Log in Register

 

Resilient Bridgeport Housatonic Community College OIB the bookElle Sera
Bridgeport Public LibraryThe Barnum Museum OIB Classifieds
OIB TV



Greater Bridgeport Transit

Connecticut Characters


Attorney Thomas C. Thornberry

Barnum Festival



Trattoria ’A vucchella




Kohut’s Plan For Bridgeport Rising, Giving Wings To The Phoenix

September 19th, 2016 · 27 Comments · Development and Zoning

OIB asked one of the city’s preeminent policy wonks Jeff Kohut for his take on what he would do were he city development chief. Grab a cup of joe and check it out.

Bridgeport has been in governmental/administrative and socioeconomic decline for the better part of six decades. There are many reasons for Bridgeport’s decline, some Bridgeport-based, but most wrought by forces not based in Bridgeport. This life-long Bridgeport resident has witnessed most of this decline, as well as many failed Bridgeport-based efforts to reverse our negative momentum. I have written and commented extensively on various aspects of Bridgeport’s decline, failed revitalization efforts, and what might be done to re-establish Bridgeport’s municipal and socioeconomic health and regional preeminence.

It was recently requested by Only In Bridgeport that I present a plan to accomplish a Bridgeport renaissance from the perspective of being Director of Economic Development of the city. In this context, I present the five-part plan below, in terms of serving as the conductor of an “economic development symphony” composed of sections consisting of City Hall, the state (including the DECD and Governor’s Office), the federal government (including the Commerce Department and White House economic development staff), the Connecticut/regional business community, and perhaps most importantly, the academic community from the regional colleges and universities (with the emphasis on representation from their science/technology, engineering and business departments).

As indicated above, there are five basic components of my overall plan of economic revitalization for Bridgeport, which if designed, facilitated, and executed through a cooperative effort involving City Hall and the state and federal government, by way of the enlistment of the creative expertise of the regional universities and business community in conjunction with the participation of relevant capitalists and entrepreneurs (accessed via university and business community networks), will be capable of resulting in the reestablishment of a robust, stable Bridgeport economy and viable municipal government. Herewith the basics of the five-step “Bridgeport Renaissance Plan:”

I. ASCERTAIN OUR STATUS. Determine where we are now in terms of our socioeconomic and fiscal conditions.
· Undertake an exhaustive analysis of the city’s fiscal condition in order to determine long- and short-term liabilities and the current capacity to maintain solvency without any reduction in essential services or the ability to maintain necessary infrastructure capacity.
· Compile relevant demographics in terms of the socioeconomic health of the city (poverty/near-poverty, unemployment/underemployment, education/literacy levels, etc.). (Request participation of the state, federal government, et al. in this regard.)

II. CREATE A BASIC MUNICIPAL “VISION” FOR BRIDGEPORT. Determine an “ideal” municipal/socioeconomic standard for the city. (Determine where we want to be. Create an overall set of municipal goals, with timeframes and basic, general benchmarks with respect to specific time periods.)

Undertake an analysis of the (desirable/acceptable) tax rate range and associated grand list/tax base value that would provide Bridgeport with the budgetary means for a world-class public school system, as well as world-class services and municipal infrastructure, in the context of living-wage, full-employment in Bridgeport-based jobs for Bridgeport residents. (This is not a terribly difficult task in and of itself, all that needs to be done is to find a successful city of comparable size to Bridgeport and work from the relevant stats of that city. We can work upscale from there, if we choose. Economic development would be planned in this context in terms of full utilization of the local workforce at living-wage jobs. For simplicity’s sake, we can work from a local example, initially using Stamford, CT as the model for our calculations, extrapolating/”tweaking” from there to conform to our unique needs/goals. I performed such calculations in 2011 and determined Bridgeport would need in the neighborhood of $13 billion in additional, taxable grand list, at a tax rate of 30 mils, in order to have municipal services comparable to Stamford.)

