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Gaudett Contract Package Worth $200K Annually

February 18th, 2016 · 55 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Council, Civil Service, Law Enforcement, News and Events

When the City Council votes on a pact with Joe Gaudett transitioning from police chief to supervising a department as a contract worker, it will be asked to approve a three-year package of roughly $125,000 a year that allows him to also access his $78,534 current annual city pension.

Lawyers for the city and Gaudett are examining the finer details of the contract before it’s submitted to the council’s Contracts Committee for review that could be approved by the full legislative body in March.

The genesis of this arrangement goes back to the final days of the mayoralty of Bill Finch who exercised his authority granted by the City Charter appointing Gaudett to a final five-year term. Several sources close to Finch say had Finch been elected to another term it was doubtful he’d have reappointed Gaudett whom many observers say is a strong community face of the police department but not the strongest manager. So Finch’s last-minute appointment was viewed as shoving a middle finger in the face of Ganim who defeated him in last September’s Democratic primary. The defeat was a major personal blow to Finch who had difficulty stomaching his loss to Ganim.

Ganim received strong support on the campaign trail from the police union whose membership butted heads with Gaudett over a series of issues. And in fact Ganim had announced during the campaign he would make a change at the top if elected. Finch’s reappointment of Gaudett forced Ganim to devise a strategy to move out Gaudett. He started by bringing in former Chief Wilbur Chapman as a senior adviser on public safety who started the process to marginalize Gaudett as chief carrying out mayoral directives.

Negotiations ensued with Gaudett to work out a pricey buyout of his contract worth about $700k. When they could not come to terms, discussions centered on Gaudett resigning as chief but accepting a contract position overseeing the Emergency Operations Center reporting to Chapman. As a contract employee Gaudett could continue accepting his annual pension accrued as a result of his police service.

If the City Council approves the deal, it would allow Ganim to slot in his own person in an acting chief capacity such as police confidante Captain A.J. Perez whose public profile has been raised by Ganim. According to the City Charter, following a police chief vacancy, the Civil Service Personnel Director (David Dunn) has 150 days to conduct a test for a permanent chief that could include a written examination or simply oral interviews before a search committee that in the past has been selected by the mayor. A private firm could be brought in to vet and conduct background checks on candidates. The search committee would narrow choices to three finalists. The mayor would appoint a chief from the top three to a five-year term with an option to appoint for another five years. A chief, based on a charter change approved by voters more than 25 years ago, cannot serve for more than 10 years.

Based on past practice it could take a year before a permanent chief is selected.

OIB reader Phil Smith, a student of the City Charter, wrote in a related comment article that transitioning Gaudett to a contract employee with associated issues sets a poor precedence that could violate the City Charter. From Smith:

According to your report, Chief Gaudett will resign as Chief and be hired as “a contract worker overseeing a police division such as the Emergency Operations Center reporting to former Chief Wilbur Chapman.” I guess that means the Mayor intends to waive competitive bidding and award him a $375,000 no-bid contract.

Sadly, that would be the least of the problems with that scheme. Just saying someone is a contractor doesn’t make it so. There are clear standards for determining who is an employee and who is a truly independent contractor. A person who is supervising the provision of city services and is supervised by a representative of the city is an employee not a contractor, regardless of what you call them.

The Civil Service provisions of the City Charter clearly require “all positions and offices in the Police Department” (and most other city positions) be in the classified service. I’m not aware of any vacant civil service position that is available for Gaudett to assume. Yes, the Civil Service Commission and the Council could create a new position for him, but under existing civil service rules he still has to finish first on a test in order to be appointed. Unless, of course, the Mayor is planning to circumvent the testing process in order to get his way. Talk about politicizing civil service.

Apparently the plan is to have him report to former Chief Wilbur Chapman. In other words Chapman would be responsible for oversight of a part of the Police Department. That clearly violates Chapter 13, Section 5(a)(1) of the Charter which vests the responsibility–and accountability–for the “administration, supervision and discipline” of the Police Department in the Chief of Police. Legality aside, it is a formula for chaos.

