Lopez: State Should Take Over City Government

Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez writes in a commentary “This state take-over envisioned by Jeff Kohut might–just might–allow Bridgeport to finally access its untapped potential. To do so, the takeover legislation in a new “Ripper Bill” will have to include land-use bodies, development and legal representation, as well as taxation and finance.”

If a contest was held, to determine the most vocal and enthusiastic Bridgeport booster on OIB, Jeff Kohut would be the clear winner. Often to the annoyance of many, Jeff has downplayed and minimized Bridgeport’s endemic corruption, while casting blame on the “Gold Coast” and our suburban neighbors.

Therefore, when Jeff Kohut becomes so outraged and frustrated by Bridgeport’s systemic political cronyism and corruption that he suggests in an OIB post, a state takeover of municipal government, attention must be paid.

Kohut’s idea of a state takeover is not without precedent, and does have a basis in law, as a review of City history reveals.

In 1925, after Republican and Democratic administrations combined to produce a bi-partisan fiscal calamity in Bridgeport, the Connecticut General Assembly enacted the so-called “Ripper Bill.” The legislation carried that moniker, because it ‘ripped’ Home Rule from the City of Bridgeport and placed appointment of the Board of Apportionment and Taxation, the Tax Collector, and the Tax Attorney under State Control. The Governor was authorized to set the mil rate.

Only the unflinching personal honesty, frugality, and integrity of Mayor Jasper McLevy, proved sufficient to bring about the end of state control.

If the Connecticut’s General Assembly has not considered advancing a 2020 version of the “Ripper Bill,” I encourage it to do so.

It is both sad and tragic that entrenched corruption in Bridgeport requires that a remedy which was once unthinkable, must now be given serious consideration. However, when City Taxpayers are asked to pay for criminal defense attorneys to represent Mayor Ganim, his Chief of Staff, Chief of Police Perez, and Personnel Director David Dunn, concerning a criminal grand jury proceeding, and that fact is concealed from the public by the City Attorney for nearly a year, extreme action may be called for.

I want to believe that Bridgeport is poised for a revival. If President Trump’s goal of bringing manufacturing jobs back to our shores proves successful, regardless of who is president, Bridgeport will be well-positioned to take advantage of the boon.

We all know the geographic, economic and infrastructure advantages Bridgeport enjoys. The City is fifty-five (55) miles from New York City, and arguably has the best deep-water port between NY and Boston. A rail line runs through the City and it is the junction of two highways.

Solid residential neighborhoods complement a commercial tax base. These neighborhoods may now prove attractive to those fleeing the chaos of New York City.

A potential airport expansion will serve as an impetus for further growth and development.

Brownfields are available for remediation and redevelopment to create jobs. This pandemic has proven that our country can no longer be dependent upon an overseas supply chain, as a matter of national security.

Bridgeport blew it thirty (30) years ago and we cannot afford to make the same mistake again.

During the 1990s “pay to play” political corruption robbed Bridgeport and its people of the best years for economic development in our lifetime.

This time, we cannot permit development to stop at Ash Creek, then make a left turn through Fairfield, Trumbull, Shelton and Stratford in order to circumvent Bridgeport’s culture of corruption.

A state takeover might induce those with dollars to invest to bring money to Bridgeport, without the fear of a political shakedown or the re-emergence of ‘pay to play.’

This City will never make progress if we are consigned to rely upon corporate welfare, crony capitalism, and tax break bonanzas to connected developers, who insist on guaranteed ‘no fail’ contracts as the price for doing business in Bridgeport.

Many of us vigorously and financially opposed the state takeover of our schools, orchestrated behind closed doors by Mayor Finch and City Attorney Mark Anastasi. We did so out of a sincere conviction that self-government was preferable to rule by an outside oligarchy.

However, since the Connecticut Supreme Court restored self-governance, Bridgeport has squandered the opportunity through boycotts and political machinations. This we cannot blame on Fairfield, Shelton, Trumbull or Stratford.

This state take-over envisioned by Jeff Kohut might–just might–allow Bridgeport to finally access its untapped potential. To do so, the takeover legislation in a new “Ripper Bill” will have to include land-use bodies, development and legal representation, as well as taxation and finance.

