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    Default Bridgeport Fire Chief accused of being a racist

    Finalist for chief's job accused of racist past

    Wednesday, January 5, 2005

    By Cara Rubinsky


    Copyright © 2005 Republican-American

    WATERBURY -- A group of black and Hispanic firefighters from Bridgeport is raising concerns over whether Bridgeport Chief Michael Maglione should lead the Waterbury Fire Department.

    But Waterbury Mayor Michael J. Jarjura, who must choose between Maglione and former Naugatuck fire chief Kerry Flaherty, said what he has learned so far does not seem serious enough to factor into his decision.

    Jarjura received a letter Monday from Donald Day, a retired Bridgeport fire captain and the director of the northeast region of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters.

    Day said he wanted to make Jarjura aware of Maglione's association with a group called the Bridgeport Firefighters for Merit Employment, which Day and some members of the Bridgeport Fire Department contend is a racist organization that works to stop the department from hiring or promoting minority firefighters.

    Maglione characterized the group, of which he was once a member, as an organization that works to preserve the civil service hiring system, which is supposed to remove political influence from the municipal hiring process. He said the organization is not racist.

    "It happens to be made up of mostly white firefighters, so it's easy for someone else to make that accusation," Maglione said. "It supports civil service."

    But Day and Ronald Mackey, president of the Firebird Society of Bridgeport, a group of black and Hispanic firefighters, said Maglione has ignored their concerns about what they contend is inappropriate influence over the hiring process. They say members of Bridgeport Firefighters for Merit Employment have been unfairly given provisional, or acting, appointments that skirt the civil service process.

    They took the issue to the Bridgeport City Council's Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, which is investigating, Day said.

    "While Chief is no longer a member of BFME, most of the officers in Bridgeport's fire department from captains to battalion chiefs to deputy chief are active members," Day wrote in his letter to Jarjura. "I think this says a lot about his ability as a leader to allow this racist organization to have an open door to his office."

    Maglione said the group has no role in the department or the hiring process.

    In addition to the letter from Day, Jarjura said he received a packet of Fairfield County Weekly articles about the Bridgeport Firefighters for Merit Employment from local community activists who asked not to be identified. But he said what he read did not convince him Maglione should be dropped from consideration.

    "It doesn't seem ... Chief Maglione in any way, shape or form is a racist," Jarjura said. "I just don't see that in the documentation I have here, so I would not let that weigh in or sway my decision."

    No Waterbury firefighters belong to the Firebird Society or the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters, Day said. The number of black and Hispanic firefighters in the 300-member Waterbury Fire Department was not available Tuesday. Waterbury has no female firefighters.

    Jarjura said he hopes to pick a chief next week. He selected Maglione and Flaherty from a list of five finalists generated by the human resources department, which tested 20 candidates. The job has been open since June 2003, when Fire Chief George Klauber left to run the department in Derry, N.H. Acting Fire Chief James Cavanaugh, a retired firefighter, was not a candidate for the permanent job.

    Jarjura said he intends to interview Maglione and Flaherty again before making a decision.

    Maglione has logged 33 years in Bridgeport, the past eight as chief of a department with 320 firefighters. He applied for the Waterbury job because Bridgeport rules limit a fire chief to two five-year terms. Were that rule not in place, Maglione would be appointed to another term, Bridgeport Mayor John Fabrizi said.

    Flaherty spent six years at the helm of the Naugatuck Fire Department, where he oversaw 41 professional firefighters and 10 volunteers. He was until Jan. 1 head of the state Office of Emergency Management, but his job was merged with another and given to someone else.

    "I'm torn," Jarjura said. "I'd love to be able to choose qualities from both and put them together, but obviously it doesn't work that way. We'd be fortunate to choose either one."

    The human resources department has already conducted background checks on the two candidates. Neither raised any flags, and the Bridgeport Firefighters for Merit Employment did not come up in Maglione's background check, Jarjura said.

    The importance of background checks was illustrated recently in Naugatuck, where the Fire Commission offered the chief's job to a former Stamford deputy chief, then discovered he had been demoted for receiving bonus pay to which he was not entitled. The commission rescinded the offer and is now conducting a background check on another finalist.


