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Bridgeport’s State Legislative Delegation Signs On Dotted Line For Reform Bill, Sans Chris Rosario

March 11th, 2015 · 27 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, News and Events, State Politics

Seven of eight members of the city’s state legislative delegation have signed a letter in support of a government reform bill to enforce the voter-approved City Charter prohibiting city employees from serving on the City Council to avoid conflicts of interest. The one holdout is freshman State Rep. Chris Rosario doing the bidding of the city’s political establishment. This is the first time a nearly unanimous state delegation has joined forces to validate the will of the people that city officials past and present have violated hiding behind a dubious state loophole. The letter has been shared with the Connecticut General Assembly. Organized labor leadership that finances the campaigns of influential state legislators is trying to kill the good government bill, preferring its membership approve its own wages and benefits at taxpayer expense.

The following letter was signed by State Senators Ed Gomes, Marilyn Moore, and State Representatives Jack Hennessy, Steve Stafstrom, Andre Baker, Charlie Stallworth and Ezequiel Santiago.

We, the members of the Bridgeport legislative delegation, do sign our names indicating full support for Proposed H.B. No. 5886: AN ACT PROHIBITING MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES FROM SERVING ON CERTAIN MUNICIPAL LEGISLATIVE BODIES.

We believe this bill is an essential, positive move toward moving Bridgeport forward. The purpose of this bill is to close the loophole in state statute Sec. 7-421e.

As presently written, 7-421e bans city employees from serving on a board of finance unless permitted due to provisions of a municipal charter or home rule ordinance. The law is silent regarding the possibility of extending the ban on a municipal legislative body that serves the same purpose as a board of finance.

The purpose of the bill is to extend an existing provision that prohibits municipal employees from serving on a municipal board of finance except where permitted by charter or home rule ordinance.

Bridgeport’s city charter was voted by the people of Bridgeport by referendum and states:

Section 5. (g) (1)
No member of the city council shall, during the time in which he/she serves as a member of the city council, be appointed to or hold any office, the emoluments of which are to be paid from the city treasury.

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27 Comments so far ↓

  • Bob Halstead

    Thank you to OIB for putting the Rosario matter in the proper context. We have to ask ourselves: why can’t we do better than this man to represent us?

    • Local Eyes

      I know busboys who have more experience at their jobs than Bob Halstead does. He’s entitled to his opinion but not at the expense of State Rep. Chris Rosario.

      • Bob Halstead

        You are right, Loco Eyes. Think I could get a job at Mario’s? That would at least make me a contender.

        • Local Eyes

          No matter how many tables you bus, you will never be a contender. Here’s more bad news: no facial hair at Testo’s.
          www .testoscatering.com/menu.html
          He might force you to drop your garden rake and grab a razor, instead.
          “Mario’s” might be a popular restaurant name across America but it’s only the first name of Testo’s owner and has little to do with Bridgeport’s DTC.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Maybe Chris Rosario knows something the majority of the current and former city council members as well as the above members of the state legislative delegation don’t. Based on all I’m hearing and reading from them, I’m 100% sure they are wrong. Flawed arguments and the one thing I agree with is sitting on the Council while working for the city has the potential for conflict of interest or the appearance thereof.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Section 5. (g) (1)
    No member of the city council shall, during the time in which he/she serves as a member of the city council, be appointed to or hold any office, the emoluments of which are to be paid from the city treasury.

    Let’s pick at the language of the section of the charter here. If what folks are arguing is this section of the charter states that members of the city council cannot work for the city, I am not convinced.

    What this section of the charter states is basically City Council members cannot be paid for their elected duties. It prohibits salaries and/or stipends as the funds come from the city’s treasury. As elected city council members, they hold office. “hold any office.” They cannot be “appointed” to a paying position.
    Emoluments is a noun (plural) and means: Profit, salary, or fees from office or employment, compensation for services.

    “… be appointed to or hold any office, the emoluments of which are to be paid from the city treasury.”

    Where does it read employed, employees, hired, work? Some have argued in the past that as City Council members they work for the city. They represent the constituents of the district they were elected in and in doing their elected duties it requires “work” obviously but that doesn’t make them employees. It’s volunteer work if they don’t get paid and a violation of the charter if they do accept. City employees can work for the city and are not in violation of the charter as I’ve heard many argue. Is Tom McCarthy’s position an “appointed” position? If it’s not, he is not in violation of the charter. Was he hired by the city to work in Labor Relations under Larry E. Osborne an
    appointee of the mayor? Nothing in the language of the charter prohibits an appointee from hiring anyone–council member or not. It’s more a question of ethics than charter violation, but it raises the question of conflict of interest.

