Is Finch A Grinch, Or Super Storekeeper? Plus: Delegation Says Amann, And Recalling L’Ambiance

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.



  1. Well we are showing that we are the city with a heart. if I am not mistaken that policy started many years ago when an employee was dying of cancer and had run out of sick time. i can not believe that this costs the city any money other than some minor administrative costs.
    We have an alledged $16,000,000 defecit and this is high on the mayors list. This jerk is laying off 101 employees and hiring between 40 & 60 political friends makes sense to stop employees from giving up their sick time for a needy brother (sister ) worker.
    Come on lennie super storekeeper my ass. Creating 5 special projects coordinators at plus $50K one of whom is Mitch the bitch Robles’s step son. Giving Carroll Curry a $85K job (still laying of employees). Greeters job at $36K+ a part time job at $22K and we cant help a sick employee because of some minor admin costs. Finch had no problem finding money recently to raise the salaries in Labor relations office by a total in excess of $50K for 4 people. Storekeeper my ass!!!!
    The Bill Finch that I knew was a caring individual that would not have been so small as to stop a policy that helps a desperatly ill worker.I smell an Adam Wood in this mix after all he is running the city isn’t he.

  2. “Mayor Bill Finch has done away with the goodwill policy that allowed city employees to transfer personal and vacation days to sickly peers.”

    I cannot believe it. I actually thought the prospects of this ever happening were nil. But, in this regard, Moonbeam made an intelligent decision.

    I remember the specific incident years ago. It was a magnanimous gesture of good fellowship when many city employees gave up sick and vacation time so a seriously ill fellow employee could convalesce without worrying about losing a home or, in fact, a job. I was proud, very proud of our city employees.

    I had no idea that the practice had become permanent. However altruistic, such policy is a detriment to orderly employment agreements and a huge drain on the city payroll.

    When an employer offers sick time as a fringe benefit, the employer bets that the workforce is basically healthy and that the employees will use the sick time only when it is absolutely necessary. Sick time is not to be regarded as vacation time. Otherwise, the associated cost is highly prohibitive. Too many employees count sick time into vacation time when making plans. “Let’s see. I get 10 days vacation time and 10 sick days. Therefor, I can take 4 weeks off this July.” They assume that it is perfectly all right to call in “sick” after the first 10 days of their vacation. If they are not sick, then they are liars.

    I like the idea of employees accumulating unused sick time. This policy protects employees when catastrophic illness or injury requiring long term convalescence occurs. I really don’t object when an employer pays a retiring employee for unused sick time. It’s a sort of reward for good attendance, albeit a costly reward.

    Allowing employees to transfer their sick time to other employees is simply not fiscally sound and could quickly get out of hand and cost the employer too much money.

    Good move, Moonbeam. But, I don’t think for a minute that you thought it up by yourself.

  3. The practice was that employees could donate vacation or personal time–not sick time just so everyone is clear. If the Mayor wants to do away with this type of situation that is his perogative although I totally disagree with his position. I will say this, let’s make sure if it is done away with, it is done away with for everyone including the politcally favored.

  4. Yahooy this is not a wide spread policy and is only used in certain instances. The employees are not stupid and will not give up their sick time to someone who wasted their own sick time by using it to go on vacation.How is it costly for an employee to donate his time to someone who is seriously ill?
    getting paid for unused sick time is fine but at what rate of pay? Lets assume a 20 year employee retirs and takes no sick days in 20 years. do we pay them at their rate of pay they are at or do we compute the payout at the rate of pay the sick days cost when they were given.
    i think from a humanitarian point of view this sucks. Cost saving BS. Finch should have bigger fish to fry.

  5. As usual, you always leave me “wondering”. You don’t accrue the cost of accumulated sick time since, when used, it is paid at the rate already achieved by the employee. Retiring employees could have used up their sick time bank right up until the date of retirement.

    I still think our shithead mayor made a good decision by eliminating this casual practice. I was wrong to assume that sick time was included.

  6. Give credit where it’s due. The Mayor made an excellent decision. Either we’re going to get this monstrous mess under control or the City is going to implode. Reform always dictates that there will be casualties, we just have to accept them. The tax paying public can no longer be Santa Claus.

