Walsh: Where Is The Paper Trail Leading To Manny’s Mansion?

Former City Councilman Bob “Troll” Walsh shares his take on the questionable process that led to the $400K taxpayer-paid roadway/driveway Bridgeport-based developer Manny Moutinho built to his own mansion in the Lordship section of Stratford. From The Troll:

As someone who sat on the City Council’s working committee that assisted in rewriting the procurement ordinance after the Ganim corruption scandal, I dared to take a look back at what we had accomplished to try to see if anything went wrong with the driveway fiasco. Below are select sections of the procurement ordinance. The entire law is available on line at www.municode.com.

My read of the ordinance and the written reports but undocumented events that took place, the competitive bidding process was waived because either the purchasing agent determined that it required a:

Waiver of competitive bidding for critical emergency purchases

Waiver of competitive bidding for qualified purchases

iii. Time is a critical factor and such purchase could not have been previously anticipated through proper advance planning

Under either instance there should be a clear paper trail starting with the city Purchasing Agent with either a prior sign-off by the mayor or speedy notification to the mayor after the fact. The mayor should have been the one who signed the contract awarding the work to Manny Mouhtino’s Mark IV construction. Both scenarios require timely notification to the City Council.

So where is the paper trail?

Why hasn’t the city produced the proper documentation?

Was the council notified as required by ordinance?

Did the mayor sign the contract with the advice of the city attorney?

With the inclusion of the Purchasing Agent and the various officials outside of the airport and the city attorney’s office, can we really envision a scenario in which the airport manager and Mr. Moutinho somehow rigged this bid with no one else knowing fully about it?

Or has the city become so sloppy in the paperwork department and now that a bright light is shining upon the process, the city is lacking the proper documentation?

And the final question is, given all of what we know, what needs to be done to tighten up the process to ensure that this can never happen again?

From the city Code of Ordinances

Title 3 Revenue and Finance

3.08.040 – Execution of contracts—Consultation with city attorney

The mayor shall execute all contracts made on behalf of the city unless the city council shall by ordinance or resolution otherwise direct and before executing the same he shall consult with the city attorney in relation to the proper legal form and sufficiency thereof.

3.08.070 – Purchasing procedure

A. Definitions

“Critical emergency purchase” means a purchase of goods or services that, if not purchased or ordered immediately, can result in injury to human life or significant property damage, or result in consequences detriment to the city’s best interests. These types of purchases include all requirements needed on an emergency basis (a) to comply with federal, state or local laws or codes, or (b) to avoid complete loss of funds made available by non-city public and private funding sources, or (c) to make emergency repairs of city-owned property, buildings, infrastructure, equipment and vehicles, the need for which or the quantity thereof could not have been reasonably anticipated with proper advance planning. The purchasing agent should use the informal competitive quotation process for critical emergency purchases, if possible, but shall not be limited by the applicable threshold dollar amounts set forth herein due to the emergency nature of the purchase. Last-minute purchases not constituting true emergencies or other emergency purchases that do not comply with this definition may only be approved in accordance with the mayoral bid waiver process set forth herein.

“Contracting officer” means any director or deputy of a city department, any president or chief executive of a city agency, board, or commission, including the board of education, the WPCA and any other similar duly-constituted agency of city government as defined by Charter or ordinance, or contained in the city’s table of organization, including his/her respective designee set forth in writing to the purchasing agent, having direct authority or due authorization to initiate purchases.

G. Waiver of competitive processes in critical emergencies.

1. Waiver of competitive bidding for critical emergency purchases.

a. The contracting officer shall set forth in writing to the purchasing agent the reasons why public advertising and competitive bidding or other competitive process otherwise required by this section should be waived. Critical emergency purchases shall be limited to those purchases reasonably necessary, and only for such duration, as may be required to meet the emergency circumstances described. The purchasing agent shall initially determine whether a critical emergency purchase is appropriate and, if so, shall make a written recommendation to the mayor to grant such a waiver. The mayor shall consider the matter and issue a mayoral bid waiver if appropriate, or in his/her absence the council president shall consider and decide such matter, before any critical emergency purchase may be made.

b. After the issuance of any mayoral bid waiver, the purchasing agent shall inform the contracting officer, who shall submit written certification of the selection of the particular vendor or vendors and other pertinent details within five working days after such purchase to the mayor, the city council, the director of finance, the director of the office of policy and management, and the BPP. Such purchases shall be included in the purchasing agent’s quarterly report to the BPP.

2. Waiver of competitive bidding for qualified purchases.

a. Purchases other than critical emergency purchases may be made without competitive bidding or other competitive processes otherwise required by this section for the following reasons:

i. Only one qualified or available vendor or sole source can be identified through reasonable efforts, for example, where only one vendor is authorized or certified to do such work, where parts are available only through a single dealer or distributor, or where the work is proprietary or relates to products that are proprietary and cannot be substituted without adverse effects or complications.

ii. Purchase from a special source, including but not limited to a sale, purchasing plan, government discount or trade-in allowance, will provide a lower cost than that which would result from a competitive process.

iii. Time is a critical factor and such purchase could not have been previously anticipated through proper advance planning.

iv. The purchase involves items the prices of which are federal or state regulated.

b. The purchasing agent shall make written certification of the reasons for the waiver of competitive bidding or public advertisement, the reasons for the selection of the particular vendor or vendors, and other pertinent details within five working days after such purchase to the mayor, the city council, the director of finance, the director of the office of policy and management, and the BPP. Such purchases shall be included in the purchasing agent’s quarterly report to the BPP.