III. IDENTIFY, INVENTORY, AND LEVERAGE OUR ASSETS: Determine the “tools” available to us for the achievement of our municipal ideal (our municipal vision/goals).
· Inventory Bridgeport’s resources/assets and determine how they can best be utilized/exploited. When we undertake this inventory, we will see, among other things, we have
· Political Power–A 100,000-strong political lobbying force, the Bridgeport electorate
· Land–Bridgeport has square miles of available industrial land, served by pre-existing sanitary, energy and transportation infrastructure
· Labor–A large, trainable, locally housed workforce that currently serves as the labor base for the regional economy
· Healthcare Services–Modern, sophisticated, state-of-the-art regional healthcare capacity, including two of the 100-best hospitals/regional trauma centers in the country
· Transportation Infrastructure/Potential–Enviable transportation infrastructure capacity/potential capacity, including: passenger rail service to regional/national transportation hubs; excellent inter- and intra-state highway access for all levels of freight and passenger transport; water-borne (ocean/river) passenger and freight-shipping capacity of very high potential; air transportation capacity (with great passenger/freight-shipping potential, via innovative helicopter/vertical-lift airship usage); potential for tram, trolley, bus, pedestrian mass employment situations. (Most notably, Bridgeport has the option to greatly expand its water transportation/freight shipment capacity to accommodate all such possible transportation needs, via harbor/river dredging/improvements and creation of a harbor rail spur for rail-freight shipment.)
· Power/energy Infrastructure–Bridgeport hosts the regional, electric energy generation/supply infrastructure and therefore has a usable, abundant supply of electric power for all conceivable residential, commercial and industrial uses required for the achievement of our renaissance goals.
· Technology Development/Advanced Manufacturing Development–Access to world class, regional/local universities that host cutting-edge science, engineering, business, medical and legal/humanities programs (Bridgeport-based, as well as others within a 25-mile radius of Bridgeport (e.g., UB, FU, SHU, Quinnipiac, Yale, UCONN branches).
· Location–Advantageous geographic location, in terms of moderate weather, access to manufactured-products/special-services markets, transportation hub access/negotiable terrain, financial/capital markets access, workforce/labor market access, etc.

Determine how best to enlist our assets in the achievement of our municipal ideal. E.g., how do we want to use our political power to leverage the utility of government in exploiting our assets in terms of the achievement of our municipal/socioeconomic ideal?

We would probably need to determine goals/specifics in terms of the definition/description of the new, Bridgeport tax base/grand list. Toward this latter end, we would want to target economic development sectors that marry the greatest taxable grand-list value to the greatest number of living-wage jobs. The short list of these (interrelated) sectors would be
· Advanced Manufacturing–especially in regard to the manufacture of equipment/components/materials related to extant, regional manufacturing sectors (e.g., machine tools, aerospace, digital control systems) as well as sectors that could be developed in partnership with the science technology/engineering departments of area universities
· Biotechnology–especially in regard to the production of equipment/materials used in the manufacture/processing/handling/administration of bio-active materials/biohazardous materials (e.g., biocontainment-related materials and equipment, such as hazmat-type clothing/containers).
· Shipping/Storage–shipping/storage operations for raw materials/finished products with respect to I and II above.
· Hospitality–Accommodations for commercial and business travel related to the aforementioned industries.
· Retail/Services/Construction–The gamut of retail, services, and construction-trades operations required to sustain all aspects of life of a prosperous workforce
· Arts and Entertainment–Leisure/educational opportunities for the local/regional population/workforce
· Financial–money management/capital markets institutions (e.g., savings banks, commercial lenders)

In order to initiate and support the massive scale effort implicit in the attainment of an indicated Bridgeport “municipal ideal,” the first measure that would need to be taken by City Hall would be the enlistment of the participation/resonance of the Bridgeport electorate in asserting the political will to leverage state and federal participation in all aspects/stages of the “renaissance process.” In this regard, Washington and Hartford would need to be made to appreciate the value of Bridgeport votes to the extent such that things as public-safety improvements, massive brownfields remediation, and Bridgeport Harbor/shipping channel dredging would be funded and implemented in a timely, “front burner” manner. (In this vein, harnessing our political power would probably be the first step in utilizing our other assets toward our renaissance. Assuming the accomplishment of this first step, the enlistment of our other assets would follow a fairly simple, logical process.)

