Council Meeting Features Sanctuary City Speakers, Ganim Weighs Trump’s Help (Paging Lowell Weicker)

Trump, Ganim June 1994
Trump and Ganim in Bridgeport, 1994. WFSB photo.

Three speakers are scheduled to address the City Council Monday night on the subject of Bridgeport’s prospects as a sanctuary city designation that would shelter undocumented immigrants from federal policies. A number of city councilors support it while Mayor Joe Ganim has not signed on, preferring to leverage his relationship with Donald Trump that he built in the 1990s than make the president’s enemies list. Trump, who keeps score, says he will withhold funds from cities that stand in his way of his immigration reform proposals.

Hundreds of U.S. cities including New Haven in Connecticut have declared sanctuary city status. Legal observers question whether Trump’s executive order can pass constitutional muster. The issue, as well as many other Trump initiatives, will be decided by federal courts.

At stake could be tens of millions of federal dollars for infrastructure improvements and other grants wired from Washington. Ganim would prefer to treat the issue with benign neglect in exchange for Trump’s benevolent dictatorship. Others argue Trump won’t do anything for the city. But Trump places a premium on loyalty. If he recognizes someone is sticking his neck out for him politically he may respond in kind.

Ganim experienced this with a gigantic personality during JG1. In November 1991 Ganim defeated Republican Mary Moran who had plunged the city into federal bankruptcy court that June. The state, led by then Governor Lowell Weicker and then-Attorney General Dick Blumenthal opposed the bankruptcy filing arguing that as a child of the state it hurt Connecticut’s credit worthiness. A federal judge sided with the state. Moran appealed it so when Ganim took office the city’s bankruptcy application was still pending.

On Ganim’s first day in office Weicker told the 32-year-old mayor withdraw the bankruptcy filing and many state goodies will come your way. Weicker was true to his word flooding the city tens of millions of dollars it would not otherwise have received. It helped Ganim hold the line on taxes for 10 straight years.

Ganim and Trump had built a relationship in the 1990s when Trump eyed Bridgeport for development. Trump invited Ganim to his nuptials with Marla Maples, his second wife. When Trump made a Bridgeport campaign appearance at the Klein Memorial Auditorium last April, Ganim stopped in for a quick meet and greet.

In the late 1990s, a development team that included Jack McGregor, Mary-Jane Foster and Mickey Herbert, now the president of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, became owners of the new Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team. They eyed the old Jenkins Valve property, owned by Trump, as the site of the Ballpark at Harbor Yard. Trump purchased the five-acre parcel as a prospective site for a gaming facility. When gaming expansion was rejected by the Connecticut State Senate Trump lost interest in paying the roughly $300,000 tax bill.

In the spring of 1997 (full disclosure, I was then a consultant to Trump) Trump fired off a letter to Ganim complaining about the injustice of taxes for an industrial eyesore, adding he’d like to explore a way to turn the building over to the city for viable use.

Ganim and Trump cut a deal during a telephone call. Trump signed the deed to the property over to the city in exchange for waiving taxes owed. Ganim cemented his site for the city-owned ballpark and Trump walked away from the building.

Ganim is balancing the economic benefits of schmoozing a president with the political pressure of supporting a sanctuary city.

So Ganim will only embrace Bridgeport as a sanctuary city if he sees no value in courting the president’s potential goodwill.

The public speaking portion of the council session begins at 6:30 PM, followed by the council meeting at 7. Full council agenda here.



  1. Lennie, c’mon man, Trump places a premium on loyalty. If he recognizes someone is sticking his neck out for him politically he may respond in kind. The casino was back in 1997, it’s 20 years later, the question is what has Ganim done for Trump now? Did Joe make a large donation to Trump for President or did Joe endorse Trump? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out, Trump doesn’t give a damn about Mayor Joe Ganim and Bridgeport.

    1. Ron Mackey, Joe Ganim endorsing Donald Trump would not have made a difference in Blue Bridgeport CT. Republicans picked up seats in the Connecticut legislature despite the low support in major Connecticut cities.

  2. I call upon Mayor Ganim and the City Council to proclaim Bridgeport a Sanctuary City!
    A City that gives people a second chance, a city that has always opened its arms to immigrants of all denominations, a city that was built by immigrants, are we now so conceited we forgot where we came from?
    Open the flucking gate Mayor, and stop pandering to Trump!!!

  3. I hope Bridgeport stays as a sanctuary city. If Trump wants to cut funding for Bridgeport and the other 300 cities in the United States, good; then Trump and the Feds can put on their big-boy pants and come and take over all the Cities and States that have designated themselves as Sanctuaries from Federal Government authoritarianism. Let Trump and his Administration try to run all these cities and towns, and provide city services to the public. Let Trump deal with All the Teachers, Fire Departments, Police and Sanitation Unions. Let him deal with the public who want their streets and Parks clean, their taxes reduced. Then let Trump deal with all the schools administration, parents and Maria Pereira of Bridgeport BOE. I give Trump 90 days and he’d be on his knees begging Mayor Ganim to take the city back. If Trump does not want Bridgeport to be a sanctuary city then Trump can write a check for a billion dollars worth of development and I might change my mind.

  4. “The issue, as well as many other Trump initiatives, will be decided by federal courts.”

    The federal courts will decide, the question is in whose favor. Trump still has a lot of leverage and options. Republicans are in control in Washington DC. If Congress decides to cut federal appropriations to all or any programs they feel could benefit or benefits the undocumented, what can the courts do? When Obamacare was challenged in the courts, it ultimately ruled the ACA was constitutional because it was a tax and congress can pass tax laws.

