Saturday, September 30, 2006

Rell's Good Governance

Sometimes you can tell much about a person by the little things they do. In the case of assessing M. Jodi Rell's leadership we can look at recent developments in Bridgeport. Recently, Mayor Fabrizi has been working hard to move the Steel Point project forward. The Steel Point project plans for thousands of new apartments, condos along with 1 million square feet of retail space and offices. In addition it includes a marina and hotel fronting a waterfront boardwalk and retail area. In total it's tagged as a billion dollar economic development project. The scale necessitates state money, and in a recent Connecticut Post article,
Fabrizi said twice this week, Gov. M. Jodi Rell spoke with him to reassure her commitment to the long-delayed billion-dollar development.

Robert L. Genuario, secretary of the state's Office of Policy and Management, said Friday the governor fully supports Steel Point, but does not want to release more money until the city needs it to conclude a purchase.
Apparently that was not good enough for State Senators Bill Finch, Edwin A. Gomes and State Rep. Robert T. Keeley, Jr., who claimed that Rell has been slow in reacting and not pushing the project forward.
"This project's in trouble," Finch said of Steel Point. "These are big developers, and if the state is going to nickel and dime this and it fails, it'll be the governor's fault." Finch said the project needs more "upfront" money.
Of course the State should not be writing blank checks for projects without setting some standards of accountability.
Genuario said last year the state committed $20 million, and this year it's more than $13 million.

"The mayor is a good advocate for the Steel Point project," Genuario said. "I think he's satisfied that the state is supportive."
Genuario said he also spoke this week with representatives of Midtown Equities LLC, the designated developers.

"It's not unusual for us to provide funds as they are needed," Genuario said, adding the city has yet to access the $8.5 million approved earlier this year. "The urgency may be more perceived than real."
Exactly. Maybe the urgency of an election. Rell is right to insist that any state money authorizations come after a deal is made to acquire the remaining properties.

Connecticut Post Development moves inexorably forward, by Ken Dixon 9/30/2006.


bluecoat said...

the state's credit cards are maxed out and ergo that's why Genuario is metering out the money on this corporate welfare deal....that needs to be done BTW.

Anonymous said...

TG... good post... not just simply slamming Ned or various Rs. Has fabrizi said anything publicly?

bluecoat said...

Polls differ on size of Rell's lead
By Keith M. Phaneuf, Journal Inquirer

This article and everybody else says that Zogby only does an on-line poll but I got a call from Zogby last night; can't tell you about the questions because i don't respond to telephone polls of any type.

GMR said...

I admittedly don't know much about this project, but my gut reaction is, why aren't private developers developing this with their own money, and taking the incumbent risks therefrom?

It seems like every development project in the state involves some sort of transfer payments to the developer, or reduced taxes for the developer. I think that's a big problem.

What specifically is the state funding here? Are they funding some sort of municipal building? Why should the state subsidize a private developer?

I love private development: I think it's great when it happens. However, I'm not in favor of having the state intervene and get forced into giving various incentives. That totally distorts the economic decision making process. Why has Connecticut gotten to the point where the state government really needs to be involved in providing incentives every time someone wants to build a building?

(My wife wants to put new countertops in our kitchen: can I get some sort of economic kickback from the state?).

turfgrrl said...

Anonymous 12:14-- I'd post more about good and positive governing, but I don't see it that often . . . which means feel free to bring it to my attention.

turfgrrl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
disgruntled_republican said...


I got a call the other day. At the end of survey they ask for your email address to be included in all future polls online...clearly not random as polls are meant to be.

bluecoat said...

your statement makes absolutley no sense to me, disgruntled.

Anonymous said...

anyone who think a self-selected sample is going to reflect acutal public opion is deluded.

Rell and Lieberman will crush their opponents among the less politically interested

common sense over partisan politics said...