IV. GOVERNMENTAL REFORM: In the context of Bridgeport municipal renaissance efforts, create indicated City Charter amendments/administrative reform to ensure the establishment of the necessary partnerships/participation needed to create and sustain renaissance efforts and momentum over the short- and long-term (to extent of the maintenance of the “municipal ideal,” once achieved).

V. UB–THE ANCHOR INSTITUTION: As part and parcel of the Bridgeport renaissance initiative, create a permanent University of Bridgeport-based think tank/brain trust for the purpose of pursuing/resonating with the renaissance initiative and attainment of the renaissance goals, and as importantly, in securing/preserving the benefits for posterity. In this regard, UB should be enlisted to participate in the renaissance process by way of focusing the assets/expertise of existing UB programs in pursuing Bridgeport renaissance goals as well as through the creation of special areas of accredited study to address relevant, renaissance goal needs, such as urban economic development/urban economy design, environmental remediation/land re-use, workforce education/workforce development, et al. Toward these ends, the University would be encouraged to develop special major areas of study/degrees, such as Land Re-use Engineering, Urban Economy Design and Development, and Workforce Design/Development. These programs could be cultivated from the expansion of existing programs as well as the introduction of new programs in existing departments. The new programs could be utilized within a UB-based Institute of Urban Political Economy with a mission of creating and preserving urban prosperity.

I submit the above “plan” as a means of stimulating the current Bridgeport City Hall Administration to reach out to the Bridgeport electorate, in earnest, for the purpose of resonating politically with the administration in enlisting the support and participation of the state and federal government in working with regional academia and the regional business community in creating a real plan, and taking real steps to give wings to the great Bridgeport Phoenix waiting to rise from our smoldering ashes.

Share

Tags: ····

27 Comments so far ↓

  • Dave Walker

    Jeff,
    Very thorough and thoughtful piece. Congratulations.

    You started with the right first point. If we don’t put the Bridgeport’s finances in order, address its structural deficits, and reduce property tax burdens within a reasonable period of time, the rest of your points won’t get the job done. The ball is in Mayor Ganim’s court. Hopefully he will create a competent and credible Bridgeport Financial Task Force in a timely manner. Such a Task Force should issue a report of its findings and recommendations for both the city and state by January 2017.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Thank you, Jeff!

    • Bob Walsh

      Ron Mackey,
      Did you catch this curve ball? Or maybe it’s a spit ball.
      Dave Walker wants Joe Ganim to form a Bridgeport Financial Task Force. They have previously stated they want Dave Walker and Bruce Hubler to head this up. They expect findings and recommendations by January 2017. That is four months at best but really more like three months for anything to happen. AND the Task Force will issue a report for both the City AND the STATE.
      Talk about a cookie cutter.
      Ban collective bargaining unless they agree to drastic cuts in pension and medical benefits for employees and retirees.
      Talk about transparency. Can’t be more transparent than that.
      The more they talk, the more foolish they look.

      • Frank Gyure

        As the “coalition” expands, more voices will be added, so please, let’s not take one person as the face of a new and emerging coalition.

    • Dave Gordon

      Jeff, thank you for your comments and insight. The most important issue that plagues Bridgeport and every urban community are the DRUG CARTELS. The most powerful, the Sinaloa Cartel brings in $500,000,000,000; yes, five hundred billion dollars in revenue from illegal activities. To begin to address the needs of Bridgeport effectively, one must address the impact illegal drugs have on our quality of life. Gangs fueled by the Drug Cartels have torn apart the social fabric of our society. They have their hands in every corner of this country. They funnel illegal drugs and guns throughout America creating an environment where citizens are being held hostage in their community. Just look at Chicago, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Bridgeport CT. Gangs selling drugs are embedded in EVERY Middle School and High School in Bridgeport.
      What Bridgeport needs is a holistic plan to address this serious problem. First and foremost, the Bridgeport school district needs leadership that will ensure every student has available services, programs and personnel who have the experience, capability and interest to help the most vulnerable students. The district today doesn’t have one drug counselor and the disgraceful part is the current interim sup doesn’t give a rat’s ass about children. I have witnessed firsthand the lies and the charade. Our children should be our community’s most valuable asset, but they are not treated as such.
      Young males of color don’t have a chance here in Bridgeport, New Haven or Waterbury. With dropout rates some estimate as high as 40%, they don’t stand a chance and eventually end up in the “School to Prison pipeline.”
      Wake up BRIDGEPORTERS, illegal drugs, illegal guns will never stop flowing into our urban areas.
      The solution lies in reducing the demand for drugs with programs such as the “LEADERSHIP GROUP,” a nationally acclaimed evidence-based “peer-to-peer” program.
      But first we need to be rid of politicians playing the role of Superintendent.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Thanks Jeff for the comprehensive view. It includes a range of subjects, institutions and players over time. But it has to do with the fiscal seasons and what the numbers tell us.

