The Mayor’s Gravy Train, Plus: Bucci Says Jacobs’ Terminators Should Resign

Ding, ding, ding.

Ding, ding, ding.

Ding, ding, ding.

That sound you just heard was Mayor Bill Finch ringing the dinner bell for Democratic operatives. Yes sir. Line right up, boys and girls, step up to the Democratic Party special delivery buffet line. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. An entire candy store of delights. A gravy train bonanza. Yummy for the tummy.

The Friday afternoon firing of Ralph Jacobs, former non-political personnel director for Bridgeport Civil Service, by the CC commission gives Finch the opportunity to place his own person in there. The firing is hugely significant. In fact, it’s Finch’s greatest political accomplishment since becoming mayor nearly two years ago.

Note the emphasis on political accomplishment, not governmental. The governmental side of this firing could come back to bite Finch in the ass. The political win, however, is clear.

Finch is not popular with the electorate. As a result, political support becomes crucial to his reelection. He must keep as many pols in line as possible to ensure his nomination in 2011. That means larding Democratic operatives and Democratic Town Committee members with jobs. Placing his own person in as civil service personnel director provides the entree for political mother’s milk, putting Democratic operatives in acting civil service positions. In fact, you may see more actors on the payroll than all thespians combined at The Downtown Cabaret Theater and Playhouse on the Green.

The mayor doesn’t have nearly the discretionary appointments as in the old days. But civil service provides hundreds of opportunities in both competitive and non-competitive positions aided by a new personnel director working on an acting basis until a new test is given for a permanent director. Civil service commissioners could tell the mayor to punt and put in their own person but I don’t see that happening.

Meanwhile some possible Jacobs replacements? Larry Osborne is the current director of labor relations, a long-time city employee and Democratic operative. Oz is a survivor in city politics and clearly knows his way around City Hall. I don’t think Oz will be the replacement for a couple of reasons. He doesn’t meet the job requirements of the personnel director job as described by the City Charter below. And if you move Oz out who replaces him? Does City Council President Tom McCarthy, who works in labor relations, want that job? I don’t think so. He’ll be too much in the line of fire while also serving as council president. Big Mac’s a pretty good juggler, but I don’t think he wants to stick out his jugular vein that far.

Sec. 204. Personnel director

(a) The civil service commission shall appoint a personnel director and such examiners, investigators, clerks and other assistants as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this act. Such persons, including the personnel director, shall be subject to the civil service laws. The personnel director shall be a person thoroughly in sympathy with the application of merit and sound business principles in the administration of personnel; shall be thoroughly familiar with the principles and methods of personnel administration and skilled therein and shall have had at least three years of successful experience as director or assistant director in the administration of an employment system involving at least five hundred positions or employees. He/she shall direct and supervise the administrative work of the personnel bureau and perform such other functions as may be required of him/her by the civil service commission.

Other possibilities? Janet Finch, no blood relation to the mayor, has been directing the Grants Personnel payroll which falls outside the classified competitive civil service hires. Janet is a terrific public employee, smart, courteous, hard working. She served many years as administrative assistant to Mayor Joe Ganim. Janet could end up in civil service, perhaps in the short term, because of her knowledge and competence. She’s also not a lightning rod on the heels of a controversial termination.

Another possibility is David Dunn, who served as labor relations director for Democratic mayors John Mandanici and Tom Bucci and continued as a labor negotiator for the city under Mayors Ganim, John Fabrizi and now Finch. Dunn’s private sector experience also satisfies requirements under the City Charter language.

In his early days in government David’s mantra was work hard, play hard. He’s been clean and sober for 23 years, a remarkable achievement if you knew the David that I knew then. Dunn is smart, enjoys politics and would be a supporter of the mayor. David has his detractors too, especially from union representatives who’ve been on the other side of labor negotiations. But Dunn can do the job.

The five civil service commissioners that voted unanimously in executive session to fire Jacobs are Eleanor Guedes, T. Walter Plummer, Richard P. Rodgers, Rosa J. Correa and Willie C. McBride, Jr. McBride is the city employee representative voted in by employees. The other positions are appointed by the mayor.

