Can We All Get Along? Plus: Civil Service, And Saluting City Employees

Another week and still no realistic word on a state budget.

Gotta wonder how this is impacting municipal budgets that rely on the state dough to fund teacher salaries and a bunch of other departments. What say you? The fault of inflexible legislative Dems? A Republican governor who doesn’t want to soak her higher-income voter base with more taxes?

Sometime this week we’ll hear about additional candidates that qualify for City Council primaries in September. And more as well about two key issues debated on OIB the last few days: should the library system push for a citywide referendum that could provide more budget dollars? The other is the emerging guerrilla warfare between Mayor Bill Finch and city Personnel Director Ralph Jacobs for control of Civil Service hires. Lots of lawyers in that one are joining the fray. Finch, who says Jacobs plays by his own rules, wants to remove him for cause. He’ll need the majority support of the five-member Civil Service Commission: Leonor Guedes, Walter Plummer, Richard Rodgers, Rosa Correa, Willie McBride Jr.

Jacobs has hired former Mayor Tom Bucci, a specialist in labor law and employment discrimination, to represent him. I know some of the members including Bishop Plummer and Rosa. Bishop Plummer and Bucci have had a strong relationship going back to Bucci’s days as mayor. This is now a legal battle as much as control for power.

Here’s the link to the Civil Service page from the city’s website. You can find commission members, rules and regulations, etc.

ci.bridgeport.ct.us/civilservice.aspx

Weekend Banter

Happy birthday to OIB friend Kathy Young who was shocked with a five-oh surprise party, thrown by hubby Bill (one of Fairfield’s finest) at the city-owned Fairchild Wheeler Golf Course Saturday night. Young Girl’s guests included former Mayor Lenny Paoletta who’s in fantastic shape. I introduced the former Republican mayor to my wife Mo as the fittest 75-year-old on the planet. “Not so fast Leonard,” he said, “Not quite there yet.” Lenny, who served from 1981 to 1985,  will be 75 in a few months.

It was impossible for me not to vacate the party Saturday night every now and then for quick updates  on the Yankee-Sox game in Vazzy’s grill room where I ran into a bunch of folks including former Mayor Johnny Fabs and son Michael. What do you talk about with a former mayor? Yeah, the usual stuff, but if I’m running into Fabs on a Saturday night we talk about the delight of San Marzano tomatoes and what to drop into the sauce. Ms. Mo was all ears as we discussed Fabs’ favorite drop-in item: pork fat (not to be confused with a city budget). Yeah, baby, drop a little of that into a sauce and blow away your friends.

Fabs was also looking fit (he’s dropped about 40 pounds) and relaxed. A number of folks at The Wheel were wondering if he’ll make a comeback. We’ll see.

While at The Wheel I also ran into my old fishin’ buddy Charlie Walsh, columnist extraordinaire for the Connecticut Post. I loved fishing with Charlie on his rowboat with that puny motor, but good gravy you’d take your life into your hands. One day a storm was brewing and I asked Charlie: “Okay, why are we going out as everyone else is coming in?” “No problem, it’ll blow over,” he said. Ten minutes later storm clouds that look like rattlesnakes blacken the Housy in Milford, and it’s like freaking Gilligan’s Island inside Charlie’s rowboat with that munchkin motor. Jesus, the water swept over the boat. Run Forest … run (except we were in a boat). We tried coming back in but it was a rowboat against a tsunami. No choice but to try to beach the boat. I never wanted to eat sand so desperately. I swear, had a diaper been on the boat, I’d have put it on.

We managed to reach shore. “Charlie, what is the matter with you!” Said Charlie: “I told you we’d be okay.” Yeah, right. I had no clue where we were. I looked around and saw a gun club. How’d we end up in Stratford! How about a beer? Charlie asked. The six-pack survived the storm. Priorities, priorities.

By the way, Charlie has found a new fishin’ buddy, but I’m sworn to secrecy until his column appears this week.

News release from Mayor Finch

City of Bridgeport Employee Outing
Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Credit Union

Event sponsored by Bridgeport City Employees Federal Credit Union and Beacon Financial Group; Mayor to recognize employees who have served City for 35 or more years

City of Bridgeport and Board of Education employees will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bridgeport City Employees Federal Credit Union during the annual Employee Outing to be held Wednesday, Aug. 12 from 12 noon to 2 p.m. at Beardsley Zoo.

