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Show Me The Money???!!!

September 25th, 2016 · 22 Comments · City Budget, City Council, Education, Law Enforcement, News and Events

Financial watchdog John Marshal Lee reports on the Community March in Solidarity With Our Police Department held Saturday, and questions the absence of support for education.

SHOW ME THE MONEY???!!!
This afternoon a “Community March in Solidarity With Our Police Department” walked a few blocks from New Hope Missionary Baptist Church at 100 Park Ave. to 300 Congress Street, Police HQ. The invitational message was “If you are in support of our Police Department, please come and show your support.” I had no idea why they staged this underwhelming walk with perhaps 125 people participating aside from the number of police personnel and vehicles used. (Were Department members in uniform doing overtime duty?) I compare it to a walk in the spring where 300 or more marchers, with home-made signs featuring a variety of messages, including Black Lives Matter, lots of chanting from a variety of voices and even a steady drum beat. In contrast this was a passionless procession.

Councilwoman Rev. Mary McBride-Lee was the contact person and was supported by Council persons Tom McCarthy, Mary Evette Brantley, John Olson, and Rob Paoletto among others. Mayor Ganim was not present and other members of the City Council were on the sidelines just watching, though also listed as sponsors along with Bridgeport Guardians, Firebirds, Religious Leaders, Town Committee members, etc. Members of the Mayor’s closest advisors including John Gomes and Angel DePara walked. An underpowered loudspeaker kept speakers’ words from public ears mostly. I am left with a lingering question of why this was done. I support the Police Department as a taxpayer since they are almost one-third of our City Operating Budget for reasons Mayors have not disclosed in full for years. I also support efforts and am actively engaged to build community engagement and understanding between the Police and the people in the neighborhoods, especially where public housing predominates.

But where is a walk, a march, a procession, or a quiet five minutes to contemplate the situation of the public schools that did not get funded for increases in normal operating costs as the Police Department did this year? For instance in 2015 the Mayor requested almost $88 Million for the Police Department that was undermanned at the time and this was also a time where the City was negotiating the 2012-16 contract. In the current year FY2017 Police are funded at over $103 Million with fewer than 400 employees. In 2016 the Board of Education shows an unaudited expenditure of $227 million and are shown in the FY2017 budget for a very similar $227 Million for a payroll that stood around 2300 persons.

What is the story? Education was not a promise of Ganim2 as a campaigner. Ganim2 has allowed eyes to wander from the issue of school resources. Where is a “parents’ march” on the City Council to allow the Superintendent to restore what it was necessary to cut? Where are Ganim’s priorities? How do you support Police programs and ignore youth programs until the last minute this summer and still provide no evidence of what happened to $250,000 approved by the Council? Where are Council priorities in evidence?

Were parents and fair-minded taxpayers to come together to ask for answers on such subjects, will leadership remain quiet and unresponsive? Where do City property tax revenues from the first half of the year stand at August closing? Is there a quiet resistance to the tax increase ongoing? The Ganim2 administration is in the final quarter of their first year. What do they have to show for Fiscal support, Police and Fire support, and Educational support? Or economic development achievements this year? Or consequences for the serious fiscal mishandling of the last administration? Time will tell.

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22 Comments so far ↓

  • Lisa Parziale

    John, in no way do I devalue the efforts of this group, but we have a rudderless BOE, we’re in financial despair, and people are now considering leaving their homes only when necessary because of random acts of recklessness and harm. Some Town Committee and Council members who are no more than ghosts when it comes to fulfilling their City responsibilities, found the time to participate, in the words of JML, “in a passionless gesture.” Just for the record, we care about our Police Department and appreciate what they try to accomplish despite an understaffed force. There’s no need to “grandstand” to show your appreciation and support. To the council members present, your time could have been best utilized if you got in your cars, rode around your districts, and looked for trouble spots or maybe say hi and introduce yourselves to your constituents. I can’t remember one piece of business worth mentioning that has been initiated by the City Council in almost a year. The next cycle of elections are right around the corner, marching around senselessly is not going to do it if there’s an intention of reelection. Don’t count on coattails this time, remember the council purge caused by poor judgement on Finch’s part, get ready guys and gals, history may repeat itself.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Lisa,
      In agreement with your comment. The sound system used was less adequate than the one in Council Chambers so whatever was said had limited hearing. Apologies for reporting the absence of the Mayor, who was seen at the event subsequent to my departure, evidently. Suffice it to say his name was at the head of the sponsor list but was not the lead man at the parade and podium. (Nor was he present when Senator Blumenthal recognized Council person Eneida Martinez at City Hall immediately preceding the “solidarity exercise.” Is it far from the Mayor’s residence to City events? Time will tell.

    • Ron Mackey

      Lisa, BINGO!!! The reason for that march was what? Well, the Lt. Lonnie Blackwell decision is coming out this week so maybe this is the cushion from the backlash the police chief and the mayor are going to get.

      Lisa, JML asked the right question, “But where is a walk, a march, a procession, or a quiet five minutes to contemplate the situation of the public schools that did not get funded for increases in normal operating costs as the Police Department did this year?” Mayor Ganim and the entire City Council are just sleepwalking while “we have a rudderless BOE, we’re in financial despair” (JML). But who is stepping up to address the BOE boycott? Like them or not, FAITHACTS FOR EDUCATION. I think with this police march and the BOE boycott, FAITHACTS FOR EDUCATION will look like the real adults and they might have a surprise Monday, time will tell (JML).

