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Bringing Tax Issue To The Max In Black Rock–Will It Work?

February 20th, 2014 · 39 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, News and Events

Lee Samowitz

Lee Samowitz

One sure way to grab the attention of a homeowner in Black Rock, where voter turnout is easily the highest in the city, is to ask: “Are you happy with your property taxes?” That’s what former State Representative Lee Samowitz is doing on behalf of his Democratic Town Committee slate in the 130th District taking on a slate led by veteran District Leader Dan Roach. Do town committee members have a direct impact on taxes? Of course not, but they can impact taxes indirectly by the candidates they endorse for public office. Samowitz was the state legislator who wanted Bridgeport split into three suburban communities. If he knocks on your door ask him about that, but make sure you grab a cup of joe, or a cocktail. It won’t be a short conversation. Sometimes an interpreter is required for Sam’s wonkish prattle.

On March 4, seven districts will compete in primaries across the city to decide the makeup of the 90-member Democratic Town Committee.

Samowitz, who lives just beyond the boulevard along St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea with gorgeous views of Long Island Sound, knows what it’s like to pay a boatload in taxes. Sam is a policy wonk with offbeat ideas who’s decided to get back in the political game after giving up his legislative seat more than 10 years ago. He was the state legislator who once proposed making Black Rock a separate municipal entity. He also declared Bridgeport should be split into three suburban communities absorbed by Fairfield, Stratford and Trumbull. A lot of people thought Samowitz was a crackpot when he proposed this 20 years ago. Part of the rationale was the state’s taxing structure sucks and the suburbs send Bridgeport their garbage, sewage, sick and homeless without a representative financial reward in return. Samowitz was also the legislator described by Connecticut Magazine as “unfocused, scatter shot and operating on a different wavelength.” For some, he’s an acquired articulation taste.

These town committee primaries, as politics goes, are the closest thing to hand-to-hand combat. You’re literally dragging friends to the polls. Samowitz issued this eblast to his contacts in Black Rock.

VOTE LINE “C” FOR CHANGE in the DEMOCRATIC TOWN COMMITTEE PRIMARY TUESDAY, MARCH 4TH AT BLACK ROCK SCHOOL 6AM TO 8PM

ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR PROPERTY TAXES?

Dear Neighbor:

I was your Black Rock State Representative for 18 years. I brought state funding for the walkway around St. Mary’s, the brick street scape and ornate lighting on Fairfield Ave., the Burroughs Community Center and developed the first major brownfield environmental program. I also stopped hunting along Ash Creek and created the Homestead Exemption Statute to save homeowners in bankruptcy among other accomplishments before I retired. Now I have ideas to lower property taxes and I have joined with other former State Representatives and concerned citizens to form a new slate that will support candidates who will MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND FIGHT TO LOWER OUR PROPERTY TAXES. We are a slate of independent, community caring leaders fighting to elect good, honest candidates who will try to lower taxes and improve our schools and city.

On Tuesday, March 4, 2014 from 6 am to 8pm, please come out and vote at Black Rock School, 545 Brewster Street.

PLEASE VOTE ALL 9 ON THE BOTTOM LINE “C” FOR CHANGE OF THE DEMOCRATIC TOWN COMMITTEE ON TUESDAY MARCH 4TH:

1C Hector A. Diaz (Former State Rep.), 2C Robert Foley (TV host), 3C James Fox (Community activist), 4C Edna Garcia (Former State Rep), 5C Joel Gonzalez (Former Councilman), 6C Tyree Gousse (Student), 7C David King (Handicap Advocate), 8C LEE SAMOWITZ (Former State Rep.), 9C Rob Sullivan (Editor)

They are challenging Daniel Roach, JoAnn Manzo, Michael Meehan, Melissa Henton, Anne Larcheveque, Thomas Mulligan, Jr., Joy Cline, John McCarthy, Jr., Eric Amado, Jr.

Electors in the 130th District can vote for any 9 of the 18 candidates.

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39 Comments so far ↓

  • BPT REBEL

    If Finch won’t allow evaluations, what does it matter? My house is worth squat but I’m taxed as if it’s 10 years ago.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      Imagine the impact the Solar Panel project will have on the value of Black Rock properties for decades to come if approved. I’ve always been a “REBEL” with a cause–a much better one than that of the current Democratic Party leaders and elected officials (Rick Torres not included). Be Roach-free, VOTE Line C.

      • hope I can sell my house

        I cannot support your campaign slogan “Be roach-free vote line C,” it’s childish. The Roach family has a long history in Black Rock and are lovely people. True, the political arena makes one fair game, and Dan Roach knows this better than all most likely, so say “Be Dan Roach free vote line C” but leave the rest of them out of it.