OK. Here are the facts regarding this issue according to the stories and this post(which is very well done): the State (our tax dollars) committed $20 million last year and another $13 million this year to the Bridgeport project; the Governor said she is committed to the project; money given earlier this year has not been used yet; and the OPM Secretary is working with the developer.

So what in god's name are Senator Finch and the rest of the do-nothing legislators in Bridgeport whining about?

$33 million over 2 years and Finch says that the State is "nickel and diming" the project. Senator Finch sounds like an idiot to me.

Perhaps he can tell us why more tax dollars should go to Bridgeport without any accountability. How much money did we lose with the corruption from Ganim and Newton and others? What the heck was Finch doing when that was happening? Taking poor people's homes through emminent domain because he has a fake job with economic development?

Finch's comments are a joke. He's lucky the Governor cares about the city. In the old days, you call the Governor who gives your city millions a joke and your city gets zip.

Time to get rid of Finch!

Anonymous said...

bc what is so difficult to understand from his comment. The zogby polls regarding the CT races for Governor and Senate have been done by on-line subscribers and are simply not accurate. The primary results bare that fact out. Obviously, this is not the only type of polling zogby does; he is a leading national pollster. Since you did not pick up the phone you have no idea why zogby called. It is not unusual for zogby to do what disgruntled said. BTW, why wouldn't you trust disgruntled anyways?

bluecoat said...

It's interesting to see bloggers trash Zogby becasue they use the Internet with quality control back-up via the telephone as one vehicle for polling likely voters. Polls are supposed to be a snapshot in time - not a predictor of the future. What's distressing latley are the comments by Professor Schwatz of the Q-Poll who seesm to want listeners to think he's some kind of political pundit; and a review of his most recent poll would lead some of us to beleive he is push-polling for the two incumbents - Rell and Lieberman. He should leave the punditry to us bloggers and the political scientists and just do the poll and report the results.

Anonymous said...

bluecoat - pollsters are supposed to comment on what the poll means. There is a type of science to polling and reviewing polling data (i.e. crosstabs). BTW, it is called political science. I think the better way to handle you objection, which is valid, is to prohibit non-partisan polls within 30 days of an election. While Schwartz is using his professional expertise, it does tend to have unintended consequences that may not be fair to a candidate.

bluecoat said...

I know the General Assembly spent $6 million before Jodi's old running mate and mentor, John Rowland, decided to quit but I don't know how much the state lost due to Ganim/Newton for anon2;39 and for 2:42 (who is probably 2:39 too) your explanation does nothing to clarify my not understanding disgruntled's comment and it also shows you don't understand Zogby's polling methodology, which I took the time to review after reading the facts digruntled posted, which I now know disprove his opinion. Get with it - Al Gore invented the Internet and it' here to stay.

bluecoat said...

Polls are meant to be representative not random; and 3:34, I know what political science is but my problem with Schwartz - besides the design of his poll questions, which some appear to be push poll like - is he doesn't just comment on his poll results but he comments on the race based on stuff that has nothing to do with his poll.

bluecoat said...

and I should conclude then that my problems with Scwartz relate to his professionalism and objectivity or lack thereof; whether it's fair or unfair to a candidiate is not my beef.

Anonymous said...

Schwartz is out of his mind because os all the attention he's gotten lately.

One of the callers fo the Q-poll attended a fundraiser I was at this week and said the press coverage and attention Schwartz has gotten has gone to his head and he's been pestering the callers.

She said his bias for Lieberman and Rell is obvious to all those doing the calling so they gave him what he wanted.

Max Sklar said...

"Why has Connecticut gotten to the point where the state government really needs to be involved in providing incentives every time someone wants to build a building?"

GMR - I think you're absolutely right. I don't know the answer to your questions, but let me suggest one possibility.

In these Connecticut cities such as New Haven and Bridgeport, city government has gotten so large and overbearing that its difficult to get anything done. Every development needs to be carefully reviewed by the city government, and if someone doesn't like the way it looks, or thinks it will cause traffic, or wants them to use more union labor, they'll stall the project. That's probably why its become so expensive to build here, and why the cities need to ask for outside funding. Maybe if we had stronger property rights this wouldn't be as much of a problem.

turfgrrl said...