Meanwhile Bucci, Jacobs’ lawyer, has his lawsuit poised to challenge Jacobs’ termination. Bucci, in a statement to OIB, calls the commission action gutless and spineless. I’ve placed a call to Civil Service Commission President Guedes for reaction. Bucci remarks below:

It was plain and simple a political hatchet job – (Jacobs) did nothing wrong to justify his termination. The commission president was gutless, and the other commissioners, plain and simple, spineless.

Their efforts to disassociate themselves from Jacob’s conduct after taking a vote in January, and never rescinding it to the present day, would make them just as culpable, if Jacobs had done something wrong. They went in executive session, to hide from public view, despite our protests, in violation of the FOIA, to carry out their execution.

Obviously, they couldn’t discuss their reasons for firing Jacobs in the open because their own misconduct would be evident. This is simply wrong, HE DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG! I don’t fault the Mayor; I fault the cowardly commissioners who have taken an oath to defend the civil service system. After the charade they conducted on Friday in which they trampled on Jacobs’ rights and made a mockery of the core principles of the civil service system – judging an individual on merit, not politics, they should all resign in disgrace. They have truly disgraced good government.

News release from Mayor Finch

City Issues RFP for Former Black Rock Bank & Trust Company Building

The City of Bridgeport’s Office of Planning and Economic Development (OPED) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the purchase and redevelopment of the Black Rock Bank & Trust Company building on Fairfield Avenue, in the city’s historic Black Rock section.

The property, located at 2836 Fairfield Avenue, is offered for a minimum purchase price set at $750,000. The former bank building is approximately 11,400 square feet, and the parcel is approximately 31,800 square feet. The location is well suited for retail, business, or mixed-use development. Proposals for purchase and redevelopment, which will be reviewed by a selection committee, are due on September 21, 2009. The selected developer will be notified on October 1.

“This is another step in my administration’s goal to dispose of excess City-owned property to the private sector, which will, in turn, create opportunities for new jobs and boost our tax revenue,” said Mayor Bill Finch.

The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Certain projects may be eligible for the State of Connecticut ‘s Arts & Entertainment tax incentives. The site was most recently home to the International Performing Arts Center.

Questions concerning the sale should be addressed via e-mail to

The RFP also is available on the City’s web site on the Office of Planning and Economic Development section.

Proposals should be sent to: Black Rock Bank & Trust RFP Coordinator, c/o Stephen J. Tyliszczak, Senior Economic Development Associate, Office of Planning and Economic Development, City of Bridgeport, 999 Broad Street, 2nd Floor, Bridgeport, CT 06604

From The Gallery at Black Rock

Please Join us:

The Gallery at Black Rock is pleased to present Dust Magnet: A video projection installation by Dustin DeMilio

August 28th 2009 6pm until 8:30 at The Gallery at Black Rock

Most people dream of being part of the show. Dustin DeMilio’s Dust Magnet allows you to do just that in a way that is otherworldly and mesmerizing.

By the use of a software patch that the artist invented, the work manipulates images of people nature or anything else in the camera’s path.

This will allow the public to see themselves larger than life manipulated with special effects added in real time to create a unique piece of moving digital art.

The projection displays mathematical shapes and forms. The artist is able to further process the live video feed to enhance colors, alter geometry, mix in other moving images and add a secondary layer of feedback to create hyper-planes and evolving fractals.This creates an interaction between the Artist, Computer and the Viewer.

The gallery is excited to present this first installation project. This installation will run for one night only and is free and open to the public.

End your summer on a mind expanding note!



  1. Lennie who are the civil service commissioners? I know McBride is supposed to be the employee representative and we have Guedes whose brother owns Primrose construction. Those are the only 2 I know.

  2. Lennie, truer words could not have been spoken than when you wrote, “The Friday afternoon firing of Ralph Jacobs, former non-political personnel director for Bridgeport Civil Service, by the CC commission gives Finch the opportunity to place his own person in there. The firing is hugely significant. In fact, it’s Finch’s greatest political accomplishment since becoming mayor nearly two years ago.”

