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Budget-stressed City Seeks Financial Guidance

October 29th, 2016 · 97 Comments · City Budget, City Council, Library, News and Events

Mayor Joe Ganim is implementing a suggestion by State Rep. Steve Stafstrom to create a financial task force to serve as an adviser for long-term fiscal stability.

CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart has more on this.

The city has high taxes. Just ask the hundreds of furious residents, many from the waterfront Black Rock neighborhood, who confronted the mayor and City Council over the summer.

The city also has plenty of budget challenges. Just ask Moody’s, the credit rating agency which recently warned Bridgeport’s “stable” finances are threatened by debt, pension and retirement health care costs.

And Mayor Joe Gainim has three years left in this term, and three more budgets to balance.

So the administration is seeking some outside advice from a loose “task force” of still-to-be named members.

Full story here.

Meanwhile, the community action group Citizens Working For A Better Bridgeport conducted a forum on Saturday presenting a sobering city financial picture.

News release from the organization:

The city of Bridgeport has only $223 million available to pay $1.9 billion worth of bills, leaving it with a $1.7 billion financial hole, according to a new independent analysis by the Truth in Accounting (TIA) think tank. The findings were released at a public forum today at the Bridgeport Public Library hosted by Citizens Working for Better Bridgeport Action Network. More than 100 Bridgeport residents turned out for the event, representing all parts of the city and a mix of political views and affiliations. Many expressed anger and frustration over their taxes and lack of real concern or response by elected officials.

Each taxpayer’s share of Bridgeport’s debt is $32,400, according to TIA. This “taxpayer burden” is the amount each Bridgeport taxpayer would have to pay the city’s treasury in order for Bridgeport to pay off its debt and discharge its other financial obligations. Bridgeport’s taxpayer burden is among the highest in the country and it has grown from $29,600 in 2012, the last year for which TIA calculations are available.

“Fortunately the Administration was able to balance the fiscal 2016 budget. However, Bridgeport has serious structural financial and competitiveness challenges that have grown worse over many years and must be addressed to create a better future,” said former U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker, a Bridgeport resident. “Bridgeport needs a comprehensive and credible plan to grow the city’s tax base faster than its budget.”

The TIA report–titled “The Financial State of Bridgeport”–also found that while Bridgeport is now reporting most of its pension debt, the city continues to hide a lot of its unfunded retirement obligations. The city’s hidden retiree health care obligation totals $819.2 million.

“We need truthful and transparent accounting, or we will pay the price later,” said State Senator Marilyn Moore, a Democrat who represents Bridgeport, Monroe and Trumbull. “These numbers presented here today are frightening. Bridgeport’s budget shortfalls will eventually fall on the back of taxpayers, either through additional taxes, continued education cuts, or fewer government programs. We must work together to address our finances in a manner that is transparent and truthful.”

Mayor Joseph P. Ganim and all other Bridgeport elected officials–including six State Representatives and 20 City Council members–were invited to participate in the Citizens Forum. Besides Senator Moore, the other elected officials in attendance were State Senator Ed Gomes, State Representative Steve Stafstrom and Bridgeport City Council Member Scott Burns.

Bridgeport’s Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Flatto spoke about the recent balancing of the city’s budget and pending economic development activity, while acknowledging that the city is facing some financial challenges.

John Marshall Lee, a fiscal watchdog who is a regular presence at Bridgeport City Council meetings, called for an honest budget. “Just look at the Police Department,” he said. “It has about 350 personnel, not 478 ‘filled’ positions as the budget claims. Those added positions won’t be filled this year. And in just three months, the approved police budget of $102 million is projected to be $109.5 million. What’s going on? When he was elected, the Mayor vowed to govern in an accountable, open manner. How does that fit with phony budgeting? And how can the public know what is happening each month when financial reports are not available online?”

“Mayor Ganim failed to keep his campaign promise to ‘hold the line’ on taxes,” said Phil Blagys, a CW4BB cofounder whose family has lived in Bridgeport for over 100 years. “These continued mil rate increases mean higher and higher property taxes plus reduced property values. Bridgeport has become a less attractive place to live and have a business. I worry for our future.”

Truth in Accounting (TIA) has analyzed government financial reporting since 2002. More information: truthinaccounting.org

More information about CW4BB Action Network: betterbridgeport.com

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97 Comments so far ↓

  • Local Eyes

    Not enough. I am to the right of CW4BB. A financial task force is a weak, time-consuming approach to a serious problem. Bridgeport needs retroactive oversight now!
    Pensions are the Achilles Heel of municipal government. Defined benefit plans mean a defined liability to the city. They also discriminate against 401(K) plans because they transfer risk and place municipal workers ahead of their private-sector counterparts. The issue is risk. Current policies remove risk from pensioners and put it on future taxpayers. In addition, success is not determined by the passage of time, it’s determined by performance.

    • Ron Mackey

      Do away with pensions and health benefits and in turn pay the employees that money to them weekly and let them purchase their own benefits and pensions. Employees then could form their own organization with their own provider and management team. There are many unions that run their employees’ pensions and health benefits programs.

      • Lisa Parziale

        I attended the forum Saturday hosted by CW4BB and Senator Moore. The forum was informative and I’m sure accurate since, although I’m not a financial expert I believe Dave Walker is, I further believe in his integrity and intentions. The substance of the forum was one you might expect to hear in a corporate board room, with experienced members in attendance. It was technical and to the average person like me, a little hard to follow. JML and Ken Flatto brought it down a little and then it became more understandable, and justified. While I agree that financial input could be beneficial, if the Mayor decides at some point to consider this suggestion, it should consist of knowledgeable members. I agree Bruce Hubler would be an asset. However, it shouldn’t be top-heavy, it should include serious thought and inclusion of all areas of Bridgeport. By that I mean a well thought out search, if possible with recommendations from City leaders who have practical and political knowledge of the City. This is not a panel that should be hastily put together, and not utilized at the appropriate time. I believe the Mayor would entertain suggestions, but they must come from trusted individuals such as Bruce Hubler and others of his ilk throughout the City. While this concept began in Black Rock, it does not belong to Black Rock. Without an inclusive panel, task force, whatever you want to call it, it will have no success unless the entire City can embrace and understand the hot spots. I notice this suggestion comes from Steve Stafstrom, and a large picture of Danny Roach is at the top of the commentary, where are other advocates who represent the many other areas of Bridgeport? Where are members of our minority community? Is anyone concentrating on how they feel regarding this suggestion? This is not about Black Rock alone, yet I see nothing indicating it goes beyond Black Rock. I also find it ironic that in an election cycle, Steve Stafstrom has reached out to the Mayor, joined by Danny Roach, a Black Rock district leader. This is so obvious if it weren’t so sad, I’d have a good laugh at the move. For ten years of G1′s term, I gave him some good advice, sometimes he actually took it, and sometimes he didn’t. I don’t believe the Mayor reads this great blog, but members of his administration do, so I say proceed with caution, don’t set the Mayor up for more criticism if this oversight board is created in a manner not to be accepted by the voters of Bridgeport, and fails. We have a population of 60 to 65% minority residents, perhaps more, they must have representation. With the exception of Senator Moore, Senator Gomes, who wasn’t even asked to comment, and perhaps four other minority people, the room consisted of white, mostly Black Rock individuals. This is not acceptable, this shows CW4BB doesn’t, at this point, have the ability or know how to get their message out of Black Rock.

