Ganim Appoints Rebeca Garcia Second-In-Command Of Police Department, Janene Hawkins Chief Of Department Heads

April 2019, Rebeca Garcia with Police Chief AJ Perez. Photo courtesy Steve Krauchick, Doing It Local.

Mayor Joe Ganim on Monday announced a series of personnel decisions elevating Police Captain Rebeca Garcia to assistant chief, making her second in command of the department to Chief AJ Perez, as well as promoting Labor Relations Director Janene Hawkins to chief administrative officer and naming city minister Herron Gaston, associate director of admissions at Yale Divinity School, as one of her assistants.

Eric Amado, a member of the labor staff for many years, will lead the department in an acting capacity. He is a member of the Democratic Town Committee.

Garcia had served as commander of the training academy. Police policy and protocol lapses have served as a source of controversial angst for the mayor. Garcia is someone Ganim believes can tighten up those areas to rebuild community relationships. The pay scale range tops out at roughly $140,000, according to the salary grid of unaffiliated municipal employees.

The assistant chief position has been vacant for several years, last occupied by James Nardozzi who was forced out after Ganim’s return to the mayoralty in 2015. Nardozzi has filed a lawsuit contesting his termination. He was appointed the number two top cop by Mayor Bill Finch in November 2012.

In the complaint Nardozzi’s lawyer claims Ganim acquiesced to the wishes of the police union: we’ll support you for your election but Nardozzi and Joe Gaudett as police chief must go. The police union was angry with Nardozzi, according to the complaint, because Nardozzi enacted a plan to reduce overtime expenditures.

Janene Hawkins. From her LinkedIn page.

Hawkins was one of Ganim’s initial hires when he returned to the mayoralty in December 2015. As chief administration officer, all department heads will report to her. The position had been vacant for a year following the departure of Kimberly Staley who became CEO of Capital Workforce Partners in Hartford.

Hawkins earned a law degree from Indiana University School of Law and served as a law clerk and employee relations specialist dealing with conflict resolution and employment negotiation. As labor chief, Hawkins supervised labor management contract negotiations with various bargaining units, labor disputes and employee disciplinary issues. The CAO salary tops at roughly $150,000, according to the city’s salary ranges for unaffiliated municipal employees.

Herron Gaston

Gaston, senior pastor of Summerfield United Methodist Church, was an ardent backer of Ganim on the recent campaign trail, often pushing back on the lawsuit that challenged the results of the September 10 Democratic primary. His OIB-published commentaries have focused on addressing gun violence, building youth programs at his church and engaging social activism. He has a doctorate from the Andover Newton Theological School.

Gaston, a member of the Civil Service Commission, is expected to resign from the volunteer position soon.

Video featuring Rebeca Garcia from April 2019, courtesy of Doing It Local

Excerpt from Garcia bio:

News release from mayor’s office:

Mayor Joe Ganim today announced new leadership staff in the Chief Administrative Office, Police and Fire Departments, as well as Labor Relations. Following a Town Hall meeting with employees last week, Mayor Ganim expressed that restructuring of city departments and staff will be imminent in order to “be the best, and do the best for our community,” he is following through with filling key leadership roles with talented and experienced individuals in various essential departments.

Mayor Ganim is pleased to announce the entire staff of the CAO’s Office headed up by newly appointed Chief Administrative Officer Janene Hawkins, formerly Director of Labor Relations, and the appointment of Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Reverend Dr. Herron Gaston, with Assistant Chief Administrative Officer John Gomes.

Labor Relations will be headed up by Interim Director Eric Amado who has been serving the city and employees as a Human Resources Administrator and Supervisor in Civil Service Office and Labor Relations since 2011.

In addition to the announcements of new leadership in his administration, Mayor Ganim joins Chief Perez with the Police Department to announce the appointment of Assistant Chief Rebecca Garcia, along with Chief Thode and the Fire Department to announce the promotion Deputy Chief James Buck. Contracts for each Chief have been forwarded to the City Council for approval. Swearing-in Ceremonies will follow at a later date to be announced.

Janene Hawkins has served as the city’s Director of Labor Relations for the past four years where she has provided her professional experience that illustrates her creative problem solving and team building skills among other proficiencies that make her the qualified candidate for this position. Ms. Hawkins’s education and experience include a J.D. that paved the way for her to facilitate legal negotiations between city officials and Labor Unions.

Reverend Dr. Herron Gaston is known to many in our community as he actively serves as Senior Pastor and Chief Administrator of Summerfield United Methodist Church. Professionally, Dr. Gaston was employed with Yale University for seven years, and most recently as Associate Director of Admissions and Recruitment for Yale University Divinity School. Gaston is a positive community leader with notable professional organizational and extensive governmental experience that make him an ideal candidate to oversee and develop community partnerships and department accountability in the CAO’s office.

Assistant Chief Rebeca Garcia has served the department since October 1991 with experience in various command and supervisor roles including Patrol, Internal Affairs, and Domestic Violence Unit. Garcia is most currently the Commander of the Training Academy teaching recruits and sworn officers de-escalation and relationship building through community awareness and interaction projects and implements POST standards.

Deputy Chief James Buck has served the Bridgeport Fire Department for more than 25 years, and 18 years in a supervisor’s capacity as Captain of Communications and Emergency Management and former Assistant Chief’s Aide. Buck was selected as 2016 Firefighter of the Year and has proven to be department asset with technical, preparedness, supervisor and budgeting experience that make him the ideal addition to the Fire Department’s management team.

