The Civil Service Commission has rebuffed ex-City Council
Posted in the Trumbull Forum
#1 Dec 4, 2013
BRIDGEPORT -- The Civil Service Commission has rebuffed ex-City Council staffer Thomas White's bid to appeal his layoff.
Now, White must convince a federal court that the 2012 budget cuts the city says forced his termination were just a smokescreen to fire him for irritating some council members.
"This is another example of the irrelevance of the Civil Service Commission and why city employees turn to union membership," White said in a statement.
White is an ex-Republican councilman hired last decade to serve as that body's legislative liaison. His $47,411 position was cut from the budget in the spring of 2012.
White and his attorney, former mayor Thomas Bucci, wanted to fight the decision in front of the Civil Service Commission. Mostly because of scheduling reasons, the commission did not take up White's request until last week.
"That's all we were asking ... a hearing (to) present evidence," Bucci said. "They decided they did not want to hear the case based upon the advice given by the city attorney."
In a legal opinion to the commission, Associate City Attorney John Mitola wrote that the group had "no authority to substitute its judgment for that of the city's budget authorities and must defer to the decisions of the mayor and council (on) matters of economic policy (and) fiscally motivated employee layoffs."
Mitola argued White can -- and is -- pursuing his complaint through the judicial process.
Parallel to seeking the Civil Service hearing, White and Bucci filed a free-speech lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court against Bridgeport. The suit claims White "acted as the conscience and moral compass for the City Council, dispensing advice and opinions on the ethical behavior the public expected from members."
According to the lawsuit, White objected to possible conflicts of interest involving unnamed council members. He also criticized how some council members allegedly schemed to increase their $9,000 annual stipends.
Bucci has claimed the city undermined its argument that White's job was cut for financial reasons when ex-Department of Aging employee Walter Boyer was transferred to the city clerk's office in September 2012 and given the title of "legislative liaison" and a $42,799 salary.
"There was one layoff among thousands of city employees and a position created miraculously in the city clerk's office for almost the same salary," Bucci said.
The federal lawsuit is still in the discovery period with the sides taking depositions from several sources, including City Council President Thomas McCarthy, D-133, who has been the focus of much of White's ire.
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