      • John Marshall Lee

        Ron, accurate and on target. At the moment we have been bound by “players” both City management and union representatives who have been happy with the status quo so they have gone about their business counting on the taxpayer meeting the bill, no matter how ridiculous the result.
        Quick reference to the Police Department budget, packed as it is with opportunity for overtime (management???), a current retirement plan that counts overtime income in retirement results (why was that necessary, management?) and has the “huge” necessary increase in pension payments due to MERS overtime-related retirement income to plan costs!!! And that must be met almost exclusively by taxpayers, not utility and road paving companies, because of Union Contract language!!! The unions do not want a cutback in earned overtime. The Police Union handcuffed City fiscal managers and who in labor relations was responsible for that? How much did all that cost??? And where do the folks getting the big retirement payouts reside? Time will tell.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Lisa Parziale does not live in Black Rock. Marilyn Moore does not live in Black Rock. Ed Gomes does not live in Black Rock. Ken Flatto does not live in Black Rock and I was happy he was present, made some comments on behalf of the administration and stayed for some response as well, a kind of repartee, common to forums, but most unusual in City hearings and meetings, unfortunately.

    And there were more folks of various ages and ethnicities from different parts of the City because they were represented by the truth being spoken about our fiscal condition, and they knew it when they heard it.

    “We know where we want to be,” said Danny Roach, Ganim’s chief of staff. “It’s a question of how we get there.” According to the CT Post article, this quote from Dan Roach, definitely a Black Rock resident, is honest and accurate. Perhaps Dan can get the Mayor and his cabinet to tell the taxpayers where “they” are headed, where “they” want us to be. For months I have been asking Mayor Ganim to disclose his major issues and priorities. Has that question ever received an answer??? How do you review “ways to get there” when there is no clarity in the goal, objective, mission statement, or whatever passes for such in the Mayor’s office??? But Dan Roach was not there to listen, and only one Council person was present who does live in Black Rock, thank you Scott Burns. But the author of the article, Brian Lockhart, made the deadline for the newspaper article with a watered-down version of the behind the scenes tussle for more citizen input though he does not live in Black Rock though he was invited to the event. Interesting that in his article certain names of active informed Bridgeport residents are absent from the list discussed in the Stafstrom concept. By the way, in addition to all Council members, Mayor Ganim was invited and he did not attend. He does not live in Black Rock. Or does he now? Does anyone know where the Mayor of the largest City in the State resides these days with his favorite dog Duke? Time will tell.

    • Lisa Parziale

      John, in my opinion you made the gathering worth my while and understanding. You are genuinely a part of the very few willing to give your time, expertise and enjoyable company to all. With that said I beg to differ with you, I sat near the door and watched every single person who entered the room. There was a small scattering of faces I didn’t recognize, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. FYI, even with the benefit of the doubt, I would estimate maybe 1% of those in attendance didn’t live in Black Rock. BTW, it doesn’t bother me one bit that it has been a predominately Black Rock movement, I’ve said many times everything starts somewhere, but when does the rest of the City feel comfortable enough to join the movement? With the exception of you, the founding fathers of CW4BB don’t have any intellectual capacity when it comes to the political process and how it must be followed in order to be successful. In fact, I’m now aware of a stoic insensitivity on behalf of most of them. One parent, the only one present, asked a question regarding finances and how they were applied to the BOE, well she was given an answer that took about ten seconds, and it never addressed her question. She was dismissed as if she were an annoyance to such a sophisticated forum. A State Senator was merely acknowledged as being present, never invited to make a few comments, and when I brought it to the attention of one of the founding fathers, I was disrespected with an answer a ten-year-old would make. The Senator BTW dismissed it and made it clear to me he was not there to speak. Now do you get my point John? They have no political correctness, they have a message, but they don’t know how to deliver it. After this election is over, Steve Stafstrom will go back to Hartford to continue the good work he’s been doing for Black Rock and my district, part of the 132nd. Off point a sec, I picked up over 50 absentee applications on his behalf, I’m not on the TC or the CC, but I know what a politician must do. I like Steve, and I still like Danny Roach, but this is the biggest political show I’ve seen in awhile. They’ll be ghosts after the election!

      • Gage Frank

        Lisa, I was right next to both of you. Sen. Gomes was there to attend the meeting. State Senator Moore, who was on the agenda to speak, spoke to the crowd. Why are you so mad?

        And on the topic of acknowledging elected officials: I don’t see Maria Pereira complaining when they didn’t acknowledge her BoE seat.

        • Lisa Parziale

          Frank, I don’t think it’s any of your business why I felt Senator Gomes was slighted by individuals who have no political understanding of what an honor it is to have someone who devoted decades of his life to public service; he also happens to be an incumbent elected official who represents a less affluent portion of the City than Black Rock. He took the time to attend, he should have been not only acknowledged, but asked to say a few words. I rest my case. This what happens when politically inexperienced people attempt to appeal to politicians who can further their cause. Remember one thing Frank, no one will ever take the politics out of politics. Those who serve should be respected, whether we like them or not. It’s one thing to be critical on this blog, I’m as guilty as anyone, but in the presence of a person elected by the voters, respect the office.

      • Andrew C Fardy

        Lisa, no surprise here. This is a group of elitist people who basically look down at everybody else. Early on my wife (who basically wrote the Master Plan with Nancy Hadley) and myself were invited to be members of one of the committees. Funny we never got a call. There is only one real worker in that group and that’s JML. Blagys and Walker are BS artists with doctoral degrees.

        • Frank Gyure

          Respectfully, there is no “elitism” in CW4BB. It’s a group of people who are trying to make a difference. Nobody is perfect but if we start working together, much more can be done.

  • Jimfox

    Thelma & Louise
    I keep having this recurring dream, its based on the movie Thelma & Louise, instead of Thelma & Louise,
    it’s Joe & Ken driving that 1966 Thunderbird convertible and I’m in the back seat with the Beacon Street boys, or the gloom and doom bothers (JML & Dave Walker) and we’re being pursued by the Police and Fire pensioners. So we’re in the flucking back seat yelling, watch out for the cliff! Watch out for the cliff! Joe keeps yelling back to us, it’s okay! it’s okay! Danny Roach told me there’s a bridge ahead! As the T-bird hits 100 miles an hour, the = Beacon Street Boys yell out it’s too late! It’s to late! It’s the Stevie Stafstrom flucking five million dollar walking bridge!
    Then I wake up in a cold sweat and I can’t get back to sleep.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Only the tip of the Bridgeport-economic dilemma iceberg was exposed at the CWFBB forum.

    Our cash flow situation and long-term liability situations were clearly presented. Our need to expand our tax base to keep pace with our cash flow demands was also acknowledged.

    But really, the financial review board and the related spending/budget transparency are not going to do much more than give frustrated taxpayer/citizens confirmation of what they already know. This forum, a good thing, in that it brought Bridgeporters together to focus on long-standing economic/financial problems and brought some clarity to a situation long perceived by taxpayer-citizens, really didn’t do anything to move our city where it needs to go.

    The enormous amount of tax-base development we need to move us out of the failing-city/overtaxed-populace zone wasn’t really acknowledged. We need many BILLION$ in new tax base to bring us back to fiscal/socioeconomic health. The G2 Administration is utterly failing to take us in the right direction, much less at the necessary speed, in this regard. JML asked questions about what “all our new economic development” really means for taxpayers, and he didn’t get an answer from Ken Flatto. He didn’t get an answer because all the development amounts to a negative tax situation for Bridgeporters. All taxpayer subsidized, tax base devaluing development. All THE NEW DEVELOPMENT ANNOUNCED BY G2 THIS PAST WEEK IS RECYCLED FINCH ADMINISTRATION, TAXPAYER SUBSIDIZED, REGION-SERVING DEVELOPMENT THAT WILL ONLY INCREASE OUR TAX AND ENERGY BILLS OVER THE LONG TERM.

