Bridgeport 2012: Lost And Found

Fiscal watchdog John Marshall Lee makes it his business to serve as the x-ray vision into city government. He reads, he reviews, he pokes, prods and asks. One thing’s for sure, General Lee makes politicians irritable in his quest for answers … some lost and some found, as he shares below:

You get to a certain age, and it is human to find yourself questioning your short-term memory or the accuracy of something once seen. Since I had one of those special birthdays this year I find myself wishing the new and improved City website was more like the old one available as of Thanksgiving, 2012.

• LOST: The external audit for the year 2011-12 will appear any day now, hopefully electronically, as well as in print. If you wish to compare it to last year’s info from the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, neither Archives nor City Documents links give a path to the previous annual reports.

• LOST: I wanted to check information on a City Council action and the Committee Agenda and Minutes preceding it. That info was archived and detailed in history for about the past five years. Where is all of this info today?

• “In the Cloud?”: (By the way, for all of the “seeming helpfulness” of the site, there is no way to ask an open-ended question. The questions the administration wants to answer are pre-formatted. Otherwise you are out of luck. A phone call in early December asking assistance of Information Technology indicated an understanding of the problem but no response since as to a solution.)

• FOUND: A statement of what OPM does in Bridgeport. “The Office of Policy and Management prepares and reviews the City Budget; Guides and monitors performance of departments; oversees the implementation of Management Improvements; Prepares the three-year financial plan and monthly financial reports and reviews and works to improve department systems and operations for maximum efficiency.” So Tom Sherwood, how about finding those “monthly financial reports?” As of Friday December 28, the November monthly was due in the City Clerk office per the Charter. It was not there. Worse yet, neither was the previous monthly report for October. And September was received on December 6? How does OPM “work to improve … systems and operations for maximum efficiency” when they can’t even get the basics correct?

• FOUND: A reference to ICMA Center for Performance Management under OPM info. The commentary referred to 2009 as a year a certificate was awarded to the City. Data from 2009’s Mayor’s letter and that from last April indicates the Mayor/CAO’s office has increased from 11 to 17 employees while CitiStat has decreased from 5 to 0 on the Mayor’s chart of Mandated, Core and Core supportive operations. Have the statistical efficiency efforts migrated wholesale to higher perches and compensation? What is measured? Are employee performance evaluations routine? Does B&A read or care about the detail provided to them at budget review sessions?

Let’s assume the number of Council Committee meetings scheduled, canceled, re-scheduled and also re-canceled this month were a year-end special lost opportunity to serve the public. I hope we find the Budget & Appropriations group healthy and happy on January 14, the second Monday of the New Year. They are scheduled to meet that evening. A “standing Agenda item” is discussion of the “monthly financial report.” It will be the first time they will meet to discuss the overall standing of finances and the City budget since July. The fiscal year is half over by then. Efficient? Watchdogs? Public service? Behind the curve? Lapdogs? Overwhelmed and underprepared for their duties? Time will tell.



  1. It sounds like the Finch administration is running this City like Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.
    Let the Taxpayers eat cake (“Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”).


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