The city is still a few weeks from announcing Eric Amado as permanent personnel director pending a 30-day candidate appeal period for applicants who sought the position to lead the Civil Service office that will oversee selection of a new police chief.
The city retained executive search firm CPS HR Consulting to assist with the hiring of the personnel director position. The city has been without a bona fide personnel director since Ralph Jacobs was canned by the Civil Service Commission at the urging of then Mayor Bill Finch about a decade ago.
Jacobs, a student of the City Charter, pushed back on Finch’s political intrusion into the standard hiring process of the office. Finch installed David Dunn, who worked in labor relations with several mayoral administrations, to lead the office in an acting capacity. When Joe Ganim defeated Finch in 2015, he kept Dunn in place.
In September 2020, Dunn and AJ Perez were charged federally, and subsequently resigned, for scheming to wire the police chief test in Perez’s favor.
The Jacobs termination cost city taxpayers nearly $200,000. Finch, as mayor, had several other cases that were settled for illegal terminations or job actions, some of the plaintiffs represented by former Mayor Tom Bucci, an employment law expert.
Finch and Ganim, neither of whom like each other, have something very much in common: both have messed with the personnel office created as a firewall against political interlopers, costing taxpayers millions in settlements, illegal terminations and mismanagement.
The OIB comments section has raised instructive questions about the actual cost of the Perez boondoggle. While no one has yet tried to attach specific dollar amounts to actions, it’s certainly alone in the multi-million-dollar range.
OIB readers Donald Day and Ron Mackey were certainly way ahead of everyone else raising serious questions 10 years ago about the cost factor of a mayor screwing with the personnel office. Their concerns continued with Ganim.
Rich Augustynowicz, retired Stamford police officer, has also weighed in on the cost factor.
Millions of wasted dollars can be quantified by examining payments to law and consulting firms hired by the city from the fallout, as well as factoring in money paid in ancillary costs in conjunction with an illegal hiring process
Let’s look at the Perez hire in isolation, first in an acting capacity. Rank and file cops loathed Joe Gaudett as chief, especially when James Nardozzi was brought in as assistant chief to reel in overtime. Ganim, who received mighty support from cops in his return to the mayoralty, promised them he’d get rid of Gaudett and Nardozzi who slashed overtime by millions of dollars.
In his last days as mayor, Finch spiting his loss to Ganim appointed Gaudett to another five-year contract. What to do to keep his promise to cops? Ganim cut a police consultant buyout deal with Gaudett worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for his resignation as chief.
Nardozzi was canned as assistant chief and sued claiming he was dumped for political reasons. The city settled the case. Nardozzi was just warming up in his lawsuits.
Perez, as acting chief, opened up the police overtime spigot, spending millions beyond budgeted amounts. Ganim had appointed Perez out of loyalty for his support during good times and bad. It seemed reasonable, purely on a personal basis, Ganim was even with the house when he rewarded Perez acting position. Perez proved his management skills were weak.
Then, approaching an election year in 2018 with heat from community interests, Ganim announced a national search for police chief. Worse kept secret in the cop building: AJ, a sweetheart of a guy, doesn’t occupy the brainpower to finish in the top three of a national search and by City Charter regulations the place you must land for a mayoral appointment to a five-year contract.
Perez panics. He prevails upon long-time friend Dunn, and others under his command, to manipulate the test to benefit him. This includes receiving the test questions in advance for preparation, eliminating basic qualification factors such as a required college degree and preference points for city residency. Perez resided in Trumbull.
Meanwhile Police Captain Mark Straubel who helped coach Perez on the test, had his own issues. Straubel was placed on administrative leave by Perez in the summer of 2018 for racist electronic comments against the department’s highest-ranking African American officer Captain Roderick Porter. Perez visited Straubel at his house to seek additional assistance with the exam to select a permanent chief, an appeal recorded by the scorned Straubel who clearly seemed of the mind, if I’m going down for this, you’re going down for that.
Straubel had something planned the chief wasn’t expecting, compiling evidence and recordings he turned over to the feds to be used against his boss.
A few months later the city released the results of the top three candidates New Haven Assistant Chief Luiz Casanova, Perez and Captain Roderick Porter. Guess who finished fourth? Nardozzi. Except it was a sham process. Casanova, Porter and Nardozzi didn’t enjoy the cheating advantages of Perez. So Nardozzi actually finished in the top three but never received the opportunity for a mayoral review for the job.
The feds start issuing subpoenas in its probe of a scammed police chief test. The city lawyers up bringing in firms and attorneys to represent respective interests, including city employees, at a hefty cost to taxpayers. All this stuff alone hits more than $500,000 going well into 2020.
When word surfaces of the scammed test, Nardozzi files another lawsuit, now pending against the city. There’s more: when Perez was top cop, he appointed Captain Rebeca Garcia assistant chief. Other captains, including Porter, ran into court, represented by Bucci, asserting it was another sham job because there was no competitive process required by Civil Service rules.
This week Superior Court Judge Barry Stevens overturned that move. The city is appealing, but the plaintiffs are entitled to a cure if the appeal fails. And what about the associated legal costs in that case?
