City Council To Vote On Labor Concession Deal

A special meeting of the City Council will take place Monday at 6 p.m. in City Hall to  vote on two Contract Committee reports regarding labor concession agreements with the National Association of Government Employees and the Bridgeport City Supervisor’s Association.

Under the agreement the 700-member NAGE and 130-member supervisors will not receive a pay raise in the first year of a negotiated agreement in exchange for two years of no layoffs. The savings to the city amounts to roughly $700,000 of the $4 million in union concessions Mayor Joe Ganim plugged into the budget year that began July 1.

The council is in the second month of summer session that calls for only one regular meeting that took place August 1.

At the last full meeting citizen fiscal watchdog John Marshall Lee addressed the council on the state of the city deficit. From Lee:

It’s a hot night in the summer by temperature and thank goodness not with the violence experienced in other communities. But the financial news, released for fiscal year 2016 remains disappointing. The City ended the year with a genuine deficit, that is the red boot representing the OPERATING BUDGET. And another red boot represents the City BALANCE SHEET where liabilities greatly exceed assets. The last FY shows revenues about $800,000 in excess of budget but expenses were over budget by over $4 Million, for a deficit around $3.2 Million before adjustments and audit. Facing over $9 Million of hopeful revenue budgeting that did not materialize and expenses that were due but not part of the budget, each of which the City Council reviewed and approved, show that informed oversight is necessary. Is it time to see if April 2016 decisions are working? Sale of City property provided an unplanned $5 Million infusion to revenue.

Police and Fire Overtime exceeded large budgets by nearly $6.2 Million even with salary savings. Something deeper is at work in the PD budget and it needs examination and understanding by the CC. Nearly $18 Million of unbudgeted line items were offset by nearly $14.5 of city savings over the last seven months, debt refinancing, pension partial payment deferral and some favorable news on health plan claims expense. Bottom line still shows around a $3 Million deficit. Bring on the auditors and let’s see how the responsibility for enthusiastic and unrealistic revenues PLUS failure to include State pension payments due in the 2016 budget brought us to this scramble and disorder.

Compliments to Ken Flatto for getting draft June 2016 reports out in a timely fashion and for providing both unaudited and audited reports for June 2015 that were undone by the Finch administration. Use actual and audited numbers from two past years in the future to balance City figures before blithely assuming they are correct. When State revenue assumptions fail their budgeted and approved levels, make adjustments immediately.

Open, accountable, transparent, and honest process that would include public availability with hard copy and electronic data is part of good governance. Where is the State website connection announced six months ago so we can see where every City check goes? When I attend a City meeting and raise my hand to make a comment or ask a question, is it open to adjourn the meeting, and say we can talk later? Why is the taxpayer component excluded from the public record that the taxpayer is funding? Failure to listen to people who attend citizen meetings is disrespectful assuming time is available, as it is more often than not. Failure to include Bridgeport voters does not encourage attendance, and maybe the answer lies there.

Accountability is a matter of setting a plan based on announced priorities and then living up to them. Is there an alternative City definition? However if you have asked the City for employee data listing all employees by department and position, showing compensation and FT or PT status (including grants and seasonal payrolls) how can you trust the budget document? Include vacancies, but without such a list, how can you verify? How do you trust? And if “price tags” relating to matters for your referral or approval are not included with narratives, how is the public able to trust that you are looking out for spending their money?

Transparency is another matter. It should be simple and understood by many. Is that true of the Labor Relations Department 2012 contract with the Police Department completed three years late with post-retirement expenses still not provided to the public in terms of annual payments? What happened to $950,000 of OPED Capital funds that paid a note for the NON-CITY DEPARTMENT, the Port Authority? Was the Council consulted? Do you care? What do you understand about your funds transfer authority with the City? Where does this matter rest today? Ask for the story, please.

