The Power Of Watchdog Journalism

If you enjoy watchdog journalism that holds public officials accountable for how your tax dollars are spent, The Connecticut Mirror is a must read. News gathering, however, is expensive. On-line news sites essentially have four ways to generate revenue: advertising, charging for content, foundation grants or begging for dollars from readers. Enterprise journalism has taken a huge hit in recent years with the economy hitting the rocks. We’ve also seen locally the impact of local reporting. For years the Connecticut Post largely ignored coverage of the state’s largest city. (And that’s just the way most pols liked it.) But in the last year or so the Hearst Newspapers suits have kicked up coverage, and it shows.

Would anyone beyond governmental decision makers have known about the controversial $400,000 driveway for Manny Moutinho without Post reporter Brian Lockhart bringing it to light?

We try to do our small part here at OIB with citizen journalists such as John Marshall Lee raising issues and asking questions about the city budget. Lee is a big pain in the ass to the government establishment. He sees it as a badge of honor. There are people in government who now say if we do this will John Marshall Lee write about it?

The Connecticut Mirror wants to beef up coverage in Fairfield County, the state’s most populous county. The Mirror relies heavily on foundation grants and donations from readers to fund its experienced news team. It has joined forces with The Fairfield County Community Foundation, a philanthropic group that has supported a variety of Bridgeport nonprofits, in its quest to field a Fairfield County reporter.

From The Mirror:

Do you want to know how public policy created in Hartford shapes the conversation in Fairfield County? Do you feel the need for in-depth reporting on education, budget and policy issues that you cannot find anywhere else?

The Fairfield County Community Foundation poses a challenge–raise funding through individual donations and the FCCF will match to bring a reporter to Fairfield County as the Mirror looks to extend its reach throughout the state.

On Wednesday, October 16, there is an incentive. If you donate at any one of our five levels here, you are entered to win a tablet. It’s a winning proposition–your tax-deductible donation supports quality nonprofit journalism at its finest; you receive a gift; and you are entered to win a tablet.

And Fairfield County gets a reporter in 2014, which is the biggest win of all.



  1. Watchdog Journalism is something OIB should try to emulate. Did fear prompt you to bury Jim “Sonny” Fox’s story about tax irregularities? You should have run that at the top of the page like every other article on this rag rather than burying it. Maybe you feel you took the high road and didn’t put it in your archives section. I’ll bet he contacts the Connecticut Mirror with future updates. It sucks dealing with invertebrates.

    PS my taxes are up 27%.

    1. Fear of what? Did any other media organization publish Fox’s assertions? The piece was displayed for thousands of views over the course of the long weekend. It would have been displayed in the top position if Sonny Fox could produce any evidence of tax favoritism. He could not. The information he provided shows some pols with higher assessments while others were lowered. In fact, Bill Finch’s assessment went up.

  2. Ronin, here’s the 2009 Reval Finch hit list for the RTC.

    124-02 23 *Michael M. Garrett 49 Weber Avenue UP 15.6%
    124-02 23 Manuel Williamson 191 Pearl Harbor St DN 4%
    124-02 23 Quentin Dreher 333 Dover St UP 35.7%

    124-03 23 Juan Hernandez 660 Union Avenue NA
    124-03 23 Wayne R. Hayes 215 Wilmot Ave NA
    124-03 23 Evelyn Hayes 215 Wilmot Ave NA

    124-04 23 Francisco R. Borres 31 Fairbanks St UP 21.6%
    124-04 23 *Melissa Borres 31 Fairbanks St same
    124-04 23 Audrey Stabler 70 Boston Terr DN 3.3%
    124-04 23 Vallorie Clark 1133 Central Ave Up 72.5%

    126-01 23 Sara Burns 60 Crown St UP 16%
    126-01 23 Sonia Burns 60 Crown St. same
    126-01 23 Anthony H. Pizighelli 147 Fairview Avenue DN 11.8%

    126-02 23 James Keyser 53 Henderson St UP 23.1%
    126-02 23 Jonathon Cruz 427 Indian Ave DN 4.6%

    126-05 23 Linda A. Grace 793 Broadbridge Rd DN 8.4%
    126-05 23 Joseph Minutolo 793 Broadbridge Rd same
    126-05 23 Philip Smith 230 Rosewood Place UP 1%
    126-05 23 Lam Nguyen 273 Success Ave NA

    126-06 22 Willie J. Smith 101A Karen Ct NA
    126-06 22 Willie A. Dyer 103 Douglas St. UP 5%

    127-01 22 *Joseph J. Garamella 2625 Park Avenue, 8G NA
    127-01 22 Anthony Minutolo 1565 Madison Ave NA
    127-01 22 Mike Minutolo 1565 Madison Ave NA
    127-01 22 *Michael L. Moretti 181 Rocton Avenue UP 10%
    127-01 22 Ron Cancellieri 387 Jewett Ave DN 13.9%

    127-02 23 Rick Costantini 147 Westfield Ave UP 8.3%

    127-03 22 Ruben Coriano 74 Seaver Cir DN 0.3%

    128-01 23 Burton Anderson 1484 Iranistan Ave UP 29.7%
    128-01 23 Louriem R McKlosky 1099 North Ave UP 6.5%
    128-01 23 *Manuel Bataguas 1105 North Ave DN 2%

    128-02 23 Ramona Marquez 1205 East Main St NA
    128-02 23 Hector Rodriguez 1205 East Main St NA