    This is a huge story and a big shift in power that could change the merit system and violate federal law if the wrong person is put in place without the knowledge of testing and federal law.

    Lennie you also said, “David has his detractors too, especially from union representatives who’ve been on the other side of labor negotiations. But Dunn can do the job.” Lennie, I am in total disagreement with your point of “But Dunn can do the job,” do the job for whom? Let me be the first person to go on record to say that I am one of Dunn’s “detractors.” When I was a union rep. with the firefighter’s union IAFF 834, I found David Dunn did not negotiate in good faith, he was distrustful, dishonest, he would lie at will. Resolving contract issues and labor issues in a fair and honest way is not in his playbook.

    David Dunn, who served as labor relations director for Democratic mayors John Mandanici and Tom Bucci and continued as a labor negotiator for the city under Mayors Ganim, John Fabrizi and now Finch and Larry Osborne the current director of labor relations are both too deep in their career as Democratic Party and Town Committee insiders and as Lennie said, “Democratic operative.”

    The problem is the media is NOT covering this story, the only source of information is coming from OIB. Another huge problem is the public does not know the past history of civil service and the non-political position of personnel director for Bridgeport Civil Service. Lennie you have history of reporting on this subject from inside and outside in writing article for a number of newspapers, perhaps you could educate us all on this.

  3. Just goes to show that bad politicians never go away, they just get promoted. Mayor Tom Bucci hired Larry Osborne in Labor Relations back in the ’80s even though he didn’t possess the minimum qualifications. I think Mr. O. worked at the Boys Club prior to coming to the city. Now Mr. O. is part of the witch hunt against Ralph Jacobs, coming up against the man who gave him his start in Labor Relations. I hope Bucci puts Larry on the stand because he will rip him apart.

    Perfect example of why we need a working Civil Service Dept. Larry would have never passed the test and never been hired in the first place.

    1. *** Why do you always claim Mr. O. is not qualified? Is it education, or a political thing or race, what? Just don’t knock people without some sort of logical reason, personal feelings is not a valid excuse why you think a person cannot do a job, etc. ***

  4. The assault on the city employees continues unabated. Not one voice has risen from the ranks of our elected common council members decrying what is going on. Silly me most if not all work for the city or have had relatives hired that work for the city.
    We also have a group of citizens protesting the changes to the master plan and to the city attorney who offers legal advise to the Planning and Zoning board who are responsible for the master plan. I support this group and their goals.
    Finch got rid of P&Z commissioners who would have opposed the spot zoning that his new commissioners sought to interject into the master plan. What was this spot zoning:
    1. Changing the zoning on Old Town & Main St. so it would benefit contractors that contributed to the mayor’s campaign Fund.
    2. Change of Zoning for Testo’s Restaurant.
    3. Change of zoning for a contractor friend who owns the property at Summit St. & Greenwood St.
    4. Increased setbacks for certain parcels of land .
    There have been 2 years of out-and-out mismanagement and nastiness fostered by this administration and its nasty drones.
    If this is not a good argument for a 2-year term for mayor I don’t know what is. We have 2 more years of this bullshit staring us in the eye.

  5. Finch et al. are going to be eating Alpo after this fiasco.

    More city monies being spent on outside counsel. I wonder how much Bobby Berchem and his firm gave Finch on the last go-around?

  6. Phinch phired Jacobs because Jacobs is difficult to work with?

    Guess what Phinchy … I find you hard to work with. Accordingly, I’m giving you 2 year’s notice. You’re phired. Hopefully 18,000+ people will join me at the polls in 2 years to run your ass out of town.

    Go to Waterbury where you belong!

