Trying To Craft A Road Map, Ganim Orders Strategic Planning For Staff

UB aerial
Aerial of UB campus.

If you’re wondering why City Hall has been quiet the past few days, many key administrative staffers are at the University of Bridgeport for a strategic planning session. Like a lot of new administrations, although Joe Ganim had been there before, the first year in office can sometimes appear rudderless especially without crafting a road map to success. Mayor Joe has ordered about 30 members of his administration to join him for two days, Thursday and Friday, in a strategic planning session at the UB South End campus.

The point, says mayoral spokesman Av Harris, is to chart out a new course for the next three years or so.

“The start of a new fiscal year represents the beginning of a new chapter in the administration of Mayor Joe Ganim,” says Harris. “When we took office we came in halfway through the fiscal year, inheriting a budget that was $20 million in deficit. This was a budget that was not ours, and a budget in which the priorities were out of whack. Much of the energy of the mayor and the new administration in the past 7-8 months has been focused on tackling that deficit and straightening out the very serious administrative issues we faced, while reorganizing city government in a way that was necessary to better serve the residents of Bridgeport.

“At the direction of the mayor, these strategic planning sessions are necessary to now begin to chart a vision forward for the next three-plus years of this administration. It is a chance for all of us to get focused on our goals, assess our accomplishments thus far, and state out our vision for where we want to go and take the city of Bridgeport into the future.”

A number of people wonder if Ganim has the horses to pull the city’s financial wagon out of the mud.

Although extremely confident in his decision making, Ganim is not tone deaf to criticism. Information flow to the City Council has been messy, some roles in City Hall not clearly defined, the economic development office rudderless at the top. He just hired Tom Gill to run the office. He recognizes some of his hires are weak links misplaced in their roles. Now into his eighth month of JG2, the Ganim brain is assessing the hires he has made, who will stay, or will go, who will just blow up on their own?

This strategic planning process is also a way for Ganim to gauge the growth of his hires, many of whom had no experience in government service. Will they grow on the job?

Ganim is not the kind of guy who wants you to know what he’s thinking. And sometimes he likes to keep his hires on the edge so they walk out the door on their own before he’s forced to remove them. Call it Ganim’s attrition warfare. Wear them down.

A hallmark of JG1 was his department heads: Public Facilities Director John Marsilio, Finance Director Jerry Baron, Economic Development Director Mike Freimuth, Chief Administrative Officer Dennis Murphy, Office of Police and Management Director Bob Kochiss, and others. But that framework did not begin to mesh until his second full year on the job in 1993. Ganim was elected in November 1991.

How will the current group mesh? And will Ganim’s key hires have a different look in 2017?



  1. Step in the right direction. Hope to God he addressed:
    His chief of staff, when asked about the tax hike, telling business owner Fluck you, Fluck your business and shove your pizza where the sun don’t shine.
    And attorney Meyer telling people Walker was asked to be part of the transition team (Walker was NOT asked: although Meyer did informally mention the possibility to Walker), and further saying Walker cannot shout in the public while turning down being part of the solution.

    1. Jennifer,
      You are correct, I was never asked to be on Ganim’s Transition Committee. If I had been, I would have said, No! I do not believe people who have been convicted of public corruption should be able to hold public office. A vast majority of states prohibit it. In addition, I attended one of Ganim’s Citizen Forums after the election to offer input as a regular resident. Neither Ganim nor Flatto attended the financial/fiscal breakout session. That told me they were not serious about wanting real input or making big changes. Ganim was quoted in the CT Post within the past two months stating he would “love” to have my input and yet has failed to be able to find the time to meet despite my making several attempts. The ball is in his court. All these facts combined with his first budget, the huge mil rate increase, and the lack of real financial expertise in City government caused me to call for a Financial Control Board like the one that is being set up for Puerto Rico. Ken Flatto’s comment that we have a “temporary problem” also serves to demonstrate he doesn’t get it and this Administration is not willing to tell the truth to the people. Candidly, it is in the Mayor’s, the City Council’s, and the state’s interest to create such a Board where everything is on the table and bankruptcy can be avoided. It’s time to tell the people the truth and take real action to defuse the City’s ticking financial bomb. I have conducted some financial analysis that makes it clear we need such a Board. I plan to make the case during the public comments session before the 8/1 City Council meeting. Stay tuned!

      1. Jim,
        Not true. I have witnesses too. Chris asked if I would consider it and did not make an offer nor was he expressly authorized to make an offer. As I said previously, I would have said “No” if I were formally asked. I do not believe felons convicted of public corruption should be able to hold public office.

  2. People love this city, know this city, and have contributed positive ideas to this city (to you) in good faith, Joe. Please don’t bypass them in your “great push forward” effort. Reach out to them in good faith as they have reached out to you in good faith. There is knowledge, talent and abundant motivation to add momentum to your worthy efforts represented there. Reach out. Listen. Consider their ideas. Let them help, where indicated/practical.

    Good move! Good luck!

  3. Organizational success does not have a map but leadership has a goal. Strategic planning is strategic guessing. If the group’s lost it, I hope the group finds it.
    In the meantime, Bridgeport has BOOKENDS. Last time I mentioned Boston. This time, I’m highlighting Bridgeport’s exposure to New York City:
    (see blogroll)
    Located between Boston and NYC, Bridgeport is the heart of the Connecticut Creative Corridor, where Bridgeport has a lot to gain.