Finally, there seem to be a number of departments with cash revenues which do not show them. Why is that? Lighthouse with self-stated $850,000 of fees is a question that was asked. Is there an answer for the fee and taxpaying public? In the past month you allocated $250,000 for youth summer programs. How many programs put in requests and for how much? Who was awarded funds, for how much, and how many youth are assisted?

School funding? Helping K and pre-K to become readers? One hundred police hires? Where are metrics posted? Time will tell.



  1. JML, you ask a lot of good questions. Have you ever taken the time to make some educated guesses on any of your questions? To expect or demand answers to all your questions is kind of a waste of time when dealing with the City of Bridgeport. You did hear about Rick Torres’ experience in getting answers to questions, especially financial ones. Much of the time we’ve waited for answers during the last six months tells me the City Attorney’s ruling in Rick Torres’ dilemma still stands. Maybe I was wrong about McCarthy ever being able to grow another set. Ask him for the numbers, he will need a majority of councilmembers to ask or demand the figures as the City Attorney’s decision still stands.

    Here is my educated guess: I don’t know the exact figures nor which answered questions will be to your satisfaction. I do believe JoeG2 is holding on to the numbers until all city unions agree to concessions. I voted against the NAGE contract, the vote taken by NAGE was fixed, NAGE leadership caved in to pressure and threw out the NO vote to two questions which included NO layoffs taken a month before. The only reason the city was more than happy to offer, agree to or entertain a no-layoff agreement is because if they had to lay off, all the new hires would have to go first and it would be hard to fill positions with friends and family of the machine.

    Let me give you a bonus analysis or educated guess. You can also take it as a prediction. It’s clear Tom McCarthy isn’t going to the State Senate. It is clear McCarthy pushed back on G2 a little and they wanted him out ASAP. Will McCarthy wait for re-election and risk another defeat? Will he step down in return for a job at the City Attorney’s Office or any position with the City? Time will tell.

  2. Joel my friend, which of the questions would you like answers to? You know when I ask questions that are not answered, I keep digging. The subjects I raised above were direct to the City Council and would be issues they should consider important, aren’t they?
    *** Port Authority controls real estate subject to contracts with Steelpointe developers, but are the fiscal details clear? Values? Sale price per contract? Appraisals and valuations? Money flowing for taxes or subject to Bridgeport Landing long-term deals? Lots more questions and where are City representatives with vacancies ignored by Finch and now Ganim? Where is the financial report for the Port Authority? Where is separate legal council?

    Summer programs about to end and we never learned through Av Harris or the CT Post who received the funds, for what programs, held at what locations, and including how many youth. Are these reasonable watchdog issues? How does Joe Ganim really feel about SUPPORTIVE CONTRIBUTIONS? Are we about to find out? What has been the City experience in this regard and what have been the accountability metrics?
    Your thoughts on these matters, Joel? I defer to your understanding of employee and contract issues. By the way, can you direct me to the latest Police Department contract that was finalized in 2015 but was due in 2012? Time will tell.

      1. Where is the 2012 Police Contract, approved in 2015, on the City website? Understand it was approved by City Council but in reviewing six months of minutes in reverse from November 2015 back to June 2015 I do not see it. Think it is important to look at this Finch administration action, closely observed by McCarthy while in his Labor position, and see what “price tag” if any was placed on the contract.
        It is interesting to review Finch’s comments while presenting his last budget with a PowerPoint presentation with pictures but not the data he had in mind for the public to pay. And then his “fiscal tag team” put it to us and failed to include a part of the cost. And it seems they also may have negotiated our right as a City to recover full costs for police external overtime duty. And that means pension payments annually, many years into the future will have to be paid directly with taxpayer funds closer to $10 Million per year than the “zero” budgeting Tom Sherwood presented to us in 2015. Is anybody outraged at what has been done publicly without explanation by leadership supported at one time or another by the DTC machine? Time will tell.

