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Newton Pushes City Resident Hires

January 1st, 2018 · 34 Comments · City Council, Education, Firefighters, Law Enforcement, News and Events

About 30 percent of Bridgeport’s 702 public safety officers reside in the city, according to statistics provided by the city last May. It’s a figure that also parallels numerous cities around the country: most police don’t live in cities they serve. The same national survey showed that Black and Hispanic officers are considerably more likely to reside in the cities they police than white ones. City Councilman Ernie Newton is lobbying his peers to begin a dialogue to enact policies to hire more city residents to municipal positions.

Newton has proposed a “residency resolution concerning the hiring of city residents to fill “open competitive” employment positions.” It will be referred to the Ordinance Committee. On Monday January 1, the City Council’s first meeting of 2018 will take place Tuesday 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 45 Lyon Terrace. Looks like a short meeting, according to the agenda, see here. Addendum here.

“Between the top wage earners in our city–police, fire and education–most don’t live in the city,” says Newton. “We’ve got to build a middle class. I’m trying to make sure that people in Bridgeport have an opportunity. I’m strictly Bridgeport first. We’re not saying 100 percent. But I don’t think there’s anyone on the council opposed to putting Bridgeport first.”

For example, Newton says, hire city residents for police and fire entry-level positions showing irrefutable proof of residency.

Residency requirements changed in the 1980s through collective bargaining agreements that allowed a mileage radius. Then the Connecticut legislature got into the act prohibiting “municipalities from requiring that employees covered by collective bargaining agreements live in the town as a condition of employment.” See history here.

Retired city firefighter Donald Day who has pushed for more city hires for uniformed services for years in the OIB comments section, offers an alternative solution declaring this policy: “you don’t have to stay a resident, but you sure as hell have to start out as one.”

That’s a suggestion Newton is pursuing, requiring a reasonable commitment to city residency, with a choice to move out after a specific period expires, say six months or a year.

Day has also cited the positive economic impact for cities where resident employees spend the bulk of their money.

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34 Comments so far ↓

  • Ron Mackey

    This a no-brainer, it’s a win, win for Bridgeport, first there are qualified City residents here who can pass the exam of all races and sex. The City wins by having new hires living I the City and buying taxes, buying and shopping in the City, sending their children to Bridgeport schools, being neighbors and role models for other Bridgeport residents and especially to high school students and recently graduated high school and colleges students who reside in Bridgeport. It’s a win for the City resident because it gives them “hope” to be able to have the opportunity to provide for their self and their family right here in Bridgeport, that’s a win for the City and a win for the residents of Bridgeport, it also becomes a jobs program for the City. Lastly, there have been no women hired in the past eight years to become a Bridgeport firefighter, and yes women have been taking the exam every time it’s given.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Strictly a dog and pony move. The state law says you cant enforce residency as does the union contract. I understand the concept of hiring city residents but if they move out of Bpt 6 moves after they come on the job what good is it?

  • Donald Day

    The residency ordinance that Hartford uses says anyone can take the exam, but city resident’s are given the preference in hiring and if and when you run out of city residents by all means hire outside of the city. This isn’t against the law nor union contract.

    It’s merely meant to try and keep those $100,000 a year jobs in Bridgeport to Bridgeport residents who has shown that they have a stake in this city, who were educated in this city and who have a genuine love for this city.

    • Eric Alicea

      Hartford has a strict residents only policy for uniformed services positions. Their applications are usually open for a year to get residents to apply.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Candidates my live in this city when they get hired,but as soon as they start making decent money,they pack up their families and get the hell out,do you blame them?

    • Ron Mackey

      Harvey, that’s true to a point because some of hired will stay in Bridgeport but more importantly Bridgeport is looking after it’s own residents who stayed in Bridgeport, there’s nothing to lose but a chance of Bridgeport tax dollars remaining in the City. Bridgeport should always look to employ residents qualified City residents for City jobs.

