Taking a large loss on the Black Rock house he purchased from former Congressman Chris Shays 10 years ago, former U.S. Comptroller General and gubernatorial candidate David Walker pens an adios to Connecticut with suggestions to make the state more competitive as well as what should be done in Bridgeport: “it should bring a first class resort/casino to the city, more aggressively pursue enterprise/opportunity zones, revitalize its waterfront, capitalize on its deep water port potential, and consider filing for bankruptcy in order to restructure its finances.”
After living for over nine years in the historic and beautiful Black Rock section of Bridgeport, my wife, Mary, and I are leaving the Constitution State. We are saddened to do so because we love our home, our neighborhood, our neighbors, and the state. However, like an increasing number of people, the time has come to cut our losses and move closer to family. In addition, it is not clear that current state and local leaders have the willingness and ability to make the tough choices needed to create a better future in Connecticut, especially in connection with unfunded retirement obligations.
Hopefully the below ideas will help to stimulate action on some much needed reforms over time.
Connecticut, Bridgeport and several other cities in the state face serious financial and competitiveness challenges that are not being effectively addressed. As a result, due to poor leadership and failed policies for many years, Connecticut has gone from a top five to bottom five state in competitive posture and financial condition since the late 1980s. In more recent years, this has resulted in an exodus from the state and a significant decline in home values.
Connecticut still has significant potential, but that potential will never be realized unless the state reduces tax and regulatory burdens, improves its transportation systems and critical infrastructure, rationalizes its welfare systems, addresses the serious educational opportunity gaps that exist, rightsizes state government, modernizes government human capital practices, and revitalizes its troubled cities.
In order to do so, Connecticut, and many of its major cities, MUST restructure current pension and retiree health care plans in a reasonable, affordable and sustainable manner. This represents the fiscal cancer that must be addressed in a timely manner at both the state and local level in order to create a better future. Deferring contributions and engaging in pension obligation bonding at this time are just two examples of kicking the can down the road on needed reforms.
Bridgeport also has potential but it needs to reject political machine-controlled and patronage-oriented government, significantly reduce its property tax rate, and capitalize on its comparative advantages. In order to do so, it should bring a first class resort/casino to the city, more aggressively pursue enterprise/opportunity zones, revitalize its waterfront, capitalize on its deep water port potential, and consider filing for bankruptcy in order to restructure its finances.
Several other cities in the state also need to consider the bankruptcy option. After all, any municipality with a mil rate over 40 is not competitive and huge unfunded retirement obligations will only make things worse over time absent real restructuring.
As an example of the competitiveness challenge facing Connecticut and its cities, during the past eight months, Mary and I have already seen that the property tax rate on our new home in Alexandria, Va is one third of Bridgeport, electric rates are half, laundry and dry cleaning is less than half, auto and homeowners insurance are one third less, there are no mandatory automobile tolls, and gasoline is 10-20 percent less. In addition, the quality of life and public services in Fairfax County are as good or better than anywhere in Fairfield County and the quality of life in Alexandria is excellent.
And where did Amazon decide to put their second headquarters? Three and one-half miles from our Alexandria home! As a result, unlike Connecticut, homes prices are rising.
From an integrity perspective, Connecticut needs to join the 46 other states that ban convicted felons for public corruption from holding public office, adopt much tougher conflict of interest rules at the state and local level, and recognize the fact that public sector unions have too much political power and have run the state into a fiscal chasm. It’s time to get rid of the nickname–Corrupticut!
Finally, since we will be exiting the state this month, I have resigned my position on Connecticut’s Municipal Accountability Review Board (MARB) that currently oversees three troubled municipalities (i.e., Hartford, West Haven and Sprague).
Reforms are needed to make the MARB more effective. For example, any municipality with a mil rate over 40 with large unfunded retirement obligations should automatically be subject to MARB oversight should the MARB deem it appropriate.
