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City Council Committees Approve Sludge Deal With Trumbull

June 1st, 2016 · 12 Comments · City Council, Development and Zoning, News and Events

In a 5-1 vote Tuesday night the joint committee on Miscellaneous Matters and Contracts approved a proposed settlement of pending sewer rate litigation and wastewater agreement with the Town of Trumbull. The measure now goes before the full City Council for a scheduled vote Monday night. Councilors Jeanette Herron, Jack Banta, Milta Feliciano, Denese Taylor-Moye and John Olson voted yes. Richard Salter voted no.

The council committee members spent three hours in executive session in City Hall reviewing information from lawyers. The committee members were not permitted to retain copies of any documents or to remove them from executive session under the guise of pending litigation.

Under terms of the agreement previously announced, Trumbull will pay Bridgeport $1.6 million for processing waste. The city had initially sought $2.2 million in arrearage under a contract between the municipalities. Trumbull officials have approved the arrangement. Little information has been shared publicly about the agreement, say city officials, due to the pending approval.

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12 Comments so far ↓

  • Frank Gyure

    The secrecy behind all this is APPALLING. It is like democracy being turned upside down.

  • Bob Walsh

    Lennie,
    As I remember my time on the council, we would have a joint meeting of the committees but separate votes and quorums were needed for the item to be approved. Do you know if this were the case?
    I remember one time when the sale or purchase of property came before one of the committees I was on.
    We were told similar things and we couldn’t discuss what was said in the meeting with anyone because it was in executive session.
    The next day I called up to the FOI office and recited what had occurred. I asked them if the law said I couldn’t repeat anything. The gentleman I was talking to asked me why would I want to if the city told us not to. I told him I didn’t trust the city and wanted to talk to lawyers and real estate experts whom I could trust. He confirmed what I had thought; you can repeat whatever you want that was said in Executive Session.

    • LennieGrimaldi

      They were combined committee votes with AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia chairing the meeting. She’d have voted only to break a tie.

      • Bob Walsh

        As I tried to point out, I do not think there is such an animal under Robert’s Rules or other parliamentary procedures.
        Council rules require approval by a specific committee. In this case it would have been Misc Matters for the settlement of litigation and Contracts for a new operating agreement.
        They may hold a joint meeting BUT they should act in accordance with the rules and hold two separate votes.
        I believe this vote was illegal and would be thrown out if taken to court.

  • Bob Walsh

    My guess as to why they acted so secretly is because there were statements made as to how there would be a good faith commitment by both parties to agree to a regional WPCA in the future.
    This way when Ganim and Herbst cut a deal, the council will be told they had agreed to it in principal back when they accepted this settlement.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Bob, I follow your logic and it troubles me in the extreme. Finch and team tried very hard to create a regional WPCA locally on more than one occasion. A Regional Authority would buy City of Bridgeport or Town of Trumbull assets by borrowing funds from the investment market with current low interest rates and then operate as current. Sounds great to a chief executive who stood to put his hands on $40 Million (old number) and knew no way of maintaining a balanced budget, without current and added borrowing, and each year leaving the City Fund Balance less than City budget policy indicates.

      But most payers in Bridgeport withstood the 35% increase in WPCA rates over the past couple years and do not keep track of what replacement of our City sewer system happens each year or its expense so this docile public may seem ready for a plucking.

      I have seen no documents that stand behind the current voting, but last night in the 7:00 PM Miscellaneous Matters/Contract Special Meeting where the 2016-18 roster of nominations to the Citizen’s Union was presented, no one at the time chose to make a motion to identify the three-page roster as (Exhibit 5-31-16A) or whatever their process is this year. Forgetting to identify an exhibit likely means such document would not be called to attention of a researcher later at the City Clerk’s office where Exhibits seem to be filed separately from the Minutes themselves. (I have no problem with any filing system in use other than to be able to understand how such a system works FOR THE PUBLIC, rather than for those who need to be responsible, but rather duck from ACCOUNTABILITY and HONESTY.)