Then there is Chapman’s own position. If the deal is as described, it gives a member of the Mayor’s staff responsibility for managing Gaudett and, by extension, an important part of the Police Department’s operations. That is a horrible precedent.

The problems don’t necessarily end there. A Paoletta-era court decision and the language of the Charter that requires the Mayor to exercise his authority “through the Chief of Police” and not an intermediary as Mayor Paoletta had attempted to do, suggests his current role may violate the Charter.

Finally, where is the money to pay for this deal going to come from? The Mayor and his Finance Director keep telling us the city is in dire financial condition. We all know the Police budget is awash in red ink. Is this expenditure really necessary? Of course not.

I understand Mayor Ganim wants “his guy” as the Chief of Police. That is entirely understandable. But that’s not the system we have in Bridgeport. It’s not a coincidence the Chief of Police is a civil service employee not a mayoral appointee. It was done to provide the professionals in that department with some measure of protection from the kind of political manipulation we have seen recently.

In the final analysis the issue is bigger than Joe Ganim or Joe Gaudett. The issue is whether we are going to follow the law or allow the Mayor to use taxpayers’ money to get around it. It really is that simple.

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55 Comments so far ↓

  • barry soitera

    If I recall, the last firm out of Massachusetts to do the testing for police chief was obviously corrupted by Mayor Finch who was in the throes of election time. I guess the search firm didn’t care as long the check cleared.
    To say Gaudett came out in the top three out of a nationwide search is ludicrous. His credentials were in question at the time of the job announcement. Secondly, a Google searched yielded some top names from throughout the country. (Google Jerry Speziale).
    And the other candidates went on to run very large PDs.
    Nothing personal, but this chief has had numerous scandals and several of them have made national headlines.
    In today’s times, urban PDs are under a heavy pressure from the media and other special-interest groups.
    Just my two cents.

    • Ron Mackey

      Here is where the problem starts. The Civil Service Personnel Director (David Dunn) does not have the background or the ability to select a testing company that would do a nationwide search.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      Phil Smith: “I guess that means the Mayor intends to waive competitive bidding and award him a $375,000 no-bid contract.”

      Phil Smith, I believe the mayor is allowed to waive competitive bidding under special and emergency circumstances. I’m not sure if you live in Bridgeport. To many of us here, having a properly functioning Police Department is very important. Do your best to argue this is not a special and emergency situation.

      • Frank Gyure

        Most respectfully, I DO NOT believe we are in a special and emergency situation. What we need is a professional, well-staffed cadre of well-trained police officers with an absolute minimum of political activity, a current and dedicated Police Board that is involved with the long-term goals of the Police Department and a Police Chief who is well-versed in an urban scenario such as Bridgeport. We are nowhere near this standard.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      “Finally, where is the money to pay for this deal going to come from? The Mayor and his Finance Director keep telling us the city is in dire financial condition. We all know the Police budget is awash in red ink.”

      One way to offset the cost is by eliminating the Assistant Chief Position. This has already been done and as long as it stays that way, good. Now I agree Chapman should not be the one Gaudett should be answering to. By reading between the lines, it looks like the administration is paving the road to keep Chapman beyond the six-month contract. If Gaudett is getting a three-year contract and he is going to answer to Chapman, then obviously Chapman has to stay longer. Ehhh?
      If Joe Ganim appoints AJ Perez or whomever as Acting Chief, he must demonstrate he fully trusts that person. Gaudett should answer to the acting chief or someone on the BPD like a Deputy Chief.

  • Bob Walsh

    Barry,
    Please fill in the blanks as to the “numerous scandals and several of them made national headlines.”

