Finch Turns Up Heat On Cops

Mayor Bill Finch has triggered an ear-splitting siren to members of the Bridgeport PD they’ve not heard in their collective careers: give me concessions otherwise I’ll have no choice but to pink-slip a dozen higher-ranking members to close a runaway budget deficit.

Finch needs concessions in overtime, benefits and future salary, among other things. Here’s the interesting part–the current union contract that was hammered out three years ago doesn’t include bumping rights. The larger unanswered question: does a provision of Civil Service provide bumping rights? Finch’s action targets higher-paid senior grades versus the patrol dvision. The only cop not part of the union is the police chief.

Either way, Finch is showing balls that clank. I’ve seen former mayors John Mandanici, Lenny Paoletta and Joe Ganim (Joe achieved major concessions from cops) take hard-line negotiating positions with police. Never have I seen a mayor announce pink slips by week’s end. Why target the PD? Union leadership has failed to realize the desperate nature of city finances. If they don’t understand it now, they never will. And some cops didn’t do themselves any favors hurling despicable fuck bombs at Finch in front of children when they picketed his golf charity more than a month ago.

A lot of city employees, including Finch direct hires, have given up a week’s pay to help close the budget gap. Union leadership in the Fire Department has already decided to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. And it also took a hit a year ago, losing an engine company.

The city, like many in the state, is spewing oil. No one wants layoffs of uniformed services, but this is a pivotal moment in negotiations between the city and police union. So, who’s gonna blink? See Finch news release below.

Mayor Finch Announces Layoffs, Additional Budget Cuts

31 City Employees to be Notified

BRIDGEPORT, CT (Sept. 22, 2008) – Mayor Bill Finch today announced that 31 city employees will be receiving layoff notices by week’s end. The layoffs are project to save the city nearly $2 million dollars annually.

The layoffs come after the mayor asked for recommendations from City department heads to find ways to cut their budgets by 10 to 20 percent. In addition to the layoffs, other budget-cutting measures such as furloughs, freezing of open positions and reduction in hours already have been enacted. The combined cost savings is anticipated to hit $3.5 million dollars. The layoffs affect many city departments, including the Police department, however, the layoffs there will not affect front-line patrol or investigative services. One key exception is the Fire department, which already had closed Engine 5 last year as part of its cost-savings measures.

“I do this out of a sense of necessity to reduce our spending as a city and to achieve the $1.5 million in personnel adjustments that I called for when we submitted the budget,” the Mayor said. Bridgeport, along with other big cities in the state, is feeling the effects of the uncertainty in the economy, which is having an effect on revenue projections, an example of which is a sharp decline in conveyance tax revenue through property transactions.

The furlough program for all non-union employees has already saved the City well over $100,000, and includes furloughs taken by the Mayor’s own staff. “I would like to thank each and every City employee for making this sacrifice with us,” he said. Employees who chose to take the furlough now have the option of having the funds deducted from their paychecks on a weekly basis through April 9. City employees who are interested in spreading out the deductions can contact Labor Relations at 576-7610. Furloughs citywide are still on the table with union employees in negotiations.

“We are doing more with less. But we are also pursuing many avenues to increase revenue including, sales of city-owned property such as the Elias Howe School building, a re-implementation of the Bootfinder program and a complete health insurance membership audit, as ways to increase revenue and forestall a potential deficit,” Mayor Finch said.



  1. The cops have done more than throw fuck bombs at Finch at the golf tournament. They have also refused to back up the NET team, their brother and sister officers, and they have urinated on the front porch of Chief Norwood. This is despicable behavior especially coming from police officers who we hold in a higher regard.

  2. In light of the severe financial state of the city, why haven’t the Chief and the Mayor accepted the decision of the arbitrator who ruled in favor of the union on the NET issue? Why spend money on outside counsel to further exacerbate the deficit?

    Why hasn’t Chief Norwood taken control of the fiscal reins of the department? Maybe he should change his name to Chief Norwouldn’t.

  3. “city hall smoker” you stated that, “they have urinated on the front porch of Chief Norwood. This is despicable behavior especially coming from police officers who we hold in a higher regard.” Has this story been in the media?

