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Jacobs’ Financial Ladder

February 1st, 2010 · 36 Comments · City Council, City Politics, Civil Service, State Politics

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:

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36 Comments so far ↓

  • bri

    Hasn’t David Dunn been sucking up for years for his chance at the pinnacle of political appointed jobs? In Jacobs’ ladder climb it’s all part of the benefits, no accountability while on the job and ransom payments if anyone tries to replace you. Mini employment is usually a good deal.
    Baldwin in Trumbull and all his buddies got free health insurance, Miron in Stratford, max calculations of the absolute sweetest departing package that their creative minds could come up with. Oxford and Derby just had big settlements. It’s such a scam on the taxpayers. But there has been voter outrage, which means if the administration changes Dave Dunn will be in line for his payday.

  • town committee

    This thing with Finch and Civil Service is nothing more than attempt by the mayor to control all hiring. The rule of 3 is bullshit. It allows politicians an easy route to get to the person they want hired. Under the rule of 3 if you come out #1 on a test you can stay #1 and never get the job.
    As far as disciplinary action the Civil Service Commission is just a steppingstone in the process. The employee can go before the board or commission for his department, lose and then go to or bypass civil service commission in the disciplinary process and ultimately go the the board of arbitration and mediation. I believe this process is in all union contracts.
    You don’t see most unions bitching about what’s happening in Civil Service because the majority but not all the union leaderships for city unions are already in the administration’s pocket. They are doing the mayor’s bidding already. This was evident in the primary I ran in last year where one of the city unions actively and aggressively campaigned against Ann & I who were anti-administration. Their membership spent 14 hrs at the polls actively working for the administration’s candidates. They had no idea what Ann and I STOOD FOR. They didn’t know I was very active in the FD union for years. They never asked us one single question about where we stood on any issue.
    Where do the city unions think they are going to end up when this is done? Civil Service is head by a pro-management person who has spent his career fighting city unions and doing a good job at that.
    To the unions I say wake up before it’s too late. To the citizens I say the same thing. Most of all to the Council members I say wake up and start asking questions.

  • WDJZPATMIKE

    Pat and Mike have a radio program on WDJZ 1530 am on Tues and Thur at 4pm. We desperately need listeners and callers to help educate us on the workings of city politics.

    Pls try to listen and call!

  • Up On Bridgeport

    The time and temp of the city is in a warp and a cold spell.
    How about the extra costs of paying Dunn and Winterbottom on top of Jacob’s buyout? Great fiscal deficit management towards the bottom line. It proves that Finch is the Wrong Man for all Seasons.

  • Ron Mackey

    “town committee,” I could not agree more with you, the union membership of the City of Bridgeport is asleep on this issue concerning Civil Service. David Dunn, Ned Winterbottom and Mayor Finch without one vote being taken by the voters of Bridgeport, by all of the City’s unions or by the Civil Service Commission, are destroying Civil Service right in front of their faces.

  • town committee

    Hey Ron give me a call I am in the book.

  • town committee

    Ron Like I said in earlier posts it seems that most of the union leadership are in the mayor’s pocket. From strictly a political point of view he did a good job getting the union leadership in his pocket.
    The city union members are standing around and don’t have a clue as to what is taking place and how their civil service protections are being taken away from them. Here is an example.
    Let/s say there are 10 openings for widget inspector, a test is given and 20 people pass the test. The one in three rule is in effect.
    The number 1 candidate is an active union member and part of the negotiating committee of his unit. The positions of widget inspector are being filled. The number 2 guy gets the first job and our guy who is number 1 is still number 1. The second position is filled by the number 3 guy our guy who finished # 1 is still number 1 and no job. The remainder of the 8 widget inspectors are made and our guy who was number 1 is still number 1 but no job.
    This could happen anytime a one (1) in three (3) rule exists. That’s why it is a bad precedent and Lennie I am surprised you advocate for this rule. To the union members get off your ass and elect new leadership that gives a damn about his brothers and sisters in his union and is not there for personal gain.