  • Andrew C Fardy

    People thought city Attorney Mark Anastasi came up with some off-the-wall rulings, I guess boy wonder R Christopher Meyer is trying to top him with this Gaudett remedy.
    Does this mean we will be paying Chapman $12,000 a month to watch Gaudett? What is going to happen to the person in charge of this center now? That means we will be paying $250,000 for these two jobs per year.
    Joe Ganim is still a fuckster like he was the first time around. We are paying the price.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Finch must feel good about himself right about now. “I love Bpt.” Yeah, right.

  • John Marshall Lee

    I stopped for a moment to consider at this moment the “public seems safe” yet all of this attention and money is flooding the current scene and will cause expense from future budgets unnecessarily.

    Reflecting on what I have revealed in my latest address to the Council and posted on OIB, do we have some real activity that is unlawful on the part of former City employees? Did they know their acts were unlawful and the best face to put on the facts is the behavior was driven by their need to be served by Bridgeport taxpayers? So forget about looking political, can all the City lawyers and all the “men and women in blue” label the infractions in grabbing money out of OPED Capital funds and sending it to CMS for Port Authority mortgage payoff of $900,000? Let’s see some action around “white collar” crime at the expense of the taxpayer. Why not? Time will tell.

    • Frank Gyure

      According to some info presented here, it seems the present administration is partaking in white-collar crime … AS WE SPEAK … and with the COMMON COUNCIL as CO-CONSPIRATORS.

      • Joel Gonzalez

        If having ring around the collar is a crime, lock them all up and throw away the key. They’re easiest cases to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. From now on, I’m shirtless.

  • Donald Day

    Gaudett Contract Package Worth $200K Annually. Lennie, that isn’t news, Ron Mackey and I have been saying this for five years and now it’s worthy of its own byline?

  • Jimfox

    So does this mean Joel is not going to swap jobs with Gaudett?

    • Joel Gonzalez

      Answer is no, Jim Fox. My lawyer said all we had to do was sue the City of Bridgeport. He felt since Joe Ganim wants to get rid of Gaudett so bad, he would order the City Attorney to settle with us quickly. I told him to get the fluck out of my face and reminded him of the $20 million deficit. Then he had Cecil Young call me to try to have me reconsider. I told Young to go fluck himself and fired the lawyer. Life is much more simpler as a janitor.

  • Phil Smith

    It is time to end the secrecy. The mayor should make all the details of the proposed agreement with Chief Gaudett public before the council acts and the public should be given an opportunity to comment on this unprecedented agreement.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      “… the public should be given an opportunity to comment on this unprecedented agreement.”

      You mean the residents of the City of Bridgeport, right?

  • Phil Smith

    Lennie, I’m confused. You say lawyers are working on the details of the deal. But it has already submitted to the Council and referred to committee. How is that possible?

  • Bob Walsh

    Phil,
    Substitution amendment in its entirety.
    All details will be made in the Democratic caucus or in Executive Session; your pick.
    Back in the day, I would ignore the executive session and ask away in the regular meeting. Other council members would whine but I would ignore them.

  • Tom White

    Will the city council see the details of the pact prior to the council meeting? If it does, will any of them read it? Will they take note of the charter compliance issues Phil Smith has presented?
    Or will everything be shared in oral presentations (no documents) in executive sessions, added to the consent calendar with no discussion in public and no record of an individual vote? This will allow for another 20-minute council meeting and dinner afterwords at taxpayer expense.
    Will the city council surprise us and insist on charter compliance and everything documented prior to approval?

    • Joel Gonzalez

      Tom White, I take it if or when the day comes for you and the City of Bridgeport to settle your lawsuit, there will be no discussion in executive session. As a taxpayer, care to share with us details of your lawsuit? You know we can’t afford things like that, right? I’ll be waiting and check in for your reply.

      • Phil Smith

        In this case–like Tom McCarthy’s–there is no “pending claim or pending litigation,” just the Mayor’s desire to get his way.

