In a commentary that also appears in the Connecticut Post, Mayor Bill Finch writes “In light of the recent internal investigation into Mr. Ricci’s actions, I am implementing new and enhanced reporting requirements of city officials to more effectively and comprehensively monitor full organization-wide compliance with the city’s Code of Ethics.” John Ricci, terminated by the mayor as airport manager on Thursday, argues the city is scapegoating him for its handling of the controversial $400,000 roadway to developer Manny Moutinho’s waterfront mansion in Stratford that Superior Court Judge Dale Radlciffe has ruled city taxpayers had no obligation to pay. City lawyers approved the arrangement. The city’s Ethics Commission, particularly in recent years, has been largely a toothless tiger since its formation in 1986. Finch’s commentary follows:
As I said from the moment I was first sworn in as Bridgeport’s mayor, any time any wrongdoing in my administration is brought to my attention by any person, I will ensure a full and thorough investigation is conducted by the appropriate individuals or agencies.
As a result of a thorough and highly professional internal labor relations investigation, I have made the decision to terminate Airport Director John Ricci for “reckless and intentional misconduct” in regard to the construction of an access way on airport property.
In light of the recent internal investigation into Mr. Ricci’s actions, I am implementing new and enhanced reporting requirements of city officials to more effectively and comprehensively monitor full organization-wide compliance with the city’s Code of Ethics.
The city of Bridgeport requires a very high standard of conduct from its employees. The current Code of Ethics, however, does not require an annual accounting of the outside financial interests of city employees, which creates potential for conflict for those employees involved in the decision-making process for city contracts. We have examined the current best practices to determine how we can best modernize our oversight in this area.
Department heads and those other employees involved in procurement will now be required to annually fill out a disclosure form, similar to that used by the state of Connecticut, in which the employee must disclose any financial or personal interests which may conflict with city contracts.
Prospectively, all city employees also will be required to take part in ongoing annual ethics training and testing, which has been developed in conjunction with the city’s Human Resources Department and the former chairman of the Ethics Commission Joseph Ianniello, a retired human resources executive.
With these enhanced requirements, our goal is to have the strongest ethics standards in the state. This will enable us to proactively determine, on an annual basis, whether any of our senior city employees might have a conflict of interest that could cause problems in contract compliance or the award of contracts.
Several weeks ago, the city engaged John King, a partner in the law firm Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, and city attorney for New Britain, and Hugh I. Manke, a senior principal in the firm and a specialist in municipal land use matters who represented Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority and the city of New Haven in suits against the town of East Haven, to conduct a comprehensive review of the city’s procurement procedures, particularly as related to the airport access way issue.
In addition, the city solicited and received two independent post-construction scope of work/price analyses to determine the true cost range of the access way project from: (1) Epic Construction, at $810,000 and, (2) PJ’s Construction, at $517,000. Significantly, both figures are substantially more than the $389,000 bid by Mark IV Construction, as well as higher than the other two original unsuccessful bids submitted by Candee Construction ($410,000) and Julian Construction ($605,000). This analysis belies the unsubstantiated reports and estimates that have recently been circulating concerning the appropriate cost for the access way project.
This episode has only served to reinforce my administration’s commitment to maintaining the public’s trust and faith in their government, and the implementation of these enhanced ethics reporting requirements will help us achieve that goal.
Nothing is more important to me than for you, the citizens of our great city of Bridgeport, to have full faith and trust that your government is working for you. I will never stop working toward this goal. Bridgeport’s past remains a challenge for our city, but this administration will always tackle issues of any wrongdoing head-on and address them in the best interest of the residents of Bridgeport. That is my commitment to our citizens.
Finally, be assured that we will continue to move forward aggressively with the runway safety zone improvements at Sikorsky Airport as planned, in order to meet Congress’ Dec. 31, 2015, construction deadline. As we are only too aware, the installation of an EMAS system at the end of Runway 6/24 is vital to preventing future tragedies such as the 1994 multiple-fatality crash at Sikorsky. We have received full assurance from both state and federal officials that this vital project remains firmly on track for timely completion.
