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Fireworks At City Council Meeting, Angry Taxpayers Vent At Mayor, Council Over Hike

July 6th, 2016 · 107 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Budget, City Council, News and Events

packed council chambers

Jammed council chambers Tuesday night.

Update, includes video: More than 400 vexed taxpayers, most from the higher assessed Black Rock neighborhood, vented on Mayor Joe Ganim in a jammed City Council chambers Tuesday night about their tax bills in a revaluation year. And he let them spew in a noisy night punctuated by booing, hissing and chanting and calls for an independent financial control board. By night’s end order was restored. But it did not start out that way among a crowd that did not show up to unload on the City Council during the budget deliberation process in the spring. Homeowners said they were ambushed by recently arrived tax bills that reflected tax hikes of $1,000 and more.

tax placard

Alison Boteler of Black Rock protested the tax bill of her mother.

Ganim and his financial officials say about two-thirds of homeowners received flat or no tax increase as a result of the revaluation of taxable property that commenced July 1. They also contend they inherited a $20 million deficit from the Finch administration. That was no salve for higher assessed Black Rock and other neighborhood homeowners as well as businesses that took the brunt of the reval hit with a major decline in the city’s grand list that finances city services.

At 6:30 p.m. it was an angry crowd ready to pounce during the public speaking portion of the council meeting with rules that set aside total speaking of 30 minutes at five minutes a speaker. Ganim heard them all out after the council conducted its own business.

Citizen fiscal watchdog John Marshall Lee, a regular speaker at council sessions, finally had some backup from fellow taxpayers. He asked City Council members to suspend the rules to allow more than six speakers to address the council.

Lee talked about the outrage of a unanimous vote of the City Council to approve the budget that led to a mil rate jump from about 42 to 54.

“Right now it is your “boots” on the necks of many property owners, especially those elderly long-term residents who scrape by on fixed incomes,” Lee declared. “Without proper representation by you, they are seeing their property values decline and their purses empty. Shame on you.”

Lee, often a lonely voice to an empty council chambers, received a standing ovation.

The noisy crowd began chanting “Where’s Joe?”

At 6:50 p.m. Ganim walked into council chambers to boos.

Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker who helped to rally the crowd, declared “if we had the right to recall elected officials in Connecticut, there is little question that Mayor Ganim would be recalled, as well as some City Council members.” As Walker has often written in the comments section of OIB he reiterated his call for Ganim and the council to prevail upon the state to appoint an independent financial control board “to help create a better future for the city and its residents.”

Black Rocker Jim Fox called on his City Council representatives Scott Burns and Katie Bukovsky to resign for “costing them a hell of a lot of money.” He called on Black Rock to secede from the city of Bridgeport.

At 7:15 City Council President Tom McCarthy ended the public speaking portion. The council took a break and resumed at 7:30 to a number of hoots and hollers as the regular business of the council chaired by Ganim moved forward.

Intermittently, the crowd hooted, shouted and chanted.

“Joe, have some balls to talk to the people who elected you,” shouted a man to cheers.

Ganim moved on with city business that included a key agenda item regarding approval to accept $5 million in federal Community Development Block Grant money that is dispersed to needy organizations in the city. The council was on a deadline for approval or risked forfeiting the money.

At times it was hard to hear the motions made by council members among the venting crowd.

Five uniformed police officers were at the ready in case the meeting got out of hand.

At 8 p.m. at the end of the council session Ganim offered to stay to hear additional public speakers. About half of the 20-member legislative body stayed to hear the speakers. The others left.

Alison Boteler of Black Rock, held a sign in the front row: “84-year-old woman has $24,000 taxes on a $33,000 income!” Boteler stepped up to the lectern and called her mother’s situation “elder abuse” by taxation. She called the tax situation a “crisis.”

One speaker talked about city employees “making a killing” on overtime and going back to their suburban towns.

Kathleen Pierce Blagys “beseeched” the council to revote on the budget.

State Senator Marilyn Moore, sitting among the crowd, also addressed Ganim. She chastised the council members who left and thanked the council members who stayed to hear the public. She said they cannot turn their backs on taxpayers. Moore and City Council President Tom McCarthy will face off in an August 9 primary.

Another speaker complained about council members receiving $9K stipends.

Black Rocker Alex Torres, son of three-time mayoral candidate Rick Torres, said he makes about $50,000 a year as a teacher at Central High School. “I’m a good teacher and I’ll leave because I’ll have to” because of the taxes.

One speaker came to Ganim’s defense, city employee Maria Pires who proclaimed “people want miracles.” She blamed past administrations for the current financial mess. “He can only do so much, give him time.”

A number of speakers recalled Ganim’s first tenure as mayor when he kept taxes down. Ganim raised taxes his first year as mayor after he was elected in November of 1991, albeit not the current percentage financial hit in the tax bills some taxpayers received, and did not raise them after that before he was forced from office in 2003 following his federal conviction on corruption charges. He made a historic comeback defeating incumbent Bill Finch in a September 2015 Democratic primary on his way to a general election win. Ganim had not experienced an angry public crowd like the one Tuesday night during JG1.

Black Rocker Pete Spain said in light of the budget “how are you going stop businesses from leaving Bridgeport?” He also urged an independent financial control board.

Former Board of Education member Kate Rivera from the South End said it was “demoralizing and exhausting being a Bridgeport taxpayer … fighting for everything, fighting for services.” A part-time library, worker she declared Bridgeport homeowners are shelling out more than what Detroit taxpayers paid at the time the city filed for bankruptcy protection.

For about 90 minutes, Ganim patiently listened to everyone who wanted to speak including those with unflattering comments. “This is your night to talk, to be heard,” he said. “It’s your time.” He invited members of the crowd to talk privately with him after the speaking portion.

Council members Aidee Nieves, Anthony Paoletto, Nessah Smith, Richard Salter, Denese Taylor-Moye, Scott Burns, Kate Bukovsky, Evette Brantley, Tom McCarthy, Jeanette Herron and Alfredo Castillo stayed for the duration.

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107 Comments so far ↓

  • Pete Spain

    As our fellow citizen Alison Boteler stated, “This is an “emergency” for many. We need leadership to take action now!” Alison is right.

    Tom McCarthy should do the voice for a bad amusement park roller coaster, “Welcome to Council Canyon! Remember to strap on your belts and keep your children close at all times!”

