Construction Management Investigation–Coble Canned

Not a happy holiday weekend for several city employees. Law enforcement officials are examining allegations involving the city’s construction management program, according to multiple sources.

So far Art Harris, director of construction management and Dennis Scinto Jr., contract compliance officer, appear in the short term to be employment casualties of the investigation. The city typically does not share information regarding personnel matters made by officials in the Labor Relations Office, and it’s not clear if Harris and Scinto are challenging their employment status. Scinto’s father is the leader of the 134th District in the North End.

In addition, Tom Coble, director of the city’s Neighborhood Revitalization/Anti-Blight Program, has been terminated by the city. He was escorted out of City Hall Annex a few weeks ago by police following a series of allegations including his involvement with the city’s Community Development Block Grant program and a threat made against a city employee.

Coble has been active in city politics for decades. East End District Leader Ralph Ford is his political benefactor. Friction exists between Ford and the mayor’s office over this and several other political issues.

The allegations against Coble were serious enough, city officials summoned police to escort Coble out of the building. The CDBG program, funded by the federal Housing and Urban Development, includes a maze of paperwork. Coble’s work responsibilities came in contact with the program administered by the city’s Central Grants & Community Development.



  1. Very nice story in The Post. I chuckled over the discovery of the vacant lot out in the sticks.

    Like the city administration, I am a firm believer in recycling. Here, for example, is a story that will be barely “used” by readers running here on a holiday weekend.

    I don’t think the readers will mind much if the same story, more or less, runs on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012. It might be news to them.

  2. Tom Coble had a position within Office of Planning and Economic Development relating to Anti-Blight efforts, an important part of which were funded by HUD-CDBG funds. He has been for several years the public face of the Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ) projects in several parts of the City. The CT Post has now reported his four police escort from his office two weeks ago, and today more info relating to a Labor hearing, but there is no solid news on whether it was job performance, political activity, or some other behavior that caused him to get in power crosshairs.

    The news of other City employees becoming employment casualties is new news from the Post, though what caused the action is not clear. Construction management services has charge of new school building and renovation. The projects are large ticket, run over multiple years and from my point of view have little regular reporting to the City Council, if any at all. If this is a City Department already, and the bulk of its activity, financial and otherwise has to do with Education structures, funded by City and State, is this an area that the Mayor wishes more control over, or does he have it already??? But from the taxpayer viewpoint, where are the checks and balance mechanisms, the open and transparent process, and public accountability that would manifest itself in regular financial reporting??? Perhaps I have missed it in the City Clerk’s office, but does anyone know where these activities show up in terms of board or committee oversight and/or public records???

    Finally, I can chuckle along with you, Jim, about the empty lot in Oxford. With all of our sophisticated technology including communications equipment, can’t we keep the most basic information accurate, like an employee address??? Where would a former employee’s last check get sent? Notice of rights to continue health insurance? Status of pension rights and vesting? Time will tell.

  3. Beaccon: Keeping committee records generally falls on the shoulders of the committee chairman. They can be pretty sloppy. Falls within normal human inefficiency. You worry about it when someone tries to slip a fastball by you or when someone DOES slip a fastball by you.

    I don’t know how the address gambit was played, but it was nice to see a reporter taking the time to eyeball things. I chuckle over “all our sophisticated technology”–and not only in Bridgeport.

  4. *** Could there be more to these Xmas stories coming out of city hall? Tune in to OIB for more juicy details as they continue to trickle out in the new year, no? *** REALITY SHOW ***

  5. Mojo: A Reality Show? An excellent way of addressing budget shortfalls!

    And to think, they constantly reuse and refine the scripts year after year. By this time, they should win Emmys.

  6. I wrote about this story, these are the three city employees suspended because of illegal maneuvers committed by CC acting on Mario’s orders to give G Pic work on Knowlton St. Park project. One employee started a minority business, the other two checked to make sure it was legal, got okay from city attorneys. CC instructed G Pic to give work to new minority business which happened to be city employee A WBE. A legitimate minority contractor who is always looking for work got wind of this arrangement and filed a complaint, the three mid-ranking employees get suspended during the investigation while CC gets to enjoy the holidays in Newtown while the other not-so-connected city employees get the bah humbug part of Christmas and Mario’s parking not is full of city employee and contractor’s cars and trucks. ‘Tis the season to be the screwer or the screwee. How is that for a Christmas Story?

  7. bpt guy: Whatever the “personnel” matter was, if it involves the expenditure of federal funds, there will be a record of it. Getting it might be a challenge, but it is there. If it is straight politics– not so easy.

    And I have no comment on Mojo’s disgraceful suggestion! I’m jealous because I didn’t think of it myself. My morning laugh. Thanks.

  8. If it is Federal money, then the Feds look at it? Is that what you are telling us JC?

    If it has to do with Capital Budgets, where the Director of Construction Management holds sway, then I am going to guess most of that money is State money. Who investigates if it is State money going into school buildings? However, if it is for a part of the Knowlton Street project, that may have been some NRZ (Federal HUD CDBG) along with some City money???

    And since someone mentioned the City Attorney’s office made a representation of OK, then maybe there is no problem. So secret! So confusing! So many stories coming from and leading to the same handful of characters in our City! No wonder Jim Callahan is nostalgic. The stories of today rival those of the past for venality I trust.

    But how much self-interest must there be to cause an investigation, an indictment, a scandal and an ultimate fall from power? Time will tell.

  9. If this investigation was going on for awhile, then why the terminations now? Finch used Tom Coble, Scinto Sr. and Ralph Ford to win the election knowing full well he would lower the boom right after he was sworn in. Doing it Christmas week was a low blow too. These mid-level employees are not the decisionmakers. BG is right, CC enjoyed his holiday in Newtown and Nunn in Monroe, not a care in the world. If this had happened four months ago we may have had a different administration today. Timing is everything.


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