Public Ignorance In The Face Of Legislative Oversight

City fiscal analyst John Marshall Lee stepped up to the council chambers lectern Monday night with a calling to the legislative body about oversight and a poem of lament.

Council members, I know that each of you is occupied with many activities beyond being a family member, worker and friend of many with a wide group for whom you are a steward of City events. But Mother’s Day and Father’s Day remind us of our adult responsibility to be good parents for all the youth, especially when the money runs out.

I am told that one of your duties as a legislative body is oversight. I can remember no Oversight Day, Week, Month or even mention held in the past ten years. Can you? You do legislate, through Ordinances vital to our residents. Money is vital as you realize every April when budgets are studied. But the school system is made less able to function and carry out its mission because of decisions made in the Executive offices and the lack of funds, this year, last year, the year before, etc. provided by Mayors. Need I go on? You know the need but have no priorities as a body; and it seems that long-term oversight on behalf of all families is not on your mind. Isn’t that the essential work of a Finance Board? But we do not have one. And wouldn’t that get addressed if you voted to request a MARB status?

As a matter of fact, it seems that Ganim2 has no announced priorities either. The school funding issue did not sneak up on the City did it? Is it a surprise that the ship has hit a glacier of cool indifference by the Mayor’s office such that no new monies of significance become available? But his labor negotiators keep compensation increases part of the picture. Fair?

Why isn’t the subject of educational financing a year round discussion of this body? You represent the kids and their families, don’t you? Several of you have links with the school system. Is everything OK at your school? Many grants, long counted upon to fill in our lack of funding, have run out and not been replaced. And workers to help the neediest in Kindergarten to become on time readers equal with other school mates are history. How long is it reasonable to count on volunteers to provide such service?

The majority of you ran for office with the support of the DTC. Has anyone ever asked the leader of that body about his concern for the education of the children?  Why not? Does the DTC have no education policy?

While you move to the July-August one meeting per month schedule, why not reflect on why you are not more active in making sure that the education system in Bridgeport is healthy and securing results. Is it an oversight that you are failing in oversight over this critical City responsibility? Plan your work and work your plan for full sight on behalf of all voters, including the young Council members who sit with you each year.

A lament of a Bridgeport voter:

Got work that pays for food, roof and coat,

Skilled tools in the heavy old sack that I tote,

And attend full mind to real news of note.

I read, view and learn, and click the remote,

So I can be wise, when it comes time. I vote.

‘Politics is dirty,’ at least many folks say,

‘Cuz those elected work to make the job pay,

For them and their own; all others mere prey!

All are not equal; and ‘believers’ get betrayed.

Especially the aged and weak left to pray.

We serve in uniform when we’re called to fight.

We work to help others when storms cause all fright.

When the old and broke make plans for flight,

We then see things b’coming more wrong than right.

Are we just folks divided, to face a sorry plight?

Who’ll raise a voice, a vote and some cents?

To support the few who are honest, make sense?

“Defeat Hate, Educate, Vote” works with patience,

To sweep out corruption, greed, and incompetents.

‘Cuz our biggest all around sin is: public ignorance.

John Marshall Lee, Copyright 2019.



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