    THIS CITY IS NOT BEING SERVED BY COMPETENT POLITICAL REPRESENTATION OR ADMINISTRATION. WE ARE NOT HEADED IN A POSITIVE DIRECTION. OUR CITY’S COURSE IS NOT BEING DIRECTED BY A COMPETENTLY CONCEIVED, PROGRESSIVE PLAN OF DEVELOPMENT DESIGNED TO SERVE OUR CITY AND ITS CITIZENS. OUR CITY IS NOT BEING ADMINISTERED DILIGENTLY OR COMPETENTLY.

    BRIDGEPORT IS IN TROUBLE ON ALL FRONTS.

    THE PEOPLE OF BRIDGEPORT NEED TO STOP INFIGHTING. WE CAN’T AFFORD TO HAVE INTERNECINE POLITICAL STRIFE BETWEEN NEIGHBORHOODS. THE NASCENT MOVEMENT STARTED BY THE CW4BB IS THE ONLY INDEPENDENT GAME IN TOWN AND NEEDS TO BE GIVEN A CLEAR MISSION, STRUCTURE AND SUPPORT. BLACK ROCK MUST ACKNOWLEDGE ALL OTHER PARTS OF BRIDGEPORT AND THEIR INTERESTS, AND LIKEWISE FOR ALL THE OTHER NEIGHBORHOODS AND BLACK ROCK, AND EACH OTHER.

    THE CW4BB NEEDS TO REACH OUT BROADLY IN AN ACCOMMODATING MANNER AND DEVELOP A COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS OF BRIDGEPORT’S SOCIOECONOMIC AND GOVERNMENTAL NEEDS AND A PLAN TO MEET THOSE NEEDS AS THEY DEVELOP THE LOBBYING AND POLITICAL CAPACITY TO EXECUTE THAT PLAN.

    IF THE GANIM ADMINISTRATION IS SMART, THEY WILL ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR SHORTCOMINGS AND SEEK TO WORK COOPERATIVELY WITH A DEVELOPING CW4BB MOVEMENT.

    BRIDGEPORT NEEDS TO GET MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION IN A HURRY. RIGHT NOW, IT WOULD SEEM THE CW4BB IS THE ONLY AVAILABLE VEHICLE TO PROVIDE THE POLITICAL “TRANSPORTATION.” WE HAD ALL BETTER PUT OUR NEIGHBORHOOD AND POLITICAL PRIDE/JEALOUSIES ASIDE AND DETERMINE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF AN OPPORTUNITY TO WORK TOGETHER FOR REAL BRIDGEPORT PROGRESS. IF WE DON’T DO THIS, BIG TAX INCREASES, REDUCED SERVICES, FAILING SCHOOLS AND UNCHECKED CRIME ARE ON OUR HORIZON. BRIDGEPORT HAS NO MORE TIME TO WASTE ON ACCOMMODATING THE SCHEMES AND DREAMS OF NEIGHBORHOOD AND CITY-LEVEL POLITICAL INCOMPETENTS. PRAGMATIC CHANGE HAS TO BE IMPLEMENTED IN ALL ASPECTS OF BRIDGEPORT’S POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC LIFE, IN A HURRY. WE CAN’T COUNT ON THE SUPPORT OF OUR FAILING STATE GOVERNMENT MUCH LONGER. WE HAVE TO REALIZE WE ARE REALLY ON OUR OWN, WITH NO REGIONAL OR STATE-LEVEL FRIENDS. OUR POLITICAL CAPITAL AND MUNICIPAL RESOURCES MUST BE PUT TO WORK FOR BRIDGEPORT, THE REGION AND THE STATE BE DAMNED! TIME TO GET MOVING! TIME TO GET TOUGH! GIVE THE CW4BB A CHANCE.

    • Frank Gyure

      Jeff, FANTASTIC COMMENTS. EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS. One thing I would say is Bridgeport cannot get out of the mess we are in without State and Federal Assistance. There is no way we can do this on our own. What IS lacking is citywide participation in the non-election activities of citizen/resident participation with the goal of GOOD GOVERNANCE.

    • Dave Walker

      Jeff,
      Well said and very constructive.
      Thanks, Dave

  • Maria Pereira

    I thoroughly enjoyed the event. I met some lovely new people and learned quite a bit.

    As an observer, not an organizer of the event, it was clearly well attended, however there needs to be more outreach to the minority community.

    This is a marathon, not a sprint.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Well my friend Maria, you’re finally starting to take some valuable advice I impart to you, “This is a marathon not a sprint.” Now let’s work on the rest.

  • Ron Mackey

    Lisa, you said, “where are other advocates who represent the many other areas of Bridgeport? Where are members of our minority community? Is anyone concentrating on how they feel regarding this suggestion? This is not about Black Rock alone, yet I see nothing indicating it goes beyond Black Rock,” well, as you know I’ve been saying this for a long time and nothing has changed. Then in a later post you said, “With the exception of you, the founding fathers of CW4BB don’t have any intellectual capacity when it comes to the political process and how it must be followed in order to be successful. In fact, I’m now aware of a stoic insensitivity on behalf of most of them.” BINGO!!! I’m glad you are saying this instead of myself because coming from a black man it wouldn’t go over but from you Lisa, it has more weight on that group. They had both State Senators from here sitting there and they asked only one of them to speak, how dumb, Senator Ed Gomes was totally disrespected, thank goodness Senator Moore was asked to speak and they wonder why more blacks are not attending their events, just keep on disrespecting someone who is highly respected like State Senator Ed Gomes.

  • Tom White

    I regret I could not attend the forum. My compliments to CW4BB for reaching out to citizens and to those who attended and contributed information.
    I find it sadly amusing some people feel the low attendance by ‘minorities’ was somehow the fault of CW4BB. In reality, the minority population of Bridgeport was represented; taxpayers.
    It will be interesting to see who are appointed to this ‘financial task force.’ Dave Walker? John Lee? Will one of the recommendations be a financial oversight arrangement? How about reverting to a finance board rather than the city council pretending to understand what they are doing?

    • Lisa Parziale

      Ron, to your comments, I’ve attended at least five meetings of this group to determine myself what they’re about, how they progress, what their plan was to expand into Bridgeport common, and to see if it was a group I believed could penetrate the political glass wall. Well after Saturday, my initial reservations proved to be correct. They have the know-how, good ideas, and I don’t detect any ulterior motives, however they lack the most important element for succeeding in their goal. People skills are first and foremost when you embark on a mission that involves real people and real politicians. As of Saturday, in my opinion, they failed. Now to Tom White, you should have made it your business to attend that forum, you unlike me would have had an instant grasp of the complexities discussed, and in addition a first-hand look at the stoic, dry way in which the forum was conducted. As to the lack of minority attendance, I’ll bet the ranch there was no attempt to reach out to persuade our minority communities their involvement and input is critical to the success of possible change. So don’t shoot from the hip with your comments, you’re off the grid on this one. BTW, I haven’t seen you at any of the five or six meetings I attended. In fact, I suggested to the group they reach out to you and Andy Fardy because you’re both more informed than people realize. Did you get a call?

    • Ron Mackey

      Tom White, that sounds just like you, that you “find it sadly amusing some people feel the low attendance by ‘minorities’ was somehow the fault of CW4BB. In reality, the minority population of Bridgeport was represented; taxpayers.” Bridgeport is over 70% people of color but there were very few minorities at the event, so you’re telling us “In reality, the minority population of Bridgeport was represented; taxpayers.” So I’m sure you would feel the same way if the majority of those who were at that meeting were people of color, then you would say whites of Bridgeport are being represented; taxpayers, right Tom?

