A state labor decision has landed on the side of Joe Tiago who was fired by Mayor Joe Ganim for the deputy director of Public Facilities alleged role in the scrap-metal sales for cash. The arbitration ruling declared a suspension of 90 days would have been sufficient in the matter.
Unclear how this will all play out. The city can appeal the ruling.
From Brian Lockhart, CT Post:
This week a labor arbitrator ordered Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration to reinstate Joe Tiago as deputy public facilities director with back pay. He had been earning around $130,000.
Ganim fired Tiago in February 2019 for his alleged role in an illicit scrap-metal-for-cash operation which caught the FBI’s attention.
That federal investigation, which also involves the U.S. Attorneys from Connecticut and the Southern District of New York, was broadened into city contracting procedures as well as 2018’s search for a police chief. And, as reported earlier this year, Ganim’s administration has spent over $250,000 on outside attorneys and consultants in connection with the investigation.
Tiago’s union, the Bridgeport City Supervisors Association, appealed his termination last March, and both parties, per the collective bargaining contract, agreed to take the matter to an independent arbitrator.
Tiago, hired during the mayoral administration of Bill Finch, was elevated deputy director of Public Facilities when it was led by John Ricci who retired in January. Ricci lost two weeks pay and paid vacation, but no suspension, for his role in the matter that centered on scrap metal sold for cash that was presumably used as a morale-boosting sunshine fund for department employees.
Ricci is quoted by the Connecticut Post “It was Joe Ganim’s decision to fire him and it appears he may have been in error.”
Ricci, however, also told OIB when he served as chief of the department that his relationship with Tiago was irreparable and that he’d terminate Tiago if he were returned to work. While Ricci took some responsibility for his conduct in the dubious cash business he leveled most of the culpability on Tiago who has privately told friends that he was scapegoated in the fallout. Both Ricci and Tiago were interviewed by the FBI. No one has been charged with wrongdoing.
Tiago, who has a construction background, was well-liked by people in the department. Ricci at the time said he pushed for Tiago’s appointment as his deputy.