Sweet! New month, a short month, time to think pitchers and catchers, spring arrives next month. Will Phil see his shadow on Tuesday? And will Ralph see the money? And exactly how much loot?
Ralph being Ralph Jacobs, canned by the Civil Service Commission last year as personnel director for something called “breach of city loyalty.” The termination charge was dubious, and that’s why the City Council is being asked to approve a financial settlement with Jacobs because the longer this drags out the more the city pays in legal fees to a law firm defending the city’s position, back pay and damages Jacobs seeks, court costs and possible job reinstatement by a judge. A financial settlement in excess of $100,000 is expected to be referred to the City Council’s Contracts Committee tonight.
Mayor Bill Finch doesn’t want Jacobs back as civil service personnel director. He thinks Jacobs is a pain-in-the-ass obstructionist unwilling to compromise on job requests.
Finch wants to keep things exactly as they are with supporter David Dunn in charge of the office who will also accommodate mayoral wishes to fill job openings. The city has changed quite a bit in the past 20 years. Had a mayor tried decades ago what Finch did to Jacobs there’d be yelling, screaming, placards waving in front of City Hall bellowing discontent with a political hijacking of the Bridgeport Civil Service system created by Socialist Mayor Jasper McLevy in 1935 to protect the public interest from interloping pols.
City Hall is now playing catch up–that could have complemented a broader rationale to justify Jacobs’ firing–with the consultation hiring of labor relations specialist Ned Winterbottom to examine reforms. And reform of civil service is needed. For a variety of reasons. Management is at a distinct disadvantage in Bridgeport when it comes to disciplinary action. Most city employees enjoy a double layer of protection: civil service and union. If civil service doesn’t cover your butt, the union language will and vice versa. Drives mayors crazy.
Finch’s mantra: fire department heads that won’t work with us and talk later. Just make sure they don’t make it back on the payroll! That means paying them enough to go away. Paging Joe Riccio, Port Authority. Paging Andy Abate, Water Pollution Control Authority. Paging Ralph Jacobs.
Meanwhile, it appears the city is laying groundwork for civil service reforms such as changing the rule of one (the top test-taker) to a rule of three creating flexibility in the job selection process (the model used for hiring chiefs for police and fire). This would require creation of a charter revision commission appointed by the mayor and approved by the City Council to make recommendations decided by the city electorate. Is there enough time to do all this and get it on the ballot for November? If so, is the mayor strong enough to push through reforms? There’s a flip side to that. Why push for civil service reform when you have people in place to control your agenda?
Is the Jacobs settlement a political win for the mayor? Or a long-term headache as cash payouts pile up before the electorate? What say you?
Endorsements For Rob Russo, from the campaign:
First Selectman Tim Herbst and Representative DebraLee Hovey Endorse Russo for Congress
Fairfield – Today, Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst and Representative DebraLee Hovey endorsed Russo for Congress.
Below are quotes from each individual on why they are endorsing Rob Russo:
“Rob understands the importance of creating jobs and he further understands that to grow our economy, we must support small businesses.” said Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst. “Rob was a key architect in my 10 point victory over an 8-year incumbent and I know he can replicate that success against Jim Himes in November.”
State Representative DebraLee Hovey said, “The diversity of the roles Rob has played in the community make him the most qualified candidate to defeat Jim Himes in November.”
In response to these endorsements Rob Russo said, “I am thankful to have the support of such respected leaders in our state. These endorsements show our campaign continues to gain momentum each day. Each of these leaders won their races by committing supporting smaller more effective government. That same message will lead me to victory against Jim Himes.”
Rudy Marconi’s Boxing Robots
New video from the Marconi campaign: