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Walker: It’s Time To Recognize Ganim Reality, Create A Better Future

November 30th, 2015 · 23 Comments · City Budget, City Council, City Politics, Education, News and Events

David Walker

David Walker

As Joe Ganim prepares to resume office Tuesday, city resident David Walker, a former U.S. Comptroller General, writes in an OIB commentary it’s time to “come together to help create a better future both in Bridgeport and Connecticut.” Walker, a 2014 Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, also shares thoughts on policy concerns that must be addressed in the city and state to enact accountability … “you cannot have a great state if you fail to address the challenges of your major cities.”

Walker’s commentary:

Tomorrow, Joe Ganim will be sworn in again as Mayor of Bridgeport. While I did not support Mayor Ganim’s effort to seek re-election, now that the people have spoken, it’s time to recognize reality, look forward, and come together to help create a better future both in Bridgeport and Connecticut.

Ganim was elected, in part, because Connecticut, unlike the vast majority of states, does not preclude convicted felons from seeking public office. In addition, Bill Finch was not a popular Mayor. Mayor Finch failed to control the City budget, raised property taxes multiple times, tried to take over the entire Board of Education, and did not take the safety and security concerns of certain neighborhoods seriously enough. He also defended clear conflicts of interest in City government and did not promote transparency and accountability within Bridgeport’s government.

Joe Ganim ran an excellent and grassroots-oriented campaign. He reminded people of his record in controlling the budget, holding the line on taxes, and fighting crime. He publicly committed to a more open, transparent and accountable City government, and to addressing the clear conflict of City employees serving on the City Council. He also capitalized on both Bill Finch’s record as well as Governor Malloy’s call for a “second-chance society.” This later point resonated within some communities in Bridgeport who have experienced higher degrees of incarceration in the past.

Personally, as a resident of Bridgeport, I hope Mayor Ganim has learned his lesson, keeps his promises, and is successful. That is both in the interests of Bridgeport and the State of Connecticut. After all, you cannot have a great state if you fail to address the challenges of your major cities.

In order to lead by example and practice what I preach, I attended one of Mayor-Elect Ganim’s public forums last week and provided my input to his transition team. Since attending that Forum, I have been encouraged to hear Mayor Ganim may appoint some quality people like Chris Meyer, Ken Flatto, Ed Adams and John Gomes to top-level positions in his new Administration. I am hopeful Mayor Ganim will also address the City Council conflicts issue in a timely manner.

Irrespective of what happens in Bridgeport, it’s time for Connecticut policymakers to “wake up” and enact legislation that will address certain factors that serve to harm both the image and competitive posture of the state. Specifically, legislation should be enacted that precludes felons who are convicted of public corruption from seeking a new public office in the future. For fairness reasons, there should be an exception for individuals, like Mayor Ganim, who were elected to a specific office before the passage of such legislation in circumstances when it did not violate the respective City or Town Charter.

Connecticut policymakers also need to recognize the state lacks adequate checks and balances to help ensure the integrity and accountability of state government, and to enhance public trust and confidence in government. Specifically, Connecticut does not allow voters to seek the recall of elected officials who engage in illegal activities or serious breaches of the public’s trust. Connecticut also does not provide an ability for voters to pursue initiatives or referendums for a vote by the electorate. Finally, last and probably least important, Connecticut does not provide term limits for any state office.

Some of the above changes can be achieved through legislation and others will require a Constitutional amendment. However, given the current poor financial position and competitive posture of Connecticut, they should all be pursued.

It’s not too late to create a comeback in Bridgeport and the Constitution State. However, doing so and achieving sustainable success will require extraordinary leadership, meaningful citizen engagement, tough choices, and non-partisan reforms that can gain bipartisan support. It will also require a modernization of the rights that Connecticut voters have and reforms relating to the responsibility and accountability provisions that public officials should be subjected to. The time to start is now.