  4. I have gone after Finch and his administration in the past but here I have to give him his due. It did take a big pair to go after the PD.
    These guys come across as they are entitled to more regardless of what the residents can afford to pay. In my neighborhood police protection as such is non-existent. If we see a car driving thru we think he’s lost.
    There is no question that they have a hard job and have to deal with a lot of day-to-day BS but that’s what they get paid to do, that’s what they chose to do.
    Should they get paid more? The answer is maybe in good financial times but in times when the average taxpayer is worrying about financial survival a pay raise can’t happen.
    Now I know working a second job should not have to be the norm but there are many non city workers that are doing just that. What makes the PD any different?
    The PD has a sweetheart deal when it comes to a part-time job. They work at all roadside jobs and make about $40 an hour looking in a hole or directing traffic. That’s not bad money; ask anyone clerking in a store or working part time in a factory if they are making $40 an hour.
    I can’t believe that in their arrogance the police union did not have bumping rights in their contract. Shame on You.

  5. Speed matters.

    An imperfect decision made quickly always beats a perfect decision made with deliberation and time. NOBODY likes to make the choices facing Mayor Finch but he’s waited as long as time allows. He’s all by himself against 400 uniformed and unionized police officers.

    Despite what others think, he didn’t cause this problem – it was waiting on his desk upon arrival – instead, he’s responding to it. ONLY ONE PERSON stands between Bridgeport and municipal bankrupcy and that person is Mayor Finch.

  6. Mayor Finch deserves some credit for going after a group of guys that carry guns and have a brotherhood deeper than the Mafia. He extracted furloughs from his top people but could get a lot more savings by CUTTING some of them. He should also join the ranks of those of us calling for the end of stipends to council members. If everyone needs to tighten their belt it should be everyone and done until it hurts. This is your only chance to get it right Mr. Mayor, or else you’ll be looking for a new job yourself come the next election. Don’t be looking for Rell and Shays to bail you out. They look like lame ducks, too.

  7. Hallelujah Mr. Mayor. You’re looking like a leader. Don’t relent, you’ve got the public on your side.
    You could still do a better job by calling in all your department heads and make cuts across the board.

  8. A LEADER? I think NOT!!!

    He is a vindictive prick effecting retaliation for abuse at the hands of the police union.

    15 sworn officers currently in administraive positions are to be eliminated. The work that they do is important and cannot be neglected. Therefore, the slack will be picked up by those who are not eliminated. Where will they come from? From the Patrol Force. Therefore there will be less officers on patrol.

    He is a jerk. A stupid jerk that stupid people elected. Even more stupid are the people who will not get off their ass and get out and vote.

    Our libraries are operating with minimal service. Our health care programs are virtually out of business and now the police department has been reduced. Yet Ramos and Salcedo continue to bathe in the lap of abundance.

    I’m disgusted with this imbecile. I am certain that we would be better off with the box of frozen calamari Mario intends to endorse next time.

  9. Geeze, just a few words from me and you guys come out of the woodwork. I just hope you haven’t dissuaded the mayor from doing what it’s taking balls to do. Be firm Mr. Mayor, but always correct and you’ll prevail.

  10. Have you heard about the scandal concerning L.I.R.R. employees and the retirement benefits they recieve? A report by The New York Times that found that “virtually every career employee of the railroad applied for and received federal disability payments shortly after they retired. In many cases, the workers showed no signs of disability while they were employed, yet they claimed disability once they retired.

    “An obscure federal agency, the Railroad Retirement Board, reviews the claims, which have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. The practice also ends up costing the railroad money because so many workers retire early to take advantage of the benefits. As a result, the railroad pays for early pension benefits, extra overtime costs and training new workers. Unusual contract provisions that allow the railroad’s employees to retire as early as 50 with a full pension contribute to the problem.” (According to an article in yesterday’s Times, many of the railroad’s engineers retire with pension and disability benefits going well over $200,000.00 a year.)

