In one of his final acts as mayor based on inaction by the City Council, Bill Finch authorized retroactive pay increases for dozens of discretionary appointees–about a dozen of whom received termination letters on Monday in anticipation of Joe Ganim’s arrival as mayor–that some outgoing city employees described as a nice departure bonus of more than $10,000 packed into their Monday paychecks including Finch who benefited from his action. Finch could have left the matter for the Ganim administration to handle, but as he did with last week’s new five-year appointment of Police Chief Joe Gaudett, used his mayoral powers albeit going out the door.
Salary increases of the discretionary appointments, including the mayor himself and close advisers, come under the Bridgeport City Supervisor’s Association that had negotiated retroactive wage increases, covering about 150 city employees, of three percent starting July 1, 2013, three percent starting July 1, 2014, and 2.5 percent July 1, 2015. The rub is the City Council did not act on it so Finch did.
Ganim is screaming foul, saying the move may put the city in “dire financial straights.” But here’s the reality based on Finch’s move. The mayor’s salary goes from $132,500 to $144,000 based on the agreement so Ganim receives a pay bump heading into office. The Connecticut Post asked Ganim if he could reverse it. His response, “I don’t think so–they were already direct deposited. It’s pretty appalling.”
Strategically it’s smart for Ganim, now mayor again, to pound Finch. And we may see a lot of this in the coming months. And oh, by the way, all the incoming Ganim appointees benefit as well because even if Ganim starts them at the bottom of the pay scale it’s up from where it was previously, in some cases six figures including inner office staff and department heads.
On November 18, the attorney for the supervisor’s association Ed Gavin sent a letter to Director of Labor Relations Larry Osborne, a Finch supporter who’s also a member of the Democratic Town Committee, citing Connecticut law regarding inaction by the legislative body to act on collective bargaining agreements.
“Such requests shall be considered approved if the legislative body fails to vote to approve or reject such requests within 30 days of the end of the 14 day period for submission to said body,” Gavin wrote.
One day later Osborne who benefited from the agreement and announced his retirement this week, wrote a letter to Chief Administrative Officer Andy Nunn, a Finch appointee, recommending that the “City move forward with putting the contract into effect, including any and all payroll adjustments as of November 27, 2015. If the City does not implement the contract, it will be subject to Municipal Prohibited Practices and other claims from the Union.”
Under the city’s chain of command, Osborne reported to Nunn who reported to Finch.
The contract had been tabled by the City Council.
Likely the agreement would have been implemented under Ganim, but Finch and his discretionary employees leaving city service would not have benefited. What’s the price tag? That won’t be clear until the Ganim administration shares the math.
On the very day the retroactive pay fatted the paychecks of Finch loyalists, Bridgeport Personnel Director David Dunn issued this termination letter Monday via email to about a dozen discretionary Finch appointees including some mayoral staffers. Several outgoing employees shared the email.
I have been notified by Mayor-elect Joseph Ganim that your employment with the City of Bridgeport will officially be terminated as of December 1, 2015.
In the interest of governmental efficiency please arrange to vacate your office and turn over any City property that you have in your possession to the Human Resources office by the close of business Monday, November 30, 2015.
Please be advised that the ITS department will disconnect and disable any phones or IT devices that you may have in your possession at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, December 1st. Your cooperation is appreciated.
A letter from Civil Service on behalf of Mayor Joseph Ganim noticing your termination will be available for pick up at the Civil Service Office, City Hall, Room 106, after 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, December 1st.
Thank you for your service to the City of Bridgeport. If there is any further information you think I can provide please feel free to call my office at 203-576-7101.