Caruso: Don’t Muzzle City Council Voices

Former two-time mayoral candidate Chris Caruso addressed the City Council remotely Monday night urging the president of the legislative body Aidee Nieves to reinstate three members who were stripped of committee assignments for what she termed chaotic behavior.

Good evening Madame President and Members of the Common Council:

This evening, I direct my remarks to the Council President and those members involved in stripping three duly elected members (Michael De Filippo, Maria Pereira and Michelle Lyons) of their leadership and committee assignments because of their courageous actions against unbridled corruption.

While the City is once again under federal investigation, this is no time to settle political conflicts, personality differences, and petty disputes, or to exercise one’s power and authority. Rather, it’s time for our City’s legislative body to unite and exercise its lawful right of oversight and accountability of the Executive branch. It is no time to blindly follow the leader, or to retaliate against fellow colleagues who challenge authority or speak out against corruption.

It’s time that robust debate, legislative proposals on anti-corruption ordinances or charter revisions, and the monitoring of city operations and taxpayer dollars are front and center. It]s time that the Council calls on City employees to report wrong doing under the protection of whistleblower status, and to speak out against other elected and public officials (including colleagues) who have conflicts of interest that are counter to the public good and form the breeding ground of corruption.

Some elected officials are under the ill-informed impression that if people don’t talk about the corruption and the federal investigation, it will go away. Believe it or not, it’s just begun. So, buckle up and get ready.

Madame President, I call on you to immediately restore the leadership and committee assignments of Michael DeFilippo, Maria Pereira and Michelle Lyons. Now, more than ever, we can’t tolerate the muzzling of the voices of our local legislators. It’s high time that you and the Council strive to restore confidence and trust to a beleaguered City and assure its residents that someone is truly guarding the hen house from the foxes. Thank you.



  1. A lot of excellent calls last night demanding Maria, Lyons,& DeFilippo get re-enstated. I loved Lisa’s call the most, she really put Nieves in her place,basically pointing out she wasn’t qualified and urged the council to vote for someone else who was, good job Lisa!..
    Not sure anything will change though,,in normal circumstances,the Mayor of a city would demand fair representation for the voters of the 138, but in Bridgeport if you don’t go along with what Joe & the machine wants?, you get silenced!

  2. It seems the only council people with brains and backbone are these three that have been stripped of assignments. I would also put Black Rock Councilmen Burns and McCarthy in this same camp. My hunch is that those districts with the higher turnout like the North End and Black Rock require intelligence as a prerequisite.
    While the State is no paragon of virtue, I hope something develops that puts Bridgeport Municipal services under State control When that was the case in Ganim I, we saw improvement. Once the oversight was released, corruption reemerged.

    1. Denis, I hope you listened to that council meeting last night. By instinct I could discern the few with the desire to do the work of the City. I was impressed with Mr. McCarthy. I don’t think I know him, but he was engaged with the issues before the council and asked good questions. I’m hoping his partner breaks away from his alliance with the lesser qualified members and follows his partners lead.

  3. I first want to start by saying that everyone on OIB knows maria M.O. Even before she was sworn in, she started off attacking and talking about council members attendance and voting records.Maria was appointed to a few committees. I offered her my position as liaison position on the WPCA board because i wanted her to feel apart of the council and to offer an olive branch to work together. She has continued to call me a criminal , felon etc. Maria has the same attitude as the president, if you don’t say how great they are, both will TURN on you.
    Politics isn’t about my way or the highway it about working together to make this city better.

    1. Firstly I would say that Maria is wrong calling you a felon and a criminal. You are not presently a felon or a criminal but you were once. That’s probably what she means. That being out of the way, what is wrong with Maria reporting on everybody’s attendance and Voting record? What is your problem with that. Imagine if every council member held every other council member to task about their attendance and their voting record and how they feel about doing the peoples business? Ernie you need to stop avoiding the questions at hand by changing the narrative. You and others on the council have done nothing and have said nothing regarding the serious nature of what is going on in Bridgeport today. Get real and stop hiding behind things that other people point out regarding the indecisive actions of those charged with doing business “for the people.”

      1. And why is it that Councilman Newton Is not calling out Eneida? Gee….I wonder if he has dealings with Keystone also. Inquiring minds would like to know!