  • hope I can sell my house

    He’s got my vote. Of course, I always vote for the opposition, usually just a protest vote in Bpt where corruption rules. I wonder if he can get an AB ballot operation going?

  • Local Eyes

    Whereas Lee Samowitz once tried to make Black Rock a separate municipal entity, someone else has already made Black Rock a separate digital entity.
    www .BlackRockCTUSA.com

  • John Marshall Lee

    DTC candidates, you have piqued interest in my household this year. Spouse and I went to Registrar of Voters on Tuesday and moved from unaffiliated to the Democratic Party. We intend to vote in March. (What we shall do then is to return to the ROV office and return to Unaffiliated status. We have to be there 90 days before we could depart to any party to participate in a primary.) Wanted all to know what is possible in order to have a voice in candidate selection by extension or proxy.
    I know about half the candidates in some fashion however the only ones who have shown interest in my WATCHDOG efforts with Andy Fardy and Budget Oversight Bridgeport that benefits all Bridgeporters are: Foley, Fox, Gonzalez and Sullivan from the Challenge slate; and Cline, Mulligan and Larcheveque from the incumbent slate. That is only 7 of the 9 opportunities. Maybe Dan Roach, Hector Diaz, Edna Garcia or especially Lee Samowitz might want to reach out and share their municipal fiscal wisdom with us? Maybe some DTC aspirants would like to become really active and join in Budget Oversight Bridgeport 2014? We are an equal opportunity volunteer group. Let us know. Time will tell.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      Maybe you will step up to the plate to be interviewed for a City Council endorsement in the future. I won’t allow our TC to hand-pick just anyone. There must be an open process for all interested. We need a majority to do this. Time has told us the people are tired of the same old way of doing nothing. Welcome to the Party, JML and Mrs. Lee.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    “Do town committee members have a direct impact on taxes? Of course not, but they can impact taxes indirectly by the candidates they endorse for public office.”

    Lennie, I disagree to a large degree with your take. You are correct as far as indirect impact. The Democratic Town Committee members who work for the city and hold well-paying jobs are a huge problem to taxpayers who cover their pay. I am a City Employee, I’ve never and never will trade a vote for fear of losing my job or being given a better paying position or a no-show job. Take a look at the names of some of the candidates in some challenge slates and you’ll know who I’m talking about. The same goes for City Council members who hold or have relatives working for the City. Black Rock’s current Democratic Town Committee leader and the current City Councilwoman are the poster children for this problem. I have no interest in seeking a City Council seat in the 130th and there is no interest in the part of any of the members on our slate to do so as of now. I only wish there were more City Employees on the Democratic Town Committee with the guts and principles I have. Black Rock and the people living on my side of the district have the opportunity of a lifetime to do things different. Be Roach-free, VOTE Line C.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Joel,
    How would it be if the DTC (or RTC for that matter) made it their business to reach out to those who are new to the community, like a Welcome Wagon? Outreach on a regular basis can do wonders at election time. For newcomers to the 130th, many are older folks who have downsized and understand public service and party activity in other cities and towns. Compared to this the party machinery does nothing to or for them.

    Perhaps the parties might hold monthly meetings to promote an understanding of City governance practices, fiscal and taxing procedures, budget making, etc. Right away you would be grooming a serious group, even if it were a small group. It might be a catchy initiative. Time will tell.

  • Hector A. Diaz

    Mr. Lee, it’s your work on the budget that made me think you would be an excellent addition to our slate when we were putting it together. I would hope we could help each other in the future. We as a slate are committed to good governance and we have promised amongst ourselves those seeking our endorsements would have to REPRESENT THE IDEALS OF THE CONSTITUENTS THEY SERVE and not the interest of themselves or the administration. We have been gifted with just that scenario on the “solar panel” issue. Here we have an overwhelming amount of constituents who are opposed and no one from the sitting Democratic Town Comm. (except me) appeared for the public hearing. I’m sure if we were to do a straw vote most of the residents of Black Rock would be supporting Rick Torres right now, both Democrats and Republicans!

  • John Marshall Lee

    Hector,
    I have seen you to say hello but we have never had a serious conversation I remember about the issues I have been pecking away at for nearly five years now. That is a shame when you think about it.
    I hope I have been helping a number of people in the community without regard to party label. As long as OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT governance practices and processes are the goals I am happy to work with you. However, I have come to believe seeking an appointed or elected position will change the nature of my current work on behalf of citizens and taxpayers, so I have not responded to invitations and overtures.
    The change in the political culture necessary to reform Bridgeport is to know the demands of the Charter and Ordinances; to keep a good eye on what the Boards and Commissions are doing (do they wait for something to be referred to them or do they use scheduled meeting times to study and discuss how to make their areas better for the people?); and continue to require better fiscal responsibility, reporting on the internet and opportunities for the public to speak, be heard by their elected reps, and hear a response. Those are areas in need of lots of work in this City. Who among the DTC candidates have been forces for change in these areas in recent years? Time will tell.

