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General Lee Pulls Out Boots For Public Hearing

April 19th, 2017 · 9 Comments · City Budget, City Council, Education, News and Events

Lee boots, council

John Marshall Lee brought along his red rubbers.

Citizen fiscal watchdog John Marshall Lee was among the taxpayers addressing city counselors at a budget public hearing Tuesday night, and brought with him his symbolic red boots signifying caution about red ink. Lee’s comments:

The “red boots” are on display again tonight to call attention to the fact that the proposed budget adds dollars to spend on obligations not well explained. It seems that to assume its numbers real is folly until the State gets through with its decisions. But the Mayor presents a set of numbers that totals $10 Million less than the current year. He did that by decreasing the BOE by $38 Million without presenting in his letter or the report the assumptions of how the schools will open next fall. Is the Mayor anti-school? No, he likes buildings he says. But he walks away from fiscal expertise in the City.

On operating funds for basic academics, for 21,000 urban youth, some with special needs and others with athletic, artistic and scientific aspirations, he does not comment. He is an experienced Mayor, but he does not show he cares about the youth except at photo-op time in this chamber.

Page 327 shows an increase of $850,000 for interest on debt, that is 33% greater than this year for general obligation bonds. What is behind that increase? What will $15 Million of added revenue to general, public safety and public facilities accomplish in a “lean” or “well managed” plan? Why do revenues like Lighthouse fees from parents of $850,000 or real income coming to the Print Shop illegally not show?

The CC must first authorize requests for the Capital budget annually, and then when the City comes back for bonding must approve once again. But is there a public list since 2007 for these authorizations with a timeline of completion on time, within budget or not and made available to the Council or to the public routinely? Not in Bridgeport. Who monitors the spending and the development and how? Used to be O&G but now much will be run from Public Facilities? At what expense? With what reporting? Is John Ricci to become our local Jared Kushner with multiple responsibilities, except for stopping the opioid crisis?

Can you tell which authorized Capital spending items from five or ten years ago that were never funded or sit incomplete, today? Why not? Isn’t this routine reporting in other towns? When will you admit that we have no checks and balance mechanisms left in Bridgeport?

– The CT Post announced the meeting tonight on the front page above the fold but with little actual content on Monday morning and did not share that there are other hearings scheduled. If there are more folks out tonight, good. But what info did you get to assist you?? (Talk about content: The Post included two copies of last Sunday’s comics with my paper this AM.)

–Ed Adams was announced as the man who would bring about greater disclosure, transparency, etc. with his legal and FBI experience. So we have OPEN BUDGET, copied from the State and costing the City $24,000 per year but how many people in the audience have used it as a resource more than once a month? Has Mr. Adams helped the Mayor fill a number of vacancies and expired terms among City Boards and Commissions? Where’s the evidence of that? Not on the Port Authority that is a semi-public Commission with three public members but two vacancies for much too long. No meetings since last August and no financial report of their assets, liabilities or basic budget since December 2008? Any way to run a railroad or a Port Authority? But they own valuable waterfront property and an RFP will doubtless come out one of these days? Open, accountable or transparent? Outrage?

–What about $950,000 removed from OPED capital account in the last weeks of the Finch administration to repay a Port Authority debt with a 10% interest rate? Contrary to our budget book that says on page 1, “Transfers of certain appropriations between departments require the approval of the City Council.” Did it happen? What’s the story? Where’s the Sheriff?

–For years Police Department personnel have been overstated thus increasing the appropriation. Happened again this year with a count of 493.5 full time employees reported as well as vacant positions. Current PD numbers of sworn officers and other personnel are 15% under that number. Why use distorting numbers? Why no explanations? Taxpayers should expect facts, not fantasies.

–Why does the Mayor increase General Government by more than 20% with only three added employees? Why does the proposal reduce Library budget by 15% and leave a gap between what BOE has requested $256 Million and presented of $198 Million without explaining where that entire gap is expected to be constituted from State funds? Last year you did practically nothing about education. This year you run for office; it’s your problem to solve.

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9 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Johm I spent 5. ‘./year checking budget numbers with you. You did the majority of the work/ we met with the CT post editorial and investigative people. We met with BOE people, We held well attended meetings explaining what we found.
    john You know what Nobody gives a shit. Great attendance last night. The only thing that will get people off their asses is the FEDs
    John I know you think you are making headway well I am sorry you are not

    • Ron Mackey

      Andy, many of know that you and JML have put in a lot of time effort in researching the City’s budget and written about it on OIB and I for appreciate for what you guys have done in trying to bring light on a dark subject.

      Andy, sadly I agree with your last
      sentence, “John I know you think you are making headway well I am sorry you are not.”

      • Andrew C Fardy

        It hurt me to write that but no body wants to fight the fight that is necessary.

        • LennieGrimaldi

          Andy, what’s the necessary fight? Share.

          • Andrew C Fardy

            Just a few things for now:
            1. study of the PD is necessary to tell us what the correct numbers of policemen are.
            2. Same study for the FD and why is there OT high
            Requiring PD at road construction sights is a waste of money is only done because of an ordinance I can find. Why am I paying OT benefits towards their pensions
            3. Police and fire contracts should be renegotiated.
            4. Public facilities should assume more of the work that we now vendor out
            N0ne of this will happen but it should

        • Robert Teixeira

          Andy everything you mentioned goes to the heart of JML fight, mismanagement of how this city is run. It’s not that no one want to fight for proper governance. It’s they enjoy fighting Maria more and the flesh eat sport that has become this City and its political system, regardless of the merits or those who are affected by it.

          Case in point, I watched the drama playout with the BBOE with a complete shutdown of meetings of the board and its function, a request for a state takeover just to get rid of “Maria.” While everyone says it’s all about the kids or what about the kids. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dfIU35wmjc SMH

          PS Gamin got a lot of slack for trying to refinance the MERS because there were questions as to the actual saving or cost to the city. Which I was in favor of based on common math. The saving of 8% to 4% on an 80 plus million dollar loan but it didn’t go through because I can only guess the Devil was in the details and the saving were either not real and just reshuffling the money to other parties or it would have ended up costing the city. Either way where are all those who berated Ganim for trying to save the city money by this, now that he decided it would have either not have saved or wasn’t a good idea for the city and didn’t do it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tXPAIB1fog

          Take that Arcade Mall, it’s actually a cool space but what do you do? You put the most depressing, archaic floor in that ruins the whole space. Shit like that really annoys me. Your soul should be condemned just for that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW9zxCU6qCs

  • John Marshall Lee

    Andy and Ron,
    Respectfully, as I know that you have some understanding personally of direct military experience, I call your attention to the last time you walked “guard duty”, tired after a day of work or training, too little sleep to be awakened in the wee hours of the morning, to stand guard, not in Viet Nam or Middle East, but perhaps Fort Dix, NJ? Just before dawn, it always seemed darkest…. even though your watch and life experience told you that the dawn is coming.
    I continue to stand watch and point out the current fiscal absurdities in the City. Mayor Ganim, “Second Act”, is no more trustworthy than he proved himself to be the first time. Only difference is that no one has seen the “pay to play” in action, is that it? After studying the trends of where City money is increasingly being directed (Attorney, Police Department and Fire Department) and where it is decreasing (Education, Library) one speaker questioned whether the spending priorities were the inverse or reverse of community/taxpayer values? Why was the City Council a rubber stamp approver of defeating the next generation before they reach their majority? Good question? Who will wrestle with that challenge this year? Time will tell.

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