Facing City Council Expulsion For Residency Violation, Guedes Resigns From Civil Service Commission

On the night the City Council was scheduled to consider removal of Eleanor Guedes from the Civil Service Commission for violating the city’s residency code, the chair of the personnel body beat them to it, resigning in a letter to Mayor Joe Ganim.

The council was scheduled to take up this matter Monday night:

Ordinance Committee Report re: Resolution to consider if Ms. Eleanor
Guedes, a member of the Civil Service Commission, violated both the City’s Charter and the Municipal Code of Ordinances while being registered to vote in Trumbull from June 2017 through January 2018

The question of residency for Guedes has been debated on OIB for a decade. See here. What’s bona fide residency? In the case of Guedes she has a family business outfitted with a bedroom in Bridgeport she declares as a residence, but the evidence then and now argues she could be considered a resident of Trumbull that places her in conflict with the City Charter. When the issue came up Guedes explained she spent a few nights a week in Bridgeport, which satisfied City Attorney Mark Anastasi’s interpretation of residency. City Council members as well as government watchdog John Marshall Lee have recently revisited the issue in a quest to land answers about board and commission appointments and vacancies.

Guedes also has development interest in the city. In September, Ganim  joined city leaders to announce two projects chosen in response to the Downtown North Development requests for proposals on Main Street and Congress Street. Bridgeport-based  Primrose Construction, whose principals include Guedes, was selected to create nearly 100 units of housing and Park City Ice-Palace LLC Development Group proposes to build a hockey and ice skating training facility.

Ganim on Monday also announced the appointment of Dr. Herron Gaston as a new member to the Civil Service Commission. Dr. Gaston is the Associate Director of Admissions & Recruitment at Yale University Divinity School and Pastor of Summerfield United Methodist Church in Bridgeport, according to a news release issued.

From the release:

Dr. Gaston is a former lobbyist and legislative analyst. Dr. Gaston has served in the Governor’s Office in Florida as a Gubernatorial Fellow, and has worked for a cadre of politicians at the local, state, and national level. Herron is interested in the intersection of law, religion, and ethics. Dr. Gaston holds degrees in political science, public administration, public policy, and divinity. Dr. Gaston is also the founder and director of the Gaston Justice Coalition Group LLC, a faith-based, non-profit organization comprised of pastors, ministers, churches, educators, and community leaders whose mission is to address critical issues and reduce violence and incarceration, particularly in inner-cities.

Guedes’ resignation letter to Ganim:

I am writing this letter to announce that I will be stepping down from my position, as Chairwoman of the City of Bridgeport Civil Service Commission.

I have had the privilege of serving on the Civil Service Commission since I was appointed over 25 years ago, by then Mayor Mary Moran. I have done so as a volunteer, without favor or gain and with great pride in my service to the City of Bridgeport, which I’ve been proud to call home. I am a graduate of Beardsley Elementary, East Side Middle, Bullard Havens High School, and Housatonic Community College–all Bridgeport Schools. From there, I went on to obtain an MBA from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT. Throughout my life I have been involved and served the City in many capacities. In my 20s I conducted voter registration drives in the basement of our family church, Our Lady of Fatima, insuring that new Citizens were afforded their rights to participate in the electoral process. I later ran for the Bridgeport Board of Education, on the Keeley ticket. For several years now I have volunteered with Bridgeport’s Community hiring programs. And in 2016, I was awarded “Community Partner of the Year” by Senator Blumenthal for my work with the Bridgeport Reentry Collaborative.

I have always been dedicated to helping Bridgeport succeed, and I am proud of all of the hard work and public service that the Civil Service Commission has provided to the people of this great city. I have never voted, or been involved with the community, in any city other than Bridgeport. However, at this time I believe it is better for me to step aside, than to bring any undue scrutiny to the good work of the Civil Service Commission.

I thank you and the City Council for allowing me the honor of serving on the Commission as its Chairwoman for all of these years. I wish the members of the Civil Service Commission well as they continue to carry out their work for the people of Bridgeport.