So, accumulate the past 10 years of political interference in the Civil Service Office and Police Department: legal bills, hired consultants, buyouts, illegal terminations, court costs, time spent on a federal probe, unnecessary personnel payments, millions of wired overtime payments, mismanagement of departments.
Can more than $10 million be quantified the past 10 years?
It would seem that we have been failed (indeed sabotaged/set up)) by the State of Connecticut, the latter of which has just passively watched for the past 60 years (since the abolishment of County Government) as we have imploded from internal political/socioeconomic failure, even as we have experienced external pressures in the form of the exploitation and abuse of the rest of Fairfield county.
Indeed, when Mary Moran attempted to get a handle on our downward trajectory, 30 years ago, then Attorney General Blumenthal made sure that we would have the barest minimum, insufficient help in righting our situation — with Moran’s successor signing off on that agreement, and, in effect, dealing the city its final death blow (albeit, toward a protracted, agonizing death…).
So; is it any surprise that our present governor, Ned Lamont, has side-stepped any acknowledgement of our dire, progressively-worsening municipal health, even as our own GA delegation and almost all of our elected city officials have done the same?…
But then , Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (“On “Death and Dying”) found, in her research on the subject-matter of her famous 70’s book, that DENIAL, was among the psychological states/stages of dying, with ACCEPTANCE usually coming toward the end. It would seem that Bridgeport is pretty close to the end…
And, regarding a tangential issue; the state redistricting mandate. While no-one fought to keep the 125th GA District in Bridgeport in 2000, why is no-one even acknowledging that critical loss in this redistricting period, much less mounting a serious effort to take it back from New Canaan?!
Thanks for this article Lennie,hopefully this may bring this situation to the forefront a bit more.
This situation and outlay of millions isn’t going away any time soon either. Garcia will be the next one filing (and winning) lawsuits against the city when she is let go.It all has to stop.Most in the city don’t trust election results, don’t trust “ National searches for key positions in our city, and certainly most do not trust Joe Ganim to do anything for our city that won’t benefit him in someway.
Political Intrusion Of Personnel Office, Police Department Eclipses $10 Million In Legal Fees, Consultants, Payouts, Overtime Mismanagement. Look at how much time, money and corruption has gone into making AJ Perez the Police Chief in Bridgeport? Perez is a nice guy but that’s it, why was it so important for Joe Ganim to have Perez as the police chief, was he that smart and such a good leader, Ganim had te City Attorney;s Office, the City;s Pesonnel Director, the Civil Servicce Commissioers all working to make Perez the police chief, why?
Lennie, goes right into how the police union turned its back on what was going on because they were bought and own my Joe Ganim, how, Lennie wrote. “Perez, as acting chief, opened up the police overtime spigot, spending millions beyond budgeted amounts. Ganim had appointed Perez out of loyalty for his support during good times and bad. It seemed reasonable, purely on a personal basis, Ganim was even with the house when he rewarded Perez acting position. Perez proved his management skills were weak.” The City Council fell right in step with Ganim said nothing and did nothing thereby costing the taxpayers.
How in the world can Eric Amado become the permanent personnel director with the corruption in the Personnel Office, there must an investigation into the Personnel Office, we need a new police chief from the outside of Connecticut to clean house with the morale, training, leadership that’s needed.
Again, why was AJ Perez so important to Joe Ganim, who told David Dunn to make sure that Perez became chief? As for the Bridgeport City Charter which is the bible in govering the city, the city unions have said nothing along with the city council, they all given their voice and power to Joe Ganim.
What has the Bridgeport Police union done to fight the corruption abuse of the Civil Service system that is there to protect each one of their dues paying members? These members go to work and put their life on the line everytime they are on duty and the police union leadership from all of the past police leadership, cheating didn’t matter, high ranking police officers helping in the corruption of the cheating to help Perez, what happen to merit? What happen to The Duty of Fair Representation which is rights of every BPD member, your leadership has fail you and the doesn’t see and hear the concern that BPD has about the police chief getting arrested and going to prison.
Finally! Thanks Len. And the dollar amount grows everyday.
It always seemed a bad idea, certainly in recent years, to promote a current Bpt policeman to Chief. Too many friendships, favors owed, payback, etc.
Nardozzi was doing what he was hired for, controlling overtime so the rank and file wanted him gone and Ganim took advantage of that in his campaign. But I’ve always wondered just how many police actually live in Bridgeport, are they and their families such a voting block?
Between the taxes, Board of Education and the Police department, it’s tough to be up on Bridgeport.
The late, great Bridgeport Post newspaperman Jim Clark came up with the greatest description of Bridgeport, “Bridgeport CT, Where the Circus never left town”.
Not a knock on Eric Amado, however the fact that an executive search firm yields the “Best Candidate” as under our nose the whole time stinks of corruption. #PerezSagaAllOverAgain
The fact that he civil service commission does not see an opportunity to simply bring in someone with zero ties/baggage tied to any administration is beyond me. Especially since this hire will be mainly responsible for for new police search and many of the other positions in the “actors’s guild” that need to be filled.
