As Ganim Contemplates A New Administration, Employee Indigestion Rises In City Hall

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes. Turn and face the strain. That stuttering chorus by David Bowie may well be in the heads of dozens of city employees wondering about their employment future. Who’s staying? Who’s going? Who’s arriving?

Mayor’s Office? Police Department? Public Facilities? Labor Relations? Chief Administrative Office?

Mayor Joe Ganim is expected to roll out some specific personnel decisions next week as a new four-year term approaches in about 10 days. For some discretionary appointees of the mayor that Thanksgiving bird won’t be the cause of the holiday agita.

Others will say phew!

One of the prominent moves Ganim’s expected to make is elevating Labor Relations Director Janene Hawkins to chief administrative officer, a position that oversees department heads.

Ganim survived a scare this election cycle that he had never experienced before as mayor. Elected in 1991, Ganim did not have a primary in the next four election cycles as an incumbent, blowing through the general election with roughly 80 percent of the vote. One of the hallmarks of Ganim’s decade-long popularity was the strength of his department heads.

A 2003 conviction on public corruption charges forced him from office. In a remarkable comeback, voters returned him to office in 2015.

A solid piece of the electorate had changed in 12 years. In some ways, Ganim was time-warped in his perceived popularity. After implementing a revaluation of taxable property that was put off by his predecessor, the tax bite in some neighborhoods set off prehistoric noises.

Within a year he was running for governor, with a dubious record to run on, that seemed more like a system discharge from his anticipated run for governor in 2002 that never materialized.

Many voters were bewildered. Ganim was mauled across the state in a primary run against Ned Lamont. He only won Bridgeport, but even that showed some serious storm clouds. Lamont carried a number of precincts, particularly in Marilyn Moore’s 22nd State Senate District.

Moore entered the race for mayor in January 2019. Although Ganim started paying attention to home cooking, he didn’t see the brewing anger in some neighborhoods. On September 10 Moore won a close primary race at the polls, but fell to the political establishment’s absentee ballot operation.

The general election was a different story with Moore as a write-in candidate lacking a ballot line. After the primary scare Ganim took nothing for granted in the general election. He won handily.

He cannot afford to take anything for granted in his second term. He must pay attention to city business. Part of that includes a restructuring of government, both in the short and long term.

Next week a new picture will begin to emerge.

Meanwhile, some city employees will load up on antacids waiting for the news.

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35 comments

  1. Look at the budget. Personnel costs are Bridgeport’s biggest expense. Reducing them is the best way to contain taxes.
    His record of reducing expenses is the best kept secret of his current term. He wrote the playbook and his next steps will be seen next week, right?
    Unfortunately, Bridgeport is still in the pension business which prioritizes the past at the expense of the present and future. He’s a slave to fixed costs. What’s been done cannot be undone without a bulldozer.
    But avoiding an expected tax increase is within his grasp and he can expect cheers if it happens.

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  2. Mayor Joe Ganim’s appointments should reflect the racial makeup of the City instead of al of white out of towners. David Dunn has been employ by the City of Bridgeport back during time that John C. Mandanici was the mayor, Dunn has been with the City for 40 years, it’s time to put Dunn out to pasture.

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  3. Joe is taking a page out of his JG 1 playbook.Trim the fat at the start of your term,make headlines..then slowly hand out new jobs to recent supporters,space the hires out and do it quietly over the next six months or so.Nothing changes.

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  4. Lennie,
    you have a blog so people can have a healthy debate. Stop blocking my posts every time it goes against ur boy and his people… Grow some balls. I took a picture of my comment. I’ll post it on Facebook and Instagram where more than 5 people actually read.

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  5. It’s funny, For years I’ve been asked whey I don’t work for the city of Bridgeport, be it economic development, business resource office, direct administrative staff, etc.

    My answer remains the same. I have yet to see a job posting from the city for qualified local talent to apply for. My guess is Janene will become CAO to keep up his quota. He’ll replace here with someone from the attorney office, likely white. We have Zero Latinos represented withing city government who make over 100k who have any influence on the outcome of major decisions. I’m also exhausted of seeing people who do not live in the city of Bridgeport getting these appointed jobs.

    Most didn’t know but former CAO Kim Staley, who may have been a BPT Native, lived in Bloomfield,CT and commuted over an hour to work.

    Conversations change when you have to live in this community and make decision that impact it.