      • John Marshall Lee

        Joel,
        When that day comes I would be happy to pay a fee just to observe the Council deal with the fact a past Council had eliminated their only legislative aide, not after study or because of lack of service, but on a last-minute “idea” from President McCarthy that it would be Legislative’s contribution to “budget cost savings” that year.

        What McCarthy failed to admit, and CT Post ignored, is that McCarthy managed to place another position simultaneous in the City Clerk office and proceed initially to use him for tasks previously handled by White.
        So, the CC lost its only “assigned helper” with representing the taxpayer and doing Council business. In the 2015 CAFR the Council spent only $114,362 of their budgeted $287,446 for a variance of $173,084. It has been that way for years. Other than the 2013 illegal payment by 15 City Council members from the OTHER SERVICES account that money is budgeted and NOT SPENT on anything productive for taxpayers.
        Where has Tom McCarthy’s “fiscal sense” disappeared as large variances go to fund City overruns, as stipend monies are paid in a manner unauthorized by the unchanged Stipend Reimbursement Ordinance, and Council members are ill-prepared to develop an independent eye to monitoring legislative requests on behalf of the taxpayers who elected them?

        If City process, such as it has been seen in too many subsequent settlements, has been unjust or injurious, then such account deserves an opportunity to be settled. Of course such settlements may not line up in a queue to be dealt with one by one. Political necessity, as in the case of the McCarthy settlement and Gaudett negotiations, allows for line jumping. How many folks are in the line? How many Executive Sessions will be held? Time will tell.

        • Frank Gyure

          What makes us even think the present Common Council even grasps the concept of “independent eye to monitoring legislative requests on behalf of the taxpayers who elected them.”

          • John Marshall Lee

            Frank,
            Prepare a memo to each Council person and ask the question as to whether they represent all taxpayers in the City? Or you can make it multiple choice, add in other people they may be representing, and let them choose, all that apply. If you move one from failure to be aware or understand to acknowledgement you have accomplished something. Time will tell.

  • Frank Gyure

    IS THERE ANYTHING PRIVATE CITIZENS CAN DO IN TERMS OF ALL THE SEEMINGLY ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES PHIL SMITH IS DESCRIBING AND IN VERY SPECIFIC DETAIL?

    • Joel Gonzalez

      The first thing you should do is not buy into all that Phil Smith says. It’s just his opinion and if you recall what I said about opinions around the time of the Superbowl: Opinions are like Andrew C Fardys–we all have one.

      This BPD/Gaudett matter is a very complex matter and it’s the first time something like this has happened. Frank, what you should really worry about is Jim Fox. I don’t think he will hit you on the head with your dog. But beware the door knobs when going in or out of your house. Jim Fox is a retired electrician with some free time on his hands. Remember, all it takes is one amp to kill ya.

  • Phil Smith

    Show up, speak out and let Council Members know you object to what they are doing. Most Council Members aren’t used to having voters, especially voters in their district, looking over their shoulders.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Three years and 10 months to go.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      Where, to the bathroom? I posted a wiki link to the former Waterbury Police Chief who came back to run for mayor of Waterbury and won. Can this happen in Bridgeport? Food for thought!

    • Ron Mackey

      Then what, Mayor Tom McCarthy?

      • John Marshall Lee

        Has Tom McCarthy ever spoken for the taxpayers? Can he describe to voters the effect of the labor agreements he has worked on while employed by the City and serving as President of the City Council? What has he been party to while “in service” as a Council person that can be dug up and hurled at him as failure to be “open, accountable, transparent and honest? I have my own ideas, but aren’t there greater issues on the table at this time? Time will tell.

  • flicka

    Good ole Bridgeport Democrats. Same party, different guests.

    the HAVES and the HAVE NOTS.

