Mayor Ganim Discusses Need For Comprehensive Plan For CT Cities

This article originally appeared in the Hartford Courant

 

Bridgeport Mayor and Democratic candidate for governor Joe Ganim has been a vocal critic of the state’s promise to pay off Hartford’s debt and help the city stave off bankruptcy.

But at a candidate forum in Hartford Wednesday night, two days after Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin dropped out of the governor’s race, Ganim softened his stance.

“Last night I had a very in-depth conversation with a number of very committed, focused local elected officials from the city of Hartford and I was edified in so many ways, in detail, on a granular level, of some of the fiscal challenges far beyond the knowledge that I had on this topic,’’ Ganim told an audience of about 50 people.

The Bridgeport mayor said his newfound understanding of Hartford’s finances reinforced his belief that the next governor needs to develop a “comprehensive policy for all of our cities.”

The tone struck by Ganim on Wednesday was sharply different than the strong criticism he levied last month, when the final terms of the state’s deal with Hartford became public. The bailout calls for the state to pay off about $550 million of the fiscal distressed capitol city’s general obligation debt.

Ganim and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp both questioned the fairness of the bailout.

“It seems the state continues to shortchange New Haven and Bridgeport — its two largest cities, with comparatively stable finances, while rewarding the past practices of other cities that put them on the edge of financial collapse,” Ganim and Harp said in a joint statement issued in late March.

On Wednesday, Ganim said he had been under the impression that the deal was worth $40 million, not $550 million. “As it went along [there] was a little bit of shock value to me and others about what the extent it was,’’ he said.

But he told the Hartford crowd has come to understand the aid is “not an infusion of cash. It’s a relief of what’s looked at as overdue obligations to the city...for being shortchanged year after year after year.”

This article originally appeared in the Hartford Courant