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23 Comments so far ↓

  • Steven Auerbach

    Dave Walker, your commentary was most eloquent, but old. You voted for Enrique Torres. Do you think Torres could have or would have been so engaged even weeks before he stepped into office? Joe Ganim is seasoned and his top picks have been known for months. Did anyone expect him to pick idiots to a top post? You have conveniently left two names off your list, John Ricci and Danny Roach. Seriously, I have known John Ricci for 30 years and I have known Danny Roach for about 30 minutes. Roach managed a brilliant campaign, that alone makes him a top choice for a top spot and John Ricci knows his stuff and is a very astute politician. Add those two to the top brass and it is shaping up just fine. Ganim does not need to do any more or less than run the city to the best of his ability. He has four years to do his thing and most likely will exceed all expectations. He was not marginally elected and on a four-year probation. He has the majority of the city behind him and will get the rest as days go on and people realize he won by a significant margin. I think we should give him his due and hope he does amazing things. Best wishes to Mayor Finch. I hope life treats you well and thank you for serving our city. Good or bad I respect you and thank you. Joe Ganim, you will not be the poster child for a corrupt city. Joe Ganim will be an amazing Mayor. It would be nice to see past Mayors at the reception tomorrow. I will be there and could care less if they have the decency to show up or not. They will not be missed I am sure.

  • Bob Walsh

    And Finch will win in a landslide!!!

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Hey Steve,
    “Your commentary was most eloquent, but old. You voted for Enrique Torres. Do you think Torres could have or would have been so engaged even weeks before he stepped into office?” What Does Rick Torres have to do with anything? Anyone reading this blog knows you couldn’t pick a winner in a one-horse race. First it was “Bill Finch will win the primary in a landslide!” He lost to a convicted felon. Then it was “Bill Finch will win the general election as an independent candidate by a landslide!” After his own people fucked up the paperwork, you changed the lyrics to the shopworn tune you’ve been singing to “Mary-Jane Foster will win by a landslide!” She lost to the felon, by 2 to 1. Rick Torres lost as well but he has never lied to the people of the city of Bridgeport, a claim neither Bill Finch nor Mary-Jane Foster can make.

    Joseph P. Ganim has earned himself another chance. Trust will take time but it’s his to earn. Why don’t you do us all a favor and just shut your fucking cake hole.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Bridgeport Kid–Torres got 2000 votes and Dave Walker voted early for him. Finch did not win by a landslide because of “mistakes” made by others. Foster didn’t have a chance and Torres had less. Finch’s inability to move forward was just a shame. Ganim’s ability to win by a huge landslide was in the cards. I didn’t believe Finch would win in a landslide as those off the blog knew. But on the blog I was a campaigner. I called Foster on her Primary position. Torres was never a force to deal with and neither was Foster. I knew Ganim knew that and shocking Finch and Stafstrom and Foster didn’t know that. Derek Brown, 2000 votes Torres didn’t even get an interview. Foster did and she believes Ganim needs to deal with her. Honestly, he never mentioned her although someone from UB is on his transition team. Why would Ganim need to talk to her? Derek Brown 2000 votes, give it up! Coviello 62 votes. Yup it was worth it. He had more signs than votes and btw–there are still Torres signs on houses all over the North End. Remove them, it looks terrible!

  • Steven Auerbach

    Bridgeport Kid, I will not be swearing at you nor will I spend four years arguing with you. What I WILL SAY AS A PARTING comment, Joe Ganim is the Mayor as of 12:01am Tuesday. He does not need to prove himself. He has won by a huge margin. WE will support him because it serves our best interest. YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH GANIM YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT IN FOUR YEARS–NOT! :-)

  • Jimfox

    Joe Ganim can’t do it alone, it’s going to take a lot of people to help Joe bring Bridgeport back to greatness!

    Every Board and commission will need a total revamp, most members have expired terms.

    Every school is in a desperate need of a Wraparound Program for our kids, like Hartford and New Haven Schools.

    For the last eight years some people were treating the Tax Department like their own candy store
    giving tax breaks to their friends.
    The South End NRZ should be abolished ASAP.
    Joe Ganim will have his hands full for the next few Months, what he’ll find in the Finance and Tax Departments should make Bernie Madoff blush.

    Joe should call for a Forensic Audit of all departments and ask the State to underwrite it!

  • Bob Halstead

    Bridgeport Kid, I suggest you just not read Auerbach’s postings. Period.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Yes Bob, I would suggest you not mention Auerbach’s name. Lolol funny advising Kid as he is Ganim’s biggest supporter. Oh wait, I will be a cheerleader for Ganim as he will be our Mayor and so far he has an impressive administration. Most impressive to say the least.

