Addressing Loss Of Life Must Be City Council Priority

Speaking to the City Council Monday night, fiscal watchdog John Marshall Lee highlighted the loss of young lives observing, “If there is a worse statistic upon which to base City Council focus in 2016, please let me know, but until you do, I ask you through each Committee and in all of your interaction, please consider this attack on members of our community to be the most pressing issue, requiring your attention and solution.” From Lee:

Have you had a moment in time recently where you saw something you knew was not right? That probably broke a law or regulation? That put lives of people or their property at risk? And yet there was no one available to respond to your call for help? If you have seen either of the recent movies of this holiday season, SPOTLIGHT and THE BIG SHORT, you may get what I am talking about. The frustration of seeing something that should be working better than the manner that has become the status quo and yet the inability to find anyone with clout to deal with the issue is a real one.

My frustration with fiscal issues in the City of Bridgeport for many years has caused me to learn, study and to speak out. Very slowly I have come to realize that when more than one person or department is able to look at an issue that requires change or resolution there is an opportunity. The change of administration you are part of is just such a moment. Your vote to question in a specific way the lack of action by the former City Council in their final meeting is an opportunity to get it right. Many of you who were part of that former body reported you had been told the funds for increased salaries for Department heads in a union and for others as well were already appropriated and were surprised to find they had not been.

On one level I want to ask you why you thought the increases were budgeted last spring as part of the appropriations side of the budget you voted upon. Did you compare 2014-15 and the current one? If it was not in the spring budget, when did a budget revision occur with Council approval? For that matter when was the last time your body was asked to vote upon budget transfers as directed by the Charter? For those Council members who are not on Budget and Appropriations, do you bother to look at monthly financial reports, noting the absence of variance figures in so many of those same reports for many years? Why do you not ask for a change in those same reports as suggested on more than one occasion? And to cause you to understand what matters are really about, why does your Council not resolve very promptly to require a dollar amount or dollar range by any and all matters that are referred to your committees for a decision? Such info could at a minimum alert one and all of the fiscal importance of such an issue, couldn’t it? Such a request is within your power to promptly address.

Thus far I have commented on money issues. Changing gears let me importantly address the loss of human life. All lives matter and public safety officers are charged with protecting all … young or older, native born or immigrant, working, unemployed or retired, of all races, religions and political beliefs. With that in mind and our own City history as a background let me offer a statistic from GHETTOSIDE a 2015 non-fiction book about death of one black man in Los Angeles. The author, Jill Leovy, is a news reporter and indicates black males in the US comprise only 6% of the population but count for almost 40% of murder victims each year in the US. What allows that to happen? How can you change this to decrease the loss of young lives in Bridgeport? If there is a worse statistic upon which to base City Council focus in 2016, please let me know, but until you do, I ask you through each Committee and in all of your interaction, please consider this attack on members of our community to be the most pressing issue, requiring your attention and solution.

I have spoken about TIPS, Trustworthy Information for Public Safety on several occasions in the past 44 months. Just recently Channel 12 began to provide notice. We need more publicity for this “public safety” effort that encourages all community members to notice and anonymously report violence, law breaking, guns and drugs among other neighborhood activities so public safety officers can better address neighborhood problems as they truly are. If community members are too fearful to “snitch” or, rather, safely share info that may save innocent lives, then such a community needs to challenge itself to become part of a safe way to participate in securing public safety for their community. Will it happen? Time will tell.



  1. The two biggest issues that have direct correlation with youth violence are: the separation of society from God and the breakup of the family nucleus. And those the CC has little control over other than to lead by example. However, the CC does have control to institute the use of TIPS and make this city fiscally responsible enough to be job-friendly. And for both of those thank you JML for being our watchdog.
    God, family, jobs.

  2. JML, while I concur with all your observations and suggestions, I do take exception to your all lives matter comment, which is an axiom that just wasn’t needed in your post.

    It’s not that what you’re saying isn’t true. It’s just that it’s unhelpful. It’s an attempt to erase an actual crisis under the guise of being fair. And by continuing to use “All Lives Matter” to drown out the cry of “Black Lives Matter,” the real problems the movement is trying to address are being ignored. “All Lives Matter” is useless. It is destructive. It is hurtful. We need to stop saying it.

    The context of “Black Lives Matter” is not that other lives don’t. The context of “Black Lives Matter” is that the value of black lives remains under assault in the United States. But the thing is, when people say “Black Lives Matter,” they are acknowledging an important context that involves several centuries of slavery, civil rights, mass incarceration and brutality. It’s specifically highlighting the value of black lives because, historically, this country has often ignored that value.

    The problem with “All Lives Matter” is it ignores context.

