What’s A Bridge Employee?

From Brian Lockhart, CT Post:

The mayor’s office recently confirmed to Hearst Connecticut Media that Ganim is being treated as a “bridge employee” who picked up where he left off when sworn in Dec. 1, 2015, rather than as a new hire starting at the bottom.

If you’re Ganim, who already earns $144,000, bridging is a good thing because it means a fatter pension, an annual bonus, cheaper health care and more vacation time.

“In 2016 Mayor Ganim started his 13th year working for the city and was bridged to his prior 12 years,” his spokesman, Av Harris said.

It is not a new concept. Harris, cited 10 other examples since 1996–four in Ganim’s new administration. He emphasized the mayor received no special treatment.

Full story here.

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17 comments

  1. 2.118.110 – Vacations—Employees leaving city’s service.

    An employee leaving the service by resignation or dismissal shall not be entitled, thereafter, to any vacation leave or to any payment in lieu of vacation, nor shall he be carried on the payroll after the last day on which he works. However, when an employee dies, is laid off or retired, the appointing authority shall notify the personnel director to certify a payment in lieu of vacation leave due such employee.

    (Prior code § 2-69)
    2.118.120 – Vacations—Effect of leave or resignation.

    An employee’s vacation shall not be reduced by time lost because of absence due to illness or authorized leave of absence. In the event that an employee is reinstated after a resignation, his time out of the city’s employ shall be deducted when figuring his vacation. An employee must work a minimum period of three months upon returning from a leave of absence or resignation before he will be permitted to take his vacation.

    (Prior code § 2-70)

    1. “The bridging and factoring of longevity, health insurance and pension for Mayor Ganim and other bridged city administration officials has all been done according to city ordinance and labor contracts and there is no special treatment for anyone,” Harris said.

      I couldn’t find much in the city ordinance. Lennie, where’s the ordinance and the labor contract?

    1. One year ago you couldn’t say enough good things about him.

      I will only say this about this “bridge employee.” This will be a fascinating topic when going for re-election. I thought there was legislation that stopped employees who were jailed from receiving any pension. Of course I think Joe is entitled to any benefit within reason. I am certain this topic will be revisited many times.

  2. Everybody can see why David Dunn is allowed to keep his position, it’s David Dunn who has been given a high Affirmative Action position without taking a exam for the position he has and how he hooks up those in power and how he is rewarded.

  3. WOW, in the event of doubt by anyone, this is the real Ganim, first G1 and now G2. As Lennie described in a recent post, Ganim is not an ideologue, he’s all about digging deep into existing policies, practices, contracts and even the City Charter to make them work to his advantage. He skirted the law the first time around until the hope of more power and monetary gain finally tripped him up. I know the financial minds on this blog will eventually put a number to how these privileged benefits add up. A 12-year gap in his employment should nullify him from picking up where he left off when he was forced to leave office.

  4. It would awfully tough to rule against Joe when you are the beneficiary of the same manipulation of the system, David Dunn. Now I understand why Joe doesn’t remove Dunn from a position he has absolutely no experience in.

    A “policy decision” made by the administration, based in part on how the state handles the pensions of returning employees, and approved by Bridgeport Personnel Director David Dunn.

    Dunn himself is a bridge staffer who has twice left and returned to City Hall.

  5. Folks, as a financial observer and reporter on this site for some years, I defer to Phil Smith for his experience at State Office of Policy Management for identifying appropriate sources in regulations and providing interpretation of same. He is usually both expert and fair-minded.

    The use of the word “bridge” in this context calls to my mind the wonderful story of the BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI where a battle of wills between the Japanese commandant was met by equal stubbornness from the British officer portrayed by Alec Guinness. His pride in the ability of his men and his desire to keep them active with raised spirits and rations as well as physical care put him 100% in support of the necessary bridge.

    Ganim2 is as focused on HIS goals, which are not those he shared with the public when running for office and do not celebrate the abilities and willingness of his citizens to assist in the RESPONSIBILITIES of governance that serves the larger public.

    His first opportunity foundered on his bad choices even though he had competent staff and advisors and a sizable City fund balance. People were watching and saw how his needs were met to the exclusion of the wider community. (Personally I do not understand what AJ Perez, his driver at the time, who is often described as the person who put “gifts” of wine and such in the trunk of the car, did not detect what was ongoing. Anybody?)

    So here we are in 2017 with a CAFR just released and posted on City site at FINANCE with Single State Audit as well. Single Federal Audit is on extension, and June 30 2016 monthly final report will finally be issued with all auditor adjustments sometime in the future.

    Some ask why this is important. And I answer the ACTUAL EXPENSES for the previous completed year are used in the 2018 budgeting exercise. Why shouldn’t they be issued formally as well in line-item form, rather than summary as a stand-alone if they are that important for comparison and contrast?

