Senator Moore: Stop The Conflict-Of-Interest Madness

Gomes swearing in
State Senator Marilyn Moore, left, joined Ed Gomes for his return to the State Senate last week following special election win. Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill administers oath. In background Senate leaders Martin Looney and Bob Duff. Photo from CT Mirror.

State Senator Marilyn Moore is urging constituents to attend a public forum March 9, 5:30 p.m. at the Bridgeport Public Library Downtown in support of a government reform bill An act prohibiting municipal employees from serving on certain municipal legislative bodies that would enforce the voter-approved City Charter barring city employees from serving on the City Council.

“During my campaign for State Senate I promised my constituents to support State Rep. Jack Hennessy’s bill to stop the conflict of interest that is taking place in Bridgeport,” she wrote in a recent email to constituents. “We have elected officials who are city employees who vote on their raises, and other financial matters that are in direct conflict with their positions. Through House Bill 5886, we could end the madness.”

She pointed out the entire city delegation to the state legislature supports the bill, except for State Rep. Chris Rosario.

“It is important that we let the leadership in Hartford know that we are serious about ending the conflict. Please share this invite with your family and friends. We have invited legislators from around the state to join us.”

The bill has a cross-section of support from Democrats and Republicans including Planning and Development Committee co-chair State Rep. Phil Miller where the bill is being considered.

Moore defeated incumbent Anthony Musto in a tight August 2014 Democratic primary in which Musto’s opposition to the bill was a factor. She represents Bridgeport, Trumbull and Monroe in the state legislature.

Anthony Musto
Anthony Musto opposed the reform bill and was handed his walking papers by voters.

It’s illegal for the head of Connecticut’s legislative branch to work at the pleasure of the governor. Same thing thing on a federal level.

Rather than follow the voter-approved City Charter prohibiting city employees from serving on the City Council, some city officials have hid behind the legal advice of the city attorney who has cited a loophole in state law as a pretext to violating the charter. State law bars municipal employees from serving on boards of finance. Bridgeport’s City Council, however, serves the dual role of legislative and budget-making body. The reform bill seeks simply to extend state law to bar municipal employees from serving on all government bodies that have budget authority.

Currently three city employee councilors would be impacted if this bill is passed into law:  James Holloway, Milta Feliciano and Tom McCarthy who serves as president of the City Council. This is an election year for the mayor and council.

As deputy director of Labor Relations, McCarthy works at the pleasure of Mayor Bill Finch. McCarthy was a city employee councilor prior to Finch’s election but became council president, with Finch’s backing, following Finch’s election as mayor in 2007.

Supporters of the bill maintain too many conflicts exists such as city employee councilors approving their own wages and benefits. Also, how can taxpayers get the best deal for their money when the head of the legislative branch works at the pleasure of the mayor with no separation of powers?

Cathy Osten
State Senator Cathy Osten, with strong labor ties, opposes good-government legislation.

Opponents, including organized labor, argue the bill lessens the pool of candidates who could be involved in elective politics. Organized labor leadership carries clout with some Democratic legislators because their constituency finances and supports many Democrats. McCarthy’s office also negotiates union contracts and hears municipal employee grievances, something not lost on organized labor leadership that prefers a cozy relationship with him.

State Senator Ed Gomes who has sturdy labor credentials says he and some of his labor friends have agreed to disagree on the issue. Gomes supports the reform bill.



  1. She votes on her own pay raises, right? I know she’s an elected official. She’s paid as a legislator, I wonder why she’s not an employee.

      1. LE,
        Where there is “say” about pay there is also risk and responsibility for a cycle of activity suspecting, prospecting, opening, designing, presentation, application, review and delivery. That is true in the commissioned insurance business I have worked in for over 50 years. Fewer than 10% of folks are able to put it together and sustain the multiple duties to earn the commission-based revenue stream for that type of business.

        This subject is a pretty far distance from State or municipal employees, the majority of whom are members of unions, with negotiated guarantees that are costing the taxpayers more money than would equal employment in private industry that has better adjusted to world realities. Thirty-five-hour weeks are unknown to those commission-based folks in their first 20 years. Vacation days, sick days etc. are otherwise workdays.

        Having a public job (separate from being a legislator) should not allow you to affect your status by running for elective office that will vote on those public budgets. It is simple. No one can remain unconflicted in that situation. Time will tell.

  2. An amendment should be proposed and added to HB 5886 that would prohibit elected officials of municipalities in Connecticut from serving as employees in economic development- policy/economic development-origination positions in any Connecticut municipality (possibly even in bordering states).

    As we all know, there is competition for development among Connecticut municipalities, e.g., Stamford vs. Bridgeport.

    Why do we have an elected official from Stamford serving as Bridgeport’s economic development director? I suppose there’s no conflict of interest there! (I suspect that this type of situation might even hurt us more than the situation of Bridgeport elected officials also serving as city employees.)

    If we’re cleaning house and protecting our interests, let’s be thorough.

    Also, each and every department director in Bridgeport should have to own and live in a home in Bridgeport during their entire tenure in their position as the chief executive of that department.

    The City Charter, backed up by state law, should disallow elected officials from serving as municipal department heads in any Connecticut town, and should also require all municipal department heads to live in the town in which they serve as a department head. The economic and quality-of-life interests of department heads should be one and the same as the towns in which they serve. That can’t happen if they don’t live and own property where they serve.

    We have way too many high-paid carpetbaggers living off of the taxpayers of Bridgeport even as they subvert our long-term interests.

    Does anyone know the towns of residence of all of our department heads? I would like to see such a list–and I bet the rest of the OIB readership would probably also be interested.

    Let’s push for an amendment to address this in 5886 and also push for appropriate Bridgeport Charter change in this regard.

    In the meantime, “Better-every-day-la-la-la” David Kooris should be replaced and sent packing back to Stamford. He is worse than useless here. (Let him take his fuel-cell plants back to Stamford with him–and send Charter Communications up to Bridgeport.)

  3. Jeff Kohut, look at Bridgeport Fire Chief Rooney, he lives in Monroe and as fire chief he has earned over $1,000,000, that’s right, over a million dollars and he paid NO taxes here in Bridgeport, $0 (zero) and he gets to drive a City-owned car to Monroe.

  4. I hope those who provide testimony at the public hearing Monday evening stay on topic. The Planning and Development committee members should not be hit with issues not related to HB 5886. The Hennessy/Moore amendment addresses the problem concisely. Let’s not cloud the issue and give the impression we expect the state legislature to fix all the problems of Bridgeport.

    After this bill passes and conflict of interest is addressed (as best it can be) we need to focus on having competent and accountable people on the city council and re-establishing an effective ethics commission.

    Hopefully, this bill will be the impetus for an improved city government rather than just the silly slogan we hear now.

    1. Let me amplify what Tom said. The surest way to get this bill DEFEATED is to lard it up with controversial issues. If one of your current supporters doesn’t like your extraneous issue, you’ve just lost a supporter.

      As to a residency requirement, you will NEVER get the state to pass such a bill, so don’t even try. Anything you attach that to will fail.

  5. Voting for and electing our state reps and senators is good. Showing them true support and help is showing up at events like this, showing them we support them in their fight to pass this bill. Our city charter, which we voted on, says no city employees on city council. We are a home-rule state, which is the bedrock of our democratic government. This bill closes the state loophole which will allow us to govern in accordance with our city charter. Let us all show up and support our delegation. The other state elected officials WILL notice if we truly are in favor of this, and they will consider our actions as they consider how to vote on this bill.


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