In a call for a financial oversight board, former Republican City Councilwoman from Black Rock Donna Curran shares this stinging commentary about city finances, asserting “Of course, we do understand why “outside” assistance is rejected–the fear of exposing abuses that go back decades.” From Curran:
August 2 CT Post headline: “Taxpayers demand oversight.”
Mayor’s response to this demand: “The answer is not to give control of Bridgeport’s finances over to an outside group which doesn’t understand the city and its people.”
Hmm … let me see. If his answer is a negative, “not to give control,” what is his positive recommendation for positive action? Taxpayers have rightly demanded outside financial oversight for a historically dysfunctional operation that faces a $1.5 billion 2017 shortfall–yes, that’s a “b”–and is plagued and hampered by confused, confusing, irregular reporting. Over the course of two public meetings, more than 600 taxpayers voiced their anger and frustration. The Mayor’s dismissive quote promises more of the same.
Do I dare point out our budgeting process has been in the hands of an “inside” group for more than 30 years! And look where we are. With no lasting challenges to its power, this “inside” group has ruled with a free hand to our significant disadvantage–education, economic development, property values. The City has lost its credibility as a sound investment for any human or monetary capital.
Bridgeport’s fiscal credibility can be restored with an outside financial review board. The review board process is objective, non-adversarial, and wants nothing to do with “understanding the city and its people.” The process wants to “understand” the numbers which will ultimately result in the people being better served. Of course, we do understand why “outside” assistance is rejected–the fear of exposing abuses that go back decades. Not a closet full of skeletons but a graveyard full.
To fuel this reform effort, I challenge the CT Post to use FOI to write a Pulitzer-prize winning expose laying bare the cloaked, byzantine workings of the City budget process. (Why not!?) I challenge the voters to do their research starting with the August primary and vote for those who are independent of the “inner” sanctum. Do we really want to read another front-page interview with the head of the ruling machine gloating over a protégée’s victory?