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City Council Scales Back Pay Increase Ordinance

January 4th, 2012 · 56 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Council, News and Events

The City Council Tuesday night approved a controversial pay scale for about 80 non-classified city employees, but with an amendment eliminating language in the ordinance that authorized the mayor to increase salaries by 15 percent beyond the outer range of the salary grid.

A testy crowd of more than 100 showed up at City Council Chambers for the public hearing conducted by the Ordinance Committee. Speakers against the proposed pay raises included 2011 mayoral candidates Mary-Jane Foster and John Gomes, city clerk candidate Marilyn Moore, former City Councilman Bob Walsh, former State Senator Ernie Newton, political science professor Don Greenberg and Mary Pat Healy, executive director of the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition. Ordinance Committee chairman Rich Paoletto found himself sparring with a variety of speakers. A number of folks in the crowd wondered why six uniformed police officers were on hand.

The public hearing ended about 8 p.m. with the full council going into caucus. After 9 p.m. the council passed the ordinance with the amendment. Voting against the ordinance were East Side council members Carlos Silva and Angel dePara, Andre Baker from the East End and Michelle Lyons from the North End.

Mayor Bill Finch supported the measure saying it will help to attract strong candidates for city positions. It appears both sides can claim victory, the mayor for wanting to modernize city salaries and opponents that led to a council amendment. The council passed the ordinance 12 to 4 with City Council President Tom McCarthy, a city employee, recusing himself. Three other council members did not attend the meeting.

Perspective of Keila Torres Ocasio, CT Post:
www.ctpost.com/news/article/Finch-assailed-over-raise-proposal-2439790.php

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56 Comments so far ↓

  • Grin Ripper

    Troll, John Gomes and others passionately spoke on this matter. A 23-year-old woman named Cecilia Cooper hit it out of the park. Bridgeport Music Case Mogul Joe Calzone served up some great slices of business wisdom this evening along with our own BEACON2!

  • Mojo

    *** With just “minor study” then “last-minute tweaking” along with “pass the buck” voting from the council, this ordinance item was a rushed one-way deal which may come back in the future to bite taxpayers and city workers in the wallets? *** Time will tell ***

  • carolanne curry

    This was an invigorated crowd and everyone who spoke took on a greedy and corrupt Finch/Wood administration and told it in no uncertain terms what they thought of this pay hike.
    There is life in the city of Bridgeport. And there remains a long road to go, but a significant start began.
    Shame on councilman Paoletto for being mean and petty to former councilman Walsh and councilwoman Parziale.

  • carolanne curry

    And watch closely how Finch/Wood retaliate against those decent council members voting against the ordinance.

    • ginboom

      Ms. Curry, you were probably the first one on the blog to blast Councilman Silva for speaking up on this matter … now you want to talk about retaliation? Really?

      • Follow the Money

        Juniper Berries is full of prunes. I heard Finch went corkers on Silva in the Caucus last night. Hour-long caucus and dinner was delivered.
        Finch has turned the City Council Chamber of Whorers into a Police State!

      • carolanne curry

        Yes.
        And Gin,
        Your point is …

      • ginboom

        Ms. Curry, my point is you had something negative to say about him before on this issue, however if you were at the meeting last night he was the ONLY council member to speak out in public. I agree with your take on the city council and its lack of leadership, but I think Mr. Silva stands for the people and not the administration … wouldn’t you agree?

      • Jimfox

        Hey gin, stay away from the Gin.

      • Steven Auerbach

        Councilman Silva gave a very impressive speech last evening. He was one of the few council members to speak and vote appropriately. His constituents must be very proud. I am proud of my councilman Michelle Lyons. I want to thank the few other council members who voted respectfully in support of their constituents. I must admit I was disappointed in Richard Paoletto. Not just for his apparent lack of respect for Bob Walsh, but for his support of this bill. I am certain his constituents will remember his role in the committee and on the floor as well as the final vote. The price one pays to be a sycophant after a hearing where not one resident spoke in support is just a very foolish spineless move. I only single Richie out because I respect him and this was just a bad vote.

  • town committee

    Shame on those 12 dumbasses who voted for this Finch giveaway program. Shame on Brannely, Paniccia and Holloway for not attending this meeting.
    As far as Paoletto goes he was an embarrassment to all of Bridgeport. Someone please teach him how to run a meeting, first he tells the audience they have 5 minutes to speak and then he drops it to 3 minutes. Bravo to BEACON2 for reminding him of this and for continuing his presentation. Paoletto was rude and condescending. Paoletto’s presentation was not clear and he was trying to rush through the whole matter.
    These 12 people on the council need to be replaced; they have no conscience, no brains and most definitely no balls. May I suggest they use their stipend to buy themselves a pair of knee pads? It must hurt to keep dropping to one knee when Finch and Wood and Nunn enter a room. A reminder to the council, NO is a two-letter word.

  • barney

    I attended the meeting last night as well. Rich Paoletto’s behavior was deplorable. He was an embarrassment to himself, the residents of the 138th and to the city. He demonstrated with his behavior last night he should not be a chairman of any committee.

  • power to the people

    Great turnout last night … passionate speakers making excellent points … all fell on deaf ears. No wonder the voters don’t bother … when you do, it doesn’t matter anyway.

    Too little too late Bridgeport–we had a chance for new leadership and a fresh start two months ago. Now, in a textbook and entirely predictable political move, Finch & Wood slam through pay raises for their political posse. (Beware people–the same thing will happen with tax hikes–hey–they have to pay for these unwarranted raises somehow, right?)

    The mayor bragged about reducing costs and forgoing salary increases during the campaign all the while telling his buddies quietly on the side he would reward them as his first order of business. He’s counting on the voters forgetting by the time the next election comes around.

    Notice to Olsen & Brantley–your comments were pathetic. “We got tons of calls over the holidays”–blah blah blah–and you obviously decided to ignore all of them. How many calls did you get in support of this ordinance? We will vote you out in the next cycle. Count on it.

    Kudos to Carlos Silva–he had the courage to stand up to the mayor and the rest of the Council boneheads who just rolled right along with Phony Finch. The other Council members who voted to send it back to committee get credit too, but Carlos actually spoke against it in the public hearing.

    Nice job Lisa Parziale–she challenged Paoletto early on & was successful. (I agree with the observations made above about his complete lack of ability). Good to see her reengaging in a constructive way.

  • town committee

    The council changed some of the language in this resolution, big deal. They changed it so Finch cannot raise anyone above the top rate on the Grid. Well guess what, the Grid numbers will change in the next few months and these bandits will still get their raises. Sad to see the new council people fell in step with the rest of the council so fast.
    One more point, WHY WERE THERE SEVEN PATROL OFFICER AT THE MEETING?
    This was an insult to the residents of Bridgeport. Its obvious the administration though the citizens of Bridgeport could not speak at a meeting without the threat of violence.

  • Zena Lu

    I would like to comment on Paoletto. I am horrified at the repulsive display of disrespect and condescension he showed last night to the Taxpayers of Bridgeport AND the voters who put this man on the City Council. In short, who the hell does he think he is speaking to taxpayers in this manner? What a set of huevos!

  • Up On Bridgeport

    State rep Auden Grogins was the only delegation member to show up last evening.

    Councilwoman Lyons looks like she is posturing for a run against the Solitary Man.

    • Ronin

      Unverified accounts have it the Old Quarterhorse my take on Grogins and Jim Fox for the 129th.

      • burman

        Ronin! You are back there, jimmy boy! And you are going to run for something again? That’s awesome! Apparently your last two ass kickings weren’t enough; get in line, do it again!

        The definition of naive: having or showing a lack of experience; a simple mistake.

        The definition of stupid: making the same mistake over and over again and expecting different results.

        But hey, it’s a free country and we could all use a good laugh. Are you just going to verbally abuse Auden or are you actually running a platform this time?

        • Ronin

          Hey Burmy! How you been, buddy. How was Yom Kippur or Chanukah?
          What happened, someone said you got hit by a truck, something like that.
          Are you okay?

          • Antitestoo

            Hey Ronin, why do you talk to that jerk? If you want I’ll tell you who he is.

          • Steven Auerbach

            It was Chanukah. Let’s be a little respectful!