    129-01 22 John Slater 35 Princeton St UP 9.9%
    129-01 22 Marc P. Delmonico 50 Sailors Lane UP 9%
    129-01 22 Stephen Best 350 Grovers Avenue N/A
    129-01 22 *Scott Henkel 183 Fox St Up 27.4%
    129-01 22 Jeanne Angerame 224 Lake Ave DN 5.6%
    129-01 22 John Weldon 164 Seaside Avenue UP 0.8%
    129-01 22 Jim Moore 231 Lake Avenue DN 3.5%

    129-02 22 Jonathan Klein 1445 Capital Ave UP 3.1%
    129-02 22 Theresa Dworkin 546 West McKinley Ave UP 3.3%
    129-02 22 Robert Russo 208 Brooklawn Avenue DN 11.4%

    130-01 23 Frank Borres 586 Clinton Ave UP 8.2%

    130-04 23 John Iannuzzi 325 Myrtle Ave 0%
    130-04 23 Joseph J Borges Jr 218 Norman Street UP 18%
    130-04 23 *David Goodman 746 Railroad Ave NA
    130-04 23 Hugh D Spurgin 285 Lafayette St NA
    130-04 23 Debbie Gonzalez 182 Black Rock Avenue UP 52.9%

  3. Thanks David Walker, Ronin. This list is growing by leaps and bounds every day, I’m now working on boards and commission list.
    It makes me sick to see how a member on the Board of Assessment Appeals can receive a 12% lower tax bill for each of his five rental properties and then stick it to the average homeowner.
    I should have my 2009 grand list in about two weeks just before Nov. I’ll give it to the Post.

  4. Jim Fox,
    Thanks for your effort. It is more than most folks would undertake. You mention you are “now working on boards and …” Those folks appointed by the Mayor to Boards and Commissions, in spite of his request for resignation letter at time of appointment, and despite the fact many appointments have not received re-appointment in three, five, eight or more than ten years. How ethical is that process, Mayor Finch? Have you gotten around to putting together that ethics declaration yet? We cannot wait to read it.
    Jim Fox, keep up the good work. Time will tell.

  5. Jimfox,
    Congratulations on a job well done. As in any conspiracy be it political or journalistic, people tend to lie. Lennie seems to have fallen asleep at the wheel on this coverage of a potential scandal. Stay the course, don’t let sleeping dogs lie.

  6. Mr. Fox, you tend to use fuzzy math. Quickly going over your stats you state Tom Mulligan’s taxes are down 9.2% … let’s take a look. in 2008 his taxes were $18,848, in the reval year of 2009 his assessment jumped to 674,510 with taxes of $26,130. Mr. Mulligan then fought his reval as many other residents did and won (as many residents did), his reval was lowered to 612,500 and current taxes of $25,633. Really does not look to me he was given special treatment. You also state if you are a Republican or enemy of the administration you are on the hit list. Well let’s look at the Republican candidate for city council in Black Rock. In 2008 Mr. Torres had taxes of $12,987, reval year 2009 they dropped to $12,361 and are currently $13,354. Up a whopping $367 dollars over five years. The Democrat is up $6,785 and the Republican is up $367. You need to stop wasting time with the conspiracy theory and spend your time doing something constructive.

    1. My master list will be out soon, bporteye, the math that concerns you comes from for all the world to see. If you have a problem with that, please take it up with Zillow.
      Thanks for the advice, I’m also working on the 2009 Commercial list and it’s a killer.

      p.s how are your taxes, bporteye?

  7. Mr. Fox, the math that concerns you comes from Zillow, not me. The main issue is you state there is a conspiracy from this administration to lower taxes for Democrats and raise them for Republicans. I gave you an example showing differently and you tell me my problem is with Zillow. You post Mr. Mulligan’s taxes are down 9.2%. The taxes have gone up $6,785 since the new reval was implemented. Don’t blame Zillow for you not fully doing your homework. You state “trust but verify,” I think you are the one who needs to verify. I believe last week on Jennifer Buchanan’s show you incorrectly stated Sue Brannelly’s taxes and apologized. Don’t trust and verify. Just verify.

    1. bporteye, this is all Zillow has on Mr. Mulligan and his taxes, so many of us would love to walk into the Assessor’s office and get our taxes lowered 9.2% Looks like someone gave Mulligan a mulligan.

      Price History
      Date Description Price Change $/sqft Source
      Historical transaction data is not available for this home.
      Tax History
      Year Property taxes Change Tax assessment Change
      2011 $24,280 -9.2% $612,500 -9.2%
      2010 $26,738 2.3% $674,510 —
      2009 $26,131 38.6% $674,510 59.5%

      That looks like a tax savings of $2458.00 to me. Please do your homework bporteye and then verify.
      What bullshit!

  8. Mr. Fox, either you didn’t read what I wrote or you didn’t understand what I wrote. First, I agree with Mr. Grimaldi, you have not produced one shred of evidence there is a “Cconspiracy” with Democrats having their taxes reduced and Republicans having theirs raised. Second, you tout your taxes are up over 30% and Mr. Mulligan’s are down 9.2%, this is where you start to deceive. Your percentage increase is from what your taxes were in 2008 before the reval, yet you have Mr. Mulligan’s percentage starting after the reval. Mr. Mulligan is paying higher taxes percentage wise since 2008 than you are. His reduction since the reval was due to his appeal of his increase, this appeal process is open to all taxpayers. If you did not appeal your taxes shame on you. Because of your conspiracy theory you will refuse to believe even Republicans had their taxes lowered. Mr. Mulligan’s taxes are up approximately $6785 since the reval was implemented and you think he is getting a tax savings. What bullshit!


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