It’s too bad I read this piece just after enjoying a sumptuous weekend breakfast with my family.
You know, John Ricci spent a 40-year career holding doors open for cheap-shoe politicians, passionately kissing their respective asses as they passed by. Sooner or later it was bound to happen. Tossed firmly under the bus.
BTW, I hope St. William The Bird intends to apply these magnanimous procurement ethics practices to the contracts involved with current BOE spending.
This is unashamedly “Knee Jerk” and is to be used to put the right party-line words into the mouths of the party faithful.
We will see the day Bird Man and his operatives take the same fall Ricci has.
The taxpayers can sleep well tonight knowing the city’s future is safe in the hands of the Ethics Commission. The same Ethics Commission that failed to find any misconduct by City Council members who accepted free tickets worth hundreds of dollars to the Vibes while voting on their most generous contract.
This decision was based on the legal advice of outside attorneys AND the city attorney’s office that said the admission was FREE PASSES not FREE TICKETS therefore it wasn’t a violation.
Of course you will never find this as a public document because everything the commission does is super secret.
And this is the same former chairman who with the assistance of the City Attorney made changes to the ordinance to further water it down and to remove term limits on commission members.
And of course the mayor and the city attorney will say this information CANNOT be made public because that would discourage excellent qualified people from working for the city.
And what about immediate family members? Will that disclosure be required also?
And will these same individuals be required to file copies of their personal tax returns (which should be kept confidential) in order to provide outside proof of the veracity of their disclosure?
Sleep well, citizens of Bridgeport. Your future is guaranteed secure knowing Mayor Finch and the Ethics Commission are on the job.
And again Mayor Finch goes out of his way to offer PROOF the taxpayers got the best deal available. So why did he fire John Ricci?
As usual the message from the mayor is as clear as the Yellow Mill River. Sleep well.
And Bill, what happens if an employee fails to file a statement or files an inaccurate/incomplete statement? Will they be fired like you saw fit to terminate John Ricci?
Way back when I was on the council I proposed failure to abide by the charter and ordinances be considered an unethical act. The City Attorney nearly wet himself coming up with make-believe reasons why the council couldn’t do so and the council bought it even though other cities and towns have that language.
A toothless spineless Ethics Commission protects the taxpayers against nothing. How is the city’s Ethics Commission like sex with a condom? It gives you a sense of protection while getting screwed!!!
Come on Bridgeport, this is how the Finch Team pays back campaign contributors like Manny Moutinho, Sal DiNardo and the boys. Then they kick back money to Finch, to keep him in office.
Is it grand jury time? Did the FBI get back from their summer vacation at Saratoga yet?
Also, Finch forgot to tell us, there will be no tax increase for 2015 Budget, and you just might get a small tax rebate.
This is like Steve Stafstrom from Black Rock explaining how to avoid a conflict of interest while he sits on the City Council. You can’t make this stuff up!
He is a Phony, Counterfeit, Bill!
For Ricci to claim he is a victim in all of this is patently idiotic. Their is no honor among thieves. I am happy he got thrown under the bus … it is just a shame Finch didn’t slip on a banana peel while throwing him there and end up there himself.
That said, I read Finch’s revolting commentary last night while trying to enjoy the dinner I fixed for myself. Almost lost my appetite. He sounded like nothing so much as Eddie Haskell from the old Leave it to Beaver show. One can almost picture Finch saying “what a lovely dress you have on, Mrs. Cleaver.”