          • burman

            Ah if it isn’t Mr. Antisemitism! Thought you learned your lesson there, Mr. Fox about your antisemitic ways, but I guess you still hate Jews but want to be an elected official. Stupid is as stupid does. Good luck with that election.

            Besides, you shook my hand on election day and didn’t have the balls to say one word to me, you chickenshit coward.

          • Jimfox

            Hey burman, you made me a rich man today.
            It’s too bad I have to sue Lennie to get to you.
            But my lawyer said that’s the way it goes.

          • Ronin

            This is great, Jim. He thinks you’re Ronin and I’m you. I’ll be more than happy to testify on your behalf.
            Slander: a malicious, false and defamatory statement.

    • Steven Auerbach

      I would support that.

  • yahooy

    I am ashamed of Paoletto. He is an ignorant slob placed into that position to put forth all of the nefarious machinations Testa and Timpanelli dream up … PERIOD.

    Victory for both sides? Hardly. Finch claiming the new salary structure will attracted well qualified people to take on important municipal management jobs that will lead us back to promise, prominence and prosperity. Baloney. All this new salary structure did was put more money in the pockets of the politically anointed idiots like Charlie Carroll who have absolutely no business doing the job they have been ‘given.’

    In all seriousness, this city needs to hire a well experienced municipal financial manager CFO type, a highly skilled Director of Information Technology, a morally independent person to be the Director of Internal Audit, and finally, but not at all the least, a skilled and experienced Economic Development pro. Add to that a very well experienced Grant Writer and we start moving into the right territory. I would support these salary proposals for this type of experienced pro. What do we attract from the ‘outside?’ Alanna Kabel.

    We already know we will never be successful in a Democratic primary unless the FBI gets off their asses and indicts the whole crew. So we have to be in the process of forming an Independent Third Party.

    After watching these city council bums last night, I really think we can start by defeating all of them.

  • Grin Ripper

    The City Dentist position was taken out of the equation. Meanwhile we are still getting drilled by Finch and the City Council!

  • Ron Mackey

    Follow the Money, thanks for the heads up on MariAn Gail Brown: “Raises? How about recalls” from the Connecticut Post. Ms. Brown has done an excellent job to summarize the problems in Bridgeport.

  • flyonthewall

    What happened to the ethics violation complaint that was filed against Finch and his staff? Oh yeah … the City’s ethics commission is in Finch’s pocket. The SEEC needs to file its finding soon, without a doubt those results will help fuel the recall fury. Was Beccaro and Maley set to get a raise too?

  • BEACON2

    It was good to see a number of OIB friends last night at the Ordinance Hearing. And it was good to hear the variety of objections voiced by the 24 speakers. Remember our citizen taxpayer right to speak and be listened to (if not regularly heard and acted upon) is very limited in Bridgeport. Perhaps there is a need for petition and referendum on more such opportunities as it is not likely any Charter Revision group appointed by Mayor Finch is likely to suggest more citizen input.
    I was most happy to see the very real sign by a Bridgeport worker, formerly a City employee early in her career, to indicate her earnings status while in a professional position working for a non-profit. That tells the story powerfully to the community at large.
    My opinion is the Mayor’s office (including texters behind the curtains) is simply bullying Council members at this moment. And those members probably don’t like it. And how do you get away with bullying? It’s easy when enough people have been co-opted by a job or other favors. And if our City governance and future economic development is compromised because of the conflicted appearance of the way we run things, who suffers? Not someone with a City job, as long as they can hold onto that job.
    In school there are rules about bullying, and punishments and protection for those being bullied. That does not happen in our City Council caucuses. OIB can contribute to continuing effective dialogue for reform in the City. Perhaps the State Office of Policy Management needs to be encouraged to visit and review all of the ways OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT are foreign concepts in BRIDGEPORT.

    Look for the 2011 audit in the form of this year’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, soon to be public. Read it. Think about it.

    Attend Bridgeport Finance 101 to be held at 6:00 PM in the North End Library on January 12. Lots of opportunity for questions and learning. We do dialogue. We do discuss. No secrets. You can sign up to become a Budget Oversight Bridgeport (BOB-2012) volunteer and share the oversight by attending one or more budget hearings this spring.