    Without the information provided by regular review of assets and liabilities including progress on Capital projects and especially borrowed funds that must be repaid, we fly blind. (Did Joe Ganim 1 realize when he pushed the Pension Obligation Bond 16 years ago that raised $344 Million that was invested to pay retirement incomes into the future, he would be in office some 16 years later when the Police and Fire Department budgets were paying off $30 Million annually for another 14 years? And did he have any sense 800 retirees had only $67 Million left in the fund and the PROMISE of the taxpayer to keep funding their incomes for life at $28 Million annually currently?)

    Without any announced PRIORITIES the Mayor is currently asking for $18 Million more borrowing to benefit downtown. Where is the plan? Interest rates may be low, but where is the plan and where are the priorities? The CT Post ran two articles on its front page next to each other. One was about the 31 Police trainees who will be sworn in this evening. The other was about Columbus School and its recognition by the State for its continuing low ranking. Is it surprising Mayor Finch and Ganim have favored the PD with operational and grant funding (yet allowing actual manpower to drop to points where OVERTIME is inevitable at a time when crime statistics of many kinds have dropped) while starving comprehensive school funding at the same time? Failure to appropriately fund and manage that funding to results is truly a corrupt practice. School results are telling us this story. Can we organize resources for a different outcome? Time will tell.

    • Local Eyes

      Nothing imperils Bridgeport’s public safety more than defined-benefit pension plans, which enslave future taxpayers to provide retirees with a risk-free income.

      • John Marshall Lee

        Actually you make a very important observation that requires full description and discussion. If the people who are to pay for salary, overtime and benefits are to take responsibility for such payments, they should know about them in advance, agree to them, monitor the funding of them and see that the risks for all parties remain balanced. Politicians do not subscribe to my sentiments, so they hide the expense of the guarantees they have given away until the cupboard goes bare. Where are any of us then? Especially the retired from service, former employees who are not protected by their former unions, who in their senior years are most vulnerable. Wise warning, LE. Time will tell.

  • DougDavidoff

    Jeff Kohut’s five-point plan is right on target. Thank you, Jeff!

  • Ron Mackey

    Jeff, very good but let me say this, you were a big supporter of candidate Joe Ganim and you would list certain items Bridgeport needed to do on OIB. I would ask you a few times on OIB what position would you have when Ganim won you said you were not looking for any position. Jeff, it’s ten months later and now you post this plan, it’s ten months late. Jeff, I was questioning you back then because a lot of us know you have the background to come up with a good plan for Bridgeport like this one. Jeff, what is the action plan to move this forward? I was hoping during the campaign something like this plan you would push Ganim to do, maybe you did but I don’t know. Thanks Jeff, now it’s out there let’s go to work.

  • WhiteRoller

    Excellent. But under the ‘Inventory’ heading I would add ‘Historic Preservation,’ which is key in revitalizing the nation’s older cities. Bridgeport has more historic districts than any other municipality in the state, and more than 3,000 structures on the National Register of Historic Places. And the Historic Tax Credits available to these buildings are what has made all the Downtown rehabs happen. No city has ever achieved revitalization through massive demolition of historic resources, the route Bridgeport has often chosen over the past 50 years. Time to aspire to be Brooklyn rather than Detroit already!

  • Grin Ripper

    Nice job, Jeff!

  • Jennifer Buchanan

    Jeff, excellent. Thank you for taking the time to research, think and write. Well done, you.

  • Stringfellow

    Jeff, these are great ideas but I have some concerns.

