Backed by the retired FBI agent who locked him up, former Mayor Joe Ganim announced on Monday a proposal to create an Office of Public Integrity declaring it “must be independent and nonpartisan. It should have jurisdiction to have oversight of all aspects of Bridgeport’s government operations, agencies, and authorities.” Ganim said if elected mayor he would create the new agency within 100 days. Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign manager responded that the best way to root out corruption is to keep Ganim out of office.
Ganim claimed in a news release the Office of Public Integrity will achieve cost savings for taxpayers uncovering wasteful spending and from reforming and proposing improvements to city purchasing practices.
Ed Adams, the former FBI agent turned private investigator who led the probe against Ganim, is advising Ganim on this proposal.
“This is an important initiative to reassure transparency and integrity in the city of Bridgeport,” says Adams in a news release. “I’m more than willing to help Joe in this effort, and in any capacity to help this city. Despite the past, I believe Joe Ganim is the right person to lead Bridgeport into the future.”
Mayor Bill Finch’s Campaign Manager Maryli Secrest says Finch’s plan to provide public integrity is to defeat Ganim.
“Our plan to root out corruption is to keep Joe Ganim out of office,” says Secrest. “The fact that, after 16 felony counts and 7 years in prison, Joe Ganim needs a babysitter to ensure he stays out of trouble speaks volumes to why he is still unfit for office.”
Spinning away from the federal investigation that led to his 2003 conviction on corruption charges, Ganim claimed the announcement in front of the Morton Government Center was “prompted in part by the recent cover up of crime statistics by the current administration, and the continued refusal to disclose the reevaluation numbers and hidden tax increases for the following calendar year … If this Office of Public Integrity was already in place, the people of Bridgeport would already know what is happening with the secret tax reassessment process underway and learn more about why taxes in Bridgeport are so high.”
Ganim did not specify in the news release how the Office of Public Integrity would differentiate from the city’s Ethics Commission which has served largely as a toothless tiger since its creation under former Mayor Tom Bucci in 1986.
Ganim said he proposes a three-to-five member Public Integrity Commission and a “credible, professionally experienced individual would be selected to lead the OPI. The City Council, Mayor, and certain other City fiduciary bodies would appoint members to this Commission based upon a City Ordinance to be adopted.”
If this is truly to be an independent body, why not have a coalition of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and State’s Attorney’s Office make the appointments?
The Commission will appoint a Director from submitted recommendations from the Mayor and City Council. The duties of the Commission and the Director shall include the following:
● Assure the public’s interest is protected in an open, transparent and honest government;
● Protect the rights of citizens and the press to have access to public documents and procedures of government which will help allow for effective oversight;
● Help to ensure transparency in city budgetary processes and the authority to review budgets to ensure compliance with municipal
law and City ordinances;
● Create a means of fairly and thoroughly investigating the nature of complaints coming from any Bridgeport resident as it pertains to corruption and dishonest practices in City government operations ;
● Investigate allegations of public corruption, complaints, or possible illegal actions taken by any department, agency, authority, department managers and/or employees if such actions relate to City operations;
● Present reviews and any evidence of probable corruption or violations of City Code to the Commission for recommendations as to whether violations have occurred and to recommend sanctions;
● Refer possible criminal or civil violations to appropriate City officials, and/or the Connecticut State Police, and/or appropriate federal authorities.
CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart attended the Ganim announcement. More here.
It goes without saying Bridgeport’s City Hall needs an overhaul as well as an efficiency audit. There are also many problems that have become “business as usual” for Bridgeport’s governance. For one thing, there are many institutionalized problems that are being blamed on a former mayor. There have been two successive mayors since he left office; neither has attempted to dismantle the dysfunctional structure and cronyism endemic to Bridgeport City Hall. Instead of lifting a finger to correct the existing problems, they are blamed on someone else. How about eliminating the redundancy, the jobs handed out as political favors, the sloth and mismanagement? How about not blaming all that is wrong with City Hall on a political opponent and working to fix the problems?