  • Bob Halstead

    Great post, David Walker!

  • carolanne curry

    “Irrespective …” an interesting word that you use, David Walker.
    However, whatever you are saying, you do not comment, either deliberately or in-deliberately, in your analysis of the first and initial rollout appointments to the new Ganim Administration, that you recognize these appointments certainly speak to the power and the presence of men in this 2015 Ganim campaign.
    The reality is Joe Ganim had some of the brightest, smartest, and most savvy women I’ve ever worked with in the past 20 years of CT yearly election campaign effort(s). There is no mention by you of the women, only a specific, 100% single-gender representation, for the top jobs in the City’s governance structure as of December 1st.
    Remember the women, David. They are going to be integral to this City’s recovery.

    • Dave Walker

      Carolanne,
      I can only comment on what I know. I would expect Mayor Ganim would appoint a number of capable women and I am sure there are a number to choose from. From a personal standpoint, I can assure you I had a very positive track record in this regard in connection with every organization I have led. For example, I appointed a very capable woman as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor when I was Assistant Secretary of Labor in the Reagan Administration. She later became Assistant Secretary of Labor in the Bush (43) Administration. She is now a Senior VP with Vanguard. She is but one of many examples.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Carolanne, I totally agree with you and I am assuming you will be part of the Ganim administration. Joe Ganim is a very sharp man and will not overlook the talent that supported him. The woman in particular have been impressive. Given his initial appointments, woman are present and accounted for. Good luck to you.

  • Brick

    I would have liked to see some more specific ideas instead of the generalities. Dave has put forth some interesting concepts (for a Republican, anyway), but I’m not seeing any policy recommendations for the municipality this administration might explore. I think the city needs more development ideas, plans to increase home ownership rates, addressing the broken PILOT funding system, or even bettering relationships with neighboring towns who marginalize and exploit the workers and cheap land.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Brick,
    Thank you for raising a question as to specifics that will create the OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT and HONEST governance that has been missing in too many ways for years. I am sure they will come but in the meanwhile intend to look at Ken Flatto’s embrace of the Finance Director position. Will he merely review the revenue portion of the operating budget as was described of his predecessor? Or will a more comprehensive approach to include appropriations, capital budgets, etc.? He has been a chief executive in a community with a far better credit rating, Grand List, and fiscal support system. He has also had a view of what our fiscal records and status look like in recent years as a consultant. What will look different? What will be different with Sherwood gone? Will all his tasks, duties, or “responsibilities” be assumed by others or will a new OPM head be sought? Time will tell.

  • Park City too

    A couple things become apparent. Mr. Walker, your appearance at the transition mention immediately leaves me with the impression the wattage went up in the room for a brief moment. They would have done well by transparency, or in the ability to seize the moment, if you were asked to be on the transition team, not just politely tolerated for a moment. Also, the comment about it not being too late to create a comeback in Bridgeport and the state, reminds me of the bottom of the ninth inning, or the two-minute warning, that’s not a warm and fuzzy opinion of the state of the state or city. I remember Flatto at the polls, when I asked him if he wanted a job, or would be interested, he acted very demurring, “well, (hesitant face, scrunched up a bit) I don’t know, I don’t think so.” Give me a good-luck charm, he knew what he was there for all along. The six-plus figures. And Steven, you know Danny Roach for 30 minutes, and the way he ran a campaign shows he should have a top post? One of my favorite moments was when Finch won his first term and he came to Danny’s new store. They both stood outside and shook their heads in disbelief, when we changed the huge letters that spelled ART, to RAT, in the windows across the street, at the art center he and Finch fought to close.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      The so-called “art center” was really just one con man trying to get something for nothing from another con man.

      • Park City too

        I knew you would be in on that one, D. Tired old rag. Celli proved his worth ten times over in New London, in arts and city administration. Far from political backstabbers. Now he is well received at WPKN, pursuing his passions creatively as he has lived his life and traveled the globe, beyond mere mortals to detract. If I don’t reply again on this thread it is not quiet agreement on my part.

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