Tuesday night citizen fiscal watchdog John Marshall Lee told the City Council “September marks the 9th month of Joe Ganim’s “second chance” Mayordom. Nine months in human terms might suggest a healthy delivery, but with Mayoral terms we need a change of perspective.”
Lee’s full commentary:
Who is Joe Ganim and how is he doing as our leader? What is his plan and where are his priorities? First, there is a Joe Ganim we remember from the campaign. Among other things he called for:
· open government,
· improving public schools,
· reducing property taxes and
· growing the economy and public safety.
How did those work out for taxpayers, voters and parents of school-age youth?
Second there is the Joe Ganim of July 5th who sat and listened to the discontent of hundreds of taxpayers when Tom McCarthy did not suspend Council rules to extend time for speakers and adjourned after a limited City Council meeting. Ganim stayed and listened that evening. But where is a commentary on the distressed balance sheet and deficit handed to him? Where are his comments on genuine City direction based from his listening?
Third there is the Joe Ganim of his official Biography on the Bridgeport site. It tells us when he stepped into office the first time, there was a five-year budget projection showing a $250 Million looming deficit. Where is a five-year budget projection for 2021? What does it look like now, Mayor?
In your first hundred days you initiated a process for transition. Lots of good people spent time brainstorming and laying out paths to our future. You listened to good ideas. Why not return to the Transition Report and identify which you will advance and be accountable for? How many in this room including the Council have read it through and know its potential?
For that matter, where is an honest budget currently, especially of the Police Department? It has about 350 personnel, not 478 as the budget said were “filled.” One hundred million dollars to be spent based on a phony budget?
Why not post the actual employee total for the City currently and keep it up to date on the City site? The Transition Report states the Mayor “vowed to govern in an accountable and open manner to foster a better government to represent best interests of citizens.” How does that fit with phony budgeting? Perhaps this is time for a re-do that better indicates actual retires, new officers, and use of overtime.
Returning to the Mayor’s bio, we read: “After serving as Mayor, Joe Ganim worked as a successful private sector consultant for five years …” and so on. This statement fails to provide some critical history. No mention of Federal inquiry, indictments, trial on multiple counts, seven years of prison time, loss of law license and failure to secure it once again. Joe, find a dozen voters in the last election who don’t know most of the story. It’s not a secret. Why was it left out of your official “bio,” especially your special visit to an East Side church where some type of repentance or forgiveness ‘ceremony’ was said to happen? The “second chance” reference says it was for the City and for the Mayor. You asked for trust. Citizens look for truth. We need to verify.
The transition report suggested regular meetings with citizens out in the Districts of the Council. Have any of you scheduled such get-togethers? It’s an idea for the City, not necessarily dependent on the Mayor. An open conversation at a local school or church allows you to listen to constituents and to share your perspective as a representative. What do you have to lose? Failure to listen and to act towards priorities will sink us deeper in poor governance and fiscal mud. Genuine conversations fight hopelessness.
The Mayor’s bio finishes with his education, family and residence. It says the Mayor lives in Bridgeport, as termed in the Charter, but where exactly? Many people observe him with family in Easton. Others have suggested he may be residing in the Mobile Command Center, really? And locations like Cartright Street or a condo in Black Rock, where you have been reported delivering towels and fixing WiFi while on your day job are mentioned, but? Will the Mayor share where the IRS, the DMV and USPS have his residence listed?
Biographies and budgets should not be bogus. Mayor in your run for office you said: Open, Accountable, Transparent and Honest. I agree these are good governance values. Happy to talk and listen together any time. Time will tell.