Promoting Transparency, Ganim Unveils Financial Website, Lembo: Public Can Dive Into Data

Ganim, Lembo
Mayor Joe Ganim and State Comptroller Kevin Lembo follow a tutorial of the financial portal.

Piggybacking a state online financial portal, Mayor Joe Ganim on Thursday introduced Open Budget that provides insight into city financial information including revenues and expenditures and payments to outside vendors, what Ganim describes as fulfilling a campaign promise for more government transparency. State Comptroller Kevin Lembo joined Ganim declaring Bridgeport the first community in the state to adopt the state model Open Connecticut.

“When I ran for mayor last year I said we needed to open up Bridgeport’s government so the taxpayers can see how their money is being spent, and I meant it,” said Ganim on the one-year anniversary of his comeback election victory. “I am grateful for the partnership with Comptroller Lembo to help us accomplish this monumental achievement for Bridgeport’s taxpayers and make Open Bridgeport publicly available. It took months of painstaking work to migrate over all city financial data but as of today we have thrown open the doors to city government and anyone with internet access can now have real-time city financial data. It’s your money, and now you are going to be able to see exactly how the city is spending it.”

Open Bridgeport

Lembo said it was “gratifying” to see the city adopt his state model. “That was my child and I see this as my grandchild.”

Lembo, a Democrat, has an independent streak that doesn’t always sit well with state party insiders. He has become a state fiscal watchdog revealing sobering financial news not always in harmony with state bean counters working for Governor Dan Malloy.

“I am hopeful that Mayor Ganim’s leadership on this will inspire towns and cities across the state that don’t already do so to open their financial books in the same way,” added Lembo. “Now it’s up to the public–as well as policymakers–to dive into this data, take advantage of this open door and become even more engaged in government.”

Mayoral staffers Tom Gaudett and Ed Adams, the retired FBI agent who investigated Ganim then supported his comeback bid, worked with city financial officials Ken Flatto, Nestor Nkwo and Lynn Simko to build the portal. Simko is tasked with populating the website with future financial information. Budget information starts with 2014. City officials say it will cost roughly $2,000 per month to maintain the site but added the city saved thousands of dollars modeling its site after the state which publishes financial information to inform taxpayers how their money is being spent and where. Gaudett, a former city school teacher who served as Ganim’s campaign treasurer, guided an assemblage of media representatives and city staffers in the portal usage.

State Rep. Steve Stafstrom who attended the event praised the mayor’s announcement in support of the city-state cooperation. “Too often we don’t see state government working with local government,” he said, adding the partnership prevented the city from inventing the wheel.



  1. I was present and got to shake a number of hands as well as ask some questions about the system, like how often the info will be refreshed or transferred. Will it be twelve times per year and become on line by the fourth Friday of the month as the Charter lays out for monthly financial reports? They were not yet sure.

    It was also a time for compliments and I thanked Tom Gaudett, who had some management responsibility for the project, for listening to a suggestion I made about one month ago when the Council Budget and Appropriations Committee had a preview of the system before the bugs were entirely worked out. History of revenues had been loaded going back four years to FY 2014 but expense data had only been posted for FY2016 and the current year. In my opinion that did not give us much data to compare or see trends of any sort. City acted and provided similar years of revenue and expense history for the site.

    Let’s see how many people are moved to look at how the City “checkbook” operates and whether budget revenue projections are on target. Then we can talk about alternatives, buttressed with the facts. How many will jump in to prove the annual software expense of $24,000 reasonable? Time will tell.

  2. Mayor Ganim revealed what most mayors would want to conceal from their constituents. Instead, Ganim showed a transparent and a progressive nature that made Bridgeport first in the eyes of our State Comptroller. I scanned The Open Budget. It had data points, graphs and numbers galore. It would make any statistician happy. Kudos, Mr. Mayor.

  3. Jim Fox, just what have you been titoing, tutoing, touting, tut-tutting today? Will the system show a check written by the City one year ago, approximately, for a sum from an OPED capital account to a lender to a quasi City agency? How transparent are we becoming? Time will tell.

  4. Rumor Mill:
    In The Open Budget, under the Psychic Income category, Jim Fox is listed as a Bridgeport asset. His cost is nothing. It gets better: his benefits are difficult to measure but easy to understand.

  5. If I can log in and see how much we have paid Pullman & Comley as Bond Counsel for the past 3three years I will be impressed and Thank Joey G. But I am confident that ain’t gonna happen.