The event is sponsored by the Bridgeport City Employees Federal Credit Union, Beacon Financial Group of Monroe and Luigi’s Pastry of Bridgeport. Mayor Finch will recognize a group of City employees who have served 35 or more years for their service during the event.

“The Credit Union provides a valuable service to its members, many of whom are current or past city employees and we are happy to help them celebrate this milestone,” said Mayor Bill Finch.

“We are grateful for the support of the Credit Union and Beacon Financial Group for their sponsorship of the event,” the Mayor added. “I want to say ‘thank-you’ to all of our City employees. They’ve worked hard and persevered through a very tough year. The generosity of our sponsors will allow us to show how much we appreciate all their hard work.”

The Bridgeport City Employees Federal Credit Union has 5,422 members and assets of $29 million and is a full-service banking institution. The credit union opened in 1959 and is located City Hall, 45 Lyon Terrace, and is open to members from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday.

Beacon Financial Group is an independent brokerage firm specializing in employee and retiree benefit planning and administration for small to large employers in the tri-state area. For more than a decade, retirees of the City of Bridgeport and Bridgeport BOE have had direct access to Beacon’s Retiree Service Center throughout the year for assistance with benefit questions, questions related to Medicare, enrollment assistance, claim problems and any other obstacle or issue that might arise with respect to their Retiree Medical and Prescription Drug program.

News from Burroughs Community Center

Freezin' for a Reason!

Golf claps all around.

Fourteen of our Summer Program members spent their Tuesday afternoons participating in The First Tee/GE Golf Buddies program at Fairchild Wheeler Golf Course. They learned the basics of golf from local professional golfers and the program culminated with their annual Golf Tournament. Competing along with other kids from the area, our members used the golf skills they learned over the past 6 weeks. Four of our members even won the championship!

At the Fairchild Wheeler First Tee in Bridgeport, young people are taught not only how to play the game of golf, but also to respect themselves, their peers, and their environment. Burroughs Community Center is proud to be able to offer this program to our members and we would like to thank GE, First Tee and Fairchild Wheeler for giving our members this opportunity. For more information about the Burroughs check out www.burroughscc.org

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24 comments

  1. Lennie, can you please provide us more information on what’s going on with Ralph Jacobs? You said that there was no contract and that he could only be removed for cause by the civil service commission. So besides doing his job, what cause could they have to remove him and who is on the civil service commission and where do they stand on this? I read in your CT Post blog that Ralph has hired Tom Bucci, Sr to defend him. This is sure to get down and dirty. This impacts the employees directly because without Ralph, we could have many more Lisa’s running (or should I say sitting) around.

      1. Lennie: Is this a case of “West File Flew”, or what? I followed the instructions and clicked to get to the Bridgeport Civil Service site. Went a little further but when I got to the minutes I saw that nothing has been posted since late 2008. Where are the minutes for the past 9-10 months? Last week I found the same status for City Council meetings and for Council Committees. Why are these minutes not posted? I am assuming that were I to go to the Clerk’s office they would be present. So what is holding up the posting of these to people through the Internet? Has the person responsible for posting retired, become disabled, or forgotten a password? Is the Web site unreachable?
        This is not a sign of open and healthy government. Perhaps an immunization is in order?
        But in a democratic spirit let me suggest a poll: Would you rather have a City employee post all appropriate meeting minutes (to indicate open and accountable practices) or a City employee be responsible for preparing and telling regular stories spinning the accomplishments of one or more City managers or executives? As for me, give me fact over fiction in terms of City governance.

  2. The battle for civil service will be one of the most important in recent years. Civil service was installed to get rid of political patronage. I know we still have patronage, just look at the Fabrizi and Finch Administrations.
    The Finch administration is one of the nastiest I have ever seen. They have eliminated jobs and 30-year employees only to reinvent the job and put a politician in place of the career employee whose job was eliminated. Note the housing code enforcement job. Minopoli out, Paoletto in.
    They have driven many long-term employees out also. Tax collector, assistant tax collector, Comptroller and the list goes on and on.
    They have hired people in non-essential jobs that have since ceased to exist although the people are still on the payroll (CitiStat).
    Getting rid of civil service will open up the flood gates for all of the deadwood out there waiting for a city job.
    One other thing (LIBRARY FUNDING): There is no need for a referendum. The budget committee should be reviewing that budget and allocating funding for these libraries. Budget co-chair Curwen has no trouble pushing through tax breaks for favored developers, why does he have a problem funding the libraries?
    To McCarthy who at every chance he gets tells us how good the council is doing. Where the hell is the funding for the libraries?