All we’ve heard so far is the current occupant of the mayor’s office has beautified parks, built a school and erected a strip mall on a peninsula in the harbor. What is necessary are a few of the following measures:
· An efficiency audit. There are too many things going on that do not benefit the city and its citizens. The “boot and tow” program for one. The only interests truly benefiting from that program are the judicial marshals who dispose of the seized vehicles through auction or scrapping for parts; the towing companies; and the business that puts the boot on the car. The city doesn’t see much after all those palms have been greased. One has to ask, if the city is not benefiting from increased tax revenue, why is it allowing cars to be confiscated from people who can barely afford them in the first place?
· The acquisition of properties through the foreclosure process. The city has acquired a fair number of residential properties that are standing vacant and abandoned, falling into disrepair. Scavengers break in to steal copper piping and any other metal of value; drug dealers use the rooms to sell product and their customers use the rooms to smoke crack or shoot heroin. The houses sustain water and fire damage and eventually have to be demolished. Most of the time the city acquires these properties because of a tardy water bill.
· Transparency in the budgetary process. The budgets handed in do not adequately address the city’s long-standing financial woes, problems that have been glossed over for too long. The people of the city of Bridgeport are entitled to a City Council that operates independently from the mayor’s office. If there are any members who don’t have the balls to stand up to Adam Wood or any other browbeater in City Hall, please step down. There are thousands of people who are not beholden to the municipal payroll for a livelihood who are more than willing to take your place and represent the people of the city of Bridgeport as they deserve to be represented.
Joe would have no need to take properties through foreclosure. He took properties under eminent domain. Remember the neighborhood that once stood on Steel Point? The same Steel Point that was standing vacant and abandoned, falling into disrepair for 20 years? Kid, it is like a giant game of Finch should have been doing what Ganim didn’t do with you. You have a long list of things Ganim never did.
The Bridgeport Kid // Aug 10, 2015 at 3:19 pm
To your post
Just the beginning …
“The City Council, Mayor, and certain other City fiduciary bodies would appoint members to this Commission based upon a City Ordinance to be adopted.”
This statement is of concern. These people should NEVER be appointed by the people they are supposed to be “watch dogging,” so is it same old, same old?
I agree with you, hope I c. s. m. h.!
And how about our state officialdom? Would the state, which is our city’s financial life support, be among “certain other … fiduciary bodies?”
But the state cannot even enforce the city’s perennial underfunding of the public schools, per the state’s own MBR. How about the Feds?
As for a city ordinance, would the City Attorney’s Office have to get involved in the interpretation and enforcement of it? Or would the City Council get its own attorney for this? As we know, the City Attorney’s Office reports up to the mayor.
The ethical and moral infallibility being conferred repeatedly onto Mr. Ed Adams is extraordinary. I must meet this man! 🙂
Would Adams’ involvement be pro bono? Paid? What happens if Ed Adams retires? Any other people of moral and ethical infallibility waiting in the wings to step in for Bridgeport?
More questions than answers here, it seems. But I hope if Ganim does not win the election, perhaps he’ll carry out this work with Adams via pro bono pilot programs. It would be a positive development to see this incubating idea tested and fine-tuned into real-world benefits for cash-strapped U.S. cities marred and gored by government corruption.
BTW: Oops! Ms. Secrest mentions “[o]ur plan to root out corruption.” Whose plan? Can it be? Now eight years in, the Finch administration is finally working up its own “plan to root out corruption?”
Pete Spain // Aug 10, 2015 at 4:12 pm
To your post
Correct to your points.
I do believe an office of this importance to Bridgeport will have several approaches to consider before the credible and evolving office is implemented.
Among the many imperatives, this is one of the most important.
The Bridgeport Kid, your thoughts are so accurate, why can’t those who will begin to tear them apart just read, process and keep an open mind? hope I can sell my house, I agree with you 100%. The proposal is needed, but there must be another vehicle used to appoint members. The Mayor and the City Council should have nothing to do with this possibility. I admit I don’t have a suggestion at this point, but there is a better way.
Steven Auerbach is the only one who will attempt to tear them apart. But his opinion is dismissible; all he does is taunt and annoy the other posters here.
This proposal is no better than the Ethics committee. What happens when a mayor or his top aides do something wrong?
Better yet, what happens when the Mayor and City Council fail to fully staff the committee? It is happening now with a host of City committees. Name me one that is fully staffed as required by its respective charter.