    McCarthy’s a finagling, foolish fellow who clearly had no readiness for dealing with crises or with the hundreds of citizens who showed up with something to say. And yet, if he’d led the City Council for his constituents and the greater good, maybe all of what we witnessed tonight wouldn’t have been. And so, I thank McCarthy for his awful work, which led hundreds of citizens to come alive and fight the absurdity and unfairness of the current property tax rate.

    David Walker and John Lee provided a clinic on how to make outstanding arguments, in under 5 minutes, against the continuation of our city government’s incompetence and the need for outside expertise.

    John Lee skewered the substandard results and practices of Bridgeport’s one-party rule and “Emperor Mario”:

    “Emperor Mario, come out of the kitchen or the caucus chamber and answer the questions that Mayor Ganim Two will not. We are not gathered to discover the secrets of your restaurant business or your true town of residence. We are seriously curious about the burdensome tax increase and the huge increase in funding of public safety without the full story provided on paper. Why are 350 employees who mostly live outside Bridgeport the object of so much fiscal reward when 22,000 resident youth are left hanging? Time will tell.”

    Jim Fox did an excellent job in expressing his disgust with a mayor he supported steadfastly in the campaign and with the Black Rock/West End Council reps (Burns and Bukovsky).

    There were many who professed campaign-season support for Ganim who now had lost faith in the man. Perhaps most compelling was a nearly 80-year-old woman, still working to pay her taxes, which have quadrupled in 20 years. She said directly to Mayor Ganim, “I voted for you because I believed IN you and I believed you.” Not so much now.

    I was impressed with the high-minded message of Beverly Balaz. She told Ganim to open up to the talent and smarts of the citizenry, and not to allow his political gatekeepers to keep the outside talents that we have here Bridgeport from being part of the solution. Bravo!

    And then there were all our fellow citizens whose lives are in a ruptured state since the absurd 29% mil rate increase.

    A clear take-away:

    People are fed up and want an outside financial review board of experts, not politically expedient yokels.

    I left feeling elated by the turnout and courage of my fellow citizens; and yet, terribly saddened by the agonizing reality so many expressed, thanks to the rubber-stamp Council and Ganim’s rashness to come in and hit the city with a 29% mil rate increase.

    • Ron Mackey

      Pete Spain, thank you for your update. Out of respect for you I would like to post something for you to consider. It’s a post from Phil Smith who was a member of the Bridgeport Review Board back in the late 1980s. I think it would be wise to hear his point of view before moving forward because a number of people who are involved with those at the meeting last night were not here in Bridgeport back then. It’s very important to know the history for going forward. I’m sure Phil will share his wisdom. Good job for those who attended the meeting but remember that was just the first step in a long battle.

      Phil Smith // Jul 3, 2016 at 9:05 pm

      I’m old enough to have worked with the Bridgeport Review Board (from the city side) in the late ’80s and three decades later to work (from the state side) with, and sometimes sit on, the Waterbury Financial Review Board. Those experiences have left me deeply skeptical of the entire process. Certainly it is not the panacea Dave Walker and others seem to think it is.

      Let’s start with the Board itself. Over the last 30 years the qualification and quality of the various review boards has varied greatly. But it is fair to say the members are not generally experts in either finance or governmental operations. Financial Review Boards are primarily composed of the Mayor, the State Treasurer, a union representative and a variety of political appointees.

      When the Bridgeport Financial Review Board was created there was a widespread belief city spending was out of control (it was) and cutting spending would solve the problem. The answer, then as now, proved to be a lot more complicated than that.

      The truth is the problems go way beyond politics. If we could reverse every bad fiscal decision Joe Ganim has made it might reduce the budget and tax rate in the short term, but the long-term problems would remain.

      Very few of those decisions will be simple choices between right and wrong. Balancing the budget in the short term and fixing the long-term problems are not going to be easy. It is going to require difficult decisions which will pit people and programs against each other. I, for one, would rather have those decisions made by elected officials, not political appointees accountable only to whomever appointed them.

      If I disagree with the Mayor’s actions (I do), I get a chance to replace him in three years. If our two Council Members screw up (they have), we can replace them next year. There is nothing I can do about a Malloy appointee whose Review Board votes I disagree with.

      Yes, I understand the reality of Bridgeport politics. Like it or not in a democracy there is just so much you can do to protect the voters from themselves. Maybe if people are mad enough they will actually get involved and vote. We might even get more than 20% of the voters to turn out in a general election. That would be a good thing.

      The last thing the machine wants to see is increased turnout.

      • Pete Spain

        Ron, I’d read Phil Smith’s insights on the previous post. Definitely good to learn from and build on lessons learned.

        I’m not knowledgeable in finance; but I know Bridgeport needs experts to come in and take over the city’s finances because of how poorly managed the place is.

        • Phil Smith

          Pete,
          I don’t think it’s a question of not understanding the city’s finances as much is a lack of political will to do the right thing.

          • Frank Gyure

            PHIL SMITH,
            Please, your opinion. “The political will to do the right thing.” What is the right thing???

          • Dave Walker

            Phil,
            You are correct. It’s about competence AND political will. We need a Financial Control Board not a Financial Review Board. I have met with the prior Chairman of the Financial Review Board and he agrees.

        • Phil Smith

          Frank,
          To adopt A budget driven by priorities and performance, not political favoritism.

      • Phil Smith

        Ron,
        Thanks for the promotion, but I wasn’t a member of the Bridgeport Financial Review Board, just one of the city employees who worked with it.

        • Ron Mackey

          Phil, thanks for the correction. My point is before anything goes forward there has to be a clear understanding of a Financial Review Board and a Control Board. Phil, the fact you worked with the Financial Review Board, you could give some insight on what the objective was. As I recall the City had to have five years of a balanced budget before they could disband. The City Council had to approve any and all contracts. Firefighters took three years of 0 (zero) pay raise through collective bargaining and in return we got some contract language and some safety concerns, among some of the items. At that time a lot of firefighters still lived here and we had felt the process would turn things around so we bought into everything.

          The legislative powers of the City Council must not be taken away. This process cannot be like what Mayor Finch did when he took the power from the voters to elect who they wanted on the BOE.

          What is a Control Board and what is their mission, the voters have no idea. I’ll stop here but I have more questions.

