BRIDGEPORT — Sometimes government reform happens with a bang, and sometimes incrementally, with little fanfare.
The latter occurred this week for critics who have for years sought to prevent City Council members from also holding down municipal jobs.
Amidst all of the other news out of Tuesday’s Democratic council primaries — victories for some fresh and some returning faces; four pending recounts in close races — something else happened: Incumbents James Holloway and Milta Feliciano lost.
And they were the remaining council members who also receive city paychecks.
Holloway, a council member for over two decades, works in permits and licenses, while Feliciano, elected in 2013, is director of veterans affairs.
“It’s been a long haul,” said state Rep. Jack Hennessy, who has tried, unsuccessfully, to pass legislation to make Bridgeport’s council free of municipal employees.
Now, when Holloway’s and Feliciano’s terms expire later this year, it will be.
Hennessy and others have argued the situation is rife for conflicts-of-interest, particularly if a given position answers to the mayor.
Council members who have been the target of such criticism have countered that they recuse themselves from certain decisions as necessary; that their insider knowledge aids their ability to govern; and that if the voters re-elect them knowing they serve two masters, then there is no issue.
Language in the Bridgeport Charter would seem to prohibit allowing employees to serve on the city’s legislative body. But the City Attorney’s office had argued the charter was overridden by a state statute granting municipal workers the right to run for…
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