When The Politically Connected Didn’t Pay Taxes, The State Passed The Ripper Bill

“Bridgeport is one of those towns that doesn’t collect their taxes very well. That way of doing things came into vogue in Bridgeport years ago; it is engrained there and people have become tempered to it.”–State Tax Commissioner William Blodgett, 1926.

All this coverage about some City Council members with tax issues has a history in Bridgeport. Accommodating the politically wired, if that’s in fact the case today, emerged a huge issue in the 1920s. Blodgett’s state investigation discovered all sorts of irregularities involving the in crowd at City Hall. As a result home rule was stripped from the city for many years under something called the “Ripper Bill.” The Connecticut Legislature enacted a law that empowered the governor to appoint the tax collector, tax attorney, and the Board of Apportionment and Taxation that set the city’s mil rate.

City Council members juggling tax issues, especially with the Connecticut Post paying attention, raises the question: who else, whether city employee, Democratic party insider, campaign contributor, is behind on taxes and receives favorable treatment?

Mayor Bill Finch, when he served on the City Council, certainly knows what it’s like to have a tax problem. In 1993 he was out of work, no job in sight, with two young sons, a mortgage payment to make and taxes to pay. He was behind on payments and sweating. I was then Mayor Joe Ganim’s campaign manager and Finch was my friend. Joe and Bill were never friends, but Joe rarely messed with how I ran a campaign. I put Finch on the campaign payroll to help with field operations to get him a few bucks. Less than a year later, when Bill was still having trouble finding a job, I went to Ganim. Finch was appointed director of Civil Defense, today it’s called Emergency Management. Bill then wanted to be director of the Greater Bridgeport Transit District. I lobbied Joe to line up the votes and Bill got the job. Bill didn’t last long in that job, after a falling out with his board, and needed another position. Again, I went to Joe to line up the board votes to name Finch director of the Bridgeport Economic Development Corporation, then a quasi agency of the city and business community. In politics you help your friends.

I was in City Hall last week, wondering about the line outside the Tax Collector’s Office, when City Councilman Anderson Ayala told me his car had been booted, then towed because of a car tax issue. The city was booting cars of owners behind on taxes. He claimed it was all a misunderstanding, a mistake by the tax office. A few minutes later he said it had not been resolved and the garage in possession of his vehicle would not release it. The mayor’s office inquired about Ayala’s problem. Calls were made. In politics you help your friends … to a point. Because sometimes it can be more trouble than it’s worth.

Let’s see how all this plays out. Certainly in campaign season mayoral opponents will make some noise.



  1. The favoritism of the politically connected never seems to end. We have one council person making $60,000-plus who comes up with a lame-ass excuse for not paying his taxes. We have another council person who voted for the lame budget submitted by Finch who failed to pay his MV taxes. He gets booted and as an added insult to the taxpayers the tax collector on city time travels to the towing facility to pay the towing fee.
    I have a friend who two years ago junked a car, he turned the plates into MV and notified the city that the car had been junked (he has the paperwork). Last week his regular vehicle was booted because the city stated he owed taxes on the previously junked car. No favoritism here. My friend went to the city and they agreed that the booting was in error however he had to still pay the booting fee and would be issued a CREDIT. Not connected get screwed, connected get away with murder.
    The question is how many more elected officials are behind in taxes? Why haven’t they paid their taxes? No excuses. When some senior citizen or young mother with kids has trouble paying, city hall wants no excuses and doesn’t give a shit. We need a list from the city of those who owe back taxes especially city employees and elected officials.

    1. tc,
      Welcome back, I missed you & I hope all is well. I do have a question I hope you can assist me with. It is my understanding the City complied with MJF’s FOI request regarding the use of outside legal council in lawsuits. Could you provide me with the names and numbers of the lawyers currently involved in termination cases against the City of BPT?

  2. Hey UOB! Nice Rip!!!

    Finch needs to be cut and pasted. Here’s a partial cut and paste of the above reference linked article.

    And while the tow company was preparing to remove Ayala’s booted car from the street where it was parked, Mayor Bill Finch’s chief of staff, Adam Wood, contacted a deputy police chief to assure him the entire affair was just a big mistake because Ayala had made arrangements to pay his back taxes.

    Wood’s motive appears clear. It was to get police to halt the removal of Ayala’s car. But the deputy chief informed Wood that he couldn’t intercede because the tow truck company was a private contractor working for the city’s tax collector.

    Wood didn’t return any of my calls about this matter. But Finch did. I wondered if he was busting a gasket over this meddling by his chief of staff. But he isn’t. Rather, he is defending Wood’s actions.

    “Any time anybody reaches a member of my staff directly, I expect them (the staffer) to follow up,” Finch says. “A call was made to the office directly by Mr. Ayala. It was a routine call, like hundreds of others we get. We don’t treat calls from city councilmen any different than calls from any other constituents.”

    I guess this gives a new meaning to a “Booty Call!” I want Adam to HMU! Hit Me Up!

  3. So what’s the problem, Lennie? Andy Ayala and Warren Blunt receive their tax bill, rip them up, and are done. Seems to me like they followed the language–the title of the statute at least–of the law.

    “… I was in City Hall last week, wondering about the line outside the Tax Collector’s Office, when City Councilman Anderson Ayala told me his car had been booted, then towed because of a car tax issue …”

    Word circling around town is that a reporter was at city hall witnessing Ayala’s plight. The CT Post first broke the story. Did Lennie give the CT Post a tip? If so, it’s fair game. Besides, it sounds like Ayala volunteered to give out the information. If it were me, I would have dodged my way out of the building as soon as I spotted Lennie.

