Enrique Torres Offers Tax Cure

In a commentary first published by the Connecticut Post, two-time mayoral candidate City Councilman Enrique Torres writes, “If we lower taxes, businesses will come. Jobs will come. Crime will come down. Children will stop shooting each other.” From Enrique:

David Kooris, Bridgeport’s economic development director, recently switched hats and became a cheerleader by penning a lengthy Op-Ed in the Connecticut Post.

Mr. Kooris failed to mention economic development in Bridgeport is done at a massive cost to the taxpayers of this city and of the entire state. Every single ounce of dirt moved in Bridgeport is paid for by taxpayers. We are the chump partners in every economic development deal the city brokers.

In the last two Common Council meetings, we have approved a tax abatement of nearly 75 percent and 66 percent for two projects. Do you think the beneficiaries might donate to Mayor Finch’s campaign? This month’s meeting approved another 10-year abatement to a Black Rock developer. Mr. Kooris gives millions to millionaires. I am the last guy in the world to delve into class warfare, but this is truly crony-capitalism.

Democrats, I have heard, are dead set against crony-capitalism. Democrats are all about the little guy, not the millionaires, right? Well I guess, at least in Bridgeport, these axioms are false. Mr. Kooris’ team doles out our money to any millionaire who puts the squeeze on Bridgeport. The notion of lowering taxes across the board never crosses their mind.

If it makes sense to abate taxes to get developers to come, and it makes sense for states like New York and now Connecticut to promise low or no taxation for 10 years to lure companies, then clearly there is a correlation between low taxes/reduced regulation and a robust economy across the board, right? Why not apply this logic of low taxation to both lure new economic development and help existing businesses (large and small) that have already set up shop in Bridgeport?

I suspect Mr. Kooris’ letter provides, in part, the answer. Government leaders suffer from a little thing I call “Smartest Person in the Room” (SPITR) syndrome. Mr. Kooris, Mayor Finch and Gov. Malloy are three SPITRs. They need to have their hands in the pot to take credit for economic development. However when deals go sour, no one mentions it in any letter. Do you remember Derecktor Shipyards? In this case, the state and city lost millions and no one was fired.

Mr. Kooris is right to suggest economic development of all kinds is the solution for Bridgeport’s ills. However what Mr. Kooris, most politicians and practically all bureaucrats don’t understand is economic development, when done right, is an organic process. It does not need the fertilizing hand of government to take root or the pesticide can to prevent competition. The less government does the more likely we are to see healthy, fruitful, self-sufficient and organic outcomes. Without government’s “help” we can expect unexpected brilliance. Sometimes bad ideas crop up as well, but taxpayers lose nothing. Companies like Apple, Facebook and Instagram are examples.

When Mr. Kooris abates taxes for his favorite projects, it remedies one problem while aggravating others. Businesses that pay less taxes have an advantage over those paying full taxes.

In Bridgeport, the death knell tolls each time we top some “highest taxed in the country” list. But like Lazarus, we can rise again. Bridgeport must raise a flag of lowering taxes and wave it high. Here’s how:

1. Establish a hiring freeze for city workers. Replace only those absolutely necessary to operate the city and absolutely stop hiring friends.

2. Eliminate useless political patronage departments. Once, when Bridgeport was thriving, we operated the city with many less offices.

3. Dedicate all new revenue from increased economic activity for the purpose of continuing to lower taxes.

4. Eliminate the 999 Broad Street City Hall. This building is one of the most energy inefficient buildings in the city. The few people that work there can easily be relocated to other city buildings. This waste can be converted to lowering taxes. The proceeds of its sale should go to retire debt.

5. Stop building new parks. We have beautiful parks in this city. Parks are equivalent to the icing on a completed cake. We need to work on our baking skills.

6. Stop tearing down old schools. There is nothing wrong with an old school. Yale is over 315 years old. Should we tear it down?
These ideas and countless others will lower taxes. Bridgeport must prove it is dedicated to lowering taxes. If we lower taxes, businesses will come. Jobs will come. Crime will come down. Children will stop shooting each other.



