The hand-wringing swamping the Bridgeport business community, the editorial board of the Connecticut Post, various media outlets in the state such as the Hartford Courant and a sundry of national concerns befuddled by Joe Ganim’s resurgent comeback fails to examine the failures by incumbent Mayor Bill Finch that opened the door to Ganim’s traction. If Finch had been a popular mayor who truly framed himself as a reformer championing the City Charter in the cause of transparency, doing the right thing, holding the line on taxes, creating jobs, offering strength to victims of violent crime, standing by his word and not throwing people under the bus, Bridgeport would not be in the national news welcoming back Joe Ganim.
The voters have spoken loudly, they wanted Joe Ganim back. If you don’t want Ganim back don’t blame the voters, don’t blame Ganim, don’t blame anyone else other than Bill Finch. On Democratic primary day in September a voter was asked why he chose Joe Ganim over Finch. The response: “I’d rather vote for the effective felon than the ineffective liar.” And in that one statement a voter synthesized why Ganim will be issued the oath of office December 1 and Bill Finch is sayonara.
Let’s examine the evidence.
— On the campaign trail in 2007 Finch promised to cut taxes by $600. In fact, in his first budget he raised them by that amount.
— In his initial weeks in office he tried to double dip both his State Senate pay and his mayoral pay, until he was publicly embarrassed to reverse himself.
— In his first year in office after appointing a whole bunch of folks to six-figure salaries he attempted to terminate library workers claiming they’re “non-essential.”
— After claiming for three-plus years that all was peachy in the city school system Finch had surreptitiously orchestrated a state takeover of education asserting the school system was a disaster.
— Rather than embracing the University of Bridgeport with an economic impact of tens of millions of dollars connecting the South End to Downtown, Finch called it a “criminal enterprise.”
— Instead of enforcing the City Charter that prohibits city employee councilors to avoid conflicts of interest Finch regaled in supporting a discretionary employee to serve as president of the City Council defying checks and balances in government.
— When a historic winter storm trapped folks in their homes for days following an incompetent snow removal operation, Finch blamed “the yahoos” for clogging traffic, not recognizing those “yahoos” were first responders risking their lives.
— When a developer was paid more than $400,000 to improve his driveway under the guise of an airport improvement project, Finch claimed he knew nothing about it, then fired the airport manager as a scapegoat.
— Repeatedly this year after violent crime claimed lives Finch asserted insensitively “crime has never been lower” rather than serving as a voice of concern and understanding for the families of victims.
— In a city loaded with people begging for second chances Finch wanted to pick and choose who was eligible for a second chance.
Finch translation: I know better than you.
That’s why he lost.
So please, outside media and company, stop condemning city voters for choosing Joe Ganim, a polished retail politician who exploited the weaknesses of the incumbent on the way to a general election win. Take a little time to examine how it happened.