          • Jennifer Buchanan

            Google is our friend. The phrase “financial control board” is used broadly in reference to entities states create through legislative action for the purpose of intervening in, and shoring up the finances of, local governments in varying states of fiscal emergency. The specific authority, powers, and composition of financial control boards are generally established and governed by their enabling legislation. In most instances, however, such entities are comprised of several appointed directors and are authorized to supervise the financial affairs of the municipality, impose budgetary requirements and guidelines, and eliminate and/or restructure existing debt through various methods, including issuing bonds.

          • Phil Smith

            Ron,
            In Connecticut a Financial Review Board is created by special act of the State legislature to oversee the finances of a city or town in extreme financial distress. Because the Connecticut Constitution severely limits when the legislature can pass legislation concerning the organization or powers of a single municipality, review boards have generally been created when the municipality has lost or is in danger of losing access to the credit markets.

            The members generally include a Chairman (in recent years the Secretary of OPM), the State Treasurer, the Mayor and a variety of gubernatorial and legislative appointees, most of of whom are NOT required to live in the City. I think it is fair to say the quality and qualifications of the review boards have varied over the years. Bridgeport’s was one of the best. Others weren’t so lucky.

            At the heart of the review board process is a three-year financial plan the city is required to adopt and is updated annually. For as long as the review board remains in power the updated financial plan essentially becomes the city’s budget.

            The three-year financial plan and the annual updates must be approved by the review board, which is free to substitute its judgment for the city’s.

            For example, if the review board decided the fire department budget was too high it could order the city to close a firehouse. Likewise, if it concluded afterschool programs cost too much, it could order the city to terminate them. In either case the city would be required to comply. (BTW, I didn’t pick those examples. They both arose under the Bridgeport FRB).

            My concerns about how this process works in the real world were outlined in my earlier post and I won’t repeat them here.

            That’s a very quick description of a complicated process. I hope it answers your question.

          • Ron Mackey

            Phil, thanks. That’s exactly what I was looking for, how that process worked. Although firefighters had to take three years of zero raises we believed everything would work out. I don’t know what JML and those at the council meeting really want.

      • Lisa Parziale

        Kudos to Ron and Phil!

    • Pete Spain

      I made an error in stating “financial review board of experts.”

      Rather, I should have written an “independent financial CONTROL board.”

      • Frank Gyure

        What difference are the words? The issue is what powers any special group of people are given. And the triggering mechanism is the mayor of the municipality (possibly with the agreement of the City Council) and with Joe Ganim. THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

  • Dave Walker

    Thanks to everyone who showed up last evening. It was an unprecedented showing by Bridgeport voters. We the People will not forget the lies, ignorance and incompetence demonstrated by current and prior City officials for many years. The latest budget and mil rate increase was outrageous and the City has failed to treat the systemic fiscal and competitiveness challenges it faces. Current City leaders are killing the City and the DTC should be ashamed of itself. We will pursue all options to reject the status quo and those who are part of the problem. We the People have had enough. If we don’t see an Independent Financial Control Board appointed by the end of the calendar year, I expect many people will withhold their second tax installment. Other options will be pursued, including the right to recall, tax caps, and seceding from Bridgeport. Doing nothing is not an option anymore!

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      You are correct Ron, a review board is not the answer, a Control Board is. Very different process, authority and ability to effect change.

      • Phil Smith

        No, they are the exact same thing. Just different names in different states.

        • Jennifer Buchanan

          It would appear from my research the state legislature sets the parameters, no reason the current definition cannot be amended, is there? And if there is not a control board definition in place, now is the time for an emergency session to call and structure one.

        • Dave Walker

          Phil,
          They are not the same thing and CT has the authority to create both. The first is focused on balancing the budget. The second has much broader powers to take steps to restructure the City’s finances in a sustainable manner. The prior Bridgeport Board is an example of the first type. The newly passed Puerto Rico legislation is an example of the second type of board.

          • Ron Mackey

            Dave, there you go again, talking loud and saying nothing. Phil Smith took the time to set out what in Connecticut a Financial Review Board is but you can’t or won’t say what it is you are talking about. Now that’s leadership Bridgeport doesn’t need, you want to take that power away from people who were elected by voters but you don’t tell them the process.

          • Jennifer Buchanan

            Hey Ron, you never believe anything Walker says, how about you reconsider biting the hand that is trying to keep this city solvent and you fed, and as you are so good at finding links and posting them here, why not search for the answers your own fine self?
            With much love, Jennifer.

          • Ron Mackey

            Jennifer, only because it’s you. I think it’s very important those who were at the council meeting should share the process they want to the public the same way Phil Smith did. It was nice hearing you and your mother were out playing golf, by the way I don’t need to know what score you guys had, keep it up.

          • Jennifer Buchanan

            Ron, thanks. I was in ready, fire, aim mode for sure and harsher than I wanted to be. As soon as I hit submit I was bracing myself. I do think you are harsher on Walker than necessary, but that’s just my humble opinion.
            Peace.

    • Grin Ripper

      The worst action people can take is to withhold their second tax installment. 18% per annum interest. It makes no cents or sense.

  • DC Faber

    I want to echo the kudos for David Walker and John Lee, people who understand numbers, for making such reasonable and salient points. Last night was amazing! I forget which gentleman made the Tammany Hall reference; I feel referring to Ganim as Boss Joe has a nice ring to it. Boss Mario even more! The energy in the room was palpable, the people seemed ready for figurative blood! But we all know real change means voting the bums out of office; my rep from the 138 Nessah Smith seemed to be napping during the five speakers. The challenge is keeping the public fired up and engaged for the next two years and sadly, the majority of Bridgeport seem all too ready to just take whatever the government decides, grumble, and then reelect the same people who perpetuate the same bad situations, and then wonder why nothing changes.

    • Maria Pereira

      When I spoke last night I made it clear all a politician really has is their word. And the only way a lying politician can be held accountable is at the polls.

      I looked directly at Joe Ganim and told him he WILL be held accountable at the polls.

      Then I looked over at Anthony and Nessah and told them they wouldn’t have been elected if it weren’t for me. Anthony literally started laughing at me. I promised them they will be removed in the last election.

      I am glad he found it funny. We will have to wait to see who gets the last laugh.

