is against the governor’s location. He has proposed alternate city sites more fitting of this type of facility. But the mayor cannot go publicly ballistic on the governor. He must endure one more budget cycle with her in a difficult budget year. But privately I’d be telling Rell and her Chief of Staff Lisa Moody, the lady with the most juice with Rell, that you guys are killing me with this thing!

See, this isn’t just about the Upper East Side near the Beardsley Park area. Rell’s stubbornness is an assault on all residential neighborhoods (because if they can put something like this there where will they stop?) and Bridgeport, despite what decision-makers in Hartford think about the state’s largest city, is a city of mighty fine neighborhoods. But if Finch has some stuff teed up with the governor in relation to other projects that need funding he has to keep his public rhetoric in check, and he has. Here’s hoping that Rell’s legacy in Bridgeport isn’t just another prison for Bridgeport.

Meanwhile, let’s try to do our part. Eileen Daily’s number is 1-800-842-1420. E-mail Daily@senatedems.ct.gov. Daily represents the following Connecticut towns: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook, in case you’re wondering.

From The Derail The Jail Committee:

Jan. 8, the Governor and State Bond Commission will decide whether or not you will have a $16 million jail in your neighborhood. ACT NOW. Candlelight Vigil Wednesday January 6, 6:30 p.m. at 115 Virginia Avenue. Bring A Candle. Bring A Friend And a Neighbor. Free Bus Trip to the CT State Capitol To De-Rail The Jail. Friday January 8, Bus Leaving @ 7:30 a.m. from 115 Virginia Avenue. RSVP to Sue Pantalone 203-345-9354. derailthejail@aol.com

Mojica’s Mojo

What’s this he reports? Big Mojo Ralph Mojica, former City Councilman, is weighing an independent candidacy for mayor? Latinos are now the largest ethnic residential bloc in the city. We have Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans and a growing group from Central American countries. Collectively, they still do not vote in large numbers. If that ever happens, look out! Some party regulars will say yes he/she may be Latino but not our Latino. So it goes. Max Medina, former president of the Board of Education, is the lone Latino to wage a respectable run for mayor back in 2003. Max, a bright lawyer who’s not afraid to speak his mind, encouraged voters to the polls in the 2003 Dem primary won by John Fabrizi, with Caruso a close second, that probably would not have voted.

Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez, although she has not told me so definitively, is acting like someone looking at the city’s top job for 2011. If Carmen can raise money she’d be a factor. No Latina has ever run for mayor. I don’t know if Carmen would be a good mayor. She would be, however, a good candidate. Caruso and Johnny Fabs are just a few of the others taking a look. City Council members Carlos Silva, another Latino, and Bob Curwen as well. Will a black candidate emerge? Finch can win reelection, but he has some work to do and things need to break right for him such as this budget cycle and the economy.


2705 Fairfield Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06605
(203) 337-9676


A Gathering Place for the Entire Community

Friday January 8th 4:30 – 6:00 PM

Congressman Jim Himes: What Financial Reform Means to you

Q&A with Congressman Jim Himes

At this event, Congressman Himes will give an overview of the prospective duties of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) and answer questions from constituents about how this new regulator will help protect consumers and arm them with the tools and information to make smart financial decisions.

Wednesday January 13th 7:00 – 8:30 PM

Ellsworth Field Discussion: Parking and Public Security

Please join State Representative, Auden Grogins, Police Chief Joseph Gaudett and Council Members Susan Brannelly and Martin McCarthy for a public meeting to discuss: Parking and Public Security at Ellsworth Field.

Tuesday January 19th 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Cosmic Discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope

Join us for a discussion and viewing of some of the awe inspiring discoveries of the Hubble Telescope with David Mestre, Discovery Museum Manager of Space Science Education.

Tuesday January 26th 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Traditional Chinese Culture Seminar

This seminar introduces the important aspects of traditional Chinese philosophy and religion, classical Chinese dance and martial arts. and other important topics. There will be a multimedia presentation and “class” discussion. Presented by: Tracey Zhu, Vice President of Connecticut Chinese Culture Association and William Cheung, President of Connecticut Chinese Culture Association.

