Democratic mayoral candidate John Gomes shares this commentary about the termination of supporter Maria Pires from city service.
With an upcoming mayoral election quickly approaching, the executive leadership of our city is showing that they will stop at nothing to ensure they continue to remain in office. The recent termination of Maria Pires is nothing more than an attempt to bully city employees from exercising their civil rights to be involved in the political process.
According to the CT Post, city officials claimed Pires was fired last month due to an unspecified “reorganization” which led Pires to seek legal representation and challenge the firing. As a result, she was reinstated by the Civil Service Commission. This week, city officials are now claiming “budget constraints” that have led to the termination of Pires. If the city was truly under clear “budget constraints,” shouldn’t that have been the initial reasoning provided by city officials the first time she was terminated?
The current administration has not been able to give a clear reason as to the termination. With job openings posted on the city website and no announced hiring freeze, it is apparent that budget constraints may not be the case. It is common practice in many other organizations when “restructuring” to utilize employees with the most applicable skills to fill necessary vacancies which would have been the case for Maria Pires. This leaves many Bridgeporters to truly question the motive of this termination. If there was a clear budgetary constraint would this not impact the entire city? Further, the Tax Assessors office has been understaffed, including the Department Head position which has been vacant for more than five years. How can that department possibly be facing budgetary constraints with these existing vacancies? Is there an actual budget constraint or is the current administration having a difficult time with managing the City, necessary staffing needs, and its budgets?
As a mayoral candidate for Bridgeport, I am calling on state oversight officials to look into this matter. Can a mayoral appointed ethics commission, all with expired terms, fairly adjudicate this without bias? We urge Pires to take this matter to the state judicial branch to send a clear signal that the mayor of Bridgeport greatly overextends his authority. Citizens of our city should not feel that their job is on the line when they decide to support a candidate on their personal and private time. It is evident that the current Bridgeport administration will utilize every executive authority possible to progress their self-serving agenda even if it comes at the cost of providing the services needed to the residents of Bridgeport.
This administration has made it clear in its actions that it does not concern itself with the needs of the residents of our city. By blatantly finding a way to terminate a hard working civil servant in a way that violates the oath of the Charter is just deplorable. We do not need these practices dictating the decisions made at the executive level in our city.
This cannot continue to be “business as usual” in our great city, and as mayor, I will bring clear direction and protections to everyone in our city regardless of their employer or zip code. A Gomes administration will ensure that there is a team of risk assessment professionals that will ensure there are no conflicts of interest and the city leadership is held accountable in partnership with the Civil Service Commission.