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:
NO RESPONSE FROM HIMES ON HEALTH CARE TOWN HALL CHALLENGE
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.