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Your Chance To Speak Up About Proposed Pay Raises

December 30th, 2011 · 28 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Council, Civil Service, News and Events

Former City Councilman Bob “Troll” Walsh tells OIB “I’m retired, I haven’t died.” And this appears to be part of his message in a statement he sent to OIB that he’s also sharing with his former legislative colleagues scheduled for a public hearing Tuesday night regarding proposed pay raises for about 80 non-classified city positions. The City Council’s Ordinance Committee the other night sent the measure to the full council even while some council members expressed trepidation about the increases. Walsh, the council’s former resident curmudgeon, claims the city is rushing the public hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday before the full council meeting at 7 p.m.

Mayor Bill Finch supports the pay increases and administration officials say the city must modernize salaries to attract quality job applicants. The ordinance states … “the Mayor may authorize salary increases within the salary ranges established by ordinance or not more than fifteen percent (15%) outside of such salary ranges as the Mayor deems warranted …” The positions include discretionary appointments of the mayor such as office staff. For background and ordinance language see here.

Walsh’s statement:

What a rush to judgment!

The Finch administration is so anxious to hand out taxpayers’ hard-earned money that they cannot even be bothered with following normal protocol when it comes to changing an ordinance.

Under prior practices, if the Ordinance Committee met on a Wednesday evening prior to a Monday Council Meeting and voted schedule a public hearing on a new or change to an ordinance, the hearing would be scheduled not for the next meeting but in order to ensure proper public notice, it would be scheduled for the following meeting. So in this instance, it would not be scheduled for Tuesday, January 3rd but instead Monday January 16th (or the next regularly scheduled council meeting).

But in an effort to push this ordinance through and to limit public input, the city pushed to get the legal notice published on an expedited basis simply to have the public hearing on a day following a holiday and, for many, extended time-off simply to meet a legal requirement and not to address the true spirit of the law.

Well unfortunately for my former colleagues I will be there and I will be speaking against this proposal. Here are just some of the reasons:

1) When this ordinance was initially established significant effort went into the process by then CAO Dennis Murphy to define the various levels of positions and to establish job descriptions, span of control and decision-making responsibilities. Also, at that time, comparisons were sought to establish a pay range that would be competitive with other municipalities in the state. Include in the language was an automatic adjustment to those ranges to increase them at the same rate as annual raises were handed out to members of the Supervisors Bargaining Unit. Hence there should never be a need for across the board changes to these salary brackets.

2) If, as some have suggested, duties and responsibilities for some of these individuals have increased then the job should be rewritten, a new comparison sought and a proposed change for that position be sent to the council. But at the same time, if new responsibilities replace previous positions or other positions have shrunk in their level of responsibility then those positions should be downgraded or eliminated at the same time.

3) At the end of the Fabrizi Administration many of the positions listed here were placed under the control of Civil Service and made members of a collective bargaining unit. These positions must be identified and permanently removed from this ordinance otherwise there remains the possibility of creating another shadow payroll in which people performing the same duties are classified differently in the city. The city acknowledged this fact when it said that many of these have been unfilled for over a year. If we are going to change the ordinance than this step must be taken now and not at a later date.

4) The Finch Administration has begun a Charter Revision Commission. Any and all of these positions are subject to change and/or elimination based on the recommendations of that commission. No significant changes should be made until the commission issued its recommendations. Again if certain positions need to be examined, regarded and changed this should be done on a position by position basis until potential charter changes are fleshed out.

5) Members of most collective bargaining units have made significant concessions in the area of fringe benefits and retirement and yet for this select group of individuals nowhere are there benefits defined or restricted. This is a practice that must cease and be addressed prior to this change being considered.

6) City Attorney Anastasi, in testifying before the committee suggested that these changes were needed in case a new employee was sought who commanded a higher salary and the city needed to raise the rate to be competitive with other employers. If this is truly the reason why the change is sought then I would strongly recommend that the 15% leeway be restricted to new employees who have not worked for the city as an employee or a contractor/subcontractor for 2 years.