  • Tom White

    Lisa. The website for CW4BB clearly states what the organization is. The forum was a presentation of facts. Given the impact of the City’s finances on homeowners, the forum attracted taxpayers who are concerned the taxes on their property are unreasonable and are looking for something to establish hope.
    The outreach for attendance appears to be whoever has expressed interest and concern about honest representation of city finances as stated on the CW4BB website. The focus is on the facts and the options to deal with them.
    I was reminded about attending. I declined because having a candidate for office as a guest speaker is contrary to the stated non-partisan position of CW4BB.
    As usual, Ron Mackey sees outreach and participation as a quota system.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Tom, a website is not going to do it, and you are smart and savvy enough to know that. I took the time to write a note to one one the forum leaders that the Republican Town Chair and the Republican Registrar were in the audience. In my mind, that should have merited at least an acknowledgement, nope! They didn’t ask to be mentioned, but I felt the leader of the Republican Party and the Registrar were worth mentioning. They can take all the facts and options and file them somewhere until they learn unless you know how to navigate through the political weeds, well Good Luck!!!

    • Ron Mackey

      No quota system, in fact I hope CW4BB does exactly what you’re saying, don’t do any outreach and participation of people of color and they will have no one to blame but themselves because they will get nothing done. I mean after all they are only people of color and Tom White and CW4BB have no need to reach out to them.

      • Lisa Parziale

        Ron my sweet friend, our minority population wouldn’t be fooled for ten minutes by Pete Spain and his friends. It’s the “ready to please” white ones, furiously fighting to keep their fortunes, that go for this oke doke. I really tried to engage, find something redeemable to pass on, but my gut kept saying “what.” I gave up a couple of hours of my work time to be in attendance, thank God I did because I would not have had the awakening I had if I weren’t there.

  • Donald Day

    Lisa, I concur with your observations that it was certainly a slight to State Senator Gomes that he was not asked to say a few words because he did take the time out of his busy life to attend and HE is a State Senator who the residents of Black Rock depend upon bringing substance to their agenda. Was Senator Gomes not asked to speak because his senatorial district covers a proliferation of blacks and Puerto Ricans?

    The CW4BB is a one-trick pony whose only agenda is the taxes they pay for their homes. Where were they for the BBOE meetings when it comes to educating and financing the education of the black and brown children of Bridgeport, where are they when it comes to keeping the police and fire department jobs with Bridgeport residents, which would greatly benefit the black and Puerto Rican communities, where are they when it comes to other quality of life issues that affect the black and brown people of Bridgeport? They will never grab the attention of the black and Puerto Rican communities until they can show a genuine interest in the problems our people face on a day-to-day basis. They say they would love to have inclusion, but that inclusion is only for their issues and/or agenda and to hell with the issues that plague the black and Puerto Rican communities.

    CW4BB will never capture the imagination, the hearts or the minds of blacks and Puerto Ricans in Bridgeport until they are able to look beyond their own agendas and biases.

    • Ron Mackey

      Don, let me say this about Ed Gomes, as a staff worker for the United Steel Workers of America Ed was on the real front line for workers, he has the scars and stitches on his head for leading his union members in strikes during the 1980s for better working conditions and for better pay, there is no one around who matches his leadership in helping others for such a long time. Here you have person like Ed sitting there as a State Senator and he’s not asked to participate in the meeting, that’s sad.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Donald Day, my friend, will you tell me who has confronted the 20 elected Council representatives more times in the past six months about the Ganim2 failure to assist the budget woes of the Board of Education, if not me? I spoke at each of the four or five hearings on operating and capital budgets and raised the educational needs. I have spoken at recent semi-monthly Council meetings on the same subject since SURPRISING revenue surpluses from State of CT sharing of sales tax revenues are flowing to Bridgeport.

      I have been a part of CW4BB from the beginning and the views on education funding are not my own alone. Who else is attempting to take the eyes of the public away from people and put them on issues, factual issues that tell a story, often very different from the one the City fathers employ spin meisters to tell with our own tax dollar??? Last week Tom Gill proudly announced $1.5 Billion of projects in some detail, but failed to tell us what tax dollars will flow as City revenue in 2018, 2019, and so on net of abatements, loss of existing revenues from the current gas plant, etc. Why was the bottom line avoided?
      The City has had a capacity to communicate the monthly financial reports to the public by internet email for at least five years and does so to the City Council members. Why is the taxpaying public disrespected by not posting it for download in its current reduced executive summary format?
      If the BOE can show operating revenues and expenses, including the number of employees by department and location and in addition show grant funds and what is supported, why does the City fail to fully institute OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT and HONEST reporting and governance?? Will those of you who converse with the Mayor and his team prepare an answer for those who are not in said favor? Does the Mayor want those who question the location of his residence to know where Duke and he live? Let all of us know, please. Time will tell.

      • Lisa Parziale

        JML, please keep doing what you’re doing, if you only knew how much admiration you’ve attained. You’re approachable and sincere; keep up the good work because you’ll be surprised how one of these days you will be embraced by the naysayers. I would never discourage your association with Pete Spain, but stay your own man, Pete is merely tolerated, you are accepted.

    • Frank Gyure

      Donald Day, most of your statement is simply wrong and off base. Adding the race card does not help, either.

  • Pete Spain

    Lisa Parziale,
    You’ve attended three meetings of the CW4BB Action Network over a span of three months.

    From the meeting notes, when we’ve discussed citywide outreach efforts, you have not been on record offering solutions or even help beyond some poster-handling or known-constituent outreach around Brooklawn. Mostly you’ve mentioned how busy and overtasked you are with ABs. Okay. We didn’t berate you for this. We appreciated what you had to offer and we let you know this.

    My memory (not in the notes because irrelevant to our meetings) is that you typically hearkened back to a golden age of Bridgeport politics in which you loomed large over things. You were a big deal; you wanted all of us to know. Okay.

    Now, in late 2016, the Mission of CW4BB Action Network is as follows:
    We are a non-partisan organization working to promote long-term financial stability and economic vitality for the City of Bridgeport.

    We seek practical, fact-based, and substantive solutions to the City’s most critical financial and governance issues. Our actions and recommendations are inspired by the need to dramatically enhance the City’s reputation as a place to live, work, invest and thrive. We believe responsible fiscal management and innovative solutions are the foundation for future success.

    We’re committed to honesty, transparency, objectivity and accuracy in our analyses and recommendations. We embrace inclusivity of viewpoints to reach solutions that transcend geographic and political boundaries.

    We invite all to join as we strive to restore financial health, competitive stature and quality of life to Connecticut’s largest city.

    betterbridgeport.com/index.php/about-us

    I am proud of the CW4BB Action Network and its outstanding volunteers. I’m proud and they’re proud too of what we brought to the October 29th citizens forum and shared with over 100 stakeholders in Bridgeport who attended the event. The feedback was positive. But yes, there’s room for improvement.

    I was the emcee of the Oct 29th citizens forum on our city’s financial challenges and opportunities because two more suitable people to emcee were unavailable. I have apologized to anyone I may have unwittingly slighted by not asking them to speak. Without exception, each person has told me, in effect, there was no problem, thank you for the forum.

    Senator Moore’s note to us after our first forum was very encouraging to us all:
    “It was truly a community effort. Honored to be a part of such a well planned and executed event.”

    Regarding those who missed the October 29th forum on our city’s financial challenges and opportunities.

    First, the headline was this: “Independent Analysis of Bridgeport Finances Finds City’s Bills Exceed its Assets by $1.7 billion.”

    betterbridgeport.com/index.php/know-the-issues/press-releases

    Those dollars don’t care if you’re African American, Asian American, Hispanic, Finish American, tall, short, angry, comfortably numb or a PhD. Those dollars must be paid out by Bridgeport.

    It’s not political theater or the politics of cynicism to ask, “How?” In a word, it’s math.