  1. Bob, do you or anyone know if there was a public notice for the driveway work bid? How did the other two companies who submitted a bid know of the project? In Michael Daly’s recent article regarding this matter, one can make a mental picture of how this played out. I understand the City confiscated Ricci’s computer from his office at the airport. Who was this mysterious person who allegedly gave Tardy copies of the contract and where did he get it from if no one knows of the records’ location? What role should have the City Council’s Contracts and Appointments Committee played in this matter? Was the entire $3 million approved by the city expended by the airport, for what, and when? If the $3 million was spent or appropriated for other things, at what point were Federal dollars used and for what?
    These are the kinds of questions the Council members should be asking.

    1. Joel,
      To your first question about public notice of bid, in Mike Daly’s column he noted “at the urging of acting Bridgeport Purchasing Agent Bernd Tardy, three bids were acquired.” So Bernd Tardy waived the competitive bidding requirement due to the time-sensitive nature of the work, which is allowable by ordinance.
      But also required is the purchasing agent give written notification of the waiver to the mayor and City Council within five days. Mike Daly made no mention of such notification being in the file in his article. And the City Council maintains they knew nothing of this waiver.

      1. Bob, as the ordinance goes regarding waiving the bidding process under qualified purchase.
        “a. Purchases other than critical emergency purchases may be made without competitive bidding or other competitive processes otherwise required by this section for the following reasons:”

        The reason for the bidding waiver was time.

        Here is where it gets kind of twisted. If the bidding was waived, why did Ricci or the city seeks three (3) bids? It seems like Ricci or the city approved the waiver of the bidding process and then went into a bidding process with a selected group of three bidders–Mark IV, Candee and Julian. Mark IV knew of the driveway project. How did the other two know about the project? The ordinance doesn’t mention anything about getting three bids. The only explanation I can come up with is it was done the way it was done to support the position Manny got the job because he was the lowest bidder.

    2. As to your other question about where did these documents mysteriously come from, the two departments that have been front and center defending the process from day one are the Mayor’s Office and the City Attorney. So I would start looking there.

    3. The City Attorney’s office has always been very vague as to what contracts must come before the council. However, it would appear if any contract should require council approval it should be ones like this that skirt the open competitive bidding process.

  2. Are we asking Manny and the city for too much information? Perhaps we are! This all started because the road to Manny’s mansion was flooding. Can Manny or the city provide a picture or video of the flooded road at least? That’s not much to ask for, is it?

  3. Bob–Thanks for the insight into this process.
    Were the same processes followed for G-Pic’s work at Seaside after Sandy? How about the presentation to the contracts committee this week regarding the land-lease deal on Seaview Avenue? JRRCC LLC owns the property and wants to lease it to the city and then be the party that gets paid by the city to pave the lot. BTW–JRRCC LLC is Ray Julian. A sweetheart of a guy and is the Mayor and his staff saying they didn’t know? If the Contracts didn’t get spooked they would have approved with no bid at all!

  4. There are no surprises here. The council and the administration have ignored the charter and city ordinances for years. They do what the hell they want and pay no penalty.
    The B & A committee and the council almost always vote for financial matters with little or no documentation.
    In three years of attending B & A meetings it is common practice for this group to vote and pass on to the council financial packages for which they have received no paperwork. Don’t get me wrong, they ask for more documentation and Sherwood always states he will get the information they are seeking to them in a few days. BFD, they still vote without it and if they do receive the info they are seeking it is received too late. This time the council got caught with their knickers down.

  5. One of the most troubling aspects of this whole affair has been the appearance the city waived competitive bidding in order to award the work to a favored contractor, which just happened to be owned by one of the property owners who benefited from the road. Now, based on the reporting of Mike Daly, the reality appears to have been far worse. Not only was competitive bidding avoided, but the entire purchasing process seems to have been conducted outside the city agency that is supposed to be responsible for all city purchasing.

    Indeed, it appears that the only reason copies of the “quotations” three vendors submitted to airport management are in the purchasing agency’s file is because some mysterious person dropped them off earlier in the week.

    There is a reason why the charter and ordinances vest the responsibility for city purchasing in a centralized Department of Public Purchases, rather than individual agencies. Those ordinances also require the development of clear specifications, public advertising and a centralized bidding or quotation process. One of the reason the process is set up that way is to reduce the chances of a department steering business to a favored contractor.

    City ordinances do permit an exception to full public bidding (but not other parts of the procurement process) for what are called qualified purchases, a term that includes purchases where “time is critical and the purchase could not have been planned.” This is the provision the Associate City Attorney has identified for avoiding public bidding.

