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How About A Little Respect! Plus: Linda The Lion, And Where Have All The Uniforms Gone?

December 2nd, 2009 · 26 Comments · City Council, News and Events, State Politics

With the new City Council now sworn in, how’s this for a novel idea: members should be required to sit through the public speaking portion of council meetings.

Instead, they move about, hide in the caucus room, yap on cell phones, walk in late, conspire with their peers, yadda, yadda, yadda.

City Council President Tom McCarthy, who must chair the meetings, is among the few council members that actually gives speakers ear time. If I’m Big Mac I say okay boys and girls if I have to sit through this you have to sit through this. If you’re in City Hall for the half-hour speaking portion you must be in your seat. If you’re not in City Hall it goes against your attendance record. If you miss so many meetings (without a doctor’s note), see ya.

What’s wrong with a little governmental discipline? That prehistoric noise you just heard was Big Mac yelling, Lennie, leave me alone!

Speaking of Mac Attack …

Holy buy time! Word is that GOP U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon will blast $500,000 worth of television time over the next few weeks. That’s what I call, in media buy time, a half a barrel. Swoosh. Talk about covering the waterfront. That’s one quick way to juice poll numbers. Poor former Congressman Rob Simmons, the GOP poll leader must have the razor blades poised. Simmons will need mighty political support to stay in the game for the August primary. Or maybe challenge Linda to a mud wrestling match at the OIB holiday party Monday 5:30 p.m. at Épernay Bistro!!!

And Chris Dodd supporters might be saying, quick call all of your Republican friends to make sure they vote for Simmons in the primary so we don’t have to face a $20 million buy.

Resident, Anyone?

When I read this in the Connecticut Post …

A dozen white firefighters have prevailed in their reverse discrimination lawsuits against the city.

Settlement of the Bridgeport lawsuits filed was announced Tuesday, after lawyers representing the white firefighters said this summer that their position was bolstered by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that favored white firefighters in New Haven who had made similar arguments.

The 12 plaintiffs, including a Puerto Rican, filed suit in federal court in April, eight months after several of them were denied promotions to lieutenant when the city rescored a lieutenant promotional exam. The 2006 test was re-scored and re-ranked after James Outtz, a nationally known test designer, found the results had been weighted unfavorably against minority candidates.

… It got me thinking (not always a smart thing) after I read this …

Plaintiffs in the suits were: Timothy Bottone of Newtown, Matthew Deysenroth of Redding, Michael Donovan of Hamden, Steven Earl and Francis McNellis Jr., both of Monroe, Joseph LaChioma of Derby, Robert Novak of Shelton, David Purcell of Milford, Mike Raffalo of Wethersfield, Phil Reeves of Wilton, and Timothy Richmond of Oxford. Also a plaintiff in the lawsuit was Roberto Diaz of Naugatuck, listed as Caucasian and Puerto Rican.

… How many members of uniformed services in the city actually live in Bridgeport?

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26 Comments so far ↓

  • town committee

    If you are a politician you hope that all of the uniformed city employees live out of town. They at one time when residency was enforced represented a powerful voting block.
    There was a time that police and fire members could control a primary election with their votes. Politician used to court both the police and fire unions for their votes thus good contracts and fringe benefits.
    Now it’s easy for the politician to tell these same union members go ask the first selectman of your town for a raise because I am not giving you one and you can’t hurt me.
    A perfect example of controlling an election happened when Panuzio was elected mayor. Police and fire members ran phone banks, ran soft sheets and voted. Combined with family members they represented over 3,000 voters. We got out 98% of our members. After the victory came the 20-year pension and paid medical.
    There is no such leverage today, that’s the price of not having a residency clause in the contract. Politicians win, union members lose.

  • Ron Mackey

    “town committee,” Excellent point and it is history that most firefighters and police officers have no knowledge of. And it is power that will never return thereby allowing David Dunn to do Mayor Finch’s dirty work with the legal advice from Dennis Murphy in making them weak with little or no influence.

  • town committee

    Ron, as a member of the Fire Department executive board for years I can remember every time there was to be a primary or the general election the politician would come calling. What today’s firefighters and police officers don’t realize is that we got what they have today because we were a political force. One of the other benefits we received was the escalator clause.
    The people running for mayor needed our support then. Now they could care less as the unions have no vote impact.
    The last mayor’s election would have been decided by the police and fire unions as the majority was only 270 votes.
    Do you think that the atmosphere towards the unions that this administration has would fly if the unions had a voting block? That’s an easy answer: NO.
    So in essence when they got the right to move out of Bridgeport the unions became almost powerless.