    Taxes, the city has to take the gloves off and make a effort to collect all the taxes owed to the city. No more special deals for special people. Both hospitals that own property other than the main buildings should have to pay taxes on these properties. The non profits should have to pay half of what their properties are worth, no more free rides. For far too long these practices have hamstrung the city and it has to end.

    All fines related to blight, housing code violations and parking must be paid. If not, the city has to take the steps to collect them.

    Waste reduction throughout the city has to be reduced. This would include holding the useless personal to task and making sure they are doing their jobs. The department heads would be held accountable for their people.

    I do not know if any of this or Jeff’s plan has a chance with this city. Perhaps if the right people and if they were all on the same page. Perhaps then but if things do not change and if the state of the city council is an indicator of things to come.

    The city has little chance of any significant future growth. Most jobs will be just high-turnover revolving-door jobs that offer little if any long-term benefits. The reputation of the city with regard to politics and policing has not helped the image, especially the police department.

    If taxes are too high, if people do not feel safe and with the corruption and ineptness of city government it’s a wonder why the city has not gone the way of Detroit.

    I know Bridgeport of the past and its future is uncertain.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Thanks to all those who have read and posted responses to this plan. All of the ideas/suggestions presented in response to my plan-presentation have substantial merit and need to be incorporated into any actual plan created and implemented by the City.
    Tax relief is of the highest priority. Without some degree of tax relief for residents and businesses, we won’t be able to stabilize our situation long enough for any appropriate, long-term plan to be implemented. Indeed, at the moment, we are on the brink of collapse. Any significant blip in the national/state economy or interruption in outside financial assistance to Bridgeport could push us over the edge. Likewise, any significant added stress on our essential services, public safety, et al., could also push us over the edge. But I do have many ideas on how we might raise significant municipal revenue toward tax relief and stabilizing our municipal condition in lieu of being able to reap tax base expansion benefits from a long-term plan. I’ll be glad to share those ideas on this blog if OIB sees fit to give me space for a future essay.
    In response to Ron’s comment: I did present this plan, plus a lot more, to the Ganim Campaign last year. It was well-received, and portions of it were released for public consumption, but so far, the Administration hasn’t seen fit to utilize any of it by way of policy design, economic development initiative, etc. While I’m still hopeful about the prospects for a renaissance under G2, I am frustrated by the failure of G2 to transition away from the ineffectual (indeed, largely contraindicated) economic development policies of the Finch Administration. I had been very hopeful (and still am very hopeful) for a bold, new plan from G2. Presently, I don’t see anything bold, new or effective coming out of City Hall.
    In any event, I’m still willing to contribute to the success of this administration toward the amelioration of Bridgeport’s necrotizing socioeconomic dynamics. Joe Ganim, Ken Flatto, Chris Meyer and many other people in the G2 administration are very intelligent, capable people, as is DTC Chair Mario Testa. Indeed, in my estimation, Mario Testa is one of the shrewdest businessmen around these parts, and really invested heart and soul in this city. Look at his investments and tax bills! I can only assume he would be as eager as anyone to see a Bridgeport renaissance that would secure and magnify his huge investment in this city. It is illogical to see Mario Testa as anything but fully invested and committed to this city. (I expect a real $#@^-storm from this last statement, but I challenge anyone to refute the logic. And I stand by this statement.)
    A lot of my suburban friends see my Bridgeport-centric fixation/cheerleading and amelioration efforts as futile and stupid. I want to prove them wrong and see them experience the regional benefits of a complete Bridgeport renaissance.
    Thanks again, to all who took the time to read and comment on my plan.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Thanks, Ray Fusci, for correcting the typos I identified in my e-mail. There are a couple more, but I don’t think they detract significantly from the readability of the plan-presentation. (My paragraph spacing, copied from a WORD-constructed document, in the above comment-response wasn’t retained by the OIB website word-processing function.)

  • Bob Walsh

    Good plan Jeff, but my question is then what?
    This is too much Urban Planning 101 but not enough nuts and bolts.
    You could do everything you mention but what is going to drive the capital investments? Federal and State funding? Why Bridgeport? Why not Waterbury? Why Connecticut? Why not Michigan? Pure political power is lacking in this state with only five congressmen. Connecticut is not going to play a vital role in the presidential election.
    Sorry, sounds nice on paper but is lacking the realism that is needed to make something happen.

