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Giannotti Packs It In As Public Safety Spokesman

January 27th, 2016 · 34 Comments · Analysis and Comment, News and Events

Joe Ganim eschews drama. Michael Giannotti marinates in it. Ganim is stoic. Giannotti, emotional. When Ganim launched his unlikely comeback last year Giannotti, a former journalist, stepped up to volunteer as his spokesperson. It was something Ganim needed to rebuild public credibility and he saw Giannotti’s value. But value on a campaign trail does not always apply to public service, especially when a larger picture applies at taxpayer expense. Giannotti felt he deserved the top spokesperson position for the administration. Ganim tapped what he thought was a leveler head for the position in Av Harris who toiled for many years in state government. Not losing value of Giannotti’s contribution on the campaign trail, Ganim offered him the media job for public safety. After a few weeks on the job Giannotti has announced his resignation in part because he did not want to report to Harris. Sometimes when you take a job you must take your ego out of the game. Giannotti was not willing.

The job of the public safety spokesperson, no easy beat at $63,500, is to place the brightest face possible on police, fire and emergency services while being forthcoming about the good, bad and ugly of daily occurrences. Giannotti aired on his Facebook page the difficulty he had fielding all the media calls about the murders, shootings, stabbings, etc. He says he found himself being a newsman again, something he did not want at age 61. If you’re going to be a spokesperson in government you cannot allow circumstances to overtake you. Many good men and women every day put their lives on the line in public safety. And often times we never hear about them. It’s important for citizens to know so public safety personnel can build relationships with them.

Giannotti, a former scribe for the Connecticut Post, is no stranger to serving as a spokesperson in government. He had that role in the last year of John Fabrizi’s mayoralty. But Fabrizi, like Giannotti, is an emotional personality. They were a better fit. Ganim likes advisers who don’t crack up over hangnails. Joe doesn’t sweat the small stuff and it’s a mighty strength of his holding it together when so many stress around him over nothing.

But Joe sometimes doesn’t sweat the big stuff too. And sometimes he’ll need an adviser to take an anvil to his head when it really matters to wake him up. It’s a balance.

Giannotti, who gave two weeks notice, just was not a fit.

Early in the new Ganim administration, people will come and people will go. It’s the nature of the beast.

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34 Comments so far ↓

  • Harvey Weintraub

    That’s too bad. Mike is a good man.

  • Godiva2011

    Coincidently, I was speaking to someone today from the CT Post and the person said he had heard Mr. Gianotti had not gotten a paycheck for his services since he was hired. I don’t know if this is a fact, but if it is, why would he continue to work for no pay? That’s preposterous.

  • Bob Walsh

    Paging Tom Bucci.
    Paging Tom Bucci.

  • Bob Walsh

    Godiva,
    Not disputing what you say but I don’t think Bucci has had to take the city to court. They are so sloppy with their employment practices, it is normally just good old Tom pointing out the errors of their ways and the city quickly goes into negotiating.
    Who is responsible for such a shoddy and unprofessional parathion?
    Oh I guess that would be Tommy Mac.

    • Ron Mackey

      Bob, where is Civil Service and Labor Relations with these work-related issues?

      • Andrew C Fardy

        This is not a work-related issue in any way shape or form. This person decided to give two week’s notice and leave.

        • Bob Walsh

          Don’t bet on it, Andy.

          • Andrew C Fardy

            Enough is enough. Everyone, well almost everyone, thinks if you quit the city they owe you severance pay, well they don’t. This guy gave two week’s notice, time to go. Meyers, start reading the rules and regs.

          • Ron Mackey

            Let’s not forget the late Police Chief Joe Walsh retired and came back and fought the city about his pay and benefits and had them increased.