Based on this criteria, Waterbury, Bridgeport and New Haven and selected other smaller municipalities should be subject to MARB oversight. The MARB also needs to focus its efforts on municipalities with serious competitive and structural financial challenges rather than short-term challenges.
MARB should only provide temporary state aid to municipalities that achieve actual reductions in recurring spending and actual increases in their taxable grand list. It also needs to recognize that requiring tax increases in cities with very high and non-competitive tax rates will only make things worse over time. Its focus needs to be on real reductions in spending and stimulating economic growth so tax burdens can be lowered over time.
Ultimately, the state should cap property tax rates and provide meaningful property tax relief to seniors. This will take time but needs to be accomplished in order to revitalize troubled cities and retain seniors after they retire. After all, the number one tax concern for Connecticut residents is property taxes rather than income taxes. Such is clearly the case in troubled cities.
Mary and I truly hope that these and other state and local challenges will eventually be addressed for the sake of our friends, neighbors and the citizens of Connecticut, Bridgeport and other troubled cities. They deserve no less.
Finally, after deciding to leave Connecticut, I accepted a Distinguished Visiting Professor position at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD starting in August. I am looking forward to this unique opportunity to serve my country again and to help prepare our nation’s future leaders. As a result, it’s time for us to say, goodbye and good luck Connecticut, and Go NAVY!
Thank you David Walker for exposing the fiscal folly that continues in Bridgeport maintained by elected leadership that ignores how MARB can assist a community of taxpayers. Of course, one reason for not choosing to join is to avoid the full amount of fiscal info and what has caused trouble and turmoil from public notice. In this case half-truths in public info officer announcements TRUMP the facts according to MARB. Open, accountable, transparent and honest progress towards correction can be charted with consistent oversight, but not for most of the City Council or the Mayor and his financial advisers.
Since our 24/7 Mayor, Joseph Ganim, collected his vacation allocation because he deserves it, he says, even though he has not to my knowledge posted a schedule of how much of that 24/7 time was allocated to the pursuit of the governorship. I believe in forgiveness and second chances. But I also believe in serious oversight. Ganim2 does not. And seven years behind bars seems to have had little effect in changing his mind as to public service, rather than serving oneself. What say you? Time will tell.
What do Bridgeport and Connecticut have in common?
Answer: they both need an aura to replace their stigma!
If we did half of what David Walker suggests, we’d be in better shape.
So, LE, what you may be indicating is that the fiscal wisdom and actions encouraged by WALKER”S FAREWELL ADDRESS offer more productive pursuits for Bridgeport anyway than any or all of GANIM”S ANNUAL REPORT ON THE CITY (BUDGET). Time will tell.
David Walker had zero costs, tried to enter politics and left a road map for the future. He also upscaled and paid taxes on his upscale property while being a jolly member of OIB and other civic-minded organizations.
Mayor Ganim has the costs associated with the most expensive type of employee. His value is hard to see and difficult to measure.
Bridgeport is lucky that they rejected David Walker and his radical and obtuse suggestions for its financial health. One of his most glaring suggestions would be for the city to consider filing for bankruptcy in order to restructure its finances. His way of doing this is to go after the pension and health benefits of retirees.
Mr. Walker, I ran into burning buildings for over 20 twenty years putting my life and the future of my family on the line, while paying 8% of my salary that went into the general fund to pay the city’s bills. For this Mr. Walker they promised me a meager pension for the rest of my life.
Now because I was lucky enough NOT to be killed in a fire like several of my Brother firefighters during my career, you want to take that which I earned with my very life. What about the families of Brother firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives for a city and people that they loved? Are you taking their pensions too?
I have two commendations for heroism and never did NOT risking my life ever become an alternative and for that you want to take my meager pension? You’re still a typical Republican, I don’t give a damn what was promised to you or how much it will impact your life nor do I give a damn what you sacrificed to live up to that promise, it no longer works for me so it’s out. Bridgeport’s loss is, well nothing lost here Bridgeport!