  7. Lennie,
    Tom Bucci is totally correct about the FOI violation. They may be allowed to discuss the matter behind close doors (as it relates to the disciplinary action at hand and the legal strategy and ramifications) but other matters that were not brought up in the public session or items such as possible replacements are totally forbidden by law.
    And the vote itself MUST be taken in public. If Mark Anastasi was in the room when the vote was not taken in public then he is disloyal to his oath as an attorney.
    Since you were there Lennie, you should file the complaint with the FOI commission as a member of the working press.
    Since McBride is an member of the board elected by his fellow city employees, he has a great deal to gain by keeping his vote secret.
    And the remedy that you seek should not be to have the results of the vote published (since there should be no formal minutes of the executive session) but you should seek that the meeting be re-held in its entirety or at a minimum the meeting should be reconvened and started with the commission taking a vote to come out of executive session.

  8. Break out the moppines, feed bags and forks as Finch’s All You Can Eat Buffet is getting ready for its Grand Opening.

    The problem is that it will not be a Home Town Buffet. More like the Out of Towners All You Can Eat Buffet!

    Finch’s puppies like Iams and Eukanuba.

  9. Bob what you want to do as a remedy, while noble, is a waste of time. Get this matter before a judge. Le’s find out exactly what disloyalty to the City of Bridgeport is.

    1. TC,
      I believe Lennie should file that complaint TODAY. The purpose of FOI is to provide the public and most often through its press free and easy access to public records. Sometimes it is truly amazing how things might change when it is done in open sessions versus closed door. Who knows, maybe the results will change and there will be no need for court action.
      You are not going to get anything quickly before a judge. In a case like this I believe the attack should be on multiple fronts and before different bodies. Contradictions in testimony are always possible and that tends to work against the establishment.

      1. *** To file a complaint against F.O.I. would be counterproductive for Lennie, plus limit his grapevine line to City Hall. A good start but Lennie should not be alone on this one, there’s more than 1 news medium in CT & they need to wake up & smell the coffee here! Bill Cummins where are you, someone wake Rip up! ***

  10. As if hizzoner da mayor didn’t have enough problems resulting from the firing of Bridgeport’s personnel director for Bridgeport Civil Service, the Ungag the People Committee is demanding Mayor Bill Finch remove Associate City Attorney Greg Conte from his position as legal counsel to the Planning and Zoning Commission. “During recent [zoning regulation rewrite] meetings of the PZC, Mr. Conte had consorted with counsel for developers who are seeking zoning changes that are detrimental to homeowners, taxpayers and residents of our city and carrying the developers’ messages to the PZC without contacting, consulting with, or in any way taking into consideration the views of the citizens attending the meeting and whose property values and quality of neighborhood life could be at stake,” states a letter signed by Michael Voytek, the chairman of the Ungag the People Committee, and several ‘neighborhood captains.’ State Representative Chris Caruso is weighing in on this one, too, telling Keila Torres of the Connecticut Post, “When the public was told they could not speak anymore but the associate city attorney is going out and getting information from developers, that’s shutting out the public. The public is not privy to what is discussed and it places in question serious doubt about the master plan.” Mr. Conte didn’t respond to several calls for comment from a Post reporter. Mayor Finch issued the following, noncommittal response: “As a matter of policy, I refrain from publicly discussing personnel matters,” he said. “As in the case with any alleged wrongdoing, I urge any citizen that has factual evidence regarding those acts by any municipal employee or official to contact the chief of police, the city’s Ethics Commission, or any other appropriate state or local official.”

    Ain’t politics great?

  11. Bridgeport Civil Service is a strict writing of such a code whether public officials like it or not.

    If I were a DTC member or otherwise, I wouldn’t be looking for long-term job security if I took a job in violation of the city charter civil service provisions. They are the provisions whether the political community or business community likes them or not.

    Which leads to my query: was Mayor Finch listening to his political advisors or listening to his business advisors or hearing voices when he manufactured this action against Civil Service?