    “… The city of Bridgeport is owed $40 million in overdue motor vehicle taxes, Finch says, “And I’m pleased with the tax collector’s” level of customer service. “I have a lot more important things to do,” he says, “than hyper-analyze how this was handled …”
    Would we be hyperanalysing if we asked: How much of that $40 million is owed by Sal DiNardo and when is it going to be collected? Isn’t that important?

  4. Regarding taxes/city bonds/Ganim/paying pensions; Beacon, here is info on the Bridgeport city’s bond you mentioned, CUSIP #108151T76. Interest on 7.4% is paid semi annually on 350m par, so taxpayers pay $13,370,000 twice a year.

    Then starting in year 2016, there is a yearly “Sinking Fund” on top of that with payments of $10,030,000 and that amount is paid once a year and increases every year until $28,120,000 in year 2030.

    1. Bridgeport Now,
      Thank you for checking at your source. I mentioned the two citations from the City Budget for 2011-12 in the Fire and Police Departments totaling $30,269,269. And now you are telling me the payments are actually $13,370,000 two times per annum for a total of $26,740,000. Can you indicate where you got that info and point me to it? Yesterday I also saw an indication that the interest rate is 7.64% rather than 7.4%, the coupon rate indicated previously.

      I am sure of what is showing in the budget for Fire and Police. The difference between what you report and the City budget number is over $4 Million per year. I want to confirm what you are telling me. By the way did you find any reference to callable or non-callable, any reference to City credit, or any reference to a party outside the City having a say in this matter (like the State of CT)? Thanks for your help.

      Nothing I have yet seen refers to a sinking fund from 2016 to 2030. Were that to be imposed in addition to the semiannual $13,370,000 the total would be in excess of $36 Million per year. Something is not checking out in this.

  5. What I don’t know is if the $13 million payment every 6 months remains constant after the Sinking Fund kicks in four years from now. This Sinking Fund increases about a million dollars each year and by 2030 the amount is $30 million required to be paid that year. The next interest settlement date is actually next Wednesday, meaning that’s when the city pays $13,370,000.

  6. Why no uproar over appointed dept. heads making over $100K and taking city taxpayer money to pay their country living taxes? I’d bet they have homes and more than one vehicle. Plus a free city car and gas, but not free to city taxpayers. Hey, you want to live outside of Bpt. and pad your retirement benefits then don’t be a dept. head in Bpt. You should have to pay a city wage income tax on your wages or resign. How about a report on what these individuals own and what town they pay taxes to?

  7. Finch had his car booted AND the Tax Collector went out to pay the bill and recover the vehicle. Is that what I just read?

    Maybe I have either had too little or too much Grappa so far today.

    Excuse me, MJF. Might be a good idea to add the council members and executive staff with scofflaws to your “talking points” around primary time.

    What about Ernest “T?”

        1. yahooy and Bptboy! Newton knows how to spell WIN when he runs again! And there’s nothing you and Bptboy can do about it but kick rocks.

    1. Ernest “T” can’t wrap his meager thought processes around a complex financial issue like paying taxes. He doesn’t know how to do it himself.

  8. Beacon, data from Bloomberg CUSIP 108151T76 Ticker BRI. The interest rate shows 7.639%. Maturity type: Sink. General Obligation, Dated 8/15/2000, Maturity 1/15/2030. Next Sink Date: 1/15/2016 for 10m.

    Sinking Fund Schedule, all dates are for month in Jan 15 for year mentioned:
    Bridgeport Bond Sinking Fund Schedule:
    Year 2016: 10m
    Year 2017: 10.8m
    Year 2018: 11.625m
    Year 2019: 12.5m
    Year 2020: 13.4m
    Year 2021: 14.5m
    Year 2022: 16.7m
    Year 2023: 16.7m
    Year 2024: 18m
    Year 2025 19.5m
    Year 2026: 20.9m
    Year 2027: 22.5m
    Year 2028: 24m
    Year 2029: 26m
    Year 2030: 28m

  9. I don’t even know what to say anymore. The problem is the people of Bridgeport keep electing these fools. Finch acts like this is not a big deal. That Wood did not engage in immoral and unethical behavior. Let a regular employee do what Wood did and he/she would be terminated.

    Ann Kelly Lenz wants nothing to do with the average taxpayer. If you have a problem or disagree with a tax bill, she will not even give you the courtesy of a private conversation. She is right and you are wrong. End of story. You have no choice but to pay the bill (to register your car) and then hire an attorney who will deal with the city attorney and get nowhere. Unless of course you are a city councilman or friend of Adam Wood. Sickening.

  10. I’m going to head up NEWTON’s run for whatever office he chooses to run for. I’ve been away but I’m back and I heard about two assholes named yahooy and bptboy messing with my friend Ernie! If you both have so much mouth run against him and we will kick your ass!

    1. Ernie Newton,
      There are a lot of stupid people who would support an ignoramus like you. I think you are being optimistic. Actually, I think you are exactly the right person to "head up" The "T"s campaign.

      There are a lot of people in this town who have had enough of politicians like The "T". But there are a lot more who think like me. You see, Mr. Newton, sanity is well on its way BACKKKKKKKKK!!!

      "T" has nothing we want. He can run for political office if he likes. Just tell him to try another state.


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