Why Public Works Directors Matter

During Tuesday night’s vent session in City Council Chambers a woman from the North End addressed Mayor Bill Finch and his leadership team in charge of the response to the historic blizzard that paralyzed the city, trapped folks in their homes for days, forced others to miss work with no pay and still others overwhelmed by the storm had their cars towed with exorbitant rates to retrieve tem. The woman spoke of her relative in Trumbull who said streets were passable. She wanted to find out herself so she said she walked up Main Street to the Trumbull line. “Main Street Trumbull was like nothing happened … Main Street Bridgeport was a disaster.”

Charlie Carroll is the director of Public Facilities in Bridgeport, a super agency that oversees parks, the airport, as well as Public Works including sanitation, street paving and snow removal. It can be a labor intensive job that requires anticipation and deploying a crew of public plowers and private contractors to the task of clearing streets for passage. Carroll’s body of work for the five years he’s had the job under Finch has been sturdy through an onslaught of snow storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and rain-swelled neighborhoods. This latest storm was different.

Carroll and his underlings in Public Works sat through a barrage of criticism Tuesday night. The Public Works brass did not anticipate the amount of snowfall, based on weather reports, and were caught short at the height of the snowfall. Across the line in Trumbull, Public Works Director John Marsilio had ordered continuous plowing through the storm; don’t let the storm get ahead of you. News reports in Trumbull, as well as residential reaction, credit Marsilio’s response to the storm.

Marsilio is no stranger to storms in Bridgeport. For more than 10 years he had the job in Bridgeport now occupied by Carroll, and folks who remember Marsilio’s service nearly universally agree taxpayers got good service for their buck.

Charlie Carroll is a man of professional pride who will make sure his team does better next time. And that could be as a soon as this weekend. Pray for rain?

Yes, citizen response to city services always live and die with chief executives who place their names on the ballot. But one lesson from the storm, as it relates to approval ratings of elected officials, is certain. Public Works directors matter.



  1. Anyone. Please justify to me Charlie Carroll’s suitability to be Public Works Director in a municipality the size of Bridgeport. We, obviously, need an experienced professional in that job. Not a political hack. Our safety is at sake.

    1. Bill Finch couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the amount of inconvenience suffered by the people of the city of Bridgeport. As long as the streets around Testo’s and Beardsley Park are cleared …

  2. The brain trust at Public Facilities can blame the weather reports for the bad decisions they made during the storm but that is BS.
    Everyone in Bridgeport (citizens) and all of the surrounding towns planned for a blizzard but not Bridgeport. That is total incompetence on their part. It appears Bpt did not hire enough seasonal workers with CDLs this year.
    While finch is at the top and the bucks stops there the management at public Facilities failed miserably and heads should roll. Will they? Of course not only the lower-end workers ever get laid off.

    1. The Bridgeport Public Works Dept had the same weather information as the surrounding towns. Why is it our town couldn’t handle it? One word: In-fucking-competence.

  3. My street has been paved twice in the last five years, that’s right, twice! (Black Rock.)
    While Mr. Carroll ran around putting in new sidewalks and paving anything he can get his hands on just to get Finch elected, then Carroll handed the taxpayers the bill.
    He’s no Rich White from Fairfield, or for that matter a real public works director.
    I’m not sure if he knows the difference between a backhoe and a blizzard power plow.
    I think Carroll is in over his head.
    Finch appointed his buddy Carroll, now Finch has to live with his knowledge and hope for the best, that hope proved to fall way short when it came to this very dangerous snowstorm.
    Let’s ask Carroll how Testa had three snowplows working on Madison Ave, while people in the North End couldn’t get out of their driveways.
    Let’s hope there’s no next time for Finch and Carroll’s snow jobs.

    1. Jim, I don’t know if you are complaining about having your street paved twice in five years, but in my neighborhood (St. Margaret’s Shrine area) we didn’t get our streets repaved for over 8 years, once! Public facilities would pass the buck to my council person who would pass it back to public facilities. I mentioned in a previous post if Bucky Marsilio or George Estrada were head of PF during Nemo things would have been a lot better. Charlie Carroll doesn’t have any idea what he’s doing nor does he care.

  4. “Carroll’s body of work for the past five years has been sturdy.” “Charlie Carroll is a man of professional pride who will make sure he does a better job next time.”

    Lennie. We are talking about Charlie Carroll who Mario had appointed to a six-figure job, right?

    1. Lennie have you been reading and looking at pictures of the CT Post stories regarding anything Bridgeport? Did you see the one in which Mayor/P.F.D. Bill Finch held a press conference? The article came with a picture of Bill Finch and Charlie Carroll. What was very telling in this and just about every press conference was the picture with Bill Finch front and center while Charlie Carroll is in the background. Not one word written was a quote from Carroll.

      The problem is Bill Finch demands to be in charge of every department. Even during the public hearing news reports and photos, Bill is again front and center. Every department head is walking on eggshells when on duty.

      I served on the council when Public Works Director John Marsilio was at the helm. Marsilio would speak up when Budget and Appropriations members tried to cut his budget request and spelled out what to expect if the cuts were approved. Ganim always allowed Marsilio to speak at press conferences and Marsilio allowed the Parks director to speak too.

      Bill Finch just doesn’t know how to step aside and let the proper authorities do their jobs. No one but Finch.

  5. *** Regardless of where you parked, driveway, street, off road snow emergency city parking lots, etc. your vehicle was stuck for at least a couple of days. If you tried to venture out before the roads were somewhat cleared for “unimportant” reasons and got stuck in the middle of the road or intersection and were towed, that’s the price you’ll have to pay. The city dropped the ball expecting 11 to 18 inches of snow so by the time they realized it was to be much more and decided to call in the snow cavalry, it was too late! Compounded with public facilities employees getting stuck and grounded themselves when coming in to work, equipment failures, etc. made the overall task impossible. The governor called for the N/G engineers, etc. much too late into the storm and waited too long to shut down the major highways and parkways. Topped off with Bpt having a history of taking too long to pay outside storm help did not help either! All and more reasons along with 30+ inches of snow, made for the snowstorm of the century, no? *** Blizzard of 2013 ***

  6. What we really need is a recall provision for the mayor. Remember the coke-snorting ex-mayor who couldn’t be removed despite embarrassing our city? Well,we’re in the same boat now. Egomaniac Bill Finch will never resign.So we’re stuck for two more years with this guy.

  7. Public Facilities is run by political hacks who are connected at the TOP OF THE POLITICAL LADDER. They have limited experience to say the least. They have huge egos and look down their noses at employees and taxpayers. They consider taxpayers to be cry babies after the storm. They walk on water and do no wrong. You name it, they get away with it! They have no fear of losing their jobs. It will never happen. As past history has proven! Things will only get worse! Watch and see.


Leave a Reply