A busy Wednesday night, a busy Thursday. Bridgeport’s own Syesha Mercado advanced to the Final Four on American Idol! Don’t forget, blog party May 15, 6 p.m. at Captain’s Cove.
Republican State Sen. Rob Russo’s bid to prohibit city employees from serving on the Bridgeport City Council was shot down along party lines by the state senate on Wednesday. Believe it or not, the Bridgeport City Charter bans city employees from serving on the city’s legislative body, but small print added to state law years ago allows legislative service as long as the city employee does not report directly to the governing body.
Confused? A legislative aide that works directly for the council, for instance, cannot serve on the elected body. But if you work for a city department you can. Yeah I know, it’s screwy. Russo has pushed to close the state loophole to ratify the spirit of the city charter, claiming too many potential conflicts of interests prevents council members from acting independently of the mayor’s office. For instance, I will vote for your budget if you give me a raise. (It’s been done.) Nearly half of the 20 members of the council are city employees.
Opponents to Russo’s claims say it’s unconstitutional to ban city employees from seeking office to the legislative body. They also say no one understands the needs of a city better than a city employee.
Despite the vote setback, the measure is a strong reform issue for Russo, the lone Republican in the city’s legislative delegation. Nothing wrong with a little reform in Bridgeport, especially when 60 percent of the legislative district falls in Trumbull and Monroe. The larger issue Russo has pushed is securing the funds for a comprehensive audit of the Bridgeport Board of Education that would finally tell us who’s earning a living from the bowels of St. Michael’s Cemetery.
Russo’s hoping to announce the funding before the session ends next week. See Russo press release below:
Russo Calls for “Home Rule” to Determine Whether to Restrict City Employees from Serving on the City Council
Hartford, CT — In the interest of Home Rule, State Senator Robert D. Russo (R-22) offered an amendment on the floor of the State Senate today to restore towns’ authority to restrict municipal employees from serving on local legislative bodies when the town or city charter explicitly prohibits such service.
Senator Russo’s hometown of Bridgeport has a charter provision that precludes city employees from serving on the city council, but it is not enforced. The City Attorney has pointed to state law (CGS 7-421) as overriding local rule, thus permitting city employees to serve on the City Council. Under Senator Russo’s amendment, city employees would have been prohibited from serving on the Bridgeport City Council after the 2009 municipal elections.
“In the past few years, Bridgeport has had many city council members who have also been paid city employees. This is still happening today despite the fact that the people of Bridgeport, through their city charter, have decided this conflict of interest is completely inappropriate,” said Senator Russo. “The conflicts are obvious. City council members who are also city employees are regularly asked to make decisions about the city budget that directly impact their salaries. Moreover, these council members cannot be completely free to vote their conscience and represent their constituents if they fear being fired or reprimanded for opposing the administration’s policies.
“At a time when Bridgeport is making strides toward improving its image, the city would do well to end the practice of allowing city employees to serve on the city council. My amendment would have forced Bridgeport to honor its city charter, but due to party politics the state decided Bridgeport doesn’t have to comply.”
Senator Russo’s amendment was defeated 23-13 on a strict party-line vote. State Senator Ed Gomes (D-23), who also represents part of Bridgeport, spoke in opposition to and voted against the bill.
Mount Announces Run
Democrat Michele Mount, director of Legislative Affairs for Bridgeport, will be challenging Republican State Rep. DebraLee Hovey whose legislative district covers all of Monroe and the southern section of Newtown.
Mount, an attorney, is expected to leave city service in Bridgeport later this month to devote her attention to the race. She has served as a bright, vocal advocate on behalf of Bridgeport’s interests in Hartford, particularly the city’s efforts to achieve full funding of tax-exempt properties such as hospitals and state buildings that serve the region. Mount is the point person between the mayor’s office and the city’s legislative delegation in Hartford.
Monroe (where I was raised) is a fickle town when it comes to its politics. Historically, on a national and state level, it votes Republican, but continues to vote Democrats to its chief executive office. For instance, Andy Nunn, who now serves as chief administrative officer for Bridgeport, did an outstanding job as selectman in Monroe for several terms. The Newtown piece of the district covers Sandy Hook and the Route 34 corridor along part of Lake Zoar.
See Mount press release below:
MOUNT ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR 112TH DISTRICT SEAT
Michele Mount, local attorney, today announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for state representative of the 112th District. Mrs. Mount has lived in Monroe for ten years with her husband and two children, a son at Masuk high school and a daughter in grammar school.
“My experience as a practicing real estate attorney for 15 years and most recently as Director of Legislative Affairs for Bridgeport has taught me how to represent clients and constituents effectively while building relationships with our leaders in Hartford,” stated Mrs. Mount. She emphasized the strong foundation she has representing the interests of her fellow citizens was learned from her father, a state legislator for 12 years, House Majority Leader for 6 years and Attorney General for 8 years.
This spring and summer she will meet with the citizens of Monroe and Sandy Hook to discuss their needs and how she can advocate for them as their state representative. When asked how she plans to win her party’s nomination on May 20th, she said, “I believe that a person who listens to all citizens and cares about the future of her community can make a difference. I will do everything I can to ensure that my fellow citizens’ concerns are represented effectively in Hartford. That’s what they expect and deserve.”
To be able to devote maximum time to focus on representing citizens instead of fundraising, Mrs. Mount has become a Citizens Election Candidate. A Citizens Election candidate refuses to accept special interest money, removing that influence in political campaigns, and instead qualifies for a state grant by obtaining 150 individual citizen contributions totaling $5000.00. She asked citizens to visit her website, www.mountforstaterep.com to learn more about her, share their concerns, and donate to help her qualify for a state grant. You may contact her in person, by phone or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your suggestions.
We all need a little religion. I’m glad Mayor Bill Finch has found some. See city hall press release below:
Mayor Finch Hosts Noon Service for National Day of Prayer
The City of Bridgeport and Mayor Bill Finch (D-Bridgeport) will host a service for the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 1st at 12:00pm in the City Council Chambers at 45 Lyon Terrace. The lunchtime service, led by Reverend Doctor Brian Schofield-Bodt, Executive Director of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, will include prayers from a cross-section of the religious community. The Harding High School Choir and Pivot Ministries will provide entertainment. The service is free and the public is invited to attend.
Mayor Bill Finch invites people of all faiths to attend the service. “It’s important that we come together during these challenging times,” said Mayor Finch. “We particularly pray for the brave members of our Armed Forces, their families and for the peace of our nation.”
The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress and was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. The declaration was amended in 1988 by both houses of Congress and President Ronald Reagan, setting a permanent date for the National Day of Prayer to be observed on the first Thursday of the month of May each year. It is an annual observance inviting people of all faiths to come together to pray for the nation. The theme of this year’s nationwide celebration is “Prayer! America’s Strength and Shield.”