Only in Bridgeport is the name of a blog written by Lennie Grimaldi. It is also the name of his first book. Grimaldi, a journalist turned public relations expert, writes about “how things REALLY work” in the Park City (aka Bridgeport). For many Connecticut politicians, his phrase, “only in Bridgeport,” has come to represent a style of politics from a by-gone era, and era in which patronage was alive and well and “the end justified the means.”
The “Bridgeport Machine’s” present power grab to change the City’s charter by eliminating a democratically elected board of education, and replacing it with one appointed by the mayor, is a tribute to the recognition that if you want to control most of the public funds and jobs, you need to “own” the school board and the administrators who report to that board.
If the goal is power and the control of resources, real democracy has a tendency to get in the way.
As noted before, since taking office, Mayor Bill Finch, a subset of Democrats and members of the Bridgeport business community have been angling to get rid of Bridgeport’s requirement that the Board of Education by elected by the people.
What they want is to get the voters of Bridgeport to pass a charter change that allows Bridgeport’s Mayor to appoint the members of the Bridgeport Board of Education.
It is a simple enough question, if asked honestly, but of course, the goal is winning and honesty may very well be an impediment.
So the Bridgeport Charter Revision Commission, a group appointed and controlled by the Mayor and City Council, worked over the last year to develop the exact wording to put before the voters.
Their solution is to put the following question before the voters of Bridgeport in the November election;
“Shall the city of Bridgeport approve and adopt the charter changes as recommended by the Charter Revision Commission and approved by the City Council, including education governance reforms?”
In George Orwell’s book 1984, Ray Bradbury’ Fahrenheit 451, or Franz Kafka’s The Trial, the people might very well know that the phrase “educational governance reforms” actually means the government is seeking to strip the citizens of Bridgeport their American, Constitutional, and Democratic Rights of Self-Governance.
But this fall, just to be sure, the Mayor, his inner circle, and the members of his Charter Revision Commission have made it clear that they are going with a ballot question that is totally and completely incoherent.
A clear, concise and fair vote on the subject isn’t as important to the Bridgeport Machine as is winning, and thus the voters won’t be voting on whether the Mayor should appoint the schools board, they will be voting on whether Bridgeport should “adopt the charter changes as recommended by the Charter Revision Commission and approved by the City council, including education governance reforms.”
Considering Connecticut’s Attorney General, Secretary of the State, and Governor, all ran on a platform of protecting people’s legal and democratic rights, it would be nice to think that they would intervene with a law suit saying that the Bridgeport Machine is unfairly and illegally taking away people’s constitutionally guaranteed right to know what they are voting for. But, then again, if the “end justifies the means,” and silence leads to future machine support for these statewide officials, silence and a lack of action may very well rule the day.
For additional information check out these two editorials from the Connecticut Post. Friday’s CT Post editorial: Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Change-wording-on-charter-revision-3813430.php#ixzz24fGNxnwT and Sunday’s Commentary Piece by Michael Daley, CT Post’s editorial page editor: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Michael-J-Daly-Voters-will-make-the-ultimate-3813428.php