  4. So Ernie. You finally remembered your password. Welcome back. Are you ready to begin talking about your current council partner in the 139th district.
    The BPD says the Keystone is still under active investigation. When will enough be enough.
    Or is this what you mean by playing along???

  5. Ernie
    Tell us the last time you publicly disagreed with Joe Ganim.
    And what was the end result. Is that what you expect from Maria?
    For giving her your Liaison to the WPCA?

    1. Bob
      First of all you do a great job talking about Joe. My job is to find ways to cut taxes give more money to education. The Voter will deal with joe and the council come election time.
      The point i was making bob is that i did reach out. Is it true you never served on any committees. Bob the point i’m making is Maria may be your GOD she is not mine.
      Rich one thing about me i have fought many issues in the city long before i was every elected to office. Maria is not my GOD! I don’t follow people who want you to know how great they are.

      1. Is it true I never served on any committees? Are you joking or what?
        Every term I served on committees. AND I went to committee meetings when I wasn’t on committees.
        You must have me confused with some do noting council person. As a matter of fact they kept on giving me less prestigious committees and I showed them the damage I could do there.
        So dream on Ernie. Keep making up your own history to make those who served before you look less in your eyes.

      2. Now Ernie. What are you talking about now. I do not consider Maria to be my God. But on the other hand when she is right I tell her.
        And I don’t have to offer anyone something that is not mine to offer whether they are right or wrong. Did you think that the liaison to the WPCA could be given by you to anyone you choose??
        Kind of like a bribe? I’ll give you my seat if you promise me this or that? That’s bizarre even for you.
        But this may surprise you to but I am sure you talk to Maria far more frequently than I do. I haven’t spoke to her, even just to say hello I more than a couple of years. But if it fits your scenario, feel free to use it. I won’t even charge you royalties.

  6. I, unfortunately, have been a lifelong resident of Bridgeport. (Well over 50 years). Nothing ever changes. ☹️ Very sad! Stay away from the “Kool aid” folks. It’s extremely poisonous. I’m going to be getting out of here as soon as I can sell my house!

  7. I must say that I find it interesting on how long the FBI has had their eyes on Mario Testa, Joe Ganim and Bridgeport, CT.

    6)From Barnum to Ganim

    A question asked in Bridgeport is why, if the corruption was so pervasive, more people haven’t been charged? Aside from Ganim, Patrick Coyne, who ran the Office of Mayoral Initiatives, is the only other city official named in the scandal. The speculation is that there will be more, from a second grand jury investigation that began last year. People also wonder how much Bridgeport’s powerful Democratic town chairman, Mario Testa, knew about the corruption.

    The fortunes of Testa and the mayor have been linked since Ganim’s original election. The former owner of the Madison Avenue restaurant, at right, Testa once said that he would remain town chairman, “as long as it takes to get Joe Ganim elected governor. Then I could retire.” His comment appeared in a Connecticut Post profile in August 2001, before the mayor’s arrest. At the time, Testa knew that he’d been recorded on FBI wiretaps and was under pressure to explain whether he really lived above his restaurant or at a nine-room house he owns on Lake Zoar in Monroe.

    In Bridgeport, Democrats are sometimes called Testacrats. They outnumber Republicans 5-to-1 and completely dominate city government. Just one Republican sits on the 20-member city council and before his razor-thin election last year there were none. Reformers like state Rep. Christopher Caruso say too many council members hold municipal jobs, in apparent violation of the city charter. He said three-quarters of town committee members work for the city in one way or another.

    “The mayor and the town chairman have thought out a system to have [political] positions held by city employees,” Caruso said. “It’s a corrupt, lawless city with corrupt leaders.” Last spring, Caruso tried to compel the town committee to debate whether it should ask Ganim to resign. He got nowhere, he said. Caruso has been mentioned as a possible Democratic replacement for Ganim in this year’s election.

    Kim McLaughlin, another reformer on the Democratic town committee, said Bridgeport reminds her of an old-fashioned company town, except the city is the company. “If you don’t work for the city, your father-in-law does. The tentacles are long and they tend to be all-knowing,” she said. A consultant for community groups, McLaughlin said she thought it telling that a party member automatically invited her to seek a city contract when they first met.