I agree with you Dave Walker may be a nice guy but he wasn’t a good fit for Bridgeport or the State of Connecticut, and that is not simply my opinion, it is the opinion of Connecticut voters.
Dave offered so many solutions and absent are the problems that he personally ignored with the leadership of the Republican State Central Committee and the local RTC.
JR Romano has a history of ignoring racist behavior of members of the state and local committees which has resulted in the present condition of the local and state organizations. An election is about to take place at the State level,(any suggestions Dave) the BRTC speaks for itself it’s a disaster.
Dave please give the local and state committees some of your parting words of wisdom.
Although Bridgeport was not a good fit for you I do wish you and your family health and happiness in your new home.
I respect David Walker and wish him the best. Mr.Walker had a lot of ideas but none of them have been implemented . There was a Red-State Experiment where the Governor of Kansas,Sam Brownback, ACTUALLY C cut taxes AND cut services. However,the loss of services was so unpopular that Brownback was the least popular Governor in the United States during his tenure. Brownback did not seek reelection and Trump made him some type of religious ambassador. The next Republican Governor and State Legislature INCREASED BOTH taxes and the services that were cut by Brownback. (If anyone is interested,just Google it and research it). Another case, Ronald Reagan talked about decreasing government yet the Federal Budget ROSE during his tenure as President. David Walker et friends have never been able to test the paradox of financial governing:constituents want more services but do not want to pay for it and constituents will not accept any government budget cuts that affect them personally. There is a political quote that has some history;Don’t tax me,Don’t tax you,Tax the man behind the tree.https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/04/04/tax-tree/ Taxes(revenue/money for governments to deliver services to people) has never been popular. Remember the Stamp Tax which started the American Revolution. On the other hand,there is always the issue of graft and corruption in government. One of the worst cases was New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker(1926-1932) and NYC Democratic Organization Tammany Hall. An involved citizenry is the only antidote to corruption and graft in government. Can we say that Bridgeport has an informed and involved citizenry? As JML always sign off with TIME WILL TELL,we will see this mayoral election season if Bridgeport has such citizens.
In order to share his years of public service with OIB readers, Donald Day once again misquotes David Walker: “to restructure its finances. His way of doing this is to go after the pension and health benefits of retirees.”
I have read with some attention to detail and interest the writings of Walker. He is a student of financial governance at municipal, state and Federal levels. I am not and neither is Donald Day. Will Day show us a direct quote from Walker where he advised ‘going after’ the pension benefits of retirees?? I have looked and not found that statement yet Donald Day repeats it each time he touches this subject. Unions can restructure promises for current workers through negotiation. And new workers rarely get the rich benefits in so called Cadillac plans. But Day may have better luck than I had in this research. If he finds the reference he quotes and presents it I will apologize to him. And if he cannot find such in all the material Walker has presented in his years in Bridgeport, perhaps Day can desist from “fake news”? Time will tell.
I said it once and I’ll say say it again, you are replete with pomposity. You can write, but obviously you don’t want to read. I posted his article because I knew your pompous ass would run to the rescue to your fellow Black Rock elite. I have nothing to show you or prove to you because you are no different to me than Steven A and like him I wouldn’t piss in your ear if your brain was on fire. I have not one shred of respect for you as a man because of your comments on the past.
Dave Walker I wish you well on your move and hope that you find what you couldn’t find in Bridgeport or Connecticut, but you’ve been talking about taking the pensions of public service workers for years.
Donald Day, if you cannot find even one statement where public service workers who were retired were being threatened by Dave Walker, why don’t you just stop making that accusation? Pension and healthcare along with working hours, uniforms, vacations, staffing, etc. are all subject to negotiations, and that is where restructuring for union employees might take place, at the negotiating table. You know this truth. Why do you continue to ignore it?
Do you believe that if you use a megaphone repeating fake truth, that it will make it real?
