What’s With The Fire Report? Plus: Herrmann’s Hermits

Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez got a little cranked up when she viewed a News 12 report last week that cited the high blood alcohol level of a mother who perished along with her three children in a fire at P.T. Barnum Apartments last November.

Lopez wants to know why a portion of a state fire report was leaked to the media so she contacted Robert Ross, director of the state Division of Fire, Emergency and Building Services seeking an explanation. Her letter, dated Tuesday, follows. Notice how Carmen loves to trap prior representations made by Ross.

Good morning Director Ross,

It was a pleasure to talk to you yesterday and experience first hand your dedication and concern for the well-being of the community.

As you know, I am working with the residents of the PT Barnum Housing complex in their efforts to make their homes safe and prevent the occurrence of another tragedy, such as the one that happened on November 13, 2009. Shortly after the tragedy, the president of the resident’s association, Donna Fewell convened a ‘shadow’ task force consisting of professionals in the area of fire fighting, legal professionals, and residents. The task force also includes several elected officials.

The residents of the housing complex are extremely concerned over the fact that no meaningful steps have been taken to protect their lives in the event that another tragedy should occur. There has been a lot of talk, a lot of promises and a lot of public display of sympathy. However, there have been no answers of any kind.

When the Commissioner’s letter of February 24, 2009 was received, there was a sense that someone was listening to our concerns and therefore we could rely on the representations contained in the letter. It was with shock and sadness that we watched the Channel 12 news report that stated that ‘sources’ had selectively released the report. Furthermore, to learn from the media that the report was in the City Attorney’s Office and that, according to the Mayor, it was being redacted before it was made public was highly disturbing.

That is why I was relieved when I spoke to you yesterday and learned that you and the Commissioner’s office were as disturbed as we were about the selective release of the report and that, as you stated, you were ‘blindsided’ by the Bridgeport officials.

Since you had not seen the Channel 12 news report, I shared it with you so that you could hear for yourself, what was being said by the reporter and the Mayor. You told me that you would have to speak to the Commissioner about this, but that he was out of town attending an emergency of his own.

In addition, you told me that the report was only a ‘signature away’ from completion and that you would provide a copy of one to me as soon as it was signed. Moreover, you stated that your office had provided a preliminary, unsigned report to the Bridgeport Fire Department with the understanding that it would not be released and would remain confidential until the report was finalized.

You assured me that if the press was given a copy of the report, it did not come from the Commissioner’s office. You also agreed that I may inform the other members of the shadow task force, as well as the press, of your lack of knowledge regarding the release of the report.

Yesterday, I asked you if you, and/or the Commissioner, would issue a statement clarifying the misuse of information by the Bridgeport Fire Department. You stated that either you, or the Commissioner would call me later in the day to discuss this further.

I have not heard from anyone in your office. I am sure that you have been extremely busy looking into this entire sordid affair, but I ask you to please respond to us and help us have some trust and confidence in our elected and appointed officials. Everyday, it has become more and more difficult to believe anything that anyone says in connection with this fire.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

Carmen L. Lopez, Member

PT Barnum Shadow Task Force

The GOP Pile Up

Easton First Selectman Tom Herrmann, Shelton State Sen. Dan Debicella, former Bridgeport State Senator Rob Russo, former Bridgeport GOP Chair Rick Torres, Will Gregory of New Canaan and Rob Merkle of Norwalk are the announced candidates seeking Democrat Jim Himes’ congressional seat. None well known. That can change fast with money, a cutting message, or an organization. Debicella has the delegate lead heading into a May endorsement session, with Russo behind him. But Herrmann says he starts with $300,000 and counting.

Meanwhile Himes is piling up a few million dollars on the way to the general election. He’ll need it because the mood of the electorate that ripped out the throat of Republicans 16 months ago has grabbed the throat of Dems. Plus the makeup of the district–Republicans held the seat for 40 years prior–necessitates Himes’ fundraising. Debicella’s primary argument to party regulars–he has the most money–was blowtorched by Herrmann’s entry into the race. Still, Debicella has enough political firepower and money to stay in the game. Russo, who is money challenged, lost an opportunity to separate himself from the field when he chose to spend money on staff rather than on a paid media message to voters.