This scenario might actually allow Bridgeport to grow its grand list and cleanse its political process, in spite of our elected leaders.

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17 comments

  1. I am in full agreement with Jeff Kohut and of course with Judge Carmen Lopez. Bridgeport has demonstrated that it can not manage itself and the State MUST take over.

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  2. Sounds terrific,but it will never happen…and frankly,I don’t have much confidence the state could straighten Bridgeport at this point.The corruption runs deep,in one form or another,it is in almost every dept in this administration.The home office is Suburban ave,then it runs from the Mayor’s office,to the City Attorney’s office,to Public works,etc,etc,etc…Nothing changes till Mario is gone as Chairman.

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  3. So Harvey what is your suggestion and plan for change, because there sure won’t be any change base on the protest yesterday that was organize by a elected City Council member, Rev. Mary Lee and by the former Acting Chairman of the Civil Service Commission and a paid staff member of Mayor Ganim, Rev. Herron Gaston.

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  4. This is an odd comment from someone who has been mentioned at times as a mayoral candidate. Either she wants the office but she doesn’t want the hard work that comes with it or she’s no longer interested in it.
    The last time it happened it was call a financial review board and you don’t have to go back to the 100 years for that.

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  5. This is a cop out. No one wants to do the hard work. They want the state to come in and do it all for them. The problem is when the state does it, then they will immediately take issue with what the state decides.
    Then they will be complaining about the state doesn’t know Bport. Doesn’t understand the problems.
    They want the state to fix all of the problems, change all of the players, start all of the development and then, and only then, say we will name Jeff Kohut or Carmen Lopez or someone else of that ilk and everything will be wonderful for the rest of time. GET REAL.

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    1. Bob, I understand what you are saying if you look back at the financial review board the City Council, department heads, the unions and the mayor all had a role to play. In the fire department we started to use some of suggestions that new City master plan that would make the department more efficient but financial review board cause the union to take a zero percent for two years on their contract and a manpower reduction, plus the financial review board had to agree to any new contract for the five years that the board was in place.

      Bob, the “Taking Our Village Back” protest march Saturday demonstrated that the City will not make any changes, there were no major demands made to Mayor Ganim to do anything. America with Black Lives Matter organization taking the lead after the police murder of George Floyd have been in the streets protesting demanding change to systemic racism in every and all forms but there were no one in the streets making demands on the power structure in City government and the private sector, schools sports etc, but the only serious protest was that for Jason Negron but even with that protest there are no changes, the mayor, the police chief are silent. Bob, no demands are being made for change to change to systemic racism in City government and there’s no way that a protest lead by City Council member Rev. Mary Lee and the “Acting” head of the Civil Service Commission and a paid staff member for the mayor, Dr, Rev., Herron Gaston are going to demand Joe Ganim to change his way of doing business. Bob, if a state over is not the way to go for change then what is?

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  6. Ron
    First of all, the FRB would be a day at the beach to what Carmen is proposing. And if you think the FRB was bad, this will be 10 times worse. Not only would the finances and union contracts be under scrutiny but also land use boards, development and the legal representation.
    And she states no time frame. Is it as long as the state wants? I know you think the city council is bad but if the republicans take control of Hartford, this would be far, far worse then an inept City Council. We could be subject to a Republican legislature. They would dump on Bridgeport and give us every kind of undesirable development project.
    Be careful of what you ask for because you just might get it.

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    1. See, its comments like that in which divide society. As if a republican were to come into CT and clean up this mess. Do you realize that Malloy and Lamont have created such an insane tax burden on CT Residents that the minority community can barely afford to live here. The taxes are god awful and they go no where. When is the last time 84 or I-95 got a revamp? Fairfield County of I-95 still leads as one of the most dangerous sections of the entire interstate because of our kindergarden civil engineering and investment. No companies want to come here. The only way they come here, is if we give them a 15-20 year tax break like we did for Bass Pro and Steelepoint development. That money has to come from somewhere, so keep an eye on the increase of taxes on your paychecks and purchased goods. Youre paying for a price because current democratic leadership is juvenile. Your city council consists of felons and former criminals. Your city’s highest power of office is a convicted felon spending your tax money to hire lawyers for himself for his corruption and the chief of police. So before you go paint a picture of “republican” leadership, take a fine look in the mirror of your recent history under democratic control, believe me its not a good track record. BTW im not a republican, im a born, bred, blue democrat but I am disgusted by the democratic leadership of the last 20 years across the country. To think this is the best we have to offer, no wonder Trump won because our head is so far up our ass currently its dark all day. Its comments like yours that we don’t have bipartisanship right in this country.

