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Ganim To Release Transition Team Recommendations

February 9th, 2016 · 17 Comments · Analysis and Comment, News and Events

Ganim, Salonen, Maya, Stallworth

Ganim with transition team chairs Neil Salonen, Alma Maya and Charlie Stallworth.

Mayor Joe Ganim on Wednesday is scheduled to release findings and recommendations made by his 75-member transition team chaired by University of Bridgeport President Neil Salonen, former Town Clerk Alma Maya and State Rep. Charlie Stallworth who’s also a member of the administration.

It’s tradition for a new administration to form a transition task force to review government for greater efficiency and cost savings. Often times it’s for show with not a lot of meat on the bones. Ganim asserts this one will be different.

When Ganim announced his transition team last November following his general election victory he said “The greatest work that is done for the public good is accomplished by a team, and no mayor can accomplish anything alone. This transition task force comprises some of the best minds in our city, and is a group of dedicated men and women from different backgrounds who have each worked hard to improve our quality of life. Bridgeport’s transition team is both broad and diverse, and will be thorough in its work. We will also be inclusive, transparent and free from conflicts of interest–that is the tone I am setting for my administration.”

The transition team includes the following committees: Community and Neighborhood Services, Economic Development and Small Business, Education and Youth, Government Accountability and Transparency, Government Operations and Financial Policies, Public Safety and Emergency Services.

See more about transition team and members here.

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17 Comments so far ↓

  • DWOrr

    Did he really say the tone of his administration is “transparent and free from conflicts of interest?” Really? LMAO!

  • Bob Walsh

    “It’s tradition for a new administration to form a transition task force to review government for greater efficiency and cost savings. Often times it’s for show with not a lot of meat on the bones.”
    It is also tradition to come up with ideas that don’t cost anything (don’t necessarily improve anything either) but sound good in a 10-second sound bite. Like “we implemented 90% of the recommendations of the transition team in our first 90 days in office.”
    I’m sure Av can explain all this to Lennie and he can praise the admin for doing a great job.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      I introduce OIB to THE Bob Walsh–the one I served six years on the Bridgeport City Council with. I totally agree. I have been doing my own transition work–75 members selected and I wasn’t even asked If I was interested to serve. Based on what I’m reading here, it is fair enough to state the recommendations or some of them are plagiarized. Av Harris fails to mention the fact much of the recommendations came from City Employees as they were consulted and interviewed. I’ll give one example of what happened to one of them after being so helpful and willing to cooperate and share many ideas for improving the dept. Not soon after, the employee was moved to another office and had her work hours changed. Based on the names of new hires, really hope her replacement is not the position and person mentioned in the CT Post article.

      • Joel Gonzalez

        In addition, many workers are afraid to go to their unions as they don’t trust their union. It’s obvious to many city employees there will be layoffs soon and I’m positive union leaders will be throwing a few of their own under the bus and play along. I’ve seen this movie before and in fact had a leading role in one.

  • John Marshall Lee

    I know a few people who have been on the transition teams and they enjoyed the variety of comments that were listened to. So depending on the problems, issues or concerns that were expressed in each of the five teams, we are likely to hear a variety of alternatives, solutions or ideas for the public to consider. And the beginning of a term is when “transition teams” are appropriate.

    Having used words like OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT and HONEST for years and seen their sense and purpose misunderstood, I believe we need to look at the actual practices that change in these directions as they should with the frequent mention in many parts of G2 messages.

    However, a Mayor’s responsibility is to lead, and this case with the cards that were left when the last mayor left office. To the fact it has not been easy from actual fiscal record keeping and last-minute (November 2015) actions that were handled without previous budgeting, transfer permissions, Council knowledge, professional accounting concern, or the future of the City in focus. More of this will come out with the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report I suspect. When it comes out and is posted on the City Finance Department site, take the time to read the narrative at least, and compare it to the previous year. Did Finch’s last full year in office move us forward fiscally or continue the trend to weaken our status? Time will tell.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      “Did Finch’s last full year in office move us forward fiscally or continue the trend to weaken our status? Time will tell.”

      JML, are you kidding us? You don’t know the RIGHT answer? How much time should we give you?