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  6. As most know, Mayor Toni Harp in New Haven lost her re-election bid.

    Since Mayor Toni Harp is out of a job, so is Tom McCarthy. He needs a place to land which means he will likely become the Director of Labor Relations replacing Janine Hawkins who still has out of state plates on her car after serving as the Director of Labor Relations for four years.

    Pastor Janine Hawkins will serve as CAO, John Gomes will remain as Deputy CAO, and I believe Pastor Gaston will fill the long vacant Assistant Deputy CAO position vacated when Gina Malheiro was demoted and sent to Siberia AKA the Port Authority.

    There will be three Black people filling all three CAO positions, and the only other high level Black administrative member will be OPM Nestor Nwko. Only one woman with two members of the clergy which is highly inappropriate. You are either a member of the clergy or a political appointee. You should not be both.

    Chief of Staff Dan Shamus, Director of Finance Ken Flatto, Director of Public Facilities John Ricci, Director of Special Projects Danny Roach, Director of Specisl Projects Ed Adams, City Attorney Chris Meyer, Director of Economic Development Tom Gil, Director of Civil Service David Dunn, Director of Communications Rowena White, BFD Chief Thode, Director of Emergency Operations, Director of Labor Relations Tom McCarthy, and more are all White with only one woman appointed to a cabinet level position.

    The two high level Hispanic appointees are Chief A.J. Perez and Health Director Maritza Bond. Again, one woman.

    If anyone can add positions I may have forgotten please feel free to do so.

    The largest voter demographic in Bridgeport is Hispanic with the Black demographic following close behind and 50% of our population is made up of women.

    Does Mayor Ganim’s administration in any way reflect Bridgeport’s demographics?

    There are only three women in high level administrative positions out of about 20 positions.

    There are only two Hispanics. Period.

    I find this troubling.

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    1. Let Darwin and not quotas determine the mix of Bridgeport employees.
      If we want to reflect city demographics we need a few gun owners, a few public housing tenants, some working poor and some homeless people.

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  7. Maria, I don’t remember seeing McCarthy’s name on any of Joe’s fundraiser declaration pages over the last year,And I can’t recall ever seeing McCarthy support Joe at all as a matter of fact.He and Finch were attached at the hip, and still are. Joe also made him choose his council position or his job 4 years ago, I’d be surprised if Joe offered him the Labor relation position again.

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  8. Also Maria, I noticed a day or two after Election Day, Manny Mouhtino started clearing that piece of land in your district on Huntington Turnpike. Did he get the go ahead to ruin that lovely stretch of rd with a strip mall?

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  9. Manny Mouhtino did not donate a single dollar to Joe Ganim’s gubernatorial or mayoral campaign.

    He knows what many of us that helped Ganim get elected in 2015 know, we made a mistake in supporting him.

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  10. If some of Ganim’s City employees who where working on his campaign and their job was funded by the Federal Government, would Ganim be in violation of the Hatch Act?

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  11. A little late with this, but I just read the Mayor and a bunch of city counselors are on vacation…. errr at a conference this week?.. Why??.. We are a failing city that can’t even find our schools, and some on the council think it’s ok to take a vacation for a few days on our dime??.. And why are some there if their term expires in a week anyway??.. Another example of a big “FU”to the taxpayers. Way to start off the new term Joe, get a handle on this shit.

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    1. This is what I mean about the kids being used as a tool for an attack. Without a specific idea to better the school system, other than new or renovated buildings just saying fund the school is bull. Because according to Maria since Joe was first reelected the state had (BBOE) had made 50 million in cuts. If Joe gave the BBOE 50 million today BBOE would be at the same failing level is was before Joe was elected. And I know no one will say BBOE was not failing our students then. Not to mention according to Maria out BBOE was overfunded and was giving the city (Finch) money, and since Bill wanted to State to takeover the BBOE when it was overfunded. WILL YOU MAKE YOUR OWN OPINION AS TO WHY OUR SCHOOLS ARE FAILING? Start with a reasonable number of students per teacher, per class, Teacher that actually teach coupled with Technology to aid the teacher in their workload and the students in their education. JS People.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3h5jcI-MFI

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      1. Harvey
        Its not vacation,Its the National League Of Cities conference which the City of Bridgeport in a member. Elected official from around the country attend and share ideas on issues. Housing, Education, Infrastructure etc.

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