Who’s Lying About The Magnet School Deal? Was This An April Fool’s Joke?

So who's telling the truth?

The running soap opera As The Bridgeport And Trumbull Magnet Turns took a new twist last week when Mayor Bill Finch proclaimed the Parks Department building on land that became a boundary switch from the city to Trumbull was never part of the equation. Hold on a minute, said Trumbull, Finch is reinventing promises made on this deal. The communities had agreed to a boundary switch, with state approval, so that Bridgeport would become the host community of a regional science magnet school. Trumbull expected that the parks building was part of the deal and trotted out a news release on Wednesday to bolster its case.


TRUMBULL — Three town officials who joined First Selectman Timothy M. Herbst in Hartford for a meeting concerning the proposed magnet school and property swap on April 1, 2011 are now claiming that Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and his administration are blatantly misrepresenting what was discussed and attempting to renege on an agreement reached in good faith. The April 1, 2011 meeting took place in the State Capitol with representatives from Bridgeport, Trumbull, Governor Dannel Malloy’s office, as well as representatives of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the Connecticut Department of Education.

Trumbull officials are referring to recent statements made in the Connecticut Post by Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch concerning the recently approved property swap between Bridgeport and Trumbull. In the July 10, 2011 edition of the Connecticut Post, it was reported that “Finch said he does not recall discussing anything specifically about the building during the talks in Hartford.”

Town officials on the other hand claim that the Parks and Recreation Building was specifically discussed in the meeting. “The Parks Department building was most certainly a point of discussion in Hartford,” stated Daniel Nelson, the First Selectman’s Chief of Staff. “After that meeting, the First Selectman telephoned Trumbull Public Works Director John Marsilio from his car on the way back from Hartford to ask him to begin the process of reaching out to Bridgeport Public Facilities Director Charlie Carroll to discuss a timeline of transferring the building. I recall the Mayor saying that ample time would be needed for transitioning Parks and Recreation Department employees out of the Quarry Road facility, and the Town was agreeable to this request.”

The First Selectman’s Chief of Staff went on to state that this latest reversal of position by the Mayor was a further example of the prior practices and actions of the City of Bridgeport which led the First Selectman to decline to enter into an inter-municipal agreement with the City of Bridgeport. “Given the City’s current financial condition, the First Selectman firmly believed that the Finch Administration could not honor the financial commitments it made in the proposed inter-municipal agreement,” stated Nelson. “Clearly, the First Selectman’s concerns have been validated by the fact that the Finch Administration is now attempting to change the terms of the agreement that was reached in good faith at the April 1, 2011 meeting in Hartford.”

“I specifically remember Mayor Finch telling First Selectman Herbst in that meeting that he would need a period of time to relocate the Bridgeport Parks Department to another location,” stated Attorney Nicola. “During this same conversation, First Selectman Herbst suggested that the transfer of the building and the period of time needed to transfer Bridgeport employees to another facility coincide with the school’s construction, which was estimated to take 12-18 months to construct. For Mayor Finch to now claim he doesn’t recall discussing anything about the building and to claim that it was never part of an agreement is disingenuous, at best. The Finch Administration is attempting to alter an agreement reached in good faith.”

Correspondence sent to the Governor’s Office by Nicola confirms that the building was a point of discussion. On April 5, 2011, Nicola sent a letter to Anthony Jannotta, Deputy Legal Counsel to Governor Dannel P. Malloy. In that letter, Nicola wrote, “I wanted to follow-up concerning the steps necessary to accomplish a transfer of the 20 plus acre parcel together with the structure located thereon from the State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection to the Town of Trumbull.” Nicola’s letter referenced the meeting of April 1, 2011 held in Hartford.

First Selectman Timothy M. Herbst indicated that the Malloy administration has been supportive and collaborative in making the property swap and magnet school happen. “Governor Malloy’s administration has worked very hard in making this happen. The Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel, Andrew McDonald, has been a true gentleman throughout this process. The Governor certainly has a lot on his plate in dealing with the budget, yet he has made this a top priority. For that, I am grateful and I offer my thanks to the Malloy administration. Trumbull’s concern is not with the leaders of Hartford. Trumbull’s concern is with the leader of Bridgeport.”

Town Treasurer John Ponzio was also present in the meeting held in Hartford. “When you come to the bargaining table on behalf of the community you lead, when you give your word, you keep your word. Integrity should be the order of the day,” stated Ponzio. ”Mayor Finch has not kept his word and has not told the truth regarding the elements of this deal.”



  1. WOW!!! “When you come to the bargaining table on behalf of the community you lead, when you give your word, you keep your word. Integrity should be the order of the day,” stated Ponzio. “Mayor Finch has not kept his word and has not told the truth regarding the elements of this deal.” WOW!!!!!!!!!