    The Budget and Appropriations group will also look at the December report half way through the 2017 FY. Of notice is there are a good number of departments who used only 35-45% of their full-time employee budgets. BUT THE REPORTS ARE NOT SHOWING SUCH A VARIANCE FOR EASY READING AND UNDERSTANDING. Why not? No staff time involved here.

    Rumors have it there is a good number of NEW employees on the City scene. Assigned where?. Using approved budgets?. Or wherever the Mayor’s team wants them? Without any report alerting the Council to the changes being made?
    Why doesn’t the Mayor’s office direct that a MONTHLY report show, by Department, full-time employees by name and title or position with a grand total that can be tracked from month to month? Let’s look at March 1, 2017 and in the first report compare it to March 1, 2016, a date that would allow for most of the dismissals of all kinds after fateful visits from Ganim2’s “terminator.”
    If we wish the Council to do good work, give them the tools and reports to see what is happening behind the scenes. Will it take a different team to explode the “bridge” that Ganim1 and Ganim2 have created? What poor choices of the past year need further investigation? Does it bother any readers that activity of the last leadership team has never been raised, sanctioned or processed by Ganim2? Maybe time in Federal prison has made the Mayor inclined to provide “second chances” to members of any leadership team, rather than to the community at large who elected him and pay taxes. Time will tell.

  6. JML, the only employees receiving second chances or privileged treatment are the few he needs to assist him in his agenda. The rest are expendable and will be shown the door if they no longer serve a purpose or question him in any way. I find it interesting to see his top-tier campaign handlers are now his employees. While there’s nothing unusual about that on its face, what does he do if he attempts to run again? Do they all take a leave of absence?

  7. Questions? Do we have any”checks and balances” in The Government of the City pf Bridgeport? One would think the City Council might have some interest in this issue but the present City Council remains Missing In Action. The fact is, the people of Bridgeport who will be paying all these “bridge” issues have no one to turn to, to find out if this procedure is truly legitimate and how we may change it if we so desire. All this goes back to bad governance in Bridgeport. The only antidote is citizen involvement. We are seeing some evidence of that but it remains disjointed and there is a lack of communication.

    1. Frank, you got this right and let me make two points. First, there is a person who has the power and ability and is independent of the mayor and the City Council and that is the head of Civil Service. David Dunn is the “Acting” Personnel Director and the head of Civil Service and it’s Dunn who is allowing these “bridge” decisions plus he has benefited from “bridge” appointments. Mayor Ganim can take Dunn out of his position right now but Ganim won’t because he needs Dunn’s help even though Dunn is not qualified to hold that position and Dunn has been in that position for seven years. Mayor Ganim and former Mayor Finch have refused to hold a nationwide exam for the Personnel Director.

      Second, City Council elections are every two years and the mayor is every four years so the council will not challenge the mayor because they don’t want to have a primary so they go along to get along.

  8. Missing from the CT Post story was specific reference to what law this approach is based on. All the CT Post offered was it was “a policy decision” made by the administration, based in part on how the state handles the pensions of returning employees, and approved by Bridgeport Personnel Director David Dunn.
    Personnel matters in the City of Bridgeport are dictated by union contract. Is this guideline in union contracts? Policies must be supported by law. What law is the practice used for rehiring retiring employees based on?
    I instructed HR classes at UB and was involved in hiring at People’s in a former life. I never heard of the term ‘bridge employee’ and could not find it in Employment Law Daily or other reference resources. At one time, People’s had a guideline for rehire in which, for example, if an individual was employed for ten years, they must return to employment within ten years.
    I am aware employment law treats elected officials differently than classified employees. People in elected office, for example, cannot collect unemployment insurance. The nature of their employment is different.
    Given the CT Post no longer does investigative reporting, the level of research needed was not done. They just call people and get comments.
    My sense is there is a labor law issue here.
    Can an attorney offer to do some pro bono work?
    Is the city council jumping on this and conducting research to see if a mayor who returns to office is treated like a classified employee?

    1. Exactly my thoughts. It’s hard to believe Brian Lockhart didn’t request where and when this practice began and how it came to be an acceptable, unquestioned entitlement by “bridge personnel.” I spent two decades as an elected official and I can’t remember the time frame being open-ended. If it was approved under G1, it was another secret policy enacted without any knowledge or approval from the City Council.

      1. Lisa, it’s called “Dunnism,” that’s where David Dunn interprets contract language and civil service laws the way he wants. He will not provide anything in writing to prove his point; in fact you have to go out and prove he is wrong. The City Council doesn’t care and the mayor is happy because he got what he wanted. This type of action forces the unions and employees to either go to court or to the State Labor Board because the City’s Labor Relation Office will agree with anything he tells them.

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