Will Ricci Survive City Review Of Road To Manny’s Mansion? Is He A Scapegoat?

Grounded Airport Manager John Ricci has been a survivor in city politics for more than 30 years, Republican administrations, Democratic administrations, deftly playing both sides in a political city that historically eats its young. Suspended with pay from the airport leadership position he had occupied for over 20 years, Ricci’s facing the biggest challenge of his governmental life as a business associate of radioactive developer Manny Moutinho who was awarded $400,000 to make an improvement to his own driveway leading to his waterfront Stratford mansion under the guise of a municipally owned airport safety project.

Is anyone betting Ricci will actually return to his government job? There are certainly layers in the approval process far higher than Ricci that show city officials, at the very least, asleep at the switch. The city is undergoing a review of the circumstances that led to Moutinho receiving the work in an expedited fashion Superior Court Judge Dale Radcliffe ruled last week should not have obligated city taxpayers to cover the cost. City lawyers who approved the deal look lame. This case is a toothache for the city and Mayor Bill Finch. The larger question, will root canal set in? The city will sacrifice someone. It’s hard to imagine Ricci will return to his job given his business connection to Moutinho that city officials claim they knew nothing about until Connecticut Post reporter Brian Lockhart presented the information.

Ricci, gagged by his lawyers in recent weeks since the revelations became public, had announced enough city officials knew about the relationship. Did they know about Ricci’s friendship with Moutinho? Or did they know about Ricci’s business relationship with Moutinho? Two very different matters. Unless declaration of a business relationship shows up somewhere in minutes of meetings of the Airport Commission, Ricci’s assertions they knew are not likely to stick as it relates to Ricci keeping his city job. But this story has taken a number of twists and turns so you never know what’s coming down the road. Ricci’s no dummy.

The city review team is comprised of Labor Relations Director Larry Osborne, labor relations official Neil Austin and attorney John Bohannon. Within the next week or so it’s possible they may draw some conclusion about whether Ricci should be reinstated or removed for cause. Ricci has union rights so it’s not likely he will walk away quietly unless the city makes an offer he cannot refuse.

Even if Ricci’s made the scapegoat in this case, it still begs the question: why would the city authorize a developer on the FBI’s radar screen $400,000 taxpayer dollars to improve his property?

Meanwhile, federal law enforcement officials continue their interest in reviewing alleged defects regarding Moutinho’s sewer work in the town of Trumbull. Hard to imagine they’re not examining Moutinho’s interests in Bridgeport and Stratford.



  1. Another reason why unions will continue to lose public support. He will be protected by the union? The city will pay him to walk away? Maybe we should give him a raise. How about a street named after him? John Ricci has done an amazing job–feathering his nest. He is the perfect example of politics make strange bedfellows. He has a relationship with Fabrizi and Ganim as well as Finch. It will be very curious how this plays out. It is just a reminder of the days of Ganim. Now everyone is asking what did Ricci and Finch get out of this. I say get rid of him. He has had the best fluff job for 20 years and pretty much nobody looming over his shoulder. Go ahead, Mayor. This story will be your downfall. Take action immediately. YOU COULD NOT FIND A PR PERSON TO ERASE THIS $400,000 embarrassment to you and your council. The sooner the better. That’s about all I care to say regarding this beating a horse to death story.

    1. It was a real fluff job when Ricci in trying to save one of the passengers in the crash had a burned to a crisp carcass cradled in his arms. It’s been a real walk in the park for the last 20 years trying to get the safety zone implemented.

    1. John had a job in planning. I do not think he had a job at the airport. If he did then his fluff job was longer than I thought. I think Moran had about 10 patronage jobs. Looking back at it what a joke. Compared to 100s.

  2. Lennie has just been spoon fed this story by the Finch Administration. This is a city gag reflux.

    If Candee had come in at the lowest bid this would still end up being a circle jerk by the mayor and his legal staff. The truthers on this site will next be coming up with the conspiracy theory Ricci orchestrated the zoning appeal turnover with the Judge. Furthermore, Moutinho had no plans to build an access road until the appeal had been heard. In fact the city attorney’s office knew full well they were going to be at risk and recommended to go full steam ahead. City failed to ask for intervenor status and now is left holding their hand on their asses because of shoddy legal work by the city’s Clarence Darrow.

    If John Ricci’s gig is up with the city, I think it will be the city that will be left gagging on its spoon!

