Yet Another Primary

Well, if nothing else, Lee Whitnum’s gonna make this primary season amusing. The unorthodox down county congressional candidate will hold a press conference today to ballyhoo her ballot qualification to challenge Democrat endorsed Jim Himes on Aug. 12. The winner will face Republican Congressman Chris Shays.

Whitnum’s a spunky, nonconformist prone to verbal bombs as evidenced by her Nazi assertion of Himes whom she claims thwarted attempts to address delegates at the party endorsement session in May.

A primary for Himes cuts both ways. It will force the opportunity for an unseasoned campaigner to retail politic, schmooze voters and forge a training run for the big show against Shays in November. And better yet, he can go back to all those campaign contributors that have maxed out, stockpiling more dough for the general.

Of course, there’s the risk that Whitnum’s verbal baiting could force a verbal gaffe of his own, exploit weaknesses and soften Himes who’s hit the cable airwaves with an intro spot this week. Whitnum will try to frame Himes an elitist Greenwich pretty boy out of touch with the real world.

I gave Himes a tour of the city several weeks ago. He’s bright, eager to learn the political landscape, speaks Spanish fluently, and has a solid finance background. Observation I’ve heard about his persona is trepidation to roll up sleeves, wade into crowds and engage voters at community events. At every turn the Himes campaign has been quick to criticize Shays. But it has not stated clearly what Himes will do, why he’s better. It’s early enough for them to sharpen message. So far the message is smart, great background, against the war and a patronizing froth that he’s the novel product of a single mom. I’ve met his mom. She’s a nice lady who no doubt raised him well. In the end most electors vote on the future. They want to know what you will do.

Meanwhile, here’s a sampling of Lee Whitnum via a campaign news release:

Yesterday the Secretary of State’s office announced that 4th Congressional District Candidate Lee Whitnum has successfully collected the necessary signatures to put her name on the ballot as a candidate for the Democratic ticket.

“The people have spoken,” said Whitnum. “They want choice.”

Whitnum won the right to have a Democratic primary in the Fourth Congressional District by collecting the required 2459 signatures from registered Democrats. As a result, the Fourth Congressional District will hold a Democratic Primary for the first time in more than 50 years. The date for the primary is August 12, 2008. There is one other Democratic contender. The winner of the primary will face Congressman Chris Shays, the Republic incumbent, in November.

“It’s a mandate,” said Whitnum. “The people don’t want an elitist, Greenwich, Wall Street candidate like Jim Himes. They want candidates who will fight for jobs and the interests of the middle class.”

Whitnum, a teacher and cancer survivor, boycotted the 4th Congressional District Convention on May 19 when she learned that her Democratic opponent was planning to deny her the opportunity to address the delegates. She also felt that she wasn’t treated fairly by the Democratic powers that be.

“I learned an hour before the convention that my Democratic opponent had conspired to deny me 15 minutes to address the delegates. We were literally in the car on the way up when I decided we’d boycott. If I couldn’t address the delegates then all they’d have to go on were my Democratic opponent’s paid bloggers and their slanted and dishonest opinions. Without the ability to address the group I’d never have a chance to get the 15% I needed to have a primary.”

Whitnum, the self-proclaimed candidate of the people, boycotted the convention and decided to take the vote to the people. “It is fitting that I took the decision to the people and the people have spoken.”

“They jerked me around but it energized me,” said Whitnum. “I don’t care what role you play in the local Democratic Party–no one has the right to stand in the way of the Democratic process. Your hand-picked boy may not be the people’s choice. You leave it to the people to decide.”

In just 23 days, Whitnum and her staff collected the necessary signatures. “We worked really hard,” laughs Whitnum who put in 10 and 12 hour days. “I felt like I was a foot-soldier in the war to restore democracy to the local Democratic Party. All-in-all, it was a great experience. I had the greatest petitioners in the world and I really enjoyed meeting the people.”