  3. Ron and Don,
    I did not put anything in quotes. I said all lives matter, and I genuinely believe they do. You used nearly 200 words to change the meaning of what I expressed and to argue about it.
    I also provided a statistic that said a group comprising 6% of the US population suffers a murder victim rate of nearly 40% from GHETTOSIDE. It was a brief way to focus on something that needs attention by our community, all parts of it.
    And just what two issues should be separated? Money and human lives? Isn’t that the context of how slavery developed in the first place in the Americas? Time will tell.

    1. JML, here is the difference from what you said. This is from the Black Lives Matter Network:

      What Does #BlackLivesMatter Mean?

      When we say Black Lives Matter, we are broadening the conversation around state violence to include all of the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state. We are talking about the ways in which Black lives are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity.

      #BlackLivesMatter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. We affirm our contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression. We have put our sweat equity and love for Black people into creating a political project–taking the hashtag off of social media and into the streets. The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation.


  5. Black Lives Matter is a radical group of anti-cop people whose only goal is the death of police officers. That is their stated goal.
    Black Lives Matter does not address the black-on-black crime that is the cause of most of the young black deaths.
    Here is some of the racist BS put forth by Ron M.
    “We are talking about the ways in which Black lives are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity.
    #Black Lives Matter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.”
    Hey Ron, tell me how black lives are deprived of their basic human rights. Ron, tell me how black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.
    Black Lives Matter is a racist group of malcontents who hate white people and cops especially.

    1. Andy, tell me how you feel about the white protesters in Burns Oregon who are heavily armed, publicly saying they will kill police officers if they try to arrest them for their illegal action of stealing federal land.

      1. Ron,
        You have just moved way off the subject at hand, haven’t you? Is it more comfortable here for you? Have you read Ta Nehisi Coates BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME, an essay to his son? There is a problem that continues to be present, but it is not served or addressed when those strong enough to address such subject no matter what “privilege” exists in their lives lack the interest, courage, or whatever to meet, discuss, learn and better understand others in that same community. Happy New Year, Ron. The phone number is the same. 203-259-9642. Looking forward to that cup of coffee with you, on more than one future occasion. Time will tell.

        1. JML, I haven’t moved away, in fact I’m making the picture clearer. When Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson MO the black community protested in the streets and what happened, the police broke up their protest because they weren’t moving fast enough so the police came in with tanks and other military weapons against those marching, but in Oregon where protesters are armed and have said they will shoot anyone who tries to move them, well, the police have made the decision not to move in and arrest these protesters, I wonder why? John, how much clearer do you need to see that the playing field is not even? John, you should read Tim Wise’s book “White Privilege.”

      2. I feel they should be arrested, plain and simple. Anyone who breaks the law should be arrested. The fight you mention is over grazing land on the property of a national park, and about a grazing fire started by the ranchers. From what I read the fire that was started is used to clear land.

    2. *** Obviously a tunnel-vision opinion from someone who sees things from a white man’s eyes and perception on what it seems like blacks face every day of their lives in America! Maybe Andy should try reading and Google some of the tests and experiments made by some white writers and other researchers concerning some of the different ways simple things seem to change when it comes to black and white issues. Old books such as Black Like Me or Watermelon Man, or The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments, Unequal Treatment in the Workplace, Unequal Treatment in Education, Unequal Treatment in the Real Estate Market/Housing and Renting and Unequal Treatment in Religion, just to name a few areas where many tests, experiments, surveys, also audio and visual experiment tapes made by Universities, News Media and Newspaper Reporters, State and Federal Individual Government Agency Grants, etc. ***

      1. *** Driving in Weston CT coming from a Fourth of July outside barbecue at a coworker’s home on a nice sunny day. Two vehicles headed back south towards Bpt and we get to a stop sign where the town PD was conducting seatbelt and safety inspections/DWI’s due to the holiday! The first vehicle, a convertible SAAB with four whites inside (who did happen to have a few drinks at the party) had music playing and happy passengers was briefly stopped and waved on by. The second vehicle that was a much older Toyota Corolla with a black person driving with his girlfriend in the front passenger seat, along with me and the driver’s brother sitting in the back was told to pull over. The usual introduction followed by “your license and registration, please! While the other vehicle’s officer is running the paperwork and plates, the driver is asked, where’s he coming from, where’s he going, have you been drinking or using any type of drugs, etc? By the way, our vehicle is not a convertible like the other was, which has stopped further up the road to wait for us. Meanwhile he’s asked to get out of the vehicle and asked if he minds being patted down then told to put his hands on the front of the car and is patted down. Afterward the officer asks us for our names and how do we know the driver and where we were coming from and going to, basically the same question he asked the driver at the beginning of the stop. After the questions, he asked the driver if he minded if they searched the vehicle? He asked why and they stated they just wanted to make sure there was no drugs or weapons, etc. in the car since it was a safety check! The driver complied, then we were told to get out of the vehicle and then patted down. Afterwards, two officers with the other ones watching shook down the car, nothing was found and then we were told to get back in the vehicle. The driver was given his paperwork back and told by the officer since we all were very co-operative with them, he was not going to cite him for his tinted windows he claimed were too dark and illegal? Off we went and caught up to our waiting friends in the convertible who were smoking and joking and wondering, “what took so long” since they were stopped and flagged right through the same safety inspections site? In my opinion, coming from a green-eyed light skinned Puerto Rican; “safety” had nothing to do with our delay after the first stop, introduction and usual questions asked by the police officer! No one else at the time was going through what we did; “WHY I WONDER???” This was not a usual safety/DWI routine stop in my opinion. Also, the driver did not drink at the party because he was driving and everybody else in the car only had a couple lite beers at the most! ***

