Senator Murphy: Gun Violence An Epidemic–A Community Discussion

U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Dick Blumenthal the other night joined Mayor Joe Ganim, Police Chief AJ Perez and State Senator Marilyn Moore for a discussion on combating gun violence at the Trumbull Gardens Community Center. Trumbull Gardens was the scene of a horrific shooting last year and became a focal point of the mayoral election. Check out the video from the discussion.



  1. Missed the video content that may be posted here, now or later. Perhaps pictures at 11:00? So perhaps someone who was there can tell us if there was any real news, informative content, new explanations or programs, with or without funding, etc. or perhaps just some posturing and photo op?

    G2 revealed his latest initiative in the CT Post, not at the moment posted on City site but the gist of the idea was a Summer Youth Program at an expense of $250,000. Seems like something that might have been developed and announced earlier. College students have been at home for a couple weeks now. Also announced today was the rate of new US employment opportunities for the most recent period was less than anticipated by a wide margin and may hold up Federal Reserve action later in the year. So much for the big picture.

    Today was the School Volunteer Association luncheon at Testo’s Restaurant in Bridgeport. I attended with my mentee, a seventh grade student from Blackham School. But I did not eat lunch at Mario’s today as a protest (albeit a reasonably quiet one) against Mario Testa, who as Democratic Town Committee leader has kept quiet on why Bridgeport schools were level funded this year: a necessary $15 Million to maintain current program levels was level funded instead, and that will require School Board cuts.

    How does the Town Committee figure in this? The 90-member Democratic Town Committee can be visualized as a large pizza pie that has been divided into 10 equal pieces representing each of ten districts. Think of it as a white pie with 9 meatball slices in each section except for the one where Mario as leader is right in the center, a full meatball with eight slices completing his district. That group has reviewed, selected and supported more than 90% of today’s elected officeholders from Mayor to Board of Education, sheriffs, registrars, City and Town Clerks, City Council as well as State Senators and Representatives. They operate as they are able, out of sight most of the time, though Mr. Testa has been present frequently at public meetings and hearings this year. Does he have a stake in this? Does he have an opinion? Does he have a party policy line he shares with the public? Is he in control? You bet. Twenty Council persons voted for a budget that ignored the Board of Education request by “level funding” after six weeks of being reminded of this fact (by me) at each Council session and public hearing.

    Then seven, including Tom McCarthy voted NO on the mil rate, which was an automatic calculation once they voted YES approving the budget. Tom knows that as do the six council representatives from Black Rock, Brooklawn, and North End areas who voted NO on the mil rate. Talk about ducking the issue.

    Meanwhile Fran Rabinowitz, Superintendent praised the abilities of Bridgeport students, some of whom have been in the White House recently being celebrated for special programs and success. But the Mayor’s schedule was too busy for him to attend this event. I predict he would have really enjoyed the card trick deceptions and the chair balancing routines of the two magicians who entertained us. Whether he would have learned something or shared some of his magic is just a guess.

    Instead Rev Stallworth, a community representative for the Mayor and also a State Representative invited all the youth to the Mayor’s office where Joe seems to be most comfortable with grammar school students these days. Certificates were distributed to graduating eighth graders.

    In summary: one older white man “boycotted” the meal today. But when asked by the female mentors at the table WHY? I was able to tell them of the outrage I feel as a school observer on a system that is being starved in its mission to serve 22,000 students. At the same time fewer than 400 Police officers are at the training table being fed enormous increases in funding? Anybody with an explanation? What is the justification for this? Ask your Council members to explain how little the local taxpayer is spending towards the BOE budget and what percentage increase as well as absolute dollar amount Police are receiving. Are they able to answer your question? Do we have a problem here? How do you communicate with parties who are so confident, they choose not to respond in public, though they are reviewing, selecting, supporting and calling plays in from the sidelines on our City decision makers? Perhaps it is necessary to show people how painful it is when you have to operate with insufficient revenues. Whether it’s a school system or a favorite restaurant, the fiscal message can be the same. Perhaps a boycott by those who care about youth would promote a responsible explanation from the DTC leadership, from DTC Committee persons, from the Mayor, from those in the Mayor’s brain trust, etc., maybe even from the CT Post? From anyone? Perhaps some of the mentors will carry the message home and share it? I guarantee there will be two more readers from the table I was seated at today who now know about OIB. The salad, chicken, pasta, potatoes and mixed vegetables looked good, but I feel a lot better making this statement and throwing my support to the kids. How about you? Can meatballs speak to this issue? Time will tell.

