CT Conference of Municipalities opposing Bpt. government reform bill

Bridgeport Democratic state Rep. Jack Hennessy’s push to put an end to the practice of allowing city employees to also serve on the city council has gained a bit of momentum.

His bill’s got a page on Facebook and a date for a public hearing – March February 13, 10 a.m. in Hartford.

It’s also got the attention of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, and not in a good way.

CCM head Jim Finley told me tonight the group plans to testify against Hennessy’s proposal.

Finley said it is not uncommon for municipal employees to hold elected positions and Hennessy’s bill would further limit the already shallow pool of folks who want to enter local politics.

I noted that Hennessy’s bill as written appears narrowly tailored to Bridgeport. The city’s charter actually prevents employees from being elected to the council but they get away with it using a loophole in state law.

Hennessy wants to close that loophole IF a municipal charter is intended to keep public workers off the council. Bridgeport, that means you!

So, I asked Finley, why does CCM care?

“We work closely with the current Bridgeport City Council and have always had a great relationship,” Finley said. “It seems odd to have a state legislator target one municipality.”

But Hennessy argues the potential conflicts-of-interest and cronyism that can arise from Bridgeport’s situation are what have held the Democrat-dominated city back for so long.

Brian Lockhart