        1. Mojo, thanks for sharing and I know how pissed off you had to be. I’m just reading this for the first time and it’s like I can’t believe this but I know it’s true. I’ve been through something like this and the only thing you think about is to get out of this unharmed and that’s something whites don’t feel when they are stopped by the police. You get afraid to ask or challenge anything the police are doing. This happens every day of the year to people of color in America.

  6. Mackey, why would you waste your time and energy responding to Andy? He’s an undereducated or otherwise ignorant and bigoted vile little man whose better days, if you can call them that, are far behind him. He’s so damned ignorant, he thinks when I referred to Dominick with ask ya boy, it’s somehow being racist as opposed to being vernacular used in 21st century pop culture.

    Mackey, he wasn’t about a damned thing 40 years ago and he ain’t about a damned thing today. Everyone on OIB knows this and you have seen this sentiment expressed by numerous people.

    1. Day, your racist rants continue, isn’t that right, Boy? How does it feel to be my boy like you claim Domenick is? I asked my teenage grandchildren and they stated they very seldom hear the word boy used. Two go to Harding and one goes to Tech. One thing I was 40 years ago was your superior, Boy. Someday we can compare educations. I do know this, I was considered one of the top fire investigators nationwide. There is much much more other than being a Judge Daly-made captain. What is your claim to fame?

      1. Day, why is it when you get shown to be wrong or are shown to have less intelligence than the person you are exchanging text with, you revert to name calling? Day, don’t let feeling inferior affect what you blog.

  7. Ron, you have to stop making shit up. The protesters did a lot of damage to black-owned businesses with their favorite something for nothing looting. They also used their other favorite tool, fire.
    There were no tanks brought in and you know it. There were armored personnel carriers maybe one or two, THERE WERE NO TANKS!!!! What other military weapons did they bring in? How many protesters were shot? Ron, you are a race-baiter.
    BTW, other than occupy the government building nothing else has happened, no riots, no arson, no shooting and no assaults on authorities. That’s what is known as a civilized protest.

    1. LOL, okay Andy, a group is armed and says they will shoot the police if they are moved from their position, but the police won’t arrest them but the police had no problem in arresting the blacks in Ferguson.

      1. Ron, how much damage did they do before the police stepped in? And don’t forget there was gunfire coming from the crowd. Ron, both crowds are disobeying the law, the difference is one was violent.

  8. Jamelle Bouie is Slate’s chief political correspondent.

    What’s more, Ferguson police have used armored vehicles to show force and control crowds. In one photo, riot gear-clad officers are standing in front of a mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle, barking commands and launching tear gas into groups of demonstrators and journalists.

    This would be one thing if Ferguson were in a war zone, or if protesters were violent–although it’s hard to imagine a situation in which American police would need a mine-resistant vehicle. But an episode of looting aside, Ferguson police aren’t dealing with any particular danger. Nonetheless, they’re treating demonstrators–and Ferguson residents at large–as a population to occupy, not citizens to protect.

    This is part of a broader problem.

    In his book The Rise of the Warrior Cop, journalist Radley Balko notes that since the 1960s, “law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier. Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment–from bayonets and M–16 rifles to armored personnel carriers–American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield.”

    1. All that happened after the police said the protesters were walking too slow so then the police took action but in Oregon there’s no effort to make these men move like they did in Ferguson, wrong is wrong no matter what and I see white lives matter more than black lives.

  9. If y’all get a chance, check out Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community.”
    It’s an excellent read with insight on what’s going on today.

  10. Donald Day, I’m sure you’ve noticed how John Marshall Lee has been silent on his own topic. Here is a person who has a comment and viewpoint about everything but he hides from this. Time has told us.


Leave a Reply