  • Bob Walsh

    Jeff,
    Look up the Shinola Watch Company in Detroit Michigan. A very good lesson in what needs to be done to attract specialty manufacturing. And this is on a small scale. But with time it can become a factor in the future of Detroit.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Bob: The nuts and bolts are the easy part. We have university and private-sector expertise to help us there. For the nuts and bolts, we need to target some specific sectors/companies and entrepreneurs and partner them with private capital and government incentives. We can do this working with business community and university-provided leads to such companies/entrepreneurs (and capital). We could also do some research on our own and find a few good prospects. We, of course, would need to vet any leads provided from the aforementioned sources, in any event.

    Bob, don’t underestimate the value of our votes in a competitive political (election) environment. (And realize we are a political sore thumb for politicians at all levels of government in regard to our poster-child representation of the shameful income/education gap in American society.) And besides that, it is in the best interest of millions of people in the NY metro area affected by Bridgeport’s socioeconomic health to be supportive (through their political representation) of such a plan. (If Bridgeport can absorb enough regional, traffic-generating economic development to help to ameliorate our regional traffic jam/transportation stress, the whole NY metro region would be served in a multitude of ways and would be spared $billions in transportation infrastructure upgrade costs as well as $hundreds of millions on an annual basis. (And probably no need for CT tolls.)

    And the questions you ask regarding our advantage over Waterbury or some city in Michigan, in regard to private sector and government preference for a Bridgeport project, are answered already in the plan in the “assets” list; what other cities have our transportation access, access to huge regional markets, and multiple technology generators within such a small geographic area, as well as so much available industrial land served by pre-existing infrastructure? But your questions and skepticism are valid and valuable and would be very useful in constructing our investor and state/federal involvement/investing arguments. Also: Bridgeport is the perfect size for use as an urban redevelopment prototype as well as for a product development prototype for such manufactured goods as green/alternative energy/electricity generation equipment. Big is cumbersome and unimaginably expensive in terms of urban renewal, Bridgeport is the perfect size. Big enough to matter politically, but small enough to tackle successfully.

    In any event, thanks for the indulgence and the feedback!

  • Bob Walsh

    Jeff,
    Please provides us with some examples of former industrial cities with a deteriorating tax base and significant brownfields that have followed your road to recovery.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Bob: There haven’t been any old, industrial cities that have been fully turned around or rehabilitated. There have been a few, such as Pittsburgh, that have managed to stave off catastrophic decline and maintain a fair level of prosperity and municipal stability, but nowhere near the levels of the pre-steel manufacturing collapse days of the mid-1970s and before. So no city has ever been resurrected by my plan, or any other, in modern America or Europe. We’re breaking new ground here, using logic, numbers and a plan based on expert forecasting and the committed involvement of private and government capital as well the committed expertise from academia, government and the private sector. We’ve built cities from scratch and won World Wars using the same tactic. We’re breaking new ground using a solid approach. What’s the alternative?

  • John Marshall Lee

    “Indeed, in my estimation, Mario Testa is one of the shrewdest businessmen around these parts, and really invested heart and soul in this city. Look at his investments and tax bills!”

    Jeff, once again “kudos” on the essay about a map for a City to follow when it is in the shape we are in. However, can you and will you outline your most positive comments about Mario Testa, “shrewdest businessman?” I have never been party to a review of his investments or his tax bills, though I assume you have since you have raised the subject. Do his investments flow into overvalued equity markets today or are they sitting in a bank at 1% for safe return? Are they in real property with Bridgeport addresses? If so then they are likely to have taken a significant haircut at the time of the most recent revaluation. He will have joined many of his neighbors with an increased tax bill, but worse because businesses were selected for special treatment, and as values of property reduce though debt if any does not, your net worth decreases. How shrewd is that unless recent investments have been made outside the City?

    I know nothing about his heart and soul as I am not his confessor. Just assuming, but neither did I see him at any of the CC meetings speaking in favor of meeting the needs of 22,000 City youth with a fair and balanced budget. Face it, Mario runs the group that selects 97% of those ultimately elected and/or appointed in the City. That’s power, not a demonstration of heart and soul. Where is his platform that shows your warm and fuzzy adjectives? If 100 Bridgeport students were to picket his place of business nightly for an hour or so with their parents, would he show the community his “heart and soul?” Time will tell.

