McCarthy To City Council Members On Paoletto Probe: I Will Recuse Myself, Don’t Talk To Press

City Council President Tom McCarthy, in an email to members of the legislative body, says he will recuse himself as deputy director of Labor Relations in a probe of sexual harassment allegations against city employee councilor Rich Paoletto, the second time since 2010. Paoletto, who represents the Upper East Side, has been suspended with pay from his job in housing code enforcement.

This is another example of a sticky situation with city employees serving on the City Council in violation of the City Charter because a loophole in state law allows it, or so declares the interpretation of City Attorney Mark Anastasi. Every time an allegation is made against a city employee councilor it will be reviewed by the department for which McCarthy serves as second in command to Larry Osborne.

From McCarthy:

As I am sure most of you have seen by now, there is an article in today’s CT Post about Councilman Paoletto.  A few things about this situation: 1) I have recused myself from any Labor Relation’s investigation because of my role as City Council President. I am not involved and, therefore, don’t have any additional information. 2) At this point it is important to remember that complaints are filed and investigated regularly about city employees. Sometimes they are found to have merit, sometimes they are found to be baseless. It is important to remember that if a complaint has been filed, that does NOT mean the person did anything wrong. The employee is innocent until proven otherwise. 3) The Council will wait until there is a determination in any investigation before making any decisions. We, as a Council, will deal with any investigation decisions as a Council, when the investigation is over. 4) Because we don’t know what is true and what is not true in this situation, I would advise everyone to avoid any comments to the press. 5) Richie deserves the right to go through this process and defend himself from any and all allegations that may have been made. 6) As a Council this may be a distraction, but we must continue to do our job and represent the people of Bridgeport.

If I get any information about this, I will let you all know. Tom Mc.



  1. This is a joke.
    This is an embarrassment.
    Mayor Finch and Tom McCarthy were anxious to try to remove me from the council based on a private phone message I left my council partner concerning her comments at a committee meeting.
    Here we have a sitting council member who is facing allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace (that workplace being the City of Bridgeport) who has already been previously disciplined for the same illegal behavior.
    And what is the advise of the Council President?
    Don’t jump to conclusions and don’t speak to the press.
    What a two-faced SOB! Both he and the mayor since the mayor seems to be taking his advice and not speaking to the press. Mayor Finch had no problem speaking to the press in my situation.
    And what is the difference?
    Richie is a good council member.
    Richie does what he is told.
    Richie does not bring up issues which might be difficult for the city to accept and implement.
    Well that is with the exception of sexual harassment which I guess is something Finch and McCarthy don’t take seriously.
    I do not miss one second of this part of Bridgeport politics; you kiss my ass and I’ll kiss yours.
    And you can be sure even if Richie is found guilty again of sexual harassment, the same whorish City Attorney’s office that worked overtime trying to crucify me will find there is nothing the council can do to Richie.

  2. For the most part, McCarthy’s letter covers the minimal bases in proposing to separate him from the situation as it develops.
    However, since the communication was sent to all Council members with the tag line, “we must continue to do our job and represent the people of Bridgeport,” I am moved to question how situations that occurred in the past that WERE NOT BASELESS were communicated as to actions, settlements funded with taxpayer money, and/or loss of job or position with an explanation for the action to the public.

    What decisions might be made by the Council on a subject like this? I don’t think they are a judicial body or a prosecutor. In the hierarchy of City governance I believe Mayor Finch, next Tom McCarthy, next Denese Taylor-Moye and then??? How short or long before Rich Paoletto would appear?

    My final observation at this moment is based on a statement that may not be accurate, but here goes: if the harassment were claimed by a young woman of college age, and indeed if she were playing a role as an intern, perhaps related to coursework, what rules or understandings guide any specific behavior by City employees in such a situation? Being an employer in a supervisory capacity is one thing, but when a role takes on educator/student aspects, the power imbalance may be even greater. If we do not have rules, perhaps the Council Ordinance Committee might begin to consider the subject for future use. Time will tell.

