Fardy: City Council Concession Demands Robbery Without A Gun

Retired city firefighter Andy Fardy claims in a commentary the City Council vote a year ago seeking union concessions was done under false pretenses.

I read where the city administration has not received the givebacks they sought from many of the unions. The city sold the unions a bill of goods the givebacks were necessary to balance the budget. There were unions that rolled over without a whimper and gave the mayor what he wanted; just to name two, LIUNA and the Fire Department.

Well it’s time to close the books on the last budget year and still no givebacks. The city now states when it gets the givebacks the monetary savings will go into the rainy day fund for the new budget year.

I have to ask, where was the budget deficit that required these union givebacks? Where was the budget and appropriations committee when they called for these givebacks to save the taxpayers from a tax increase? It was all a fraud and a way to pick the union members’ pockets. This council is made up of the most outrageously stupid members who have ever been elected to office in this city.

They voted to take money from the lowest-paid employees under false pretenses and had no idea what they were doing. So now a low-paid clerk loses a week’s pay and that money goes into the rainy day fund. Robbery without a gun.

One more thing on the 20 recent graduates of the University of Stupid aka the council. The other night they voted to defer taxes so a private developer could build apartments on the 3000 block of Fairfield Ave. BTW these apartments are scheduled to rent for $2,200 per month. That, in and of itself, is baloney.

What stops other private developers who want to build apartments from requesting the same tax break? If the council votes no they just opened us up to more lawsuits. Does anyone on the council ever think of the long-term effects of their actions?



  1. Andy,
    You write a coherent article on what passes for fiscal smarts by Finch and Company, noting injustice and weak administration while you are at it, and LE lets you know about fire hydrants.
    That is a takeaway only a Trumbull taxpayer can manage.

    First off, the Council allowed the City to balance the prospective budget with a “promise” to pursue givebacks, elsewise why did the Council vote that way?

    Second, though the Budget Committee of the CC is the only “watchdog” on finances for the taxpayer, they watched nothing from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. Anyone disagree? Show me the minutes where a roar appeared from the “less than magnificent seven” when they all showed up. Sue B took two years of talking to put things on the Standing Agenda and then fails to monitor the monthly report. Any smoking guns found on the City last year? Nothing to tell the sheriff?

    Third, when receiving word about a $500,000 revenue CASH SURPLUS received by the Comptroller when the 2013 budget was being reviewed, reformed and audited, did anyone bother to question where it came from or what it was about? NO? Was it a one-time item? And what about the $30,000 from the Legislative Department 2013 Other Services line item that 15 Council persons directed through 53 checks to multiple local charitable institutions, though neither the Council nor the City received any services? Any info on that? Sue? Mike? Anyone?

    Next, is anyone looking at Tom McCarthy these days? He has a job with the City, perhaps number two in Labor Relations, so shouldn’t he have been tracking and reporting to CC members how the work to raise $2 Million was going in givebacks, furloughs, whatever? Was he looking for more candidates from media land to get an award from the City at a Council meeting? Perhaps he was caucusing to guide Council members in spending taxpayer funds on political or charitable work? Did anyone ask Tom how the battle was going?

    Finally, any moment now based on last year’s action the City will put out a DRAFT June, 2014 year-end monthly financial report, probably. That would be three years in a row. But we will have to wait until January 2015 to really know what happened this past year after the audit when we will be looking at the FINAL report that contained the surprises last year. Why not ask Tom? Think he may have a good answer? Think he wants to talk with you? Can you wait? Time will tell.

    1. The June DRAFT report was issued as of July 31, 2014 nearly on time to be available to the Council on Monday August 4, 2014 and for the Budget and Appropriations Committee meeting on August 11, 2014.
      Is it posted on the Internet so you can read the footnotes on overexpended budgets in police, fire and emergency operations budgets? Or on revenue variances of diverse origin including the wonderful failure to secure $1.3 Million of $2 Million sought after givebacks? Will any meaningful discussion occur at this meeting assuming there is a quorum? Time will tell.

  2. Andy, remember, this is a Government that serves itself and its friends first, not the taxpayers of Bridgeport!
    What happen to the big GREEN SIGNS that proclaimed THIS IS A PAVING PROJECT FOR BLACK ROCK?
    Grovers Ave and Gilman St. are full of potholes and ruts, the Finch Pothole Killer Machine missed more than half. Dresden had better Streets than Black Rock, our City Council people had better get off their asses. Maybe it’s time to start looking for new faces?
    I keep asking the same question, is it 2015 yet?