  • Mojo

    *** I remember Mr. Lee from back in the day when he wanted Black Rock to split from Bpt and become another suburb of the town of Fairfield. That’s when the Black Rock line really started at Elmsworth St. with anything east of that considered Bpt! Hey where you from Mr. Lee, oh “Black Rock CT,” how’s about you? He had a quick temper and shot from the hip at times depending on the political subject; but I would rather have him on my side than against me, no doubt! In my district (131st) we ran a nine-member slate against the present local DTC two years ago but lost 2 to 1 due to the bogus A/Bs. This time around the overall resident interest was not there, especially when it’s like pulling teeth to get qualified “action speaks louder than words” candidates who understand it’s a short election period and you must hit the streets, spend a little money to get the word out and pull the active voters! Plus to make matters worse, new residents who are not registered or old residents who prefer to read the police log and sports pages in the paper over what’s happening in their city government, economic growth in the city, the editorial and opinions section or even local entertainment to boot! Sad but true, my district is not a squeaky wheel type of district where the residents are always looking for government oil to make things run smoothly, and our local political representatives know this and basically just go along with the Mayor and the usual City Hall programs ’cause it’s the easier thing to do, no? *** IT’S EASIER TO COMPLAIN YET DO NOTHING, THAN TO DO SOMETHING AND NOT COMPLAIN ***

    • John Marshall Lee

      Mojo,
      Thank you for clarifying “Mr. Lee” in your post is a reference to former State Representative Lee Samowitz, and not to me, John Marshall Lee. As long as I have been active on behalf of better governance practices and process in Bridgeport I have been an advocate for looking at matters from a City-wide perspective. After all, as Mayor Finch has been repeating for years now, we are small in area. When you combine that with the largest urban population in CT, density is an issue to address.
      When the Black Rock neighborhood looked at the potential for creating a Neighborhood Revitalization Zone we sought boundaries that far exceeded the south of Fairfield Ave and west of Ellsworth Ave “definition” sometime referenced. Today the NRZ has Board representation from PT Barnum and Captain’s Cove and has provided sidewalk improvements as well as bike trails connecting property south of I95.
      Change takes time but it comes at you even when it is resisted. I am happy to see long-time community service practitioners as well as some active newer faces in this contest. For those who win, I hope they practice OATs. For those who lose and are serious about public service, talk to me, and I will show you a way to serve and learn at budget time this year. For those in the 130th it will be a good viewing opportunity to see the Council co-chair of B&A at work. A chance to form an opinion based on observation of our budget process at work. Time will tell.

  • BallsyInBridgeport

    Rumor is Samowitz’ line C slate is being financially supported by Mario Testa. Can’t get more “machine” than that.

    • Bob

      Rumors are very difficult bells to UNRING. I’ve never known Mario to put his hand in his pocket for anyone. It’s usually the other way around.

    • Hector A. Diaz

      We have not raised ONE CENT from anyone, I reiterate, NOT ONE CENT FROM ANYONE!!!!!!!!! WHILE THE OTHER SLATE HAS HELD OR WILL HOLD “FUNDRAISERS,” WE HAVE DECIDED TO FUND OURSELVES. We have not committed to anyone but the constituents we will serve, for any position. For you to insinuate with no proof or reason is kinda, well … BALLSY.

    • Fluckarella

      Really, Auden?

      • BallsyInBridgeport

        Really, Fluck, I mean Sonny, I mean Jim? I guess endeavoring to indict Auden via innuendo is at a minimum a “tell” of your and potentially Line C’s lack of support for Auden, one of the BEST State Reps Black Rock has ever had. Coming out against Auden? REALLY, Jim? Good luck with that political strategy.

  • Mojo

    *** F. O. R. G. E. T.  A. B. O. U. T.  I. T. ***

  • BallsyInBridgeport

    * * C R I C K E T S * * from Line C speaks VOLUMES.

  • Hector A. Diaz

    HEY BALLSY, DID YA HEAR THAT? NOT ONE CENT??? NOT ONE PROMISE TO ANY OTHER ELECTED OR NOT ELECTED OR WANT TO BE ELECTED OFFICIAL. We are committed to the original ideals that have been lost for many years. You have three former State Reps. who served admirably during the days when Bridgeport was on an upswing. We know the why and the how. It starts with keeping your word.

  • Lake Forest Guy

    Maybe if Lee succeeds in lowering taxes he can finish his house.