    1. Published on Dec 1, 2015

      Mayor Joe Ganim was sworn in at 7:42 pm at the Klein Auditorium in front of about 1,000 well wishers. Ganim said “I have learned that in America–and particularly in this great city–if you are true to a cause, work hard, and are not afraid to ask for a second chance, you can find and experience that moment of redemption.” He also said T.S. Eliot wrote–“… last year’s words belong to last year’s language–and next year’s words await another voice.” WE ARE THAT VOICE.

      “This new administration–YOUR ADMINISTRATION–will work hard to always treat people with RESPECT while showing HUMILITY as we work to improve the quality of life for all of our residents. One of the most important first steps for me as your Mayor will be to make city hall a more welcoming place and ensure Bridgeport’s city government reflects the diverse composition of our great city. We will appoint talented managers to champion reforms so government works better for everyone.”

      Ganim closed with “Today is the day we begin to bring about the positive results that everyone desires. Together we will realize the promise of Connecticut’s largest city.”

      1. Joel,
        Are you telling me the December 7, 2015 meeting of the City Council (not December 1, as there was no CC meeting with minutes on that date of the swearing in) reference to 10-15 Communication from Labor Relations and Benefit Administration re: “Updated ranges for Officers and unaffiliated employee salaries pursuant to and as required by Municipal Code 2.36.010” that was part of a consent grouping was when the police contract was approved??? No committee review? No detail presented? Is that really how this works? Time will tell.

  3. Joel,
    Thanks for the link to Joe’s acceptance speech. He references rebuilding the City and a “new beginning” but there is no detail on how words I have used in public comment like OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE or TRANSPARENT fit into his vision though he used those words frequently, and perhaps cynically in his campaign.
    The T.S. Eliot quote was new to me about “last year’s words” so I won’t go there, but I do understand respect, and I can see it is not being honored daily in City administration. Joe talks about “showing humility” and where has that been present as hundreds have packed Council chambers? He has talked about appointing “talented managers,” but why do some of his appointments require the consideration of requesting consultants to teach or do the work? He talked about being a “hands-on” Mayor, but what he is manipulating manually is not being made public by Av Harris unfortunately. Are there companies trying to get the Mayor’s attention with several hundred workforce jobs for our port area but not getting a return phone call? Joe said he was in favor of 21st century education on December 1, and did nothing practical to assist the BOE with their $15 Million opening, did he? And small businesses seem to be falling like bombed flies in the downtown area recently. What did Joe mean (at 9:30) when he talked about a City “where taxes are not burdening residents?” Should we ask the ‘public integrity’ office that is still looking for a genuine mission, like what they suggested during the campaign, but the only reality seems to be a regular paycheck for the office? Where is the integrity? Joe, do you think you have made a “better connection with the people?” Time will tell.

  4. Sometimes we get tangled up in the teeny tiny details and forget to see the bigger picture. For me, the retreat by NAGE is a symptom of the city administration being turned into a greater and greater source of political patronage jobs.

  5. Last night’s Special Meeting of the City Council featured NO public speaking. Of course, that is because it is a SPECIAL MEETING. When five or more Council representatives are away, when a Contracts Committee Co-Chair has to be requested to share the details, when one of the unions has no representation at the meeting, and when 20 or more employees who will be laid off are present out of 40 such people and without their union representation it is an unusual and contentious evening. Co-Chair Jack Banta voted NO on each of two proposals. Tom McCarthy no longer addressing taxpayers as he did on July 5, 2016 when he addressed the several hundred present and announced he would follow the rules, meaning no added speakers. Last night after losing as endorsed Democratic candidate for State Senate he was more magnanimous to about 40 employees who cried out their satisfaction from Chamber seats. Of course, as a former Labor Relations employee, he could understand how a union member, ignored by their union representatives might feel. Though Tom never shared any info, fact or feelings when he worked for the City and Chaired Council meetings. Now that he is less conflicted than before (but not entirely unconflicted as the Council President occupies other Committees where info on doings might conflict with other Council member direction. Remember the Airport Commission and how little McCarthy has ever revealed, yet Budget & Appropriations would have been happy to hear the real extent of that expense, you think? Time will tell.


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