    1. You just don’t get it.
      The City Council Ordinance Committee is going to deal with this?
      You are as naive as Steve Auerbach.
      As a supervisor, not only is it illegal for Mr. Paoletto to partake in any sexually explicit activities, it is also illegal for him to be aware of a hostile environment to exist and do nothing about it.

      1. Bob,
        Read my letter closely again. I do get it. I am not naive about workplace behavior and I do try to be informative and optimistic about expecting better representation from the elected Council, although it is hard to see with the multiple types of conflict that exist. I especially get it when sexual behavior that is inappropriate enters the scene. Did I reference the Ordinance Committee as a solution?

        I do believe that inasmuch as the City Council members have a role in citizen representation, they might apprise the public of ALL the PAST STORIES that flow through City Channels, or are in a backwater or eddy at this moment where the City has to settle for behavior that is not right in the workplace. Allowing practices to continue is a form of corruption in itself. You and I have both heard much about “corruption” in the City but this is another example, whatever you wish to call it.

        Stocks, pillories and ducking stools were used in New England during the early years of settlement. Behavior had rules and when rules were broken, public notice and humiliation of the guilty parties was expected. Today we are in a different era. Sometimes it seems offending parties have more rights than victims. And when they leave the stage their story is made confidential and thereby is not able to serve as an object lesson for the public. (Of course a victim or survivor has rights to maintain as much privacy as possible after the criminal behavior.)

        So in my last sentence I reference the Ordinance Committee. I know you never use sarcasm, but perhaps you may suspect I was intending dark humor in that offer. After all, I have been a “watchdog” on Ordinance rules that are not followed by the Council or the City, so why would I expect a Council Ordinance to be effective in this case? Time will tell.

  3. John, I disagree with what you said in your post. We do not need the council of idiots to write down any rules about sexual harassment. The law is very clear on that subject and we don’t need rules for women interns and women employees, they are both protected by the law.
    McCarthy is paid close to $120K and he can’t work on this case because of a conflict. REALLY!!!
    Does he want us to believe he will have no input in this case? BS.
    The Finch administration and that includes all his appointed ass-kissers have a long history of denigrating women and getting rid of them. Let’s see, Nancy Hadley, Michele Mount, Rena Bakalar just to name a few. These were strong opinionated professional women who were excellent in their jobs, their only fault according to this administration is they would not compromise their ethics.
    I want to see this case completed quickly and I want the facts made public.

    1. Andrew C Fardy, Joel Gonzalez and Bob Walsh all agreeing on the same thing!!! Andy, I’m in total agreement with you. Sexual harassment MUST NOT be allowed in the workplace and there have been a number of sexual harassment cases in the Bridgeport Fire Department and the City Council never said a word but they had to okay the settlements, sexual harassment cases must be taken seriously and acted on right away, remember all of us have mothers and we wouldn’t them to come under sexual harassment and hostile environment.

  4. Shouldn’t the previous complaint and this new one have been referred to some arbitrator? As a council member–having an uncle sitting there too–who votes on the Labor Relations budget and on raises for the LR staff referring the matter to a nonpartisan group is the best way to go. So much for the majority women voting for these people. You get what you elect.

  5. Thank you, Joel and Andy.
    The whole mess reeks of conflicts. Tom McCarthy stepping aside is not nearly enough. He remains in the Labor Relations office and, having publicly made these statements, he has taken a stand in the matter.
    Joel, forget about an arbitrator, a criminal investigation should be undertaken in the matter. That is what McCarthy and Finch did with me. They had the OIA looking into the matter.
    Let’s quit the whitewash of an investigation and handle it with the utmost impartiality which would include legal representation for the city outside of both Labor Relations and the City Attorney’s office. It should be outside representation by a law firm that has had no contracts with the city for the past five years.

  6. I’m sure this poor girl is not the only one.
    Maybe more people will feel it in their hearts to come forward and help this poor collage kid.
    Somebody better put this SOB behind bars before he hurts someone!
    Hey McCarthy and Finch, the victim has rights, too!