  2. #2
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    Consider the source of the complaint... two representatives, who lead organizations which, in themselves are racist, as only black and minority firefighters are allowed to join.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, who stated in his famous "I have a dream" speech that he dreamed of a day when a person would be judged by the content of his character and not the color of skin must be rolling in his crypt.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 01-06-2005 at 10:39 AM.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo
    Consider the source of the complaint... two representatives, who lead organizations which, in themselves are racist, as only black and minority firefighters are allowed to join.

    Dr. Martin Luther King, who stated in his famous "I have a dream" speech that he dreamed of a day when a person would be judged by the content of his character and not the color of skin must be rolling in his crypt.
    BINGO! This racial crap has got to go - I cant believe how prevailant it is in the U.S. - We are not immmune in Canada but not to this level. One day we will see people for who they are and thats it. I think I will stop now because this topic just tics me off!

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    As of the date of this posting Bridgeport Fire Chief Michael Maglione has been offered and accepted the position of Fire Chief for the City of Waterbury.

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    Yeah; they want to be treated the same; only different!
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    Visit www.iacoj.com
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    RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)

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    Yeah, why stick around in a town that you are called a racist and your hiring authority is being stripped away from you so that you can hire convicted felons and unqualified applicants.

    Best wishes to the chief.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

    The borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 - Debt free since 10/5/2009.

    "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." - New York Judge Gideon Tucker

    "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." - Dave Barry

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    Maglione picked as city's new fire chief

    Wednesday, January 12, 2005

    By Cara Rubinsky


    Copyright © 2005 Republican-American

    WATERBURY -- Bridgeport Fire Chief Michael Maglione was tapped Tuesday to lead the Waterbury Fire Department, which has been without a permanent chief for more than a year.

    Mayor Michael J. Jarjura chose Maglione over former Naugatuck fire chief Kerry Flaherty, the other finalist for the job. Jarjura said both were strong candidates, but Maglione won out because Bridgeport's 320-member fire department is similar in size to Waterbury's, which has 300 firefighters. Naugatuck has 40 professional firefighters and 10 volunteers.

    Maglione "brings obviously a wealth of experience in managing a very large fire department with many of the same challenges that we face here," Jarjura said.

    Maglione, who expects to start in Waterbury in February, takes the helm of a department that is still adjusting to a contract imposed by the state oversight board. Firefighters have a strained relationship with the board, which controls city finances and has sweeping power to impose contract provisions.

    A Waterbury Superior Court judge vacated the fire union contract in October, citing a problem with the way the oversight board arbitrated it. The board and the city appealed to the state Supreme Court, which is not expected to rule until at least the spring. Meanwhile, firefighters continue to work under the new contract, which is expected to save $1.5 million in this year's $18.3 million fire budget.

    "I think he realizes that he's coming into a very tense situation, but he'll do his best to reach out," Jarjura said.

    Maglione has logged 33 years with the Bridgeport Fire Department, the last eight as chief. He sought the Waterbury job because Bridgeport rules limit the fire chief to two five-year terms. Bridgeport Mayor John Fabrizi said Maglione would have been appointed to a third term were that rule not in place.

    Tom Sherwood, Bridgeport's budget manager, called Maglione one of the city's best budget managers. That endorsement carries a lot of weight in cash-strapped Waterbury, where department heads are charged with providing adequate services while maintaining tight control over budgets. He also worked with an oversight board in Bridgeport.

    He said Tuesday he is excited about the Waterbury job.

    "I see it as a challenge, part of my adventure in the fire service," he said. "From the beginning I've always sought a higher position, and this is now allowing me to go on to another department and an excellent department. I believe I can bring something good to the department, and I also believe I can bring something good to the city."

    Among other tasks, Maglione will oversee implementation of recommendations in a fire department efficiency study commissioned by the oversight board. Those recommendations included eliminating positions and consolidating three firehouses into one.

    Acting Fire Chief James Cavanaugh, whom Jarjura consulted before making a decision, said Maglione is a good choice.

    "He definitely has been through many of the things we're about to go through, and also I think he's going to bring a lot of knowledge to the table as far as areas the fire department wants to head in," said Cavanaugh, a retired firefighter who stepped in to lead the department when George Klauber left in June 2003 to take a job in New Hampshire. Cavanaugh, who was not a candidate for the permanent job, will continue as chief until Maglione arrives, then stick around a few weeks to help with the transition.

    Daniel French, fire union president, said Maglione appeared to be the only candidate other than Waterbury Deputy Chief John Mancini suited to lead the Waterbury Fire Department.

