Ganim, City Council Leadership At Loggerheads Over Timing Of Charter Revision

The City Council Monday night is scheduled to vote on empaneling a Charter Revision Commission to update the document guiding Bridgeport’s rules and regulations that must be decided by a vote of city electors.

At issue is timing. City Council leadership wants the unforeseen commission’s recommendations placed on the November 2023 general election ballot while Mayor Joe Ganim sides with a broader timeline for November 2024. Ganim and all members of the council are up for election in 2023.

Charter change can be controversial such as the last time it was presented to voters in 2012 seeking to abolish an elected Board of Education with one appointed by the mayor.

The charter question came on the heels of then-Mayor Bill Finch’s lobbying efforts in favor of a state takeover of city schools that ultimately was reversed by the Connecticut Supreme Court. Opponents successfully attacked the measure as a means to dampen voter rights. Black voters in particular came out strongly against it during Barack Obama’s reelection for president.

Unclear the precise focus and areas of examination the panel would pursue. Items being kicked around by council members include more legislative body independence from the executive branch, hiring of its own legal team, the council president chairing meetings instead of the mayor, converting $9,000 city stipends for each council member into paid elected positions. In lieu of compensation council members receive stipends to cover expenses in the performance of duties, as well as travel allotments.

Empaneling the commission requires a two thirds vote of the council. If successful then the questions become who will sit on the commission as well as the swath of its charter examination.

Most city elections in Democratic-dominant Bridgeport are decided by September primaries. Even though the charter questions won’t reach city voters until November, controversial issues could provide a platform for primary opponents to attack incumbents.

If empaneled the work of the commission must be completed by July 2023. Council leadership certainly wants this done sooner rather than later.

Full agenda here.


One comment

  1. City Council Comments December 19, 2022
    Greetings to each Council Person at this holiday time for most folks in our City. Distinct cultures have been carried to BRIDGEPORT, CT, USA by immigrants on ships and planes for the most part, but a few may have come on foot as well. Facing overwhelming difficulties and opposition suffered in their former homeland they held dreams, aspirations and expectations that carried them through early adversity here and allowed them to build according to their plans, and the opportunities afforded them.
    Is there anyone on the City Council tonight who claims a different origin story of their family? Does a proud narration form a base for sharing details around the table with food and drink as you celebrate a holiday with family and friends?
    Enjoy the gatherings and greetings certainly. But listen well for the needs and wants that are within your power to address here in the City of Bridgeport. Food, sheltering and housing, education of young people so that they can successfully compete for higher education and employment in our future, safety for all citizens, including residents and visitors, formal and informal recreational and cultural activity for all ages with equal opportunities for all to participate in self-governance successfully on Boards, Commissions, or with not-for-profit organizations are all worthy of some oversight in your travels.
    Oversight on your watch or overheard by your good listening can provide you strength and appreciation for accountability information. Data, that is publicly recorded, over time, but not necessarily shared currently to show where we are today and where we fall short or can do better, is critical. A factual essay question in school often starts with the words: “Compare and contrast….” Complete that sentence with the “wants and needs” you learn from your constituents and figure out how to improve our work in the City for taxpayers, for residents of all ages, and for those neighbors who can be attracted to visit us, enjoy themselves here, and spend their money, also.
    A review of our governing document, the City Charter, is overdue in my opinion. I am happy to see you advancing the appointment of a study group to see whether there are one or more issues that might be put before the voters next fall as a question. I have an interest in getting more residents active in self-governance and am in favor of a different pattern of appointments, terms, training, and reporting than exists today, as an example. I favor budgeting some funds from the annual budget for independent advice to the Council on governance issues, City finances, and long-term economic development, perhaps so that productive conversations between legislative and executive City branches may happen for the benefit of all residents. Time is getting short for a productive timetable. What reasons should lead to delay? Perhaps political power and maintaining control? Time will tell.


Leave a Reply