A quick media blitz–Himes is part of the spending disease in Washington, I’m the cure–would have juiced Russo’s name recognition, polling numbers and standing with Fairfield County voters. And ultimately standing with convention delegates. If Russo’s going to stay in the game he’ll need something significant to buy him time such as an endorsement (and a fundraising letter) from former Congressman Chris Shays whose standing with Republicans in the district is outstanding. Shays and Russo are close, and if Shays has any thoughts of endorsing his former aide he’ll need to do it sooner rather than later. A large primary field could bode well for someone like Russo. But Herrmann could turn the others into hermits if he continues his anticipated fundraising. Russo news release below:



Fairfield, CT – 4th District Congressional candidate Rob Russo yesterday delivered a letter to Congressman Jim Himes’ local Bridgeport office. The letter requests the Congressman delay a vote on Health Care Legislation until after he has an opportunity to speak to voters about it. The US House is scheduled to go on ‘Spring District Work Period’ March 29–just 11 days after the arbitrary deadline set to pass the $2.5 TRILLION Health Care Bill. Russo specifically request Congressman Himes agree to a jointly held Town Hall Meeting in the District with citizens.

“This massive spending bill is one of the most significant single pieces of legislation of our time and the people deserve the right to speak on this bill directly to their Representatives,” Russo said. “President Obama recently said that everything has been said about health care. Well, Congressman, the people you represent disagree. Why wouldn’t you give them this opportunity before a vote? Please do the right thing and come home to speak to your constituents before casting a vote of this magnitude.”

Congressman Himes has yet to respond to the Health Care Town Hall request. You may view a copy of the letter, by going to his website at www.russoforcongress.com.

News release from Mayor Finch:

City Makes Strides in Contracting Minority and Women-Owned Businesses

Small & Minority Business Resource Office Refines Outreach Methods

Nearly half of the City of Bridgeport’s physical development contractors in 2009 were certified minority or women-owned businesses, and more than 70% of its development sub-contractors were minority or women-owned businesses, thanks to the outreach efforts of the City’s Small & Minority Business Resource Office. This is a significant increase over 2008, when less than 30% of the City’s development contractors were certified minority or women-owned.

“The City of Bridgeport has made a commitment to seek working relationships with small, minority, and women-owned businesses,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “Our Small & Minority Business Resource Office, led by Deborah Caviness, is doing invaluable work to level the playing field for minority-owned businesses to compete for contracts with the City. We are making Bridgeport a place for small businesses to grow and flourish.”

Of $30,951,449 in physical development contracts granted in 2009, $14,641,468 went to certified minority or women-owned businesses. Of $10,067,569 in physical development sub-contracts, $7,515,757 went to certified minority or women-owned businesses. Out of a total of 151 prime and sub-contracts in 2009, 101 were awarded to certified minority or women-owned businesses, including 14 prime contracts and 87 sub-contracts.

The Small & Minority Business Resource Office, which opened in April 2008, provides small, minority and women-owned businesses with the information and training necessary to successfully pursue and obtain construction, commodities, architectural and engineering contracts with the City of Bridgeport. The office assists small and minority-owned businesses primarily through training workshops, technical support, information services, and business networking.

“Our goal is to improve each year with our aggressive grassroots outreach methods,” said Deborah Caviness, Senior Administrator of the Small & Minority Business Resource Office. “In addition to local community outreach provided by our liaison, Rep. Ezequiel Santiago (D-130th District), we are holding capacity-building workshops for small businesses, bringing in guest speakers, and integrating our programs with the Mayor’s BGreen 2020 initiative and the Green Jobs ladder. Our annual Business Expo & Multicultural Marketplace brings a lot of attention to minority-owned businesses in the area.”

Caviness relies on larger contractors to help her find businesses who need assistance becoming certified or learning about contracting opportunities. As a result, large construction projects such as Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Vocational School expansion and the Columbus School renovation are awarding sub-contracts to dozens of minority and women-owned businesses.

“We contact potential minority contractors for our projects, and Deborah helps them become certified through the Small & Minority Business Resource Office,” said Gregory M. Raucci, President and Project Executive of Bismark Construction Company in Milford, which is currently managing the Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Vocational School expansion. “Business opportunities for minorities are prevalent in Bridgeport, and Deborah has made those opportunities more abundant and accessible than ever.”

In 2009, 138 new businesses registered with the Small & Minority Business Resource Office. Last September, the office hosted a Green Auto Body Workshop to help area auto body shops comply with federal and state environmental laws, one of many steps the office is taking to integrate its efforts with the City’s BGreen 2020 Sustainability Initiative. Other workshops the office has hosted include: “Access to Capital for Small Businesses,” “How to Write a Business Plan” and “How to Build a Business in 90 Days.”

The Small and Minority Business Resource Office is hosting the 2010 Business Expo and Multicultural Marketplace on March 12, 2010, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Housatonic Community College’s Beacon Hall located at 900 Lafayette Blvd. in Bridgeport, CT.

The Expo will feature more than 90 small business-related vendors, and will include workshops entitled “Greening Up Your Business,” sponsored by United Illuminating, and “Go Green & Save Green,” sponsored by The Center for Green Building.