We would be better off electing an ethics commission with an election funded by the city so no one can “buy votes” on the commission.
Wishful thinking, I guess.
No Michael, not wishful thinking. That’s the only option that comes to mind should this commission become a reality. And candidates interested in serving should not be at the mercy of an endorsement from the DTC or any other political body. There has to be a way to keep political influence out of such a commission.
Andrew C Fardy // Aug 10, 2015 at 4:03 pm
to your post
We all know what happens when a Mayor and his top aides do something wrong. We have been witness to this practice from Ganim to Fabrizi to Finch. And we know how bad it has become for the City. It is certain the current lethargy of the Ethics Commission would change drastically under this proposal.
The proposal offered is to stop past practices that have led to disillusionment and cynicism among City voters.
You and JML have the best handle as to how budget abuses have led to much of the damage.
Wherever you are now Andy, if it should happen Joe Ganim does get the chance to initiate this proposal, your input would be welcomed and valuable.
I thought when we elected people, we entrusted them with the integrity to do what is right for the public good. So why would any candidate propose an integrity division to oversee the office to which they hope to be elected? Some would argue suspenders and a belt, I would argue standing on shaking ground.
Jennifer, really! You never cease to amaze me. That’s not meant to be a compliment.
Ditto, Ms. I was on City Council when Ganim was mayor.
Jennifer Buchanan // Aug 10, 2015 at 4:04 pm
To your post
Your thinking on this is limited in that there are commissions or offices of this description set up all over the country.
It has the message voter trust can be affirmed beyond the ballot itself.
First steps are critical, as you know.
Hey Jennifer, You never cease to amaze me too and I DO mean that as a compliment! 😛
Andy, the Ethics Committee members are recommended by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. I’m suggesting this should not be the case if this proposal comes to be. There must be another way. I don’t have a suggestion, but someone will. No Mayor and no member of the CC should have anything to do with it.
Funny that Ganim wants to do this now. He would have heard none of this when he was mayor. The great thing about coming up with a new watchdog system is you know exactly how to circumvent it. The only thing that would make this idea better would be to have Ganim not involved.
Great ideas come from those who’ve learned the hard way. Now BOE SPY, go do some interesting spying and cut it.
Rumor Mill: The ghost of Machiavelli has taken an interest in this primary and reiterates his support of Mayor Bill Finch. He’s upset because he thinks the opposite of Public Integrity is private vice and he doesn’t want smudge marks on Park City voters. What Bridgeport needs is a current FBI agent who’s willing to befriend Joe Ganim. He doesn’t want Bridgeport fooled by a double-dipping decoy.
This is such a joke. I mean, really? How about an honest mayor instead of wasting taxpayers’ money to establish an office of Public Integrity?
I’m running, though. Maybe in four years. 🙂
I would have to start with a Town Committee membership. Who wants to help me out on my road to becoming Bridgeport Mayor in 2019? 🙂
No one can win on this blog. Hey Frank, “honest mayor,” LOL. My efforts are with Joe, when he wins, you will see an honest mayor. Albeit the hard way, but you will all see an honest mayor.
Only if you are standing in BPT and looking out. Open your eye.
Can I open both “eyes?”
Lisa–While I continue to admire you, you are making it increasingly difficult. Your pal Joe continues to lie, without shame. Your leopard is not showing any real signs of changing his spots. By the way, with the promise of a job, he has purchased the support of an up-to-now somewhat revered retired FBI agent. Joe learned well at the knees of seasoned politician purchasers such as Donald Trump. OIB.
Come Back Bridgeport, I am not privy to Joe’s inner circle or his direction should he become Mayor. I believe after what he’s experienced he will be an honest mayor. Of course I hope I’m right in my assumption, and for the right reasons. Bridgeport and all of us who have spent our lives here, and will probably end our lives here, deserve it.
Lisa, you do not know his direction should he become Mayor? How is this possible? What are you basing your support on?