I am a Bridgeport resident and when I write or speak it is to and about all fellow Bridgeporters. I know that people all over the city work, pay taxes and strive to know more about what is really going on. Were you to attend a City Council meeting, even as a non-resident, you could observe people listening intently.
Who and where is the elite you describe? Perhaps you know those folks far better than I do? Perhaps you will introduce me?
Summary: Show the words you attribute to Dave Walker where he threatened the incomes of retired pensioneers, please, if you can. I will not be holding my breath, but as I said before, I shall apologize to you if proven to be in error. If calling you out on your statements gets you upset and cause you to call me pompous, so be it. Perhaps you have tired blood or a bad case of earwax buildup? Time will tell.
David Walker needs to in Washington DC advising the President, the U.S. Congress and business leaders with his knowledge instead of telling cities like Bridgeport and the State of Connecticut on how to solve their problems. Unfortunately Mr. Walker put to much time in electoral politics. Walker served as the U.S. Comptroller General from 1998 – 2008 and Walker was telling those in power that the federal government is going in the wrong direction about taxes, spending, savings and the issues that he wrote his this article. Let’s take a look at what President 45 has done, 45’s tax cut for the rich has to come from somewhere and coming from the federal government. The so call job growth is coming those tax cuts that are buying military weapons and supplies. 45 gave away tax dollars with his tax cut without a way to pay for those tax cuts. hen the federal government needs more money there’s no problem, they just change the federal budget but cities and states can’t make more money to finance their budget. What politician is going to risk not getting elected or reelected by doing what Mr. Walker has suggested. Walker couldn’t the 535 members of Congress and the three Presidents that in serve under to do anything so how the hell would local and state politicians to follow his directions. Below I’ve you will find the link to Mr. Walker’s 60 Minutes interview, I’ve posted this story a number of times on OIB.
I wish David Walker and his family the best and hopefully somebody will listen to him in D.C.
David Walker on 60 Minutes discussing our National Debt and Entitlement Programs. Mr. Walker describes it as a “Issue of Immorality.”
I can’t say that you and I have ever met, but I know both John Lee Marshall and David Walker, and I don’t recognize either of them in the words that you write. David Walker is what I refer to as a “bean counter”. I say this in a nice way, as he is basically preaching that “we need to live within our means”. I am in lock step agreement with him on this. For this reason, he is a lousy politician as the average voter doesn’t want to hear this. They want to hear a politician yelling how he or she will reduce taxes and provide whatever extra services you are in need of. Vote for me!
Our politicians have seemingly always sought the easy way out rather than doing what was right and ethical. Governor Rowland (as many before and after) kicked the can down the road by loading up the candy tray with retirement benefits to the state employees that his administration would never have to fund let alone pay during their administration. Their administration would be long gone when those bils came due. Those obligations are now coming due and there was no plan to pay for them, hence a crisis that everyone saw coming in the rear view mirror.
The cities and our state have a long history of electing officials solely based upon the cheap words that they would lower your taxes. No valid plan would ever be presented because it was only a mirage or a temporary fix that couldn’t be sustained. We are where we are in Bridgeport, Connecticut and the United States, all living beyond their means because we have always taken the easy road that politicians spoon feed us.
David Walker and John Marshall Lee are pragmatic and real in their assessments of the situation. John is an eloquent writer who plays with words almost to a fault as I often have to read his writing several times to decipher what point he is trying to get across to me as the reader. My writing isn’t and never will be at his pay grade, but I applaud his efforts. He is a tireless public servant who protects the interests of the common person living in Bridgeport. The red boots and the snow shovel were very effective tools in presenting his case at city hall.
I hope one day, that the voters wise up and strike off their list any politician that promises to reduce their taxes without first putting out a realistic plan of how to do so. Connecticut is drowning under unfunded pension obligations and debt that is absolutely unsustainable. The blame for this is on the voters who elected politicians who didn’t have a plan, but promised to lower their taxes. I love this state and my country, but we need to live within our means and we need to elect officials who can make this happen. It’s time that we stopped believing in fairy tales and got serious on righting the good ship of Connecticut. I for one am personally saddened that we have lost the likes of David Walker.
