Carmen’s FOI Complaint, And A Taste of Honey

4 p.m. update: Why do I get the feeling Carmen Lopez isn’t going away any time soon?

The retired superior court judge from Black Rock has filed a complaint with the state claiming the Civil Service Commission violated Freedom of Information laws when (and after) it terminated Ralph Jacobs as personnel director. Jacobs is challenging the termination in state court. The commission conducted a hearing, with Jacobs present, but went into executive session to deliberate and determine his fate, something Jacobs’ lawyer former Mayor Tom Bucci says violates state law.

See Lopez’ complaint below. A sidebar to her action is her charge that City Council President Tom McCarthy dissed her after, she says, a clerical error by the city clerk’s office failed to place her on the speakers list for the City Council meeting tonight. Lopez informed OIB via email:

“Upon being notified of the error, a request was made to the City Council President to allow me to speak. The request was refused by Mr. McCarthy, notwithstanding the fact that three of the six spaces remained unfilled. Therefore, I will not be speaking on the Freedom of Information topic until the next City Council meeting. I have been advised that I have a five minute ‘spot’ for that meeting.”

I spoke to McCarthy about this Monday afternoon. He said no mistake was made by the city clerk’s office. Lopez’s request to speak came after the deadline required to address the council. Either way, Lopez is expected to address the council at the next meeting in October.

Former City Council President Lisa “Honey” Parziale has weighed in as well telling OIB in an email that she would have accommodated Carmen’s request.

“I find it ironical that (Lopez) was denied the right to thank her supporters at the last Town Committee meeting when she didn’t prevail as a candidate for the Board of Education, and now the President of the City Council arbitrarily denies her the right to request to the full council her right to speak. I have a little experience with the City Council. As Council President I never denied anyone the time to address the Council members even if they didn’t sign up in advance. As long as there was a time spot available, I deferred to the members in attendance, and as long as there was no objection the individual was allowed to speak. I feel the present Council President exceeded his authority, and denied his colleagues a great opportunity to hear from the Judge. Fortunately, Judge Lopez will be speaking at the first meeting in October.”

The Jacobs case is becoming curiouser and curiouser. The rule of law is a great place for a retired judge to pursue to win over the electorate, especially city employees who fear the way Jacobs was terminated: something called breach of city loyalty involving a letter he sent to an attorney of a city employee who had a dispute with the labor relations office.

Jacobs has both his supporters and detractors among city employees. But when I talk to city employees they say if they can do that to him, what about us? Lopez has stepped up to take on some important issues such as urging the city to address a rodent problem in the West End and now the Jacobs case. She also has a number of pols pushing her to run for mayor. Carmen’s not saying she’s leaning that way yet, but taking on hot topics is a nice place to start should she decide to run for mayor.

Lopez complaint to the Freedom of Information Commission:

Dear Commissioners:

On August 21, 2009, the Civil Service Commission of the City of Bridgeport, held a meeting at Bridgeport City Hall. The purpose of the meeting involved the status of Mr. Ralph Jacobs, who was the Personnel Director of the City of Bridgeport.

Upon information and belief, the Civil Service Commission voted to enter Executive Session, for the purpose of discussing Mr. Jacobs performance, and possible dismissal. It entered Executive Session without giving Mr. Jacobs an opportunity to discuss the matter at an open meeting, as required by Section 1-200(6)(A) of the General Statutes. Following the Executive Session, the Commission voted, without comment, to dismiss the Personnel Director.

On September 1, 2009, the undersigned communicated via email with David Dunn, Bridgeport’s Acting Personnel Director. (see attached forwarded email)

I explained to Mr. Dunn that the minutes of the August 21, 2009 meeting were not available for inspection, and had not been posted on the City’s web site. This was, and to my knowledge remains, a violation of Section 1-225(a) of the General Statutes which reads:

“the votes of each member of any such public agency upon any issue before such public agency, shall be reduced to writing and made available for public inspection within forty eight hours and shall be recorded in the minutes of the session at which taken. Within seven days of the session to which such minutes refer, such minutes shall be available for public inspection and posted on such agency’s internet web site, if available….”