  2. *** You say tomato, I say tomahto, no? Saying one thing and doing another is called leading by example at Bpt’s bargaining tables! *** UP IN SMOKE? ***

  3. Joel
    Joe Ganim loves Bridgeport and he did some very good things for the city. But he also damaged himself and the city in the process … big time. This isn’t a case of forgiveness. This is a case of putting the city’s well being above his own hubris. I believe the statement he made on that channel 8 story. The story is overblown. I believe he knows in his heart of hearts he needs to be with his family and leave Bridgeport’s future leadership to another of Bridgeport’s 100,000 voting-age residents. I for one am solidly convinced Mary-Jane is the right person at this time. The barbs over the magnet school promises or lack thereof are just another example of why the leadership needs to change. I wish Joe well. However we are talking about the very best of the best to lead this great city. Bridgeporters must strive for the very best and prove the cynics wrong.

    1. I hear you, countdown! “… But he also damaged himself and the city in the process … big time …”
      I’m not too sure about that. If Joe Ganim was the reason why Bridgeport has made very little progress, why didn’t things get better while Joe was away for 7 years? Why are other cities where none of their elected officials have been convicted faring just as bad or worse than Bridgeport? I think the impact of Ganim’s conviction on the image of the City of Bridgeport is overblown. If Joe really believes the story of his imminent return to politics is overblown, he would have announced he isn’t running and put closure to the topic. Joe Ganim got hammered by the federal justice system for what he was convicted. Seven years and the monetary fine seems to not be enough of a punishment for many. Some would like to see Joe Ganim cast away on some Island. Be careful what you wish for, that island may be at 999 Broad Street.

      1. Joel
        I do believe the city was seriously damaged by Ganim’s conviction. I do believe if the electorate returns a convicted felon to public office it will add to the damage. How could a City defend an election of a convicted felon? How could a City’s political system justify the best leader they could find in a pool of 100k registered voters was a convicted felon? I’m sorry, this City deserves better. This City and its political system needs to stand up and show we deserve and deliver excellence.

  4. You are absolutely right. Bridgeport needs the BEST to lead our renaissance. Sadly, Joe Ganim forfeited any claim to being the best when he stole from those who supported him. I firmly believe all elected officials who are convicted of felonies for stealing from the public they represent should be denied any access to public office.

    As far as the hype goes, the only place his candidacy continually is suggested is OIB. Channel 8 picked up the story there. Who knows what Lennie’s agenda is regarding Ganim?

    1. I assure you Lennie doesn’t have any side deal with Joe Ganim if that’s what you are implying. I’m more afraid of a Joe Ganim deal with Bill Finch. Lennie’s only agenda is to inform the public and give his professional opinion, while allowing the readers to add or take away from it. Channel 8 called Joe Ganim to inquire about his intentions. What I’d like to hear is Lennie Grimaldi called Joe Ganim (203)583-4882 for a comment regarding his intentions. Imagine Lennie Grimaldi interviewing Joe Ganim in person. That would make headlines!

  5. Finch could sell either of the former bank buildings on Main St. downtown for $500K.
    Finch couldn’t sell the City Hall Annex in the heart of downtown for $1,000,000.
    But a rundown Parks and Rec building near the new Magnet School is worth $3.5 million.
    How can that be?
    Oh yeah, that building will be in Trumbull.
    Location, location, location.

  6. “Sale of City Owned Properties:
    A total of $1,100,000 was adopted by the City Council in FY2011 to be received from the sale of City owned properties. Based on eight months actual revenue receipt of $46,683, only $100,000 is being projected to be received in this revenue account by year end (June 30, 2011). The Office of Planning and Economic Development has been tasked to institute a plan on how the $1,100,000 budgeted amount would be attained by year end.” (Excerpt from City of Bridgeport, Explanation of Variances October 2010-February 2010 (sic) Monthly Financial Report-Revenues, page 6)

    That is the last of the City “monthly summaries” available at the City Clerk office. The City Charter (Chapter 9, Section 7) directs that “not later than the 4th Friday of each month” a monthly financial report of the City and all its departments will be made available to Council members and also be available at the City Clerk’s office.

    The Summary of the five months from October 2010 through February 2011 was posted shortly after the fourth Friday of March, but what about the months preceding March (four of which saw no timely report)? What about monthly reports for March, April and May 2011? Is there not curiosity of anyone on the City Council ,especially those ‘oversight’ mavens, the Budget and Appropriations Committee? What’s up? Or down, as the February 2011 Year End Projections were indicating a $2,183,201 DEFICIT?

    And last but not least, how did OPED do on its task to report before year end? Maybe they reported, but what did they say? And what got sold before year end?


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