Thursday January 28th 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Community Forum – Wines of the World

Please join us for a fascinating discussion and even more fascinating tasting of Wines of the World with renowned wine connoisseur and Black Rock resident Mark Tillinger. Sponsored by the Arts and Entertainment Committee of the Black Rock NRZ.

Himes Times

Himes Will Hold 4 Town Hall Meetings to Discuss Afghanistan

Following fact-finding trip to Afghanistan, Congressman will meet with constituents to share impressions, gather input

WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) will hold four town hall meetings next week to discuss America’s policy on Afghanistan with constituents. The Congressman recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan and will share his impressions of the situation on the ground and gather input from his constituents on American involvement and policy.

WHO: Congressman Jim Himes

Constituents of the 4th Congressional District

WHAT: Town hall meetings to discuss Afghanistan


January 5 at 7:00pm
UConn Stamford Auditorium
1 University Place, Stamford

January 6 at 7:00pm
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue, Southport

January 9 at 11:30am
Ridgefield Town Hall
400 Main Street, Ridgefield

January 9 at 2:00pm
Trumbull Library
33 Quality Street, Trumbull

Mr. Barnum Calling

P.T. Barnum’s 200th Birthday Year

P.T. Barnum’s impact reaches deep into our American heritage and the story of his vast contributions are preserved in his museum. Conceived and constructed by P.T. Barnum, The Barnum Museum has proudly served an international audience since 1893 and is one of our country’s greatest national treasures. 

We invite you to join us as we celebrate a year of wonderful and engaging programs, exhibitions and activities, all surrounding the 200th birthday of this fascinating figure in our history.

Wednesday, January 13

Noon to 1:00 p.m.

P.T. Barnum, The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Presented at Connecticut’s Old State House, Hartford

Visit Connecticut’s Old State House for its lunchtime lecture series, “And Justice for Some: Race and Controversy at Connecticut’s Old State House.”  These free lectures focus on some of the most important stories in Connecticut’s quest for civil rights.

Kathleen Maher, Executive Director/Curator of The Barnum Museum, will explore the many sides of P.T. Barnum.  The name alone conjures thoughts of imagination and extravagance.  Known to most of the world as the “Great American Showman,” Barnum did more than create shows of curiosity and oddities.  P.T. Barnum embraced the dream of a truly democratic nation and in doing so, inspired a new American society to reach beyond the limits of ordinary expectations and see the world as a place of opportunity and wonder. 

Box lunches are available for $10 or bring your own.  For more information call the Old State House at 1-860-522-6766 x 11. Lunch orders must be made by 4:00 p.m. on January 12, 2010. The program will be featured on CPTV.



  1. All I know is if this prison is built in Bpt there will be some big problems for Finch, and all Republicans running for election. They could kiss the 4th district goodbye because I don’t see a Republican coming to Bridgeport and telling residents what good they can do for us when their party stuck a prison in someone’s neighborhood like wtf!!! Republicans usually get 5,500 to 6,500 votes in Bpt during every midterm and I don’t see them getting even close to 5,000 in 2010 if this thing is stuck in Bpt. As for Finch he will lose in 2011 if this prison is built no question about it. This issue has me heated to the max!!! I drive around the valley and all I see is trees trees trees with lots of space and nothing around so why the hell put it in a big neighborhood where there are many people living? This makes no goddamn sense. I feel sorry for the residents in that neighborhood. I can feel your pain because what if a prison was going to be built right in my back yard in Black Rock? This gov has lost all respect from me and I sure as hell will not be voting Republican in 2010. This all boils down to rich vs middle class and once again the rich people in the ‘burbs win! Vote Democrat 2010 and vote Finch out in 2011.

    1. El Ka Bong! I see that Ground Hog Day came early this year for the Bridgeport Republicans. It will be at least 6 more weeks before we hear from them again. They must be afraid of their own shadows.

  2. donj, I respect your opinion but wonder how you can put the blame for the juv detention ctr on the Republicans? Rell is the culprit because she agreed to a recommendation made by some bureaucrats. But the General Assembly, Mayor, City Council, and local delegation to Hartford, and our Congressmen are all Democrats. You are implying that Rell can’t be overruled. I would put just as much blame on the many, many Democrats who cannot get there act together and fight for this city. There are alternative sites not just in B’port and Himes should be telling Rell to pick one. The local delegation to Hartford needs to stand united on this and I have yet to hear the council members speak out. Only TC seems to be vocal.

