|Article Last Updated: 4/08/2005 08:08 AM|
|'Bridgeport' too blah? How about 'Interim City?'|
|In the past, well-meaning, civic-minded citizens of Bridgeport have mounted quiet, if ill-fated, campaigns to find a new name for the city.|
Although soundly rebuffed, to this day some partisans maintain that Bridgeport is not a proper moniker for such a potentially vital metropolis. It is simply too prosaic, too, let's face it, boring. Sure, they say, it's got a harbor. And yes, it's got bridges (including some that actually function), but it deserved more. Something more programmatic. Maybe something that speaks to the city's past ("Circusiana?") or that will serve to attract industry looking to relocate ("Mount Lax-zoning?").
The trouble with all the name suggestions to date is that they fail to reflect reality. A city's name should arise organically from the very core of its being. It should reflect something truly unique about the city.
With that in mind, one look at what's unique about the city as of Thursday, there can be but one choice for Bridgeport's new name.
Now before you spurn this suggestion with a sneer and a wave of the hand, consider the following:
On Feb. 1 of this year, Brian Rooney, 56, a veteran firefighter, was named Bridgeport's interim fire chief, replacing the previous jobholder, Michael Maglione, who moved on to be Waterbury's fire chief.
Rooney stepped into a backdraft when outraged minority firefighters charged that he was connected with a controversial group of white firefighters. But two months later Rooney's still interim-ing.
And consider this:
One of the city officials who participated in Rooney's swearing-in was acting (a common euphemism for interim) Police Chief Anthony Armeno. In late January, Armeno was himself sworn in as pro-tem replacement for Chief Wilbur Chapman, who was booted by the police commissioners.
Armeno's interim-osity was also not without controversy. Allegations surfaced that he had beaten and harassed a female assistant chief during a stormy six-year personal relationship. The assistant chief finally left for a job in the Middlesex County town of Portland.
And Armeno keeps on interim-ing on.
One person who was not at either interim chief's swearing-in ceremony was interim schools Supt. Clarence W. Tolbert.
The Harvard-educated Tolbert didn't even get a swearing-in ceremony in December when he replaced Sonia Diaz Salcedo, whose discipline policies incurred the wrath of the Board of Education.
Tolbert's early days on the job weren't exactly placid. In January students demanded the ouster of his security chief, and then in March he had to apologize to parents for creating near-chaos by waffling on an early snow dismissal.
But, like his fellow interim-ers, he interims away.
And, should swirling rumors turn out to be true that another highly placed city official might be in need of interim-ing (please don't mention this to anyone lest the city be besieged by another onslaught of TV satellite trucks and disappointed reporters), Bridgeport can easily claim the title of Interim Capital of the U.S.A.
With the interim thing as a theme, there's no reason we can't expand it by declaring all city employees "interim on a permanent basis." The city's population would become "interim residents" whose "permanent transient" status qualifies them for a property tax exemption.
After that, a cross-section of wealthy suburbanites would be designated "interim taxpayers," and thus entitled to support the city's flagging revenue system. Then we can all go home happy — on an interim basis.
Charles Walsh's column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You can reach him by phone at 330-6217 or bye-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.