      News release from FAITHACTS FOR EDUCATION:
      WHAT: Bridgeport Deserves Better: A Prayerful Demonstration
      WHEN: Monday, September 26, 2016, 6:00pm
      WHERE: Geraldine Johnson School, 475 Lexington Ave, Bridgeport, CT
      WHO: FaithActs for Education, a non-partisan, faith-based organization dedicated to improving education for all children.

      • Lisa Parziale

        I know what you’re saying, Ron. Misplaced priorities, showboating, absentee Mayor, divisive TC, you are probably right, we need a voice of reason.

        • Maria Pereira

          FaithActs for Education is no different than Ex$ell Bridgeport. They are both shills for the Charter $chool “Industry.”

          That is exactly what they are; a for-profit industry.

          • Ron Mackey

            All of that’s true but they will be doing something and saying something about the BOE boycott in public and no one else is putting on a rally in support of the children’s school education.

      • Frank Gyure

        There is a little bit of information about the people who make up FAITHACTS FOR EDUCATION and this group seems to be connected to charter schools. All this info is in the postings where the announcement is made about this group. This group smells of hypocrisy up to high heaven.

        • Frank Gyure

          BTW, I will be at GJ school tomorrow at 6. Then go home and watch the Clinton-Trump debate. The fact Trump has the potential to become the next President is just driving me crazy.

      • Frank Gyure

        Mr. Ron Mackey, can you share a little bit of information about the Lt. Lonnie Blackwell situation?

  • Donald Day

    JML, this was nothing more than Rev. Lee trying to make herself relevant again. What better way to accomplish this than a walk for the police, which failed miserably with her cohorts who are also looking for relevancy. If you put together a March for anything and you can’t get but maybe 125 people to show up, you are irrelevant. Mary McBride-Lee, you are mired in irrelevancy.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Show me the money!!! What an apt title for a column. I want to know where the money is that was paid to purchase the North End Boys club. The lawyer that handled the transaction took his cut and Bruno claims he took money for his unpaid work time. I have to ask who authorized his working and what was the exact amount he was paid, nobody knows.
    Who in hell is minding the store in this screwed-up Ganim2?
    Speaking of screwed-up administration, who left the keys in a $47,000 car left on the roof of city hall? That person should be suspended or fired.
    Does anybody monitor our fleet of cars and do we know how many we have?
    Why does Joe Ganim have a driver/bodyguard? None of us do. What is he, a chickenshit afraid of the city he leads? Shame on him.

  • Tom White

    March for this, march for that. I guess marching is in now. How about a song for marching based on Country Joe and the Fish’s Vietnam protest song?
    Well it’s one, two three–what are we marching for? Well folks I don’t give a damn, next stop is (take your pick–city hall, police headquarters, etc.).

    • Frank Gyure

      We do not have enough marching. Look at the 1960s and you saw an activist country that went into the streets to create change. Even other periods in American History, we have seen a more activist American Society. Today, most sit in front of their PCs or smartphones and tap away on Facebook, blogs, etc. and they feel righteously active. BS!!! You need to get in the streets.

  • Jeff Kohut

    The spastic, political theatrics of Bridgeport during the past nine months play out as a Woody Allen comedy.

    Here we have a march in diverse Bridgeport in which “Marchers chanted religious slogans like ‘one faith, one city, one baptism’.” Well, there is certainly more than “one faith, …, one baptism” represented in Bridgeport. How do chants like that make our Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish citizens feel?

    It doesn’t sound like this was a well-conceived, well-planned, or particularly purposeful action.

    Indeed, this “march” presents itself as a rather clownish pretense at real action for real Bridgeport problems.

    I have rarely seen news accounts that portray a more disingenuous political motive than this.

    Really, everybody involved looks a bit silly, especially the leaders. This “demonstration” really puts a face of incompetent desperation on the BPD and the Ganim Administration. It sort of reminds me of a condemned person singing on their way to the gallows.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Jeff, how can you be so spot on and manage to instill a poetic wit? You’re right, they looked pathetic, this is probably the best they could come up with to get some coverage to make it look as if they exist. Heaven knows they don’t do anything to warrant press that involves real work with real results.

  • Frank Gyure

    This was ALL about Mary McBride-Lee. IMHO, she is gunning for the City Council Presidency post-CC elections 2017. As I have posted before, the City Council elections have already begun. If anyone wants to change the membership of the CC, they need to start NOW!

  • Lisa Parziale

    Frank, we don’t want to give away secrets. Only God knows what they’ll try next if they know what’s coming. Always remember, timing and the element of surprise work all the time!

  • Jeff Kohut

    Thanks for the flattering take on the commentary, Lisa. This “march” or “demonstration,” however the activity might be defined as depicted in the Post article, comes off (as you said) as “pathetic.”

    Instead of pandering to politicized ministers who have lost sight of their divinely inspired mission of facilitating salvation by the example of service, humility and asceticism, Chief Perez should be lobbying God, Hartford and DC for financial aid in his public safety mission, as well as economic development/job creation assistance on behalf of the unemployed/underemployed working-age youth and adults of his beleaguered city (as well the besieged, overtaxed homeowners of this city who might be included among the ranks of the unemployed/working poor). He really shouldn’t be wasting his time and political capital with huckster ministers on missions of self-promotion and self-aggrandizement. (It is interesting to note most of City Hall, the City Council, and the Bridgeport clergy steered clear of this maudlin farce.)

    The political life of this city is headed toward a new low point (just in time for the national elections).

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