    The discussion of the public and the speakers was excellent and got to some of the “how?” and math questions. Yes, there’s room for opportunities and improvement, in terms of our city’s fiscal challenges, and also in terms of greater turnout and a more diverse audience for future forums.

    While the audience did not reflect the demographic makeup of our diverse city, your 1% Black Rock claim is off, way off. And why? What do you gain by mischaracterizing? Whose interests does that serve?

    Some of our most active contributors live outside Black Rock. Additionally, of over 50 surveys we received, more than 20 were from respondents whose zip code in Bridgeport is outside 06605. Moreover, groups such as Bridgeport Generation Now, CTCore-Organize Now!, the NAACP, and the Greater Bridgeport Latino Network had leaders on hand who engaged and were excited by the forum, and are seeking more discussion with the public.

    As for your actions at the forum: When I introduced the elected officials in the room, I then asked aloud if there were any elected officials I’d missed. Why not speak up then, Lisa? Were you even in the room? My apologies to Maria Pereira for not recognizing her as an elected member of the BOE. She seemed unfazed by my omission. During the public discussion, Maria spoke up eloquently and persuasively. People I heard from after the meeting, with no prompting from me, were impressed by Maria Pereira; they were impressed by her knowledge and in how she diplomatically offered a continued discussion on education at a future time with David Walker. Good.

    When the October 29th citizens forum was well underway, you, Lisa, came to the front of the room and handed me, emceeing the forum, a blue booklet with two names and positions scrawled on the back. I could read the first one; but the other I could not make out. Emceeing as I was, I made a mental note that if the opportunity arose during the agenda-set meeting, I would also acknowledge at least the name I could read, Mike Garret’s. I take the blame for not getting the chance to recognize Mike. I later apologized to him. He said he didn’t care. The public had questions and issues to discuss. The presenters, including the last-minute addition of Ken Flatto (a positive), were presenting. I facilitated and listened, including to, among others, Elder Brown (African American), Pastor EL Smallwood (African American), Joanne Kennedy (African American), Senator Moore … We will have a video on betterbridgeport.com soon of the Oct 29th forum, so those who are interested can watch and judge its value for themselves.

    Now about good Senator Gomes, whom we did not disrespect, despite the baseless claims of you, Ron Mackey and Donald Day.

    The flyer and agenda for our forum was made available to Senator Moore who was in charge of inviting the legislative delegation weeks in advance. She did us an enormous favor by inviting her seven colleagues and in attending and speaking. We were pleased to have her, Senator Gomes, and State Rep Stafstrom in attendance. She kindly took charge of being the voice of the delegation in the interest of our agenda and the time we had, so we could include plenty of time for public discussion. During public discussion, neither State Rep Stafstrom nor Senator Gomes spoke.

    It was during the public comments you came up to me at the head table again, just as I was about to hand the mic to a resident with an issue to discuss … and whispered frantically in my ear, “Ed has to speak. Let Ed speak.”

    As emcee, I handed the mic to the citizen, and then turned to go out to the antechamber of the main library hall to see what this was all about. I encountered you, Senator Gomes, and Gage Frank. Those two men will confirm what I’m about to say: You suddenly escalated things, telling me we had to have Ed to add to the mix of speakers. I patiently listened, a bit preoccupied by the thought that I was in the middle of emceeing a well-planned forum, planned and approved by more than 10 volunteers who’d committed a lot to it. I then said to you that of course Senator Gomes was welcome to speak. You stated, “Don’t get hissy with me!” And I then realized you were having an episode beyond normal human behavior. I stepped back and said in a normal voice, “Lisa, I think you’re the one who’s getting hissy here.” I then turned to Senator Gomes, told him of my respect for him and how I’d canvassed and worked outside polls for him in sub-freezing weather. He seemed to know who I was. After all, we’d been with him and you at the 138th Forum. I repeated that we’d love to have him speak if that’s what he wished to do. He kindly smiled, told me he didn’t wish to speak, that he’d come to support Senator Moore.

    Neither Senator Gomes nor Senator Moore felt disrespected or mistreated. I have verified that.

    But I guess you and Ron Mackey, whom I personally had invited to the forum more than once and also to our community conversation at the Crooks Center at PT Barnum, know more about what the two Senators think and feel than they themselves do. How intriguing.

    I wish you well. I won’t trash your efforts if they’re to try to make our city a little better than it now is, especially in terms of priorities identified on surveys handed in by Bridgeport stakeholders who attended the forum: our city’s fiscal health, economic development, our public schools, opportunities for skill-building and employment, aid for seniors being effectively pushed out of their homes by the 29% mil rate increase, public safety, and more public discussion with knowledgeable people and elected officials (not mutually exclusive groups). We seek citizen collaborations for the greater good. That, here on OIB, you decided to dump on all of us volunteers who tried and failed in your eyes is your decision. We will do better without such.

    Pete Spain
    Chair, Citizens Working for Better Bridgeport Action Network

    • Lisa Parziale

      Pete, go take a chill pill, you’re not in 5th grade anymore. You’re whining like a child. Read my next post in response to the truth!

    • Ron Mackey

      Pete, who are Bridgeport Generation Now, CTCore-Organize Now and who are their leaders and what have they done?

    • flicka

      Pete Spain, you are my hero! Please don’t let political retreads bring you down. Although it seems only the same five or six people comment here, I believe hundreds read this blog because we are so starved for news. Please stay at it. Real honest people don’t need their egos fluffed at every event.

      Also, go donj! You are another hero to me!

  • Donald Day

    JML my man, when I used CW4BB it wasn’t about you or any other individual as a member, it was about what CW4BB should be as an organization. As an organization they can put 300 at a council meeting or 100 or so at this meeting, why can’t the organization as a whole put 100 or so at a BBOE meeting to fight for something that benefits primarily blacks and Puerto Ricans?

    Again, to capture the imagination, the hearts and the minds of the black and Latino communities they, as an organization, have to look beyond their agendas and biases.

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      Donald, I completely understand what you are saying, one very important part of improving the schools is full funding. The big picture is, the city does not, has not responsibly allocated any and all funds, which is a direct hit to school funding. The core of CW4BB for many years are citizens without school-aged children. It’s not that we didn’t and don’t care, it’s the people and resources available and it is getting all citizens aware how the fiscal mismanagement affects everyone. The group now has members with school-aged children who are working to build awareness and engage active parents. It takes time. I believe your comments are in the spirit of constructive guidance and they are greatly appreciated. It took Senator Moore years to vet and engage with CW4BB, and rightly so. The door is always open to anyone who sincerely believes Bridgeport deserves and can be better.

  • Donald Day

    Peter, you said, “Now about good Senator Gomes, whom we did not disrespect, despite the baseless claims of you, Ron Mackey, and Donald Day.” Peter, with all due respect there is nothing in my posts that would say, insinuate or intimate I said you or anyone else associated with CW4BB was disrespectful to State Senator Gomes. I said he was slighted, again, SLIGHTED. I heard long before this specific post by Lennie that Ed wasn’t asked to speak and had no knowledge of you asking or him dissenting. For future references I say what I mean and I mean what I say and I have never been reluctant to stand behind everything I say and I am equally petulant when I am misquoted by accident or design.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Pete, you reached out to me because you knew of my successful political involvement in the City of Bridgeport for almost four decades. I never claimed to be a big deal, but in retrospect I must have done something right because I’m still here and will be long after your quest has dissipated. God Willing. FYI, the people of Bridgeport with whom I’ve engaged and interacted with for years, as well as most politicians, respect me even if they don’t like me. You and the gang admitted early on you had no political awareness, and I guess you thought I had a magic wand. When I believe in the causes I support I’m extremely effective because I have a genuine heart for this City and everyone knows that. Your dismissal of a Senator certainly showed you don’t have a clue how to reach out to the people of this City who struggle to survive every day, a BOE that’s bleeding, a minority population you could never relate to, you’re a person who manages to smile at the correct time, but it’s hollow. Good luck with your venture, but keep in mind you might get old waiting for it to come to fruition.

