City fiscal scrutineer John Marshall Lee, in an address to the City Council Monday night, wonders if Mayor Joe Ganim has made the most out of a second chance opportunity.
This morning we awakened to a late spring season snow storm. And by this evening most of the evidence from Mother Nature has disappeared courtesy of the temperature. Thanks to the Public Works people, we have not been trapped in snow-blocked and frozen conditions this year. I do offer thanks to those responsible for public service and it is genuine. But it always needs to be earned.
Failing in one’s task is not fatal, usually. Often there is learning that follows. In the case of Mayor Ganim’s first term, the opportunity for him to advantage himself at the expense of the community cost good city governance for years after. He faced trial for his felonies and was found guilty. College and law school had provided him with seven years of education earlier in his life. Now the Federal government caused him to attend an institution for seven more years. His present and future freedoms were limited. What education did he receive behind bars? Has he told you? Has he ever come clean with us as people of Bridgeport? Or did he merely share a private moment with a community of faith that believed in “second chances” with the rest was to become history?
Just asking, because in the more than two years since, the most consistent action has been to avoid meaningful management of city business and finances … growing the Grand List (wrong direction) and controlling the budget (borrowing, re-borrowing without present value profit, and one-time asset sales, for less than full value, ghost expenses, his former playbook?). Our Mayor has been so bored that in presenting the 2017 and 2018 budgets, he missed identifying and reporting priorities for which he would be accountable. Am I wrong? Will that change today?
A “second chance” to primary and then run for Mayor, he won with a promise to STOP RAISING TAXES. Once in office, he complained about a large Finch deficit, but dealt with it summarily with a large 29% increase and no consequences to those guilty of illegal acts. The public safety budgets have increased at a rate higher than other City departments and though 100 officers have been added, overtime continues to be poorly managed internally. There is an acting Chief with professional schooling less than others in the current department, but they did not drive for the first Mayor Ganim when he went off the track and wandered into felony land.
Ganim2 has not taken the actions necessary to streamline governance in boards and commissions though the opportunity is fully available. Two years wasted, and one political appointee assigned to those responsibilities with little to show for his compensation and position. How about the other political appointees? We compensate them. What do they do as public servants? Is it unreasonable to ask?
Funding our school system with more than 21,000 youth, the major location where citizens look for program excellence, has been practically ignored by the Mayor for two years. Meetings with education representatives bring little or no energy or resources to the system. How long will Ganim2 ignore the youth in our schools? How long will parents and the community at large allow him to continue this neglect?
Public housing is meant to serve over 5,000 units in the City. To the extent that vouchers support residences in private units monitored by City Code Enforcement with powers to get compliance, there may be some light in the tunnel. But over 2500 units are subject to Park City Communities management with a Commission that has inadequate tools to monitor accountability of the compensated PCC employees to perform their HUD tasks timely, accurately and with respect for our fellow citizens.
I am not a prophet but an observer, who compares and contrasts different behaviors and activities at different times in various contexts. I try to be fact based. The Council passed an ordinance asking all elected City officers as well as those appointed by Mayor to Boards and Commissions to sign with Town Clerk annually before January 31 with proof as to residence. Council members did well with 16 of 20 registered, but only eight others from over 150 parties have complied. These include the Mayor, City Clerk and Town Clerk. Boards and commissions? Nada. Follow through, “second chance” to get it right? And if you do not? Time will tell.