  1. Danny boy Malloy formally announces a run for governor. What a surprise!!! The wolf in sheep’s clothing (just what color is his hair?) is at it again, exploiting all HIS accomplishments as experience to run the state. Here’s a bit of news … Stamford was a success before Dan and is so because of the business climate, state incentives to corporations, and proximity to NYC. Here’s another bit of news … Dan could give 2 shites about B’port. Disagree with me? I hope the DTC makes Dan go on the record (not on McLevy green but on state-wide TV) to give his blueprint for reviving the state’s largest city. Be honest for once, Dan, and tell us exactly, not in political talk, what you WILL do for B’port. It’s a tightrope. Help us, alienate the burbs, ignore us, and I hope to God the local party endorses anybody but Dan.

    1. BEWARE of those who do not capitalize their own OIB handles. It shows timidity and low self-esteem. Case in point:

      independent soul’s newsless post is full of vitriol. He (go ahead, tell me you’re a female) repeatedly calls for Malloy to deliver a blueprint or plan for Bridgeport. His idea is selfish and foolish. “Plans” are for socialists and those who favor a “command economy.” When running for Governor, the blueprint is statewide and not local. Best wishes, Dan Malloy.

      OIB has made me a political middleweight. independent soul is still stuck in his neophyte stage.

    2. I 100% agree independent soul. I’d rather have anybody else run on the Democratic Slate other than Malloy. He is not the right candidate for Bpt and could care less. Lamont on the other hand will care more for the city. Lamont for Gov.

  2. News 12 is reporting this AM the fire report on the PT Barnum fire will be released sometime today. They did say the mother’s blood alcohol level was 2.3%. The state says at .8% you are legally drunk.

  3. Careful Lennie, your bias is showing. Russo spending money would have been a waste, boosting his name recognition at this stage of the game wouldn’t have gotten him delegates or generate money. I don’t think his message of I am the cure would work, since he has no political experience other than essentially a 6-week stint in the state Senate. He is also naive if he thinks Himes would legitimize him as a real candidate. And Russo naivety shows badly if he thinks one Congressman could delay a vote on health care just because he wants to debate him. Russo has a few delusions of grandeur with that request.

  4. I saw Herman’s Hermits at Kennedy Stadium around ’64 or ’65.

    Herrmann Munster? I remember when Eddie Munster almost beat Sam Gejdenson in 1994.

    Russo should run for State Senate. Moore, Moore, Moore, How do you like it?, should primary Anthony.

    1. I agree with Up on Bridgeport let;s get Musto out of there and put Moore in. And if Musto is our candidate in Nov then let’s hope Russo runs for state Sen.

    1. When I was back there in seminary school
      There was a person there
      Who put forth the proposition
      That you can petition the Lord with prayer
      Petition the lord with prayer
      Petition the lord with prayer
      You cannot petition the lord with prayer!

      1. Grin Ripper’s remarks are totally reactive and rarely proactive. He’s flunking adulthood!

        Shortest book in the world:

        How to wisely use your library time–

        by Grin Ripper

          1. Grin Ripper recounts a few clever terms designed to show false authority while his starving editor hangs his head in disbelief. C’mon, he can’t even write a complete sentence. Can remedial blogging be too far off?

  5. Hey Local Eyes, you are sounding more like a buffoon than any type of fighter, let alone a middleweight. Timidity and low self-esteem? You must be some idiot who makes judgment calls base on a style of writing. Care to critique Hemingway or Shakespeare?

    I’ve known Dan Malloy for over 30 years and I will tell you he is the consummate politician. He and Al Gore probably battled over who invented the internet.

    le, the purpose of a blog is not to be a source of news so why would I expect my comments to be newsworthy?

    bottom line … I for one will not support Dan or would urge all my fellow B’porters to do the same until he comes up with a plan to brings jobs and economic development here. After all, if he can claim he did it in Stamford, let’s put the proof in the pudding and get some of it here.

    Dan wants to be governor to satisfy his ego. If le can’t see it, maybe he/she needs to get glasses, and not rose-colored ones.

    1. If Dan Malloy has an ego the size of a battleship that’s enough qualification to run for governor.

      independent soul just called me an idiot. Now he’s qualified to shine my shoes while I recite Shakespeare’s best poems.


  6. *** Thank You Judge Lopez for staying on top of the P.T. Barnum Housing fire & seeing the city’s obvious intentions to leak partial info strictly to cast most of the fault onto the mother of the family by reporting her alcohol level. It’s important to know the truth & to move forward on finding a solution in safe fire prevention & exit measures in public housing! *** BOE should cancel their usual education vs city government budget show @ the hearings this year & instead concentrate on applying for some of the education stimulus money that’s available before it’s all gone. It’s obvious the council’s not going to move very much towards the BOE request due to other “$” needed for the libraries, labor contracts, city suits that need to be paid or still pending, etc. … *** Time will tell ***


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