  3. Follow the Money // Jul 3, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Finch’s Folly!

    “If we were unable to compensate the owners of these properties, regardless of who they are, we would not be where we are today–constructing a safety zone that we have so badly needed for decades,” Finch said in a statement Friday. CT Post-06/02/2013

    Not a squeak from Little Bo Peep?

    “Whatever was going on with Manny and the driveway up there, quite frankly I didn’t care,” said Lisa Trachtenburg, the associate Bridgeport city attorney assigned the airport project. “Wasn’t thinking about it. Didn’t know much about it because it had nothing to do with me or the city.” CT Post-06/02/2013

    So legally, Trachtenburg said, the city was on the hook to provide Moutinho and his neighbors access to their properties–even though they had already decided to build a new driveway for themselves.
    “I’m not allowed to take it away,” Trachtenburg said. “I have to give them something else … And in the scope of the bigger project (and deadline of) 2015, it’s something I’ve got to get done now.” CT Post-06/02/2013

    “It’s probably not surprising that the one who had already started the design and permitting and has a business that does stuff like this could come in cheaper, but he did. And that’s all there is to it,” Trachtenburg said. CT Post-06/02/2013

    Marky Maypo!

    “In order to meet an extremely tight deadline, the city expedited the bidding process established in City Ordinances Sec.3.08.070.G.2. Following the guidelines laid out in the ordinance, the lowest respondent out of three potential contractors, Mark IV Construction, was selected coming in $21,000 lower than the next highest quote. Despite the newspaper’s efforts to create a controversy, the truth is that the contract was awarded legally and properly and the driveway construction was a requirement to move forward with a necessary safety zone for the airport, ‘ Mark Anastasi–Letter to the Editor-CT Post-06/03/2013

    What’s the Dealy YO!

  4. Let’s take a look at what Steve Auerbach said above. He seems to suggest Ricci must be guilty of something because he has been around the city too long. That he has served under Finch, Fabrizi and Ganim. But Steve, let’s not forget he served under five different mayors both Democrats and Republicans.
    I would suggest this type of longevity could not be accomplished by someone who is reckless in the job, who makes a practice of helping out friends at the expense of the city, who misuses federal funds at the airport.
    That does not compute. That makes no sense. If anything it paints a picture of someone who works very hard at pleasing whomever the mayor is while making sure all of the funds are spent properly and well documented.
    John Ricci may be fired by the city for playing a minor role in embarrassing the Finch administration but that would be all he has done wrong.

    1. BOB WALSH YOU ARE RIGHT, I STAND CORRECTED. I want to publicly apologize to John Ricci for my apparent disrespect to him, his friends and coworkers. I hope he will find it in his heart to forgive me. He served under five administrations and probably deserves the employee of the decades award. To even imply he had anything negative with past administrations is a character assassination on Moran, Fabrizi and Finch whom I respect. That being said Bob Walsh, I have apologized to all. LET’S JUST PAY THE $400,000 and move on. There, I feel good. Mayor Finch please do not fire him. He is a good man. I am a mean-spirited individual and I will change my ways … John Ricci, I apologize. There you go, Bob Walsh. I feel better already.

  5. Can someone–perhaps some of our city’s children who have studied 20th century U.S. history–please present our mayor with a sign to put on his desk that says, “The Buck Stops Here!”

    Good grief! What will be next … an investigation of the investigation?

  6. John Ricci’s persona is a lot like a rotten onion. Each layer you peel back you find slime. This is nothing new. Convicted in the early ’80s for some sort of election campaign fund irregularities, he set the stage for his entire career. I will say he was qualified to run the airport when he was given the job. He had a degree from BEI and experience in the planning department. I really don’t think his appointment was patronage. He had the skill. For all intents and purposes his tenure was neither formidable nor a disaster. Could someone else with vision have done better? Yes. Basically he spent 20+ years there as an ineffective caretaker. A viable airport transportation hub is an important component of economic development.

    Now it’s time to start peeling away the layers of this rotten onion. I am not confident in what we may find.

