So, you’re a seriously ill city employee who’s run out of sick time. Things are bad enough without worrying about losing income, or perhaps the job. A fellow city employee steps up to the plate: hey, I’ll transfer my personal and vacation days to you. Great, you say, bless you. It will really help.
Not any more. Mayor Bill Finch has done away with the goodwill policy that allowed city employees to transfer personal and vacation days to sickly peers. This policy was never written into any city employee bill of rights, according to those in city hall familiar with it. Many years ago, a call was put out to help a city employee in dire need. Peers donated personal days and vacation time. Over the course of time, though never a negotiated benefit, it was something put into employee-benefit practice.
Now it’s over. This is not one of those decisions that make friends for a mayor trying to save here and save there in a tough budget cycle. Just how much it could save is unclear. It depends on who’s giving up the days and who’s taking them. It has some folks in the building rankled. I don’t think it was an easy decision for the mayor.
So, is Finch a Grinch? Or a wise storekeeper looking at all options to save taxpayer money?
Delegation Meets, Amann!
The city’s legislative delegation, at the call of State Rep. Chris Caruso, met Tuesday with Speaker of the House Jim Amann, education officials and representatives of the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition to discuss and seek ways to solve Finch’s proposed budget cuts that impact school-based health clinics.
Amann, a Bridgeport native, appeared sympathetic according to those in the meeting. The speaker was asked for help. He said he’d try, but this state budget cycle is tight, citing less than rosy surplus projections. A question was raised: can the health clinics be kept open after school hours as a community service that generates reimbursable revenue? No one really knew, but at least potential solutions are being discussed. Maybe if they say Amann enough times the speaker will deliver.
Speaking of the speaker, he announced curiously on Wednesday that he will speak no more, following the completion of his term. Amann’s announcement that he’s retiring from the state legislature came as a shock, considering he has gubernatorial ambitions. It’s a lot easier to raise money from a high-profile legislative position than as a civilian if, in fact, Amann pursues the state’s top job.
Syesha Red Dress
Anyone catch Bridgeport’s own Syesha “Red Dress” Mercado singing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s One Rock ‘n Roll Too Many Tuesday night? Syesha, batting leadoff for the final six on American Idol, reminded me of Michelle Pfeiffer snaking on the piano in the Fabulous Baker Boys. I’m glad my wife Mo was working! (Not, really, honey.)
Sir Andrew said Syesha would bring down the house and she did. Syesha should make it through another round.
City Hall press release remembers L’Ambiance
Mayor Bill Finch (D-Bridgeport) today was joined local labor leaders, representatives from the Board of Education, and Bridgeport high school students at the City Hall in Bridgeport to place a wreath at the L’Ambiance Memorial in remembrance of the tragic collapse of the building at L’Ambiance Plaza in 1987. The collapse led to the deaths of 28 construction workers. Today marks the 21st anniversary of the event.
The memorial effort is arranged annually by Tom Wilkinson, President of the Fairfield County Labor Council, and Kevin Byrnes, President of Fairfield County Building Trades, to honor the dead, their families and the rescue workers who worked at the site.
“It is important that we gather here today to remember those who have fallen in the line of duty,” said Mayor Finch. “The 28 individuals who passed away and their families will not be forgotten. My heartfelt thanks also go out to the rescue workers on duty that day and during the recovery efforts.”
Dr. John Ramos, Superintendent of Schools, added, “It is very important for us to remember those workers and their families, as we pay tribute to their lives and sacrifice. We are also honored our students are taking part in this historic anniversary by sharing their talents through art and creative expression.”
After the service, the Mayor, labor leaders and representatives from the Board of Education presented awards to four students for their labor-inspired artwork now hanging at the City Hall Annex at 999 Broad Street. Nathaniel Jefferson of Bassick High School took first place; Curtis Baldwin, also from Bassick, won second place; and Jonelle Davis and Marta Sakwas from Harding High School won third place. The prizes for the winners were provided by the Fairfield County Labor Council.
The artwork is a part of the Mayor’s effort to display local high school talent at the City Hall Annex on a rotating basis. The current labor-themed work is the second rotation at the Annex.