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11 comments

  1. This may have been debated for a decade but the recent announcement of the Guedes family/Primrose Construction to build the multi-ice rink etc(with the ubiquitous juice bar) brought it roaring back and it became a front burner issue. Did Guedes become a sacrificial lamb so that “more dubious Downtown developments” could be announced now and with a Spring 2019 groundbreaking dovetailing with Joe Ganim’s mayoral campaign. The East Side “supermarket” complex also,by chance,has a Spring 2019 groundbreaking. There is always a potential for the Majestic Theater/Exact Capital project to also have a Spring 2019 groundbreaking although The People of Bridgeport had been promised a groundbreaking that would have already occurred by now. Maybe I am a cynic? We will see.

  2. What about David Dunn serving on the Civil Service Commission as Eleanor Guedes who has been the City’s Personnel Director for 11 years as the “ACTING” Personnel Director in a position that calls for a nationwide exam?

    1. Ron , we just went through a “nation-wide” search for the position of Chief of the Bridgeport Police Department. So we all know how a nationwide search for a City Personnel Director would end up.

      1. Per regulations of the City Charter approved by voters 30 years ago the mayor selects the chief from the three finalists to a five-year contract. The contract may be renewed for one more five-year term. Prior to that the city’s top cop, formerly known as superintendent of police, had been selected solely via the Civil Service testing process. Whoever finished first on the test rising through the ranks got the job essentially for life.

        According to the City Charter, following a police chief vacancy, Civil Service Personnel Director David Dunn has 150 days to conduct a test for a permanent chief that could include a written examination or simply oral interviews before a search committee that in the past has been selected by the mayor. A private firm could be brought in to vet and conduct background checks on candidates. The search committee would narrow choices to three finalists.

        Frank, now here is the problem with testing by David Dunn, the goal is for Mayor Ganim or any mayor to get the candidate that they want to be in the top three finalists. That is accomplish by selecting a testing company that has no background in giving exams like the police and fire chief that has the demographics of other cities like Bridgeport and what is this testing company’s record on giving these types of exams. New and smaller testing companies need to build their client list and their resume in order to new clients that are the size of Bridgeport. These type of testing companies will work along with the city that’s paying for the exam, they will design the exam to get the results that Mayor Ganim wants and all of that is left in hands of David Dunn. Yes, exams can be manipulated.

        Frank, it is against the City Charter for the City’s Personnel Director, David Dunn to serve in his position in a “Acting” position for over 11 years. The past three Fire Chiefs had NO college degree.

          1. No way because Joe and Mario control all of the testing and hiring but I would expect that the 20 elected City Council members would be concern about the City Charter violations.

  3. Things are still Shady at civil service. T he term for the employee representative to the Civil Service Commission expired October 1st.  I was told on Tuesday ,the 30th of October, that there will be no  election for the next couple months, to replace the term that has expired.  I got a feeling that they will hold the election ,during the Christmas holiday, so that everyone will be busy doing other things and not vote. 

  4. Did immediate family members go to school in Trumbull? On what basis? Apparently qualifying for a special summer program may have tripped up her long term pretense?
    As it is Election Day 2018, why is she proud of her voting record in Bridgeport, whatever that is? While she has minded the Testa/Ganim store at Civil Service, why has she been defensive in telling us within the past year that she only presides at meetings, not voting? Residence and voting registration are tied as requirements, and then annual acknowledgement of current residence was added. In the long run, is this evidence that time does tell?

  5. Marshall, I have followed this aberration for more than 7 years. The fact of her being married at this time and what that means or meant for youth opportunities in the suburbs was not raised. Perhaps the volunteer in question got tired of living a misrepresentation that was easy on first pass to paper over by City Attorney opinion, but later on stretched credulity in too many spots? How much overnight time on a mattress at Noble Avenue became the test? What about all of the other members of Boards and Commissions and their failure to sign in at the Town Clerk office per the City Ordinance and the January 31, 2018 deadline? Time will tell.

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