    Rell is fast losing favor among all of us but let’s put the blame on ALL those who seem to be just sitting back. I say vote out every incumbent in 2010 and 2011. Self-serving elitist politicians need to be dumped.

    As for a candidate for Mayor, I’d be thrilled to see Medina or Lopez put a Latino block together. The anglo-mafia of Finch, McCarthy, CC, Feeney and Sherwood have caused way too much damage to the City with their pompous attitudes.

  3. The only member of our state delegation who was at the protest meeting held on the potential site of the new prison was Chris Caruso. The only member of the council at the meeting was Rich Paoletto. The mayor was there.
    Where the hell were the rest of our politicians especially Clemons who does represent part of this district on the upper East Side? The same goes for the two state senators who cover the upper East Side Gomes and Musto.
    The funny thing about the upper East Side is we have more coverage in Hartford than any other district in the city. We have two State Reps and two State Senators and yet we get bupkus in state funds. We are the area of the city they all forget with the exception of Caruso.
    I challenge my two State Senators and the other State Rep Clemons to tell me what they have done to improve conditions up here.
    1. Have you done anything to alleviate the serious flooding problems? NO.
    2. Have you brought in any money to provide us with a library? NO.
    3. Have you improved the roadway on East Main and Evers St. where a number of people have been killed in car accidents? NO.
    You people have done squat for us because we are on the fringe of your districts. The only time we see you is at election time.
    I will tell you this, Finch and the council people knew about the governor’s plan more than a year ago and said nothing about it until it became an issue. Lennie, check with the governor’s office and you will find they notified the city a year ago. My source is a well-connected politician from this district. You can’t make this shit up.

    1. Things like the “detention facility” (state officials are quick to put a semantic spin on the description) on Virginia Avenue become important to elected officials only if there is some political and/or financial benefit to be had. Excluding Chris Caruso; he appears to be the only elected official that actually represents THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF BRIDGEPORT, and they are the same people that live on Virginia Avenue. Caruso stepped up to the plate, and I’m sure he would’ve done so even if the facility’s proposed location was not in his district. Unlike the attorneys holding public office in Bridgeport …

  4. Just a followup as to why our district was carved up in Hartford a few years ago. The late Senator Alvin Penn wanted to move to the upper East Side. In fact he was looking at a house located behind mine. Alvin asked me to look at this house for defects and the like. The district had been changed to accommodate his move. Unfortunately for us Alvin died and never moved here. We were stuck with the realignment and 3 out of 4 politicians who don’t give a shit about our neighborhood. Caruso is the only one that has made an effort to help us.

  5. Hi Lennie–Thanks for the plug for the Black Rock Branch Library. We hope to see many OIB regulars at these events–especially this Friday’s Jim Himes program.

    Thanks again,

    John Soltis (aka John from Black Rock)

  6. Prevailing Political Winds bode well for Bridgeport. I do not anticipate a new juvenile facility coming here anytime soon or even later.

    Here’s why:

    Even if passed, construction might never begin. It has to do with Connecticut’s finances (I’m being polite) and the organized opposition of which Mayor Finch was a part.

  7. THIS BLOG often tells the story of those who win the battle but ultimately lose the war. The recent Library referendum is a potential case in point.

    Even if Rell succeeds in locating the Juv fac in Bridgeport–and that’s not a sureshot–construction might never start.

    Local Eyes begins the New Year by making two predictions:

    Construction will never begin on new Juv fac in Bridgeport’s upper East Side and

    Those who voted YES on the recent library referendum made a mistake.

    You want more?

    Don’t read this blog, STUDY it.

    1. The Bridgeport Kid begins the new year by making two predictions:

      The Greenwood Street property will not be rezoned;

      and Local Eyes will STUDY the ‘blog as much as he studies his navel.

  8. “The only member of our state delegation who was at the protest meeting held on the potential site of the new prison was Chris Caruso.” That oughta tell you something. A regular visitor to this ‘blog chastised me for not doing enough “research” before criticizing a certain elected official. “You’re a writer,” she said. That I am. But I’m not interested in attending a meeting to hear the certain elected official make all kinds of pithy pronouncements about all of the great things she’s done for the people of the city of Bridgeport. Chris Caruso was at the meeting on Virginia Avenue; where were you, Ms. Grogins? Getting more money for the zoo and the Discovery Museum, I’m guessing. How about some jobs? How about actually doing something to improve the pathetic state of public education in the city of Bridgeport? I see from Ms. Grogins’ resume that she served on the BOE. I’ve also heard much stump-speak about how much education matters to her. Does the education of others matter as well?

