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Bridgeport council upset by acting police chief’s absence from budget meeting: ‘It’s just not right’

BRIDGEPORT — A scheduled teleconferenced meeting for the City Council to examine one of its most important municipal budgets — for the police department — with top officials from the force was curtailed Saturday after the chief and an aide did not attend.

Whether the parties will be able to meet before the council finalizes its budget by May 10 remains to be seen.

“For us to do this and then we don’t have people to show up, it’s just not right,” said Councilman Ernie Newton, a chairman of the Budget Committee, which has been meeting almost daily with various department directors to analyze Mayor Joe Ganim’s draft of the 2022-23 municipal fiscal plan.

“This is just another poor reflection on (police) leadership,” Councilman Matthew McCarthy said.

Three different reasons were offered during the meeting for Acting Chief Rebeca Garcia’s absence: She did not want to work on Saturday; she had an unspecified prior commitment; and/or she had an unspecified health issue.

Garcia in an emailed statement to Hearst Connecticut Media afterward clarified, “I am recovering from a procedure which I respectfully will not expound upon.” But, she said, she attended “the Christian flag-raising” at City Hall for the Easter holiday and had thought her prior request to postpone her budget hearing had been accepted.

“I know the importance of the budget and the amount of time the council has dedicated to it and the personal sacrifice of each involved,” Garcia continued. “At no time should my absence be considered a disregard to the hard work and effort of all involved in the budget process. I look forward to presenting at our next meeting when…

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