Russo Announces Ed Audit

Republican State Sen. Rob Russo officially announced today on the steps of City Hall a state grant of $250,000 to fund an in-depth management and operational study of the Board of Education. Russo release below:

State Senator Robert D. Russo (R-Bridgeport) today announced that Governor Rell has approved a $250,000 grant he requested to help fund a comprehensive management and operational study of the Bridgeport Board of Education. The study, supported by the City of Bridgeport and the Bridgeport Board of Education, will be managed by the Bridgeport Regional Business Council and include a full forensic audit of the City’s school system to identify inefficiencies and out-dated practices, and solutions for fixing them. Senator Russo made the announcement during a morning press conference at Bridgeport City Hall. He was accompanied by State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield), Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Bridgeport Superintendent of Schools John Ramos, and Bridgeport Regional Business Council (BRBC) President Paul Timpanelli.

“For too long Bridgeport has failed to make education its top priority, but things are changing. The Business Community, Superintendent Ramos, and Mayor Finch are working together to make our schools our number one priority again. However, this study is absolutely essential to helping undo years of neglect,” said Senator Russo. “This study will help us identify and correct inefficiencies in our educational system, enabling us to make a more convincing argument to the policy makers in Hartford and the taxpayers throughout our state, that Bridgeport needs and deserves a greater public investment in education to fund things like professional training, smaller class sizes, better classroom resources and greater pre-school enrollment – the kinds of investments that are going to make a real difference in our children’s lives and our City’s future.”

Senator Russo thanked Senator McKinney for his advocacy in support of the audit and Governor Rell for granting the $250,000 award. In a statement, Governor Rell said, “The State of Connecticut invests hundreds of millions of dollars in Bridgeport’s education system and we owe it to the state’s taxpayers and to the children of Bridgeport to ensure that money is spent wisely.”

Senator McKinney said, “Senator Russo began fighting for this audit on his first day in office, and now, just three short months later, he has achieved a real win for Connecticut’s taxpayers and the children attending Bridgeport’s public schools.”

The State of Connecticut pays more than 80% of the costs of the Bridgeport Board of Education – $160 million annually. This year, state aid to Bridgeport increased by $10 million and it will increase an additional $7 million next year. Senators McKinney and Russo said the state must do more to protect its investment. “Too often, the City of Bridgeport and the State of Connecticut have failed to perform the oversight that is necessary to make government more efficient and more accountable. This audit does that. It will improve financial accountability and transparency, and most importantly, it will improve the quality of education for thousands of Bridgeport students,” said McKinney.

“I have long been in support of a comprehensive management review of the Board of Education,” said Mayor Finch. “Even during a tough budget year, the City allocated its share of the cost of an audit for this purpose. The audit is the key to increasing accountability and efficiency in our Board of Education and I thank Governor Rell and Senator Russo for demonstrating their dedication to the wellbeing of Bridgeport’s school system by supplying these funds.”

This comprehensive management and operational study is part of a four phase plan developed by Superintendent Ramos and the Bridgeport Regional Business Council to improve public education in Bridgeport.

The plan was initiated in 2006 with phases 1 and 2 already well under way. These initial phases primarily look at the City’s relationship with the Board of Education. During phases 3 and 4 the City school system will undergo the comprehensive management and operational study this grant goes to fund. The plan proposes that the cost of phases three and four be divided between the business community, the Board of Education and City, and the State of Connecticut. The $250,000 grant announced today represents the State’s contribution towards phases 3 and 4 of the study.

The funds for this award come from the State’s Contingency Needs Account. The money from this account is generally used for small grants to bolster operating funds or to make capital improvements for community groups or organizations that are in pursuit of the public good.



  1. IF YOU LISTEN long enough pearls of wisdom emerge.

    The following comes from yahooy who has a keen insight / possibility concerning today’s hot story: the Pending bankrupcy of Remington Arms and how a tax scofflaw can become an expert on Something-for-NOTHING-ism. Here goes…

    Sally D loses Remgit to bankruptcy distribution of assetts to creditors. The city regains ownership. Sally D is off the hook for the $20 million clean up AND the $10 million in back taxes.

    The city doesn’t want to spend $20 million to clean up Remgrit..RIGHT?? (you never know with Finch’s crowd).

    The city decides to sell the property burdened only by a mandated $20 million clean up cost BUT no $10 million in back taxes. Sally D quickly drops his mopine at The Corner, rushes down to City Hall and buys Remgit.

