Mayor Finch against the world

Agree or disagree with his policies, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch can be far more candid than other elected officials and isn’t afraid to uncork his passionate side, which I suspect is one reason he has been so successful in politics.

If he has a problem with someone or something, he won’t mince words, particularly when defending his administration and the reputation of the city he governs.

That unfiltered Finch was on full display Wednesday night when he hosted a forum of neighborhood leaders from the Black Rock section of Bridgeport.

I couldn’t fit a lot of his comments into my report on the meeting. Here are just some of the opinions Finch shared with the group:

On tax preparation giant H&R Block’s assertion Bridgeport is the highest taxed city in the nation: “That’s totally untrue. That’s not even close. … H&R Block … rips off people in Bridgeport left and right.”

On the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s permitting process when it comes to reopening the city’s Pleasure Beach to visitors: “There are elements within the DEEP that do not want (people) on Pleasure Beach. The hell with them because we’re going. … There are so many reviews it’s unbelievable. And then they review the reviewers.”

On the state’s transportation policies and Finch’s perception they do not benefit Bridgeport and the region: “Do a lot more screaming about the rails. … We let the state give us not 2nd, not 3rd, but 4th rate rail.”

On the media and his perception news outlets are only interested in sensationalizing stories, particularly that aforementioned H&R Block report: “It’s about clicks on the website. It’s a lot about clicks on the website.”

On the other hand, if Finch likes you, he reaaaallllllly likes you and wants everyone to know it. Take his Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas, a celebrity education reformer who the mayor considers vital to fulfilling the administration’s promises to improve Bridgeport’s schools: “Paul Vallas (has) called me three times since I’ve been here. We talk all the time.”

Brian Lockhart