  7. Con; Please tell me where the savings come from/ Lets remember these is not a pervasive practce and was only used on rare ocassions. Lets assume that I have to get a kidney transplant and I have accumulated a lot of sicktime over the years. My recovery is taking longer than expected and I run out of sick leave. Now I stand to loose everything i have worked for. Lets say you have sick leave saved up and want to donate 80 hrs to my sick leave account. What is wrong with that?Where is the savings coming from?
    Let me get this straight with the mess we are in this is a good thing. So far the mayor has gone after the The library, health clinics and health nurses.these are casualtie that are not acceptable. and deal with basic HUMAN Services. Reform should happen across the board and it is not, we are still hiring political friends and giving loyal stooges raises ( not called for by contract.). there are other ways to save money as I have staed before.
    1. get rid of the WPCA who by the way just passed a 4.5 % hike in the sewer tax
    2. get rid of the port authority
    3. privatize the clinics
    4. Collect the back taxes owed to the city collecting 40% could raise $16,000,000
    5 delay the next police rookie class
    6. Stop hiring political allies to made up jobs it seem the latest new job title used to hire these political blood suckers is SpecialProject Coordinators.
    the list goes on and on and the mayor seems to have his priorities screwed up

  8. “Sick Days” are supposed to be used as sick days not trading cards. They are a kindness extended to a sick employee and each day has a price tag in so far as the employer is concerned. If an employee is not sick during a given year or other specified period of time he (she) is not supposed to take that day nor is the employer obligated to pay the employee for a sick day(s). We have become accustomed to taking advantage of an employer particularly when we are employed by a large employer. However, such conduct in an a small office for example, would never be tolerated. Having operated a small office for forty years, I can tell you that I would never have permitted it. We should not look at “sick days” as an entitlement.
    If someone is seriously ill, there are programs such as SSI and disability insurance. That is where the seriously ill person should go for relief, not to the employer. Parenthetically, the employer together with the employee have paid for such insurance.

  9. Lets understand the cities sick days. tese are not a kindness they are a negotiated item. the number of days are determined by contract negotiation. The employees in most city bargaining units get to sell back a certain number of these saved days to the city when they leave. So as you can see there is no cost to the city other than a possible administrative cost which iss minimal.
    having worker for a firtune 500 company we were given 8 sick days a year and if we did not take those days we lost them and were not paid for them so most people took those days. e did have long term disability Insurance thru the company that we did pay for. But that is not the case here. they have the sick time they are paid for it if they dont use it so what is the problem. this is nothing but a morale breaker in these times of uncertainty.

  10. Wondering,
    When you say get rid of the WPCA, are you advocating to going back to the days when the city used to dump raw sewage into the LI Sound? I don’t think the Green Mayor will approve of that.
    Or are you just advocating for kicking the Aquarion out and going back to the city running the show? Wouldn’t that just be deprivatizing? Take a job that the city does, turn it over to a private operator and when they can’t do the job a good as the city could take it back?
    That sounds a lot like the $1 million dollar loss the city took when they PRIVATIZED running the golf course. I don’t hear you calling on the city to do that again.
    But privatize health care. They’re only kids. They don’t pay taxes, they don’t vote and they don’t complain.
    So are we for privatization or against? Just wondering …

  11. Grin I amtalking about the offics and management of the treatment plants. They can be privatized with payment to the city. This group that is running i now just passed a raise in the sewer tax of 4.5 %. No I am not advocating dumping sewage into the sound and you know it. The golf ccourse is making money now. the reason it lost money was because the the powers to be did not pick the besst firm bidding on the lease. they passed up Arnold Palmer & Jack Nickolas for group with no money.
    look the city should not be in the health care business.We should provide school nurses for each school as we do now. Clinics are something that can be privatized. iunderstand that there are at least to private firms willig to bid along with our 2 hospitals. As long as the kids have access to the clinics and the city is not picking up the tab what is the problem

  12. Good points wondering. there are free service clinics and clinics where people pay a certain cost for health care depending on income. this is a good idea. Dental clinics do the same thing. I had no dental insurance and paid full price out of my pocket because my income did not allow me to use a clinic, although my dentist gave me a discount. B-port should not be in the health care business, too expensive for the taxpayer, let some other organization run the clinics. School nurses should not be eliminated because sick kids need them during the day but providing dental care for schools when they can go to clinics makes no sense to me.

  13. Regarding the issue of donating personal and vacation time to seriously (sometimes terminally) ill employees… Did you all know that under the Fabrizi administration, all of the non-union (appointed) employees were given a short/long term insurance policy. Free of charge to them. The city pays the entire thing. So God Forbid one of them gets sick, they are covered by the policy. The rest of the workforce does not have this policy. That’s why they are forced to help one another out by donating time. Another example of the double standard that exists in the city. Mayor Finch I am so very disappointed in you. Once again, I do not think you took the time to hear the whole story. Employee morale is at an all time low.

