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Fardy: Bridgeport’s Budget Director In Charge Of City’s ‘Secret Society’

June 18th, 2013 · 13 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Budget, City Council

secret societies

Retired city firefighter Andy Fardy, in an OIB commentary, takes a hose to city budget director Tom Sherwood, claiming the city’s money man controls more than city purse strings. Fardy says information from city government is as tight as a clam. His commentary:

Did you know there is a Secret Society in Bridgeport? This group includes 19 Council people elected by the voters of Bridgeport. An adjunct part of this Secret Society is the City Attorney’s office where some Charter statements are ignored and other rules are made up or interpreted to help the Secret Society reach its goals. Other Society members include most department heads in Bridgeport government. They do not ask questions. They do what they are told. These days they aren’t even allowed to talk directly to the Mayor, the elected leader.

The Secret Society is controlled by Tom Sherwood, the man who controls the money, and all financial information about Bridgeport money. Sherwood knows where all the money has been used or hidden since the Financial Review Board went away. This is the man who tells the Council how to vote on different items. He presides over the regular and continuing Charter violations. When questioned about fiscal paperwork or projections regarding a Council vote, or a project that requires legislative approval, he tells any Council questioner he will get the paperwork for them. But they must face the vote now without the paperwork. And the public does not get to see the numbers and rationale for it is not present in the minutes of such meetings.

Here are just a FEW examples:

1. The notorious $400,000 driveway in Stratford: nobody but Sherwood can tell where that money came from. He allegedly made it part of a large airport safety package. A review of City documents today indicates no one knows where it came from.

2. The Police and Fire overtime budgets have far exceeded in expense for over two years what was budgeted, for and yet no credible explanations have been offered by City management.

3. The City and the Police union negotiated a new retirement package transferring pension responsibilities to the State for active Plan B employees. This will allow police officers with overtime equal to about 2/3 of regular time for three years, to retire at 100% or more of their base salary. This giveaway allows outside overtime such as traffic duty at a construction site to be used in pension calculations even though the outside OT is paid for by contractors.

4. The Secret Society wants no public input when it comes to money. They hold a few public hearings but there is no give or take as the Council sits there like stone statues. As of June 17 there has been no public hearing about the 2013-14 Capital budget, a Charter task. The Budget & Appropriations Committee minutes are not posted for their review of the Capital Budget. The Agenda for May 6, 2013 did not disclose such a vote on the Capital Budget would occur. It was put on the Agenda that evening and voted upon that evening and the actual Capital Budget is not part of the Meeting Minutes. Secret enough for you?

5. Most department heads seem clueless at annual Council budget hearings, regarding the material being reviewed. They are not responsible for the numbers that have been submitted by Sherwood for their departments. Are the results reported, accurate and meaningful?

6. If you have a specific zoning matter with a desired result, you are told to hire the “right lawyer.” Secret Society auxiliary?

What I have written is factual but just the tip of the iceberg. We taxpayers are the least informed group of municipal citizens in Connecticut. The Secret Society enjoys the status quo and works to keep it that way.

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • John Marshall Lee

    Way to put the water on the fire, Andy. But all we seem to get these days is a lot of smoke (and a few mirrors in which the few preen). How many cases of “absent with pay” are ongoing at this moment? How much lost work is accumulating? And can anyone share how long the caucus lasted on Monday evening? Subjects of the caucus? Outcomes?
    Perhaps someone will care to comment on what happens when someone is suspended (other than Police) with pay. Procedure? Local or State? What are the expenses with the City beyond loss of employee time, talent and morale, time and expense in Labor Relations (or any other City Department?), time of complaining party for statements,etc. and if they leave, ultimately, how many get settlements???

    The City Council has been looking for revenue sources. Much easier to think about that than to cut politically appointed people who are not cutting the “mustard!!!” So, here’s an idea. Outrage over City mismanagement is growing along with “high and mighty” behavior of Council members and tax increases, and bogus answers on legislative matters and failure to challenge the City administration on Charter violations, so how about creating “outrage management” classes under former Mayor Fabrizi as part of adult education? What a great topic! What might you charge? Let two of the Council members who only have one subcommittee assignment each be “guest lecturers;” make sure you have at least two police officers standing by on overtime for every student signed up; and I’ll create a research project that will send people to the City web site to search for documents and reports they will not find there, and then they will be told to go to the City Clerk’s office for the same research and still find one or more documents unavailable. Get the picture? Outrageous, no? Time will tell.

  • Up On Bridgeport

    Skull and Boners Secret Society!

    • Mustang Sally

      UOB: I think you may have hit the boner on the head here … kind of. It’s probably more like the Null for Boners Society. That could be the problem. Let’s spike the Kool-aid with little blue pills. Maybe that will make straight arrows out of them.

  • Tom White

    John,
    Few people can appreciate your comments as much as Andy, me and (I suspect) a growing number of other people. You could not possibly make up this sad tale, although your eloquent delivery can sometimes suggest you are weaving an entertaining story.

  • Bruce Lee

    Truer words were never spoken. Now what are we going to do about it?

  • Chosen 1

    Sherwood and his band of merry men have all been taking home city cars for years with non-city plates. The term Ford Escapes is fitting indeed.

  • Brick

    Ahhh, to be retired and grumpy! I can’t wait to join that exclusive society in 30 years!

  • John Marshall Lee

    Brick,
    The last time you woke up you left us with the sense you are young and clueless. Thanks for another post that provides further evidence. By the way, retirement with quality of life is escaping many middle class persons, so it may be an “exclusive society” in 30 years. Of course, some City employees who have co-opted the levers of municipal power may not need to worry about food, shelter and clothing from retirement plans. They may be public guests behind bars for the “outrages” perpetrated while performing “public service.” Time will tell.

    • Brick

      Now I know why you carry around that shovel everywhere you go … it’s for all the sh!t you’re shoveling.

      How does saying I can’t wait to be retired say I’m clueless? Thanks for calling me young, though! The grays that have been showing up were getting me down! hahaha

      and … I like Andy, but everyone knows he’s grumpy and retired. That’s no secret! lol

  • BallsyInBridgeport

    Oh, snap! Brick, you’ve just been SERVED by JML!

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Brick, you are 100% right, I am grumpy and don’t like most people. Most of the people I do like are working-class people because they tell it like it is, no bullshit. I have say this but it seems the more educated people are, the more full of shit they are. I live my life now in this manner: F it, I will do it tomorrow.

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