  7. I have said from the very beginning, look at the procurement ordinance. There are only two officials in the city of Bridgeport who can issue a bid waiver. They are the mayor and the purchasing agent. That’s it. Period.
    If you want to start to see where the problem lies, start there.
    In the piece Mike Daily wrote for the CT Post he talked about going into the purchasing agent’s office and seeing all sorts of paperwork but he never said he saw a signed bid waiver.
    Furthermore, the ordinance says the mayor executes all contracts. So the mayor with the advise of the city attorney should have signed the contract for Mark IV to build the driveway.
    And just as important, the ordinance says either the mayor or purchasing agent (whichever one issued the bid waiver) must notify the city council in writing of the waiver.
    And the council says they were never notified. Please. Let’s follow the paper trail and see who is violating city ordinances. That is what this bogus investigation has failed to do.

  8. The relationship between John Ricci and Manny Moutinho and Ricci’s role in the project are part of the story. But they are just part of the story.

    Despite the Finch administration’s efforts to suggest otherwise, the most important part of the story is the lack of planning, management and oversight that let it happen.

    Only in Bridgeport would a Mayor consider “I knew nothing” an adequate response to a scandal like this.

  9. John Ricci, really that was a sincere apology. Fluckarella, thank you for bringing it to my attention. I was wrong to judge and assume John Ricci was guilty of any wrongdoing. I have known John Ricci for over 25 years. He has never been anything but respectful to me. Why I went after the jugular was even shocking to me. I want to thank Bob Walsh for bringing that to my attention. You cannot take back mean words but can apologize in a public forum. I have. I have been critical of John Ricci on more than one occasion. For that I am sorry. So John Ricci, I ask your forgiveness and I will not disparage you unnecessarily again. This is a sincere apology.

  10. If I am John Ricci, I am thinking I rather value my relationship with Moutinho.

    As far as Finch is concerned, Ricci can strike that information from his black book.

    As for Moutinho, my bet is Ricci won’t lose THAT number. 😉

  11. The BOE audit, initially sponsored by the BRBC, eventually came at us in four segments and took six years to accomplish. I cannot think of anyone today who felt the money was well spent or the results well understood by the community and therefore worthy of complete implementation.

    Remembering that time is of the essence in the Airport project, the investigation will probably become complete before 2016, right? I mean $42 Million of Federal funds are out there, available, and to be spent on what contractor for what services? And after the safety steps are implemented, what is the status of commercial air travel in the NYC-Hartford region? Will we expect scheduled service? Will revenues meet expenses? What have been the projections from Ricci or from OPED? DO they justify the Sikorsky deficit of several hundred thousand annually? What is the endgame … its costs and benefits? Time will tell.

  12. As to the city review team, it is compromised “of Labor Relations Director Larry Osborne, labor relations official Neil Austin and attorney John Bohannon.”
    The Labor Relations Department is more political when it comes to political patronage than the airport is.
    Larry Osborne is the “Director” and a Democratic Town Committee member from the 136th District.
    Neil Austin is the brother-in-law of Sue Brannelly. Which would make him the brother-in-law of the head of the school nutrition program.
    John Bohannon makes more money off of the city of Bridgeport without ever having to put in a competitive bid and has represented the mayor in personal legal matters.
    Also employed in the Labor Relations office is our dear City Council President Tom McCarthy, a member of the Airport Commission and also the Treasurer of the Democratic Town Committee.
    “Within the next week or so it’s possible they may draw some conclusion about whether Ricci should be reinstated or removed for cause. Ricci has union rights so it’s not likely he will walk away quietly unless the city makes an offer he cannot refuse.”
    I believe an officer in the Supervisor’s Association is none other the the Purchasing Agent for the City of Bridgeport.
    And somehow we are to believe Mr. Ricci will receive a fair and impartial hearing.
    Yeah, right. Paging former mayor Tom Bucci.

  13. Who is going to make the final decision about Ricci’s status?

    I know Mayor Finch has said he ordered the current “suspension with pay.” But isn’t the Airport Manager a classified civil service employee, not a mayoral appointee?

    Aren’t decisions about the status of classified employees made by their appointing authority, not the Mayor?

    Is the Airport Commission the appointing authority for the Airport Manager? Now that could be an interesting meeting.

  14. *** Will Ricci survive is really up to Ricci, no? You don’t get put on “paid” admin leave to get fired is my guess! It will all get swept under the rug in due time like everything else that leaves a little egg on the city’s face. *** NEXT ***

  15. Mayor Finch and Council President McCarthy also need to be held accountable for this mess. There are both on the Airport Commission. This is just another example of conflicts and incompetence by top officials in Bridgeport.


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