    The November five-month budget reports were on Council desks last night. Wonder when B&A will get to review them (a new standing item?) as a part of their concept of oversight. Maybe you ought to attend a B & A meeting or read some of their minutes to see whether a half billion dollar budget can be managed well with this level of attention.

    Keep up the support for Open, Accountable and Transparent. Those are the things that will change our process. Time will tell.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Beacon–Did I see and hear you on stage at the Klein for Handel’s Messiah?

      • BEACON2

        Steve,
        Rehearsing for concert performance a wide variety of choral music weekly, 2-3 hours at a time, with 80 motivated adults under the direction of a talented and experienced conductor is a treat, frankly. A choral conductor knows the score, can hear in her head where the performance needs to go, and reads the tempo, diction, note knowledge and expression of the group looking for direction.

        In that regard, performing with the Mendelssohn along with the Bridgeport Symphony is very different from City governance process. For instance, it is clear the Mayor initiated the Ordinance to accomplish his objectives, but never stated his real objectives personally, failed to use reasonable research and documentation to cover reasonable expectation of making a case, and then let the OPM and City Attorney make the case initially and then avoided public notice at the City Council where he presides commonly on nights when there is little or no potential for discussion or opposition.
        Harmony? None. Dissonance? Plenty. About the only positive thing observed is the audience is growing, and it is negatively disposed to the process and performance of City elected leaders. Follow the money or show us the money??? The taxpayers have been put on alert! Attention spans will rise as their tax payments are increased. Time will tell.

        • Steven Auerbach

          Beacon, I guess what I was trying to say is I recognized you and never realized you were the very popular and wise BEACON2. You are incredibly well informed and thoughtful in your comments.

  • Chosen 1

    They sucked the life outa the city and now want control of the school budget to hide the cronies there.

    They put up half a Mil in fake jobs and are using school funds to pay for them.

  • Ronin

    I Know who it is, thanks Anti.

  • Ron Mackey

    The council passed the ordinance 12 to 4 with City Council President Tom McCarthy, a city employee, recusing himself. Three other council members did not attend the meeting. Voting against the ordinance were East Side council members Carlos Silva and Angel dePara, Andre Baker from the East End and Michelle Lyons from the North End.

    Let’s have the names and the action that each of the 20 City Council members took on the Pay Increase Ordinance.

  • town committee

    Here is a copy of the letter I sent to all 12 of these dumbass council people this evening. I know it does not mean anything but I had to do it.

    I am writing to you to express my disappointment with your vote on the 15% pay increase that the mayor will be allowed to give appointees.
    We have been told that people will be leaving because they are not being paid enough well guess what no one has left yet.
    During the ordinance committee hearing no evidence was presented that any type of study or pay comparison was done to illustrate that Bridgeport was behind in paying its appointees.
    I don’t understand how the council keeps passing these financial packages with no evidence or studies being done on the subject.

    Recently the council approved the contracts for Police and Fire chief did anyone of you realize that by letting the chiefs retire and still maintain their present salary they will be paid in excess of $220,000. Did you realize that you also voted for the city to contribute 10% into another pension fund for the chiefs which means we pay another $12,000 per chief per year.
    My question is when are you going to start thinking about the taxpayers of Bridgeport? My other question is how can the lower tiered employees be asked to make sacrifice after sacrifice and the upper tier keeps getting large raises? Do any of you know that Tom McCarthy was making in the mid $60′s when Finch became mayor and under the raises that you wrongly passed he will be making $112,000. When is enough–enough.

    Andrew C Fardy

  • Ron Mackey

    What are the names and districts of the 12 City Council members who voted for new pay increases? The public should know who these people are.

  • the old quarterhorse

    In both an editorial and in the initial reporting of the story the Post reported the vote being 13-4. Not surprisingly this is wrong. The actual vote was 12-4 and Tom McCarthy’s abstention. But what can you expect from a paper lovingly referred to by John Fabrizi as the Connecticut Rag? OIB and the Bridgeport Banner got it right.
    The councilmen who voted in favor were: Marty McCarthy, Colon, Taylor-Moye, Olson, Brantley, Austin, Blunt, Bonney, Ayala, Martinez, Curwen and Paoletto. Cheers.