  • Denis OMalley

    Not positive about this but when I first moved to Bridgeport 23 years ago, didn’t the police have a 32 +/- workweek?

    If so, must assume that’s because of the voter block described above … If that’s the case, kind of glad that the state laws regarding residency were changed.

    • Grin Ripper

      Denis–That would be considered a plus and a minus.

      I wonder how much the Finch who stole Christmas is going to raise for his PAC at Épernay?

  • Grin Ripper

    Yeah, that 20-and-out clause was a great deal for the city?
    Gaudett lives in Newtown. Expand your question to include city administration. Nunn, Feeney, Eversley, Lavernowich and on and on. How much of an Abatement did Andy Abate get in his WPCA bye-out?

  • Bob Walsh

    My father was a Bridgeport Firefighter and I can remember the calls going out to the members concerning upcoming elections.
    I have long been a supporter of preferential residency points in hiring AND PROMOTING during Civil Service testing.
    The council did manage to get it done for entrance-level testing but not promotional. The reason that I have always supported this is because if you live in the city you are not a firefighter or police officer 32, 35, 40 hours a week but 24 hours 7 days a week. I can remember my father taking note and reporting hazardous fire conditions that he would see while driving around town. I can remember friends of his on the Police Department taking action while “off duty.”
    The issue of public safety is greatly enhanced when you make these employees residents of the city. In addition to testing, I have supported tax incentives, additional benefits, etc. all in the name of encouraging uniformed public safety officials to be Bridgeport residents.
    Let’s see, David Dunn. Bridgeport resident? No. Chance of making further progress in this area? Nunn.

  • john gilmore

    Ah yes, 20-and-out, residency for cops and firemen, escalator clauses, just a few of the battles past mayors have waged.

    It was John Mandanici way back who complained that the Board of Ed administrators were the city’s biggest wage earners. Prove it, he was challenged. As it turned out, it was a police officer who racked up tremendous overtime and won the #1 spot and the issue gave birth to the annual “Top Wage Earner” story. Mandy tried–and failed–to kill the story because he feared police reaction (but he was willing to knock heads with those BOE eggheads).

    The police officer in question earned his king’s ransom through “outside overtime,” the deal where cops get to guard utilities digging holes in the street. In fairness, the utility (or whoever) pays the city for the cop’s time. But it’s a wage-earning opportunity not open to others.

    The function used to be performed by “Specials” until they all were pensioned off (Hey mayoral candidates, want to create some jobs and put people to work? You don’t need an armed police officer to guard a hole in the ground. Job creation = taxes paid & money in the economy).

    So the next time you drive by a utility crew working in the street, think Ka-ching!

  • Up On Bridgeport

    That would make too much cents.

  • town committee

    The only people that benefited by allowing police and fire to move out of town were the politicians. The cops and firefighters did win in one respect they got to move out of town (I don’t think that’s a win), on the other hand they lost a big bargaining chip.
    The residents lost out by not having the police officers and firefighters living in their neighborhoods. The city lost out on tax money and on monies that would be spent in the community.
    I believe that incentives should be offered to those that reside in the city be it extra wages or extra points on promotional exams. Bringing these hard-working men & women back into the city can only benefit all of us.
    I also believe that ALL mayoral appointments should reside in the city as should the school superintendent. Living here may affect some of the dumb-ass things they do and force upon us, after all the way it is now they are not directly affected by what they do.

  • Bob Walsh

    Leonard must have had a bad breakfast burrito this morning. He wants to start throwing people off of the council if they are not present for the public speaking portion of the meeting.
    You cannot throw council members off for missing council meetings, for missing committee meetings but miss a public speaking session and vamoose; you are out of here.
    And it will be the council president who will decide what is or is not a valid excuse; hmmm.
    They cannot even enforce attendance in the US Congress, in the state legislature but for public speaking sessions at a Bridgeport City Council meeting MANDATORY.
    Someone put a bug up Leonard’s ass on this one, for sure.

  • Bob Walsh

    Leonard,
    Do you recall Peter Gilmore (no relation to John) who represented the South End’s 131st district?
    I believe he moved to Pennsylvania but did not resign from the council just in case his vote was needed on an important matter. And I cannot remember if he actually did come back at one time to cast that vote or if he merely threatened to.
    But miss a public speaking session even if the only speaker is Cecil Young speaking on the same subject he has spoken about for the past 5 meetings … banished. Keep up the good work. This is Pulitzer material we’ve got going here this morning. Either that or this is what you come up with when doing work is mandatory.

  • Bob Fredericks

    That clout is where the infamous 20-and-out retirement benefit came from. Guys in their 40s piling up the OT in their final years and retiring with pensions higher than their base pay, plus medical benefits for life. One of the primary reasons the city has been broke for the last couple decades.