  • Frank Gyure

    Jeff Kohut. FIRST OF ALL, Thank you for your original and follow-up commentary. Despite the immense difficulties we face today, I still remain somewhat optimistic this City of Bridgeport can be turned around and revitalized and you listed some of the advantages Bridgeport has. However IMHO this will not be easy. In fact, I think it will be difficult and take years. Beyond that, I do not share your confidence in the Ganim Administration and the role Mario Testa plays in Governance in Bridgeport. I will be honest. Ganim is close to one year of his four-year term and I would assess it as a disaster. The role of Mario Testa (nepotism, patronage) has poisoned Governance in Bridgeport. I am sorry but in my book, BOTH have to go.

  • Jeff Kohut

    John: The assessed value and tax bill for Testo’s is a matter of public record. Now, if you think about the time and energy Mario has invested in Bridgeport, I think it is accurate to use the expression “heart and soul” in describing his commitment to Bridgeport. I won’t argue his politics are necessarily palatable to many of us, but then anyone involved in real-life politics is in it to win in terms of their agenda/political alignment.

    And, being so heavily invested in Bridgeport, it isn’t rational to believe he would want to inflict harm on his investment.

    Is Mario responsible for Bridgeport’s schools being short-changed by the state? Is Mario responsible for the inner-city problems of Bridgeport? How could he gain by promoting such situations?

    Again, if we only look very close up at the problem, we are going to miss the stuff happening in the background that is giving rise to the problem.

    When Stamford gets 20 times the economic development aid of Bridgeport from state and federal sources, I think that should provide some indication of how misplaced our political scrutiny really is, and how shortsighted we are to try to ascribe so much responsibility for Bridgeport’s failure to thrive on parties and groups that, rationally, can only desire their home base and investments thrive with Bridgeport.

    Bridgeport’s enemies must be gleeful as they observe Bridgeporters politically shredding and excoriating each other. As long as we’re preoccupied with our own “civil war,” we can’t present a strong, united front for the purpose of self-advocacy and regaining our rightful place at the top of the regional/state food chain. What was it the great Bridgeport cartoonist famously stated in his “Pogo” comic strip?

  • Jeff Kohut

    Thanks, Frank. Yes, we won’t rebuild overnight, but we have to fast-track our approach, or we will never gain the momentum needed to sustain the effort to completion. (And I often compose my responses in WORD and cut and paste them.)

    And yes, G2 had better get moving or their political window of opportunity for a successful G2 administration will close.

  • Lisa Parziale

    I’m so impressed with this section of the blog initiated by Bob Walsh. For the first time in a long time every post was driven by research, comparisons, factual financial scenarios, knowledgeable participants and real solutions that could bring hope to us. Over the past couple of decades these explanations and credible conclusions have been hidden under lock and key. It’s because of the people contributing to this discussion, and were never sought out to share their expertise that drove me away from Joe Ganim. He could have taken care of his obligations to those who gave him another opportunity to make it work, but instead he grabbed what was around him and played it safe. It’s no secret I am so upset with him because he knows how to get it done, but he doesn’t seem to have the willingness. Most of us languished under Fabrizi and Finch waiting for something to change. Joe could have done that, if he just put everything aside for a few days and invited just those who contributed to these well-thought-out possibilities, he might be open to some of the recommendations. I worked with his staff and employees for almost a year, and not one of them (that I’m aware of) worried about what they would get out of it if Joe won. With the exception of my favorite friends, I liked every person working in his campaign. I even liked Joe until he won, and I witnessed within a few weeks that he lost what I had hoped he still had when he was a good mayor. If the Mayor doesn’t at some point open his office to these well-intentioned people who ironically want nothing in return for their efforts, then we have no choice but to struggle through the next couple of years and hope we don’t collapse in the meantime. Sometimes I wonder why he’s resisting help and assistance from pros, if he doesn’t agree with their ideas and suggestions all he has to do is say thank you for your time; he’s the Mayor, for God’s sake.

Leave a Comment

You must log in to post a comment.