Turnout For City Budget Public Hearing: Crickets


How many speakers showed up Thursday night at the City Council’s public hearing to address Mayor Joe Ganim’s proposed $564 budget? A walloping two residents who urged additional education funding versus the subject matter, public safety and general city budget. See Ganim’s proposed budget here that calls for a modest tax cut.

(Kudos to City Councilman Pete Spain for providing video coverage.)

Former City Councilman John Olson advocated more school funding.

Former City Councilman John Olson and school board member Maria Pereira were the lone soldiers for the first public hearing before the council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee. No mayoral challengers, no clergy members, no community action groups. Missed opportunity?

Media members equaled the number of speakers. The public hearing began at 6:03 PM. It was over by 6:13.

School board member Maria Pereira, sitting inside an empty chambers, addresses budget committee.

Olson lamented the flat funding of the school budget. He urged the budget committee, “You have the power … Do what is right” to add more funding.

Pereira drew a line between more money for the police department at the expense of education.

City Councilman Ernie Newton takes in sparse public hearing.

“… What urban city in this country has been transformed by investing in their police department?” she declared, adding public education is the more prudent investment.

She also advised in the future that public hearings be conducted outside Easter week to draw a larger audience. The reality is budget hearings outside of Easter week have also drawn sparse crowds.

In an election year Ganim is betting voters prefer a higher percentage increase for public safety than schools while providing a modest tax cut.

Fire Chief Richard Thode attended as an observer. It was an early night for the chief.

Summary of proposed budget.

A public hearing on the Board of Education budget will take place April 23, 6 pm in City Council Chambers.

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14 comments

  1. Maria Pereira , though I would like to know where any extra money went, I have to say it is sad that only you and John Olson spoke.

    As this is my last comment on OIB for some time. I want to say a few things, First, Maria, you were meant to be on a bigger stage. you do your Homework and I agree with this evenings comments.
    A very important argument that you neglect to make every is that a thriving school system is perhaps the single most important component in economic development. The city wants to attract young families. They move here and send their children to, Charter, Private or parochial schools. The first and most important question a young family asks is how is the school system .

    What I would suggest is to get a partner in the office of Planning and Economic development. The only city’s that thrive are those with an excellent school system. Young families move here because the cost of a home is less than half of those a few blocks away in Trumbull or Fairfield. They are willing to pay a small fortune for a private school. A thriving school system is the incentive for developers to create housing and business.

    You want to attract a major corporation to Steelepointe? What are you offering? a tax abatement? waterfront views? Where do the employees send their children to school. Certainly not the Bridgeport School System.

    I would suggest identifying exactly where the extra funds would go and monitor and measure the benefits. Just increasing funding is not going to work. Unless People understand the marriage between a successful school system and a thriving local economy Bridgeport will continue to get base hits but the grand slams and home runs will go to our suburbs. Bottom line – I support your efforts. Que sera sera- I am glad my final post on OIB at least until the election in November was in support of your efforts.

    1. So Steve will not be heard until November? A moment ago, before reading the above I would have said, “So long!” to the voice who knows more about entertainment and food venues and having a great time with a City job and a social-political life than he does about community values affecting all the people, like a good education sponsored by all the elected???
      And in this essay above Steve outlines the value of topflight educational offerings and real student accomplishment not present in Bridgeport. Steve, why isn’t the partner in Bridgeport in the Mayor’s Office and not in Economic Development?? You know that all power in Bridgeport, practically speaking, is in the Mayor’s office (and for some tasks) the man behind the screen who utters no words of public wisdom. The last Charter Commission made the Mayor’s Office stronger than ever before. And the Mayoral power has shrunk the way the Council as an entirety sees itself. Do they have a Mission Statement? Do they have priorities each year that outline Council activities, ordinances as responses to City issues, or other guidance mechanisms?? And do they bother to enter into discussion with serious citizens who are taxpayers?? Do we have a class system in Bridgeport where taxpayers can only speak publicly but not be heard or responded to and where public info must receive an FOI request? Why is no time set aside for discussion, by either the Council or Department heads? Why does the Mayor duck such interactions with fellow citizens? Is it because he is not out for all of the people?? Time will tell.

    2. Steve,

      I only had three minutes, therefore I wanted to focus on why the BPD should not receive millions in additional funds except to cover contractual increases which they deserve.

      The Board has employees from nine different bargaining units, yet we only negotiated administrators and teacher contracts . The other seven bargaining units are solely negotiated by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. The Board doesn’t even have a seat at the table and has no ability to vote on these 7 contracts.