  • Lisa Parziale

    I just viewed a video of the public speaking portion of the Council chaired by Tom McCarthy. If anyone doubts his inexperience, ability to make reasonable decisions while under the gun, and just good political sense, it is displayed on video on Facebook for all to see. The chambers was packed with angry, emotional, frightening taxpayers and all JML asked him to do was suspend the rules to allow more than six people to speak. A no-brainer for anyone chairing the forum. Instead his answer was “we’re sticking with the rules.” Yeah, like he stuck with the rules of the Charter. He had no authority to make that decision without asking for a motion from a council member, seconded, and a vote taken from the present council members. I’m positive they would have voted to suspend the rules. All of a sudden he grew a pair! Stupid, stupid. He’ll never make it to Hartford, we’re stuck with him for one more year, then maybe he’ll get over his fear of working in the private sector, unshielded by Finch and his council friends.

    • John Marshall Lee

      The Charter, the Ordinances, and the City Council rules are the sets of rules our Council members are set to observe, review regularly for timeliness, and where room allows, make judicious decisions. Tom McCarthy has not observed the way shortcuts and ignorance of the rules have caused his body to diminish in political power and effect.
      I have called for the group to see themselves as “watchdogs” of the public taxpayer interests as a duty they were elected to do. Last night I clearly saw the “watchdog” imagery used in the past with muzzled dogs, blindfolded dogs, sleeping dogs and lap dogs really did not capture the full message. Our watchdogs are WALKED by McCarthy two times per month through the DOG SHOW we label our legislative meetings. He is a ‘DOG WALKER,’ a professional occupation, as a matter of fact. He holds the leash and a variety of collars and choke chains to the necks of the dogs when they get out to exercise. Unfortunately for us, most of them are barkless breeds. And Tom McCarthy saw to the removal of a legislative caretaker years ago so they are really on their own in terms of learning and tradition.
      Lisa, where are the barking types from past Councils? Time will tell.

      • Bob Walsh

        Lisa and JML are way too kind towards Tom McCarthy. Not only does he believe he is trained, experienced and prepared to be the next Mayor of the city, he believes he is ordained to be and it is only a matter of time.
        You are right in that the video portrays him as unprepared, confused, dare I say scared of the public but continues to do whatever the mayor wants him to do whenever the mayor wants.
        The first step in the revolution is to send Tom McCarthy packing in August’s primary. If he loses the other council members will take notice. If he loses big that may take off running.

      • Lisa Parziale

        Bubba, what did I say that was kind to McCarthy? He’s a baboon! He had the nerve to tell JML they were “playing by the rules.” This was after JML appropriately asked that the rules be suspended to allow more speakers. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the clueless council members were not aware that was the call of all members present via a vote. The little dictator has been hanging around little Mario too long. All of a sudden he utters the words “we’re playing by the rules” after he ignored the “rules” for years. I heard G2 mingled after everything was over, now wouldn’t that have been a good idea for him to do before the budget was voted on? Hold meetings for the public, present proof of his claims of a $20 million deficit, allow questions and provide honest answers. It most likely wouldn’t have changed anything, but at least the taxpayers would feel they were engaged in the budget process since they’re carrying the load. He lost his game, in my opinion his absence dulled his political astuteness, and his disdain of showing up to meet with the citizenry is obvious. Hold on for the next three years, we’re in for the ride of our lives.

  • BOE SPY

    What are the odds Joe has gone crazy? Prison does change people. He laid off seven at the library? How does that help his budget? The library has its own mil rate. That money will stay in the library’s budget. Then, if Joe laid off people improperly they will sue and get all their money back. This could cost the city money. What will he do next? Cut jobs at the BOE. He could fire teachers. That will not help the city’s budget but that does not mean it is not fun. Maybe he will lay off in Fairfield. Seems like Joe is firing people for fun because it is not clear how this will save the city money.

    If the supervisors union gave back the raise this would save the city (maybe) $300K. 2.5% by (around) 150 people by an average salary of (maybe) $80K. Laying off 30 people at an average of $80K is $2.4 million in salaries alone. Why such a disparity? Unless he only plans on laying them off for 1.2 months.

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      The city keeps the library money and usually refuses to release all the funds. The ploy is to show the citizens year over year the library does not use (or need) the 1 mil and encourage the voters to repeal the allocation. There are five libraries in Bridgeport and thanks to Joe, four librarians now. One thing people need to ask, 14% grand list loss, 29% tax increase; why are the schools flat-funded?

    • Lisa Parziale

      BOE, I’m not being mean or uncaring, but that thought has crossed my mind a lot over the past months. Remember, no one knows him better than I when it comes to politics. I was there when he came in and when he went out. He had an edge, he was savvy, the future was his for the taking, now his actions resemble someone who’s not stable when making decisions. This is scary!

  • flicka

    The hatred in the chamber was uncomfortable. I wonder how the BR city reps can appear in public.

  • Donald Day

    It’s my understanding the taxes paid by the people of the East End were exorbitant when one looked at the value of their homes and the taxes they paid. This was done under Bill Finch for numerous years.

    Where was the outrage then when those East End residents were literally subsidizing the taxes of those from Black Rock who paid less than their East End counterparts, based on home value? Your chickens have now come home to roost and for the pleasure of living a stone’s throw from Fairfield in a community you never wanted associated with Bridgeport, you finally have to pay your rightful share in taxes. That’s the way the property tax structure works, you live in a better neighborhood, you live in a house that’s appraised higher than others, you pay more taxes. Where does white privilege fit into this argument?

    • Frank Gyure

      Donald Day, with this statement you have shown yourself to be be blind to the facts and you are blinded by your own RACISM. Yes, I am calling you a RACIST. Your statement the East Side subsidized lower taxes for white areas is LUDICROUS. The exact opposite is true. The long-time high taxes of Black Rock, Brooklawn and the North End have subsidized the East Side. With your statement, despite your career as a firefighter, you have lost all respect I had for you and would not be surprised if you have lost respect and credibility from other readers here on OIB and from anyone else who might read your statement. DONALD DAY, SHAME ON YOU!!!

    • Jimfox

      Farina, you’re an asshole!

    • John Marshall Lee

      Donald Day, tax outrage has been out there for years. Where have you been? Out of town with no Bridgeport tax bill? Why else did Joe Ganim run on a platform of “STOP RAISING TAXES?”
      You are a former City fireman with a Pension Plan A retirement benefit who resides outside Bridgeport and are not a current taxpayer, as I understand it. You appear fearful and angry as are some others of any Bridgeport fiscal changes lest you lose the retirement income promised to you and to which you contributed, is that right?