The council should take this request under serious consideration but prior to acting perform its due diligence, ensure that there is proper control against abuse and make sure that the taxpayers are being adequately protected. I do not believe that this is the case with the current proposal and if it is to be taken as a take it or leave it request then I would urge the council to reject the proposed ordinance change.

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28 Comments so far ↓

  • town committee

    I challenge anyone in the Finch administration to point out where they have had trouble retaining or hiring anyone because the salary is too low.
    It is a well-documented fact public employees are paid significantly more than their private-industry counterparts. This is nothing more than a raid on the public treasury by a group of greedy uncaring individuals.
    A perfect example is council president McCarthy and the people who work in his Labor relations office. This is a group of four employees who will be costing us close to $400K in salary not counting benefits. Why is this happening when their area of responsibility has decreased greatly? When was the last time Osborne & McCarthy negotiated a contract?
    Ruben the mayoral aide will be given a $13,000 raise; why is that? The administration claims his area of responsibility has increased. He is now in charge of my all-time Bullshit project, the Seaview Ave corridor and what will soon be the vacant acreage at the GE complex.
    The administration feels like this is the time to do this because the Bridgeport voters are dumb and have poor memories. After all this past election day how many remember Finch’s campaign promise of a $600 rebate? Not too many.
    These people on the council and in the administration are crooks with a license to steal.

  • Sue

    A special education paraprofessional in Bridgeport makes a grand total of $23,156. Many are single parents with dependent children.

    Because there have been so many certified sped teacher transfers or cutbacks, those who remain spend much of their time on Clarity paperwork/testing/report writing/SATs and PPT meetings, thus making the paras the front line of student contact. Current laws mandate they have a certain amount of college credits.

    I made that kind of money 30 years ago as a temp. It’s a miracle Bridgeport has any special education paraprofessionals at all. Remember, most of them are Bridgeport taxpayers.

  • Grin Ripper

    This action is reminiscent of the BOE 4th of July weekend massacre. Happy New Year! Charter revision should have a recall provision. Finch Fiddles while Bridgeport Fizzles!

  • Chosen 1

    Weren’t there four new hires costing close to half a million?

    Wasn’t one of those jobs to merge Public Facilities with B.O.E employees? Isn’t that Federal dollars mixing with City dollars?

    I applaud Mr Walsh; that said, his outrage needs to be in a real newspaper like the Hartford Courant or even better the Wall Street Journal … not on the deaf ears of the Council or on OIB.

    • LennieGrimaldi

      Really, Butch? How many Bridgeporters read the Courant and Wall Street Journal? They must be on a New Year’s train ride.

      • Chosen 1

        Really Leonard?

        Who reads the CT Post? The same people Walsh is fighting?

        Maybe, just maybe, people looking to invest in Bpt read the Journal?
        The Courant broke the church scandal.
        The Post and OIB have in print all that is WRONG in Bpt with no repercussions.
        Maybe Mr. Walsh should try a new venue.

      • Sue

        online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204464404577115073623735882.html
        We’re in the Wall Street Journal!

        “We can’t blow this opportunity because this is our chance,” Mr. Finch said, adding he wants to raise $50 million for public schools over the next five years.

        Private funding has drawn criticism from teachers unions and other skeptics who say it makes public schools less accountable to taxpayers.

        Gary Peluchette, the president of the Bridgeport Education Association teachers union, said he was heartened by the positive reviews he’d heard about Mr. Vallas’s previous relationships with labor.

        But he said the anonymity of the donations concerned him.

        “Where is the money coming from? How did they earn this money? At least with public money, we know it comes from taxes,” Mr. Peluchette said.

  • Steven Auerbach

    It will be interesting to see what union members show up at this meeting. This is an outrage and I am so very disappointed in the council members who support this. In this economy, we could find at least 200 out-of-work executives willing to take over any one of those positions for half the pay. This is really an outrage as the first order of business for the New Year.

