City policy wonk Jeff Kohut, a 2011 mayoral candidate, is not bashful declaring the reasons he says Bridgeport development has not advanced like other Connecticut cities. He calls it the Stamford-Greenwich-Hartford “bullying of Bridgeport” to preserve the lower Fairfield County lifestyle, “especially cheap Bridgeport labor.” As the Connecticut General Assembly convenes this week for a six-month session, Kohut demurs the state’s business and political treatment of the state’s most populous city that also includes an electorate call to action.
Things are being done in a secretive manner because decisions have already been made about who is going to get what, and where, in regard to state DECD development decisions. Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin is Dan Malloy’s protégé from Greenwich, so any significant economic development/job creation outside of the “SW wedge” is going to Hartford. Heavy traffic-type (casinos, etc.) development has already been x-ed out of the SW-wedge and points east (Bridgeport) in order to keep I-95 and Routes 15/8/25 “passable” for the continuation of the high-value, (down-county) Fairfield County development needed to support the tax revenue/lifestyle gluttony of this part of the state.
Bridgeport will just have to learn how to stretch their Bass Pro dollars. It makes absolutely no difference what our state delegation has to say about anything. The boys in Stamford-Greenwich will have their cake and eat it too, and they’ll have another governor when Dan cedes his seat to adopted son Luke.
Now: some of us might not think a casino is good for Bridgeport anyway, but the thing to remember here is it isn’t just casinos that have been x-ed out of Bridgeport’s future; the development restrictions include anything that will generate traffic that will interfere with the logistical needs of Stamford-Greenwich, especially cheap Bridgeport labor. This isn’t my perception; it is a policy concern expressed over 15 years ago by now BCFC President Chris Bruhl when he was SACIA president. It was in the CT Post in 2001 per coverage of a SACIA business breakfast presentation in Stamford in which Bruhl discussed the implications of a Bridgeport casino and the need to squash such a development in Bridgeport.
Now: There is a lot of talk among would-be government “reformers” in Bridgeport about regime-change in Bridgeport, in particular, replacing the CC in order to ensure fair representation of Bridgeport neighborhoods in the context of open, honest, and sensible governance in Bridgeport. The prevailing belief among the “reformers” is it is the connivance of the DTC and Party hierarchy in Bridgeport that keeps the city down.
This latter inward fixation is exactly what the elitists in Stamford-Greenwich and their Hartford/DC lackeys would like Bridgeporters to believe. It’s all our fault. We’re stupid and corrupt and get what we deserve, and keep ourselves at the bottom of the regional/state food chain. Well, they’re partly correct. We keep putting the same Stamford-Greenwich clique in the Governor’s office and DC and they keep obliging our stupidity by promoting the interests of Stamford-Greenwich on Bridgeport’s back, while they keep up the negative messaging about Bridgeport government that makes us blame ourselves for the fact high-value tax base is deliberately steered away from Bridgeport as regional/state development policy (e.g., the RBS North America HQ, originally sited for Bridgeport, was steered to Stamford back in 2005 in return for a one-time $10 million payoff from Hartford to Bridgeport on behalf of Stamford, where it was later located).
No. Nothing will change in Bridgeport as long as we keep drinking the Stamford-Greenwich kool aid about Bridgeport corruption being the reason for our failure to thrive. The real reason is Stamford-Greenwich-Hartford corruption and (not so) subtle exploitative bullying of Bridgeport. Only when the people of Bridgeport start voting against the anointed heirs to Connecticut’s fortunes (read; “future prosperity”) who keep the rest of the state serving Stamford-Greenwich will Bridgeport thrive again. Our only stupidity is in our failure to use our electoral power/vote against the hegemonic forces controlling our state. Our local elections don’t amount to squat in the grand scheme of things (beyond which school has more pencils or which parks gets the extra summer mowing).
Any reform movements that are going to help Bridgeport must aim much higher and involve our full 100,000 electorate. Therein lies the leverage Bridgeport needs for a real renaissance. Not until we elect a Bridgeport Governor, Bridgeport Congressman, and Bridgeport US Senator, or at least deny those spots to the Gold Coast-anointed, through our large, contrary vote, will we see fair treatment in Hartford and DC and watch our economic fortunes change for the better.
Get smart, “reformers!” Start looking in three dimensions for the cause of our problems, as well as solutions. We need to stop staring at the “floor” in Bridgeport and start looking to the “sides” and the “ceiling” in Hartford and DC for the roots and solutions to our problems. (Keep in mind: in learning/problem-solving experiments, it is found dogs tend to focus in two dimensions, bottom and sides, while wolves (apex predators) will add a third dimension and look up as part of their hunting and escape problem-solving behavior. Bridgeport needs to shed its “dog” mentality and start thinking like a wolf!)