  1. Enrique who? Like Dannel Malloy, you may want to change your name back. It is not good karma for you. Everybody knows Rick Torres. Enrique, not so much.

    Some interesting points made. I suppose if the City took your lead, developers like the Forstone group would not be working on 10 parcels in Bridgeport. Surprising Rick was not at the Landmark ribbon-cutting as an elected official. Last evening at the downtown concerts we were talking to young couples who lived in Kuchma’s buildings who were very excited about all the new proposed development going on downtown. It is a real community there and apparently everybody knows each other. It would be nice if they could get 1200 more units up ASAP. The Mechanics and Farmers building is pretty much leased. I just heard an acquaintance of mine is looking to open a business there. I think Enrique’s proposals just put a damper on any hope for development and will help Norwalk and Stamford leaving Bridgeport in the dark. As for Enrique’s other proposals about patronage jobs and new hires etc., well we have been hearing this since the beginning of time. How about some fresh new ideas? Comparing Bridgeport’s older schools to Yale is absurd. Yale is not concerned about asbestos and they have the millions to upgrade. Yale is an architectural gem with an incredible history. They can and do modernize any part of their campus without a second thought. Bridgeport’s older schools are functionally obsolete and unhealthy environments. The cost to modernize makes it more cost-effective to rebuild or sell the school and turn into apartments or city hall. Just once I’d like to hear fresh and thoughtful proposals that include keeping the City moving forward with development. All we get is the tired negative redundant crap from individuals who would otherwise be invisible. Where are the future leaders with vision?
    Enrique, you are a Republican. The only Republican on the council. How about making your mark with some real contributions? The only criticism I have for David Kooris is his support for Marina Village Replacement housing downtown. How does Enrique Torres feel about that? I’m thinking Black Rock would be more appropriate, what say you?

  2. Steven,
    Did you stop to think the City officials pictured on OIB both receive checks along with OPED for their work? Enrique “Rick” Torres has a business to run so he may pay the taxes due the City.
    And Steve, after years of posting with you, commenting on financial issues truly appears to be beyond your pay grade. Love your love for the City and the wonder and excitement of all that is new, but when your friend looks at opening that new business, will you let him walk you through his calculations of what it will take in terms of $ and risk and see what his decision is … and then revisit him months later? (Remember Ripka’s Market? After the fanfare comes silence .. .and who is there to snap a picture?)
    And if you want to look at the City operating budget sometime with me, just say when your eyes are open and ready. Time will tell.

    1. JML, I do respect your posts, often long-winded and dry. The city is not like a business. When there is a big deal going on it is most appropriate for the Mayor to have his people by his side. There is not one elected official who does not have an entourage. Not one. Although I do appreciate your paying attention to dollars and cents, sometimes you are just beyond naive. Let’s ask Lennie how many times he went on touring engagements with Joe Ganim. There is nothing wrong with that. I’d rather you pay attention to lawsuits and real dollar issues in the City. Every Mayor or Governor will always be surrounded by loyalists. Always, and to think otherwise would be foolish.

      JML, any individual you would support for Mayor would have their own entourage and patronage positions. Unless you were Mary Moran surrounded by idiots who thought the few positions she doled out should be reduced from the budget.

      Speaking about lawsuits, what is going on with Tom White? Does the taxpayer have to pay for his separation of employment?

