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 Stephen.Tyliszczak@bridgeportct.gov.
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!