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Newton Seeks Restoration Of City Council Power To Approve Tax Breaks

January 9th, 2018 · 28 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Council, City Politics, Development and Zoning, News and Events

By a 10-8 vote in October the City Council approved new tax-break guidelines for developers while eliminating the legislative body’s future approval on such deals. Here’s how they voted. City Councilman Ernie Newton, who was not a sitting member for that vote, is asking the City Attorney’s Office for guidance on the process to repeal the council’s action.

Newton and council district partner Eneida Martinez, who was absent for the October vote, have submitted a resolution to the Ordinance Committee to reverse “Municipal Code Tax Incentive Development Program.”

The resolution states the “City Council improperly delegated its legislative responsibilities for protecting this city’s tax payers to the executive branch.”

The resolution calls on the City Attorney to “provide the City Council with guidance on the process it needs to go through to reverse or repeal the most recent amendments … including the drafting of any language in the format necessary to reverse or repeal the changes made.”

City officials say the ordinance approved by the council in October streamlines the process and ground rules to approve tax incentives to make the city more attractive for developers. The proposal was advanced by the city’s planning and development office.

Many of the council members who voted for the ordinance in October were either defeated in September primaries or did not seek reelection, replaced by insurgents who promised an independent check on the executive branch. And that includes restoring power that has been stripped or enforcing charter provisions that empower the legislative branch.

This would be a difficult ordinance to reverse given the mayor’s veto power if the new council could muster enough support for a majority vote. Still, Newton argues, this is all about reminding the executive branch that council members will not be puppets. Since his return to the City Council that jump-started his political career in 1981, Newton has submitted a series of resolutions to hammer home his point.

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28 Comments so far ↓

  • Ron Mackey

    C’mon Man, Ernie you know what Chris Meyers and Hamilton Burger are going to tell you that you can’t change anything. The City Attorney Office works for the mayor and not the council, in fact what has the City Attorney Office ever voted in favor of the council over the mayor?

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    The ordinance needs repeal. Last thing the city needs is more centuries-long tax abatements. The city is cluttered with abandoned industrial properties that remain untaxed. Just taking up space, leeching chemicals into the soil, waiting for a firebug to get his kicks.

  • Lisa Parziale

    Ernie doesn’t get discouraged or derailed. Ernie, you and Enieda hold your ground and challenge this. I’m probably the only one who knows what you can accomplish when you believe; take it as far as you must, if Joey G. steps in, you will have the support of enough colleagues. Remember you took a Mayor to court and won. I’ll send the Judge’s decision to Lennie if necessary just to make those who were not around at that time aware of the authority of the CC.

    • Ron Mackey

      Lisa, good advice and right on point. My post was to make sure that council understands that Chris Meyers and Hamilton Burger and the City Attorney’s Office will never support the council on any issue that goes against the mayor. Now to make change the city council must stand together and stand strong as a group and that’s where the real problem will come from with Mario and Joe putting pressure on certain council members.

  • Local Eyes

    Despite what he says, until Ernie Newton is able to reverse this law, City Council members will continue to operate as puppets to their newly-created tax abatement law. The power to complain is different from the power to change existing laws.

  • Jimfox

    The “motion to amend previously adopted” and the “motion to rescind” are one-step motions. If one of them passes, the previous motion either goes away (rescind) or is changed. If the “motion to rescind” or “motion to amend motion previously adopted” fails to get a 2/3 vote, the original motion stands as it was voted.

    • Jimfox

      Reconsider — A motion to reconsider must be made by a person who voted on the prevailing side. That means someone who was on the side that carried or won the motion. This prevents someone on the losing side from bringing up a motion over and over just to annoy. The motion to reconsider should be made at the meeting at which the motion was made and voted on, although some boards allow it at the next meeting. The motion to reconsider can be seconded by anyone and requires a majority to pass. Once the motion to reconsider passes, the motion to be reconsidered is on the floor, worded exactly as it was when passed. The board can now make a motion to amend it or they can discuss and re-vote it as it is.

  • Donald Day

    Ernie and Enida keep up the good work you are doing thus far. Remember that doing what’s right is never easy and seldom popular, but you can always look at the person in the mirror with admiration and respect. Great work.

  • Ernie Newton

    Happy New years to All
    Let me start by saying I am no NEW to this I am True to this. We will change the language back into the hands of the city council.
    referring Tax’s abatements. I have also requested copies of all Contracts that have not been approved by the city Council.Just remember you are not dealing with a ROOKIE!

  • Lisa Parziale

    Just from me Ernie, you’re preaching to the choir with me, I was there and saw what you can do, I just want to make it clear to those that weren’t what you, as a freshman councilman, did. BTW, I have the proof!!!!

  • Bob Walsh

    If there is nothing that bars the council from amending the ordinance (and I don’t believe there is) then amend away.
    Go for it!