“All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others”–George Orwell, “Animal Farm”
Now that is a list of documents I would love to see …
*** Disclosure forms will fix all the backdoor behind the scenes, bypass protocol and city council, doing it for the taxpayers, Finch Admin. short cuts. And it’s amazing just how much this admin. has learned from its “usual” monthly mistakes and puts forward “Zombie Proof” city policies to make sure the citizens of Bpt are protected from city government screw-ups or political corruption decisions! I for one feel much better knowing even though our city government officials and Mayor at times claim to not know what’s going on in Bpt or City Hall, they still try to keep it real with their “peeps,” no? *** EDUCATED FOOLS WITH MONEY AND POWER ON THEIR MINDS! ***
*** OIB blogger disclosure: I was under the influence of mind-altering substances while writing the above blog concerning disclosure forms and the Finch Admin. keeping it real with their “peeps!” Please disregard any type of feelings concerning positive “Zombie” type city policies adopted by our city government officials that will not work nor be followed. When city government can spend $400,000 of taxpayer money on private road construction without following proper city protocol nor notifying the proper channels and the top city official (MAYOR), there is something wrong! And if no one is at fault then a fall person is picked and thrown under the bus for G/P along with new policy changes that in time will also be bypassed for the right reasons of course, no? *** LORD HELP US ***
I am not certain which story is more redundant, the John Ricci saga or Paul Vallas and the Supremes. All I know is I just got back from Housatonic Meadows camping and I really wanted to go to Bass Pro for some much-needed new supplies. As another year goes by, one must wonder if Bill Finch will be damaged by these stories. Personally, I am bored with them. I find Mr. Joel Gonzalez’ life story more interesting and would love for him to write a book that would become a lifetime movie. I wonder if the Mayor can survive these current high-profile issues. They go beyond pro- and anti-Vallas rhetoric as well as Ricci fan clubs or we hate John Ricci. Steelepointe? I do not think any more ridiculous holdups will survive. The real estate market is improving. If this project does not break ground now it will never get public support again and anyone thinking about a casino … FORGET ABOUT IT!!!
Poor Bill. Poor Bill and all of his toadies. Not one of them have a shred of moral fiber and they are all a bad joke. Ethics? Ha.
For God’s sake and ours, is there not an official agency in government that smells the rat that has taken charge of Bridgeport? We either need a good exterminator or someone who can get the FBI off their asses and looking into the fiasco we call our community.
Add another million to the driveway and suddenly we are talking real money. And of course the mayor and his administration will blame this latest part of the fiasco on John Ricci, too.
I say fire the entire City Attorney’s office.
Who is going to pay this bill?
Does this disclosure requirement apply to elected officials as well?
The current city council president ended a practice of his predecessors of annual ‘Ethics for Elected Officials’ sessions. He did not appreciate me reminding him of their value.
The current council president was also displeased with me when I suggested it would be inappropriate for council members to accept VIP passes (face value approx $350) to the Vibes and I declined to make arrangements. He made the arrangements himself.
One way to give the ethics commission some credibility is to have independent counsel. When the ethics commission was first created by Mayor Bucci, their counsel was a retired superior court judge (Margaret Driscoll). Perhaps Mayor Finch should approach a retired superior court judge who lives in Black Rock to see if she would be interested.
*** DISCLOSURE FORMS ARE ONLY GOOD IF FILLED OUT COMPLETELY AND CORRECTLY BY ALL INVOLVED IN ANY CITY PROCUREMENTS, etc. … This of course does “not” apply to the Mayor or his admin. ***
It’s nice Mayor Finch has decided to come into the 21st century with regard to requiring additional financial disclosures for public officials after another embarrassing local conflict came to light and the FBI is already on the ground. Just another example of laggardship (leading from behind) rather than leadership in City government. It would also be nice if the Mayor ran the City in accordance with the City Charter that was ratified by the City’s voters rather than the one he proposed and the citizens rejected. Mayor Finch and Council President McCarthy need to take additional steps to improve integrity, transparency and accountability throughout City government and in connection with City Council matters. “Drivewaygate” is just the tip of the iceberg for this Administration and the current City Council leadership.