    Council members not employed by the city don’t and can’t receive health insurance, sick days, join a union, so they are not employees.

  • Jeff Kohut

    This movement to clean up Bridgeport government is noble–and brave–on the part of most participants (but simply opportunistic on the part of others).

    I’ve been involved in quite a few reform movements in Bridgeport over the past twenty years–from the imposition of ethics standards for appointment to city boards (financial/conflict of interest reporting came out of that–and we see how effective that has been), to reform of the ethics commission itself. (We see how enthusiastically that was embraced.)

    This is a positive gesture, but it will mean nothing whether the intended bill passes or not, because our fate doesn’t rest in our hands at the moment. It rests in the hands of moneyed interests and their lackeys, such as elitist-defender Toni Boucher and the ultimate phoney, double-dealing, snake-oil salesman Dan Malloy.

    As long as the people of Bridgeport believe all it will take to turn Bridgeport around is good, upright, non-conflicted, local representation, we will continue to remain poor and underemployed, with a failing (albeit corporately exploited) school system.

    The elitists who run this state are happy to see us blaming ourselves for our failure to thrive–they use our “terrible corruption” as an excuse to continue to exploit us and deny us our due recompense as a labor force and municipality of great service to the region, as well as basic respect as a city of living souls.

    What we need is “firebrand” leadership that isn’t afraid to speak of social justice (and socialism) to the people and the powers that control Bridgeport in Hartford and Washington. We need leadership that can rally Bridgeport votes against the elitist status quo and their lackeys in Hartford and Washington.

    Whether our local elected leadership works for the city or not doesn’t mean much if they aren’t willing to take off the gloves when advocating for Bridgeport interests in the seats of power (Hartford and DC).

    Sure, I would love to see squeaky-clean local government/local elected leadership, but I would much rather see effective elected city leadership (albeit with a little bit of mud-splatter) bringing good jobs and tax base to Bridgeport. I would rather see our leadership feared and respected in Hartford and Washington than recommended for sainthood.

    Stamford was notoriously corrupt during most of its economic ascent. Ditto for Shelton, et al.

    Of course, I don’t advocate corruption at any level of government, but I do advocate effective leadership that brings home the bacon, rather than saintly, docile leadership that is praised in public but laughed at behind closed doors in Hartford and Washington after they’re sent home with nothing–or even worse, Bass Pro.

    I’ll watch Bridgeport’s “clean government” initiative with interest, but also with a realistic, jaundiced, eye. Unfortunately, I believe we need to get bloody, and dirty–and prosperous–before we use a lot of time and energy trying to become squeaky clean. (We can never become governmentally unconflicted and squeaky clean in practice anyway, because it will always be possible to buy our elected representatives–via their BRBC handlers, state jobs in return for vote production, etc. Recall Senator Finch working for the BRBC; Councilman Bob Curwen working for Sal DiNardo. And observe our economic development director serving as an elected official for our arch-rival, Stamford.)

    We need angry voters who will direct their anger toward Hartford and Washington–not internally. The elitists want us occupied with a civil war at home so they can continue exploiting us in Hartford and Washington. If we turn on the elitists in Hartford and Washington, they’ll remove their corrupt lackeys in Bridgeport and we’ll start to see some change.

    This doesn’t sound very wholesome or attractive, but it is the way the economic-political world operates under the auspices of human beings. It wasn’t for nothing Mark Twain referred to us as “the damned human race.”

    Let’s not invest too much of this legislative session on this bill. It won’t do much for us except provide false expectations. Let’s pressure the governor for a lot more development seed money for jobs-intensive/lucrative-tax-base development, and a lot more money for education.

    • Hector A. Diaz

      JeffF Kohut, GREAT post!

    • Joel Gonzalez

      I am pleased to know there are very intelligent folks still around. Especially those with the Kohut-nes (cojones) to stand up and speak. If only the people I mentioned in my recent post had some too, at least come here and do the same. Stop hiding behind the screen in front of you. I’m just the janitor.

  • invincible

    How … right … you are, Mr. Jeff Kohut.

  • Pete Spain

    Great letter.

    Great concept: Follow the charter!

    Thank you, State Senator Ed Gomes, State Senator Marilyn Moore, and State Representatives Jack Hennessy, Steve Stafstrom, Andre Baker, Charlie Stallworth and Ezequiel Santiago!