    • Jimfox

      slight
      slīt/Submit
      verb
      past tense: slighted; past participle: slighted
      1.
      insult (someone) by treating or speaking of them without proper respect or attention.
      “he was careful not to slight a guest”
      synonyms: insult, snub, rebuff, repulse, spurn, treat disrespectfully, give someone the cold shoulder, scorn; More
      2.
      archaic
      raze or destroy (a fortification).

  • Frank Gyure

    The public bickering here is very unfortunate. If anyone had any questions or comments, they could have very easily gone to the CW4BB FB website or to betterbridgeport.com and you would have received a reply. SHAME on the know-it-alls who knocked CW4BB for starting and ATTEMPTING a citywide citizens group to try to enact positive change in Bridgeport. I would recommend to EVERYONE to read Jeff Kohut’s comments. His comments are a perfect summation of where WE the Bridgeport Community stand today.

    • Ron Mackey

      So who died and left you in charge? It seems like the only right position is your opinion and your four and no more. Those days are long gone. I like Peter Spain and I have no problem letting him know when he’s right or when he’s wrong.

      • Frank Gyure

        Ron Mackey, no need for that remark. No one died and no one put me in charge. I will rely upon two quotes, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall hang separately.”–Benjamin Franklin. “A house divided against itself shall not stand.”–Abraham Lincoln.

  • Ron Mackey

    Pete, I think you are going in the wrong direction with Lisa, Don and myself.

    Pete, here is something you should always keep in mind:
    youtu.be/DfHJDLoGInM

    • Frank Gyure

      With all due respect, I disagree. The nasty and negative comments reflect more upon the people who are writing them rather than the target.

      • Ron Mackey

        What are you talking about?

        • Frank Gyure

          I do not have any idea of what you mean by “What are you talking about?”

          • Ron Mackey

            Read your post Oct. 31, 2016 at 5:43pm. The nasty and negative comments.

          • Frank Gyure

            I stand by my remarks. FINAL ANSWER.

          • Ron Mackey

            Frank, I’ll try again, what hasty and negative comments are you talking about and would you please list them.

          • Frank Gyure

            Ron Mackey. I’m sorry but I will NOT cut and paste the remarks I would consider as negative “nasty” remarks. Everyone here has the intelligence and discernment to recognize the remarks I am alluding too. It’s not rocket science.

      • Lisa Parziale

        Well Frank, I’m assuming you’re referring to Pete Spain along with me and a few others. That’s alright, sometimes even negative dialogue leads to a middle road, it’s silence that brings no progress. When embarking on a difficult goal a thick skin is required. It’s unfortunate Pete Spain engaged in a lose-lose. As of this moment, I notice none of the other top-tier members have chosen to indulge. I have observed an immaturity with Peter, both personal and political. Perhaps it’s time to select another frontman/woman going forward. I know his credibility has been slightly bruised by the way he handled the forum on Saturday. To add to his inexperience in public matters, he subjects and exposes his weakness when it comes to interacting out of his comfort zone. You seem to have a good level of commonsense, maybe it’s time for you to step it up for awhile.

        • Andrew C Fardy

          Lisa, cut the bullshit. You, me, Day and Mackey have all had a chance to move this city forward and we failed to a certain degree.
          I take deep offense at your comments about Mr. Spain. He is an intelligent caring person working to make Bridgeport a better place. You and the rest of the old bastards on this blog don’t like NEW thinking, well tough shit. Lisa, please Shut the Fuck Up.

          • Frank Gyure

            Andrew Fardy, your participation as well as that of Lisa Parziale, Ron Mackey and Donald Day and others is still needed.

          • Lisa Parziale

            Andy, you know you’re supposed to remember to take your schizo pills every day. Now go get a glass of water and take them.

          • Lisa Parziale

            Andy, I intend to email Lennie now to ask him to advise you to stop the foul language when responding to a blogger. I’m a big girl, I can take it as well as give it, but my vocabulary permits me to make a point without the use of vulgar language.

          • Andrew C Fardy

            Please Lisa, you swear like a truck driver, or did you forget? Lisa, I am sending you a quarter, call someone who gives a shit.

        • Frank Gyure

          Lisa, I think your point any communication, whether positive or negative, is wise, should be well taken, and is still much better than no communication whatsoever. No communication means people don’t care and that truly would be the death knell for the City of Bridgeport. Based on the communications here, it seems we do have a group of people who care very deeply about Bridgeport and that has to be a positive sign.

          • Lisa Parziale

            Okay psycho Andy, you can send me a quarter if you please, or you can be rude and untruthful, but you’d better not use foul language when addressing me on this blog. I will not accept it, and I doubt others accept it; I’ve made my objection known to the only one who can stop you.

          • Andrew C Fardy

            Lisa you are a joke, in fact an old joke. You come on here like Professor Corey and spew your bullshit all over. Lisa, you know if Joe would have given you that job you would not be blogging.

          • Lisa Parziale

            As I said Andy, you can spew rudeness and lies, just don’t dare use vulgar language when addressing me.

          • Andrew C Fardy

            Lisa, BFD.

  • Local Eyes

    What’s good for CW4BB is good for all of Bridgeport. After all, it’s not called Citizens Working for a Better Black Rock, is it? Pete Spain was a good off-the-bench moderator who dealt with a difficult situation.
    Here’s why I’m writing: the hardest thing in politics is getting a crowd together. It’s much easier to use somebody else’s crowd as a platform.

  • Frank Gyure

    I hope everyone just takes a break, steps back a bit, re-evaluate BUT please don’t burn any bridges. This event was the first citywide attempt by this group (CW4BB). As far as I know, many invitations were sent out to all the political leaders in Bridgeport and anyone could see the paltry attendance. Perhaps things could have been done in a different way but we just have to keep on trying. Unfortunately, I could not attend. I had some private communication with Pete; I promised to go, but due to personal reasons could not attend. I apologized to Pete. Otherwise, I hope people don’t burn bridges over this meeting/event. We have a lot to learn, a lot to do but together we can achieve much.

    • Ron Mackey

      Frank, here is what is on the table, CW4BB is saying they are right and the mayor is wrong but political issues are not resolved that way, you have to look at what’s doable and CW4BB doesn’t view things as they are and if you go against them then you are wrong.

      • Frank Gyure

        Ron Mackey, I would disagree with part of that statement. I would disagree with the statement if you are against CW4BB, then you will be considered as being “wrong” by CW4BB. I do agree with your assessment a strategy needs to be created as being “doable.”

      • Frank Gyure

        I think Mayor Joe Ganim and the 20 puppets are dead wrong as well, so I imagine I am a perfect fit for CW4BB, if they will have me???

  • Jeff Kohut

    By way of a loosely comparable example that can provide a few easy to appreciate parallels with Bridgeport’s predicament and the CCFWB initiative:
    In the years leading up to 1776, elite British colonists, mostly of the mercantile class of the eastern seaboard of North America, began to become frustrated by the British Crown’s determination to rein-in their independent, capitalist initiative and efforts to accumulate and retain wealth and power based on that initiative. Concurrent with this capitalistic restiveness of the mercantile class and jealous/pragmatic attempt by the Crown and its corporate power base to retain control of the profits and power related to the successful initiatives of the colonial-based mercantile class, there was also a burgeoning desire of other colonists to undertake movement and enterprise beyond the government-administered colonial borders of the time for purposes of political, religious, and various forms of entrepreneurial independence. While the underlying reasons for colonial restiveness/discontent were somewhat different, there was an underlying, common thread linking the dissatisfaction between the diverse colonial factions with the remote government of the Crown during this time. That common thread was the failure of the Crown to acknowledge and execute their responsibilities to the colonists by way of providing security and services commensurate with the contributions of the colonists to the prosperity of the Crown and the rest of the empire, and the refusal of the Crown to respect the property and political/civil rights of the colonists.