  • Mojo

    *** Example–years ago there was a woman who ran Central Grants and left Bpt for C. Shays’ office due to a salary difference, etc. This was a great loss to central grants and the office has never been the same without her so there is some merit to some of the reasons given by the current admin! However more study should go into this and the final say should not be taken away from the city council. Unfortunately like other admin. issues that need tweaking this measure appears to be another “DONE DEAL!” ***

    • countdown

      Mojo,
      I agree the ordinance needs to be updated. I am disappointed the committee members didn’t do their proper due diligence. The positions that are now civil service should come out of the ordinance. The new positions added need to have a salary comparability analysis performed and shared with the electorate. The increase in the range also needs a comparability analysis. Those city councilpersons who are employed by the city need to step back and not vote since they represent a perceived if not actual conflict. The Council approved a budget with many unfilled positions so there is ‘money’ in the budget if the Mayor is given the right to increase the salaries of these positions. Bridgeport needs a Board of Finance since the Council committee once again demonstrated it is incapable of doing their fiduciary duty to push back until the fiscal concerns are addressed. Wake up Bridgeport!

  • Local Eyes

    Anything that smacks of entitlement finds itself on the wrong side of history in 2011. That’s why the crowd protests these pay raises so much. What this world needs is more people who are directly responsible for the size of their paycheck and fewer orgs that decide the terms.

  • town committee

    I have a suggestion for Mark (the wizard of bullshit) Anastasti and the administration.
    Let’s ask the employees serving in these jobs for their resignations if they are unhappy in their jobs and unhappy with their SALARY. Let’s see how many will resign.
    Let’s advertise for the jobs that become open when according to Anastasi there will be people leaving. Let’s allow for a week of interviews because they will be flooded with resumes for these jobs at their present salaries.
    Just so the council and the administration know, there are more than 26 million unemployed in America, many with college degrees and private industry experience.
    Just so everyone knows, I will volunteer to fire all of these people for free. I will be happy to interview their replacements with a 10% pay cut. I will do this for free; after all I can’t be a double dipper. Oops yes I can according to the city attorney’s office. In either case I will do it for free.

  • Bepo In The Know

    I have started a Facebook page about this upcoming public hearing and city council vote and how people can protest. If you are on Facebook, share this with your friends: www .facebook.com/notes/bridgeport-in-the-know/protest-city-ordinance-changes-which-will-allow-mayor-finch-to-increase-city-hal/313388895368569

    • Local Eyes

      Bepo In The Know: I hope there’s a Heaven but there’s gotta be some kind of hell for you!
      I hope nobody shows up at your empty website which broadcasts your vindictive stupidity.

  • Bepo In The Know

    Mr. Local Eyes (whoever you are), I have no idea why you are so vindictive toward me! I don’t know you. All I was doing is posting a plea for people to come speak out at next week’s council meeting. Madeline.

    • Mr. Barnum

      Madeline–I’ll tell you exactly why the myopic one-note drone Local Eyes is attacking you. He still believes you’re me. The vindictive attacks from the 3rd-rate gnat are directed at my Bridgeport To Nowhere blog on your website. You’ll recall how when you started the site years ago, Local Eyes wrote to you demanding I be taken off your site because of my satirical writings about Bill Finch?
      Local Eyes was a third-rate member of this peanut gallery then, and remains a third-rate member of it today. He makes Joel Gonzales look like Stephen Hawking with fewer digits.
      Local Eyes, as you know from my email to you after your ridiculous, paranoid rants to myself and Madeline Dennis, I couldn’t possibly care less what you think of the satirical creation Mr. Barnum. The fact you don’t get it pleases me more than if you did. I write for the intelligent and the aware. The fact you’re out of contention for both qualities makes me laugh even harder at your limitations.
      I return to this blog after several years only because you have made harsh, unfair and untrue statements about Madeline Dennis, the owner of Bridgeportintheknow.com and her Facebook and Twitter feeds.
      As Lennie can verify, Madeline Dennis and Mr. Barnum are not the same person.
      And as Local Eyes knows, I completely ignored him back in the days I posted regularly to this blog. He wasn’t worth a second glance or a swat from the back of my hand.
      I’m here only to let everyone know Madeline Dennis is a true asset to Bridgeport. Through her unpaid website work and in her vast amount of real-life community service to Bridgeport. She has value to the real city of Bridgeport, people.
      Local Eyes? You already know what he is: the sound of one hand typing.

