A week ago, we launched #UnrigBridgeport – a campaign to fix Bridgeport’s broken democracy! For generations, systemic corruption has destroyed our local government, our local elections, and kept our city from thriving.
Ironically, also a week ago former Police Chief AJ Perez and former Personnel Director David Dunn released memos in federal court, pleading for leniency during their upcoming sentencing trials. In October, both Dunn and Perez pled guilty to cheating during the City’s 2018 Police Chief search. They rigged what was supposed to be a national, competitive search for the most qualified candidate so that Perez would be guaranteed to get the job.
The question on everyone’s mind then – and now – is why did they do it? Well, according to Dunn’s sentencing memo, he conspired with Perez out of “loyalty” and “faithfulness.” But loyalty and faithfulness to whom? The answer to that question is laid bare in Perez’s memo and tells us all we need to know:
“Perez told one BPD officer that Ganim had said, “You’re my guy. You have it,” and
“Perez allegedly told another officer that Ganim had promised him the job regardless of who applied.”
Dunn’s memo goes on further to explain that:
“Based on the common knowledge of the close friendship between the mayor and Perez, the mayor having appointed Perez as the acting chief, as well as the frequent inquiries about Perez’s prospects by members of the city council, to the exclusion of the other candidates, David Dunn correctly assumed that Perez was the choice of his superiors for appointment to chief of police.”
There’s no smoking gun here. Dunn is admitting what we all already knew to be true. His loyalty and faithfulness were not to the people of Bridgeport and our safety. It was to Mayor Ganim and to certain members of City Council, both of whom are beholden to the corrupted Democratic Town Committee and its patronage machine. The political class in Bridgeport operates on personal favors and self-serving interests to stay in power – a behavior that Ganim knows all too well.
When Ganim won his comeback re-election in 2015, after serving seven years in federal prison on public corruption charges, he did it with the endorsement of the police union who publicly called on him to hire a new Chief. Bridgeport police were unhappy with then-Chief Gaudette, who brought in Assistant Chief Nardozzi to reign in overtime. One of the first things Ganim did as Mayor was move Gaudette to a $125,000 consultant position, fire Nardozzi (who later sued for wrongful termination and won a $300,000 settlement), and appoint AJ Perez as acting chief.
At that time in 2015 Perez said this:
“Joe Ganim is my friend. And I am very loyal to my friends. I never saw him do anything wrong, only good for the city of Bridgeport and that’s it.”
Really. Perez, the man who occupied the office of the highest level of LAW ENFORCEMENT in Bridgeport saw nothing wrong and “only good” even after Ganim spent 7 years in prison on public corruption charges. Clearly, both Perez and Dunn’s loyalty and faithfulness to Joseph Ganim has diminished their common sense and exposed – once again – the culture of corruption that permeates our city government under Ganim’s leadership.
Armando Perez and David Dunn deserve to be sentenced to the fullest extent of the law. That includes 2 years in prison, financial restitution and the loss of their pensions. Sentencing for Perez is set for Monday, April 12th and Tuesday, April 13th for Dunn. These men knew what they were doing was against the law and assumed they would get away with it. Perez’s memo explains:
“He (Perez) allowed his personal ambition and self-serving rationalization — such as the well-worn sentiment about ‘how things are done in Bridgeport’ to cloud his better judgment,”
For Ganim’s part in this scheme, we will have to wait and see what comes of it. The only thing we know for sure is that Bridgeport taxpayers are on the hook for $600,000 in criminal defense attorney fees for Perez, Dunn, Ganim and his Chief of Staff, Dan Shamas.
Mayor Ganim, had a legal obligation to embark on a national search. And as an elected representative of the diverse people of Bridgeport, he had a moral obligation to conduct that search with high standards, best practices, and real community engagement at the forefront. And, to choose a highly qualified candidate. Captain Roderick Porter, Chief Luis Casanova and Asst. Chief Nardozzi fit that bill. Ganim chose not to do that. Instead he installed an unqualified man who cheated, lied and betrayed the public trust. Because for him – just like the corrupted Trump administration – it was about rewarding loyalty.
The people of Bridgeport are not stupid. And, we are watching.