  • town committee

    I sent a letter to each of the council people who voted in favor of the pay hikes. The only one who responded was Denise Taylor-Moye and for that I thank her.
    Her answers to my letter were vague and wrong. Based on her return emails I am unfortunately going to have to say she did not understand what she voted for. I wonder how many others did not know what they were voting for?

  • Ron Mackey

    town committee, Councilwoman Moye is my council person and I did email her and said to her to not vote in favor of the pay raise. I have gotten a reply back from her.

  • BEACON2

    tc and Ron,
    Thanks for your follow-up and discussion. If it is true Councilwoman Moye did not understand the issue and reveals that after the vote, is it possible or likely others were in the same bind?
    The point made by Lisa Parziale (that a description of the subject at hand would be helpful to the public) was not well received by Chair Paoletto. However, it appears the public in the audience is not the only party confused about this particular vote, and perhaps others???
    The technology for the public address system has improved in recent years. Better technology perhaps? Serviced to provide clear hearing for all, perhaps? Well why don’t Council committees begin using visual technology as well, so the “reading” public can at least see more than the title of an ordinance and come to their own judgement? If a citizen missed the original hearing, were the minutes of that meeting with appropriate communication of the issues and dialogues made public previous to Tuesday night hearing??? If not, why not? No one mentioned access to them. With the limited weekly schedule for the City Clerk office being open to the public, such consideration should be required as it is necessary to a public that is not party to caucus commentary, executive sessions, or a ‘message from the Mayor’ delivered by text or otherwise.

    And to the use of visual technology: it is available and would make Council and committee matters more OPEN and TRANSPARENT, right??? Anybody else like to see things in black and white to augment the messages delivered orally??? Time will tell.

  • town committee

    Beacon, one thing I did learn was what Finch told the council people when they were in caucus. Finch told them don’t worry about “those people” out there, they did not vote for you.
    Who the hell did he think was sitting out there? I would like the mayor to respond as to why there were 7 cops there that night.

  • town committee

    Beacon, you and I know most of the council people do not understand the Budget and what it represents. Many of them never bother to attend a B & A hearing. When I tell them of the $4.5 million in salaries for positions that will not be filled is in the budget they really did not believe me. They said for the most part that could not happen. Go figure!!!

  • BEACON2

    tc,
    Let’s keep track of Council people on that very subject: approving funds annually in the administration’s City budget for unfilled positions and untapped expense accounts. When those funds are not spent as budgeted, they can be and are spent elsewhere by the City in a given year, but who can tell??? Does the Budget and Administration Committee have a clue on this??? Not according to their minutes. And from the info they are provided by OPM or Finance each month, it actually is not easy. However, all of this belies any basic understanding of City processes by those who claim to be “in the know.” Why aren’t they more curious? Why don’t they use the legislative assistant more often? Why are outside consultants not retained (as money is available in their legislative budget) to do research and basic groundwork before votes?

    The bullying of the Council by the administration, the failure of Council members to recuse when faced with a conflict of interest situation and the decline in Council culture of service for the people and for the “common good” are factors that are routinely behind the poor performance of our City legislators!!!

    The Council needed 11 votes on Tuesday night to pass the Ordinance on non-union administrative compensation. With 3 absences and recusal by Tom McCarthy in the final voting, the Council was able to count 12 in favor, 4 against and 1 recusal. Among the 12 in favor were three City workers, Paoletto, Blount and Bonney. Had they had the sense of what conflict of interest means in this instance (voting salary brackets and/or compensation for their direct superiors), had they had recent Ethics training (none in the past four years), this Ordinance would not have passed in my opinion. Changes in governance structure cannot come soon enough, and sufficient embarrassment of those on stage will doubtless be necessary before more people see the pendulum swinging back. Time will tell.

  • Ron Mackey

    BEACON2, BINGO!!!!!!!!! That is one of biggest problems Bridgeport has, “The bullying of the Council by the administration, the failure of Council members to recuse when faced with a conflict of interest situation, and the decline in Council culture of service for the people and for the ‘common good’ are factors that are routinely behind the poor performance of our City legislators!!!”

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