  • Mojo

    *** Hope Ralph comes back with a contract on time of employment (’til Finch is gone). Also, as part of his return his request for a civil service commission review by the city council on its members, etc. Seems like Ralph is in control to ask the court for anything within reason, especially since the city has decided to settle out an agreement so quickly. A premature vindictive move which legally they had no chance of winning without spending much more taxpayers’ money & due to the way they handled the debacle in the first place! Good for Ralph, and best of luck! *** The city’s governmental admin’s time of wrongdoing & praising itself will hopefully all in time come to an end, due to the natural balance of right & wrong. *** The more political info the voters of Bpt. know, the better for the city come election time! ***

  • Up On Bridgeport

    I just heard David Walker on Bloomberg Radio. This guy should run for Mayor. Too bad his first name wasn’t Johnnie! He could really put Bridgeport in the Black. He’s Fiscally Fit!!!

  • MCAT

    I am laughing my head off. Ms. “I hate Bridgeport and everyone in it,” endorses a Bridgeport resident. My guy is Jim Himes, always will be, he has done a great job. Russo is a decent guy who I agree with about 2/3rds of the time, so this is nothing against Rob. But all I heard when I ran is “Mount will Bridgeportize Monroe,” Mount is a Bridgeport lobbyist, she cares more about Bridgeport than Monroe, Bridgeport is the land of the anti-Christ according to you know who. I still hear that to some degree sitting on town council. There were conspiracy theories about anyone running who had even stuck a toe in Bridgeport waters. We were all in league with the Bridgeport “machine.” According to Joe “Oliver Stone” Sullivan, big supporter of you know who. I guess hypocrisy is the watchword of the day. Perhaps someone’s time would be better spent trying to help prevent a school closing here. Ummm Rob, just some advice, don’t have your pal escort you to any RTC functions in Monroe, either that or wear a stone-proof vest if Joe Sullivan is there.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    I’m guessing the city is offering a settlement to Ralph Jacobs to avoid getting reamed out. The way the mayor’s office operates it wouldn’t be surprising if no one remembered to bring the Crisco.

  • Grin Reaper

    Joe Crisco???
    Did Finch bring him back when no one was watching???

  • MCAT

    Joel, no, I am not running for anything. Life is good, I would like to keep it that way.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      I am in complete empathy: life is indeed good, at least for The Kid it is going exceptionally well. I’ve got no complaints. No one would listen anyway …

  • Joel Gonzalez

    From the Connecticut Post:

    “It’s interesting that Shays chose to leave Connecticut for a job elsewhere, and now he’s considering coming back to run for governor,” said Democratic State Central Committee Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo, who lives in Trumbull. “They don’t have good candidates in Connecticut? They have to ask him to come back?”

    Look who’s talking! When you don’t have a “good candidate” (Dodd), you ask him to go away. Nancy DiNardo said nothing when Chris Dodd moved from Connecticut to run for U.S. President.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Talking about “Ladder,” this guy has moved up on his criminal career ladder. See if you recognize him:

    www .ctpost.com/policereports/articleGallery/Man-sought-in-Bridgeport-bank-robbery-345931.php

  • city hall smoker

    Waiting not so patiently for Bob Walsh to tell us about the sweetheart deal for Ralph. I live in Bpt and don’t want my taxes to get any worse, but I hope Ralph got a kick-ass settlement.

    Lots of City Hall murmuring today about Fabrizi’s article in yesterday’s paper. Fabrizi sure has selective memory. It was he who put all those political appointees in civil service before he left, some with extremely LARGE increases. By putting them in civil service, he secured their jobs and their HIGH salaries. They are still here enjoying their hefty hefty salaries for tiny tiny jobs.

    It was also Fabrizi who gave us some of the worst dept heads we have ever seen. Of course Finch kept them all. But Johnny Fabs started it.

