Assistant Chief Administrative Officer John Gomes on Thursday was terminated from his position in a shakeup of Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration, a move City Hall insiders assert was months in the making. Director of Labor Relations Andre Forde informed Gomes of the decision late Thursday afternoon.
This move will likely accelerate Gomes’ entry into the mayoral race. He has been contemplating another mayoral run for months after a failed campaign in 2011 and then supporting Ganim’s return as mayor in 2015. Ganim hired him as acting chief administrative officer but then demoted him after Gomes encountered a number of brushes with city employees who say he was heavy handed in personnel decisions.
A Political Action Committee formed by former Ganim supporter Raul Laffitte could be wired to finance a Gomes mayoral run. The PAC, which has raised $50,000, is loaded with contributions of Gomes’ friends including from the Cape Verde community of his origin.
State law prohibits a PAC coordination with a candidate but it’s hard to reconcile that Laffitte and Gomes, both anathema to Ganim, haven’t had that conversation. Gomes has not yet announced his formal entry in into the mayoral race, but stay tuned.
Gomes had a similar position under the mayoral administration of Bill Finch and was also terminated.
“Heavy-handed, ill-tempered” is how City Hall employees describe Gomes.
Prior to Gomes’ official termination City Hall kicked out this news release:
The City of Bridgeport announced today that the administration is implementing a reorganization plan aimed at 1) improving city operations; 2) cleaning up the city; and, 3) building stronger relationships with the business community. This reorganization is the result of efforts that started pre-pandemic, but which was crafted as the result of conversations between departments heads and senior city officials over the course of the last two months.
This reorganization is focused on the greatest areas of need for the City, which include permitting, licensing, and code enforcement, illegal dumping and graffiti, attracting new businesses to the City, streamlining city services, and improving government operations. The plan will be implemented immediately, and will affect personnel in the Chief Administrative Office, the Office of Planning and Economic Development, Public Facilities, the Department of Health, and Central Grants.
— The Chief Administrative Office will create a new position of Deputy CAO for Planning, Permitting, Licensing, and Code Enforcement.
o This Deputy CAO will work closely with OPED, the Health Department, and Public Facilities to coordinate and streamline their planning, permitting, licensing, and code enforcement processes with a focus on making these processes easier and more efficient.
— The Office of Planning and Economic Development will establish the new position of Business and Community Development Liaison.
o This individual will be the liaison to all non-governmental organizations with an interest in business and community development, including the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Special Services District, BEDCO, and the Neighborhood Revitalization Zones.
— Paul Boucher will be elevated to the Zoning Official.
— The City will seek to post and fill the Deputy Zoning Official and the Zoning Enforcement Officer positions.
— Arben Kica will be elevated to the Building Official.
— The City will seek to post and fill the Deputy Building Official and the Code Enforcement Officer positions.
— Ernest Brown will be transferred to Public Facilities and will become Special Project Coordinator overseeing the City’s illegal dumping and property maintenance for the department.
— Two Anti-Blight Technicians will also be transferred to Public Facilities and will focus on graffiti removal and illegal dumping.
— Michele Otero will be elevated to Construction Manager in Public Facilities and will manage construction and related projects in that department.
— The City will seek to post and fill the position of Contract Compliance Officer.
— The City will elevate Isolina DeJesus to the position of Director of Central Grants.
“With the city’s entertainment assets making regional headlines, the City needs to do all that it can to keep our City clean to create a friendlier business environment and a positive experience for people moving to and visiting our city,” stated Ganim. “It is also critical that we continue to reassess city operations to improve the quality of life for our residents and streamline city operations.”
“It is my expectation that this reorganization will lead to tangible outcomes for our residents,” stated Council President Aidee Nieves. “Facilitating economic development and cleaning up our City are crucial to the positive transformation of our City.”
“We’re excited to have the City continue to provide critical resources to various community- based organizations through this new role. This role will particularly be beneficial to the business community as we work together on Federal, State, and Local opportunities that will position the City for economic growth and job creation,” stated Dan Onofrio, President and CEO Bridgeport Regional Business Council.
Following Mayor Ganim’s announcement of plans to reorganize positions citywide, Director of Labor Relations Andre Forde and Director of Personnel Eric Amado have identified positions for which they are seeking qualified applicants and, in some cases, applicants that hold specialized skills or certifications. Filling these roles with talented experienced individuals is a priority. The positions will be posted on the city’s website when they open for applications. https://www.bridgeportct.gov/careers