      1. Right now they are. I did mention a third name. I cannot remember the name of the tax collector or his assistant. I know the guy in the comptrollers office is Mike Lupkas.
        I mentioned my 2 opponents because what I wrote is fact so why not mention it.

    1. “The Finch administration is one of the nastiest I have ever seen. They have eliminated jobs and 30-year employees only to reinvent the job and put a politician in place of the career employee whose job was eliminated.”
      Let’s not forget the department supervisor that caused eleven or twelve members of her staff to resign in disgust. Or Mayor Finch’s lowhanded maneuvering to oust the director of the Bridgeport Port Authority. Now Mr. Finch is trying to replace the city’s director of civil service, Ralph Jacobs, with someone that is not independent-minded. All of this paints a rather unflattering picture of the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee. The organization ought to be sued for false advertising; how “democratic” is an organization that exists only for the benefit of its members? Mario Testa, as the chairman of this organization, ought to be well-versed in Democratic principles and “an agenda that emphasizes the strong economic growth, affordable health care for all Americans, retirement security, open, honest and accountable government, and securing our nation while protecting our civil rights and liberties.” (This is from the Democratic National Committee’s website.) Openness, honesty and accountability are not high on the Finch administration’s list of priorities. I’d have to wonder if any Democratic Party principles are on Mr. Finch’s “to do” list; he carries out the responsibilities of his office rather like George W. Bush.

      What the city of Bridgeport needs is an influx of jobs paying a living wage that would revitalize the city’s economy. That will not happen any time soon, given the current political realities. The DTC’s leadership is concerned with holding onto power, not improving the lot of the average citizen.

      Bridgeport also needs to retool its public education system. Mayor Finch’s attempt to pack the Board of Education with weak-minded yea-sayers could very well succeed. And who will suffer from the effects of this game of control? The school children, the most vulnerable segment of the population. Why must the children suffer the sins of politicization? They only wish to learn, for Christ’s sake.

      Both Mr. Finch and Mr. Testa have shown tendencies toward strong autocratic or dictatorial control. The people of the city of Bridgeport deserve something much better than an allegedly “democratic” organization that looks after its own at the expense of the many. How long will the electorate of Bridgeport allow itself to be pimped out?

      Nearly all of the Democratic candidates elected to public office in Bridgeport over the past three years, from the state legislature down to the city council, has been poisoned by this one-party political machine. While State Representative Chris Caruso has been more than able to retain legislative office without any support from this contemptible organization, its leadership has gone out of its way to hobble his Mayoral aspirations. So great is the Democratic Town Committee’s fear that a maverick like Mr. Caruso will attain a higher office and tear the playhouse down. U.S. Representative Jim Himes actually cares about the city of Bridgeport, and he had little, if any, support from the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee. Another way of looking at it is that Mr. Himes has no obligation to the corrupt, fascist organization that the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee has become.

      Mr. Himes was endorsed by Barack Obama. A number of candidates for city and state office caught a ride on those coattails; not many of them deserved it.

  3. I’m just guessing that a few folks read this morning’s Connecticut Post. Anyone read Ken Dixon’s piece from the Capital, “State revs up support for GBTA project”? It began,

    “Legislative leaders will support an attempt by the Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority to obtain tens of millions of dollars in federal stimulus funding to expand its maintenance facility.

    “While there are a few options for the GBTA to fund the $56 million project, the most-competitive option is seeking money from the $1.5 billion Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery pool.

    “But the deadline to apply for TIGER funding is mid-September, and the GBTA needs to provide some kind of state commitment of interest and support.

    “Since there’s still no state budget, or package of long-term capital projects on which to list the project, lawmakers agreed to provide written support that will be submitted as an addendum to the application.

    “‘We’ve made a commitment to work to include money in the transportation bonding package,’ said state Rep. Christopher L. Caruso, D-Bridgeport, a member of the legislative Transportation Committee who brought GBTA officials to the Capitol on Wednesday to make a pitch for support.”

  4. Slow day on the blog, eh Lennie?
    Why don’t you get Bpts Finest to blog on the Vibes and the accusation that private security rent-a-cops were stealing the confiscated drugs?
    A lot of talk on the CT Post blog over the weekend concerning that story.

  5. but riddle me this …
    Why is this year different from the last few?
    How much was turned in as confiscated drugs last year or the year before?
    So the question isn’t really what went wrong this year but why does someone really give a damn now?