    1. And your plan is? Action plan or just action? And it deals with strengths of the opponent as well as weaknesses? And when you have assembled a group of supporters who have your back and nothing to lose in the sense they are not subject to economic pressure of family or friend jobs with City? And the action is modeled on other struggles for rights and justice that have been successful in the past? And you know this struggle will take time and patience, which is how the governance habits got worse, no one noticed and those with monitoring or stewardship responsibilities retired, got sick and tired, or were thrown overboard? And the few left could not find a SHERIFF willing to play by the rules?

      And since you have your facts right and the absence of media coverage for a long time when exposed will seem to the larger media (NYTimes, WSJ, and TV) like someone was not doing their job? Exposure? Embarrassment? Enlightenment? Education above all! PT Barnum redux? Time will tell.


  2. Well Ralph, I think a Testo’s boycott is action, don’t you?

    The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, according to Lao Tzu.

    But Lao Tzu didn’t know about Bridgeport, Mario, or Testo’s. Otherwise, he might have phrased it differently about the journey, something like … “The journey of a thousand votes, overcoming the ABs and crooked politicos, begins with foregoing Mario’s meatballs.”

    Good job, John Marshall Lee!

  3. The new fiscal year hasn’t even started and they are already transferring money to pay for a new, UNBUDGETED program. This is how deficits begin.

  4. I have an idea.
    Perhaps the long-recognized social ills associated with public housing and concerns with the destabilizing impact of Sacred Heart University student rentals in the North End can be addressed simultaneously.
    Perhaps our elected officials can convene a meeting of the Bridgeport Housing Authority and Sacred Heart University and suggest some Trumbull Gardens units, perhaps an entire high-rise building, be used for SHU student housing? Brilliant!
    This way, SHU students can have total immersion in the problems of urban America rather than being delivered by SHU shuttle to carefully selected venues, followed by a retreat to the ‘suburban Fairfield Connecticut’ campus (some of which is on the east side of Park Avenue–Bridgeport).
    Trumbull Gardens residents can benefit from having SHU students staff the community center organizing basketball games, helping kids do homework, etc. In return SHU students can spend time smokin’ blunts and hangin’ out with residents. SHU should offer this option as their mandatory community involvement they promised to city council members years ago.
    So Jeff Kohut, I may be getting soft, but you must admit I’m getting more creative.
    I share all this tongue-in-cheek, of course, but I challenge those who have a lot to say to step up and offer more than the meaningless talk Murphy and Blumenthal have offered.

  5. This meeting has taken place in Bridgeport at least 100 times during the past 30 years. Nothing new was presented or discussed at this meeting. Everybody in Bridgeport knows the root problem of deadly violence among young people in this city is hopelessness born out of the social pathology of poverty.

    The antidote to the epidemic of youth violence has been identified as the availability of gainful employment and recreational/educational opportunities for youth which provide hope, money in the pocket, and skills/experience for their resumes.

    Senators Blumenthal and Murphy (shamefully) brought only election-year rhetoric and vague promises with them to this meeting. And where were they last year (a non-election year for Congress) when the shooting was going on? The answer to this question is they were hiding from the mayoral election that was going on at the time, except for the Blumenthal photo-op when he promised new cameras for Trumbull Gardens (were they received as of the date of this meeting?).

    This meeting was nothing more than cheap (literally and figuratively) election-year grandstanding. The only money mentioned so far in regard to this meeting is $87,000 from State Senator Moore per a state grant, and $225,000 from city coffers from Mayor Ganim. This $312,000 will do next to nothing spread out over the huge needs of nearly 30,000-plus Bridgeport kids in need of summer activities and pocket-money.