      You are a male, and have enjoyed male privilege? Your skin is dark and you have suffered from white privilege? And most readers have never stopped to think about how these and other privileges, especially being born in or currently residing in the US have to do with whom and where we are today. And we should thank our maker for our gifts, not of our own creation or devise. And we need to respectfully see, respect, and work with our neighbors, whatever their privileged past.

      You are not in the political structure of the moment, perhaps, so you suffer from some ‘lack of freedom privilege’ as among the many protestors, white, black, Asian, East European, Italian, Portuguese, Irish Roman Catholic, and even Reverend Gloria from the East End with a $12,000 tax bill, who spoke last night.
      This is a justice denied situation. And the people are speaking truth to those in power at this moment. And for all of the anger and outrage (after their preceding months or years of silence), I am proud of this awakening. I am content that the Mayor stayed to the end. We will learn in the days ahead what he heard and what he takes away from the spoken truths. And the Council members? Each of them have individual decisions to make as to whether the leashes and choke collars of the administration will keep them silent, permit no courage and stand in the way of genuine constituent representation.

      You have a right or privilege to your opinion, but do not turn last evening into a racial issue. And if you wish your rights to be upheld ultimately, don’t you wish for a more open, accountable, transparent and honest governance process to become established? If so, will you speak to those issues? Time will tell.

      • Ron Mackey

        John Marshall Lee, you’re missing a bigger point, Mayor Ganim and the members of the City Council have no fear of John Marshall Lee when you speak because you can’t hurt any of them. Ganim played the game last night by staying and listening to what you and others said because you were there in numbers but that was last night, now what are you going to do? You are not reaching out to those who are renters and a very large number of them are people of color. That crowd was mostly white and those are not the voters who put Ganim into office. You must make it known to renters their landlord is going to pass the tax increase into their rent, please don’t assume they know this because people don’t read OIB or the Conn. Post. You don’t want to look at race, okay, but you won’t move to get change, you can get mad but think about what’s being said, think.

        • Jennifer Buchanan

          Very good points, Ron. Any suggestions from you on how to achieve this are greatly appreciated and respected. Any?

        • Frank Gyure

          Ron Mackey, you are absolutely right that we need a coalition across all racial groups in Bridgeport to displace the present political structure which had used and turned one group against each other in their political games.

          • Lisa Parziale

            Don’t lose the momentum, start by bringing together people who are willing to do the work necessary to stop this madness. As the group grows, there will be new, willing, intelligent people who may step up and be willing to challenge the present Council. It’s time, it will work!

        • John Marshall Lee

          Ron, I AM LOOKING AT RACE. Thank you. And just because Don and you raise it, doesn’t make it so. There were renters present last night speaking and I have plans but why share them with you at this moment as you continue to want to be a player from the sidelines, engaging when you wish but unwilling to meet and find COMMON CAUSE.
          When a white person, as I am, dares to enter the discussion of race, suddenly I am out of bounds or do not wish to discuss race? Not true. Sit down with me, brother Bridgeporter and share your wisdom face-to-face as I have done with others in Bridgeport’s diverse population where I often am a minority.
          I have addressed several serious messages to the concerns Donald and you express quite regularly. No response from you? No further info on what I have missed and might learn from your experience and wisdom? And trust me, I am thinking often, very regularly and deeply. That does not mean I wish other than to sit with you and learn. Courage brother, I am not worried about Ganim getting the entire message right away. Many are. And that ultimately is what will count I believe firmly. Time will tell.

          • Ron Mackey

            JML, more than 90% of those who were there last night were white and the picture that appears in the media showed a bunch of angry rich white folks mad about their taxes going up and they should be mad but remember that 70% of Bridgeport are people of color. Once again, where is the outreach to that 70% into the fight? I mention earlier a lot of people of color are renters. And John, what are the details of this plan, when will it become public? A Control Board and who is going to enforce it, what is its mission, goals and objectives and is it legal? You know I really don’t need to write or to suggest anything to anybody.

          • BOE SPY

            Then why weren’t you there, Ron? You want to engage people of color. Well, engage you. Was Don there? Oh, never mind. He does not live in BPT.

      • BOE SPY

        I wish Kohut had seen that video before he voted for Ganim.

        • Jennifer Buchanan

          Some people would rather be right in what they believe rather than informed of the actual facts.

        • Ron Mackey

          Were you there? It doesn’t matter because nobody knows you because you’re scared so nobody should pay any attention to a coward who can’t give their name.

          • BOE SPY

            But I am not the one who constantly criticizes people for not engaging apartment dwellers and homeowners of color. I am trying to engage a homeowning, BPT resident of color to get up off his butt and engage in city politics. Go to the meeting or shut up. Next time you want to know why there aren’t any people of color at these meetings, just think about why you are not there. I tried to engage you.

          • Ron Mackey

            You are a NOBODY and NOBODY knows you and NOBODY cares. A coward who wants to go after people but who is not brave enough to say yes, I said it and this is who I am. Not you because you are so scared and who wants to have respect for a coward who hides?

  • Jennifer Buchanan

    The outrage was both pointed out and expressed by Torres in a tax video with over 25k views last fall. It no doubt cost him a lot of Black Rock votes. As Torres pointed out, Serious across department budget cuts, selling city surplus property are just a few of the measures this administration needed to do but refused to do to prevent this. This comment was posted on Doing It Local FB page regarding coverage of the meeting. “Many people voted for Ganim believing he was going to lower taxes, but taxes went up on the East Side also not sure why it was reported that it went down. I wish the East Side is organized like Black Rock.”
    Where was the outrage on the East End? Take a ride over there, they expressed their outrage by abandoning their property. Count the number of boarded-up and abandoned houses per block, and show me how that helped the city become aware of their needs.
    This city DTC and elected officials know keeping the citizens fighting and finger-pointing, look at wealthy white Black Rock, look at the crime-ridden (insert neighborhood of your choice here), and no one stops the rhetoric and works together to improve anything.
    Call it white privilege if that suits your purpose, there is absolutely no real reason for any business, home owner in this city to incur a 29% tax increase, this is citywide, and I for one am more than a little tired of being demeaned and faulted for getting out of our collective “mansions” and calling the administrations out for the betterment of all the city.