Why didn’t David Walker get his message through in the 10 years that he serve as the U.S. Comptroller General from 1998 – 2008 and Walker under 3 different Presidents?
Hello Ron, “Dave was appointed Comptroller General by Bill Clinton. While at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Walker undertook a number of transformational reforms within the GAO and the government that were widely recognized.” Source on line too many publications to site….
As Comptroller he served under 2 presidents. He’s been on the record of late saying the last fiscally responsible President was Clinton. He’s a bean counting deficit ranger. One of the last moderate Republicans standing.
Hope all is good with you and yours!
Hello Jennifer, how are you doing? I agree with you but the big issues that he spoke about I’m the 60 Minutes interview have never been address because nobody wants to action on what Mr. Walker is talking about.
Hey Ron, things are about the same – thanks for asking. Hope you have a great summer. Enjoy the beach and Sound for me. That, I miss.
Dave Walker offered sobering facts that Democrats and the government employee unions that help keep them in office do not want to hear. I hope his new role in the classroom will influence the thinking of a more enlightened audience.
What Republicans and non union government employees have followed Mr. Walker’s sobering facts?
We’re better off with Democrats in office. The other option-the racism of the GOP-is unacceptable.
Tom White.. Both Connecticut Democratic and Republican Parties and voters rejected David Walker’s message. Again, I say I have the highest respect for Dave Walker and he was a “gentleman” to me during a Stephanowski(sp) rally at Harborview Market in Bridgeport whereas others at that event were physically hostile to my presence. I will never forget that.
Dave Walker was a key player in a group who worked together effectively in 2013 to upset the Machine in a significant number of elections. I was at those meetings and he was a true resource with passion who added so much with his knowledge and organizational skills. I’m sad to see him go.
Thank you, David!
Thanks to those who made kind comments here. Mary and I truly wish the best for Connecticut, Bridgeport and Black Rock. We have many friends here and many fond memories. I tried to tell the truth, offer sensible solutions, and make a difference for others. As a Rotarian, I believe and try to practice Service Above Self. With regard to politics, my dad told me that I was not a good fit for elective office because it is not a merit and integrity based endeavor. He was right and that is clearly the case in Connecticut and Bridgeport. There are however some good people at both levels of government but they are a clear minority to the general rule. Happy 375th Anniversary to Black Rock. Mary and I look forward to enjoying Black Rock Day this Sunday.
I call you pompous because that’s certainly what you are. Facts, Dave Walker talked about Bridgeport filing for bankruptcy which would jeopardize every pensioner in Pension Plan A and the relatives of those that were line of duty deaths. You would know this had you been active in Bridgeport when Mayor Mary Moran was in office and not just in the last seven years. I was here working and active in the uplift of Bridgeport. Why should I have to renegotiate my pension when I can’t change all the fires I went into where I jeopardized my life, HELL NO. That’s what they said in Detroit, until it wasn’t.
Read the article you pompous bastard and see what Dave Walker is saying and how his prescription for Bridgeport’s financial health would have the potential in destroying the Pension Plan A recipients who paid 8% of our salaries to pay Bridgeport bills. You were still trying to be the smartest man in the room doing whatever the hell you did before you really gave a damn about Bridgeport. I was here working on behalf of my people and my city for decades.
Smart guy do a little research, talk to people that were around and involved during the Mary Moran years and ask if our pensions were in the conversation. When you said, ” Black and white comments are off the mark in this situation, regardless of what OIB’s guardians of colored issues have to say, meaning Ron Mackey and myself and I tried to inform you that referring to Black’s as COLOERED is offensive yet you still tried to justify your offensive remark, I lost any and all respect for you as a man and as a person. You’re an ignorant little man who may be book smart, but you’re dumb as a tree. Stay in your lane you clown.