          • LennieGrimaldi

            Interesting point raised, Ron. Shortly after the 1983 reelection of Lenny Paoletta, the police board at Paoletta’s urging “involuntarily retired” Walsh as superintendent of police as it was then called, a civil service position. It set off a rancorous and costly legal battle in which Walsh was reinstated by the Civil Service Commission, which was represented legally by Tom Bucci. Paoletta then issued an executive order to the Police Department defying the Civil Service Commission decision, barring Walsh from the Police Department. After a long court hearing Walsh was reinstated to his job. Court ruled he was removed for no just cause. Paoletta marginalized Walsh’s police duties. The Walsh ouster became a major campaign issue of the 1985 race. Bucci defeated Paoletta for mayor. During Bucci’s first term as mayor, Walsh negotiated a severance package that led to his retirement. Bucci obliged because he wanted new blood in the PD. Under the old system a police chief could be there for life. A few years later, voters approved a charter change that limited the police chief to two five-year terms. Paging Phil Smith. I think Phil worked on that charter change.

  • Local Eyes

    Losers file a grievance while winners fail en route to success.

    • Phil Smith

      Lennie, it is worth noting early in the Walsh removal effort former Mayor Paoletta and Board of Police Commissioners appointed someone to oversee the Police Department, including Walsh. (Sound familiar?)

      That action was later struck down by a Superior Court Judge.

      Subsequently another Superior Court Judge struck down the effort to remove Walsh from office.

      The Charter provisions concerning the powers of the Mayor, the Chief of Police and the Board of Police Commissioners were revised and, to an extent, clarified in light of the Walsh case.

  • Phil Smith

    With the City facing a $20 million deficit, this job should remain vacant.

  • John Marshall Lee

    When Public Safety continues to produce errors of failure to budget pension contributions, and overtime continues to run on exceeding budgeted expectations for over five years, and you could point to the Police Department budget for producing more than half of the $20 MILLION deficit, perhaps it is time to remove non-essential personnel.
    And why not clue Av Harris in on the “master plan” for reorganizing City governance (as well as those of us who are paying for more government than necessary) so he can coherently explain exiting and entering personnel? Would that be appropriate at this time as well as fair to the people who pay? Time will tell.

    • Frank Gyure

      But who decides in this administration who stays and who goes or who even initiates any discussion? The CAO? Personnel Director? Community Outreach? IMHO, we do not need Wilbur Chapman nor do we need Edward Adams, Director of Government Accountability&Integrity. That’s a start. I still feel we should “claw back” some of that $10 million from the Police Department that is part of what I still refer to as the “Flatto” deficit.

      • John Marshall Lee

        Frank, call me. Let’s have that cup of coffee very quickly. Flatto is addressing the current year budget with five months remaining. When he looked at the City Council approved budget he discovered items the City must spend funds on but were not in the budget. (An occasion of forgetfulness on the part of OPM Sherwood? Or inability to invent added revenue last year?)
        And then Flatto looked at ongoing expenses and he found expenses that were negative, meaning a failure to previously manage or again an error in projection? So the Finance Department produced a report on the issue that presents to the incoming administration and ultimately to the taxpayers of Bridgeport. Shouldn’t we be aware?

        When you use the term ‘clawback,’ are you in a sense suggesting some of these items are not real or can be changed through negotiation in this present moment? If the Public Safety numbers seem excessive, just think of the stories we did not hear from Labor Relations about Public Safety settlements for years about the new contracts. And where were the Public Safety Boards and Commissions in waking to the increased costs to fund the contracts and/or to keep each force up to strength? And where were the routine questions of the City Council members on such subjects so they could appear on top of things for their public?

        In contrast, there was a presentation this morning at Morton Government Center where Mayor Ganim and State Comptroller Kevin Lembo talked about the expansion of the State site on Budgets and CheckBooks to the City of Bridgeport. We will be paying $2,000 per month initially for access to the State platform. That spending will be much more useful to the average taxpayer, should they wish to be informed, than the $800 per session expenses charged by the last Mayor to taxpayers for videography at photo ops. By the way, has anyone received an invite from Mayor Bill for popcorn and video viewing now that brown-bagging at City Hall has left the City schedule? Time will tell.

      • Andrew C Fardy

        It’s all done by the new mayor and HIS staff. Ganim can knock these people off any time he wants.

      • Ron Mackey

        The current Personnel Director did whatever he was told to do by Mayor Finch, he knew the City Council President was employed by the City and the City’s Charter was not being followed and he said nothing and he did nothing, this office could have given their own opinion instead of following the City Attorney’s opinion.

