In a financially bloody Friday about 20 city employees, some of them high profile, received layoff notices declaring they’re being let go as a result of government restructuring, including Tax Assessor Elaine Carvalho who just days ago signed the grand list of taxable property and the certified revaluation that will kick in for the budget year starting July 1. Health Director Kristin duBay Horton was also among the casualties. Layoff notices were sent and signed by Director of Labor Relations Janene Hawkins.
In recent weeks city officials particularly Chief Administrative Officer John Gomes have been identifying layoff positions in finance, health, Public Facilities and other departments. Several City Hall sources say Gomes is the driving force behind the latest list of layoffs. Still, Mayor Joe Ganim is the ultimate decision maker.
Ganim has been touting his administration as “the most transparent” in city history, but the city did not release an official list of layoffs as word leaked out Friday afternoon. Ganim’s Communications Director Av Harris said the layoffs are part of a restructuring in the midst of trying to close a budget deficit.
“We are going through a government restructuring which we have been strategizing for some time and we’re facing a fiscal reality which we have been pretty public about and we’re looking at the best way to streamline government to capture efficiency and eliminate duplication and waste,” said Harris. “Those positions that were deemed unnecessary are being eliminated.”
But some positions such as tax assessor are clearly defined and necessary by the City Charter. It’s unclear who will replace Carvhalho as head of the department. The position reports to Finance Director Ken Flatto. A few weeks ago Flatto asked Carvalho to participate in a news conference briefing reporters about the revaluation process. Carvhalho is president of the Fairfield County Tax Assessor’s Association.
The layoff of Carvalho, who has a real estate background, is curious given her support for Ganim during his public corruption trial in 2003. She had worked in the office as an appraiser during JG1, advanced during the John Fabrizi mayoral years then was named Tax Assessor by Bill Finch in 2008. Although she donated to Finch’s reelection as many city employees did, she kept a low profile during last September’s mayoral primary when Ganim defeated Finch, but then contributed financially to Ganim in the general election.
A couple of long-time Public Facilities employees Bobby Kennedy and John Cottell are also on the layoff list. Judy Marella, wife of former City Councilman Mike Marella who issued a strident rebuke of Ganim in favor of Bill Finch at last summer’s Democratic Town Committee endorsement, was also let go. She’s the aunt of City Councilman Anthony Paoletto, a Ganim supporter. Also let go was State Rep. Kim Rose of Milford, a 14-year city employee veteran who recently worked in the building and anti-blight department. She said she felt betrayed by Ganim after supporting him, charging that Ganim is “top-heavy with advisers and assistant advisers.”
Rose is the second State House member pinked slipped by Ganim among the more than 50 layoffs since Ganim took office December 1. The other is Bridgeport resident Chris Rosario, now working for Mayor Mark Lauretti in Shelton.
Some city employees have bumping rights while others not so, depending on their position and union affiliation. If employment discrimination is taking place, an employment lawyer can help.