Mr. Dunn informed me that the minutes “are being prepared,” and asked that I request a copy, “in writing.” I expressed to him my belief that an email is “a writing” and satisfies the requirements of Section 1-212(a)of the General Statutes, which requires a person to apply for a copy of a public record “in writing.”

In addition, Mr. Dunn informed me that the City Attorney would review the minutes before they were made public. The taking of minutes would seem to be a function of the Commission’s secretary or Clerk, and not the City Attorney.

To date, I have received no response from Mr. Dunn, or from the Office of the City Attorney concerning my request for copies of any minutes which may have been prepared, despite a second communication on September 10, 2009. (see attached forwarded email.)

I am therefore requesting that the City of Bridgeport be found in violation of the Freedom of Information Act, due to its failure to compile, post, and make available, minutes of the August 21, 2009 Civil Service Commission meeting.

I also believe that there has been a violation of the Act, upon information and belief, because the Executive Session was illegal, and the public should not have been excluded.

Furthermore, requesting a document from the City of Bridgeport via email is a “writing” as that term is used in the applicable statute.

I believe that some or all of the above referenced violations of the FOI Act were committed without ‘reasonable grounds’ in violation of Section 1-206(b)(2) of the General Statutes.

I therefore request that a civil penalty be imposed.

Russo Announcement

Former Republican State Senator Rob Russo will formally declare his candidacy for U.S. Representative in Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District on Tuesday. Russo will join State Senator Dan Debicella as the two Republicans challenging Democrat Jim Himes. The incumbent is piling up a mighty warchest for reelection, and he’ll spend several million dollars, so the Republicans will devote most of their time the next six months raising dough. Can’t compete in that kind of race without it. Russo and Debicella are friends so don’t look for a contentious competition between the two. The candidate that can raise the most loot and garner convention support will face Himes. Unless, of course, some money-lathered Republican shows up and says here’s my $3 million. Different story.

Say Hello To Ringmaster Santa

Believe in Barnum and believe in Santa. Tom Santa, chief executive of Bridgeport-based Santa Energy will lead the Barnum Festival in 2010, the 200th anniversary of Mr. Barnum’s birth. Former WICC news director Tim Quinn, a festival promotional hand, was kind enough to share an image of Santa courtesy of photog extraordinaire Wayne Ratzenberger, and also a glimpse into the new ringmaster. See below:


Here’s a different way to celebrate your 54th birthday, get named the Barnum Festival Ringmaster! It happened to Tom Santa this week. The CEO of Bridgeport-based Santa Energy was elected by the Barnum Festival board of directors and was introduced to a large, supportive crowd at Bridgeport’s Aquarion headquarters.

Santa succeeds Michael E. Niedermeier as the man in the top hat, red coat and white pants,and is now the Festival’s 62nd Ringmaster. Santa says his goal will be to reach out to the community for new people with new ideas to make the Barnum Festival bigger and better.

This will be a special year as it marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of P.T. Barnum. the Barnum Museum says they are planning all sorts of special events and will work closely with the Barnum Festival, as they have for many years.

Tom Santa’s uncle, George, was the Ringmaster in 1977. In fact, the Santa family now becomes the fourth family to boast of more than one Ringmaster joining the Bodines (1951 & 2001), the Carrolls (1988 & 1999) and the D’Addarios, who have had 3 members in charge of the Festival (1967, 1995, & 2000).



  1. Mojo and Grin Ripper, I do see a common thread with bloggers on the subject of Ralph Jacobs the former personnel director and the newly appointed David Dunn as the personnel director and with retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez’ interest in the case of the Bridgeport Civil Service Commission.

    As I said earlier I find it strange on how quiet the City’s 13 unions are on Mayor Finch’s takeover of civil service. Are these elected union representatives in bed with Mayor Finch because of favors that they have received or are they just scared, either way they are not representing their union membership? They need to be ousted.

