Article updated: Former Mayor Tom Bucci, a labor and employment law specialist, declares Rebeca Garcia’s unilateral appointment to assistant chief violates a necessary competitive process, something the city refutes. Bucci represents captains Brian Fitzgerald, Steven Lougal and Roderick Porter, and Deputy Police Chief Anthony Armeno challenging Garcia’s rank to number two top cop. See complaint here.
Bucci is wrong on the law, the city counters, a competitive process is not necessary.
What is this, say City Hall insiders, the disgruntled boys club against a Hispanic woman?
Don’t ya love legal machinations?
Mayor Joe Ganim and Chief AJ Perez agree that Garcia is the right person for the job.
This lawsuit seems to be uncharted territory. Bucci writes, in his complaint, on behalf of the boys:
Neither the Bridgeport City Charter, nor federal or state law, permit the defendants, City of Bridgeport, Bridgeport Civil Service Commission, Mayor Joseph Ganim, Police Chief A.J. Perez, and David J. Dunn to unilaterally create the position of Assistant Police Chief, and then to unilaterally appoint a candidate to the position without following the City Charter provisions detailing the method for creating and filling a new position in the Bridgeport civil service system.
The early history of assistant chief is hazy. Robert Mangano occupied the assistant chief position when he passed away in 2004, according to news accounts and his obituary, but received deputy chief pay. He was placed in that role by then Chief Wilbur Chapman.
Then came U.S. District Judge Janet Arteron’s ruling updating a decades-long federal remedy order for racial equality in the Police Department, as noted in Bucci’s complaint:
On or about March 12, 2008, the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, Arterton, J., in the case of The Bridgeport Guardians, Inc., et al v. Arthur I Delmonte, et al, Civil No. 5:78cv175(JBA) issued an “Interim Modification Order,” which provided, laln Assistant Chief is necessary to assist the Chief with, among other things, the implementation of this Order and all other matters pertaining to the fair and equal treatment of Bridgeport Police Officers.
On August 12, 2008, the Civil Service Commission voted unanimously to make the assistant chief position non-competitive. It received approval from the City Council.
Lynn Kerwin, in 2009, became the first woman to fill that role. The process was non competitive. The feeling was the chief needed a second in command outside the union both administratively and professionally to execute Arterton’s updated remedy order. Kerwin retired in 2011.
In 2012, with police overtime bursting, Mayor Bill Finch wanted a budget hawk to reel that in to assist then Chief Joe Gaudett. Can anyone do this internally to fight off overtime gougers? Nope was the answer. Send in your applications. James Nardozzi who had a reputation for curtailing overtime was hired outside the system, a fresh face not aligned with overtime grabbers.
Nardozzi did his job, the howling followed, the Police Union pushed back. In 2015 Joe Ganim returned as mayor, Nardozzi was dismissed, he filed a lawsuit, he’ll receive a settlement soon.
Meanwhile, Garcia has been appointed assistant chief to help Perez manage the good old boys within the department.
Bucci’s lawsuit begs the question, why didn’t Captain Lonnie Blackwell sign on? Davon Polite, president of the Bridgeport Guardians, urged the City Council Monday night to lobby Blackwell’s rise to deputy chief. Yes, the machinations continue.
Bucci’s complaint seeks:
1. A temporary injunction barring Captain Rebecca Garcia from serving in the position of Assistant Police Chief until further order of the Court;
2. A temporary and permanent injunction barring the defendants, City of Bridgeport,
Bridgeport Civil Service Commission, Mayor Joseph Ganim, Police Chief A.J. Perez, and David J. Dunn from making any appointments to the position of Assistant Police Chief until the position of Assistant Police Chief is established and filled as a position in the Bridgeport civil service system, in keeping with the City Charter requirements for creating and filling positions in the classified service of the Bridgeport civil service system;
3. A declaratory judgment declaring that the position of Assistant Police Chief is a position that must be created and filled pursuant to the civil service provisions of the Bridgeport City Charter for appointments to the City of Bridgeport’s classified service;
4. A declaratory judgment declaring that the appointment of Captain Rebecca Garcia to the position of Assistant Police Chief is null and void because the position has not been established pursuant to the requirements of the civil service provisions of the Bridgeport City Charter;
5. A declaratory judgment declaring that the appointment of Captain Rebecca Garcia to the position of Assistant Police Chief is null and void because the defendants, City of Bridgeport, Mayor Joseph Ganim, and Police Chief A.J. Perez, failed to follow the civil service provisions of the Bridgeport City Charter for creating the position, and failed to follow the civil service provisions of the Bridgeport City Charter in making her appointment to the position of Assistant Police Chief;
6. Costs; and
7. Such other and further relief as may be appropriate.