Donald, Calling people names is not appropriate but getting the facts straight is. I have always said that first responders need to be treated differently than other civil servants. As you know, are first responders. Even Gov. Scott Walker made such a distinction when he made major pension reforms in Wisconsin. I have also said that teachers need to be treated differently too because they do not get Social Security in Connecticut. The truth is the City of Bridgeport is in very poor financial condition and it is not competitive. The City promised more than it could afford, did not adequately funds plans, and had below average investment performance. In addition, people worked significant overtime in their last few years to pad their pension. That may not be illegal but it is unethical and has contributed to where we are today. By the way, the unfunded retiree health care issue is arguably a bigger issue than pensions. Thanks for your service in any event. All the best, Dave
Dave Walker, I must have missed what you said about first responders because this is the first that I ever recall you making that comment, that has always been the big disagreement that Don, the late Andy Fardy and myself have had with you.
Ron, It has always been my view. That is one of the aspects of why I have said we need an equitable and sustainable solution. All the best, Dave
Donald Day would have us believe that his payroll deduction while working as a firefighter justifies his lifetime defined benefits pension. Day’s contribution was minimal. Day’s pension has been funded by Bridgeport taxpayers. Dave Walker has only reminded those who will listen that the defined benefit pension system is unsustainable.
I have a small pension from my years at People’s Bank. People’s eliminated its defined benefits pension for those hired after 1992 and stopped all contributions 15 years ago. Defined benefits pensions are virtually non-existent in the ‘private sector’.
The ‘public sector’ continues to provide defined benefits funded by taxpayers who have no choice if they live in Connecticut and especially if they pay taxes in Bridgeport. We can thank democrats and the public sector employee unions for perpetuating a system that shifts the burden to taxpayers.
Dave Walker will have the final laugh though. He will no longer be contributing to Donald Day’s pension.
Tom (being) White, I’ll still have the last laugh as long as YOU still live here and pay my pension. I believe that my lifetime defined pension is justified because I ran into burning buildings and put my life on the line every Day at work to save the lives of slugs like you.
Dave Walker, I’ve never called you names and the only disagreement I’ve ever had with you or what you’ve said is the city filing for bankruptcy and renegotiating my pension benefits. Dave, there are times when calling people names is not only appropriate, but neccessary especially when that cunt referred to Ron and myself and Black’s as COLORED, when Dave if you are being honest know that in the 21st century that is wrong, immoral and unjustifiable.
One doesn’t need an Ivy League education to know this is wrong and when it was called to his attention he tried to justify it by saying he is a member of the NAACP and it’s in its name. Pure bullshit Dave and you know that. To thine own self be true Dave and if you are an honorable man and I believe you are, you will acknowledge what that piece of shit said is wrong, immoral and unjustifiable. The ball is in your court Dave Walker.
Don, Tom White being white is one of those guys like his godfather 45, he probably had bone spurs that stopped him from joining the military and instead he decided that he wanted to play banker like Millburn Drysdale in the Beverly Hillbillies. White didn’t have the guts and courage to be a firefighter or a cop. Dave Walker like others don’t realize how much toxic and poisonous gases we inhale while inside a fire or after the fire is out, the black residue that gets in our nose and how we have to inhale water in our nose to wash it out. We still don’t know what type of harm that we have done to our body. 911 is a perfect example of what happens at fires, everybody inside is running to get out and firefighters are running in to the danger of the unknown inside those fires. Tom White gets to be a paper hero by being white.
Published on Jun 11, 2019
Jon Stewart says Congress ‘should be ashamed’ over inaction on helping 9/11 first responders”
Jon Stewart, the former host of “The Daily Show,” appeared before a House committee in Washington, D.C., to again advocate for health benefits for 9/11 first responders. At the start of his 10-minute statement, Stewart said Tuesday’s hearing was an “incredible metaphor.” “Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress.” Stewart said the lack of urgency to help these responders was a “stain” on Congress. “Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity: time,” he said. “It’s the one thing they’re running out of.”