  • Donald Day

    Harvey, you are absolutely correct when you say that some will get the money and move out, but by the same token some will stay and buy homes and continue to live the Bridgeport life. Having said that NONE,NOT ONE suburban hire has left its city to move to Bridgeport. NONE!

    So do you give the job to a city resident who may or may not stay, or to a suburbanite who will never live here or who has never lived here. Millions and millions of dollars are leaving this city every month which has absolutely no benefit for the city. City resident’s help pay own their salary through car and property taxes, suburbanites, not so much.

  • Ron Mackey

    What reason would any City Council member have against City residents only being hired as firefighters? Hartford has been doing that for years with great success.

  • John from Black Rock

    I support Ernie on this 100 percent. However the Devils in the details. How does Hartford Get around the state statute?

    • Ron Mackey

      John, there is nothing by The Connecticut General Assembly that prevents and municipalities from requiring that new employees before they are hired “must” resides in their municipality. John, there is no violation my having just Bridgeport residents only being hired, the City can’t make them to reside in Bridgeport after they become a City firefighter. John, below is the CGS.

      CGS § 7-460b prohibits municipalities from requiring that employees covered by collective bargaining agreements live in the town as a condition of employment. The legislation began as Raised Bill 5681, which was referred to the Labor and Public Employees Committee on January 17, 1989.

  • Stringfellow

    I could be wrong here but years ago when firemen and cops lived in the city it gave them and their families a lot of voting power. Back then the schools were a little better, the factories were in business and taxes were reasonable. Over time all these things changed the city movers and shakers saw the power the cops and firemen had. The residence rule was rescinded and now you could live where you wanted.

    If you have to start out as a resident and then leave what’s the point of that. By the time a rookie cop or firemen is done with their initial training they are looking to move out.

    If they grew up in Bridgeport, went to school here or has some connection with the city you might fair better. They still have to meet the requirements and that is the real issue. I am sure there are qualified residents that fit the bill.

    Any connection to the city or with the any of the people they will serve is always a plus. What happens in the case of a cop who leaves the department for another department because of pay and benifits?

    The smaller towns are harder to get hired where a lot of cops currently live. They take only one or two people at the most. Bridgeport and the larger cities hire 30 or more at a time. Anyone who wants to be a cop has a better chance getting hired in Bridgeport.

    Looking at the current climate of the city, high taxes and poor performing schools. These are two components anyone who plans to live in Bridgeport and raise a family is concerned about and it should be. You have to consider what your return for living in the city is.

    Right off the bat your car insurance is higher, a bad thing for a
    vehicle that uses value ever time you drive it. You are paying more for theft and the accident rate. The high property taxes alone are paying for the loss of the factories that have closed or left. These are things that need to be addressed in order for anyone who lives in Bridgeport or wants to live in Bridgeport. These are reasons why people are leaving too. The city tried the Cop Next Door program some years ago but you don’t know how effective it is or if it is still going on.

  • Tom White

    Did Council Member Newton share a draft of this proposed ordinance?
    Oh, he submitted a “residency resolution”.
    Who is working on the ordinance?
    As noted, State Statute forbids residency requirements.
    We all know that State law trumps local law.
    Municipalities have offered incentives for residents such as waiver of fees for testing, but a residency requirement is not allowed.
    I wonder how many of the 30% have an address on Congress Street.

  • Donald Day

    Let me add some clarity to this conversation. It’s not a violation of state statues, what it does is let everyone take the exam and it goes further to say that it will hire city residents FIRST and if said list runs out of city residents then and only then will it now hire from outside of the city.

    The Hartford resolution never says it won’t hire outside of the city just that city residents are given a super preference, for the lack of a better term, which state court has upheld as the right of the city.

    As I stated in an earlier post some of those city resident’s hired will certainly move once they start to make the big money, but it’s also been proven here with the hiring of city resident’s, some stay here and buy homes here in Bridgeport. Not one suburban hire has EVER moved from the suburbs to Bridgeport after getting a city job. NONE.