    1. I cannot trust an elected official that behaves as if there are no public (i.e., political) repercussions to anything he or she does. Mr. Finch’s actions appear to reflect a personal agenda, although this is purely circumstantial. He is not the only official elected, with substantial assistance from the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee, to represent the people of the city of Bridgeport that pursued the job with an ulterior motive. It’s an open secret that Auden Grogins has her eyes on a future appointment to the superior court bench. Ms. Grogins owes more than a little to the DTC for her success at the polling place, but let’s not forget the incalculable positive impact President Barack Obama had on Democratic candidates nationwide. Hundreds were pulled into office on Mr. Obama’s coattails, at the local, state and federal levels. (I wasn’t the first to mention Ms. Grogins’ judicial ambitions on this blog, but I’ve been taken to task by a vindictive DTC member or two for it, although my suspicions fall on just one small-minded ward heeler.)

  12. Does the Mayor appoint the ethics commission?
    If not where is the pile of complaints that should have been filed against him? Bribing DTC, threatening jobs for a vote, violating FOI rules, lying to the public, having Woody harassing people so they leave their jobs. The first name that pops into my mind for head of civil service is Dennis Murphy. Murphy left Stamford (or was he ousted?) so Stafstrom’s main man is unemployed right? What better way to have complete control over City Hall, Woody in the Mayor’s Office, Murphy/Stafstrom everywhere else. Actually I like Dennis but where would his allegiance be? Who knows, maybe we would be better off, Stafstrom is at least smart.

    1. According to Lennie’s post, “The five civil service commissioners that voted unanimously in executive session to fire Jacobs are Eleanor Guedes, T. Walter Plummer, Richard P. Rodgers, Rosa J. Correa and Willie C. McBride, Jr. McBride is the city employee representative voted in by employees. The other positions are appointed by the mayor.” Hizzoner appoints four of them, which pretty much stacks the deck in his favor.

  13. I don’t think Finch listens to anyone. He hears celestial vibrations in his head and it makes him say anything that comes into his head without thinking through consequences. What pisses me off is that Anastasi won’t stand up to the toddlers in the Mayor’s office, he’s a civil servant and can’t be fired … oh wait maybe he can be now.

  14. I can only speak for when my wife was involved in this process.
    The land use attorneys all sat in on the public meetings that were held on the master plan and the zoning re-write hearings.
    They were only allowed to speak when it was a public meeting and input was sought from the public. They did not sit in during executive sessions.

  15. I saw one of the most amazing things today: a man driving around the streets of Black Rock, removing signs he posted on utility poles last weekend advertising a tag sale. I thanked him for caring enough to remove the signs. Most people, about 99.44%, leave ’em to be aged by rain and bleached by the sun.

  16. “But civil service provides hundreds of opportunities in both competitive and non-competitive positions aided by a new personnel director working on an acting basis until a new test is given for a permanent director.”

    Sounds as if the mayor, in an early effort to shore up the support of the Democratic Town Committee’s rank and file, is taking control of his political destiny. Sure, his approval ratings are abysmal, but that hasn’t stopped lousy incumbents from retaining office. Look at George W. Bush! His approval ratings sucked, no two ways about it. He was elected to a second term. The nation’s international standing is in tatters because of this man, large portions of the city of New Orleans look like a third-world country, and U.S. armed forces are bogged down on two losing battle fronts.

    Nice to be remembered, eh? Maybe that is Mr. Finch’s line of thinking. His maneuvering to replace Ralph Jacobs as the personnel director for Bridgeport Civil Service would indicate that his connections to Paul “the pimp” Timpanelli and the Bridgeport Regional Business Council remain strong; removing Jacobs and replacing him, at least in the interim, gives Mr. Finch more flexibility to be business-friendly.

  17. This just in: donj’s idiocy goes viral on!

    July 2003: Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim is sentenced to nine years in prison for, among other things, taking more some years in wine, meals, entertainment and various other illegal gifts than constituents in his chronically depressed city earned.

    July 2009: A blog poster named donj writes on the aptly named Internet site Only In Bridgeport, “And who wouldn’t vote for Ganim … he was the best mayor. I could care less about what he did … and I will tell you this. I hope Ganim runs again ’cause he will have my vote any time he was a great mayor.”