    What do you think?

  2. Reguarding the BOE audit
    RUSSO RULES look what he has achieved in a matter of weeks. The audit is the best advance that happened to Bpt. in 100 years.
    Thanks to the pension bill Rell signed, there will be a lot of BOE thieves who will be denied pensions once this snake pit of BOE is exposed; let’s see the first to resign and try to collect for “hypertension”.
    Wasn’t Moonbeam in a position to call for and could implement what Russo just did and Moonbeam didn’t.
    I can see Dodd waving good-bye owing to his mortage scam, Rell for senator. Russo for governor, Hubler for mayor and Moonbeam somewhere asking “would you like me to double bag that for you”.
    Almost forgot about Slick Sal wandering the yellow brick road with Moses Newton and Steal City Ganim.

  3. One more thing. Could somebody tell the Bill Finch for Mayor committee that the election is over. They have this huge banner on the outside of the upper Main St. building that served as Finch HQ.

    Paging Zoning Enforcement.

    Maybe they should leave it there as it is a positive ad for all his negatives.

  4. Although a Democrat, I support Shays. While I do not agree with him on everything (although I do on Iraq), he has been a very positive force for Bridgeport in DC. Additionally he lives in Bridgeport.

    Just what Bridgeport needs … another Greenwich hedge fund manager (or Goldman Sachs) who has banked his millions and is now going to save the poor dopes in Bridgeport from themselves.

    If all these Greenwich guys like Lamont, Himes, et al. are such a strong force for the little guys, why do we never hear from them when it comes to opening up the Greenwich shoreline to non-residents, putting forth some idea for leveling the mil rate disparity between cities like Bpt and country clubs like Greenwich, affordable housing initiatives that take place in their towns, ideas on educational funding other than putting it all on the back of the homeowner, etc.

    Much like the state reps from Greenwich, Darien, etc. They exist to make towns like Greenwich the country clubs they are. This guy like Lamont is just lip service.

  5. Dennis O’Malley: Interesting thought. Level out the mil rates!! Hmmmm. Something to think about. Since there is no County government in CT, it would have to be done on a State level. I doubt whether the suburban communities would ever agree. They’re happy just the way they are with mil rates around 10.
    Black Rockin: I wonder why Ramos, Finch, and Timpanelli appeared on City Hall steps to make the audit announcement. Finch could have, but didn’t, accomplish it during his tenure as Senator; Ramos has lots to fear from such an audit; and Timpanelli, well poor Paul does a lot of talking but little is ever accomplished by him or his office. I guess the latter is just looking for some lime-light as usual.

  6. ive been a supporter o all democrats and you guys know that i support Obama, and himes but here is the real shook of the day i am supporting russo and he gets my vote in november.

  7. Lee Whitnum:

    “On May 19 when she learned that her Democratic opponent was planning to deny her the opportunity to address the delegates. She also felt that she wasn’t treated fairly by the Democratic powers that be.”

    I can relate to what Whitnum speaks of as far as being unfairly treated. One can’t find fairness in the Democratic Party. The first Democratic Primary in 50 years. Some here will still maintain that there is unity in the Democratic Party.

  8. Con Filardi:

    Did you go to the press conference at City Hall? I was wondering the same thing about the presence of Finch, Ramos and Timpanelli. Did you hear them mention that there are Two (2) stages one of wich was completed and the other to be completed in August. They stated that they have been working towards an auditing of the school finances for a while now. Has anyone heard of this before? Where are the findings of stage One (1)?
    Who selected the members of that committee? You would think that the media would had taken the opportunity to ask Finch why he didn’t do what Russo did in just 3 months.

  9. Mr. O,
    You say that Ned Lamont and Jim Himes will do nothing for the city of B-port’s mil rate because they live in Greenwich, affordable housing in the ‘burbs, or educational funding?
    Pray tell what has Chris Shays done? He thought he got a bargain of a house in B-port when he left Stamford but then reval came and all he has done is complain about how unfair it is. And the same can be said about the lack of his initiatives with access to the shoreline, affordable housing in the suburbs and his poor record on education.
    After all of those years in DC for Shays and with B-port having nothing to show for it, there is no better argument for making a change unless it is and Chris Shays supports spending billions in Iraq while our own urban centers go underserved.
    Jim Himes for Congress!