    On the plus side, residency rules for uniformed services kept the city safer. Growing up on the East Side, I remember delivering papers to a dozen or so cops and an equal number of firemen on my 60-house route. Everyone knew who they were and what the consequences would be if they got wind of what you were up to if it was something you shouldn’t have been up to. In full uniform, a murderous look in their eyes, they’d bang on your front door and give your parents a detailed report of any untoward activities. Not a lot of repeat offending going on after that.

  • Ron Mackey

    “Bob Fredericks,” A correction on your first point concerning pensions; firefighters’ pensions are NOT based on any OT, they are based on your rank and how many years you work. Pension Plan “A” firefighters pay 8% of their pay each week towards their pension & those funds go direct to the City’s General Fund & they can retire at 50% of their salary at 20 years or two & half % for each years on the job with a max of 75% of their salary at 30 years.

    Pension Plan “B” firefighters pay 6% of their pay each week into a funded pension fund. They can retire at 50% of their salary at 25 years on the job or 2% per year of their salary up to 35 years at a max of 70% of their salary.

  • Jim Callahan

    The union leadership and membership knew exactly what would happen if workers were allowed to move out-of-town. This was reported back and forth in The Post and The Telegram, and debated in election campaigns for years.

    Politicians fought to keep workers in town for two main reasons: 1) The workers earned the money in Bridgeport. Let them invest in the city. 2) Eyes and ears and bodies were close to where they worked and were needed.

    The pols finally gave up to break up the voter bloc, as described. They were also tired of fighting the unions when workers moved out of town and the city tried to fire them. Pols were called “sleazy” and worse trying to enforce the contract.

    If a bonus were given to workers who lived in town, past history shows some workers will try to establish an in-town address while living outside the city to collect the bonus. Who needs the headache?

    There may be a good moral reason to have police officers and firefighters live in town, but the workers showed they did not care.

  • Grin Ripper

    It’s almost to the point that it is a prerequisite that in order to be elected to the Council you must work or have a spouse that works for the city.

  • Bob Walsh

    Hey Ripper, you had better watch that or I will rip you a new one!

    • Grin Ripper

      As long as you don’t rip the shirt off my back.

      People for Excellence in Government PAC. Sounds like an oxymoron to me. Who is William Beccaro? Oh!

  • town committee

    Bob: It is just plain rude to schedule a public session then have you council people sit in the back shooting the breeze or smoking or doing whatever you people do in the back area.
    Sure it gets tiresome listening to Cecil Young but there are others that wish to speak to the council with valid gripes and what not.
    If the council is not going to listen to the citizens of Bridgeport at the public session then stop the Sham and just cut out the public session.
    Hey Bob remember when you go off on one of your tangents those of us that are at that meeting are forced to listen.

  • Bob Walsh

    First of all TC, I agree with you. And I was the one who sponsored a new council rule that will allow additional members of the public to sign up to speak at the council meeting if the six slots are not filled in advance.
    But to somehow suggest that council members should be removed from the council for failing to attend the public speaking session is extremely draconian since no such efforts are taken when council members fail to attend council meetings.
    Secondly, suggesting that the Council President determine valid or invalid reason for not attending would be placing an inordinate amount of power in one person.
    And there is a means of removing people from the council for not attending the speaking session or the meetings and that is through the election process. In Bridgeport, unfortunately, it does not happen often enough.

  • Mojo

    *** Maybe the council pres. along with the rest of the council leadership can come up with an attendance & time sign-in sheet? If late on council meetings nights for P/S without a valid reason more than #? times in #? months, you cannot be a co-chair on any committee for a year? It’s something that can reflect on your record, especially during election time (only if voters really give a damn?).

  • town committee

    Bob: Maybe the council president can take money from each council person’s stipend fund when they miss X amount of meetings, are late for meetings and don’t sit in on the public comments.
    They ran for these offices campaigned hard to get them. Now they are disrespectful to the public.
    Well just thought I’d throw this against the wall, you and I both know it won’t happen.

  • Mojo

    *** “Setback,” just like what Blacks went through during the ’60s to gain their “civil rights,” according to New York’s Gov. Paterson. Gov. Paterson is too young to really know other than what he’s heard or maybe seen on TV @ one time about the past, to compare the Senate defeat of the Gay Marriage Bill to the Black & people of color civil rights struggle! It does not come close in any way shape or form to compare the prejudices endured due to the color of one’s skin or foreign accent during that time. What’s next, to compare the Gay rights struggles to the Jewish Holocaust? Please! ***

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