  • Wingnut

    Lee lives up the street. Not in the house being shingled. MORON!

  • Local Eyes

    The challenge slate is mostly former pols for whom elected office is conquered territory while the new battleground has become the DTC. It seems the insurgents have politics ass-backwards, don’t it? I wonder what has emboldened these retreads upstarts to bang the pots and pans of local politics once again.

  • John Marshall Lee

    LE,
    There are actually some new faces along with retreads throughout the City process. Would I be too hopeful in thinking some of the “retreads” have learned something about what they either did or failed to do in terms of the duties of representation, legislating and improving the overall quality of life in Bridgeport? If so then DTC may be less afraid of the Wizard and more concerned about the candidates they select and support. Is that too much to hope for? And if they are new to this part of the political process and are younger, perhaps there is a young coat of idealism and optimism seeking facts and action before blindly supporting those in leadership.
    Those who are disappointed by the current operation of the BOE with the supposed majority WFP influence may need to look more closely at the important votes taken and see what is shaking out. Chair Sauda Baraka has been on the BOE the longest and that is certainly long enough for her to understand how “my way or the highway” or “slash and burn” process does not build strength in or respect for a body. Where are the priorities, maybe restricted to three, the BOE can pursue and let the Superintendent follow through? I am not sure they are looking towards that type of operation, but that seems to be what effective School Boards in CT pursue. And money as a measure of effectiveness is not the answer because all Boards fight with their communities about what can be done if only they had more money. Time will tell.

  • Local Eyes

    JML, your blogging abilities have been underappreciated for far too long. Your awesomeness goes unnoticed.
    If the second-chance gang is ready for another term and other insurgents feel bold enough to run, the discontent might be reaching a threshold but nobody is ever happy with their property taxes.
    (wink)

  • James Louloudes

    Some people called row “C” the crooks who didn’t get caught yet. Did not pay their city property taxes while holding public office and claim they had paid them. Wore a wire while talking to public officials mostly because they got caught doing something wrong themselves. Funny business with Colt building in Hartford. Who on row C is a drunk? Who wore a wire while talking to a developer who later went to jail?
    You overhear people saying things about row C at the Harborview market in Black Rock, all this gamesmanship for the DTC job, it is a sorry state of affairs on what is true and what is not true. Just a shame on what goes on now, can’t prove any of it, just hear the talk.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Another out-of-towner here to spread rumors and bullshit. Mr. Louloudes, do you have any prove of what you have written here or have you been asked by one of Finch’s people to write this garbage? What does the Colt building in Hartford have to do with the election in Bridgeport? Just so you know, Town Committee is not a job nor is it a paying position.
    You are calling people on Line C crooks and say they don’t pay taxes. Let me tell you this, you are like a little girl spreading rumors. There is not an iota of proof to brand the opposition to Finch and the DTC as crooks, deadbeats etc.
    Boy, as a Finch pissboy you failed. Do yourself a favor, go wire an outlet in Westport.

  • James Louloudes

    I will say it again. Vote Row “C” for crooks who haven’t gotten caught yet.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    James Louloudes, just a word so you understand what you are doing borders on illegal and slanderous. My wife is a candidate on Row C and is not a crook so what right do you have to say that? You should just read your cookbooks (how quaint) while you are at the Harborview and not listen to gossip although your charges of someone being a crook is a fantasy in your own mind that could cause you a lot of grief and money. BTW are you sure you want to still post lies without verification of facts?

  • James Louloudes

    Vote Row “C” for crooks who haven’t gotten caught yet.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    You really are an asshole.

  • careabout connecticut

    Although it is praiseworthy people like John Marshall Lee have taken the time to find overspending in Bridgeport’s budget, those findings only deal with part of the problem. Contrary to Lennie Grimaldi, former State Representative Lee Samowitz has focused like a laser on property tax problems. Most politicians avoid the fact Bridgeport ranks among the highest property tax burden in the nation and with the greatest disparity in Fairfield County between wealthy low-taxed towns and poor high-taxed cities. Samowitz wants to run for the Democratic Town Committee because he wants to make sure our elected officials do all they can to focus on this problem. It is not glory or profit that drives him, but a sincere desire to bring about change and help the people in the City of Bridgeport. Many knowledgeable Bridgeport residents appreciate he wants to get back involved. You don’t have to be Albert Einstein to understand if we continue on the same dumb path, we keep getting the same dumb result. If the Democrats in Black Rock want to give the politicians a free pass on continuing high property taxes even if we put off re-evaluation, then they should continue voting for the status quo, but if they want change they should get out and elect Lee Samowitz and vote “Line C for Change” this Tuesday March 4th in the Democratic 130th Town Committee Primary.

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