Former City Councilman Bob “Troll” Walsh contends city employee councilor Richard Paoletto is being protected from his second sexual harassment allegation, the first of which the Troll says led to a slap on the wrist. City Council President Tom McCarthy, deputy director of Labor Relations, has recused himself from the city’s review process, writing “the employee is innocent until proven otherwise.”
Paoletto, suspended with pay pending review of the allegations by Labor Relations Director Larry Osborne, could also face sanctions from the city’s legislative body. Walsh knows what that’s like, arguing city leaders were quick to excoriate him for a private call to a council peer for which he apologized, than seriously addressing a sexual harassment charge against an administration supporter. Walsh was a stick in the eye to three mayoral administrations while he served on the council.
Appearing on Jennifer Buchanan’s Bridgeport Now cable access show Tuesday night, Walsh said, “It’s either preferential treatment or the city’s ambivalent to sexual harassment claims.” The only advice the city council president has shared, Walsh asserted, is don’t talk to the press.
Walsh argued that Paoletto “committed sexual harassment and placed the city in harm’s way … but the council president says it’s kinda iffy.”
McCarthy has recused himself from the Paoletto investigation as a result of his position as deputy director of labor relations.
This raises another example of a sticky situation with city employees serving on the City Council in violation of the City Charter because a loophole in state law allows it, or so declares the interpretation of City Attorney Mark Anastasi. Every time an allegation is made against a city employee councilor, it will be reviewed by the department for which McCarthy serves as second in command to Larry Osborne.
McCarthy issued this email to the legislative body three weeks ago:
As I am sure most of you have seen by now, there is an article in today’s CT Post about Councilman Paoletto. A few things about this situation: 1) I have recused myself from any Labor Relation’s investigation because of my role as City Council President. I am not involved and, therefore, don’t have any additional information. 2) At this point it is important to remember that complaints are filed and investigated regularly about city employees. Sometimes they are found to have merit, sometimes they are found to be baseless. It is important to remember that if a complaint has been filed, that does NOT mean the person did anything wrong. The employee is innocent until proven otherwise. 3) The Council will wait until there is a determination in any investigation before making any decisions. We, as a Council, will deal with any investigation decisions as a Council, when the investigation is over. 4) Because we don’t know what is true and what is not true in this situation, I would advise everyone to avoid any comments to the press. 5) Richie deserves the right to go through this process and defend himself from any and all allegations that may have been made. 6) As a Council this may be a distraction, but we must continue to do our job and represent the people of Bridgeport.
If I get any information about this, I will let you all know. Tom Mc