    Bridgeporters can draw some parallels in terms of the refusal of city government to respect the efforts of Bridgeporters of all walks of life to protect and maintain their neighborhoods in the face of threats from crime, blight, pollution, degraded infrastructure, etc., even as we are forced to pay for institutional and suburban political partnerships that can be defined only in terms of parasitism on our city and its overburdened, underserved taxpayers. Truly, considering the level of taxation, Bridgeporters are underserved to a criminal degree, even as institutions (SHU) and other municipalities (Trumbull, Stamford/Gold Coast, et al.) prosper from Bridgeport taxpayer-financed service and infrastructure benefits. All this under the auspices of an underqualified, underperforming, overcompensated city bureaucracy residing largely in the parasitic suburbs.

    So; while CW4BB might have origins from among citizens of somewhat different circumstances and concerns from that of other Bridgeporters, these citizens and the rest of the citizens of Bridgeport have much in common in regard to their reasons for dissatisfaction with Bridgeport government and our need for radical political-governmental change in Bridgeport (and beyond).

    The bottom line is we need to play into the current momentum for change as we try to further identify common ground between our diverse groups and work toward change in Bridgeport directed at changing the overall fortunes of the city for the benefit of all Bridgeporters. Jobs, high performing schools, lower taxes, and safer, cleaner neighborhoods are essential to ALL Bridgeporters. Radical municipal government reform toward the creation of responsive, accountable municipal government in Bridgeport is essential to all of us. The only independent game in town working toward that goal at the present time is CW4BB. To have splinter or competing groups at this time will not serve anyone except the “Crown.”

    • Ron Mackey

      Jeff, I understand your point but at this time CW4BB is not bringing in other communities of color because CW4BB main issue is higher taxes but those are not the concerns of other communities. The “Crown” knows what voters put them back into power and those voters are not associated with CW4BB so how do you make changes without their assistance, you don’t.

      • Frank Gyure

        Ron Mackey. Have you looked at the FB page of CW4BB and its companion website betterbridgeport.com? Far-reaching issues are looked at beyond property taxes. For you and others who claim this group in only about property taxes is 100% misinformation.

        • Ron Mackey

          Frank, yes I’ve seen betterbridgeport.com and nowwhere on that site do I see the issues I have listed plus there is almost no dialog about any subject.

          Frank, I have no problem with what they are trying to do, and just pointing out steps CW4BB needs to do if they hope to get change.

          • John Marshall Lee

            Ron,
            Are you in reality a flashlight? You always wish to point the way assuming what Ron knows is best, but you do not wish to sit down and respectfully talk with others who are active. What’s the story? You do not have to be a “battery bunny” to play in this game for sure. But why be invisible so often?

            We have “change” or a form of it in that Ganim2 taxes have caused many more people to come out to City Hall. While the numbers are down, many have taken a look and listen at the folks sitting in Council seats. I have yet to hear from someone who has been impressed with Council representation in general. That is not the way it should be.

            So change in this regard shows a number of people who have met on this blog, read and listened to ideas, tried them on for size and strength, and today are willing to join with a number of them around a physical table for in-depth discussions to a point, following an agenda and agreeing on action.

            When you get a crowd of folks with understanding and common focus, you provide a reflector to any light source, but not one that has turned itself off. When will you come out and “flash?” Time will tell.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Ron: Every person of color who pays rent or owns real estate in Bridgeport is paying high taxes, way too high, with money that could be better spent on many other necessities of the modern world, e.g. education, better health insurance, and much more. (Bridgeport rental costs have a very strong real estate tax component). Most people of color own or pay rent in Bridgeport. Taxes are very important to all of us. And all the things that influence our high residential real estate taxes affect all other aspects of our lives. The lack of a commercial tax base that would provide local living-wage jobs and ease the residential tax burden is the other side of the high-tax coin. No, Ron; whatever the attitude of some Black Rockers might be in regard to the Bridgeport neighborhood pecking order, the issue of high taxes is an all-encompassing issue that is of great importance to all of us. We have to put aside our resentments and rivalries or we are doomed to be exploited by regional forces and our own self-serving politicians.

    A couple of little asides: During WWII, Tito’s Communist forces cooperated with Mihalek’s rightist forces in Yugoslavia to eliminate the foreign Nazi threat. They found a way to cooperate for disparate, nationalist interests because they knew none of their aspirations had a chance for realization as long as their sovereignty was compromised by foreign domination. (Of course, in a related vein we have seen what the erosion of nationalism and an over-focus on ethno-religious/cultural differences can do in the case of that country — and others.) And compromise had to be reached in black and white South Africa before any real socioeconomic progress could be resumed in the aftermath of their civil war.

    We have to focus on becoming a socioeconomically viable city again before any group or neighborhood is going to be comfortable calling this city home. We might all love this city, but with the sky-high taxes, high structural unemployment, unsustainable public safety challenges, failing school system, blighted, polluted environment et al., none of us are really comfortable with life here, and we won’t be until we address the crushing tax burden and all of its interrelated problems.

    To address our crushing tax burden, as a whole city, is to address our major municipal and socioeconomic problems. When we have a healthy city again, then we can resume our neighborhood rivalries and bickering, if few feel so compelled. We don’t have that luxury now. Black Rock cannot get their taxes lowered without the cooperative efforts of the rest of the city, and we can’t get to a more comfortable place without addressing the citywide tax problem. And it is citywide. No one living in Bridgeport can afford $7k+ for a small cape in a failing, high-crime school district (without fall, loose-leaf pickup by the city). We have seen time and again how neighborhood, racial/ethnic and socioeconomic differences have been used to divide and Bridgeport to keep us subservient to the ‘burbs. They use our superficial differences/rivalries to control us through their surrogates who live, or pretend to live, among us. Divide and conquer. We can’t keep allowing our own parochial mentality and opportunistic outside influences to keep us down and out to their advantage and our disadvantage. Shame on us if we do!

    • Ron Mackey

      Jeff, those same points are the same on the national level but you don’t hear or see the candidates making your points as the main issues. The issues and concerns in Black Rock are not the same as the issues in the East End, the East Side, the South End, the Hollow and other neighborhoods, like crime, drugs, gangs, bad schools, poor City service are just a few issues. Parents are scared to let their children go outside to play. It might be a good idea to sit down and “listen to what those in other areas in Bridgeport are concerned with instead of telling them they should be concerned with other issues and not their concerns. Jeff, there is a thing called “coalition.”

      • Frank Gyure

        Same misinformation.

        • Ron Mackey

          Frank Gyure, once again, what are you talking about when you wrote, “Same misinformation?”

          • Frank Gyure

            I think you are still maintaining the one-issue misinformation of this group solely focused on property taxes. Can they do better on the other issues? Yes, I think they can. My big question with CW4BB is, “What is their goal?” They claim to be non-partisan but where does that lead to unless they just want to be a “think tank” for Bridgeport issues. I am somewhat perplexed by the endgame.

          • Ron Mackey

            Frank, you could be right about “they claim to be non-partisan but where does that lead to unless they just want to be a “think tank” for Bridgeport issues.” Like most groups that would like to make change, CW4BB is having growing pains as they try to become a political force, they need to find out who can assist them and how to form a coalition with others.