  • Godiva2011

    This entire police hierarchy issue is just baffling to me. Here you have Chief Gaudett making a substantial salary on top of a pension who the mayor wants to have report to retired Chief Chapman who is making $64,000 for six months, and A.J. Perez whom the mayor really wants to be the Chief. And four or five Deputy Chiefs to complete the mix. Let it never be said it’s lonely at the top in the Bridgeport Police Chief’s office. And yet the entry level patrolmen don’t even get a salary comparable to other towns and cities. How is it the Bridgeport taxpayers find this an acceptable use of their already bloated tax dollars? This entire situation defies comprehension.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Godiva,
      Look at the facts, the Police Board has had a Chair for years who now also sits in the Mayor’s cabinet as a paid employee. He is also local DTC Chair for the 130th. Does he know what has been ongoing? Did he have access to the steady decrease in number of public safety officers? Was he aware of the negotiations around contracts and the major changes in the ability to draw lifetime retirement benefits well beyond those contemplated previously through the use of overtime? Did he know the expense of that change? Did he share it with any public in recent years including a Council person who co-chaired Budget & Appropriation from his District for years?
      Are we top heavy in the Department with lots of gold braid that does not seem to make sense to the public who has to pay for a nearly $100 Million department budget annually with all of the post-retirement benefits that have been rung up without public notice? Whose interest is being served as the checks go out and no comprehensive management statement is posted? Time will tell.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    One of the problems faced by the police department and the fire department is most of their members do not live in Bridgeport. If you look at the latest classes you will find a good number of candidates living outside the city and the ones who don’t live outside the city will do so within two years.
    Both department contracts allow for their members to live outside the city.
    The PD and the FD carry no political weight as they can’t vote in Bridgeport elections. Sure the president of the police union endorsed Ganim but they brought no votes with them.
    When I was in the FD when it was primary time the politicians came to the FD union for support. Sometimes they got it and sometimes they did not. It depended on what was in it for us.

  • Donald Day

    Andy, that may be true for the BFD and the BPD as a whole, but for blacks the numbers don’t follow your logic. With the entry level exam in 2004 and 2005 prior to David Dunn they put on 21 blacks and 18 were Bridgeport residents and everyone still lives in the city, every single one. In fact I personally know of nine who have purchased homes in Bridgeport and there may be more and four have opened businesses here. It appears the black residents of Bridgeport who are fortunate enough to get those fire dept jobs are more likely to continue the uplift of the city they live in and they genuinely love.

    • Ron Mackey

      The Bridgeport Fire Department has hired the lowest number of blacks to become firefighters since the 1982 court decision to hire blacks under the term of David Dunn, all one has to do is check the hiring record. Once again, Mayor Ganim, why would you keep someone like this in his position, what are you going to tell the black community who supported you in putting you back into office? Time will tell, but it’s not looking good, Joe.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Donald, where do you live?

  • Donald Day

    Andy, what difference does that make? What you should have asked is if after I became a Bridgeport firefighter did I purchase a home and in fact I purchased two homes, one on Seaview Ave and another on Edwin St. I lived in Bridgeport 15 years after I became a firefighter and I moved to give my son whom I had custody of a better education than I knew he wasn’t getting in Bridgeport.

    Every firefighter and police should start out as a Bridgeport resident like I did and like me I’m sure most will decide to invest in the future of Bridgeport by purchasing a home here. If after getting on the job a resident decided to move then that’s alright, because as a resident they’ve earned the right to those jobs rather than some white kid from the suburbs and if those jobs will uplift someone’s life it should be a Bridgeport resident.

  • Donald Day

    Andy, for your edification I bought a condo in Seymour prior to my buying my current home. Yes, I do believe he received a better education in Seymour than in Bridgeport.

    The Bridgeport Fire Department allowed me to purchase four homes in the 49 years I’ve lived in Connecticut. That’s why I’m an advocate for blacks in the fire service because I know first-hand how the BFD can change one’s life.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Donald Day, four homes isn’t bad. Glad your son got a better education in Seymour. Andrew C Fardy didn’t have to go too far to get a “better” deal on his second home. He got it from his Bridgeport School educated son.

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