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  7. Rob
    Secondly, there is nothing stopping the City Council from doing anything about Black Lives Matter or Justice for Jayson that a little courage wouldn’t take care off.
    So I don’t know what you and Carmen are thinking 🤔 of but just tell the council to grow up and be an adult about this. There is plenty they can do but they’ve got to do it.

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  8. Bob:

    You say–

    “This is a cop out. No one wants to do the hard work. They want the state to come in and do it all for them. The problem is when the state does it, then they will immediately take issue with what the state decides.
    Then they will be complaining about the state doesn’t know Bport. Doesn’t understand the problems.
    They want the state to fix all of the problems, change all of the players, start all of the development and then, and only then, say we will name Jeff Kohut or Carmen Lopez or someone else of that ilk and everything will be wonderful for the rest of time. GET REAL.”

    Really! No one wants to do the hard work?! How about you? You’ve been doing hard work on the council and supporting lame candidates for 30+ years — and you’ve accomplished 0… (Maybe you’ve provided a few laughs for your political targets…) And yes; maybe someone of Jeff Kohut’s or Carmen Lopez’s “ilk” would assume an important input role in an interim Bridgeport government if our municipal prerogative were temporarily suspended by an act of the GA… So you would have lifelong Bridgeport residents with decades of activist and legal expertise helping to guide a remaking of our city government… Sounds great to me and a lot of people I know! (They certainly wouldn’t want a failed CC member and their failed, incompetent political candidates involved in any meanngful way!)

    And then you say —

    “Rob
    “Secondly, there is nothing stopping the City Council from doing anything about Black Lives Matter or Justice for Jayson that a little courage wouldn’t take care off.
    “So I don’t know what you and Carmen are thinking 🤔 of but just tell the council to grow up and be an adult about this. There is plenty they can do but they’ve got to do it.”

    Yeah! (And i think you meant RON not ROB). You expect from the CC what it has never shown in 30 + years — courage and competence! Sure, that can happen! And the indicators say it will… (NOT!!!) And you think that something is going to strike out from heaven and motivate this council to get a clue and the balls to act on it… You should buy a Powerball Ticket and take out a $10,000,000 loan… Things just might work out for you and the bank… (You better share some of that gonja-weed that you’re smoking with me and the rest of Bridgeport’s remaining boosters!)

    Good night, Bob. Time for your nap…

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  9. Oh Jeff
    You’re so funny Ha Ha Ha!
    You and Carman think for some reason the state will come in, take Over Bport, invest a billion dollars and then give to you and say thank you for your idea. Now you can run the city.
    My way of doing it has a greater chance of becoming reality than yours. And I’d rather keep on trying than to wait till hell freezes over and your way becomes a reality. Dream on.

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  10. Bob, Jeff and a litany of other FOOLS had a chance to vote for change yet they chose the status quo in Mayor Ganim. Jeff, I like you like a play cousin, but you’re Delusional.

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  11. Everybody, let’s get back to the main topic about change, what direction for that change? We know that the City Council will not go against Joe and Mario if they don’t want to get primary, the protest march made no demands for change and I hope nobody believes that a elected City Council member or a paid staff member of the mayor will demand that the mayor to make changes. So if it’s not a review board and we know its not the City Council then what?

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  12. Ron
    Marilyn Moore came within inches of doing it. If she showed one thing it’s that it possible.
    So I’m thinking a state rep or senator. It would have to be someone who is independent. Replacing a Caucasian with a person of color who is just the same (aka Dennis Bradley) would set back the effort that much more.

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