      1. Lennie,
        I do not believe those figures have anything to do with their services as Bond Counsel.
        These might be ancillary services related to writing opinions on bonding or attending meetings relative to bonding but their Bond Counsel Services are buried in the other costs associated with the bonds such as bond insurance and are included in the amount bonded.

  6. Will we be able to see everyone’s W2?
    This is info that is available in many cities and towns just for the asking and FOIable. But will it be available to the public through this new reporting portal? I am guessing NOT.

    1. Not in this format we were told. Privacy or confidentiality issues will prevent. Reimbursements should show up however as I asked about such. It reminded one City employee in the room to realize he had not filed for expense reimbursement.
      Of course, I was thinking about what will show relative to Council Stipends that was one of the initial subjects considered for disclosure six years ago.
      Salary info and retirement benefit payouts are likely subject to FOI requests (that appear to be better managed today than during the last administration). What questions can anyone ask now that the site is open? What will you seek out and search for greater disclosure? New tools are present but your curiosity is key. Time will tell.

      1. John,
        That is a bunch of BS. The only privacy issue involves Social Security Numbers and home addresses. You and others just sat there and bought that line of crap.
        No transparency there.

        1. Bob,
          I was there asking questions where I saw opportunity for more clarity and complimenting in another case where the City near the end of a process the public was not a party to, listened to a comment from the public, found it reasonable and acted upon it for the benefit of all.
          But let me think about it again, Bob. You weren’t there, were you? In fact for City-type meetings of the kind I frequently attend, I rarely see you, Bob. Is it because of anger management issues? Because you don’t care, deep down? Are your best shots reserved for those working at it, without your ‘coaching advice?’ Have you found the State site provides salary information tied to the name of an employee on the State Open Budget system and the City does not? Other than news articles with the top 100 earners or top 150 retirement income recipients, are you aware of any municipal, State or Federal site, accessible by the public, that provides the info you are impatient about? Time will tell.

  7. This should bring G2’s Year 1 grade up to a “D.”

    Bridgeport-based, job-connected new revenue streams that begin to cut the glare from Bridgeport red ink might be able to squeeze out a “C” for G2 by the beginning of the new fiscal year. (As long as they aren’t in the form of waste transfer/waste storage/recycling operations, or waterfront, regional power infrastructure. And as long as there are lots of of living-wage jobs for Bridgeporters involved. “More of the same,” waterfront box stores and metallic-green, regional waste accommodations don’t cut it. A new narrative is needed.)

  8. No mention of the fact John Lee contacted Kevin Lembo nearly two years ago and started a dialog that encouraged the adoption of the approach for Bridgeport. The Ganim administration has apparently embraced it.

  9. Digital Transparency. That’s what JML wanted and that’s what Mayor Ganim delivered. The details can be debated but Ganim put the blueprint online for all to see. The picture isn’t always pretty but now we have a focal point from which discussion can begin. It even has a great start. The Mayor and John Marshall Lee both agree the budget should be visible. Now it is.

    1. But LE, Only In Bridgeport are the real devils in the detail.
      You can easily hide what you want when you control the data and access.
      As I said, I will bet a dime on a dollar no one will be able to determine how much money Pullman & Comley earned as Bond counsel.
      LE may find that inconsequential but I do not.

      1. If you are interested in determining the amount of money earned by Pullman & Comley, one source might be for the law firm as a vendor. In 2016 they may have earned funds for their presence at Pension A meetings as well as for representing the City in its too-aggressive pursuit of unsubstantiated assessments based on court history.
        If as bond counsel they were paid from the proceeds of the bond itself I would be seeking the marketing document provided to bond buyers and likely on-line. Do not have the time to look it up but curiosity and persistence will likely find someone who will. Time will tell.

    2. A visible budget that looks at today and COMPLETELY ignores the future. So the hi-tech bedazzles the few while the rest of Bridgeport sinks further into despair, dysfunction and depression. Go ahead, crunch your numbers while the house is burning down around you.

    1. Individualism vs. collectivism refers to the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. In individualistic societies, like Norway, the stress is put on personal achievements and individual rights. People are expected to stand up for themselves and their immediate family, and to choose their own affiliations. In contrast, in collectivist societies, like in Spain, individuals act predominantly as members of a lifelong and cohesive group or organization. People have large extended families, which are used as a protection in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.

      Rugged individualism was a phrase used often by Herbert Hoover during his time as president. It refers to the idea each individual should be able to help themselves out, and the government does not need to involve itself in people’s economic lives nor in national economics in general.

    2. RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM PER LE; GIVE ME A Break. Why don’t you take some history and economics courses and come back down to reality? Or are you still focused only on Milton Friedman?


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