  3. I don’t know if people remember but people at the Lofts at Lafayette received a tax abatement that lasted around 6-7 years (give or take, I cannot recall). This ended up being a disaster.

    Once the abatement was over, people were paying and are paying an astronomical amount of taxes. For example, a quick look on Zillow.com shows one unit (1,000 sq feet, 2-bed, 1 bath) that was paying $3,552 in 2007. By 2011 this unit was paying $6,283, a 56.5% increase. It can be argued this is due to the increase, but $6,283 for a two-bedroom is exorbitant (and this was in 2011!).

    Now the real problem is because of the increase in taxes, many people were foreclosed which then has and is continuing to depress property values. So there is now a ripple effect across the South End neighborhood and beyond. A South End resident recently sold their property and took about a 60% loss. Why? Because of foreclosures at Lofts on Lafayette and his property was about three blocks away.

    Black Rock residents should watch the development referenced here like a hawk becomes it seems to echo something similar to what happened in the South End. If this in not done carefully, this can have a hugely devastating effect on Black Rock property values.

    I will also add the Loft on Lafayette have had and continue to have huge structural damage in which the Board needed to get lawyers involved. What I was told is the developer cut corners. How some of these issues passed inspection is beyond me. I will also add these were individuals who often relocated from other communities to Bridgeport because Bridgeport was touted as an emerging city. Fast forward 6-8 years later and a public housing development will be built across the street in a FEMA flood zone which will make it more difficult for homeowners to sell their property and will perpetuate foreclosures.

    Development in Bridgeport is extremely unpredictable. One’s investment in a residential property can 5 years later find itself next to a poorly planned public housing development or a business due to the substantial arbitrariness of zoning regulations.

  4. There is one thing this council is not aware of. The owner of this property stated he was going to build apartments on the site that rent for $2,200 a month. He can now build section 8 housing on the site and there is nothing the council can do about it. The council never, never reads their material, they don’t understand many of the things that come before them or it’s politically favorable to Finch and his cronies then they vote yes no matter what. I have been around politics for many, many years and this council from top to bottom is the least informed, most arrogant and dumbest council as a whole that I have seen in my lifetime.

    1. Sadly, that is so true. With little exception this council is plain and simple a bunch of stupid people who have no clue what they’re really voting for, they just do what they’re told. It’s so disgusting. And it’s not just the council. This level of stupidity is all over city hall and spreading like a cancer.

      1. Bridgeport’s City Council is not the problem. Here’s the problem: as Bridgeport enters its entrepreneurial future, its upside is limited by its union-based past.

  5. Did you read the article in the CT Post? The “administration” (aka Tom Sherwood) said concessions received now can still be applied to last year’s budget that ended June 30, 2014. And how do you do that? Have employees backdate personal checks?

    Didn’t the City Council increase the amount of union concessions for 2013-2014? I seem to recall the mayor wanted $1.5 million and Sue Brannelly increased it to $2 million because she felt the employees needed to give back more (again!).

    I seem to recall also that LIUNA concessions were spread across two fiscal years, which means those employees suffer a pay cut for two years. Disgraceful!

    1. Mayor Finch and the City Council act like pimps when it comes to municipal employees. All they do is take-take-take, as if the unionized city employees are a stable of twenty-dollar whores.

  6. Let me see if I get this right. So the Finch team bilked the Rainy Day Fund to balance the budget with a false promise of future concessions from the Unions. While concessions talks continue with the Unions, the Finch team negotiates with hat in hand and the old slow pitch so as not to piss anyone off before his reelection.
    Then Finch hits the dumb-ass taxpayers with a small increase this year, and a false sense the budget is now balanced for 2014 through 2015 FY.
    Now it will appear we will not have a tax increase before the November 2015 election.
    But like Mayor John Fabizi said, “it will be a double-digit tax increase for 2016 thru 2017 FY.”
    That’s if Finch gets reelected?

    1. Jimfox, you got this one right but how is anyone supposed to trust and respect Mayor Bill Finch? Oh well, I’m sure Steven Auerbach will tell us all why we should trust this mayor.