    • Jimfox

      Right on, Popcorn Queen!

    • Donald Day

      Jennifer, with all due respect to you, when is the last time you were on the East End? I was there yesterday and I talked to several of my friends who own homes and each and every one said their taxes went down. Now who do I believe, them who received their tax notice or you who lives in Indiana? Calling out white privilege doesn’t suit a purpose because it’s just a fact of life in America that most blacks have learned to live with. Finally, I don’t have a problem with you leaving your mansion calling out the administration, that’s your battle, not mine.

      • Jennifer Buchanan

        I was there last fall, many times. Yes, East End tax dollar amounts went down, as did the value of their homes. Yes, for years they were over assessed, as were other parts of the city. Yes, I agree white privilege exists, and in ways whites are not even aware of, and a lot of the behavior is culture based for most rather than race based in my experience. As in being made aware of, hey that sounded racist, and understanding gosh, not what I meant, I had no idea. Institutional racism, still there, no doubt. I do take exception to Black Rock citizens rallying for citywide issues, which this is, and just because Black Rock was hit harder than most of the city, of course we will holler the loudest, and it was for everyone. If it was white privilege that the reassessment was not done, and that section of the city was unfairly taxed, is that Black Rock White privilege or city elected officials, including those city council representatives people privilege? When Torres made me aware of this, and I shared it on this blog, more than a few people called bullshit on the facts.
        Statewide property tax reform is needed. The government should be taxing you on the price you paid for your house not on some assumed price they think your house is worth, which is what is done in many states, with a maximum 2% tax increase cap per year. Imagine the city having a real budget to work with, not a how much can we tax the voters budget!

  • Bob Walsh

    Congratulations to Senator Marilyn Moore for being at the meeting and speaking out.
    I am sure she angered many of the mayor’s minions by being so bold but it just goes to show she is not beholden to the mayor or DTC like her opponent is.
    And if all the good citizens of Bridgeport give Tom McCarthy, his volunteer workers (if any) and his paid canvassers an earful about he is one of the elected officials most responsible for this outrageous tax hike, then maybe he will take a hike.
    Don’t let him say it’s not his fault. He was only doing what the mayor told him to.

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      Ahem, and congratulations to Walker and his “group” for getting those seats filled. And, I would imagine the Senator just won Black Rock from the well-deserved and earned statements about her all over social media.

    • Frank Gyure

      Couple of weeks ago we had a discussion concerning McCarthy and some CC people were out canvassing and we had seen or heard little from Senator Moore. I stated then it would be easy for her to win the primary if she tied McCarthy to the tax increase in the Bridgeport parts of her district (Black Rock, Brooklawn, North End) and go to the Trumbull part and tell residents in Trumbull that McCarthy is a political hack who is ready and willing to raise taxes and tie him to the WPCA agreement in Trumbull. I’m glad to see Senator Moore is getting active. Going after McCarthy directly is not negative campaigning. It’s the truth.

  • Donald Day

    Frank G, I would think you might want to look up the word racism and stop relying on your ignorance when you use this word to characterize me or any other black person for expressing their opinion. There is absolutely nothing in my post that would suggest racism. The fact is the taxes paid on homes in the East End were much higher than they should have been based on home value, that’s not me that’s the CT Post so is it now a racist paper?

    JML, you are correct, I no longer live in Bridgeport, but I lived there for 25 years paying taxes, how long have you lived there? You didn’t answer that question the last time I asked. What male privilege have I enjoyed John and why would you need to make up a condition that doesn’t exists just to make some kind of convoluted point? It appears as if you and that ignorant Frank take exception to my use of the term white privilege like it doesn’t exists or my saying it would make me racist. You must remember when the white privilege term comes at you, the intention is not to make you feel guilty. You’re not guilty of simply being born into the life you have. The point is to recognize it because you will hopefully have more understanding and empathy for those who have less. JML, damned right I’m concerned about my pension just as you’re concerned about your tax bill and not to be so would be foolish.

    I left Bridgeport for one reason, to get my son who was in the third grade at the time, out of the Bridgeport school system. Two weeks after moving I was called to his school in Seymour and told he was tested and was so extremely behind their curriculum and couldn’t handle the 4th grade if he passed. Well JML, my son got good grades there, but we moved in April so they couldn’t hold him back because of his grades from Bridgeport. I had to pay Sylvan Learning Center $250 to be tested and $75 per session twice a week ($150 a week) for over a year to catch him up. I tell you this to make you see I love my children more than I love Bridgeport and I did everything in my power to give them every opportunity to succeed in life and I don’t give a damn what you think, feel or believe because we aren’t buddies, boys or friends.

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      And I shall give you an example, a black professional on an overcrowded train in NYC had his half-opened backpack on the empty seat next to him, with his laptop clearly showing. He had on noise-blocking headphones and did not hear a white man ask him repeatedly if it was his bag or to please move it so he could have a seat. The black man was furious the white man touched his bag to hand it to him, and when he removed his head phones, he was very upset because he heard the white man say, why don’t you listen to me. The black man was of the opinion no white people touch other white people’s possessions on train seats and we never say to one another, why didn’t you listen to me. As both a flight attendant for five years and a NYC train rider for 11, white people touch, shove and move possessions of others who ignore or don’t hear requests for letting us use that seat with your stuff on it. So white privilege or cultural misunderstandings? Perhaps a bit of both.

      • Jennifer Buchanan

        White people move other people’s stuff all the time, we had no idea other cultures don’t.

      • Donald Day

        Jennifer, I would say neither. I would say the black man was just discourteous as hell. Sex assailant Brock Turner’s light jail sentence for rape may have been the result of “white privilege” and “unconscious bias.” The white kid that received probation for killing several people when driving drunk and he got off by the affluence plea is white privilege. The black dude on the train, just rude as hell.

        • Jennifer Buchanan

          Yup, the black man on the train blogged and called it white privilege, so I hope you might understand why white people sometimes get very confused by the term. I would call your two examples and add institutional racism also.

    • Frank Gyure

      rac·ism
      ˈrāˌsizəm
      noun
      the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
      prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
      “a program to combat racism”
      synonyms: racial discrimination, racialism, racial prejudice, xenophobia, chauvinism, bigotry, casteism
      “Aborigines are the main victims of racism in Australia”

      • Frank Gyure

        Donald Day, there is your definition of racism. As to ignorance, you keep wearing your racist blinders so who is the real ignorant one and that is why you can’t see the racism in your initial comments.