  14. Lenny, I have a scoop for you. It will take a little investigation but will make for a great story. When Fabrizi dropped out of the mayoral race, he acted pretty irresponsibly with the taxpayers money. He attended every conferece and took every trip he could. Look at his last 3 -4 months in office and you will see an unusal # of trips. There was no money in the mayor’s budget so sherwood siphoned it off of other budgets (OPED). Fabs also ordered monuments and brass plaques with his name on them be placed at every development site in the city including ones that hadn’t even broke ground. There’s a huge one on Main street right between the x-rated video store and the”spa” (how fitting). Add this to the $150,000 worth of increases he gave to his buddies right before putting them into civil service and the supervisors union. And remember this was all done with the guidance of the same budget director that is advising finch. What’s up with that!

  15. Con Filardi – the political appointees have a short/long term disability policy that protects them against serious illness. The city pays for it. The city also rewards them with an extra paycheck each year for “perfect attendance” which they all have since they keep track of their own time. And a few years ago they decided to pay themselves out for their accumulated sick time. Someone should add up what this cost the taxpayers. Please stop criticizing the hard working employees and go after these appointees who are raping the city.

  16. Let us not forget the Book Mobile Fab bought from the City of ……. Seattle! You know – the one he had flat bedded across the country and delivered to the FD shops? The one with the crushed oil pan that had to be fixed immediately while front line fire apparatus in need of repair were pushed aside? Anyone seen it lately, or is it sitting in some city yard somewhere with flat tires? Did they ever hire a driver with a CDL to operate it?

  17. Its no secret Fabrizi did a lot of damage before he left and thats part of the reason Finch got stuck with a big hole in the budget. A lot of the big raises he handed out should be retracted, too bad if the people he gave them to don’t like it, tough luck, let them quit. Some of them were overpaid to start with, he just rewarded them and for what? The budget director knew this was happening and I heard he never even asked the Common council for approval, he just went ahead and did it. Where are these brass plaques, I would be interested in seeing them.

  18. I thought it was Ganim that gave the free insurances to some of his buddies and they got caught. did Fabrizi do that and now Finch is stuck with it? Not fair, that should be cut from the budget.

  19. All of you who are talking about donated “sick time,” have it wrong. It is vacation days that may be donated. Vacation days that get paided out or carried over, so what’s the saving when someone donates one instead of getting paid for it? Appointees are not covered by unions and have no union benefits. Many jobs provide disability insurance to their employees. Union ones get it. Curry makes $85,000.00??? Are they nuts?

  20. Thanks for all the information. – The situation is a lot worse than I thought it was. The City’s contract with the unions is full of give-a-ways. Time for a change! Bring in the unions and let’s renegotiate.

  21. I really don’t understand. How does eliminating the practice of donating vacation and personal days save the city money? I helped three hardworking employees who became critically ill very suddenly. The donation wasn’t automatic. It had to be verified by the Office of Labor Relations that in fact the employee was out on Family and Medical Leave. That required significant doctor verification in writing. Thankfully the three recovered and are back again working very hard for the City. I don’t understand what this proves. This is not an abuse. It is not tacking vacation onto someone’s sick time so they can take a cruise to the Caribbean. It sure does send employee morale into the subbasement. Illness happens and good employees need to know there is a safety net. A true safety net. This action I really don’t understand.

  22. What I don’t understand is why city employees are not provided or offered long term disability insurance and I mean ALL city employees. You want to raise employee morale? Give or offer this benefit that will provide peace of mind to all ensuring that no wages will be lost to catastrophic illness or injury.

    I can’t wait to hear that this benefit is given for free to some and not offered to others.

  23. Sometimes I agree with yahooy and sometimes I don’t. This time yahooy is 100% on the money. Also, as was pointed out earlier, sick days are not a gift. They are a negotiated benefit and a recognition of the human condition – people get sick.

  24. I’m sorry to hear employee morale is so low. Just think of how low tax-payer morale is!!!
    I’m happy to hear that Countdown has found City employees “working very hard for the city”. Tell me where they are, I would like to see them. It might lift my morale.

  25. Con – A trip to any branch of the Bpt Public Library would do your morale a whole lot of good. But visit soon. They may not be their much longer.

  26. Con, DUDE!!! It’s not the unions; it’s the political appointees. Union increases and benefits are negotiated. Those not in the union, the appointees, can get increases with the simple signtaure of the mayor. How do you think all those people under Fabrizi got those huge raises? All Fabs had to do was order his budget crony Tom Sherwood to do it and it got done.


Leave a Reply