    HOW MUCH $$$ DID SENATORS MURPHY AND BLUMENTHAL BRING WITH THEM??? DID THEY EVEN DO ANY HOMEWORK TO GET A ROUGH FIGURE ON HOW MUCH WOULD BE NEEDED TO COVER THE SUMMER NEEDS EMPLOYMENT/ACTIVITY NEEDS OF BRIDGEPORT YOUNG PEOPLE? Senator Blumenthal (D-GREENWICH) is reported to be worth upwards of $250,000,000, and has billionaire relatives. Did he offer to underwrite Bridgeport kids’ needs with even a nickel of his own or of donated $?

    WOW! What disgusting election-year BS! But we’ll vote for the same cast of characters for Congress again this November.

    1. You’re right, the people of Bridgeport do know about what the root problem is. Unfortunately, the executive director of housing is from Indiana. The last COO was from Florida. The last CFO came from South Carolina, the facilities director is from North Carolina. Not one director in the entire agency is from Bridgeport. So how does the board, which is appointed by the Mayor, expect people not from Bridgeport to not only know about our problems but also actually do more than just collect a check?

  6. Tom: Your sarcasm is appropriate and on target. In another bygone era, privileged kids attending college in a poor, host community (e.g., the spoiled brats of SHU) would have been sensitive to the conditions and needs of their campus’ host community. But in the case of SHU-2016, they don’t even recognize Bridgeport as their host community, much less display any sensitivity to the conditions and needs of the community.

    In another bygone era, the privileged kids attending college in a poor, host community would been sensitive to the distress evident in the community and would have sought to use some of their free time and energy to show appreciation for their privilege by offering their time, energy and talents to help to ameliorate some of the distress.

    We won’t see this type of social consciousness expressed by the spoiled brats of SHU. That is a very safe bet. The only time you’ll see a SHU brat in Trumbull Gardens is if they are looking to score some drugs on a party night and can’t contact their usual connection.

    Indeed, the spoiled brats of SHU not only have no sensitivity to their socioeconomic environment (nor empathy for their fellow human beings), they also have no compunction about diverting critical public safety coverage away from areas of Bridgeport at great risk of violence by their mindless, disruptive party behavior which calls BPD and FPD away from violence-prone areas of the city.

    It is no small irony an entity that pays no taxes to Bridgeport puts the greatest institutional stress on the city’s taxpayers and resources even as it discourages/crowds out taxable development.

    Yes Tom, your sarcasm makes a strong point. (Maybe if SHU weren’t depleting Bridgeport resources and otherwise undermining the strength of our community/neighborhoods, there would be enough spare community energy and resources to address some of the unmet social needs in our distressed neighborhoods.)

    1. Jeff: Surely you cannot stereotype all SHU students from the actions of a few. By this it would be fair to stereotype BPT residents by the actions of the Trumbull Gardens shooters. I know a (small) number of BPT students who are attending SHU. Some on full scholarship. These SHU students live in BPT. I am sure there are BPT students who attend SHU whom I do not know. Any SHU student who lives in BPT is a BPT resident.

      If SHU is to be beholden to BPT for the dorm space BPT provides. Assuming you can classify the space as ‘provided’ considering SHU bought the land and built the dorms. By this definition you should be beholden to your landlord for providing you with a living space.

      I would think St. V’s or BPT Hospital puts the greater institutional stress on the city’s taxpayers than SHU. With all the ambulance calls. I would bet the number of police hours spent on Trumbull Gardens outweighs the number spent on SHU. This would not include the taxpayer handouts that go directly to Trumbull Gardens residents. It is more doubtful that a SHU party will draw police from other patrol areas than a Trumbull Gardens shooting will draw police from the SHU area.

      Although it may be a safe bet SHU students score some drugs on a party night, it is also a safe bet they score groceries, gasoline, furniture, etc. in BPT.