    Here’s a link to Ned Mahoney’s full story on Lennie’s indicted, convicted and imprisoned co-conspirator:


    1. *** The pity is having to read your continued B/S like you have all the answers without any of the questions yet, melon head! Don’t bother to respond ’cause no one really cares what you think; you’re in need of a lobotomy, “Vodoo” style to relieve the pressures of day-to-day life & give you direction towards paying your dues for the disrespect you have committed to others in general. Estás en el punto de la marca negra de tu espirito i’ no lo sabe! ***

      1. The “i” you used above is “i” as in “idiota”.

        A person versed in the Spanish language would have known to use “y” as in Yahooy.

        In Spanish the “i” makes the same sound as the letter “e” in English. In Spanish, the letter “y” is known as “i griega” and makes the same sound as the English “e”.

        Animal! Not anymal.

    2. Remember Marion Berry, the disgraced former mayor of Washington D.C.? Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

      “Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr. (born March 6, 1936) is an American Democratic politician who served as the second elected mayor of Washington, D.C. from 1979 to 1991, and again as the fourth mayor from 1995 to 1999. He was the target of a high-profile 1990 arrest on drug charges, which precluded him from seeking reelection that year. After he was convicted of the charges, Barry served six months in a federal prison, but was elected to the D.C. city council in 1992 and ultimately returned to the mayoralty in 1994, serving from 1995 to 1999. Today, Barry again serves on the city council, representing Ward 8, which comprises Anacostia, Congress Heights, Washington Highlands, and other neighborhoods.

      “On January 18, 1990, Barry was arrested with a former girlfriend, Hazel ‘Rasheeda’ Moore, in a sting operation at the Vista Hotel by the FBI and D.C. Police for crack cocaine use and possession. The incident was widely broadcast on television, showing an enraged Barry excoriating Moore, who had become an FBI informant.”

      If this guy can get re-elected to a city council seat AND the mayor’s office after appearing (in an early version of reality television) in a video tape smoking crack with a former ‘girlfriend’ … Well, miracles have been known to happen in the political world. When Ernest “Moses of my people” Newton is released from prison after serving his five years of plea-bargained purgatory, he’ll most likely run for his old legislative seat. He’ll get re-elected too.

      Former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas gave a tearful, blubbering oration at Richard Nixon’s memorial service, ending with “God bless Richard Nixon!” Nixon did do a few commendable things as president, notably signing the Clean Air Act Extension of 1970 and the Federal Water Pollution Control Amendments of 1972. Ind the end his name will always be associated with the burglary of Democratic National Headquarters on July 17, 1972, and the coverup that followed. For all the good he did, Nixon turned out to be a crook. The same can be said about Lennie’s former boss.

  18. The city of Bridgeport is STILL bedeviled by problems dating to Ganim’s time in office, including a lawsuit that resulted from his bribe-recieving. To quote a passage from the Hartford Courant’s story referenced above:

    “… Bridgeport argued that it should not have to pay a developer about $8 million for building a city sports arena because Ganim rigged the contract. A state Superior Court judge disagreed. In the second, Ganim was found personally liable for $182,000 to a developer who sued Bridgeport, claiming the city awarded his marina and hotel project to a developer who was paying bribes.”

  19. Joel Gonzalez:

    Thanks for the post about the Editorial from the CT Post, re: “… Let the people vote on libraries … we applaud Mayor Finch for encouraging the action. ‘I say, let the people decide,’ the mayor said.”

    Quick! Somebody wake me … am I in the middle of a bad dream? Where is the CT Post getting their information from? May I humbly suggest to the CT Post editorial board member(s) a visit and a careful listen to the facts and legal arguments at 2pm, tomorrow (8/25/09) in Courtroom 6B, Superior Court, 1061 Main Street, Bridgeport … Day #2 for Liberate Libraries Committee v. Alma Maya (Bpt Town Clerk) … it will be a “liberating and an awakening experience” for us all.

    I’ll look for you in the peanut gallery, Joel. Don’t be late. The judge is punctual.


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