      I did not see anything wrong with the Mayor, Tom McCarthy and David Kooris taking time to celebrate a great achievement in the City. Enrique showing up would have just been respectful and nothing more. He is an elected official, he has people working there at Harborview and it would have behooved him to meet the movers and shakers the City spending millions. His loss. For all of the supporters of Bridgeport who do not follow Bridgeport politics I’d say they thought it was appropriate and had no problem with the celebration and festivities. Enrique Torres is where he belongs as a councilmen. He is invisible and lacks vision. Discussing city finances is not over my paygrade JML, it is however a subject I find extremely boring and not a topic I care to discuss on OIB. Everyone here knows my number one point of interest is Economic development. I’ve been inside city hall, I know how the game is played and I only expect miracles in my life, not city hall. POLITICS WILL NEVER CHANGE. EVERY MAYOR WILL HAVE HIS ENTOURAGE AND PATRONAGE POSITIONS AND THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW. For the record, I do appreciate the watchdogs and whistleblowers. For me it’s local development or world politics.

      1. Steven Auerbach, I understand you and John Marshall Lee want us all to know what he knows. I have no need to sit down with JML to listen to what he is saying because even if I knew and understood everything he said nothing would change in the way I view things because we have different interests.

        City Councilman Enrique Torres writes, “If we lower taxes, businesses will come. Jobs will come. Crime will come down. Children will stop shooting each other.” As a elected City Councilman he cannot just throw comments around like this, image, lower taxes and “Children will stop shooting each other.” Where did he get that from?

        1. Ron–looking at the full message, almost everyone wants some money in their pockets. Almost everyone likes to be valued for their contribution. If there are no jobs, kids can be shown the easy way to make money by the criminal element, petty theft to drug dealing, which leads to turf wars and shooting. If there are good jobs available, there is the likelihood more kids will chose jobs over crime. I do not think the message is lower taxes and shootings will stop, there are a few more moving parts in the formula.
          Although death and taxes are recognized as two certainties in life!

  3. Rick,
    All good and valid observations. Some may say you are swinging for the fences, though.

    You can bring about needed change within the scope of your role by addressing realistic issues related to the city council.

    1. There appears to be more than a little personal animosity in the comments directed toward Mr. Torres. He made more than a few valid points. The Mayor’s office and the City Council fund development by pimping out the taxpayers. Unlike many other states that tax both real property and personal property, property taxes in New York State are imposed on real property only. Personal property, whether tangible or intangible, is exempt from state and local taxes. Businesses in New York State that create new jobs and make new investments in production property and equipment may qualify for tax credits of up to 10% of their eligible investment. New businesses may elect to receive a refund of certain credits and all unused credits can be carried forward for 15 years. The benefit is the creation of jobs that pay a real living wage, allowing individuals and families to get off the public welfare rolls, buy property, own homes and otherwise prosper. Mr. Finch should not take all the blame for this not happening, in spite of his administration being one of the most dysfunctional east of the Mississippi. Previous occupants of the Mayor’s Office have not done much to create secure employment for the city’s residents. By the same token, Mr. Finch has not done much to create long-term jobs outside the retail sector. There are only so many minimum-wage jobs in retail and fast food. Bridgeport has a skilled and semi-skilled labor pool. Put them to work, Mr. Mayor.

  4. Steve,
    Please recall for all of us all the economic development projects you initiated, structured, helped with financing and saw through to completion during all the years you were with the city.
    If you are going to speak so authoritatively, share with us all your personal successes.