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Little Joe will not know the difference. He’s too busy smirking his way through traffic stops and media appearances.

  • Frank Gyure

    There seems to be a case of “resolutionitis” spreading like an STD through all twenty City council reps. City council reps are taking the easy route and proposing resolutions left and right about every little issue. A Resolution is a red flag for a city council motion that means NOTHING,does NOTHING,and IS NOTHING. The resolution-proposers are trying to fool the people of Bridgeport. Resolution-proposer are trying to make it look like they are doing something but,truthfully,they are doing nothing.How about if City Council reps have the balls and the votes to CHANGE ORDINANCES or have Charter Change. When we get to see ordinance change or charter change,then we will know that the Twenty members of the City Council are serious. Some gullible people of Bridgeport might think resolutions are actions. So others will not be fooled by resolutions. Maybe we should have a resolution to not allow any resolutions.

  • Donald Day

    Frank how many resolutions to you recall, let’s just say in the last eight years, do you remember? Could the problem be that the old CC was ineffective because no one took the initiative propose a resolution of change and just went along until the mayor at the time told them what to do?

    With respect to charter change I believe that cones from a vote of the residents of Bridgeport.

  • Tom White

    Jimfox, reconsideration of a vote must be done by the next meeting.

    Frank Gyure, a resolution is a communication. It could make a solid statement with specific requirements, or it can be a weak request for, as in this case, asking the city attorney’s office to do something it is not required to do.

    Ernie Newton (and others), ordinances do not get ‘repealed’, they get amended.

    How? City Charter Chapter 5, Section 9. Check it out.

  • Ernie Newton

    TO FRANK GYURE,LOCAL EYES,AND TOM WHITE
    I SIT ON THE ORDINANCES COMMITTEE WHICH MEETS JANUARY 23 AT 6PM WE WILL AMEND THE ABATEMENT ORDINANCES AND VOTE IT OUT OF COMMITTEE
    PUTTING THE POWER BACK INTO THE HANDS OF THE CITY COUNCIL.WE WILL ALSO VOTE OUT OF COMMITTEE THE OTHER PIECES OF LEGISLATION I HAVE INTRODUCED.I MUST SAY I AM VERY IMPRESSED WITH THE NEW MEMBERS ON THE CITY COUNCIL AND SOME OF THE RETURNING MEMBERS. I CAN PROMISE YOU THIS ITS TIME FOR OUR CITY COUNCIL TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE.TOGETHER WE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE SO FOR ALL OF YOU WHO DON’T BELIEVE STAY TUNE!

    • Local Eyes

      FREE the Puppets and your claim to political superstardom will be restored.

    • Frank Gyure

      Thank you to all for a conversation about City Council Resolutions. A resolution may be a form of communication but I still get the sense that it does not carry the weight of law as an ordinance does. We can have a limitless “good governance” resolutions and all twenty members could vote yes on something that carries no impact. In fact,some CC members who are seeking re-election in two years could list all the good governance resolutions that they voted for on their campaign. There needs to to a process that will separate the wheat from the chaff. Bring it us as an ordinance and let’s see how CC members vote for the record on an ordinance vote.

  • Local Eyes

    For sharing their knowledge about political procedural protocol , I nominate Jim Fox and Tom White as OIB bloggers of the Day.

  • Lisa Parziale

    Tom, in my opinion, the greatest travesty occurred the day they cut your position. Your knowledge, experience as a former councilman, and integrity would have prevented a decade of ignorance.

  • Tom White

    Lisa, thank you. This is how the city council is controlled. Provide them only one source of information, the mayoral administration. You can thank McCarthy, Adam Wood and the lemmings on the city council when they voted to eliminate their staff person. Most of the current city council members appear comfortable being told what to do by the mayor.
    As I say…..All in favor? Motion to adjourn.

    I often make reference to the importance of formal education and work experience, but there is no replacement for an education in the school of hard-knocks.

    Frank, absolutely. A straight-forward resolution can be appropriate and effective in some cases. It can be a statement. It can be a reminder about complying with an existing ordinance or charter requirement.

    An ordinance is a law that the city council can create, amend and (yes, in affect) repeal. It must be presented in its final form as noted in the charter, not simply communicated in a resolution.

    Ernie, bring copies of the ordinance with you and share with committee members.Focus on the parts that need amending. The committee can report out the specific changes it endorses (if there is agreement) and you will have a solid start to amending it.(Don’t let anyone know I suggested this, they may be offended.)

    • Frank Gyure

      Tom White..Thank you for giving us more clarification about the impact and effectiveness of resolutions passed by the BPT City Council.

  • Lisa Parziale

    Tom after what the ungrateful jerks did to you, I want you to know I admire you for your willingness to contribute your advice. I know there are some who not only appreciate you but will follow your suggestions.

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