The Ganim-Adams relationship is disturbing and ridiculous. How does this happen? I honestly do not think anyone believes this story, but it would make a great storyline in a movie. I think this announcement just reminds the public we have trust issues with Ganim and an endorsement from the police union and a former FBI agent proves there is still questionable activity going on. I think Come Back Bridgeport, Frank the cabana boy, BOE SPY, Jennifer Buchanon and Pete Spain have made excellent points. Between this announcement and the anti-Finch/Rev Lee protest should spotlight Joe Ganim as an opportunist.
Both of these actions help Finch and Foster. The question is does Foster waste her breath on Rev. Lee or finally do something regarding Ganim.
Come Back Bridgeport, I appreciate your admiration, but what am I doing to possibly lose it? If I’m really out of line at times, let me know.
Lisa–you are so accepting of current promises of a convicted congenital liar. You have not cited one example as to why Ganim should now be believed.
While the idea for such an office is appropriate and timely, City Hall should definitely be sequestered from the appointment and operation of any Office of Public Integrity. Ditto for the Ethics Commission.
Indeed, it would seem such an office is redundant with the assumed functions of a municipal Ethics Commission.
Perhaps the Ethics Ordinance needs to be revisited and amended to explicitly include the functions that would be appropriate for an Office of Public Integrity.
Indeed, perhaps the City Charter needs to be amended to demand removal of City Hall from the appointment process and functioning of the Ethics Commission.
The Ethics Commission should be an independently appointed commission, with a budget allowing for independent clerical and investigative capacity, as well as independent legal counsel. The Ethics Commission should also have appropriate enforcement and decision-making powers.
The problem of independence and objectivity might be addressed by enlisting the cooperation of an objective, statutorially-mandated institution in selecting the membership of the Ethics Commission–perhaps the State Supreme Court could be enlisted to appoint a commission that would work with randomly generated town voter lists in selecting/vetting volunteers to serve on an Ethics Commission with duties described as above.
Bridgeport, under Mayor Ganim, could be the first town to suggest and utilize this system per our ground-breaking public-integrity initiative.
To Ed Adams–is it true you said to several area people in the early 2000s the FBI didn’t need any more evidence of felonies (now referred to as “mistakes”) committed by Ganim? That you had enough on him “to send him away for a long time?” If you owned a child-care center, would you hire a convicted serial pedophile to run it? Second chances in general are very commendable, but this is ridiculous. Shame on you for bringing discredit to the FBI. That you are living on my taxpayer-supported pension is particularly galling.
I too am bewildered at Mr. Adams’ new stance on Joe Ganim. Few knew better than he what shady dealings (felonies now known as mistakes) were transpiring while Ganim was in office. And now apparently he has done an about-face and chosen to support the candidacy of a man he diligently worked to convict. I cannot help but wonder what the other agents who were part of the investigative process are thinking at this point. I know politics makes strange bedfellows, but it doesn’t get stranger than this!
Well Godiva, don’t try to make sense of it. Funny how life is. All aspects of it; things start out one way and end up another. Poor us!
Lisa, actually all of us who have spent our lives here and will end our lives here deserve neither of these two candidates. They have both failed this city and its residents. Bridgeport deserves better than Ganim or Finch!
Steve, I’m certain because of his screw-up he would not go there again. If I’m being optimistic, I prefer that to the alternative. We all made a choice in this election, and I know he has what it takes to be what we need right now. I don’t have a crystal ball, I’ve said it many times before, the electorate will decide and we’ll all live with it. We know how to do that!
Lisa–are you really comfortable referring to Joe’s 10 year’s worth of felonies while Mayor as just “a screw-up?” You sound too much like the others who are content to call them “mistakes.” When are you guys going to get real about morality in office? For ten years he pursued a profitable lifestyle for himself, and to hell with Bpt. During one of the country’s most dramatic economic upticks, he failed to increase Bpt’s tax base. He certainly improved his own. Let’s get real.
OK, everyone on this site seems so convinced Finch is corrupt but Ganim is (now) honest. Everyone in town is on Finch’s payroll. Even the Republican ‘straw man’ has been brought into the fold. Yet Finch has never been arrested or even charged. Even with $200K and his own private FBI agent, Ganim cannot get Finch investigated. No one in the ‘circle of thieves’ has ever gotten greedy and flipped on Finch. Even after the dozens of rumors the feds will swoop in and save the day, it has never happened. With all the power and money in Finch’s alleged criminal empire, he is hated by many but no one has the ‘smoking gun’ to bring him down. It is the conspiracy theory to beat all conspiracy theories. Rumor and innuendo gone crazy.
