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Questioning Hartford’s $550 Million Bailout, Ganim issues FOI Request To State Officials

March 29th, 2018 · 18 Comments · Analysis and Comment, State Politics

Mixing it up on the campaign trail, as one of his rivals for governor Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin receives a massive bailout from his political benefactor Governor Dan Malloy, Mayor Joe Ganim has issued an FOI request to state budget director Ben Barnes and Treasurer Denise Nappier calling into question an “agreement that could bind Connecticut taxpayers to pay off more than $550 million in Hartford’s general obligation bond debt for the next 20-plus years.”

If you want a third Malloy term Bronin’s profile is built that way given his past advisory role for the governor and their close relationship. For Ganim, this is about two things: a sweetheart deal for a Malloy political ally and a governor who hasn’t exactly been a friend to Bridgeport over the years. Several pols on both sides of the political spectrum have questioned the Hartford bailout.

Ganim is requesting:
– Any and all documents and communications–electronic or otherwise–generated by either of your offices, or those sent and received between your offices and the City of Hartford related to or created in preparation for the debt payoff agreement between the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford.

– Please note particular interest in any documents that outlined the strategy and scope of such an agreement, and those that analyzed the legality and fiscal prudence of such a plan.

Ganim letter to Barnes and Nappier:

RE: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST

Dear Secretary Barnes and Treasurer Nappier:

I recently read about an agreement between the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford in which the state agrees to pay off more than $550,000,000 of general obligation bond debt for the capital city over the next 20 years. As a matter of public policy, I support steps taken to stabilize the finances of Connecticut’s capital city. However, what is being done here seems to be outside of an equitable, overall state plan or policy to support all of our major urban areas as well as the residents of all of Connecticut’s cities and towns.

As you are well aware, Bridgeport–along with all of our cities–is in great financial need as well. We are struggling to balance budgets each year amid declining state investment–without a major bailout from the state.

It was understood that the bipartisan budget agreement enacted last fall did include a total of $55 million in emergency state funding to help municipalities equally with debt burdens, revenue restrictions, and fixed costs. Hartford was to receive the lion’s share of those funds–some $40 million over the next two years, leaving approximately $15 million to be shared, by any other cities that might apply. In exchange for this, a city would need to agree to substantial state oversight and control of our municipal budgets.

What I and others were not aware of-as it did not ever enter public discourse of the bipartisan budget agreement last fall–was an additional agreement that could bind Connecticut taxpayers to pay off more than $550 million in Hartford’s general obligation bond debt for the next 20-plus years.

There also appears to be a lack of clarity of intent in the budget approved by the General Assembly, and also a lack of clarity as to whether the lawmakers, no less the public, had an adequate chance to evaluate and analyze the legal, fiscal and bond rating impact of such a substantial agreement to add more than half a billion dollars to Connecticut’s debt burden for one municipality alone. This is particularly relevant at a time when the state’s bond rating has been downgraded due to major, substantial budget deficits.

It appears that both Democratic and Republican legislative leaders were uninformed that this agreement assumes and pays off Hartford’s bond debt over the next 20 years. State Senate President Martin Looney and Majority Leader Bob Duff recently communicated to you both that they themselves question whether or not this was the true intent of the Hartford aid package in the bipartisan budget agreement.

As such, please consider this a formal request, pursuant to Connecticut Freedom of Information statutes, to obtain the following:

– Any and all documents and communications–electronic or otherwise–generated by either of your offices, or those sent and received between your offices and the City of Hartford related to or created in preparation for the debt payoff agreement between the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford.

– Please note particular interest in any documents that outlined the strategy and scope of such an agreement, and those that analyzed the legality and fiscal prudence of such a plan.

I look forward to hearing your response and reviewing these documents in order to have a better understanding of the rationale of this public policy and how it may impact the residents of my city.