  • independent soul

    Bridgeport, home of the retreads … Fabrizi, Ganim, Dunn, Winterbottom (he needs the job to pay back Stratford), Murphy, on and on and on. More retreads here than on a convoy of 18 wheelers.

    A question to my fellow bloggers: are there any business community activist groups that are NOT politically bound? BRBC is Finch’s friend … but is there a chamber in B’port, is the DSSD another political hack deposit? If there is a group that is non-political maybe they need to be a catalyst for a grass-roots reform B’port movement. How about the council of churches attacking the lying scandalous lives of politicians? I said the council of churches not the Bishop Lori holier than thou conservatives.

    I’m afraid this city is too far gone unless a state financial review board steps in or a team of FBI agents set up camp inside every city department. There’s no GOP and the splinter Dem groups have no money or power base. Sad, sad, sad!!!

    I’d like to hear my fellow bloggers list the top 3 things that must be done to get B’port growing … and how do you make them happen. And Grin … be serious for once!

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Johnny Fabs is an asshole, plain and simple. I’ve lived in Bridgeport for ten years, and every Mayor we’ve had during that time has been corrupt. Corrupt in the classical sense of taking bribes (Ganim), corrupted by a grossly distorted self-image (Fabrizi), corrupted by an obsessive desire to be surrounded by appointees saying “Yes, Mr. Mayor, of course, Mr. Mayor” (Finch).

      • city hall smoker

        Kid, I wish you were here during the first half of Ganim’s term. He was a different man. I’m in full agreement about Fabs and Finch. Losers.

    • city hall smoker

      #1 – Someone has to rid the City of the political payroll. It is killing us not only in terms of money but talent. The qualified employees will soon be outnumbered by the patronage. I can name several depts that are on the verge of imploding but the dept heads are too dumb to see it coming. But it’s coming.

      Unfortunately the only ones who will clean house are those that are not connected to the machine and those outsiders will find it very hard to get elected.

      I don’t know Indy, do we go with Caruso? He’ll clean house but will he be a good mayor? He’s not exactly a coalition builder. Do we take a chance on someone like Marilyn Moore? Is she up to the job? Slim pickin’s.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Look Lennie, another 4th congressional district candidate:

    www .gregoryforcongress.com

  • harley76

    What Finch did to Jacobs is similar to what Fabrizi did to Winterbottom. Before Fabrizi became mayor, Winterbottom fired his brother from Public works for serious and valid reasons. John Marsilio was director of public works at the time. Fabrizi got rid of Marsilio right after he became mayor. A few years later he trumped up some charges against Winterbottom and fired him. Winterbotton got the last laugh from what I hear. Now Fabrizi criticizes Finch and acts like he’s holier than thou. Gimme a break. Everything with Fabrizi was personal. Same as Finch.

    • LennieGrimaldi

      Harley, you’re correct in that Fabs and Winterbottom had a falling-out over a variety of issues, but my understanding is that Fabs’ brother left the city due to a job-related injury as a sanitation worker.

      • Joel Gonzalez

        Let me get this straight Lennie. Fabs’ brother was a firefighter who cost the city $250,000 in a settlement with a female firefighter who sued Fabs’ brother and others for sexual harassment. He then ended up working for Public Works and left on a job-related injury. How did the injury claim go? Did Labor Relations fix that one up too?

  • RedWhiteandBlue

    Great point Joel, about Dodd moving out of state to run for President. So Chris Shays moves away 3 months ago and they are trying to make a big deal of it … he always said he was going to get a place in CT. They must be really scared that he can win.

  • Mojo

    *** CT Gov. Chris Shays, I like the way that sounds. Of all the present running candidates for governor so far, I can see me voting for Shays depending on what some of his ideas & state budget control future plans are! I don’t vote for all Dems. just because I’m registered as one, that’s part of our local problem here in Bpt. ***

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