‘The Boys’ Battle Rebeca In Assistant Police Chief Lawsuit

City Council members with Rebeca Garcia following approval of her appointment.

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.

0
Share

26 comments

    1. Don, if David Dunn is involved then you know attorney Bucci will win. I’m curious about Police Union President Paris silence on this issue. Did the union allow the City to add a non union position above the Deputy Chiefs, what did the union get in return for the new position of Assistant Chief and did the union negotiate the impact of this new position? The Police Union did come out and supported Joe Ganim on 2015 in Ganim’s comeback.

      0
      1. My guess is: The Union will stay silent as not to pit member vs member. The city atty and civil service usually just have that “do it and let them file a grievance “ attitude about everything. They NEED to stop listening to Mark Anastasi. He has cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. And continues too…………..

        0
        1. Your absolutely right Frank. Cities do have that M.O. Do it and let them grieve it. The problem in Connecticut is that unlike some other states like NY, is that in CT when the union side wins a grievance, the state only looks at that particular case. No matter how many cases you bring that are clearly the same violation by the cities, the panel never imposes monetary fines on the cities for continually violating the same contract points. Therefore; there remains no incentive for cities to correct their behavior. In NY when violations occur and they are the same type of violations, arbitration panels impose fines against the city in addition to awarding the union and aggrieved member their due compensation and relief.
          Connecticut fosters the good ole boy system providing about $500 per day to the arbitrators which are Political appointees whether they are there for the cities side, the unions side, or the “independent”. Nice work if you can get it!!!!!!!

          0
          1. Rich, I’m in total agreement with you and John and that’s why David Dunn is still employed by Mayor Ganim because he knows where the skeletons are in the City, David Dunn has been a City workers ever since John Mandanici was the mayor of Bridgeport in the early 1980’s even after Dunn had his own personal problems where he had to seek help. Then you have City Attorney Hamilton Burger (Mark Anastasi) who like Dunn has been in his position for over thirty years and they both are liars but they don’t care because the only have to answer to one person, the mayor. This gives Mayor Joe Ganim “plausible deniability” the same way that Richard Nixon did.

            Rich, let me repeat what you what you wrote, “The problem in Connecticut is that unlike some other states like NY, is that in CT when the union side wins a grievance, the state only looks at that particular case. No matter how many cases you bring that are clearly the same violation by the cities, the panel never imposes monetary fines on the cities for continually violating the same contract points. Therefore; there remains no incentive for cities to correct their behavior.” City unions collectively need to flex their muscles especially during Democrat primaries and general election in order to make change. Mayor Joe Ganim hides behind “plausible deniability” when he’s questioned about how union grievances are stall, he will say hat he has nothing to do with it and that’s there’s nothing that he can do. In order to deal with this issue statewide it needs to be bought to the State AFL-CIO to lobby to get the State to make changes.

            0
        2. Frank,

          I agree with your position on Attorney Mark Anastasi.

          I like Mark personally, however as a “part-time” Assistant City Attorney earning over $100,000 per year he does everything in his power to issue “legal opinions” that simply supports the administration’s position even though it not a “legal opinion” that will often be upheld in a court of law.

          0
  1. Ron
    Please help me understand Captain Garcia is not the first person to server in this position.
    As Assistant Chief Of Police. My research I can’t find any outcry up until this point is it because she will become The first Hispanic Woman To server. We all know Mayor’s have appointed people to this position in the Past.
    We should do away with all Deputy Police Chief ‘s Positions because I can remember when we had 4 Deputy police chiefs how many were people of Color.

    0
    1. Ernie, I can’t explain what the Police did or didn’t do but that was not done in the Fire Department. As for the 4 Deputy Police Chiefs that came from the study to improve the City and it was determine that both the Police and the Fire Department didn’t need to have those deputies belonging to the union and that they should hire private citizens with a lower pay and who reported directly to the Chief instead of the union.

      0
  2. Lennie
    Do you remember when Mayor Lenny Paoletta appointed a person Over the Late Joe Walsh back when I served as Council President In 81-85 I don’t remember if Civil Service was involved in that decision or not.
    Lennie can you refresh my memory please
    Thanks 🙏

    0
    1. Ernie, Mayor Paoletta was having trouble with Superintendent of Police Joe Walsh because Mayor Paoletta couldn’t tell Walsh what to do so Mayor Paoletta attempted create the position of Public Safety Officer who would be over the Police and fire department and the Police Superintendent (Police Chief) and the Fire Chief, the person was Jonathan Best. This could only happen with a charter change.