State funding participation is not necessarily a bad thing in development projects. By providing state funds, areas that would not otherwise get developed can become more attractive for private investment. Sometimes projects include parts that are for the public good, not always just the city/town they are in. In the case of Steel Point, having a viable mixed use waterfront development is good for the state. Bridgeport needs tax diversification and jobs, CT's natural shoreline should be used as an asset, and increasing housing stock tackles the affordable housing dilemma in the region. Conversion of brownfields to productive uses is another good example.

GMR said...


For brownfields, yes, I agree, they need to be cleaned up, and if the company that did the messing up is out of business, the state or the feds are going to be the ones that need to clean it up.

I just don't see why in most cases -- and maybe this Steel Point place is an exception -- the state or local government should be providing tax incentives or outright grants to certain developers. Let the market decide where companies should develop, not on which companies have which connections with which politicians.

I think if you took a step back, and asked, why don't companies want to develop in Bridgeport without big tax incentives, you'd see that Bridgeport has made it very difficult to do business there. But instead of simplifying these things -- taxes, zoning, permitting, other regulations -- they layer it up even more with various grants and such.

As far as affordable housing goes, I think again, we need to ask ourselves why, when there is obvious demand for affordable housing, there's so little supply. Is there something Bridgeport and other neighboring towns could do with regards to permitting, zoning, etc? Also, there may be the case that there simply isn't enough land available. And when the state gets involved in affordable housing such as this, doesn't it just become another who-knowns-who scheme? In other words, this new housing isn't going to bring down market rates, it's simply going to allow certain people with connections or who get on some list or whatever, to get below market housing, while people without connections or who are too far down the list won't get it.

bluecoat said...

I can afford my house and I would think most on this blog can too. The term "affordable housing" is meaningless. There is a need for workforce housing maybe and for senior housing too but nobody has ever really quantified the problem with intellectual honesty.

turfgrrl said...

gmr- I think you bring up a good point about the necessity overall of state incentives. I do think that that there are cases that have merit. When it comes to urban planning and regional economic development things can get rather complicated very fast. And I do think there are more examples of what not to do than good ones. In looking at Fairfield County though, there's been a laissez-faire market approach to development. This has created underused urban corridors along public transportation routes, over used highways, gridlock, rising housing costs etc. Bridgeport has better transportation infrastructure than say Shelton, so while the market has built out Shelton, it ignored Bridgeport. True there are extensive issues that affect development decisions, and zoning, lawsuits, nimby prevent or impede development in some areas. I think the decision to develop in Bridgeport over anywhere else will change over time, but in the past I think it has more to do with the perception of safety, amenities and growth prospects that have discourage developers.

I think that is the point that a greater authority steps in and creates that incentive, either by funding or tax breaks. Especially for projects that have public space components to them. When you look at successful economic development projects, it has usually been the partnership between developers and government that have achieved desired goals. Austin, TX is a more recent example, where many stake holders combined to create a type of economic development that would become self sustaining. No developer would have pushed for developing an industrial warehouse district into a music production district, yet with the combination of government incentives, and smart urban planning that in turn led into the kind of information technology attractive economic climate that has turned Austin into a fast growing economic powerhouse. That's the kind of government/developer partnership that I think works. Whether CT can start moving in that direction is something I worry about. I think Steel Point is a step in the right direction.

Affordable housing is really a supply and demand problem. There is not enough housing in the area to support a variety of constituencies. You need starter housing for entry level job growth, yet developers don't build apartments because the profit is in condos. They seek short term risk adverse profits, and most of the time urban planning is really medium risk long term profit.

bluecoat said...

Employees should definitley work right next to their job; Metro-North should be shut down and all the NYC commuters who live in their affordable Fairfield County homes should move to the Upper East Side.