          • Frank Gyure

            Ron Mackey, I agree with you. Maybe when there is a meeting of the CW4BB next time, maybe you can attend. If you go, I will go.

  • Tom White

    Pete. Stay focused on the mission of CW4BB. City fiscal woes and ways to address it is a critical need. Don’t allow the collective energy of those like yourself who have a sense of duty get bogged down with political nonsense self-centered agendas we have seen in this OIB posting.
    Remember when we met? I was hesitant to get back involved in city matters. You have now seen comments from just a few people who have made little or no contribution to quality of life in Bridgeport.
    CW4BB need not genuflect before politicians or commit to racial quotas for outreach and participation some demand.
    Focus on fiscal responsibility and ways it can be encouraged in Bridgeport. Continue to reach out to taxpayers. They have a vested interest and a need for hope.

    • Frank Gyure

      You can’t separate fiscal/financial problems apart from tax base, quality of life issues. They go hand in hand. If CW4BB only focused on fiscal/financial issues, CW4BB would just fade away.

  • Maria Pereira

    I honestly don’t get what has transpired here. I was one of the first 10 attendees to arrive at Saturday’s forum. The forum was well organized, well attended, and I found the information provided of critical importance.

    I was not specifically recognized as an elected official and I could care less. If I felt Pete did it intentionally I would feel differently, but I am 100% positive it was an innocent omission.

    Ed Gomes told me he did not wish to speak at the forum and did not feel slighted, Lisa.

    I deeply respect you both, Lisa and Pete. Lisa, you possess a wealth of political knowledge few in Bridgeport can claim to match. Pete, you are an intellectual who is truly interested in the well-being of our beloved city and its citizens.

    Both of you desire the exact same thing, therefore this misunderstanding needs to be resolved and moved on from. There is too much at stake here not to.

    Sometimes we need to vent, take a few mental health days, and then get back in the trenches shoulder to shoulder with comrades.

    I hope that is what happens in this particular situation.

    Now kiss and make up. :)

  • Local Eyes

    Imagine this: if we were playing basketball and I was about to complete a monster JAM, all you’d see is the bottom of my sneakers!
    Written on the soles would be CW4BB.

    • Ron Mackey

      Paul Griffin, you are wrong, there have been many boycotts in America.

      Article: Disinvestment from South Africa
      In November 1962, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 1761, a non-binding resolution establishing the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid and called for imposing economic and other sanctions on South Africa. All Western nations refused to join the committee as members. This boycott of a committee, the first such boycott, happened because it was created by the same General Assembly resolution that called for economic and other sanctions on South Africa, which at the time the West strongly opposed.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Maria,
    Good to see you at the meeting on Saturday and to read your narration of the events of that morning. Very fair-minded observations.

    But does everyone need to “kiss and make up?” Who says so? Isn’t that a rather youthful, parent-ordained solution? It is also a seeming standard of community behavior in the City that fails to call all of us to adult issue-focused standards. Is there another way to review, recover and restart as adults?

    I believe that is what CW4BB has attempted and sustains despite some noisy critics with their own agenda of maintaining the status quo.

    The desire to be a Citywide force that will be taken seriously by those elected to represent us can be captured in the name “citizens” who are “working for” or willing to work because they want a “better Bridgeport.” The focus of Saturday’s meeting were “financial challenges” and City “opportunities.” To the extent efforts were made to reach out to the entire community, evidence in the form of feedback from many City zip codes provides support. The opportunity for Bridgeport to become better in so many ways leads to opening up the “priorities of the people present” and active, in addition to using voice and spirit to rally their neighbors.

    Each of us has a circle of interests and a smaller circle of passion that indicates our willingness to engage. When those circles intersect, they do not necessarily overlap entirely and hopefully they do not because variety of knowledge and interest leads to a potentially richer community. (And overlap cannot be “purchased” by a job, a program, a local honor, or City support of a team or project in this regard.)

    So listening comes into play sometimes, just as Maria related. And you begin to see a future where those with expertise and conviction speak for a movement in the most eloquent manner possible and this provides opportunity for others to participate in actions that advance understanding of each issue of such movement. Finally it allows all to become better students of civic governance, looking for five year financial plans, asking for operating monthly financial reports on the internet, or expecting our elected representatives to be sharing the full reasons for spending increases, for example. What’s your expertise? What’s your passion? What is your willingness to exercise a fuller citizenship by participation? How will you exercise listening skills more often than vocal skills? Time will tell.

    • Ron Mackey

      John Marshall Lee, that’s very good but most people in Bridgeport do not know anything about the name “citizens” who are “working for” or willing to work because they want a “better Bridgeport” or “Only In Bridgeport.”

      • John Marshall Lee

        Ron Mackey,
        That takes time, a shorter time if you were to indicate and then participate in group collaborations or coalition building as you term it. Are you spreading the word? Or restricted to indicating the obvious?

        Too many folks have told me to give it up over the past few years. Well I have not and am happy to be recognized in many parts of town as “that guy” on TV who is at the City Council meetings, or who has spoken on occasion at a BOE meeting, or worked on a food van, food pantry, NRZ meeting, or appeared in a meeting at a Library on City Fiscal issues.

        Anybody figured out what I am trying to do with my time and energy? You know it is not for a job. I have enjoyed a great helping career and still work with clients. Is it for a favor from an elected City official? Or chance at regular photo-ops? No and no, thank you. Wealth, fame, power do not impress me as much as maintaining your integrity, which in the civic sphere is doing what is right and just in an environment where resources are scarce, another reason why watchdogs and monitors are needed. Ron, come out and play with us. Have some fun while providing your wisdom. That’s change, my friend. Time will tell.

        • Ron Mackey

          John, you are doing a very good job in the education of the City’s financial condition and the same Pete Spain as the moderator. John, if you don’t take the time then you will have to do something fast to put the mayor and the City Council on notice that you have as Bob Walsh said thousands of signatures on petitions, packing council meetings, a march and a demonstration all in a effort to show those in power you can take them out of office and at the same time you are registering new voters. Right now those in power have no fear of CW4BB because you can’t do anything politically to hurt them.

          • John Marshall Lee

            Time will tell. All and you as well. Why not form part of a groundswell? Time will tell.

  • Frank Gyure

    After all theses comments, I AM EXCITED ABOUT THE FUTURE AND TURNING BRIDGEPORT AROUND. Not easy, but Bridgeport needs to get FUNKY!!!

  • Jeff Kohut

    People who would like to have a voice and input in the CW4BB should come to the meeting tomorrow night, Wed., Nov. 2, 6:30 – 7:45 at the Burroughs Center and offer some input to create and move a full, inclusive agenda forward such that all Bridgeport neighborhoods and their issues can be addressed as part of a comprehensive movement as things (hopefully) move forward.

    As Lisa and Maria have stated, moving Bridgeport forward is a marathon, not a sprint. All Bridgeport issues are interrelated and will take time to identify, prioritize and address. Addressing any one Bridgeport issue necessarily affects all others. (E.g., if a neighborhood needs more police presence and recreation facilities/opportunities, revenue must be accessed. In order for revenue to be accessed, tax dollars must be made available, which means tax base must added or a tax increase levied. Nobody wants a tax increase, which gives us all incentive to push for taxable grand list expansion and access to other revenue (e.g. pilots, state and federal grants) which will preclude a tax increase while allowing revenue growth and accommodation of neighborhood needs. But all these revenue-enhancing measures will require political cooperation. Only a united front, citywide, will get any of us what we need. The common denominator is the need for increased revenue from all sources such that we all obtain tax relief while the city gets the funding it needs for the myriad of services and infrastructure required to maintain neighborhood health across the city.)

    Ron: You should come to the meeting tomorrow and bring some other concerned citizens with you.

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