Readers offline emailed me, maybe you’re a bit strident?
Others wrote, it’s about time.
I don’t always get it right, nor scribes and editors at the CT Post. They don’t like Joe Ganim and it’s often reflected in their stories. No beef here, unless you ignore the other side of the story. For years Post front-pagers failed to scrutinized Ganim’s chief opponents, particularly State Senator Marilyn Moore, vacant on Tuesday’s primary ballot because she once again proved her ineffectiveness to complete a logistical signature task for voter choices.
Don’t ever assume an opponent to the incumbent is somehow sanctioned by a higher calling, ratified by a news organization too lazy to balance a viewpoint.
Hugh Bailey enjoys a powerful platform as editorial page editor for the Connecticut Post, a Hearst Media publication with the largest digital footprint in Connecticut.
That sounding board matters to a lot of people for a fair viewpoint so readers may make informed decisions.
Last week I wrote a response to dubious Post coverage so close to an election, screaming a headline about the 2019 mayoral election casting questions about the outcome.
Post coverage was not breaking news but older news from June that has has no business misinforming readers with no context, balance or fairness.
Hugh Bailey had no obligation to run my rejoinder, but he did so in a prominent way. He could have ignored it.
OIB is a minnow to the whale.
In his latest column under this headline “Ganim asked for the scrutiny he’s getting” Bailey shares a fair take on Ganim’s mayoralty with balanced information.
Ganim returned to the mayoralty in 2015 trumpeting a second-chance narrative. Voters rewarded him; he failed to recognize what that meant, and almost got taken out in 2019. The scare kicked him in the pants. He has paid attention – despite political haters viewpoint – to business the last four years.
On Tuesday Democratic voters will make a choice between Ganim and John Gomes.
Bailey’s Sunday column weighs in on Ganim’s mayoralty. It’s no love letter, for sure, but it fully takes into account the possible alternatives and that’s what matters in voters understanding a larger picture.
At the risk (I am) of violating Hearst Media’s fair-use editorial policy comes now, Hugh Bailey’s full, fair column:
When Joe Ganim sought in 2015 to regain his former position as mayor of Bridgeport, he had some formidable obstacles. It’s hard to beat an incumbent under any circumstances, but Ganim was uniquely burdened by his past.
That past has been well documented. Still, Ganim not only won that year but was reelected four years later. He now finds himself seeking another four years in office in advance of Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
For the rest of the year, he outworked his opponents and campaigned relentlessly through Bridgeport’s neighborhoods. He focused on crime, but made redemption a centerpiece of his campaign. An opportunity to make things right became a constant theme of his pitch.
Ganim pledged to run a clean administration, and made numerous campaign promises aimed at ensuring the public’s trust. This included the high-profile support of former FBI agent Ed Adams, who previously worked on the team who put Ganim in prison. Adams, the campaign said, would help ensure everything was above board the next time around.
If Ganim and his supporters think he’s being held to a higher standard as this year’s primary arrives, it’s because he put himself there.
The past eight years since Ganim returned to the city’s highest office have seen mostly business as usual in City Hall, with some positive developments balanced out by the troubles faced by any midsized post-industrial city. But there have been people in his orbit who have gotten into trouble, which necessarily reflects on the chief executive. And while there should be a high standard for any elected official, this one has an even higher bar.
Most glaring was the guilty plea in 2021 by Ganim’s close confidant Armando “A.J.” Perez, who the mayor chose as police chief soon after returning to office. Perez cheated on the process that led to his selection as chief and then lied to the FBI about it, and he, along with the city’s personnel director, went to prison for it.
Ganim was not implicated. But if you come into office pledging the highest integrity and a member of your circle goes to prison, people will notice.
More recently came news that state elections officials have recommended possible criminal violations by three people aligned with the mayor’s 2019 reelection campaign to the chief state’s attorney. That’s a long way from a conviction, but is just as clearly not something the mayor’s political operation wants to see. The investigation, which centers on absentee ballots, is underway.
News of this latest probe was met with apoplexy by at least one prominent Ganim supporter, leading to accusations of bias against the mayor. Why else would news of a criminal investigation have been reported, after all? And what about all those reported misdeeds from failed 2019 challenger Marilyn Moore, who beat Ganim at the in-person polls but lost in absentee ballots?
It’s worth mentioning Moore for a moment, because if she had run a moderately competent campaign, she might be mayor today. The 2019 primary didn’t go her way, but she had a second chance in the general election even after losing the Democratic nomination. Her campaign staff was not able to secure a spot on the November ballot, despite an absurdly low bar to entry, and she was forced to run as a write-in candidate.
She would not have been favored, but the primary showed there was at least some appetite for a change in leadership that the wider November electorate could have brought about. It didn’t happen. Making matters worse, in a rematch this year, she couldn’t even make her way onto the Democratic primary ballot.
If there’s a reason no one is talking about Marilyn Moore’s 2019 campaign, it’s because she’s a nonfactor this year. Ganim, on the other hand, once again won the Democratic endorsement.
His pledges over the years to run a thoroughly above-board administration took a variety of forms. One was a proposed Office of Government Accountability in City Hall, “a place that gives ordinary citizens the ability to hold city government responsible,” in Ganim’s words. But that office was apparently never formally created.
At the same time, the city has been found in violation of the state’s open records law more than any other state municipality in recent years.
Another pledge was a website called OpenBridgeport, where budget information would be available for anyone with internet access. That website is up, and users can click through to view assets and expenditures in different city departments. “It delivers the transparency Mayor Ganim has pledged for his administration,” Adams, the former FBI agent, said in 2016.
It’s true that there’s a lot of information on there. How much good it does is unclear. Devoid of context, it’s a lot to ask regular citizens to parse a municipal budget.
But scrutiny is what the mayor asked for, over and over. His 2015 political comeback demanded it. He wouldn’t have been elected without it. His supporters can’t complain now when Ganim is held to exactly the higher standard he demanded of himself back then.