    There’s no incentive to hire outside of the city, but considerable incentive to hire from within the city because Hartford like Bridgeport has shown that city resident’s are more likely than not stay in the city that they live and work.

    • Ron Mackey

      Don, back when Bridgeport firefighters were required to reside in the City there was never a problem in hiring good and qualified candidates like Captain Al Fay who was my first officer after training school. Captain Fay took me to side and talked and explain what was important to be apart of the family of firefighters and he made me feel welcome. The same with Lieutenant Robert Miller, Captain Joe DeCarlo and Tony Longo and Franklin Jones but of these helped me to pass the Pumper Engineer exam, Andy Fardy showed me what I needed to know when I was the rescue squad. Don I’m sure that you have a list of firefighters who were all Bridgeport residents who assisted you and who were very good firefighters. Don you and I came on the fire dept. together and retire together we bought homes in Bridgeport and then you moved out of Bridgeport but I still reside here.

    • Eric Alicea

      Hartford does what New Haven recently did. Have two separate pools. It for residents only, the other for non-residents. The pools don’t necessarily run concurrent. I know during the past firefighter exam they were only soliciting for residents.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    The unions in their rush to leave the city did the politicians a big favor, they removed themselves as a voting block. The politicians used to come before the FD & PD executive boards asking for our support. Back then we could at the very least control primaries if we so choose.
    The FD & PD got a 20 year pension contract and fully paid medical benefits for getting Nick Panuzio a republican elected mayor.
    We set up a phone bank at the marcajohn Hall and by our count got over 3,000 cops firefighters and family members out to vote.
    When the city got the cops and firefighters to agreed to a contract that allowed them to leave Bpt the politicians were happy as hell because one large voting block was leaving the city. Now they did not have to ask the unions for anything

  • Stringfellow

    Ok fast forward a few years, some cops now have a 25 year contract. Seems like the old guys sold out the new for a mayor no longer in office. There was no thinking of the future. The residency requirement was sold off.

  • Donald Day

    No you are mistaken the residency requirement was not sold off, when in fact residency was changed by the state legislature that one could live 25 miles from the city of your employment. Having said that, no one is checking to see if a person is indeed living within the 25 mile radius. There were numerous firefighters when I was one that lived outside of that 25 mile radius and I’m sure that today there are others.

  • John from Black Rock

    Another approach could be giving Bpt. residents a certain number of extra points on the Civil Service exams.

  • Donald Day

    John, that is being done without the success in assuring Bridgeport residents get these jobs. Bridgeport residents are given an extra 10% on their score, but is an education in Westport only 10% better than an education in Bridgeport?

    What’s the downside of that resolution if it isn’t illegal and it almost guarantees that jobs in the police and fire go to city residents? What’s The Downside?

  • John from Black Rock

    Hey Don, I was only suggesting the extra points as additional way of getting Bpt. people hired. As long as its legal (as It appears to be) I see no Downside to Ernie’s resolution.

    Let’s all contact our Council people and let them know we support mandatory residency for new hires. Further, many of us have political friends all around the city, let’s get them on board too. In other words, Organize, Organize, Organize!

  • John from Black Rock

    We could also add to or create things like, property tax breaks, mortgage breaks, etc. to help keep new hires in Bpt. Taking a look at what other municipalities do would also be a good idea.

    • Ron Mackey

      John as you know Black Rock, the North End and certain other area in Bridgeport are getting hit real hard by taxes well by having more City employees paying taxes and their purchasing power in the City is a big win for everybody plus the great ideas that you have suggested gives hope to City residents plus the City doesn’t lose anything. At one there were three other firefighters and a police officer all living within one block where I stay. It made everyone feel safe by having such neighbors.