        “Where was the outrage then when those East End residents were literally subsidizing the taxes of those from Black Rock who paid less than their East End counterparts, based on home value?” That’s a quote from you, Donald Day. YOU DIRECTLY SAID THE EAST SIDE SUBSIDIZED THE TAXES FOR THOSE IN BLACK ROCK.

        I’m not going to address this issue any more in this string of comments because this should be about the 29% mil rate increase and the state of affairs in the total city of Bridgeport.

        • Frank Gyure

          This is why we don’t get things in Bridgeport. We point fingers at each other instead of holding hands TOGETHER and fighting together for a better Bridgeport. A Better Bridgeport will help all.

          • Jennifer Buchanan

            Perhaps less inflammatory name calling, more understanding of other’s point of reference might actually help the process. Including me, most of all.

        • Donald Day

          Frank, is the ignorant person the one you think is ignorant or the one who can’t see his ignorance?

    • John Marshall Lee

      Donald, in a post above you ended with: “Where does white privilege fit into this argument?” I do not have time to respond to your entire set of questions but why did you raise this question when the subject was East End and other unfair valuations that caused unfair assessments and tax levies in recent years? That takes us back to the Finch 2013 attempt to follow State guidelines with a revaluation in that year. Was your voice like mine, critical of the failure to use the results of that Vision revaluation? Were you as strong about East End injustice, along with condo injustice throughout the City?
      I have lived in Bridgeport for 28 years now. Why do you ask? Taxpayer all those years, service to many local groups in a variety of disciplines, and over the past half dozen years specifically been focused on Bridgeport fiscal governance in my spare time reading, research and writing.

      If you do not think you have enjoyed male privilege, then ask women who understand ‘male privilege’ and take their test, please. Is it possible you are unaware of ‘male privilege’ in a way similar to those who are asked to consider their ‘white privilege?’
      Peggy McIntosh more than 30 years ago examined the subject of ‘male privilege’ and suddenly from women of color in the Boston area was called to attend to her ‘white privilege.’ She has written about each subject. I did not invent those terms and am happy to share areas that are not OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT and HONEST as I have often said. There is no law specifically against most of these privileges, but where blindness about privilege exists, injustice can continue.
      You cared about your children. Way to go. That’s what good parenting is about, no matter the specifics. If you had to move as many parents in Bridgeport do causing school changes and disruption, that is your responsibility. If you don’t give a damn what I think, I am sorry but not apologetic, because I support your actions and see you still do not understand my mission, which is to get those who have been elected to represent the people in their districts. I want respect as you do as a man who is using his talents, time, and treasure (minimal) to assist all the people in making some progress. I am not your opponent. No doubt we share a variety of goals once we begin talking and listening and sharing our dreams. Possible? Time will tell.

  • Ron Mackey

    I’m still waiting to read what it is going to be, a Financial Review Board or a Control Board and what are the details, there are so many unanswered questions. Okay, it’s time to stop patting yourself on the back and get busy with the business at hand. What is the action plan and who in City government and state government are going to be involve or will they tell you it cannot be done? There too many questions and no answers.

  • Bob Walsh

    What I still can’t understand is when Joe Ganim stole YOUR money and used it to enhance his own wealth and the wealth of his friends, the public did not seem to care. They did not show up in public meetings like they did last night.
    But when they received a tax bill from the same crook that has a tax increase in it, well everyone is up in arms.
    Joe Ganim increased your taxes every year he was mayor the first time but, I guess, because there wasn’t a line in the tax bill that said COST OF CORRUPTION, no one could be bothered with trying to figure it out.

    • Ron Mackey

      Bob, you got that right, he was their neighbor and he was the golden boy who could do no wrong, Joe was one of them. They had their feel-good moment last night, but now what?

    • Frank Gyure

      Bob Walsh and Ron Mackey, I know where you are coming from but you’re both off base. Don’t dilute the 29% mil rate increase with obfuscations from years past.

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      Bob, do you really think if a crowd showed up for the public hearing on the budget anything would have been different? That the budget would have been reduced enough for a modest hike?

      • Bob Walsh

        I believe if 300 – 400 people showed up at the non-education public hearing then, yes, the budget would have been reduced. How much, I don’t know the numbers but I never bought the $20m deficit.

        • Ron Mackey

          Bob, Jennifer and many of those at the council meeting the other night couldn’t even elect JML because they were too busy listening to Rick Torres. Look, I want to see a strong Republican Party in Bridgeport but that’s not going to happen for a long time so you use what you have, the DTC and get your people in place inside the DTC. Black Rock has been sitting in Torres’ Harborview Market listening to Torres and Dave Walker, and what have they gotten? You didn’t want Ms. Foster and you didn’t want Ganim so you voted for Torres and Finch and you got nothing.

          • Jennifer Buchanan

            I was not at the council meeting, Ron. Still in Indiana. And I would admit to playing golf with my mom and friends if it would not make me look like even more of a wealthy white elitist; and for the record, the cost is $25 for 18 holes and cart.
            Torres said in meetings and writings, don’t vote for me for city council, vote for Lee. Help me recall, who did Foster endorse for city council in Black Rock?
            Oh, that you would join the Republican Party and help make it the strong party you claim you want.

          • Jennifer Buchanan

            Take over the DTC, easy you say. Kinda feeling like I am being told to become a mobster and infiltrate the mafia in order to take it over for some reason.
            I will give you the point the Democrats in Bridgeport need to clean their own house.

          • Ron Mackey

            Jennifer, if Black Rock focuses on the next election for the DTC and get just five of their people on the 130th district DTC they can take Danny Roach out from being the district leader, just five people and look at the power they will have. Members who are on the DTC just like council members don’t like to work and go door to door, they are not workers. This can be done.

        • Jennifer Buchanan

          A few years ago over 100 people showed up and spoke up at the budget hearings when Finch made it known the mil rate would rise (3 or more mils I think, but am not sure) and zip, zero, nothing changed. I find it hard to believe Joe would have changed one $ of the budget, because as pointed out, this group did not vote for him, and the city council members–rubber stampers–as also pointed out.