    Mancini was still in the running after the city's human resources department narrowed the field from 20 candidates to five, but he withdrew from consideration, citing the climate in the department and tense relations with the oversight board. The others on the list were Vineland, N.J., Fire Chief Peter Finley Jr. and former Branford fire chief Peter Buonome, now a consultant and deputy fire marshal in Plymouth. City hiring rules allowed Jarjura to pick any of the five. He interviewed all of them, then narrowed the field to two and interviewed them again.

    Maglione "is the only other candidate that I saw that had the qualitative and quantitative experience," French said. "I know he's a career guy from Bridgeport. Bridgeport and Waterbury have always had a pretty close relationship. I hope for the best. It's certainly going to be difficult under the auspices of the oversight board, but we're hopeful."

    French said, however, he is uncertain how much influence Maglione will be able to exert.

    "It's difficult because quite frankly, in many instances, the chief of the department isn't making the decisions," French said. "The oversight board is clearly knee-deep in managing the fire department, and that's going to make it difficult for the chief to have the latitude he needs to establish relationships."

    Some black and Hispanic firefighters from Bridgeport opposed Maglione's appointment to the Waterbury job because of his association with Bridgeport Firefighters for Merit Employment, which they said is a racist group that works to stop the department from hiring or promoting minority firefighters.

    Maglione characterized the group, of which he was once a member, as an organization that works to preserve the civil service hiring system, which is supposed to remove political influence from the municipal hiring process. He said the organization is not racist, and Jarjura said that what he had learned about it did not seem serious enough to factor into his decision.

    Jarjura and Maglione will negotiate a contract, which will also need approval from the oversight board. The budgeted salary for the position is $101,000.

    Among Maglione's first tasks will be establishing a management team. He can bring in anyone he wants as assistant chief, and the city is in the process of hiring a civilian administrative officer to manage the department's budget.

    Maglione said it's too early to comment on whom he might choose as assistant chief, but both Jarjura and Cavanaugh said Maglione had indicated he would try to find someone in the department willing to take the job.

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    good luck cheif, we have a lot of those same problems here. see mississippi forums.

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    City proposes changes to firefighter sick time

    Friday, January 14, 2005

    By Steve Gambini


    Copyright © 2005 Republican-American

    WATERBURY -- Lawyers for the city on Thursday presented the oversight board with a set of changes to the firefighters' contract that they hope will reduce the use and abuse of sick time in the department.

    The presentation to the board which governs Waterbury's finances under state law was part of an ongoing review of the contract required because firefighters took more sick time than allowed under a contract that took effect four months ago.

    Firefighters, who work 24-hour shifts, would be able to use their sick time in 12-hour increments if the board accepts changes proposed by the city in the decision it's due to hand down on Feb. 2.

    "The necessity of taking a full 24-hour shift off may be driving up sick time use artificially," said Brian Clemow, the attorney hired by the city to represent it in the contract talks.

    Clemow said the city also is recommending that the oversight board allow firefighters to use all four days, or 96 hours, of their sick time in a year without having to provide a doctor's certificate. They still would be required to present documentation from a doctor for taking two consecutive sick days.

    When a firefighter calls in sick the fifth time, Clemow is recommending that firefighter not be paid unless he can provide documentation of an illness.

    "That's the price you pay for indiscriminately using up your sick leave," Clemow said.

    Board member Fred Luedke said a one-day penalty probably wouldn't be much of a disincentive to an employee committed to abusing the system.

    "That does not address the point of whether the first four absences were appropriate," Luedke said.

    He suggested the city consider looking at the first four sick days, and the employee's overall record before making a decision on paying for the fifth sick day used.

    Curbing sick time use is part of the drive to reduce overtime costs for the department, which spent $2.1 million on overtime in the last fiscal year and already is $36,000 over the $1 million budgeted in the current fiscal year.

    The emphasis on sick time is driven by an analysis done by the city and oversight board member James Mullen that identified a pattern of abuses in the department, including a high number of absences on weekends.

    One employee was fired and another resigned after the review of the the first two months under the new contract for taking excessive days away from work. By using sick days, the firefighter who resigned never reported to work at all during the first 54 days under the new labor contract.

    Although they only earn four days of sick time per year, Clemow told the board that many firefighters bank sick time. A breakdown provided to the board showed that many firefighters had saved up sufficient sick days to call in sick for most of their 105 work shifts each year.