    1. Finch’s State of the City address ought to go something like this:

      “Hi folks. I’m Bill Finch, Mayor of Bridgeport. I was recruited to run for the office because Mario Testa, the power behind the scenes of the local Democratic Town Committee (pay no attention to that man behind the curtain), begged me to run. Y’see, Christopher Caruso, a member of the state legislature, was going to run for mayor. This terrified Mario and all of his minions. They knew that Mr. Caruso would fire all of the city employees that owed their jobs to the DTC. So I got drafted because I looked harmless. Little did Mario know. I’m actually a narcissistic control freak that doesn’t take the job seriously. I fired Ralph Jacobs because he insisted on following the letter of the law instead of taking my wishes as commands. This will cost the city millions of dollars in fines and legal fees but who cares? It’s not as if I’m going to pay for it.”

  2. Oh, yes, everything is wonderful, just ducky … safest, most affordable, with neighborhoods and schools improving each year … Yahooy should be there tonight to measure Finch’s nose with a yardstick.

  3. It would appear that Mayor Finch has his hooks into City Council President McCarthy for something. Ms. Lopez seems to generate a little fear in the puppeteers behind the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee; why else would they be putting up resistance? The judge has a right to address the City Council, as do ALL Bridgeport residents. Regardless of political (or apolitical) views.

    I for one would like to see Judge Lopez run for mayor. A strong pro-reform candidate advocating for the “little” people, advocating for transparency in city government … Judge Lopez, with her level of education and accomplishment, would be just right for knocking Smilin’ Bill Finch and Don Mario “Calamaro Grande” Testa off their respective thrones. If Judge Lopez can assemble an election staff with the political savvy to mobilize the Latino vote and the African-American vote …

    “No más mentiras, no más confusión, no más engaño en la política de Bridgeport!”

  4. Lookee here! I found this through a Google search. It’s from a Connecticut Post article published in April of ’07. A list of all Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee members (along with some relevant information, like which of them works for the city or has a spouse that does).

    130th DISTRICT
    Dan Roach, police commission member, wife is city employee
    Stephen Sedensky, city attorney, wife is Board of Education employee.
    John McCarthy, former health director
    Michael Meehan, firefighter
    Joann Manzo, BOE employee
    Hector Diaz, son of town clerk, former state representative
    Thomas Mulligan, council member
    Thomas Kelly
    Bobby Lindsay

    131 DISTRICT
    Mitch Robles, former sister-in-law is BOE member
    Felipe Reinoso, state representative
    Mary Bruce, former councilwoman
    Leticia Colon, councilwoman
    Paul Boucher, zoning inspector
    Jose Rivera, Water Pollution Control Authority Board of Directors
    Domingo Robles, retired city employee, father of Mitch Robles
    Marilyn Jones, worked at polling sites
    Jose Negron, city employee

    132nd DISTRICT
    Michael Freddino, city employee, union vice president, wife is a P&Z member
    John Olson, BOE Member
    Michelle Ellis, BOE employee
    Robert Walsh, councilman
    Elaine Pivirotto, councilwoman and state marshal, sister-in-law is BOE employee
    John Stafstrom, city bond council, Democratic Town Committee chairman
    Wendell Randolph, former city employee
    Joan Thornton, retired city employee
    Noelle Furie

    133rd DISTRICT
    Thomas McCarthy, city council member and city employee
    Maria Hoffman, city employee, husband is city employee
    Sabine Kuczo, city employee
    Virginia Keeley, mother of state Rep. Bob keeley
    Scott Appleby, city employee
    Lucille Bruno, former city employee, two daughters are city employees.
    Howard Austin Sr., son is BOE employee
    Joseph Hatrick, former city employee
    Vincent DiPalma

    134th DISTRICT
    Dennis Scinto, city employee, son is a city employee
    Thomas Lyons, wife is BOE employee and councilwoman
    Paul Carbone, former city employee
    Matthew Cuminotto, police officer
    Johanna Dorgan, former P&Z member
    Eugene O’Neill, city employee and former police commission member
    Thomas Gacewicz, former health director
    David Hall, police commissioner
    Marilyn Santacroce, former council member

