What’s Bona Fide Residency? The Eleanor Guedes Case

The question of residency for Civil Service Commission Chair Eleanor Guedes was a hotly debated item on OIB in 2009. See here. What’s bona fide residency? In the case of Guedes she has a family business outfitted with a bedroom in Bridgeport she declares as a residence, but the evidence then and now argues she could be considered a resident of Trumbull that places her in conflict with the City Charter. When the issue came up Guedes explained she spent a few nights a week in Bridgeport that satisfied City Attorney Mark Anastasi’s interpretation of residency. City watchdog John Marshall Lee has revisited the issue in his quest to land answers about board and commission appointments and vacancies.

Lee commentary:

Bridgeport, have you ever thought about the way fellow citizens, appointed to Boards and Commissions by successive Mayors, and perhaps later re-appointed (or just left there when terms expire), perform as representatives of your interest? The topic has been raised frequently through the years based on numerous board “expiries” and “vacancies.” Mayor Finch did a report on this near the end of his second term but took no serious action. Mayor Ganim assigned former City Council rep Angel DePara to shepherd this process. Are processes or results any different today? What factors contribute to initially proposing or re-appointing people to terms? Can you tell if there is a genuine evaluation process at any point ongoing? For example, look at the five Civil Service Commission members. Today we see four Commissioners with term expiries of 2017, 2011, 2010, and 2009. The only exception is the fifth member who is elected from City employees with an expiry of 10-1-2018.

Reviewing Civil Service minutes for the past year impresses me with the range of activity around City employment, compensation and appeals. And discussions of Charter meaning, Civil Service system, political appointments, and worker right to explanations when terminated are equally of interest. Legal arguments between City and private attorneys provide a good education on our Charter, Ordinances and the subject of labor relations. Of note is that Minutes of regular 2017 meetings in February and July are missing from the City site. And no Agenda(s) or Minute(s) are posted for August, September, October or November. The Commission meets regularly on the second Tuesday of each month at 2:00 PM.

The Director of Civil Service is reported to be an ACTING Director, one of several in the City extending for a decade or so that leads one to ask: “Why?” With questions about the ACTING Police Chief for 24 months, what timelines and activity are appropriate? Is a Charter review necessary?

More to the point is the situation of Chairperson Eleanor Guedes (U) who is listed on the City web site at 1425 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport CT 06610, presumably her domicile. The City Charter (Chapter 2) and a very recent Ordinance (12-8-17) “requires that all officers of the city, elected or appointed under the provisions of the charter, shall be residents and registered voters of the City of Bridgeport.” From CTVan database, an Eleanor Guedes registered to vote in 1988, unaffiliated as to party, DOB 12-19-1963, and a resident of 48 Teller Road, Trumbull CT 06611. Further inquiry in Trumbull indicates that the Teller Road resident voted in 2014, 2015 and 2016 elections in Trumbull.

— First let me wish the Trumbull resident a belated Happy Birthday.
— Secondly I am curious if she is the same person identified with an address at Noble Avenue as a domicile?
— Third, if she is one and the same person, I salute her for her interest in Bridgeport subjects, but ask her to consider her behavior in the light of the Charter and latest Ordinance. Aren’t you breaking the rules? If you are not, what exception do you call upon to excuse your time serving Bridgeport’s Civil Service Commission?

The City Attorney office is frequently involved in a myriad of Civil Service matters. Jobs are certainly important to people for reasons of compensation, benefits, and status. Civil Service Commission can be a legal battleground. Could such service by an ineligible Commissioner be grounds for further appeal and added taxpayer expense?

Why have expiries been allowed to run this way by successive Mayors? Why did it take public comment in early 2017 picked up by a City Council member on the Ordinance Committee to restate the rules? In light of Mayor Ganim’s pursuit of State Executive office currently, does this Civil Service Commission example show “best administrative practices” or municipal prowess in leadership for voter consideration across the State? Unless there are two Eleanors, are there other obvious examples of residents of other towns or districts who are playing our system? Time will tell.

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6 comments

  1. JML, as we all know it has taken over 15 years to reach the level of abuse that exists as it relates to at least the last three administrations; breaking the spirit of the City Charter whenever it suits them. We just witnessed half the members of the City Council replaced by the voters, if I had to venture a guess, there could be nine challenges to the present T.c; if it continues to involve the Court to intervene, so be it, and thank God for those brave enough to do it. As I said to the “Kid”, it’s the effort and willingness to fight this polluted regime that matters. The outcome is out of anyone’s control, but not the trying. There will be “eyes” on the upcoming TC primaries, the cowards collecting paychecks, on our dime, better keep their heads down and their eyes up, eventually they’ll be hiring their own attorneys to say their sneaky butts.

  2. Residency, where is your car registered, where do you vote and what school does your children go to? Why does Bridgeport continue to let out of towners pimp the city and its residents. She couldn’t do this in Trumbull why can she do it here.

  3. Guedes ‘s brother owns Primrose construction and was (is) a big money contributor to the local democratic party. Of course Mark Anastasia is going to rule an out of towner can serve on the commission because he was told to. I would bet money on the bedroom at the business office. She has been violating the charter and the law, maybe she should be arrested for fraud.

  4. Andy I remember that situation very well. Ganim needed her vote for something and Guedes worked with him to get his sister on because she was on board for the vote. There was a big deal over it, but somehow they pulled it off. I can’t believe she’s still on. That was years ago.

  5. This is a continuing example of how the DTC and the Democrat party in general has controlled City of Bridgeport employment. The Civil Service system in Bridgeport has become a joke.

    How will it change? Can it be reformed?

    Will a reform mayor emerge from the Democrat party? Not Likely.

    Will the City Council take action to reform Civil Service in Bridgeport? Not if the DTC or the current mayor has anything to say.

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