      I hope a few of you who actually live in Bridgeport will make your voice heard on this pay-issue power play from Finch.

      And Local Eyes–you’re not worth another second of my time. I won’t be responding to your inevitable attempt to be noticed.

      PT

  • Local Eyes

    PT: you have verified my awesomeness–now activate yours.

    BITK: well, um, uh, er … I’m sorry, I apologize, I was wrong. I hope your protest goes as planned (gulp).

  • Jim Callahan

    There has been a lot of prattle that Mayor Finch and assorted allies are running a political machine.

    Well, now is the time to prove it. These, as someone I think said in another context, are the times that try men’s souls.

    Certainly, it will not be a popular decision to raise salaries. But the good of the administration must be considered. This is when the tough decisions have to be made. The administration and the City Council must stand firmly together, marching into a future abyss together.

    Then, ladies and gentlemen, we will finally be able to see what starch binds them.

    • town committee

      Jim, I don’t get it. You think these raises are good for the administration? Are you kidding me or what? If you are serious I would see a doctor as it sounds like you are suffering from Terminal Dumb Ass.

  • bpt guy

    LENNY WE ALL KNOW YOU WOULD LOVE YOUR READERSHIP TO PAY MUCH LARGER BUT WHO REALLY READS OIB BUT YOUR FAITHFUL HANDFUL OF BLOGGERS? I THINK BUTCH IS TRYING TO GET THE GREATER MASSES INVOLVED, MORE EYES AND EARS. PERHAPS WHAT FINCH AND HIS FLOCK WANT TO KEEP IN THE DARK MAY COME TO THE LIGHT .JUST LIKE MOST BIRD FLOCKS THEY END UP SHITTING ON EVERYONE BENEATH THEM AND IT’S NOT SUCH GOOD LUCK WITH THESE FINCH MOTHER FLOCKERS. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE. ALSO, THE REASON THE SUPREME COURT IS TAKING SO LONG IS THEY CAN’T QUITE FIGURE OUT HOW TO SCREW THE CITIZENS OF BRIDGEPORT WITH THE SAME BRAVADO AS FINCH AND HIS FLOCKERS.

  • yahooy

    Callahan. You confuse me.

    If Charlie Carroll thinks his pay is not competitive then he should seek work elsewhere. He is a worthless dolt appointed for loyalty.

    Can you imagine if we used Carroll’s compensation to hire someone with experience and vision who is capable of meeting the existing challenges and bringing the course of our municipal future back in line?

    Thee is no one in the current administration who has the intellectual capacity to bring about the change we need.

    Fair warning. Beware the BOE goods and services contracts.

  • countdown

    The co-chairs of the City Council’s Ordinance Committee are Paoletto and Blunt. The members are Martinez, Curwen, Austin, Martin, McCarthy, and Bonney. The co-chairs work for the city. Of the members, some if not all work for the City/Board of Ed or their immediate family members work for the City/Board of Ed. The proposed changes to the ordinance include the Chief Admin Officer and many of the department heads. Everyone on the City side is in the CAO’s chain of command. At least one of the Ordinance Committee members will benefit personally if the Ordinance is adopted. Does perceived or actual conflict of interest apply here? How could the Ordinance Committee vote out the proposed ordinance? Not a very good way to start 2012.

  • Sue

    blogs.edweek.org/edweek/walt_gardners_reality_check/2011/12/private_funding_of_public_schools.html

    Ah, someone with concerns over all this largess (which will be used to pay off Ramos and Vallas’ salary.

    “Private Funding of Public Schools
    By Walt Gardner on December 28, 2011 7:24 AM

    The Bridgeport Education Reform Fund in all likelihood will mean nothing to most people. But ignoring the fund is a mistake because it is a model that figures to play an increasingly prominent role in the funding of schools in the years ahead in this country. Although the present venue is the largest city in Connecticut, whose schools were taken over by the state in July after the superintendent was fired, the strategy has the potential to spread to other underperforming school districts.

