Excerpt of letter to City Council President Tom McCarthy from peers Bob Walsh and Andre Baker:
At a time when the City of Bridgeport is laying off low paid city employees due to a budget problem, it is unconscionable that the City Attorney is allowed to proceed with politically motivated consulting contracts of this magnitude
A Hartford Courant story revealing that a lawyer friend of Mayor Bill Finch from his days in the State Senate has earned more than $200,000 as an outside legal consultant to the city has City Council members Bob “Troll” Walsh and Andre Baker asking questions.
How many of these agreements are out there and who’s getting paid? Walsh and Baker fired off an email Tuesday to City Council President Tom McCarthy asking for the information they had requested in May as part of a resolution. McCarthy, according to Walsh, said a resolution wasn’t necessary, the information could be obtained without it. Troll says he and Baker are still waiting. Here is the letter which was also sent to members of the council Ordinance Committee.
Resolution concerning Personal Services Contracts & Procurement Ordinance
Council President McCarthy,
At the May 17, 2010 council meeting Councilman Baker and myself introduced a resolution calling for a full disclosure of personal services contracts for the prior 6 months in an effort to determine whether rules outlined in the Procurement Ordinance were being properly adhered to when advertising and awarding these deals. This resolution was prompted by then recent revelations concerning such contract with prior City Hall employees, i.e. Ned Winterbottom and Dennis Murphy.
The matter was heard by the committee at the May 25, 2010 committee meeting. At that time Baker and I were chided for not simply requesting the information and for putting the request in the form of a resolution. We felt that the subject matter was such that the force of a resolution would carry more weight and be more effective in procuring all of the data sought. We felt we needed to see all such information on these types of contracts to fully understand the extent of the problem and determine if changes to the ordinance were in order.
At that time you, as Council President, offered to get the information informally without a resolution being passed. I agreed and request that a full twelve months worth of data be made available to which you agreed. The matter was tabled before the committee and has remained tabled since then.
Now I read in the Harford Courant that a former Senate colleague of the mayor in line to receive close to a quarter of a million dollars of Bridgeport taxpayers hard-earned money in a contract that was never approved by the City Council and at least could have been revealed by the council if our request had been honored on a timely basis.
Nearly four months have passed with no response and now we have to ask if the public embarrassment is one of the reasons that this has gone unheeded.
At a time when the City of Bridgeport is laying off low paid city employees due to a budget problem, it is unconscionable that the City Attorney is allowed to proceed with politically motivated consulting contracts of this magnitude; and in an apparent effort to avoid a proper hiring process. Additionally, this practice apparently bypasses the requirement of minority contracting that is included in the ordinance.
And once again, you, as a highly paid member of the Finch administration and working in the Office of Labor Relations, bring about the appearance of conflicts of interest in trying to please too many masters.
We are requesting on an expedited basis the information previously sought in the attached resolution for the twelve month period prior to the submission of the resolution that you had previously agreed to and for any additional contract that have been issued since that time.
Resolution by council members Bob Walsh and Andre Baker:
Whereas, published reports have indicated a number of personal services contracts have been awarded recently that did not go through a competitive bidding process; and
Whereas, some of these contracts were issued on a “not to exceed basis” and the payments made may have exceeded those established limits; and
Whereas, based on the information made public these awards may be in violation of procurement procedures outlined in city ordinances; and
Whereas, the lack of competitive bidding does not provide the public with sufficient transparency to ensure that the most qualified and cost effective bidders are being selected; and
Whereas such process may violate the minority contracting requirements or at least violate the spirit of the minority contracting requirement;
Be it resolved that the city forward to the Ordinance Committee a list of all contracts awarded in the past 6 month in excess of $10,000. Such list shall include:
1) Procuring officer
2) The bidding process, i.e. informal, formal, Bid Sync, advertised, sole source exception, etc.
3) Minority outreach efforts / consideration
4) Total value of contract or “not to exceed” value
5) Term of the contract
This list should include contracts / engagements entered into by the City Attorney regardless of whether or not charter allows such exception.
Be it further resolved that in light of this report that the Ordinance Committee initiate a complete review of ordinance rule and regulations as well as reporting requirements to ensure full transparency.