      0
    2. Ernie, shortly after the 1983 reelection of Paoletta he demanded Walsh’s resignation. Walsh refused. The Police Commission then canned Walsh. Paoletta installed Thomas Thear, former chief of Battle Creek, Michigan, superintendent of police, as the position was then known. Thear was a consultant to the city recommending reforms in the department that included removing Walsh. So the guy who did the study got the job. It took about a six-month legal fight, but Walsh won back his job, Thear was out. Tom Bucci also represented you, as City Council president, in court challenging Paoletta’s contract with Thear that bypassed the City Council. Bucci prevailed. Meanwhile, Paoletta marginalized Walsh’s return through the Police Commission. There was discussion about creating a director of public safety to oversee police and fire. It never happened. In November 1985 Bucci defeated Paoletta. Walsh’s powers were restored. He retired while Bucci was mayor.

      0
  3. Ernie,

    Am I correct that the Chief, Deputy Chief, Assistant Deputy Chief, Captains and Lieutenant positions are ALL competitive positions?

    As of right now, is the ONLY position within the BPD that is NOT a competitive position the Assistant Chief position?

    If so, that would appear to be highly doubtful.

    0
  4. Ernie, that’s why I asked you what are the qualifications and selection process to get promoted as the Deputy Chief. There had to be negotiation between the City and the union to create the position of Deputy Chief, to know what the duties, responsible and benefits and the selection process.

    0
    1. This whole pecking order thing seems confusing. In Stamford, unless things have changed since back then, there is 1 Chief and 2 or 3 deputies. All are outside the bargaining unit. All are political appointees and the D C’s come from the ranks. If a D C has a problem and the politcian wants them out, they have the option to return to their previous rank or just retire. I don’t believe they get OT. I think it’s all on a contract basis.

      0
      1. Rich, in Bridgeport the Police and Fire unions had real power back when all employees were required to reside in the City, they were a real strong voting block, plus at that time the term for mayor was just 2 years. Then the State Law was passed to allowed police and firefighters to reside anywhere and later the City voted to have the mayor’s term to be 4 years. Police and firefighters then in large numbers moved out of Bridgeport. Before those two changes the Police union was able to get 4 deputies chiefs to be in bargaining unit but the fire department had only 3 deputies chiefs so the fire union came back to the City and said, me too, so the fire department was able to get another deputy chief and they al were also bargaining unit thereby only the police chief and fire chief were non union members.

        0
        1. Yes Ron the same thing happened in Stamford but the politicians still know the power of a police and fire union especially when The union representatives are capable and know how to use that power. Residing and voting in the same town is power in itself but it’s been well over 30 years since it all changed in almost every city especially the major cities. A union rep needs to be aware of the fact that their actions can come back and bite them in the ass including the bite which comes from their own membership.
          As you know, it’s a thankless job.

          0
          1. My prediction, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know this, is that all the major players today will be gone in four years. Unless Ganim still is electable after this term.

            0
  5. Dear OIB reader, while many are preparing for the holidays in one and two weeks from today, shopping for gifts, attending holiday parties and, when necessary, pushing at piles of work at places of employment attempting to meet year end goals, much attention on the City has been on “comings and goings” of those in positions of responsibility and authority in the Public Safety department, the Bridgeport Police Department.

    When looked at from 30,000 feet during the 2015 campaign, when Candidate Ganim told us he would appoint 100 new police, we can look at his 2019 campaign when he declared that he had met “that campaign promise” with classes for new officers. Sounds great, doesn’t it? New appointments will allow for more flexible, and less overtime, policing. So how is that going? What is the work force full time authorization? (425-450) Where are we today, from resignations, retirements, disabilities, etc.?? Which City Council group is party to this information on a regular basis? And what are the plans for remedy? Do they call for about 25 new officers to be trained and available each year? Is all of the other current Police Department news a distraction from what directly and ultimately impacts taxpayers? Time will tell.

    0
  6. Rich, unfortunately that’s going to happen because of petty issues plus Mario Testa knows how to count votes and to keep his people in step with him. To take Ganim out you need money, a candidate, a message and to get their voters to the pollsa d to remember that before the election in the primary that they are already 400 votes behind because Mario will those absentee ballots in his back pocket.

    0
  7. Folks Bucci just stole the Captains and DC Armeno’s money. Why? I guess they all forgot when then Chief Chapman promoted Captain Robert Mangano to Assistant Chief in 03/04. There was no exam and no complaints about the appointment and thus established precedent. Case closed.

    0
    1. Yes- setting a precedent with no objections or grievances filed (at the time) could be considered “past practice”-which has lost many an arbitration hearing over the years. How it plays out in court is another matter. Absent a letter of agreement between a union and management bodes well for the city going forward. The good old boy system is good for the parties involved at the time but sets roadblocks up for future situations which may be similar.

      0

Leave a Reply