      • John Marshall Lee

        Joel,
        I do not have an important City job as you do where all sorts of City info flows through my job site. As a matter of fact I do not have a City job.
        I know you wield a mean hammer and crowbar on a job site and you have used other tools over the years to accomplish personal goals. However, how can you tell about Finch’s last full year, the fiscal year 2014-15 without the actual report in hand? I am not kidding, just being fact-based and patiently awaiting an overdue report (reasons multiple and probably excused) and hoping when the report shows up on the City site, some folks will bother to read it so they don’t pull their trigger before loading up.

        Joel, opinions are OK on the site as most of us agree. But you do not need to give me anything, time or otherwise. Just looking for facts and figures that should come out in the results of the professional auditors who have been doing this annual City oversight for years but which the City Council, the Finch administration and the public for the most part has been unaware. It is done because it is State law. It is paid for by taxpayers. It is a public document without need for FOI. It’s where the answers reside. Did you know that, Joel? Time will tell.

    • Bob Walsh

      John,
      I agree with Joel. When can we expect answers and recommendations from you; the self-professed expert on transparency?
      The last-minute actions of Finch were simply icing on the cake. The last days of Pompeii.
      The City Council led by their conflicted President and members abdicated their role of oversight. They had money in the budget to hire outside experts and chose not to use it. They could have demanded monthly updates on the budget but decided that wasn’t their job. They could have demanded a new Public Accounting firm but decided that was an unnecessary expense.
      Time has spoken but I guess you weren’t listening.

      • John Marshall Lee

        Bob,
        Please read answer to Joel first. Thank you.
        I am an advocate for OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT and HONEST process and systems of governance.
        The latest attack on my entries is to charge me with being “a self-professed” expert on one thing or another. I am still waiting for anyone to show me where in my writing I have claimed such status or expertise. Can you find this, Bob?
        Did the CC when Joel or you serve bother to hold a meeting where the CAFR was studied? If so, why did that habit cease, just as a matter of municipal discipline? Why has no one among the many OIB readers never mention that good practice “back in the day?” Could it be because it did not occur?
        Your second paragraph recounts “shoulda, woulda, and oughta” measures that have been the point of many of my questions to the Council (and also provided to OIB) for years. Andy Fardy and I called attention in 2011 to the Charter-breaking City behavior of providing financial reports only three times during the year and only covering 11 months. How did that happen to a Council when evidently you folks left it in good upstanding, watchdog state? Well 2012 gave us 12 months of monthly reports including a June DRAFT report. In 2013 for the first year we were provided 12 monthly reports and a DRAFT and then a FINAL after the audit for the first time since the Financial Review Board. It has taken staying power, awareness of the Charter, a willingness to be a watchdog and to work with others. Just to get us back where the Charter calls us to be in one part of the fiscal picture.

        Why are Joel and you so upset with me? Is it with the signoff “Time will Tell?” Why are you looking to me for answers and recommendations, aside from what I provide on regular occasions? Is it something I have done to you personally? Who has been asking the CC members for years now to perform oversight, be regular monitors, and use their Legislative budget dollars productively or cut them from their budget? Right now I strongly recommend hiring two employees with full responsibility to the City Council alone, with special skill sets around municipal finance and legislative ordinance writing and review, perhaps. That offers an opportunity to multiply alleged interest by Council members in serving the public before serving the Mayor or themselves by strengthening their own independent position as part of checks and balance. Anybody? Time will tell.

  • DougDavidoff

    I wasn’t appointed to the Transition Committee, and I did not ask to be appointed. I thought as a supporter of Bill Finch and then of Mary-Jane Foster, and as a person who campaigned very publicly against Joe Ganim, I would be persona non grata.

    I was wrong. Completely wrong. Team Ganim has been gracious every time I have approached with quivering legs. The role I was able to play in a small way in the Transition Committee is the best evidence.

    I was skeptical when I attended the first evening’s Transition Committee workshop right after the election in November. I thought it would a top-down here’s-what-we’ve-done-now-why-don’t-you-agree? top-down process. Instead, I found a mayor-elect ready to ask his audience for help and who then stepped aside to let the Transition Committee do its work. It quickly became apparent this was a well-thought-out process.