  10. You can take the boys out of Greenwich but you can’t take the men out of Bridgeport. Con and the former Bruce Park Kid make some good points regarding regionalism. I’m happy they have found religion since moving here. They are good converts and advocates for Bridgeport but sometimes have some misguided Missals.

    The Grin one makes some excellent points and conscientious objections regarding Shays, the shoreline, and his former Casa De Carson acquisition.

    Shays has hedged his political bets for years with the Hedge Fund set. He’s a real Hedge Hog.

    Let the Good Himes Roll!

  11. As to Deadbeat DiNardo, this man is so pathetic it is sad. He has got to be the dumbest millionaire in Farifield County or simply believes that the taxpayers in Bridgeport are as dumb as he pretends to be. He wants the public to believe (simply because he spent thousands on his feel good ads) that he doesn’t realize that when you buy properties with liens attached he becomes responsible for those debts? He believes that isn’t the case because he honestly believes that by hook or by crock he will get those debts forgiven.
    I applaud Bill Finch for taking this decisive action AS LONG AS HE FOLLOWS THRU. And if it is put out to auction or RFP if Sal is the biggest bidder so be it. As long as the city requires the successful bidder to get current on any other taxes that he owes in his name or in the name of an entity of which there is 25% or more common ownership.
    Make him pay on the city’s terms and not his own. And make it C.O.D.

  12. I am just curious, if Chris Shays loves Bridgeport so much; how come his face book page states his hometown is Darien? PS it was recently updated, so any oversight comments are disingenuous.

    It is ludicrous to try and paint Jim Himes with the silver spoon brush when it is really Shays who was born a trust fund baby. Himes grew up poor and with a single mother. Who do you think understands the needs of Bridgeporters more?

    Lee “Sybil” Whitnum is … forgive the technical term … “looney tunes.” I don’t want to waste blog space even explaining. It is purely a case of res ipsa loquiter.

  13. As to little Robbie Russo, the Governor would have given that money to a schizophrenic chimpanzee to protect against a veto proof majority. Howdy Dowdy would be interchangeable. Hmm wait, anyone else see the resemblance?

  14. No wonder Bill Finch is fond of Keith Rodgerson. They are both consummate bullshitters.

    Finch just told a bunch of people that the “forensic” audit was all his idea. The planning began shortly after he took office and that Russo was HIS voice in Hartford getting the funds released.

    Just when I thought that was all the bullshit I could take for one dosage, Moonbeam starts orating that the DiNardo litigation to foreclose on the properties was all his idea. He made these promises to key democrats DURING THE PRIMARY!!! He even told DiNardo that while DiNardo was writing checks to ensure Caruso would not win.

    Ladies and gentlemen…I’m beginning to think there is something wrong with the political system in our fair town.

  15. Which precinct can Chris Shays win in November in Bpt and the answer is none he won’t even win Black Rock here are the precincts in Bpt and Chris Shays has no strength in Bpt.

