Will Ethics Training For City Employees Matter?

The city’s Ethics Commission is a toothless tiger. It does relatively nothing. But now the city will require annual ethics training for city employees. Why now? Sometimes it’s best to maintain appearances. CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart examines the question:

The city will require annual ethics training within City Hall–a decade after Mayor Joseph P. Ganim’s conviction on federal corruption charges had officials pledging to raise the standards for Bridgeport’s conduct of business.

“It certainly is about time there was standardized annual ethics training for all city employees,” said Jeff Kohut, a Democrat and one-time mayoral candidate who served on the city’s Ethics Commission from 2005 to 2010.

But Kohut and others argue the ethics code and commission are so powerless as to render any training meaningless.

In fact, efforts to strengthen the commission post-Ganim have petered out. The mostly defunct five-member group was increased to seven members, with new appointees added to reassure skeptics someone was watching City Hall.

Read more here.



  1. With apologies to those who did not see my previous post on ‘corruption’ occurring where ‘ethical’ standards are low and ‘ethical’ training and discussion does not occur. Bridgeport needs to take a closer look at how others see the City and why they are so often aghast at what we take for granted. Thanks to the CT Post for raising the ethics issue on the front page this morning.

    “Bridgeport is a magnet for corrupt/dishonest/sleazy/self-interested politicians because the pickings are so easy … from Indices (on January 6, 2013).

    I attended two parties last night, one in Bridgeport and the other in Fairfield. Conversations came around to “what are you writing about these days and where.” So for the media savvy and politically active people at each location, I shared an update on the “structural issues” in Bridgeport that allow for low ethical standards, or as others see it, the “corruption” in Bridgeport.

    Apologies to Chris Caruso who does not like the ‘C’ word, but since he is no longer publicly active and others in the region are using that word with regularity (with Ayala and Newton stories prominently in the media), perhaps we need to look at what is called “corrupt” so easily and readily and why.

    Last year legal counsel from out of town was hired by the City and paid for by the taxpayer. On more than one occasion, the operation of the Bridgeport City Council (with six actively paid by the City as employees and two or three others with spouse or sibling City employment or business revenues from City services) was mentioned. This situation creates a bigtime perception of conflicts of interest, just for starters.

    Now folks have read how State law takes precedence over the local Charter that says this is not right, but these same folks have thought our City Council recuses itself on all financial matters routinely. That’s what the firemen in Fairfield serving on the RTM do, for instance. People were shocked when they heard recusals are not generally observed by our City Council, except when it came to Federal HUD-CDBG funds this past year. (Of course there is likely a legal interpretation for this City practice, and just who would be providing this contraindicated opinion? Someone also on the City payroll?) Interesting isn’t it to see what people in the City and the region really think? And so it continues …

    And any administration has enough tools at its command to financially discomfort or damage almost any employee in multiple ways regarding employee livelihood. That is incredible leverage to maintain power without suffering any pushback, isn’t it? And that is what goes on daily, weekly and monthly in Bridgeport. If it is not ‘corruption,’ what would you rather call it?

    What would happen if the State legislature expanded its EXCEPTIONS to City employed residents running for and serving on boards, commissions and councils in their home communities? What if in addition to prohibiting those City employees from service on finance or land use boards, they extended their intent to indicate where there is no independently functioning finance board, as in Bridgeport, elected employees may serve on the legislative body, but cannot vote on any measure having anything at all to do with budgets, finances, etc. Recusal would be mandatory. That would force the DTC and any administration to wonder whether quorums on such MONEY VOTES could be controlled. It would provide some real pushback for the rare but worthy elected Council person who questions the administration and votes according to conscience and what is best for the public at large. It might even be a first step to encourage some concerned citizens to embark on a quest for a City Council position.

    There are obviously other routes to structural change. But raising our community above the low ethical position we live in today is a priority. Time will tell.”

    And a small budget for the Ethics Commission? And a time clock for the Mayor to have ALL committee appointees current and serving unexpired terms? And citizens of Bridgeport finding ethical info on the City of Bridgeport web site courtesy of the Ethics Commission? Time will tell.

  2. Having sat through yearly live and on-line ethical and policy meetings and compliance training (12 years with big banks)–they were for the most part annoying–however each year I did become aware of and changed a few of my behaviors–and misconceptions. Will they help city public servants and employees?–A little in most cases and maybe even a lot in other cases. Today a realtor posted–I actually got a call today from a past client who said, I heard that Black Rock and Bridgeport are really it cleaning up, and I have wanted to invest there for a long time–can I come see some properties there?–Could the broken window policy be at work here in Bridgeport–as we fix one broken window at a time …

  3. Does this mean we can now expect Andy Nunn, Charlie Carroll and Tom Sherwood to actually pay for their rounds of golf with carts at Fairchild Wheeler? Anything less would be unethical, no? Time will tell!

  4. Putting the words ethical and Bridgeport together isn’t possible to the sensible mind. If you don’t believe me, see park city fan’s comment. Add to this the likes of Adam Wood.

    1. Bridgeport Kid:
      To your posting
      In summary, you couldn’t have said it better. Nothing happens when greed becomes institutionalized. And you can bet the store somebody is getting taxpayer dollars dishonestly by this “ethics training.”


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