    The city's language suggestions are part of a longer arbitration process. Final recommendations will be submitted to the board Jan. 20 and the board must make its final decision on Feb. 2.

    Although the sessions are part of a contract arbitration, the fire union has opted to sit out the discussions, claiming the oversight board is promoting an anti-labor agenda.


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    Chief plans retirement after 'snub'

    By BILL CUMMINGS and JOEL C. THOMPSON

    Staff writers

    BRIDGEPORT

    Police Chief Wilbur Chapman said Tuesday night he plans to retire after the Board of Police Commissioners unanimously decided not to recommend his reappointment.

    "He said he didn't want the job. What else could we do?" Ramon Larracuente, a member of the board, said after the vote. "We would have loved to have him stay here."

    "I did want the job, but I also wanted the mayor to make a commitment to renew my contract and provide the resources I needed to properly run the Police Department," Chapman said.

    "Whatever they decided was of no consequence because I had already made up my mind."

    Lacking that commitment from Mayor John M. Fabrizi, Chapman said he would retire when his five-year contract runs out on Aug. 31, or earlier if the mayor agrees to buy him out.

    However, board President Thomas L. Kanasky Jr. said the negative recommendation also took into account the rocky relationship Chapman has sometimes had with the board since his term as chief began on Sept. 1, 2000.

    Kanasky said he would summarize the board's point of view in a letter he will place on the mayor's desk at noon today.

    Chapman, who did not attend Tuesday's meeting but was reached by telephone, recalled he had for a time refused to attend board meetings because its members had decided to give disability pensions to police officers convicted of felonies, contrary to his wishes.

    Soon after taking the job, Chapman sparked controversy over the number of days he took off. Despite missing more than 70 days in a single year, Chapman accepted a bonus for not using sick days.

    Fabrizi said he would consider the board's recommendation while making a final decision on whether Chapman should be reappointed.

    About three dozen top ranking police officers, who attended the board meeting to support Chapman's reappointment, were clearly stunned by the board vote.

    Earlier Tuesday, Chapman had questioned whether Fabrizi was "comfortable with an African-American chief."

    The chief also charged Fabrizi with not handling the question of his contract renewal in a "professional manner.

    "Maybe he's not comfortable with an African-American chief. There are not a lot of people of color in this administration," Chapman said.

    The 57-year-old chief said Fabrizi should have let him know by now if he plans to offer a contract extension. Under the City Charter, Bridgeport's police chief can serve only two five-year terms.

    "He wants me to go, but does not want to be blamed for it. He's not doing things in a professional manner," Chapman said.

    Fabrizi reacted with outrage at the chief's remark regarding African-Americans.

    "I'm extremely offended by this remark. I get along with folks of all persuasions. It's ludicrous and the chief knows it," Fabrizi said.

    The mayor said he had not offered Chapman a new contract because he is required to follow a specific process under the City Charter.

    Fabrizi said within 180 days of expiration of the chief's contract the city's Police Commission must make a recommendation to the mayor.

    Fabrizi said within 150 days of the contract expiration he must reject or agree with the commission's recommendation. That would be in April in Chapman's case

    "There is a process and I intend to follow it. I have never given him any indication that I want him to remain or not. In private, I have supported the chief," Fabrizi said.

    Chapman labeled this explanation as "subterfuge. That's not what he led me to believe," he said.

    He said he has part ownership of a restaurant in Jacksonville, Fla., and will collect a hefty pension from New York City, where he retired as transportation commissioner.

    Chapman also was a high-ranking member of the New York Police Department prior to the commissioner's post and then coming to Bridgeport.

    "I am used to working for people who have an honest relationship. That's not happening here. I don't feel I'm working with people who are honest," Chapman said.

    The chief said the mayor asked him to stay when he took office following former Mayor Joseph P. Ganim's resignation in 2003. But, Chapman added, he now believes Fabrizi only wanted him to continue through the municipal election cycle later that year.

    Chapman also complained that the Police Department is not adequately funded, and some $2 million in overtime expense so far this year results from not having enough patrol officers.

    Still, Chapman pointed out that Bridgeport's crime rate is at the lowest level in decades.

    He also accused city officials of failing to take advantage of federal money to hire new officers and said taxpayers are being shortchanged by the administration's decision to hand big raises to favored administrators while ignoring Police Department needs.

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