    The other side of the coin is fear of retribution. A woman who worked in Coyne’s office has filed a civil suit claiming she was fired for cooperating with the FBI. Robert Walsh, a Democratic councilman, said he was fired from his state-funded job with school health clinics after he opposed the mayor on the sewer contract awarded to the Professional Services Group.

    “I really felt he expected me to pick up the phone and beg for my job back. Then he could feel he owned me like he owned so many other people,” Walsh said.

    Joseph Grabarz, who became director of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union after twice beating Testa in contests for state representative, said the way to understand the Ganim scandal is that it is about family political ambition. His lawyer father George once aspired to be mayor, and his lawyer brother Paul was recently returned as city probate judge after a primary election marred by accusations of absentee ballot fraud that are still being investigated. Joe Ganim, the eldest son who entered politics as a Republican, became Bridgeport’s favorite son hope for governor.

    Whether Ganim did what he is accused of doing for profit or campaign funds, “it’s one and the same thing,” Grabarz said. “Now we know how he was reaping it in … I don’t think that kind of blatant corruption could have existed unless the mayor felt there was complicity deep into the political system, if everyone wasn’t nodding and winking.”

    Of all the ironic contrasts between Bridgeport’s supposed renaissance under Ganim and the federal case against him the greatest is contained in a history of the city written by Lennie Grimaldi, the mayor’s now disgraced campaign manager.

    Titled “Only in Bridgeport” and first published in 1986, the booster-ish history predictably contains a chapter on P.T. Barnum, the city’s legendary showman, whose museum is downtown and whose statue, shown below, sits in Seaside Park. Barnum, who briefly served as mayor and donated the land for the park, may never have actually said, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” but he was, according to Grimaldi’s history, known as “the Prince of Humbug” and “the Shakespeare of Advertising.”

    In 2000, Grimaldi updated “Only in Bridgeport,” adding a chapter on the Ganim years. It celebrates developer Alex Conroy for pushing ahead with his Steel Point project, and Bluefish owner Jack McGregor for spearheading plans for the Harbor Yard sports arena. There are numerous photos of the mayor, including one in which he looms over an architect’s model of Harbor Yard.

    In the introduction to that chapter, titled “The Comeback,” Grimaldi wrote that, “the city Ganim inherited in November of 1991 had hit bottom — financially, psychologically, emotionally.” Grimaldi probably was under investigation when he wrote those words and it now appears he was mistaken about the date Bridgeport hit bottom.

    1. Excellent post Ron. Good historic coverage.
      If you remember a while ago I wrote and asked the question how was it that the FBI was able to bug his Madison Avenue place since he spent so much time there?!! Maybe Ed Adams knows!!! Lol. (And actually I didn’t form that in a question).
      Similarly the FBI has garnered info from the “round table” espresso sessions on suburban ave. (Nervous right Dan?!!!)
      So the question remains how Mario has remained untouched. …… How????
      He gets the votes for the party and NOT just for the local Bridgeport elections.
      The pizza guy has clout. Brings to mind the logo picture of the puppet strings in The Godfather!!!
      Someone’s got to drop the ball. My guess is that if it happens it’ll be because the lawyers bills that now are in the hundreds of thousands are not paid on behalf of the espresso sippers. Or made to pay back.

  8. The article that I post above, “SCENES FROM A SCANDAL” from THE HARTFORD COURANT, From Barnum to Ganim was from Jan. 5, 2003 THE HARTFORD COURANT.

    Again, the article said, “The fortunes of Testa and the mayor have been linked since Ganim’s original election. The former owner of the Madison Avenue restaurant, at right, Testa once said that he would remain town chairman, “as long as it takes to get Joe Ganim elected governor. Then I could retire.” His comment appeared in a Connecticut Post profile in August 2001, before the mayor’s arrest. At the time, Testa knew that he’d been recorded on FBI wiretaps and was under pressure to explain whether he really lived above his restaurant or at a nine-room house he owns on Lake Zoar in Monroe.” It’s interesting that the FBI has been tracking Mario Testa for 19 years and they have come up with nothing but how did Testa know that he’d been recorded on FBI wiretaps? How did this restaurant owner know that the FBI had a wiretap on him, did the FBI do a bad job or does Mario have his own source and hookup? Joe Ganim messed up Testa plan by stealing taxpayers money for fine wine and expensive suits.


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