      On a side note Mayor Ganim must replace David Dunn the City’s “Acting” Personnel Director for the past 8 years and who is not qualified to hold that position, this is a tested position just like the police chief position where there must be a nationwide exam to get the most qualified person for these very important position that will help make Bridgeport a better place to live and to raise a family.

  • John from Black Rock

    Well, let’s get going. For starters, I’ll be contacting Pete and Christina tomorrow morning.

    I’d also like to hear from other OIB’ers on this issue. What say all of you?

    …and Ernie what suggestions do you have on how we can help?

  • barry soitera

    Why not hire the best people possible. Or does that make to much sense. Why not recruit across New England and all the best colleges for cops. Online recruiting is much less expensive now than sending recruiters to these schools.

    • Ron Mackey

      Barry, did you think about that when you voted for 45 for President or that didn’t count?

    • Ron Mackey

      Barry, what makes you think that Bridgeport didn’t
      hire the best people possible? Bridgeport did recruit across New England and all the best colleges for cops and firefighters.

  • Donald Day

    Barry, a Bridgeport police officer was arrested on misdemeanor charges after police said he got into a dispute with his girlfriend who is also a police officer.
    A female police officer, under fire after a video was made public showing her repeatedly punching a black teenager following a minor traffic accident. Police said 43-year-old Paul Cari faces assault charges after he attacked a man at the home of his ex-girlfriend.

    Another officer, Sgt. Pasquale Feola, is being investigated in a separate case. 
    Just hours after filming wrapped on an episode of A&E’s new reality show “Live PD,” Connecticut police officer Stacey Lyons was arrested for domestic violence.
    None of these officers were Bridgeport residents prior to being hired and these are but a few of the BPD officers arrested for violating the law. All of these incidents happened in 2017.

    Prior to 1985 all Bridgeport police and firefighters were Bridgeport residents and people were arrested for breaking the law and fires were put out. In fact when we were on the BFD we had one of the best fire departments in the state and all of us were Bridgeport residents.

  • Brick

    One thing you can be sure of is that Newton is not talking about hiring more city residents, he’s looking to have more Africa-Americans hired. I’m sure his resolution will include some language giving preference to minority residents.

    More city-residents should be hired for municipal positions (although non-residents can not be excluded by law), but it should ALWAYS be done based upon their qualifications only with no preferences based on race or ethnicity.

    • Ron Mackey

      Of course you will provide us with this information once you get it seeing that you are so sure about it. This way you can show everybody what Newton is doing or you will look like the liar that you are. It was ok to hire just Bridgeport residents up until 1994 when the State law changed but now it’s not a good idea, hmm, I wonder why?

  • Donald Day

    The resolution as written and presented by Ernie Newton Doesnt include any language that alludes to race or ethnicity, just Bridgeport residents. Ernie doesn’t care what the ethnicity of the new hires are just that they are city residents who reap the benefits of these high paying jobs while enriching Bridgeport when they decide to buy homes and spend their money.

    Why do you people always think the worst of a person and refuse to separate the message from the messenger. Contrary to popular belief Ernie has always had a genuine love for Bridgeport and want nothing more than the uplift of the city he calls home and the residents of Bridgeport.

    • Ron Mackey

      Don, this brick has been in the mud with those rocks and stones and it saw a chance to throw something by playing the race card instead of what’s best for the taxpayers and voters of Bridgeport. Brick and Barry need to take the exam but the can’t because they can’t pass the exam.

  • John Marshall Lee

    So, how many new employees of the COB hired in 2017 were City residents when hired? Same question for BOE payroll? How many people in total including grants and special programs administered with public funds? 4,000 or more?
    Is this type of data tracked by the City? Is is made known to the City Council as background? Contemporaneous with the several months when they are new to public service?
    And while we are on the subject, how many hired in the City are Acting, or awaiting tests of various kinds? Is that Civil Service business? Something on a “To Do” list somewhere? Something that the Mayor’s office monitors among his widespread management responsibilities? Time will tell.

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