  6. “Mayor Finch will recognize a group of City employees who have served 35 or more years for their service during the event.”

    Oh dear. Hizzoner da mayor of da park city is going to honor the few remaining municipal employees that have worked for the city of Bridgeport for thirty-five years or more. How generous! As T.C. noted, “They have eliminated jobs and 30-year employees only to reinvent the job and put a politician in place of the career employee whose job was eliminated.” Or a political appointee, someone whose spouse or first cousin is a member of the Democratic Town Committee. Political patronage is a plague on Bridgeport’s municipal services, a plague that manifests itself in the volume and quantity of incompetence at City Hall. Are there good people working for the city of Bridgeport, career civil servants that put the public’s interests above any political consideration? Undoubtedly there are a few, but their effectiveness is hamstrung by the assholes that owe their livelihood to the DTC and flaunt the job security that such an affiliation brings.

  7. Any candidate running for public office in Bridgeport with the support of the Democratic Town Committee ought to be regarded as suspect, motivations and allegiances questioned. Serving the interests of Bill Finch, Mario Testa, et al., is not the same as doing the business of the people of the city of Bridgeport. The registered voters of Bridgeport do not have to demand accountability from our elected officials. We have a right to expect it. OUR needs must be put first, before any other consideration.

    As the operator of a pizza joint once told me (in reference to a certain big-city mayor that held onto his seat in the state legislature long after it was appropriate to do so), “You can’t serve two masters.”

  8. “Mayor Finch will recognize a group of City employees who have served 35 or more years for their service …”

    That won’t take long. The Philistine Phuck fired most of them.

  9. *** Got to love “Rumors in general” & all the B/S hype that follows it! Whether true or false, the blogging never stops; either from city residents, city employees (past or present) or outside readers, etc. totally fascinated by the B/S it generates. To have an opposite opinion on a subject is one thing but to write disrespectful replies only because of the protection behind the fake web handle, due to a lack of balls or true heart, goes without saying! Basically the city of Bpt had, has & will always have its fair share of educational, political, local government, and over all fair share of urban city problems regardless of who’s running the city. This website alone speaks volumes on the type of idiots alone that help in their own personal shiftless ways of putting a negative image on the Park City. However, it generates “$” for certain individuals & advertisement regardless of the outcome in general. There’s always a method to the madness for those that can understand it! ***

  10. I just watched a very interesting piece. Obama has great approval in the eastern states and western states where most of the population is. CT was ranked in the top 5 Obama states; he has a 71% approval rating in CT and only 21% disapproval. In NY, CA, IL and MA they are even higher. States where he is doing bad are Wyoming, Idaho and Oklahoma and some other states where nobody lives. So you mean to tell me these States where nobody lives are denying us health care because of their very conservative ways? I mean come on who the hell lives in Wyoming and Idaho? The right-wing nuts never learn and they hurt moderate Republicans that live in CT. The Southern States never know what’s best for them at least Virginia woke up and they smelled the coffee but the rest of them did not. The small States are the reason for the drop-off in Obama’s numbers but that being said he still has over a 50% percent approval rating nationally and with numbers like that he is going nowhere anytime soon and would easily win in 2012.

  11. Mojo and yahooy please can you cut out the name calling? When I have people calling up my name I just laugh because it’s not a big deal to me ’cause I could care less what anybody thinks. I post whatever I want to post. I enjoy both of your posts but don’t enjoy the name-calling at all; let’s just say from now on whenever somebody makes a claim about you or something just ignore them like they do not exist.

  12. Lennie, thanks for the civil service website. Not much information there. The only commissioner I recognize is Willie McBride who is a BOE electrician and I heard he’s good friends with Fabrizi. Any insight on the others? Democrat or Republican? Finch friend or foe? Can any be pressured a.k.a. bribed to turn against Ralph Jacobs?

    I did see one thing on the website. No job opening for any position in the Comptrollers Office. So if the rumor is true about Mark Anastasi’s son then the job certainly wasn’t advertised or tested. Another Calamarian for sure.

    As far as the employee outing to honor 35-year employees, I hope they don’t order too much food. No one went to the outing last year and few will attend this year. Do they honestly think they can treat us like shit all year long and then throw us a bone twice a year at Christmas and during the summer? People aren’t fooled. This is nothing but a photo op for for Finch.

      1. Looks that way. I never made the CC connection until I read your post but you are 100% right. So what does that mean? He’ll throw Ralph under the bus?

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