Mayor Bill Finch has gone where no mayor has gone before, and former Mayor Jasper McLevy, the father of Bridgeport Civil Service, is barfing in his grave.
Finch won a power grab for jobs Friday afternoon when his nemesis, Civil Service Personnel Director Ralph Jacobs, was fired by CC commissioners.
Jacobs was dumped, at the urging of the mayor, for daring to tell a lawyer representing a city employee to seek arbitration if the employee could not work out differences with the city’s labor relations department. Jacobs bosses, the commissioners, had upheld her seniority rights following a layoff, but labor relations did not follow suit.
The commissioners told Jacobs he should have cleared the letter with them even though they never issued him a written declaration that all correspondence had to be cleared. Finch argued that Jacobs breached city loyalty. Jacobs said he was merely defending commission action.
The stated reason for Jacobs firing is a bunch hooey. He was dumped because he would not play ball with Finch in filling civil service positions, and Finch persuaded commissioners that Jacobs was a pain in the ass who had to go.
This was a big, if short term, political win for Finch who has filled Jacobs slot with his own person in an acting capacity to help fill some civil service vacancies with political supporters. Finch appointed David Dunn, former director of labor relations under Mayors John Mandanici and Tom Bucci. Dunn meets the City Charter qualifications for a personnel director, he’s smart and will serve the mayor well. Finch can appoint Dunn on an acting basis pending approval of the Civil Service Commission that torpedoed Jacobs. Theoretically, commissioners can order that a new test for a permanent personnel director take place. I don’t see that happening for a while.
Where Finch and Chief of Staff Adam Wood misfired badly in Jacobs’ termination was not making it a first step as part of a civil service reform package that includes a Charter Revision Commission that explores and sends to voters recommendations for a modern testing system such as a rule of three than a rule of one.
Meanwhile, this a nice time for Finch to take care of his political peeps.
Jacobs’ lawyer former Mayor Tom Bucci calls Civil Service Commission President Eleanor Guedes’ decision to oust Jacobs gutless. And while this is a political win for Finch, governmentally it remains to be seen. Jacobs will take this fight to court and it will undoubtedly cost the city tens of thousands of dollars to defend this move, and possibly hundreds of thousands if Jacobs court challenge is successful. Bucci remarks below:
It was plain and simple a political hatchet job - (Jacobs) did nothing wrong to justify his termination. The commission president was gutless, and the other commissioners, plain and simple, spineless.
Their efforts to disassociate themselves from Jacob’s conduct after taking a vote in January, and never rescinding it to the present day, would make them just as culpable, if Jacobs had done something wrong. They went in executive session, to hide from public view, despite our protests, in violation of the FOIA, to carry out their execution.
Obviously, they couldn’t discuss their reasons for firing Jacobs in the open because their own misconduct would be evident. This is simply wrong, HE DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG!
I don’t fault the Mayor; I fault the cowardly commissioners who have taken an oath to defend the civil service system. After the charade they conducted on Friday in which they trampled on Jacobs’ rights and made a mockery of the core principles of the civil service system – judging an individual on merit, not politics, they should all resign in disgrace. They have truly disgraced good government.
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