The ineptitude in city hall is on grand display. I’m amazed daily that despite of , the city has been on an upward trajectory. I’ll attribute it to the people of this city. Joe and his administration will say it’s why he should be re-elected, smh. #onlyinbridgeport
Kelvin, Eric Amado doesn’t realize how he’s being used, Joe Ganim has Eric doing two FULL TIME jobs as the Labor Relation Director and as the Personnel Director for the city, it’s hard enough to run one office never mind two. Joe Ganim owes Eric just like Joe owned AJ Perez but for different reasons that only benefits Joe and not the city and the taxpaers. There’s so much going on around Eric and he doesn’t have the time to look into them. There has not been any investigation into corruption into the Polce Department and into the Personnel Director’s Office from a scandal that made national news, the only thing the FBI did was to look at one thing, wire fraud, with David Dunn and AJ Perez going to jail, they did not into how far the damage happen inside those departments. The City must clean house and bringing in people from out of state.
Kelvin Ayala, I concur with all your observations concerning Eric Amado and the Civil Service Director’s position. I asked a similar question in a post in October about the same thing when I questioned, will Eric question the man that have already given him two City Department Head Supervisory positions without the benefit of an exam? Let me say that I wouldn’t know Eric if he smacked my face, but I do know Bridgeport politics and past experience has shown that Nothing is given to Anyone without expecting something in return, Nothing! Eric was given TWO Department Head positions which leads one to be suspect, that he is being leased with an option to buy. We’ve all seen this movie hundreds of times before!
The most important Department in City government did not do a Nation wide search for the Civil Service Director yet are doing one for the Chief of the BPD which the Civil Service Director is responsible for the choosing the testing company and setting criteria. This is asshole backwards, but OIB!
Don, Bridgeport is the largest city in Connecticut but it has NO permanment Police Chief, NO Personnel Director and NO Labor Relation Director, what the HELL has Mayor Joe Ganim been doing? We know he wants to move to a high position but President Biden not going to give him a position, he can’t beat Senator Blumenthal who terms end in 2023 or House Rep. Jim Hines terms ends in 2022. Lamont kicked his ass for governor.
Joe Ganim owed AJ Perez going back to the time when Joe was found guilty stealing taxpayers money but AJ Perez was Mayor Ganim’s personal driver it was Perez who drove Joe to New York to buy tailor-made suits and Perez kept wine that Joe bought from New York and kept them for Joe in his home. All of that is history but else does Perez know about Joe and remember nothing happen to Perez in that case. Joe does his time then gets elected again as mayor and makes Perez the “Acting” Police Chief, well why? As Lennie wrote above, “Then, approaching an election year in 2018 with heat from community interests, Ganim announced a national search for police chief. Worse kept secret in the cop building: AJ, a sweetheart of a guy, doesn’t occupy the brainpower to finish in the top three of a national search and by City Charter regulations the place you must land for a mayoral appointment to a five-year contract.” What did Perez do for Joe Ganim that made everybody know that Perez would get the position as chief. Now what about Eric Amado, Eric is covering Joe’s ass by running the Personnel Office and the Labor Relation Office thereby covering Joe’s ass for not hiring a Personnel Director and the Labor Relation Director. Joe owns Eric.
“Ganim jets to Scotland for U.N. climate summit”
Brain Lockheart Nov. 12, 2021
As world leaders, including President Joe Biden, gathered in Glasgow, Scotland during the last two weeks for a United Nations climate summit, Mayor Joe Ganim recently joined them.
Ganim confirmed by phone Friday morning, the gathering’s final day, that he was on an unannounced trip to participate in the 26th climate change summit. He arrived Tuesday and planned to head home this weekend after complying with the necessary coronavirus pandemic travel protocols.
Well, Joe Ganim was there for a job interview with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, hoping to get a assistant to something at the U.S. Transportation office in Boston. But here’s the problem, according to a well-known expression, Rome’s emperor at the time, the decadent and unpopular Nero, “fiddled while Rome burned.” The expression has a double meaning: Not only did Nero play music while his people suffered, but he was an ineffectual leader in a time of crisis. This is Joe Ganim’s dilemma, Bridgeport is burning and he’s in Glasgow, Scotland.
When the City hired a national firm, CPS HR Consulting, to assist in replacing a “long term” acting and most recently felonious former employee, did it request any advisement in its consultations on this HR assignment on how they professionally viewed our “municipal employment practices” and how Bridgeport differs from other governmental bodies??
By the way, while Eric Amado scored highest for the position, between his local experience, studies, and residence will he have any actions to pursue to create equal opportunities in this diverse City for all? Will supervisors and managers make efforts with their employees to learn more about the results of their work efforts and see that their lives as public servants are full? The person who scored second best in this HR testing was a City employee, resident and active volunteer for several years in Bridgeport. She was seeking a work assignment, such as originally discussed and applied for locally. In the meantime while testing for Bridgeport HR she received an offer from Louisiana, where she accepted a position and now directs more governmental activity and earns more compensation and benefits than in the Bridgeport position she sought. Bridgeport governance needs to change, by learning and practicing better actions…..to avoid waste of time, money, and valuable lives. What are the reasons for folks looking to leave or avoid Bridgeport employment? Time will tell.