    • Joel Gonzalez

      Pete Spain, how about reading and interpreting the charter properly? If these people: State Senator Ed Gomes (former councilman), State Senator Marilyn Moore, and State Representatives Jack Hennessy, Steve Stafstrom (former councilman), Andre Baker (former councilman), Charlie Stallworth, Ezequiel Santiago (former councilman), Bob Walsh (former councilman), Thomas White (former city councilman and council Legislative aide), Councilmen Rick Torres and Bob Halstead, the entire leadership and membership of citizens for a Better Bridgeport, can properly read, interpret and understand:

      Section 5. (g) (1)
      No member of the city council shall, during the time in which he/she serves as a member of the city council, be appointed to or hold any office, the emoluments of which are to be paid from the city treasury.

      Just five (5) simple paragraphs, how can they lead or legislate? Now before Lennie Grimaldi steps in and says or asks me. Are you not in favor of the bill and will be on the bus to the roadblock? Sure Lennie! You’re talking to the man who chopped a digit off. What’s a little bumpy and rough bus ride to a roadblock, set up by people like the the people (not me) on the bus heading their way?

      • Pete Spain

        Joel,
        My interpretation is this:
        The city charter states no member of the City Council can also receive a city paycheck.

        Have you found some lost tablets, Joel?

        • Joel Gonzalez

          Take it word for word. No one can interpret anything if they’re not using the very words needing interpretation. I posted the very same charter you folks are interpreting without changing a single letter. I and all council members at the time argued this before.

        • Joel Gonzalez

          Pete Spain, I’m wrong–it’s not four paragraphs. It’s an enumeration and just one sentence. As a teacher I’m surprised you didn’t catch that. This fact makes it look even worse. I didn’t find any lost tablets, but I did find a bunch of lost leaders.

          • Pete Spain

            Joel,
            A couple questions:
            If the charter did not prohibit city employees from serving on the City Council, then
            1. Why does City Attorney Mark Anastasi point to a state loophole to allow for city employees on the City Council? Why would he not merely offer an interpretation of the charter, such as you are suggesting?
            2. Why are no elected officials interpreting it as you are suggesting?

            BTW, I’m not a teacher, but thanks for the compliment.

  • Bob Halstead

    Jeff Kohut is correct, the clean bill is only one component. Otherwise you will see people rise to their level of incompetence being followers and not leaders to get to the top.

  • Bob Halstead

    We have to be careful with the law of unintended consequences. There is a lot of clerking of the works done on City time by conflicted Council members, who if were removed would create a void. We have to get more paid staff to support Council members, should those paid employees leave. Overhaul is needed in organization and policy in that regard as well.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Pass the law period and let’s stop all this bullshit we have now. There is another way to get rid of people on the council who should not be there. Get rid of Mark Anastasi, after all it’s his whimsical interpretation of the charter that allowed this. Maybe we should start a fund and sue the city and Anastasi so the charter gets enforced.

    • Dave Walker

      Andy,
      You have just hit on Plan B if the bill does not pass this year. However, the named parties in any litigation will be many more than the City Attorney.

      • Joel Gonzalez

        It will be costly all the way around for the city. If Bill Finch removes any councilperson from their jobs because the charter allegedly says they can’t work for the city and sit on the council, it will be litigated indeed. The employees will win and get their position and back pay for doing nothing but laugh at you folks. If you are planning to move from Bridgeport, you’ll be leaving us with a huge bill and help Bill Finch. I have no problem you doing that especially if the city has the right to countersue for all damages and cost. I assure you the named parties in any litigation will be many more than David Walker.
        Feel froggy and jump.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Since readers and posters here have been too shy to respond to my recent analysis–not to mention post in the past seven years–I’m putting out a challenge to former mayor Joseph P. Ganim. Joe Ganim, I know you at least read or are told of what’s happening here at OIB. Remember when you ran that grueling 26-mile marathon years back? I caught you off-guard (I’m sure you were aching and resting) by setting out on a 24-hour street cleaning marathon and I challenged you to a marathon in cleaning the blight in this city. I dare you, I triple dare you to join us on the blog by Friday if possible and say hello to us (Lennie Grimaldi included). Don’t worry, I’m sure you can handle the cyber bullies and trolls who will show up. If you can’t handle it, you can Run JoeGanim Run.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Nice guy? Chris Rosario? Sure.
    Big future ahead of him? Sure. Why not?
    What did he say, personally, to his rejection of support for HB 5886? I don’t know. Do you?
    Maybe Lennie will check the record and find the magic words from Chris Rosario that tell his district why he is not supporting the bill. Maybe it will make good reading.
    Do you think he will say it is because his ultimate boss in his City job does not wish him to support it? (But that would be a perfect example of a “conflict of interest” experience!!!) Time will tell.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Enough pussyfooting around. Chris Rosario is a Bill Finch Piss Boy. He owes his job to Bill Finch who by the way could fire him tomorrow if he wants. Finch is against the law albeit Rosario is against the law thus making him a puppet.

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