    1. This action on the part of G2 speaks volumes. It took him awhile to realize what some did immediately, however, it’s easier to observe, listen and see obvious, misguided decisions when one is on the outside looking in and he gave us so much to criticize. It had to be an enormous emotional experience being publicly confronted and exposed to his past indiscretions while trying to engage and eventually win a history-making moment election in Bridgeport. I knew he was not prepared to “hit the ground running.” But, I know him politically, perhaps as well as anyone can, I saw immediately he had no experienced staffers, he was out of touch with just how badly the City was struggling, and by the time the shock of winning wore off he knew he had to make changes and make them fast. I have been critical of him, and I still am, because he’s no amateur. I saw paranoia, an amount of fear, and his need to surround himself with safe employees whether they were needed or not. This is a start, to me it indicates he knows he’s over his head, the public sees it, and he will do what has to be done to get back on track. After this strategy class is over, he should do what he did well the first time around, get out and mix with the people. He has the personality and charisma to leave a good impression and allow the citizens to be part of the decisions being made. I’m not suggesting they make the decisions, just allow input and make himself available to the public; return phone calls and attend planned neighborhood meetings himself instead of sending a representative. And, when he does attend, stay more than five minutes.

  4. You’ve got that right, Cabana Boy. Eight months on the job and someone suddenly realizes they haven’t done anything.
    Maybe they should have actually looked at the transition reports. Not saying they are good or bad but that’s at least a starting point for serious discussions.

    1. Bubba, there was no “transition team” as we know it. Just as there will never be an Office of Integrity. You must have individuals of integrity, objectivity and experience to serve on an entity of that importance. Jeff Kohut, JML, Dave Walker, to name a few.

  5. These type activities are normally conducted during the transition and implemented in the first 100-plus days in office. Better late than never but we need to see a dramatic course correction and real results rather than more rhetoric, deception and denial.

  6. Tying together Ganim’s road map and McCARTHY’s flyer, Tommy Mac boasts after 15 years on the council Downtown BRIDGEPORT is now home to hundreds of new apartments. Tommy, that’s not an accomplishment but an embarrassment.
    And the same can be said of his pride in Steal Point. After 20 years in the making it is home to a faltering big-box store and two fast food joints.
    Aim low and make your target.
    Aim high and make a difference.

  7. It takes more than brilliant thinking to get maximum benefit from strategic planning.

    It takes people with demonstrated talent to implement the plan, achieve objectives and produce results. The tougher the job, the more talent you need. But it’s the quality of the senior management team that ultimately makes the difference.

    Never bet on the outcome of a “plan” without assessing the leadership, experience and skills required to make it happen. It’s a concept that applies in business, that also should apply in Bridgeport.

    1. Bruce,
      In the case of Bridgeport it also takes the discipline. All too often the city may develop A solid plan but the fourth time a different plan emerges and due to short-term economic considerations or shorter-term political benefits, BRIDGEPORT always opts for the more immediate option over the long-term, sustainable benefit.

  8. *** Well the National Republican Convention is finally over and all the Circus Acts put on were quite entertaining to say the least. With excerpts from Ms. Obama’s past convention speech by Ms. Trump and the blame President Obama for all the racial unrest in America guest speakers, to the vote your conscience for the best person by Sen. Cruz were all very entertaining! The split convention goers who were booing each other back and forth depending on the delegate speakers and whom the votes were going to early on during the convention and of course, the main “BOZO” himself, Mr. “I can do it better,” Donald Duck Trump! PRICELESS to say the least, his “we’ll fix it and make it much better” speech will go down in history as one of the “longest crock of shit speeches” in the GOP conventions history! From 16 to 17 or so Republican candidates, all trying to run for the President Of The United States Office in the beginning of the race and this is what the Republican voters chose overall to lead America into the troubled future! *** GOD HELP US ALL! ***

    1. Jennifer, you never cease to amaze me. I wish you hadn’t moved and I wish I knew you better while you were here. I can’t believe an Administration that was, and probably still is, wrought with conflict hired an employee that raises the question of conflict. Am I to understand we don’t have a Bridgeport resident who is at least, if not more so, qualified to assist Mr. Harris in his responsibilities? With all due respect to Lissett, is her recommendation enough to justify that hire? Just when I’m cautiously hoping an attempt is being made to bring this Administration up to par, another possible conflicted person has been hired.

    2. Harris finds it offensive to even ask about a conflict. He would never ask her to leak a story.
      Gee Av, that’s not what I was thinking. I’m thinking she would be pressured to let the city know about any rumors she’s picking up about negative news on B’port. Shows how little I know.

  9. People associate her with the fluffy stuff. This is serious business. Bridgeport’s future is not about the fluffy stuff.
    When reality becomes understood, expect rapid change from the ground-shaking shifts that precede it.

  10. I find it hard to believe after all those expensive hires not one said, “Mayor Ganim, this hire might be a bad idea, which appears to be a conflict.”

  11. Part-time PR gig?
    Buds with Av Harris?
    Knowledge of social media?
    Hmmm, let me think …
    Only one name comes to mind.
    Joe and Lennie together again.

  12. I’m almost willing to bet the only thing that came out of this event is a weekend’s worth of catering bills from Testo’s on the city’s dime. Andiamo!

  13. So Little Caesar wants to craft a so-called road map for his crew members? They probably need a map so as not to be bumping into each other in the office while attempting to look functional. I can’t help but wonder exactly how many of them are packed into the mayoral suite. The question begs how much incompetence can be crammed into one location. The taxpayers should request a headcount listing each one of them, their salaries, job titles and job duties. After all, their overinflated tax dollars are paying for this conglomeration of political cronies. Don’t the taxpayers have a right to know who is doing what, if anything that is? What a travesty.


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