    What is troubling is that the $400,000 in the fund has come from wealthy donors who remain anonymous. According to The Wall Street Journal, the probable benefactors are officials from the ZOOM Foundation, which is backed by hedge fund manager Steve Mandel (“Schools Look to Donors,” Dec. 23). Because no one knows for certain at this date who the principals are, their agenda remains hidden. In business, opaqueness is common, but it is anathema in education – at least in public schools – because there are almost always strings attached.”

    • countdown

      I totally disagree. Research the history and current activities of Community Foundations. The Education Reform Fund is now housed under the fiduciary oversight of the Fairfield County Community Foundation. It is that board that has the ultimate responsibility for how the fund is administered and the accountability requirements are met. That Board is well known. The fact private donors decide to do their Philanthropic activities through the community foundation puts the accountability with them. The anonymity of the individual donors is inconsequential. Had they chosen to contribute through their individual private family foundations it would be a horse of another color. Watch and see how the FCCF exercises its critical fiduciary oversight. You will be impressed!

  • Sue

    (This from Susan Ohanian, education blogger):

    “Ohanian Comment: Paul G. Vallas IS the quintessential education reformer–in the modern sense of the word:

    Chicago: First CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, 1995 to 2001. Like many bad policies, the CEO idea started in Chicago. To quote from the March 2002 Substance: “When Paul Vallas was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools they watched with dismay as he lied to the press, abused veteran educators, gave out lucrative no-bid contracts, misused standardized tests and engaged in shocking acts of racial bigotry. The issue has a series of articles about the Vallas reign, including this characterization of the Vallas leadership style that should be a warning to Bridgeport: “Management by bullying.”

    www .susanohanian.org/outrage_fetch.php?id=1150

  • Bob Walsh

    If anyone is looking for home phone numbers or e-mail addresses for their City Council representative in order to address the 15% rule, here they are.

    Home: 203-335-1112
    Susan.Brannelly@bridgeportct.gov

    Cell: 203-450-1479
    Martin.McCarthy@bridgeportct.gov

    Cell: 203-727-4768
    Leticia.Colon@bridgeportct.gov

    Home: 203-612-6242
    Denese.Taylor-Moye@bridgeportct.gov

    Cell: 203-727-4850
    John.Olson@bridgeportct.gov

    Home: 203-331-0771
    Mary.Brantley@bridgeportct.gov

    Home: 203-449-6066
    Tom.McCarthy@bridgeportct.gov

    Home: 203- 338-0296
    Howard.Austin@bridgeportct.gov

    Cell: 203-650-5888
    Michelle.Lyons@bridgeportct.gov

    Cell: 203-610-7620
    AmyMarie.Vizzo-Paniccia@bridgeportct.gov

    Cell: 203-521-5559
    Warren.Blunt@bridgeportct.gov

    Home: 203-374-1302
    Richard.Bonney@bridgeportct.gov

    Home: 203-382-1199
    Angel.dePara@bridgeportct.gov

    cell: 203-338-1726
    Carlos.Silva@bridgeportct.gov

    Cell: 203-583-0776
    Manuel.Ayala@bridgeportct.gov

    Cell: 203-450-1221
    Lydia.Martinez@bridgeportct.gov

    Home: 203-371-1091
    Robert.Curwen@bridgeportct.gov

    Home: 203-373-9694
    Richard.Paoletto@bridgeportct.gov

    Home: 203-332-7559
    James.Holloway@bridgeportct.gov

    Home: 203- 334-3876
    Andre.Baker@bridgeportct.gov

    Office: 203-332-3009
    Thomas.White@bridgeportct.gov

  • Mojo

    *** Taxpayers & Union members should be present but will settle for a song & dance! This ordinance needs studying and tweaking to make it beneficial for the city in the future and not another quick rubber stamp. *** FORGETABOUTIT ***

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