      The vast majority of NAGE members are employed by the BOE, yet the Mayor negotiates the contract which is approved by the City Council. The last NAGE contract cost the BOE $2,000,000 and the City $200,000, yet both the Mayor and City Council failed to allocate funds to the BOE to cover the financial increases they negotiated and ratified.

      That is simply outrageous. I was doing my best to explain that to the B & A members.

      1. Three minutes? Where the hell did the council have to go that more time could not be granted? It’s not like it was standing room only at this event. People need to wake up not only to who’s running for Mayor but who is running in their district.
        On the budgets. I wonder how many of these budgets contain open positions vs. open positions posted for hire? Coming from the corporate world I know that budgets are padded in order to withstand cuts throughout the year.

        1. I was not aware a three minute time frame was set, therefore when the alarm went off I was taken aback.

          I expressed concern that there was a three minute timeframe when the chamber was empty.

          I honestly couldn’t believe that there was an attempt to cut me off. However, I asked to finish my comments regarding the contracts and I was allowed to finish that specific point.

          There was no reason or basis to set a three minute time limit.

    3. Hey Stevie,

      The mayor and his henchmen received a raise while the BOE struggles to find money for text books. I’m surprised you didn’t gas off about how great this is for the city of Bridgeport, giving more money to a convicted criminal and disgraced attorney.

  2. A subpoena issued to the city by federal authorities shows a grand jury in New Haven is actively probing possible municipal corruption. You needn’t worry about Maria and the Bridgeport school system instead, worry about what you’re going to say to Feds about that job you recieved from the liar in chief, Mayor Ganim.

  3. Here we go again, a liar and a ass kisser is at it again. “Lennie– I am totally don with your blog,” why the hell are you again 10 hours earlier, get the hell out of here and be a person of your own word.

    Steven Auerbach says:
    April 18, 2019 at 10:36 pm
    You must be some kind of an asshole– Not surprised Lennie would allow you to post that disparaging remark Thanks Lennie– I am totally don with your blog. You have been away from corrupt politics for some time?? Yet your remark is by far extremely personal– Thanks lennie– See you Nov. 7th . Best wishes to Mayor Ganim . Sorry Lennie your blog really does suck and you let it happen– This individual WFlores must be a very important piece of shit to be able to post. incognito No longer interested in arguing or conversing with negative disparaging pieces of shit. Honest to G-d.

  4. Credit to Olson and Pereira for showing up. Would have thought that more of the public would have shown up since they did have the public forums. Spring break week is tough one for parents – as it is this week. In defense of other BOE members not at this event- attached is a video of what apprears to be a council meeting where more board members are present and speaking up for the schools directly to the city council members present. While the public comments would have been impactful (provided the public showed up to support) i think that this meeting / board inout shows that this is a serious topic for the full board.
    https://www.facebook.com/PeteSpainBptCC/videos/2339883022923504/UzpfSTE0MjI2ODYxOTM6MTAyMTk4MDY0Mjc4OTc0Njc/
    I think the only thing that Ganim will hear is the voters on election day. On his first comeback tour he was in the neighborhoods often. Now he has retreated to his sanctuary on Madison ave.
    Lennie – what is food service? School lunches or something else?

  5. Please accept my apologies for my very casual appearance I have had a significant relapse with my back, therefore just doing simple things has been extremely difficult

    However, I was determined to personally attend this Public Hearing which was specifically held to address the Public Safety Budget and the General Budget. I wanted to see for myself how many people would attend to speak on behalf of more funding for the Bridgeport Police Department. As you can see, not a single member of the public attended to advocate for additional BPD funding. Not one

    Holding B&A meetings and public hearings during Holy Week and Spring Break for the BPS is not in the best interest of the public. Certainly, holding a Public Hearing on the Thursday evening before Good Friday is not in the best interest of the public.

    I understand that it is challenging for the B&A Committee due to the City Charter deadline, however they must do better.

    To their credit, they originally scheduled the Public Hearing on the BOE this past Tuesday during our Spring Break. The date was changed to this upcoming Tuesday, April 23, 2019.

    I urge OIB bloggers and readers to attend. The only way we will have transform Bridgeport is by having good public schools that educate our students for a lifetime of success. We must have an educated electorate.

    If you want proof that investing in your public schools is critical to the success of any town just look at our bordering towns. They have high employment rates,thriving economies with low mil rates, significantly higher real estate values, low crime rates, no gangs, low public assistance rates, low teen pregnancy, low substance abuse rates, and more.

    These communities truly understand the importance of having a high quality public school system.

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