    I joined the discussion group with the Economic & Small Business team. It was the best discussion I had had about these topics in Bridgeport since moving to the city earlier in 2015.

    I asked to be allowed to continue in the discussions, hoping to bring examples to Bridgeport from life in other cities since leaving Fairfield County decades ago–Raleigh-Durham, Indianapolis, Chicago, and Boston in particular. I was also aware of good things and mistakes that had happened in cities Bridgeport’s size–industrial places like Fort Wayne, Evansville, South Bend, mill cities like Greensboro and Greenville (SC), and Massachusetts’ aspirations for its clutch of smaller “Gateway Cities,” all of them much like Bridgeport–but all of them supported with an increasingly coherent statewide city development policy focus. I had other cities like Newark, Detroit, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Gary and Hammond in mind, too.

    The committee allowed me to come and talk. At the first meeting, I was invited to pull up my chair to the table. I was treated like a friend. I responded by helping organize and archive the volume of documents we received. For me, it was a crash course in the recent economic development history and forecast for Bridgeport and the region. I drank from the firehose.

    I became the committee’s permanent houseguest. When the time came, I submitted my recommendations. A few of them are reflected in the economic development and small business committee’s report. I couldn’t be happier.

    Yesterday, one of the committee’s leaders, Rina Bakalar, telephoned me to ask if I would mind being named officially as an author for our section of the transition committee report. I was taken aback–I had not been appointed and never asked to be appointed. I’m proud of this process and I’m proud to have been allowed to join it. So I said “yes” to Rina. I may be the only un-appointed author named in the report.

    If the other policy teams worked half as well as our team did, this will be a fine report and give Mayor Ganim lots of food for thought. The recommendations should be picked apart and debated by the public; they will certainly be scrutinized in this space. But underneath the debate that is about to ensue, there was a process that welcomed a skeptical newcomer and was open to input from political opponents. It was good.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      Ditto. “… since moving to the city earlier in 2015 …” You shouldn’t post things like this on this blog, it pisses off quite a few folks. Some have been in line for decades and many got tired of waiting.
      “… I joined the discussion group with the Economic & Small Business team. It was the best discussion I had had about these topics in Bridgeport …” I would have chosen the same group.

      • John Marshall Lee

        Doug,
        Keep it up. You are informed, have a great deal of experience on municipalities that have become more workable despite challenges as well as others where getting beyond status quo has been difficult. You ask great questions.
        Living downtown, understanding and being excited about Bridgeport heroes like PT Barnum and Jasper McLevy, you are part of a potential re-population of our downtown that is part of the Master Plan. And attending a meeting with a willingness to listen first, speak second is a genuine sign you are a newcomer. A breath of fresh air. Say hello to Joel and Bob when they show up and introduce themselves, please. Time will tell.

  • Lisa Parziale

    Doug, thank you for that information. I hope you stay involved after the reports are made public because I have a feeling Joe will welcome your input. You’re a gracious man!

  • Bob Walsh

    Doug,
    Let me echo Lisa’s sentiments and offer a sincere Thank You for your concerns and input. I will wait to see what the final report looks like until fully judging the work of the Transition Team.
    However, my initial thoughts and concerns are it will include recycling ideas that are beneficial only to a handful of members of the BRBC aimed at providing personal financial relief to them. These projects have been on the drawing boards for decades. The road to Remington Woods, the widening of Seaview Avenue, the raising of the railroad tracks, the East Side Railroad stop, the acquiring and environmental clean-up of contaminated properties, etc., etc., etc.
    They suck time, energy and progress out of the ECDC Dept. All to serve a handful of few looking to make money or at least unload meaningless, polluted properties onto the taxpayers of the city of Bridgeport.

  • Bob Walsh

    And Doug, with the exact same Development Director and staff that Finch had, do you really expect a transition?
    They will suddenly decide they were wrong and change direction in midstream? I don’t see it.

  • Bob Walsh

    Doug,
    In formulating this list, was any cost/benefit analysis done?
    Even using a rule of thumb for environmental clean up or tax abatement or additional manpower requirements, etc.
    Without this type of data it would be impossible to prioritize recommendations or worse yet your ideas could be dismissed outright by others with a simple “We can’t afford doing something like that.”

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