  7. Ron: We don’t want to hear about the dollar amounts needed to implement solutions to our pressing public safety and social problems here at home, but we never tire of hearing how many countless $billions it will require to quell threats from hostile governments and entities that are located thousands of miles away. Nor do we tire of our government sending thousands of young Americans to fight these faceless entities that, in most cases, wouldn’t be a threat if we didn’t threaten and antagonize them in the first place (for mostly inadequate reasons).

    Plenty of $ to pursue trouble abroad, but never enough money to make life more livable at home. But in November, we’ll vote again to elect the same people/policies that waste the resources and promise of our country and that of the rest of the world.

    Go figure, Ron. I guess as long as the “right” people are making money from the world’s problems, things will continue to get broken and nothing will ever get fixed, at home or abroad.

  8. Jeff, America knows how to solve this problem of social ills, but they won’t. The middle class doesn’t want the poor to get help because they’re afraid they would be getting something they should have gotten. The rich doesn’t want the poor and the middle class to get anything because it will cause their taxes to go up. How can America allow a City like Flint MI to have water they can’t drink? We can’t help ourselves but we can destroy other countries and then we rebuild their country. That famous leader Pogo said it best, “we’ve met the enemy and he is us.” Actually, Oliver Hazard, Commander of the American fleet in 1813 also made that statement. Once we realize we are dying from the inside.

  9. It’s true, Ron. The enemy is us.

    I just read an op-ed, written by a Democrat, criticizing Paul Ryan for compromising his values and pulling out the stops for Donald Trump when he originally had indicated he probably couldn’t support Trump.

    After I read the article, I had to chuckle (not in humor) at this criticism of Ryan. When we look at the record of Hillary Clinton as Senator and Secretary of State, as well as the history of the Clintons in the White House, and see all of the lies, missteps and fabrications of Bill Clinton’s legacy (e.g., he was an arch deregulator whose economy was a credit-based house of cards that helped to set the stage for 2008), I actually get nauseous when I hear the gushing BS about Hillary’s virtues from the leaders of my Democratic Party, even as they break Party rules to illegally subvert the legitimate candidacy of a true progressive with a proven record of advocacy peace and economic justice.

    It’s really disgusting. If we get Trump for president in November, we’ll probably be able to blame the Democratic Party more than the Republicans.

  10. It could also be much to-do about nothing.

    In 2013, firearms were used in 84,258 nonfatal injuries (26.65 per 100,000 U.S. citizens) and 11,208 deaths by homicide (3.5 per 100,000), 21,175 by suicide with a firearm, 505 deaths due to accidental discharge of a firearm, and 281 deaths due to firearms use with “undetermined intent” for a total of 33,169 deaths related to firearms (excluding firearm deaths due to legal intervention). 1.3% of all deaths in the country were related to firearms.

    1.3% of all deaths in the US are due in some way to guns. This is a very small number. In 2013 there were 11,208 deaths by homicide and 32,719 deaths by car. You would save three times the number of people if you ban cars.

    With only ~11K homicide deaths by gun violence how do they define ‘epidemic?’
    Other ‘epidemic’ causes of death in the US:
    Influenza and Pneumonia: 55,227
    Diabetes: 76,488
    Suicide: 41,457
    Medical errors: 250,000 (estimated)
    Alzheimer’s disease: 93,541

  11. This is from The New York Times, ‘epidemic?’
    A Weekend in Chicago: Where Gunfire Is a Terrifying Norm JUNE 4, 2016

    Three days, 64 people shot, six of them dead: Memorial Day on the streets, and the violence that has engulfed families and neighborhoods.

    1. Yes, Chicago. Some of the toughest gun laws in the country. Obama’s home town.

      This phenomenon is a one-time stat in one city on one day. Using it to classify an epidemic is no more valid than proclaiming a coming ice age because of an unusually cold day in August or air travel is unsafe because a plane crashed. Over all, planes are safer than cars.

      At a German rock festival a storm injured 72 and killed 16 on JUNE 4, 2016. We would save more by banning rock festivals than guns. Are rock festivals a terrifying epidemic? By ‘rock’ I am assuming they mean the music and not a large stone. Although, if they mean a large stone the deaths would be more understandable.


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