    Black Rock, Finch 318, Caruso 317

    Longfellow, Finch 185, Caruso 108

    City Hall, Finch 126, Caruso 94

    Roosevelt, Finch 206, Caruso 117

    Bassick, Finch, 155, Caruso 123

    Central (132), Finch 201, Caruso 214

    Central (133), Finch 314, Caruso 227

    Blackham (133), Finch 89, Caruso 73

    Winthrop, Finch 419, Caruso 424

    Blackham (134), Finch 228, Caruso 231

    Park City, Finch 87, Caruso 187

    Wilbur Cross, Finch 230, Caruso 342

    Hallen, Finch 128, Caruso 105

    Read (135), Finch 62, Caruso 143

    St. Paul’s, Finch 82, Caruso 83

    Columbus, Finch 52, Caruso 39

    Read (136), Finch 63, Caruso 66

    Marin, Finch 293, Caruso 161

    Bridge Academy, Finch 155, Caruso 150

    JFK, Finch 212, Caruso 209

    Hooker, Finch 218, Caruso 232

    Harding, Finch 201, Caruso 171

    Dunbar, Finch, 280, Caruso 235

  16. Joel:
    Lennie’s blog indicates that the audit is done in 4 phases. 1 and 2 are well under way which “looks at the relationship of the BOE with the city” (I hope that doesn’t cost too much). Phases 3 and 4 are supposed to be paid for by a collaboration of the business community, the BOE, and the City.
    Yes, it would be interesting to know who is doing Phases 1 and 2 and who would be doing 3 and 4. Further, it would be interesting to know whether the $250,000 will be sufficient to pay for phases 3 and 4 or whether we are going to have to go to the business community for contributions. – There always seems to be a hitch.
    And yes, I haven’t heard of the media doing anything to keep the public advised with regard to phases 1 and 2.
    I don’t like the idea of the BOE and the City having anything to do with paying for phases 3 and 4, because they may have an influence on the examiners.

    Up on Bridgeport:
    I have no comment.

  17. Hi Con:

    My understanding is that the $250k will be enough to cover the audit. The initial study proposed a sharing of fees for the audit, but Russo wanted to secure enough state funds to make sure the audit funds are covered.

  18. donj, while I agree with you Shays won’t win Bridgeport, I don’t really see how the Finch-Caruso numbers would be important. I think what Shays more likely is looking at Russo’s numbers from the special election. He’ll probably key in on those precincts in Bridgeport where Russo won or was close. If he can make up ground at those precincts he’s gonna be tough to beat. I’d like to see Himes pick up his game and hear what he’s got to say, because I think he’s got a lot of work to do if he’s going to pull this off.

  19. Chris Russo, no; the Caruso-Shays numbers has nothing to do with what I’m saying but this was the only way I can get the precincts up so ignore those numbers. Areas I think Himes will do best at is Dunbar, JFK and Harding all along the East because Obama will draw out many more voters than normal around the East.

  20. Agreed. I’d love to see the numbers from the presidential primary according to precinct, especially in the North End. I think a place like Trumbull could be really important in the Shays-Himes race. They have two or three districts, which have swung both ways in the past.

  21. I know for an absolute fact Finch was working on this before Russo became Senator. In fact Finch called Russo into his office to speak about it. Finch’s policy committee and transition team both talk about doing a forensic audit. The BRBC made that recommendation long ago. Finch’s office directly lobbied Russo to try to get money for it. The Governor wouldn’t give it to Finch he asked. She gave it to Russo to make him look good. Again, if anyone thinks this is a reflection of Russo’s ability you don’t know anything about politics.

  22. clichebpt – of course Rell gave the $250K to Russo to make him look good for the upcoming election. Do you think she’d rather keep him (republican) in that Senate seat or risk him losing to Musto? It’s just a political move. Anybody with half a brain could figure out why she did that.

  23. Clichebpt, whatever your name is, what planet are you from? Finch spent 7 years in the state senate and didn’t produce squat. Russo produces in three months what Finch couldn’t do and you want Finch to catch the glory? Take a pill and go to sleep.

  24. Silly Kitty wrote:

    “clichebpt – of course Rell gave the $250K to Russo to make him look good for the upcoming election. Do you think she’d rather keep him (republican) in that Senate seat or risk him losing to Musto? It’s just a political move. Anybody with half a brain could figure out why she did that.”

    If only you had One quarter (1/4) of a Brain.

  25. How many people believe that Moonbeam has been planning the BOE audit since the primary and that he solicited the help of Russo to finalize the plans he initially put forth while taking up space in the Senate.

    I know!! I’ll check with Keeley. He’ll tell me the truth.

  26. Clichebpt:

    Congratulations. In the space of one short day you have demonstrated how little you know.

    Each of the top legislative leaders has access to a pot of “contingency” funds which they can use for just about anything they want. Bill Finch couldn’t get his leadership to come up with money for the audit. Chris Caruso, Bob Keeley and other House Democrats couldn’t get Jim “I Love Bridgeport” Amman to help pay for it. The fact is that the ONLY Bridgeport legislator who got the job done was ROB RUSSO.

    To quote my late mother’s favorite expression “Actions speak louder than words”.


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