    It’s a novel argument that fails to survive even casual scrutiny. This work is part of a multimillion dollar project, funded primarily by the federal and state governments (which generally require bidding for work done with their money). Funding for it was supposedly provided within the bond authorization approved months ago by the City Council. But there wasn’t time to go through the basic procurement process required for all city projects. How gullible do they think people are?

    Members of the City Council and its Contracts and Appointments Committee need to do more than wring their hands and complain about not being told about the details of the project. They need to closely examine this project and procurement; determine whether and how the normal process was skirted; and make changes in the procurement ordinance which will prevent similar abuses in the future.

    They might also want to ask how many “qualified purchases” the City of Bridgeport has made over the past year.

  6. So those three proposals that were dropped off before Mike Daly met with Bernd Tardy had three different dates with the lowest bid submitted on the latest date. All that paperwork went to joe Ricci. The last bid, the lowest bid, was from his partner and affected property owner. Mr Ricci should NOT be on paid leave, he should be on unpaid leave. Crap, the canard is overcooked!

      1. Ron,
        I read your comment and am prepared to pursue that route along with others. I’ve had enough and so have many other people in Bridgeport.

  7. After reading all of the articles thus far (since the city is not producing and documentation) and the ordinance, I am totally baffled by the council’s claim of ignorance.
    Regardless of which type of waiver was granted the council should have received written notification from either the Mayor’s Office or the Purchasing Department.
    You can be sure if I were still on the council I would be screaming for an explanation of what is going on. Instead there seems to be a muffled reaction.

  8. Many words have already been written about Manny’s driveway, and more are forthcoming before the story is complete. From my viewpoint with a focus on Finch Charter violations as well as on Council Committee review of matters including the lack of info provided to them, what we are looking at is a driveway featuring “shortcuts.” Pictures makes the driveway look long to me, and expensive by 2 times for what was accomplished for Manny, but “shortcuts” are front stage.

    These days I have been looking for and reviewing Committee appointments the Mayor makes. Many of the Committees are posted on the website, but even there you cannot find all of the “Five MMMMMs:” Mission, Money, Members, Meetings and Minutes. And I raise the question, why not? For instance, where do we keep track of what is ongoing on the School Building Committee? Aren’t there around $400 Million of projects at some stage of development? While a lot of that is State of CT money, don’t we pay taxes there too?

    Several years ago I noticed and reported the City would refer to its Internal Control procedures and reference an Internal Auditor in Budget and CAFR documents. But they had no such position in fact. They had terminated and never replaced that function. Why? Efficiency? (That position still appears on a Position Chart in the Legislative Offices in Morton Center.) But there is no one doing that work. If you consult the Ordinances, you will find the Council assigned certain duties regarding Purchasing to the Internal Auditor, annually and triennially. Are they being done? Does the Council President look in his rear-view mirror to see what his Council established but also what they have ignored? More shortcuts? Sloppy governance catches up with you. And corrupt practices travel the same road as sloppy!

    And those external annual auditors have talked about internal controls in management letters. Is this a problem of enough technically qualified employees, or is it more reasonable to ask: “Who initially proposed the idea of a publicly funded driveway for Manny that it would be the City’s duty to spend Bridgeport taxpayer funds for a wealthy contractor’s personal driveway in Stratford?”

    By the way, Mr. Ricci has been operating a project for the past several years that is costing Bridgeport taxpayers almost $400,000 per year in losses, by excessive and uncontrolled expenses for the services provided. It is called Sikorsky Airport. It is listed as a non-essential City service and today it is front-page material for too many days!

    Shortcuts, habitual poor flow of paperwork to the City Council by the City, and habitual acceptance of that situation by most Council members who have never been trained to be watchdogs and who do not ask questions, because they know how to vote (previous to hearing the motion) are a few of the conditions leading up to this mess. Our Council members are a barkless breed it seems, and because they do not move to reform their behavior they are shameless, too. Time will tell.

  9. When John Fabrizi became mayor after the resignation of Joe Ganim, I served on his transition team and then the re-established board of public purchases. The purchasing ordinance Bob Walsh refers to was adopted to avoid the questionable actions of the Ganim administration.
    The similarity between the Ganim and Finch administrations may not be obvious, but we may be seeing the demise of control measures put in place through ordinance and reestablishment of the board of public purchases.
    We now see a city council fraught with conflict of interest, lack of skills, no political independence and complete dependence on the Finch administration for information and instructions.
    Does the board of public purchases still function, or has it gone the way of the ethics commission?
    When information is provided to the city council members, do any of them read it? Do they simply rely on instructions from the council president who is part of the Finch administration and the city attorney who is part of the Finch administration and budget director who is part …, you see the pattern.
    I sense followers of OIB are seeing the pattern I tried to caution council members about.
    There must be an independent investigation of ‘Drivewaygate’ that includes a detailed look at all components of the decisionmaking process, including the uninformed and clueless decisionmaking by the city council and the possibility it was by design.


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