  • Bob Walsh

    No, Frank. You do not know where I am coming from. People voted for Ganim because they didn’t like Finch. People voted for Finch because they didn’t like Ganim.
    They were both career politicians who should not have been trusted.
    There was another candidate in both the Primary and the General; Mary-Jane Foster.
    Honest, hard-working, sincere but for whatever reason people decided not to vote for her.
    Maybe, just maybe, if people had given the lady a chance we would be looking at a totally different set of circumstances.

  • Bob from BePo

    Not that I’ve ever spent a dime there or ever will, but how about a boycott of Testo’s and his other place in Brooklawn at 5 corners? A symbolic gesture that can’t hurt.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Bob,
      There is an idea. Testo’s at 1773 Madison Avenue is a restaurant destination for many. It has seating capacity for large parties and family style serving may allow an affordable serving price to groups looking to gather and celebrate.
      The School Volunteer Association in Bridgeport with several hundred adult volunteers and mentors gathered a month ago for lunch at that location. As a mentor of Bridgeport young male students for over ten years, I wrote a check to SVA as an annual contribution. I also sent my RSVP that I would attend to sit with my seventh grade mentee for this year. However, I said I would not be having lunch that day in protest to the level funding of the Board of Education by Mayor Ganim and his budget formulators. My protest. My boycott. Seat in a chair but no food thank you.
      What did it matter, you may ask? Well there were at least four other volunteer adults at the table. They saw me passing food plates and taking none. They asked why. That was an invitation to tell them how the DTC, with Mario Testa as leader, had ignored the very youth in the room today as far as next year’s school budget was concerned.
      They just did not know, some because they do not regularly follow City affairs as resident taxpayers and others because they are from the suburbs and do not understand how ‘corrupt’ and uncaring the current political establishment can be in practice. So, will there be a march on Testo’s with picket signs? Will anyone be there at 4 AM to see Emperor Mario arise to begin his day? Will an organized boycott action be helpful in getting the DTC District Chairs to make a comment about the BOE budget evasion? Would such an action make the suburban restaurant-goers avoid the location for an evening and make a dent in Testo’s revenues as a major taxpayer? Time will tell.

  • Donald Day

    Very well said, Bobby. As an out-of-towner, who JML, QD and Andy like to remind me, I walked with and for Mary-Jane Foster because I knew she was better for the uplift of Bridgeport than the alternatives.

  • Donald Day

    Jennifer, you know I liked Ricky Torres too, but as a city councilman. I said it before and I’ll say it again, he was an asset on the council as the voice of discontent which Bridgeport hasn’t had in a long time. If he runs again for the CC, I’m voting for him.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Not to quibble Donald, but how can you vote for Rick Torres as a City Council rep when you live out of town? Or did you just mean supporting him? Time will tell.

      • Jennifer Buchanan

        He’s going to vote for Rick, I will personally see to it. And it will be a piece of cake, because Rick won’t run for city council again.
        And my friend, most excellent BOB launch email I received today, great job.

      • Donald Day

        Thanks Jennifer, like Chicago I’ll vote early, often and outside my district. JML, see if you can find your sense of humor. But I do think Ricky is needed on the CC.

        • John Marshall Lee

          Donald,
          Thanks for the reminder about humor. I started laughing when I began to picture you asking many of the fine women in your life whether you now or ever exhibited ‘male privilege.’ Sorry … lol. Absurdity is so often the source of deep satisfying humor. Thank you for caring. Time will tell.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Did postal worker Michael Bottillo show up?

    • John Marshall Lee

      I believe I saw him but he had not signed up in the City Clerk’s office in time to claim one of the six spaces. Do you think the Council should extend some speaking privilege to those who appear but are not signed up AS PART OF THE OFFICIAL PUBLIC HEARING PROCESS THAT IS RECORDED? Time will tell.

  • Mojo

    *** Well Mayor Ganim, you have to remember to take the bad with the good once you decided to come back into local politics. The last admin left you with a Red City Budget and the State as well, with no real short-term plans out of this financial debacle and now you’re stuck with layoffs, concessions and too high of an increased mil rate, after a short-term assessment property re-value. The taxpayers in one of the most politically involved districts (Black Rock) are beside themselves and will be joined by other districts that have also gotten a high tax bill. You have a weak city council that’s used to rubber-stamping government agendas and not really up on new government ideas nor doing their council homework. You need some major ideas and local changes that will help you start to turn things around, if not all the fanfare that brought you back as Mayor will be at your throat yelling for your political head! ***

  • Dave Walker

    Another article on Financial Control Boards.
    www .citymayors.com/finance/us-fiscal-control-boards.html

  • Booty

    There is really a quite simple fix that has been implemented in other parts of the country. In Bridgeport, all that would have to happen is for the city council to reverse two votes.

    Set the mil rate FIRST!!! Then let the mayor propose a budget within this constraint. Take exceptions to this constraint directly to the voters (like the 1 mil for the library). Then when the council looks at the budget, they can see where the trade-offs were made, and change them if they so wanted.

    You may have heard of Massachusetts’ Proposition 2-1/2. It limits property tax assessments and secondarily, automobile excise tax levies by Massachusetts municipalities. The name of the initiative refers to the 2.5% ceiling on total property taxes annually as well as the 2.5% limit on property tax increases. (This is a mil rate of 25!!!)

    California’s Proposition 13 (which was approved and made part of that state’s constitution) limits real estate taxes to 1% (10 mils!) and limits the amount any property’s assessment can increase to 2% per year, reverting to full market value when the property changes ownership.

  • Tom White

    Some thoughts I am offering late in the life of this post.

    We are seeing the effects of a ‘tax and spend’ mentality that prevails in the Connecticut state legislature and federal government. Cities cannot tax and spend. The ability to tax (property tax–a regressive taxation) is limited and it cannot print money and carry operating deficits into the next year.

    Regarding the debate about the need for a ‘financial control board’ or some sort of financial oversight, I lived through it. The FRB had a guiding hand in charter revision of 1993, anticipating a time when there would no longer be financial oversight by the State of Connecticut.

    Charter revision of 1993 provided for oversight of the city’s finances by the city council. As a result of that charter revision the city council can organize their branch of government to provide this oversight.

    Have they? Can they? Are they, as JML says, our watchdogs? Are we expecting too much from people appointed by the DTC who lack work experience and education?

    I’m looking forward to posting thoughts on the new Watchdog system and perhaps sharing some specific points on OIB as well.

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