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18 Comments so far ↓

  • Local Eyes

    When I announce my candidacy for Mayor of Bridgeport, will I be able to begin my first press conference outside the mayor’s office, or has he taken steps to prevent an opponent from doing to him what he did to Mayor Finch in 2015?

  • Ron Mackey

    Review Panel Rips Proposed City Budget | New Haven Independent:

    An independent review board blasted the financial assumptions in the Harp adminsitration’s proposed new city budget, saying it would need a 22 percent tax hike to balance — and provoking…

    http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/financial_assumptions/

  • DC Faber

    His reasons for doing so are probably not altruistic, but I like that Ganim is raising this as an issue. Bad deal for anyone outside of Hartford and an attempt by Malloy to unburden his protégée of a crushing campaign issue.

  • Velez

    Well at least the mayor knows how I feel. I went to the Civil Service and ask for the March agenda ,because they haven’t posted it online ( because I wanted to see if there were going to schedule the custodian 1 test like they’ve been telling the Board of Education they were going to ) and was told to fill out of Freedom of Information request

    • John Marshall Lee

      Civil Service agendas often get to the City Clerk office as part of distribution but rarely do Minutes. I have been told by City Clerk office this past week to go directly to Civil Service office on first floor and request it in person. Very few board and commission minutes appear on line…..something the Council might pursue an Ordinance for???Open, Accountable, Transparent and Honest????

      Why do different offices, boards and commissions follow different rules for making info available?? Does the lack of an established and published City protocol, lead the City Attorney Office to request funds for FOI requests to cover expenses? Maybe if the protocol was published, enforced and communicated, fewer FOI would
      be requested? Time will tell.

      • Velez

        I asked only for the agenda ,no minutes. Since they are having me fill out, the “Freedom of Information form “,I’m going to ask for a lot of stuff when I go in.

  • Ron Mackey

    New York Times:
    “From City Hall to Prison and Back, Ganim Now Eyes Governor’s Mansion”

    Joseph P. Ganim, an ex-convict who was re-elected mayor of Bridgeport, is now running for governor of Connecticut, and that worries fellow Democrats.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/29/nyregion/connecticut-governor-ganim-bridgeport.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

  • Donald Day

    Velez, those Civil Service jobs that were once based on testing are now based on political patronage. Why would any Mayor of Bridgeport leave David Dunn in a position with which he has no experience other than to circumvent the Civil Service process for their benefit?

    Mayor Ganim should be ashamed of himself, but being contrite has never been his strong suit and David Dunn has never been ashamed of breaking or bending the rules with his self grandiose mentality.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Joe Ganim is a shameless asshole. David Dunn is there to facilitate deling with the devil of Madison Avenue. Charlie Coviello just sold his soul.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    The politicians in this city have allowed the mayor and his cronies to destroy Civil Service. The council has allowed this to happen. The city attorneys office has allowed this to happen.
    Look they and I think that means Ganim put David Dunn temporarily in change of civil service 10 years ago and he placed the sister of John Guedes (Primrose Construction) in charge of Civil Service Commission even though she lives in Trumbull and has lived there since her appointment. These 2 have managed to kill Civil Service which was put in place to protect city workers and citizens of Bridgeport who are looking for work.
    Ganim and Dunn have managed to turn civil service into their own employement agency.Tested positions other than firefighter and police officer have all but been destroyed.People like Charlie Coviello are given a classified job that is supposed to be a tested position. Janitors jobs are given to political friends what job has been given to the mayors piss boy Auerbach.
    We even have a few city attornies that had themselves slipped into civil service why do you thing Anastasia is still here.
    The council and the bought off commissioners have done this and the council has allowed them to do this

  • Donald Day

    You’re absolutely correct Lennie, Finch put Dunn in there, but Mayor Ganim left in there even though he knew David Dunn wasn’t qualified to be in this position. Under David Dunn the Civil Service Office has lost its autonomy and continues to be now The Office of Political Patronage.

    City Council take back the office of Civil Services and give it back to the people of Bridgeport where it belongs.

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