Bridgeport Generation Now
We are a nonpartisan, grassroots social action network that empowers and unites our communities by increasing civic engagement. We encourage residents and our youth to take an active role in strengthening Bridgeport. We are open to all residents of Bridgeport, and anyone can be a member if they get involved in the community and show that they care about the future of our city. We focus on policy research, civic and political education, and community organizing. Our collective work lives at the intersection of community building, systems change, and self-determination. Our current organizing frames are democratic empowerment, good governance, justice, equity, and livability. Our vision is to collectively develop into local leaders who practice intersectionality, collective action, openness, ethics, and love.
Started 2 petitions
END ABSENTEE BALLOT ABUSE IN BRIDGEPORT!
We, the undersigned people and neighbors of Bridgeport, demand that the Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut order supervised absentee balloting in our 2019 municipal elections in Bridgeport. A healthy democracy requires that we the voters have confidence that our elections are a reflection of the will of the people. The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission was formed to ensure the integrity of the electoral process. Yet election rules should be enforced in real time, not just with retroactive fines. Bridgeport has a long and well-documented history of election interference and fraud, with an alarming number of fines levied by the Secretary of State’s office. (1) Secretary Merrill has known this is an issue for at least eight years. In 2011, Secretary of State Denise Merrill said publicly “she'd like to make reforms that could prevent absentee voter fraud.” (2) Yet, in May of 2019, in response to calls for supervised absentee balloting from candidates in our special election for state representative, her office said “the state’s top election official does not have the authority to order a municipality to conduct supervised absentee balloting.” (3) In fact, according to Section 9-3b, Chapter 141 of our state statutes, Secretary Merrill does have the authority. (4) She should - and must - have the political will to address this problem. The fines do not work. We see absentee ballot abuse and misuse in every single municipal election. We, the people of Bridgeport, do not have confidence that our elections are fair. The Bridgeport Registrar of Voters refuses to increase supervision of elections, further undermining trust in our democracy. (5) We need the State to step in where our local government has failed. You must take the power away from election abusers and give it back to the people of Bridgeport! 1. “Absentee Ballot Research,” by Adhlere Coffy and Niels Heilmann, www.bptgennow.org/democratic-empowerment 2017 2. “Absentees: Early ballots bring victories, sometimes fraud,” Keila Torres Ocasio and Michael P. Mayko, Connecticut Post, October 25, 2011 3. “Bridgeport special election candidates request increased oversight of absentee ballots,” Neil Vigdor, Hartford Courant, May 3, 2019 4. Chapter 141, General Provisions, Title 9, Section 9-3b, Connecticut State Statutes, https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_141.htm#sec_9-3 5. Candidates cast suspicion on absentee ballot votes in Santiago race,” Brian Lockhart, Connecticut Post, May 3, 2019
The Public Deserves Full Transparency in Bridgeport Police Chief Search
The Bridgeport Police Department is the largest and fastest growing city department, taking up more of our resources at the expense of other institutions like education, libraries, and our parks. It is also a department in a crisis of leadership, mismanagement, violence, and corruption. In the past year and a half alone, Bridgeport police killed unarmed 15 year-old Jayson Negron, engaged in dangerous high-speed chases resulting in the death of 18 year-old Corbin Cooper, and are totally out of compliance with our state’s racial profiling law. In light of these and many other issues - and to build bridges for stronger civilian oversight - we, members of Bridgeport Generation Now, started attending our monthly Police Commission meetings. In the midst of our research, Mayor Ganim announced he would conduct a nationwide search for a new Chief of Police. Immediately, we knew community engagement would be key to a healthy and democratic search process. According to the International Association of Police Chiefs, “Involving [the community] in public safety efforts...strengthen[s] the department’s presence...and the community’s trust in the agency.” After a corruption scandal rocked the Oakland Police Department, in 2016 Mayor Libby Schaaf announced that "enhanced community accountability" would be a "big part" of Oakland's search process and future. Under her leadership, the City of Oakland appointed community members to their selection committee, included youth in the hiring process, and rolled out a series of forums designed to get public input. Under Mayor Ganim’s leadership, however, Bridgeport is subjected to something quite different. In May, the City hired a consultant to oversee the search process. Originally, Randi Frank held only closed-door meetings with folks pre-selected by Ganim’s office. After public pressure, Mayor Ganim arranged for two public meetings. During these meetings, Ms. Frank promised she would use the community’s input to screen candidates down to a list of finalists. Then, according to David Dunn, the City’s Personnel Director, a ten-person selection committee comprised of community members appointed by Mayor Ganim, would select three candidates for Ganim to review. Under these assumptions, we presented our ideal requirements and interview questions. We also asked if one of our members could be appointed to the search committee. Despite attempts to have open communication, we never received any follow-up from Mr. Dunn. It is October and we now know Mayor Ganim has given up on any promise of public-facing community engagement. In September, his office told Hearst Media they would not release the names of the ten people on the search committee. This week, we learned that Ganim’s administration will not even convene a community-minded search committee, scrapping this process for a five-person “professional panel” made up of “two police chiefs from out-of-town, two human resources professionals and an individual with municipal management experience.” Again, the identities of these five people are a secret. Also secret are the names and professional experience of the seven finalists for this taxpayer-funded, city job. The lack of public inclusion, transparency, and vision for a 21st Century Bridgeport Police Department is striking. On behalf of our members, coalition partners, and the public, we call on Mayor Ganim for full transparency and meaningful community engagement in this search process. We call on him to immediately do the following: release the names and organizational affiliations of the members of the professional panel; appoint five community members without ties to the administration, including youth, to the panel; release the names and records of the seven finalists; and hold public meetings in all City Council districts to get real community input. Anything less shows a blatant disregard for the people and the progress of Bridgeport. Signed by Bridgeport Generation Now. Co-signed by Kyle Langan, City Council, 132nd District; Pete Spain, City Council, 130th District; Justice For Jayson; Reverend Anthony Bennett, Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut; The Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport; ACLU of Connecticut; and Showing Up For Racial Justice Fairfield County. Published as an Op-Ed in the Connecticut Post on Thursday, October 18th, 2018: https://www.ctpost.com/opinion/article/Group-wants-in-on-Bridgeport-chief-pick-13315373.php