  5. Let it be clear, this is a council meeting and only six people can speak for five minutes. It is not a full-blown Public Hearing and/or Public Forum with sufficient time to discuss the issue of Immigration. One thing I’ve noticed is the silence from local religious leaders on a minor part of a major issue such as immigration. Does the federal government still provide faith-based federal funding?

    I’m in agreement with Jeff Kohut’s suggestion of having public forums and open discussions on the issue of immigration and we can start with the Sanctuary City designation matter.

    I don’t see how Sanctuary City designation really helps the undocumented or the City of Bridgeport. I see this type of designation like when the City of Bridgeport builds basketball courts for the youth and simply says, “There you go.” Giving out IDs that are pretty much worthless as they are not drivers licenses or State Ids. The IDs and information provided to get them can be used to track and identify the undocumented. Many of the undocumented don’t trust the ID offer.

    The denial by City of Bridgeport officials that Bridgeport isn’t or hasn’t been a sanctuary-designation or not for years now is not just troublesome, it’s hypocritical on the part of those council members who have expressed their opposition to the sanctuary designation resolution. Specifically, those council members who served during the Bill Finch term in office. During the Finch administration, the police department and Police Commissioner Rev. Simon Castillo negotiated the day laborer issue. Many immigrants–some undocumented–commonly gathered on the corner of Grand Street near Madison Avenue in Bridgeport. When neighbors complained about the number of people there and the disruption being caused, a settlement was reached. It was agreed the corner of Hancock Avenue and State Street would be the only designated place for Jornaleros (Spanish for day laborers) to gather and wait for work opportunity. The designated location is really the parking lot of Good Shepherd Christian Church lead Police Commissioner the Rev. Simon Castillo. I posted a warning and a photo of signs posted near the church parking lot on my Facebook. The signs may soon be moved from their current location. I spoke with my friend who owns the building the signs were placed on, he always wondered why groups of men stood on and near the corner. He didn’t know of the signs nor their purpose and intention. I explained it to him and it turned out he was never asked for permission to have the signs place on his building wall adjacent to the church parking lot. He is from Syria and a US citizen. He doesn’t want to get involved or be perceived to be taking any position in political matters. It’s bad enough what the Syrian people have to endure.

    I will allow one of my Speedy Gonzalez to attend the council meetings–a first.

  6. I am curious how this hapless City Council happened to become empowered and proactive on this issue but acted as puppets and rubber stamps since December 2015. Beyond that, there is another issue on the CC agenda that has a much more direct and immediate effect on the people of Bridgeport. That issue is the Gestapo-like tactics of the WPCA moving forward on foreclosure of Bridgeport properties that may have outstanding bills of a few hundred dollars. Without a doubt, WPCA bills need to be paid but the WPCA and their crazy attorney Judah Epstein along with the assistance of the City Attorney’s Office especially Anastasi and Liskov, have made foreclosure an early step instead of being the last step. It has been referred to the Ordinance Committee that dealt with the same issue in march 2016 and DID NOTHING. The City Council should also review the super-aggressive tactics of the booting policy of The Tax Collector and their “buddy” Mid-Town Towing, Charlie Mason and Mason is lining his pockets with his relationship with the City.

  7. Another question, why are we getting these psychological profiles of Joe Ganim and the inner workings of his mind? And we are putting Ganim on some of type of pedestal where Donald trump is waiting with bated breath as to what Mayor Joe Ganim of Bridgeport CT has to say or what Ganim does. Trump cares not one iota about Bridgeport. Any insinuation Ganim has a direct line to Trump is laughable.

    1. Exactly. And not for nothing, let’s face it, Joe is looking out for Joe, he’s looking for possible future employment. He could care less about anything else.

  8. Hartford is a “Sanctuary City.”

    Hartford receives about $76 million in federal grants a year.

    Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, a Rhodes Scholar, Yale Law-educated lawyer, and Naval Reservist said in the last week of January 2017 that Trump’s executive order won’t change the city’s approach to policing or willingness to provide services.

    “It’s still very unclear what the Trump administration intends to do, or what the executive order signed today actually means, but nothing in our city ordinances is inconsistent with federal law,” he said in a written statement. “The city of Hartford never has and never will shield violent criminals from justice, regardless of immigration status. But we also don’t–and won’t–arrest or detain people simply on the basis of their immigration status, or ask victims or witnesses of crime about their immigration status, or deny services like our library system to anyone who lives peacefully as a member of our community.”

    “To do otherwise would not only be at odds with our values as a city, but also at odds with public safety and common sense,” Bronin said. “We won’t be bullied into playing the role of an immigration enforcement agency actively targeting families who call Hartford home.”

    That’s what MAYORAL LEADERSHIP LOOKS LIKE! Thank you, Mayor Bronin.

    Source: www

    And for all those professing some claim to Christianity (my family’s faith), perhaps give two seconds of thought to the words of Pope Francis:

    “At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding far-sighted and united political responses, I pray that our decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide.”

  9. Just came back from the City Council Meeting. It was a great sight to see. Great attendance (considering the long term pacificity in our Bridgeport Community). State Senators Gomes and Moore were there. State Rep Steve Stafstrom was there. (I did not see or recognize any other state reps. Where were they? )Even Mario Testa showed up. There was real enthusiasm. There seems to be all types of small organizations starting in Bridgeport and people are ready TO TAKE BACK THEIR CITY. The challenge will be to establish lines of communication and support each other. With the “infamous” sign-off … TIME WILL TELL.


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