  7. Some observations:
    The city council has no role in this matter.

    This is a matter of dealing with Paoletto as an employee.

    Bob Walsh’s ‘masta’ transgression was seized upon by Finch and McCarthy as a way to discredit him. They attempted to make it a city council matter and have him censured. The city attorney’s office was engaged to file charges to make their vengeance as nasty as possible.

    The labor relations department may investigate in name, but the city attorney’s office will do the work. Who does the city attorney (and labor relations director) report to?

    Unless criminal charges are filed, Paoletto has his union rules the city must honor.

    McCarthy recusing himself? He issued what appears to be a gag order on the city council members. I suppose he will be involved in the matter as council president but will avoid involvement as assistant labor relations director. Isn’t he special.

    1. No Tom, you are incorrect. The City Attorney had issued a written opinion that stated I could be removed from the council for making that statement.
      From the City Charter:
      Chapter 5; Section 5; Paragraph b
      The city council may determine its rules of proceeding in conformity to the general principles of parliamentary law, may punish members for disorderly behavior, and, after notice and hearing, may, by a two-thirds vote of all council members, expel a member for due cause. A quorum shall consist of eleven council members. At the request of any council member, the vote upon any question shall be taken by roll call vote.

      The City Attorney interpreted this to mean the council could permanently remove from office a sitting council member. So if my comment with the use of the word “masta” was serious enough to warrant the action the council took then one instance of finding a council member guilty of sexual harassment and a second charge pending should warrant the same grave consequences.

      And I put this to Council President McCarthy and not Mr. McCarthy in the Labor Relations Office.

      1. I took the opinion seriously enough, I sought legal representation in the matter.
        My counsel at the time had said he did not think the city could successfully remove me but the language was vague enough they could have completed the action and forced me to fight it in court.

        1. Bob,
          There is a state statute that addresses behavior by elected officials I came across and passed along to your attorney. He used it in your defense. Remember? We all know state statute trumps city charter.

          1. But Tom, the city attorney’s office never officially commented on that and urged the proceeding to go forward.
            So the only written opinion issued was a council member could be removed. And until they issue a new opinion, that is the case law they subscribe to. Very frightening on Halloween Eve.

    1. Bob,
      Finch and McCarthy thought they had you by the neck. The city attorney’s office only looked at city charter as they were told to do. Fortunately, your attorney had the proper guidelines to use and it stopped them in their tracks. A mea culpa from you allowed them to save face and end the confrontation. It did not win points for me, but it was the right thing to do.

      Let’s see how Paoletto is treated.

  8. McCarthy does what he is told to do. Finch and Anastasi are the puppet masters here. McCarthy doesn’t have the backbone to write that letter without being ordered to do so.

  9. Labor Relations does the investigation and every single one of them, including the clerical, are politically connected. This will go the way the mayor wants it to go. My heart goes out to the young lady. Given Richard’s reputation, she should not have been placed anywhere near him. Bad enough he harassed an adult woman he was personally involved with, but a college student? Low even for Rich.

    1. Are you saying he was involved in a relationship with the woman who accused him of sexual harassment in the previous matter? That in itself sheds an entirely different light on the case, if she actually was in a consensual relationship with him. Did the affair end badly, and then she made the accusation? If those were the circumstances, then in no way can it be compared to sexual harassment of a young student.

      1. The affair ended but Rich continued to stalk and harass his former girlfriend. From what I heard, co-workers were the ones who came forward to report the harassment initially. It created a hostile environment for everyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if those same co-workers came forward once again this time.

  10. I strongly suspect there are more victims of this sort of thing, most likely they couldn’t take it and left without making a complaint, in fear of the repercussions. It’s my hope now, more of Richie’s victims come forward now and help to finally get this guy out.

  11. Clearly it would be in Mr. Paoletto’s best interest to hire personal legal counsel. The law states he, like anyone else charged with a crime, is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Is the woman pressing criminal charges at this point, or is this just a case the city has to determine if he should be removed from his job?


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