  9. Why is the city paying $50K for a Republican Lobbyist who has been useless in stopping this detention center? Not to mention the huge conflict of interest thing with the Port Authority? Why don’t we save $50K? Somebody’s job maybe?

  10. We don’t need another JAIL in BPT, although this project is truly needed. BPT is going to be known as the JAIL CITY not the PARK CITY.

    1. Why is it truly needed? If we’ve never had one before what’s the rush to have one {girls’ prison} now. Guess with the economy being what it is and the lack of jobs for teenage girls … Come on, we have a million and one programs out there and none of them caters to this population? This state’s answer to most of these types of problems is lock them up.

  11. That’s right, we don’t need no stinking jail in Bridgeport, at least not another one. We do need a prison van to pull up to the front door of City Hall Annex so that Bill Finch and Adam “Pecker” Wood might save the taxpayers a few dollars and just go away to the Graybar Hotel.

  12. Hey Lennie you wrote that no “LATINA” has ever run for Mayor. What was Moran, she sure looked “LATINA” to me. I wonder what her ancestors spoke/wrote. While you’re at it let me know if we have ever had a Mayor of African descent. I’ve read that some Syrians consider themselves African.

    1. Very funny Hector! For those of you unfamiliar with my friend Hector’s sense of humor, Mary Chapar Moran, the only female elected mayor in Bridgeport’s history, and now tax collector for the Town of Trumbull, is of Syrian descent.

      And no, Bridgeport voters have never elected an African American mayor. Charlie Tisdale came close in 1983.

  13. We don’t need to be spending millions on a center that has about a dozen beds. Not only is it a stupid place to put the “jail,” it is a crazy idea in the first place. Rell says she wants to put it in the place where there are the most likely inmates, yet she has never given us any money to address those kinds of issues in the first place so we can prevent them. Take that money and put it into rehab, prevention, treatment, education. I think the statistics show that locking up drug users instead of rehabbing them is useless and much more expensive then preventing it in the first place. At the price the taxpayers are paying it is over one million per “room.” There has to be a pre-existing building that can be utilized. Talk about a waste of the taxpayers’ money. Locking up juvenile offenders with problems that are mostly drug related is a puritanical and a horrible solution. The state should put full-time counselors, and specialists at schools for a start. $15 million can pay for a lot of prevention and treatment.

    This is just another example of Rell sticking it to Bridgeport. We have no leaders with pull up there, and neither does Finch. Bridgeport is still the laughing-stock, hold-your-nose city in Hartford and until we get someone in office who isn’t beholden to the political hacks it will always be that way.

  14. I don’t understand how the bond commission can be so willing to spend state bonding money on an unpopular girls’ prison when we are facing a fiscal crisis. The only bonding the Republican administration should be spending money on is where the state is investing in businesses and infrastructure that would bring revenue into the state. I am not saying that a new prison anywhere would not be important, but when the roof is leaking like our state’s economy, you have to set your priorities. It has already been pointed out that the male detention center is not at capacity and can be frugally renovated to accommodate the woman until our fiscal situation can accommodate prison bonding. However, shoving the prison into Bridgeport underscores the tradition of urban exploitation. If the state wants to buy a prison site, it should pay fair value. The question is how much is a new site worth? Since there are few communities willing to accept a prison, the state should ask how much the City wants for accepting locating a prison anywhere within its borders. Since Bridgeports has one of the highest property taxes of all cities in the nation, if the state wants to put a prison someplace within the City’s borders, let them pay what that is worth and buy the site for enough money to lower the residents’ property tax by a mil or so. If the state wants to go on a spending spree for a girl prison, the Gov should play fair. If Governor Rell wants a legacy by having a whole new detention center named after her, she should pay the fair price for locating a prison within the city’s boundaries and stop exploiting the highest-taxed city in the nation. I bet when we demand a fair price, Rell will opt for a wing in the existing detention center and we can call it “Rell’s hell.”


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