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31 comments

  1. Lennie,

    You would be providing a great service on behalf of Bridgeport if you can publish the following information:

    1) What was Janine Hawkins salary as Director of Labor Relations and what is her CAO salary. I am Hearing she has received close to a $25,000 salary increase which would be outrageous.

    2) What was the salary of Comkunications Director Rowena White? It is my understanding she was given a $10,000 to $12,000 raise for no apparent reason.

    3) What is our future President of the United States, Pastor Gaston’s, salary? I am hearing it is in the range of $130,000. Another outrage if true.

    4) What was John Gomes recent salary as Deputy CAO and what will his salary be now? If doesn’t feel insulted and embarassed he should.

    5) Eric Amado is a consummate professional and quite cordial, but what are his professional and educational credentials to support being placed in such a critical position which includes negotiating contracts with a variety of unions, understanding contractual language, and the CT state statutes that govern employment and more?

    6) Is it true the mother of his children is also employed by the City? If so, how could he possibly address any disciplinary matters regarding her employment?

    I believe Eric is Carmen Colon’s son. Carmen Colon is the long time significant other of Andres Ayala.

    As you noted, he is a member of the 130th DTC under Danny Roach.

    Can you please post an update once you research this?

    Thank you!

    6+
    1. Lennie, what happened to those anonymous remarks made about Eric Amato’s significant other?

      Eric Amato is on the 130th DTC yet neither he or his significant other have a registered vehicle in Bridgeport.

      This is not adding up?

      5+
  2. I say we all get together and pool our resources and talent to see that Mayor Ganim not win another term to stop this crap from constantly happening! My bad, never mind I just heard we have to wait until 2024.

    2+
    1. Frank: “going” down the tubes!!???
      You must have been away and didn’t follow the news. It went down the toilet a long time ago. What’s been happening recently is that they’re toying with the handle and just flushing a little bit at a time!! Lol! Cheers! Soon maybe we can buy a bottle at Mikey’s store!!
      Maybe not!

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  3. After giving it significant consideration, and at the urging of those I trust most, I have made the decision NOT to respond to any of Donald Day’s or Ron Mackey’s posts going forward.

    Some may recall that there was a lengthy period of time previously that I refused to respond to either of them. I should have stayed the course.

    I am also asking those who have previously defended me NOT do so going forward. Should Donald Day and/or Ron Mackey attack, slander or insult me please reward them with absolute silence, at least as it relates to me.

    The healthy debate and give and take on OIB is at an all time low. In some ways and at times it has been in the gutter.

    I absolutely enjoy healthy debate and hearing other points of view, but the recent debate has rapidly deteriorated.

    I myself am guilty of calling Ron Mackey and Donald Day names. I apologize for my role in the degenerative commentary on OiB throughout the campaign season.

    The campaigns are over. Let’s move on from it.

    6+
  4. Maria, small minds and ignorance results to name calling when you can’t articulate an intelligent response or participate in an intelligent debate. I think you are doing the right thing because it’s embarrassing when you as an elected individual is apoplectic with rage in your responses.

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    1. Don, Maria has to learn when she’s ahead of the game, Maria for years has didn’t recognize statements that we have made in support of certain positions she would make. Don, you have stated a number of times about Maria’s ability to do certain things that were good BUT not the way she make her presentation was like garbage. I’ve tried to get Maria to back off but no, Maria needed to show that nobody can shut her down and she’s a real firefighter without understanding that she didn’t need to reply to everything and fight every fight. Don, trust me this new change with Maria is because of two individuals have made it clear to her to change. Don, I made a post on OIB just the other day which is below to Maria to back off saying something.

      Ron Mackey says:
      November 24, 2019 at 9:15 am
      “Maria, that’s one of your problems, there was no need to follow up with what Ernie said but no, not you and that shows that you want everybody to see that it’s all about you. You are not s team player, there was no need for you to say anything to Ernie, you are easy to set up.”

      Don, you said it best about Maria, “I think you are doing the right thing because it’s embarrassing when you as an elected individual is apoplectic with rage in your responses.”

      “How To Win Friends & Influence People” written by Dale Carnegie

      Ron Mackey says:
      November 24, 2019 at 9:15 am
      Maria, that’s one of your problems, there was no need to follow up with what Ernie said but no, not you and that shows that you want everybody to see that it’s all about you. You are not s team player, there was no need for you to say anything to Ernie, you are easy to set up.

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  5. On a positive note, the John Bagley petition just hit 800 signatures!

    Thank you to all those that have signed and/or shared the petition!

    Please continue to share the petition, especially over the holiday when most people are off of work from Thursday -Sunday.

    Our original goal was 500, but we would now like to hit 1000 signatures/comments of support!

    3+
  6. Now, if Maria is serious about changing the first thing she should change is the way she goes about things. As a council person you do not ask Lennie for information. You go to the appropriate department head.
    Be nice. Do not demand it now. Ask for it politely.
    Ask for the job description, salary ranges, benefits, minimum qualifications and whatever else you need for all salaries covered by the ordinance.
    Give them a reasonable timeframe to respond and see what you get.

    2+
    1. I didn’t say one word about “changing.”

      I am not a City Council member until December 1st. Our oath is not being administered until December 2nd

      After 17 years of serving on the City Council you should know the language in the City Charter.

      1+
  7. We know Maria can do most of the research on these individuals so why would she need to have Lennie do it? Hmmmm
    Could it be that she doesn’t really need Lennie to do it.
    It just her way of publicizing the fact that she is on the case for everyone to know that she’s a bad ass.

    1+
  8. Are we still paying Wilbur Chapman and Gaudett for their duties as Police Chief???
    Did we ever get a report from the dude from DC to tell us how badly the BPD is being managed???

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