Ganim is just the opposite. Ganim was convicted of exactly what you accuse Finch and people are lining up to following him to the gold at the end of the election. I wouldn’t want to let the facts get in the way but I really do not understand.
BOE SPY, that’s what the saying means when you hear “they just didn’t get caught.” Doesn’t mean others haven’t in one way or another broken the law. They just haven’t been caught. I’m not suggesting any of it is right.
By that logic, you could say Finch is a child molester but he just hasn’t been caught yet.
If we follow the legal principle all defendants are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, Finch is innocent. Ganim, on the other hand, had his day in court and was convicted of past crimes. He served his time. I do not think it is fair to say someone is guilty but they just haven’t been caught yet unless you are producing evidence to the authorities that have the power to bring criminal charges. Are you doing that?
Michael Smith, I never used Bill Finch’s name in my post. I said “others,” you’re the one indicting him.
Maryli Secrest’s plan to root out corruption is to “keep Joe Ganim out of office.” Is that all Finch plans to do?
Derek, that’s a good start!
I think it would have been more effective if the Finch response would have focused more on what they are doing to address ethics, corruption and transparency. I administered a small informal survey in the south and across Bridgeport. The number-one response (of nine issue areas) was the concern about transparency/ethics. I think Ganim’s proposal is a step in the right direction, but people in this blog have pointed out some very good gaps.
About a year or so ago, Finch was going to appoint someone to the City Ethics Commission. This person was on the South End NRZ Board of Directors. I was very concerned that when he served on the South End NRZ, neither he nor others on the NRZ Board ever responded when I pointed out the many egregious irregularities taking place on the Board. In general, there were conflicts of interest on the NRZ, voting irregularities, and efforts to use the NRZ Board position for personal financial gain. In fact, the State of Connecticut did not even know they were operating when they are required to be approved by the State of Connecticut. Not once did this person who Finch appointed to the Board respond to these irregularities. Yet, this person was going to be appointed by the Mayor to serve on the City Ethics Committee. That is very concerning and calls into serious question the process of vetting individuals to serve on such a Board.
My point exactly!
… and neither do I.
All this disingenuous Public Integrity Office and former FBI agent nonsense from the Ganim campaign is just more smoke and mirrors designed to rehabilitate Ganim’s negative public image. The fact the Ganim campaign continues to use this failing tactic is simply a measure of how high Ganim’s negatives remain among likely voters.
John, “the fact the Ganim campaign continues to use this failing tactic,” that sounds to me like an assumption it’s already implemented and is failing. I don’t think you meant to say that the way it came out.
Lisa, based on the history of Ganim and Finch, if this so-,called integrity board is done there’s already a conflict by putting the former FBI agent on the panel. This is nothing more than a publicity stunt by Ganim. If you managed a bank and caught a teller stealing money the teller went to jail. The teller got out of jail and applied for a teller’s job at your bank, what would you do?
Andy, I respect you so I will always be open-minded when you make a statement. I’m beginning to think in the minds of some, it’s a given that someone who broke the law once will absolutely do it again. That’s not fair, and not true.
It doesn’t need to be pointed out that ethics reform is sorely needed in Bridgeport and has been for decades.
Joe Ganim was convicted of corruption-related racketeering charges. He went to prison, for seven years. Those charges are outlined here.
If anyone knows where the system’s ethical weak spots are, it would be Joe Ganim.
Bill Finch’s ethical lapses are well known:
• Withholding public records and police reports from the media “until after the election”;
• Manny Moutinho’s driveway;
• Using city funds to pay for campaign signs;
• Putting campaign workers on the municipal payroll;
• Accepting a $4000 campaign contribution in exchange for a 35-year tax abatement.
Lisa, Carolanne, Maria. Ganim received a reduction in his sentence by admitting to an addiction. Was it alcohol? Drugs? How have you satisfied yourselves he has conquered this demon?
