Another Ganim ally joins Bridgeport’s payroll
BRIDGEPORT — Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration has added yet another of hizzoner’s political operatives to the City Hall payroll.
David Papandrea, a former state Senate staffer-turned-Democratic-strategist who has worked on Ganim’s campaigns, starts next week as a $58,279 data analyst for the massive public facilities department.
“I have several departments that come under me,” said John Ricci, the director of public facilities and another close Ganim ally. “He’s (Papandrea) going to be my liaison to those individual departments. He’s like a trouble shooter, basically.”
Ricci oversees the maintenance of municipal buildings, roads and sidewalks, sanitation and recycling, parks, the municipal golf course and Sikorsky Memorial Airport.
While the job is a non union one and such so-called patronage positions have often been filled by political insiders or their relatives, Ricci insisted, and the Civil Service Office confirmed, that Papandrea competed for this opening.
“He went through a process,” Ricci said, adding the data coordinator job was advertised and several applicants screened. “He’s the one that came out first.”
According to Civil Service, the position was advertised on the city website from Sept. 7 until Sept. 14. Sixteen candidates applied and three received oral interviews, with the interview panel recommending Papandrea to Ricci.
“He’s a well-qualified guy,” Ricci added. “He’s got a Master of Business Administration and will be good at what I’m asking him to do on a daily basis.”
Papandrea helped Ganim, who was originally mayor from 1991 until 2003, wage a successful comeback campaign in 2015. Papandrea also was a late addition to Ganim’s failed 2018 gubernatorial bid, which ended with the mayor losing August’s Democratic primary to Ned Lamont.
While Ganim and his budget staff often speak about how the mayor, because of the city’s ongoing fiscal challenges, is slow to fill vacancies, the administration has found money for Ganim’s political allies.
As previously reported, East End activist and Democratic Town Committee member Charlie Coviello in February landed a $43,000 position as a zoning inspector just a few months before being a delegate for Ganim at May’s Democratic gubernatorial nominating convention.
Another town committee member and convention delegate — Steven Auerbach — was hired in January as a seasonal public facilities employee. Auerbach was then promoted to the $57,000 job of special projects coordinator overseeing the city’s parking meters and parking enforcement operation.
A city union has filed a grievance over Auerbach because he took over the duties of Peter Keogh, a retired cop who for years oversaw parking enforcement and was laid off in early July.
Upon returning to City Hall in 2015 Ganim rewarded many of his campaign supporters with high-paid, sometimes six-figure positions in Bridgeport government. Many of those same individuals volunteered for the mayor’s gubernatorial bid and/or wrote contribution checks to his 2018 campaign.