  • Steven Auerbach

    Mike G. is a very nice guy. He is definitely a competent guy but also extremely emotional as his Facebook posts attest. It was clearly not a fit with Ganim. Av Harris is doing an excellent job. Not wanting to report to Harris? Really? Maybe an opportunity to pick up a few pointers? Mike made a decision or Ganim made the decision, either, Michael will take his talents elsewhere and Ganim has a city to run. No drama either way.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Steve, you make being emotional a negative. I disagree. I remember your passionate, emotional comments on the blog. Although I rarely agreed with your delivery, I would never discount your emotion for what you believed. Still don’t, although I must admit I miss you on the blog. Mike is knowledgeable as Bridgeport politics is concerned, plus he’s a seasoned reporter. If memory serves me, and it does, he’s always been there when needed. Most of his work was volunteer because funds weren’t always available to compensate him. The funds are there now, and in my humble opinion, he caught a raw deal. Shame. Shame.

      • Steven Auerbach

        Lisa Parziale, I think you misinterpreted my post. First, I have always been a fan of Michael Giannotti and second he is very emotional in a very sweet way. It is not a negative but certainly not a fit for the position they offered. Besides, only dealing with horror, terror, fire etc. has got to be extremely draining. It certainly runs opposite Mike’s generally upbeat demeanor!

  • Frank Gyure

    And we have just learned Iris Molina was fired for “budgetary reasons” BUT Alma Maya will be taking her place. Does this make any sense? Firing someone for budgetary reasons and then hiring someone else and that is according to Av Harris, Communications Director. AND Thomas Bucci is already speaking on behalf of the fired Molina.

    • Frank Gyure

      And now Harris and the Ganim administration are walking backwards saying there is a re-organization of the social services area. Will this also include the head of the Veteran’s Dept/Affairs, a city employee who also sits on the common Council?

    • Lisa Parziale

      You make my point, Frank. Mike would have known better than to use language that’s crying out for another legal payout.

  • Mojo

    *** Sorry to see Mike go but “good luck” to him anyway. Apparently Mike knows just what he wants at this stage of his life, no? ***

  • Michael Giannotti

    Time to set the record straight. Those of you who know me know I am honest, open, and not a yes man. I beat to my own drum and do what I think is right. I do not do what others want me to do, and I do not say what others want me to say. I speak my mind, so much so it gets me in trouble. There are several reasons why I resigned, the main one being this is not what I want to do at 61. I feel like an ambulance chaser/newspaper reporter, and if I wanted to be a newspaper reporter I would have applied for a job back at the CT Post. When I was struggling with making a decision my “go-to” person, my late Aunt Michele listened to the pros and cons I had put together and said, “go for it. Try it and if you fail, you at least tried it. If you don’t you will always wonder if you made the wrong or right decision.” Great advice, Aunt Michele. “I tried it, I don’t think I failed, but it is just not for me.” Did other reasons play into my decision? Absolutely! Did I want to be the spokesman for the city of Bridgeport. Yes. I was the spokesman for former Mayor Fabrizi for his last year in office, was the spokesman for the Fire Department for a period of time, and was the spokesman for not one, but two former superintendents of schools so I felt I was more than qualified to be the spokesman for Mayor Ganim. That was not to be. Did I have an issue with reporting to the newly appointed spokesman for the city? Again, absolutely. It was not my ego that got in the way. I just felt I had a proven track record as a “Number 1″ and didn’t think I should be demoted down to a “Number 2.” With all of the “cons,” I still decided to give it a try. It didn’t work. I have no hard feelings, no regrets. I left on my own. It was my decision. I needed to be true to me.

    • Ron Mackey

      Michael Giannotti, first, thanks for honesty and for sharing, next, thanks for your service as a reporter.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Excellent response, Mike. So the rumor you haven’t been paid was just a ridiculous rumor. Good Luck to you!

      • Michael Giannotti

        Steve, I didn’t address the pay issue, but it is true. This is my fourth full week, and I haven’t been paid yet, but I have been assured I will be paid tomorrow!!! Call me, lunch. 561-281-6803 (still a Florida cell). Would love to talk.

    • Lisa Parziale

      I don’t know yet who is responsible for the other side of this situation, but remember this, they don’t deserve you.

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