5:30 p.m. update: David Dunn, former labor relations director under Mayors John Mandanici and Tom Bucci, has been appointed by Mayor Bill Finch as acting personnel director for civil service replacing the fired Ralph Jacobs.
Finch can appoint him on an acting basis pending approval by the Civil Service Commission that blowtorched Jacobs for not playing ball with Finch over job hires. The specified reason for firing Jacobs–he didn’t seek commission approval over a letter he sent to an attorney representing a city employee–is bullshit. The mayor wants someone who’ll accommodate his political peeps. Dunn’s former boss Bucci is representing Jacobs in his court challenge.
Dunn meets the experience credentials for personnel director specified in City Charter language. David knows his way around City Hall, he’s smart, chain-of-command oriented, and will serve the mayor well. That means working with the mayor on political hires.
Here’s where Finch is missing the train in this fight: better to blow out Jacobs as part of a cure message to modernize civil service. If I’m Finch I’d have immediately issued a news release explaining the civil service vote was the first step to rectify antiquated and rigid civil service rules. The next step is formation of a Charter Revision Commission to fully review civil service rules and regulations and let voters decide if the reforms are warranted.
Example: modify the rule of one (the top testing person) to a rule of three.
At least then there is some kind of method to the madness. What Finch and Chief of Staff Adam Wood have done instead is say Jacobs was a big pain in the ass, he would not help us with jobs for political supporters so let’s hire a law firm, no wait, let’s hire two outside law firms, one to allege and one to prosecute to soil this guy for a firing.
Finch and Wood would rather shoot the guy in the head and figure out the rest later. Their attitude is we’re smart and everyone else is stupid. Yes, the two guys who promised a $600 tax cut and then raised them by $600, the double-dip strategy that failed, lies, lies and more lies about the Bridgeport Port Authority bullshit, lies about “let the people decide” about a library referendum, and there’s a lot more where that came from.
Finch and Wood have no cohesive message, no rational strategy, no plan, no economic development initiative to call their own. These are the two guys in charge of government.
Sometimes you can shoot someone in the head and end up with blood on yourself. (Don’t get excited, I’m talking in political terms.)
This is a power grab to control jobs and nothing else and the five members of the civil service commission were snowed into supporting the termination. I must give Finch and Wood credit in one regard. They don’t have a history selling much. But they were able to manipulate civil service commissioners that this was the right thing to do. At what cost to taxpayers?
One way or another this decision to fire Jacobs is going to cost the city a pile of cash, probably hundreds of thousands of dollars before it’s over as a result of legal fees and a settlement with Jacobs. Or maybe the court orders the city to give Jacobs his job back? That would be fun.
Finch and Woody are political animals. That’s fine. But strategically they stink.
Meanwhile where are my friends at the Connecticut Post hardcopy edition covering this story?
News release from Mayor Finch
Mayor Finch Appoints David Dunn as Acting Civil Service Personnel Director
BRIDGEPORT, CT (August 25, 2009) – Mayor Bill Finch today announced that he will appoint David Dunn as Acting Civil Service Personnel Director and will submit his appointment to the Civil Service Commission for ratification.
“David Dunn brings more than 30 years of experience in human resources, personnel and labor relations, and has worked with the City for more than 22 years. I fully expect that with his experience in Civil Service and personnel that we can continue to move the department forward until a test for a permanent director can be held,” said Mayor Finch.
“As Acting Director, I plan to work with labor and management to bring greater efficiencies and modern operations to the office, completing tests in a timely manner and, to help implement structured employee performance evaluations,” said Dunn.
Dunn’s 30 years of experience includes senior and corporate level human resources work for international companies, and he has managed personnel departments from 800 to 1,250 employees in size. He has twice served as the City’s Director of Labor Relations – from 1975 to 1981 under Mayor John Manadanici and from 1986 to 1991 under Mayor Thomas Bucci. Since 1997, he has served as the City’s senior labor relations officer.
Dunn is a management member of the Connecticut State Board of Mediation and Arbitration, appointed in 1990 by Governor O’Neill. In 2001, he received designation as a Certified Professional from the International Personnel Management Association, a national organization of personnel management professionals.
His professional affiliations include, past President of the Connecticut Public Employer Labor Relations Association (CONNPELRA); and membership in the Industrial Relations Research Association (IRRA), the International Personnel Management Association (IPMA), Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and the Bridgeport Regional Business Council.
Dunn holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Sacred Heart University, and has undertaken graduate level work in labor relations and human resources at the University of Connecticut. He holds Advanced Arbitration Advocacy Certification from the American Arbitration Association; Certified Professional designation from the International Personnel Management Association (IPMA-CP); and National Public Employer Labor Relations Association Master Certification in Labor Relations (pending).
In addition to his professional work in Bridgeport, Dunn has consulted on projects for numerous Connecticut towns, cities, or housing authorities.
Bridgeport Superior Court Judge David Tobin has sided with the Liberate Libraries Committee request to place a budget referendum question before voters pending certification of signature petitions by the town clerk.
This sets up a voter referendum in November. “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and a Town of Bridgeport,” said Library Board Director Jim O’Donnell, an attorney who assisted in arguing this first-of-its-kind case in state history. This was the first time that the state statute cited by the library committee has been used.
The judge made a factual finding: that the City of Bridgeport assumed obligations of the Town of Bridgeport. Bridgeport was initially established as a borough, then a town in 1821 and a city in 1836.
The judge set a hearing for Thursday morning to clear the way for a Nov. 3 referendum after the town clerk’s office has certified the 50 petitions necessary for ballot qualification.
The presiding statute:
Sec. 11-36. Town or borough tax. When fifty electors of any town or borough present a petition to the clerk of such town or borough, asking that an annual tax be levied for the establishment and maintenance of a free public library and reading room in such town or borough, and specify in their petition a rate of taxation, not to exceed three mills on the dollar, such clerk shall, in the next legal notice of the regular municipal election in such town or borough, give notice that at such election the question of an annual tax for the maintenance of a library is to be voted upon in the manner prescribed in section 9-369. The designation of such question on the voting machine ballot label shall be “Shall a …. mill tax be levied to establish and maintain a free public library and reading room?”. Such notice and such designation of the question on the voting machine ballot label shall specify the rate of taxation mentioned in such petition. If, upon the official determination of the result of such vote, it appears that a majority of all the votes upon such question are in approval of such question, the tax specified in such notice shall be levied and collected in the same manner as other general taxes of such town or borough and shall be known as the “library fund”. Such tax may afterwards be lessened or increased within the three-mill limit, or made to cease, in case the electors of any such town or borough so determine by a majority vote at any regular municipal election held therein, in the manner hereinbefore prescribed for voting upon such question; and the corporate authorities of such town or borough may exercise the same powers relative to free public libraries and reading rooms as are conferred upon the corporate authorities of cities.
An attorney for the city urged the judge to find for another state statute that gives the City Council authority over libraries. Judge Tobin saw it differently. Mayor Bill Finch is on record saying the voters should decide. Of course that did not prevent him from having his city attorney oppose the library. So, now the question: will the mayor unleash political operatives to defeat this referendum?
Assuming the petitions are certified, this is going to be some battle over the following question: “shall a one mill tax be levied to establish and maintain a free public library and reading room?”