In testimony to regain his law license, Ganim testified he was addicted to alcohol and prescription pills. However, there was no evidence in thousands of recordings of Ganim ever mentioning an addiction problem. The committee suspected Ganim’s claim he had an addiction was a lie and he only entered the program to shave time off his sentence. Now we get to listen to him preach about ethics and integrity.
It’s none of our business.
It is none of our business? Really? This guy is up to be the executive of the city of Bridgeport and his past addictions are none of our business? As a voter, I would like to know he conquered his addictions and is in full control of himself. I think it is absolutely our business as voters!
And how exactly do you or anyone for that matter possibly know if anyone conquered their addictions and are in full control of themselves? Whom do you know who is full control of him/herself? Should we all pray in the religion of our choice a supreme being arrive to run for mayor?
Come Back Bridgeport // Aug 11, 2015 at 3:19 pm
To your post and your timely question
I have to try at this point, to condense the thoughts I have had along with many of the women who made the decision to support this particular campaign effort by Joe Ganim to be elected Mayor of Bridgeport.
Collectively, the women who actively participate in the Ganim campaign know of Joe’s criminal record and a majority also are very familiar with the record of the current Mayor as to his administrative practices.
Our own collective moral compass needed to determine whether Joe Ganim was genuine in his remorse, repentance and reform position … both as an individual and as a candidate. Our decision was informed by many years of acquired political savvy, many years of professional experience, and many years of recognizing the need for the City of Bridgeport to achieve its potential as one great Fairfield County city.
The women, who made the decision to support Joe Ganim, knew their decision could find them “skating on thin ice” as to risking their own credibility; but moving beyond a statistical record of criminal behavior in order to choose an individual with an unassailable record of leading the City as Mayor is what we collectively chose to do. That is what we collectively expect Joe will do this time … again. Yes, we believe Joe Ganim has conquered his “demon.”
I commend you for believing Mr. Ganim has conquered his demons. I respectfully disagree. If you feel he is rehabilitated then by all means please hire him, but I don’t think he should be returned to the employment where he committed his crime; and worse–has not really admitted guilt–he admitted mistakes. Mistake implies you didn’t know better–he did know better.
What in hell demons are you talking about? And while we’re engaging tell me the difference between guilt and mistake. Stop playing semantics!
“Demon” was the term Carolanne used, I was responding to her post. A “mistake” is running a stop sign you didn’t see; or forgetting to return a library book; or buying the wrong item at the store. A mistake is doing what you weren’t suppose to do unknowingly. To me taking bribes and kickbacks is not something I would do unknowingly, so it can’t be a mistake. But if you define “mistake” as just doing something you shouldn’t have done and should have known better, then Joe didn’t commit a crime. Not all mistakes are criminal but all crimes can be mistakes. To me it’s not semantics, it’s malice aforethought–unless Joe didn’t think taking bribes and kickbacks was wrong–so how could they be mistakes?
Carolanne–Give me a break. Not one example as to why the convicted congenital liar should now be believed.
This is an article on Ganim’s stance on integrity and ethics. In another article Ganim criticized Finch for allegedly interfering with Mary McBride Lee’s event and she is now on the Ganim ticket. There was an excerpt from an e-mail taken out of context in the comments. Since we cannot read the entire e-mail we can suppose the excerpt was chosen to fit an agenda. Lee ‘claims’ Merrill was pressured into not attending but the e-mail only says ‘Denise will speak at the NAACP luncheon at the Holiday Inn, but we are not doing the 3 p.m. event at the East End Tabernacle Church. We don’t want to cause any trouble. Hope that helps.’ This sentence could mean Merrill was not going to attend either event but Wood negotiated a compromised to go to the Holiday Inn to ‘not cause any trouble.’ Ganim, Lee and Stallworth staged this outrage at their chief political rival. Are these the ethics we can expect? I guess when you cannot duke it out you go for the sucker punch. Then we have to listen to his hypocritical preaching about ethics and integrity.
You are full of propaganda. Black Rock single-family homes are likely to see upwards of a 40% increase in their taxes! Finch can easily set the record straight by releasing the revaluation information you claim is contrary he is illegally suppressing until after the election. What promises did he make to Fabrizi for withdrawing the FOI just before the hearing?