    135th DISTRICT
    Warren Blunt, councilman, and city employee
    Edwin Gomes, state senator
    Johnny Dye, councilman.Wife is BOE employee
    Earl King, retired cop, member park board
    Cynthia King, assistant town committee chairwoman and BOE employee
    George Mintz, son is BOE employee
    Richard Cruz, city employee
    Marlene Crespo

    136th DISTRICT
    Dorothy Guman, former Planning and Zoning Commission member
    Max Medina, BOE member
    Cruz Cotto, police officer
    Marilyn Middlemass, Parent Advisory Council president
    Lawrence Osborne,city employee
    Mark Trojanowski, sister is city employee.
    Yanira Diaz-Olivares
    Adelaide Esteves
    Joyce Purnell

    137th DISTRICT
    Alberto Ayala, son is BOE employee, ex-wife is Democratic Registrar of Voters.
    Gilberto Hernandez, retired city employee
    Andres Ayala, city council president and BOE employee. former aunt is Democratic Registrar of Voters.
    Lydia Martinez, BOE employee, state representative, daughter is city employee.
    Angel M. DePara, son is councilman.
    Maria Valle, councilwoman, BOE employee.
    Carmen Padron, has served as poll worker
    Dianna Hernandez-Zapata
    Raul Ruiz

    138th DISTRICT
    Martha Santiago, city employee
    Robert Curwen, councilman, wife,city employee
    Andrew Fardy, wife P&Z chairwoman, former parks commissioner
    Kevin Monks, city employee
    Richard Paoletto, councilman; city employee
    Barbara Powell, BOE employee
    Mary Oleynick, poll worker
    John Swatkowski

    139th DISTRICT
    Ralph Ford, parter in psychology practice that counsels the fire department
    James Holloway, councilman, city employee
    Charles Coviello, has done real estate work for city.
    Rev. John A. Dillard lll
    Beronica Gill
    Lawrence Moore Jr.
    Gwendolyn Shaw
    Bishop Zebedee Stewart
    Keith B. Williams

    I don’t know if this information is current, but I’m guessing it’s pretty close.

    1. *** Mack, hope it didn’t take just this incident to come to that conclusion! Some of the union leadership welcomes it while others are taking the usual wait & see approach. Then there are a few that don’t have a clue one way or the other??? Really nothing new when it comes to the city’s workers unions is there? ***

  5. Finch announces new economic development deal for Steal Pointe. Finch announces new economic development deal for Seaview Avenue. Finch to give state of the city address tonight.
    Does anyone really think that these are three unrelated consequences??? If it weren’t for these two new make-believe development proposals he would have nothing to talk about!!!

  6. Finch has nothing to talk about. What a surprise. He can announce a new development deal for Steel Point(e) but that doesn’t mean it will actually amount to much more than expelled inert gasses.

  7. Lennie, what the hell does a Ringmaster have to do with politics? The only reason there could be for you to feel that this is blog-worthy, is because Santa is the man who pays for the Santa Energy ad on the left side of the screen.

    “Santa says his goal will be to reach out to the community for new people with new ideas to make the Barnum Festival bigger and better.”

    Here is an Idea: Change the parade route (all the way down Park Avenue to Seaside Park) so that more people can attend and see the Parade. While Santa is at it, he can hand out some heating oil coupons offering $1.00 a gallon for the next winter season. After all, Santa is the only Santa that goes out the chimneys as opposed to going down them.

    1. I thought Joel lost his ring finger. I do give Joel two thumbs up for his Joel-de-Vivre!

      “While Santa is at it, he can hand out some heating oil coupons offering $1.00 a gallon for the next winter season.”

      Looks like Joel is suggesting Santa give everybody a hand job. In Bridgeport, Santa comes more than once a year.

      Santa believes in Bridgeport!


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