  11. The BPD has a lot of officers on patrol: on foot, on horseback, on bicycle, on those weird little scooters. Do we really need mounted patrols anywhere? They were in Black Rock over the weekend, horsing around . . . Are mounted patrols an effective use of manpower, or does a police officer on a horse simply look good? There are beat cops in Black Rock, and NET has been over here to maintain the peace. Horses? Segways? We don’t need no stinking horses or segways!

  12. I can’t really complain about the Bridgeport Police Department; they’ve done alright by me. The only people that have any complaints about the BPD are usually assholes and badguys. And Tom Gogola–not sure if he fits into either category.

  13. The Bridgeport Kid (#14):
    Yes, I heard that on the news last night. It’s just one more symptom of a system that’s out of control. Our entire economy is suffering from such excesses and I don’t know where it’s going to end. Maybe another Great Depression is the answer to our ills.

    (#15) It was my understanding that the mounted police had been eliminated a month or so ago. Now you’re saying that they were in Black Rock this past weekend?

    I’ll never know why Fabs authorized the acquisition of Segways because they are nothing but toys. And with regard to the bicycles (Cannonballs, no less) that’s another joke. After riding ten miles on a bike anyone, a cop being no exception, has to be mighty tired and absolutely unable to respond to an emergency. And you’ll note that they always travel in pairs. – That’s double waste of taxpayers’ money. Horses, Segways, bikes and OT are another indication that the BPD is out of control and must be reigned in.

    Go for it Mr. Mayor and congratulations.

  14. Word around town about the layoffs is that it isn’t the top-heavy managers getting laid off. They have laid off secretaries that only make $30k a year. What a savings Finch! You keep that god-awful greeter and fire hard-working employees. So sad.

  15. city hall smoker on #1:

    Fuck bombs are the kinds of insults elected officials have to get used to. Fabrizi was blasted with fuck bombs by some officers too and he took it in stride. The Police Union has never refused to back up the NET team, they simply disagree with the way the members were picked in violation of the Union contract and the fact that the city has chosen to appeal the arbitrator’s ruling in favor of the union. Not all Police officers voted in favor of the no confidence vote against the Chief and the mayor. Some voted against it because they support the chief but not the mayor. It would have been interesting to see how the vote of no confidence would have turned out had the question been held in separate votes. Hey smoker, stop throwing your cig-butts on the ground as the janitor is sick of picking after you.

  16. It would be a good thing for the Council to consider a resolution requiring that all police officers and firemen be residents of the City. There would be greater allegiance to the City (certainly none now) and more of an understanding of its fiscal woes.

  17. I have all the names of those targeted for layoff. But I’m only going to name two (2) just to give my take on the thinking behind it. Remember the Pol pod with Fabrizi? Fabrizi made it clear that he intended to run for mayor if he has the opportunity. Remember what most patrol officers complained about in regards to the overtime excess? They complained that it was the top brass who abused the overtime and that they (Patrolmen)are being held accountable.
    James Honis and A.J. Perez are two of the High Ranking Officers selected for layoff. Honis and A.J. had good working relationships with Fabrizi. It looks like the administration has decided to send a message to Fabrizi while at the same time respond to the gripe of some patrolmen who felt that he (Finch) should hold those responsible (in full or in part) accountable. Doing this (layoff of police administrators) takes away the patrolman’s argument of being unfairly blamed for the actions of others. Will the union give in? Who knows?

  18. It appears that the High Brass are not the only Police Officers targeted for layoff. There is word that Five (5) or Six (6) Park Police Officers are next on the list. What happened with Gene O’Neal? It appears that this move was planned weeks ago and Gene has been promoted to Direct what I believe is the B.O.E. Security Dept. or something like that and his pay is in the 6 digits. Not bad for a retired Bridgeport cop collecting a pension.

  19. All of the layoffs seem to be in retaliation against certain employees. These people either pissed off someone or wouldn’t play along with the corruption that is going on.