      Bob, if a member of the Council were to move to amend such approval (assuming that the voting process is in order) and the amendment were to read there is no commitment to, understanding of, or pre-negotiation on any issue relating to the WPCA litigation that was not made part of the record at the 31st meeting or any such subsequent meetings and made available to the public for their review including a public hearing. (Or some such?)

      Why is Mayor Ganim, often called bright and a good administrator, off to such secret activities so early in his term? Remember it was as Ganim 1 when the Plan A Pension Obligation Bond was floated 16 years ago that a great idea was placed in action. How does Plan A, put on the City balance sheet last year, with about $200 Million less in assets than obligations, look now, halfway through its lifetime? And how are current Board and Commission members looking to City taxpayers and voters when they are permitted to “serve” without any form of evaluation or special training usually beyond the expiry of their terms and limit their comments and concerns to safe subjects while receiving protection from criticism or general attack by indemnification by the City? Does that shield of protection mean “good public service” is being tendered on the part of members? Or is it the only way people will serve and not worry about how things will look in the mirror a month or a year later, when a pungent odor is detected? And it is discovered it was not coming from the Waste Treatment Plant? Time will tell.

    • Tom White

      Bob, to support your concerns:
      - All council committee votes are recorded separately, even if a combined meeting is held.
      - Executive session, to comply with FOI, can only be used when addressing personnel matters or pending litigation.
      - Having a combined meeting and including discussion of a new operating agreement (for the contracts committee) in executive session (not a personnel matter or pending litigation) may not comply with FOI.
      Even if a meeting is in executive session, all voting is done in public session.

  • Frank Gyure

    Can anyone give me a simple basic answer? Where did the supposed gag order come from? Was it from the judge involved in this case? Was it from city/town attorneys from Trumbull and Bridgeport. Even then, their opinions do not have the force of law. What kinds of representation do people of Bridgeport and Trumbull have when their elected representatives move forward with secret votes and secret discussions and secret agreements? Who is to say $1.6 million is a better and more accurate value than the $2.2 million the City of Bridgeport claimed previously? And on top of all this, we have to remember the enmity between Herbst and Finch. And we have to remember the friendship between the Herbst and Ganim families. And what about the CC members who attended this subcommittee meeting? Did any one of them have the intelligence to question the secrecy/gag being forced down their throats? And as JML has asked, what is the price tag we are looking at going down the road? Sewage treatment will only become more expensive for a lot of factors. Stricter governmental regulations. Increased sewage volume from Trumbull. THIS WHOLE THING STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN.

  • Frank Gyure

    And let’s remember the Nazi terrorist tactics used by the WPCA with people who were behind in their WPCA bills and Mark Anastasi and the WPCA instituted legal action that cost Bridgeport residents extra hundreds of dollars, were forced to face foreclosure. I would like to find out how many properties were taken over by Anastasi and the WPCA with their foreclosure activities.

  • Frank Gyure

    Talking about Nazi terror tactics, the newly appointed Ganim Tax Collector is still using the 24-hour stick it up policy of the Finch administration with Mid Town being their co-collaborators.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Logic and history tell us when secrecy is of such primary importance in a deal between entities where public monies and well-being are involved–indeed, where the public/taxpayers are paying for the deal–there are probably features of the deal that might make the public recoil and want to squash the deal.

    I am going to try to remember a few deals like that involving Bridgeport/taxpayer money.

    Can anyone else on the blog think of secret deals in Bridgeport’s past that materialized as nightmares for the public/taxpayers? Let’s collect some historical data on bad, secret Bridgeport deals that materialized as a betrayal of the public trust by our elected officials.

    This sewer deal is just that, and is likely to present as the stuff of future nightmares.

  • Mojo

    *** This was a done deal before it was voted on, no? Do some of you remember the WPCA deal some years ago along with the city employees who were absorbed in that deal? A bit pricey, no? Notice the “usual yes” votes by the pro-admin, “Rubber Stamp City Council” members who rarely vote against the Mayor’s Office concerning anything that would require some additional reading and/or doing some follow-up research on the agenda items that will require city council votes to pass. ***

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