    1. Bob, going back 25 years and realizing Moran was only in office for two years. I really wasn’t going to take your bait as well as ask what you thought your accomplishments were but here we go, as a patronage position, I started out in MORAN’s office. My first change was saving the City thousands of dollars being paid to the Dinan center as a homeless shelter. I had to negotiate with the Catholic diocese to purchase the St. John NEPOMOCENE convent on Brooks Street which was converted to a first rate Homeless shelter getting the entire city and volunteers to gut and refurbish the facility. I remember John Stafstrom didn’t think it could be done. My title was Human resources coordinator. I served on the Board of Directors of the Barnum Museum and ABCD. I was the liaison with the State for the design of the courthouse with Kathy Burke. During the worst real estate market I was offered the position of Marketing Business Recruiter working with the City and state. I did all of the trade shows and identified and took credit for the original McDonald’s built on Fairfield Ave. I researched and implemented a major marketing campaign identifying every manufacturing facility in the tri-state area with employees ranging from 15 to 100 to relocate to the City. I was only OPED foreight months and was separated from the City just as the marketing campaign was implemented. I worked with most property owners and marketers of most properties in Bridgeport, including the old Housatonic and Sal DiNardo properties as well as a list of 100s. I represented the City with a first-rate trade show both designed by myself and Bridgeport stood out at every trade show. I worked with the Foreign Trade zone and Enterprise zone as well as attending most meetings with Dan McCormack who was not exactly an aggressive director.
      Bob, for the record and I am sure to your chagrin, I was not the director or deputy director. Number crunching was not for me to deal with. The city had two talents over me, Michael NIDOH and Ed Lavernoich. I could never do their jobs and they could never do mine. I was in the private sector my entire life. Never in a union. I had six years as a senior planner and eight years as a master scheduler in high-tech manufacturing. Dealing directly with the sales group as well as top brass. I drove the factory and was obviously APICS certified. I was involved in Real Estate during the worst market 1987 and was a top agent in my office. I met Mary Moran in Real Estate. I had the buyer, she had the seller and the day we signed papers, the home was on fire. We kept the deal together and closed a year later. I proudly served the City. Never once was it self-serving. I do not have all the answers and it is obvious neither do you. After the bankruptcy bid my research proved and documented in the New York Times that property values were not affected. Those two years were exciting. I had become a Democrat after Moran lost the election. I was an Independent just before Moran ran for office. Aside from the responsibilities I had, being patronage was a 24/7 job. No life and always on stage. I know most patronage jobs sit on their asses, do nothing, collect a check, collect campaign funds, threaten people with their jobs etc. I was not that guy. Just being a Republican in City Hall was like being a leper.

  5. Steve,
    Did you happen to call me long-winded recently?
    Did you also say you are interested in Economic Development but not in City finances?
    Do you have a mirror close by? Take a peek in it. Is someone else writing your material these days? Can you answer each of these questions briefly? Time will tell.

    1. JML … YES. YES … YES … YES … NO … YES.

      Is that succinct enough for you, John Marshall Lee? I appreciate all the questions I get on this blog. Thank you for wanting my take on so many fronts. I am not a city official, I am a supporter of Bridgeport, I am not the public relations person for the City but I can honestly say I would be second to none in promoting Bridgeport. JML you are a man of knowledge yet it seems not one politician in this city takes your efforts seriously. Have you been an adviser to John Fabrizi? Joe Ganim? Bill Finch? Paul Timpanelli? John Marshall Lee, you are brilliant yet I find it almost ironic my optimism for the City is what moves you. Thank you for making me feel important.

      1. Steve,
        Would you review your answers to my question? Did you provide a YES to the question about someone else writing your material? That would be a simple explanation for your almost unlimited enthusiasm for “All Things Finch.” And you have had access to and relations with all the gentlemen you mention and they take you seriously?
        I am not brilliant. I am performing journeyman work, reading City material, connecting activities, ideas and financial transactions and I am being read and occasionally even getting a response from the administration on one or more items of violation or ignorance they have practiced.
        The true test is to discover the remedy for what alienates so many registered voters such that they move away, die, or become totally disinterested from using the ballot to change life in the City. I am not the only person working on this, and it is work best done out of the limelight. But it is necessary work to use your mind and all of your senses including common sense, if you expect positive change. And doesn’t it take respect for all citizens? And a practical attitude of stewardship towards use of public funds and resources? And patience? Time will tell.

          1. Oh JML, all things Finch? I cannot attest as to whether these gentlemen take me seriously or not. I do know when they speak to me it is always respectful. Maybe they sit around a room and say how about that Auerbach character, what a joke. Maybe they say how great it is to have a supporter who gets it. JML, a long time ago I learned you cannot please all of the people all of the time, do not expect too much from people and you will not be disappointed and it is none of my business what people say about me behind my back.


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