  20. Con Filardi–
    Regarding post #23…I believe that years ago there was a residency requirement and some years ago it was challenged in court and deemed to be against the law to require employees to live within city limits.
    As far as allegiance to the city goes, I couldn’t disagree with you more. Police and Fire unions have taken numerous zeroes over the years only to see the city squander away the money. These brave men and women risk their lives on a daily basis protecting the lives and property of the residents and taxpayers of this city and you sit there in judgement questioning their allegiance … how dare you!

  21. Con Filardi–
    Just for the sake of argument …let’s pretend that residency requirements were legal and the city decided to require cops and firefighters to live in the city. What do you suppose would happen? I’ll tell you what I think would happen…the elected officials in this city, the political whores that they are, would be far less likely to f**k with them. The voting block would be too large and in this city that is what matters.
    Be careful what you ask for.

  22. park city fan:
    There’s not a question in my mind but that someone who doesn’t live here owes no allegiance to the City. In fact, I know of a retired fireman and a cop, both of whom live outside of the City, who in conversation one said, “f--k the city, I don’t give a s#!t if it goes down the drain” and the other shook his head in agreement. That doesn’t sound like allegiance to me. So therefore, I dare!

    You do make a point. Their numbers would just add to the voting block which keeps this city run by a single party and beholden to its public servants. Not a healthy situation.

    Nevertheless, I still tend to believe that it might be good to require residency for these public servants. And others must have agreed with me if as you said, it has been tried in the past but struck down by the courts. But then, we can only conjecture and speculate on solutions to the woes of this city. I think that perhaps only divine intervention will give us relief.

  23. I guess we all have our own experiences –

    I happen to know a number of past and present police and firemen who live outside the City who are very positive about the City, and admittedly, there are also some who are down on it. That said, both departments have hundreds of past and present members, and I’m not really sure if I’d take the words of one retired, possibly burned-out member of each of the departments to be reflective of the collective opinions of all.

  24. Con–
    I cannot blame any city employee with a family for moving out of the city. The school system isn’t worth a damn and that leaves parents with the prospect of a private school tuition bill of several hundred dollars a month. Why shouldn’t city employees move to a community that could provide a quality education for the children in a safe environment.
    Be honest…look in your heart…and answer me this.
    If you were a city employee and father of three would you trust the Bridgeport school system to educate your children or would you consider moving out of town to a community with a better school system?

  25. OMG – just catching up on the postings. did police officers really urinate on the chief’s porch? How low can some people go? If they really did that, they should be fired. That is unforgivable. What are those little scooter things that I saw some cops riding and what is the purpose? I sure don’t think they can catch any criminals on those things and to be honest, I had to laugh at the way they looked riding them.

  26. City Kitty on #31:

    The Hollywood people will be in Bridgeport casting for a new movie. It is a sequel to Dumb & Dumber to which I am sure you would be seriously considered. Would you believe me if I told you, “Dogs urinate on Fire hydrants”?

  27. “Either way, Finch is showing balls that clank.”

    I’ve seen it time and again. Finch will do stuff on principle; stuff I didn’t agree with; stuff I was sure would be bad for him politically. He’s been right again and again. People underestimate him. I hope they keep doing that.

    Meanwhile, other cities should watch what is happening here in Bridgeport.

  28. Joel – you should get the lead role, you give dumb a bad name. Maybe you could star as the dumbest without even trying out for the part. Dogs urinate on fire hydrants? Well we all know that, but what does that have to do with anything? By the way, genius, I was Post #32 not #31.

  29. The residency rule is not illegal. It can be included in a negotiated contract. NYC just went back to residency for its police and fire. When there was residency for the Bpt FD & PD they were a formidable voting block.
    Nick Panuzio owes his mayoral win to these 2 unions. The union ran phone banks and soft sheets and were able to get out 3,700 family and friends and thus the win.
    From a political point of view having members of both departments living in the city is a political liability. By liability I mean that the mayor would almost always need to make deals with these unions just to survive. Let’s assume there are 418 cops and 418 firefighters that’s 816 voters. Let’s assume they are all married that is now 1632 votes. This is not counting other family members. This 1632 votes could control a primary and as shown in our recent general elections could control a general election. So whoever said be careful for what you wish for was right.


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