  7. OIB readers, in your personal financial life, a ‘rainy day’ fund is an account that is secure, can be easily and readily accessed if and when necessary, and you can have an accounting of what is in that account at any moment. Is that your understanding of the subject?
    Municipal accounting (and explanation of same) seems to be different. If there is a practical meaning to ‘rainy day fund’ as often used, it is the City Fund balance of cash that can be used to settle City obligation because the amounts have not been pledged or reserved or set aside for any other project or expense. In a sense they are free of encumbrance, although the definition has changed in municipal accounting circles in recent years without comment from City Hall.
    The biggest difference between you and City Hall is not the quantity of money in such an account. (Bridgeport’s Charter talks about a range of 2% to 8% of annual budget as appropriate for our City.) In absolute terms we have decreased from over $55 Million in Ganim’s day after the Financial Review Board work when our City budget was smaller to around $10-11 Million today. We are down to the 2% range currently and that is one of the reasons why we borrow short-term once or twice a year through the use of Tax Anticipation Notes (TANs) and pay the cost of use of that money as interest.
    Another major difference is the City Council as a body does not know the amount of the ‘rainy day fund’ at any moment during a fiscal year. It is not part of any report they request or receive that falls in the public realm.
    What type of rainy day can they contemplate? What type of fiscal responsibility do they believe is theirs? (The Financial Review Board knew the balance of every City account every day while they served to bring the City back to balance and stability. Sherwood was present and knows this is true.) Why does the Council allow the City administration to keep them in the dark routinely on the real City fiscal situation? Time will tell.

      1. Jennifer,
        There are any number of fiscal factors including practices, trends, budgets and debt levels, among others that go into our bond rating. One part of that would be the low level of our City fund balance as a percentage of our City budget.

        The City has assets certainly but many of them are illiquid like parks, water treatment plants, police cars, as well as armored personnel carriers and water taxis, to name a few. And the City has liabilities like pension obligations, other post-retirement benefits agreed to in the past, bonds for schools, sewer lines, etc.

        What is liquid, unencumbered, uncommitted and available at any time? That is called the City Fund balance. It is what Finch in the past has said he would increase when City property was sold to private interests that would pay taxes. How has that worked? I am suggesting there is no other account or amount available or identified in the Annual audit that could be called a “rainy day fund.”

        In any case, would one of our City Council members be able to provide us with a record of that fund for the past two months? Two years? Or twenty years? Time will tell.

  8. I was wondering how union leaders who caved into city demands of givebacks feel now. You gave up without a fight and now you find out your givebacks were bullshit.
    Now my question for the unions that have stood firm against givebacks, what now. Will you go along with the city and have your givebacks put into the city fund balance as a surplus?
    The union membership needs to understand there is no deficit and no need for givebacks.
    To Sue Brannelly and Mike Marella co-chairs of the Budget committee, when are you going to learn being water carriers for the administration forces you to lie to the public and to the city employees? Here is why people with relatives should not be on the council, Brannelly’s brother-in-law and sister both work for the city, Marella’s wife works for the city and Martinez’s daughter works for the city and the rest of this committee are just followers without a clue.
    I say shame on the B & A committee and shame on the union leaders who led their members down the wrong road.

  9. Local,
    I have not set eyes on you recently, but I am concerned you are seeing things again; like t-shirts indicating ACF, presumably Andrew C Fardy, “couldn’t swim across his own bathtub!”
    Given primary fever is extremely high at the moment (but due to subside within 48 hours) and we have been under the aspect of a very full moon in recent nights, have you changed the filters on your aluminum headgear? Perhaps you can become grounded again by sharing a Trumbull perspective on the current agreement and fiscal arrangements around Trumbull resident charges for sewage services. OIB readers are not getting a full or fair story on the past, current or potential future situation and accountability by public officials. Time will tell.

  10. JMl, your concern is unexpected but appreciated. The tinfoil in my helmet is unfiltered and was made by non-union workers, who don’t fear the foreman. They do what’s right and not what they’re told!

  11. Andy, the union leaders don’t give a shit about what they have done to the members. Being a member of LIUNA, under the leadership of Val S. we rolled over every year while she got a pay increase. LIUNA is one worthless bag of shit!!!


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