‘Delay, Deny, Deflect’–Why Were Six City Lawyers Required To Challenge Judge Lopez On The Budget Committee’s Illegal Hearing?

On one level it’s titillating: six city lawyers show up to face off against one lone retired judge, Carmen Lopez, at a City Council budget committee meeting last May. On another level, when Lopez shows up armed with mountain ranges of legal skills, they call out the cavalry. Perhaps the show of force provides an inference that something’s gone awry–such as a call to rescue the City Attorney’s Office budget on the chopping block–under the guise of something else.

Here’s what we know for sure, the state Freedom of Information Commission ruled last week that city lawyers directed an illegal executive session of the City Council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee whose members have been ordered to a training session on the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act following a May meeting that was challenged by Lopez after the public was shut out.

Used to be, back in the day unsophisticated council members received a pass for being led astray by manipulative lawyers, but now the council features members with degrees from Princeton and Harvard and Yale–albeit not legal degrees, but still Ivy League. Yet they still don’t push back on the lawyers. Thus … “I Make A Motion To Go Into Executive Session For Whatever He Said.”

Judge Lopez files her latest commentary on the legal machinations.

“Delay, Deny and Deflect,” announced the November 14, 2018, New York Times front page headline.

When I read it, I immediately thought that the NYTIMES was referring to Mayor Ganim’s City Attorneys.

You really can’t blame me for thinking that; after all, Mayor Ganim’s City Attorneys were on my mind that morning.

On that day, the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC) in Hartford would be issuing final orders on an appeal of a Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC) decision to convene an illegal Executive Session on May 2, 2018, in violation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

For one tiny moment, I thought that an act of divine intervention had just taken place and even the NYTIMES was moved to ‘afflict the comfortable’ in the memorable words of H.L. Mencken.

As it turns out, the story was not about Mayor Ganim’s corporation counsel, but rather it was about another virtuous icon of selfless service to the greater good, Facebook.

What a story that was; but that is for another day.

As both Lennie Grimaldi, the host of the Only in Bridgeport blog and the Connecticut Post have reported, on October 3, 2018, the FOIC announced that Hearing Officer Attorney Tracie Brown, following an evidentiary hearing regarding the BAC meeting, had issued a report to the FOIC. In her report, the Hearing Officer found that, in fact, the BAC of the City Council had convened an illegal Executive Session in violation of multiple sections the FOIA. The Hearing Officer also entered findings regarding the presence of the majority of the City Attorneys at this illegally convened Executive Session. The Hearing Officer found that,

“The presence and participation by so many city officials supports an inference that the discussion was not confined merely to legal strategy and negations of the City attorney’s office, but was instead a broad substantive discussion concerning the City Attorney’s Office’s budget, if not the City’s budget as a whole, involving a majority of the board of the City Council and administration officials.”

As a remedy for the egregious violations, the Hearing Officer recommended that the FOIC should enter three orders directed to the BAC.

In a nutshell, the BAC committee was ordered to “henceforth strictly comply” with the FOIA, to immediately prepare detailed minutes of the discussions held in the illegally convened Executive Session and make them available to the public, and, finally “within 30 days of the date of the Final Decision,” to contact the FOIC to schedule a training session for all members of the Committee which “all attorneys of the City of Bridgeport’s City Attorney’s Office are strongly encouraged to attend.”

Attorney Michael Jankovsky represented the City at this hearing. He objected to two of the proposed orders.

First, he informed the Commission that the Committee is having a difficult time creating minutes of the illegal Executive Session because people have to rely on their memory of the events, and most people don’t remember. In addition, the Committee only meets monthly and there is insufficient time. He requested an additional 90 days to create minutes. (Delay)

On Wednesday, over the complainants’ objections, the Commission voted to give the City an extra 75 days to create the minutes and file them in the Office of the City Clerk.

Next, Attorney Jankovsky presented a nervy objection to the entry of any order requiring either the committee or the attorneys to attend any legal training whatsoever. He, argued, with a straight face, that the Committee did not intend to violate the law and that this is the way the City has always done business. (Deny)

In addition, Attorney Jankovsky insisted that now that the FOIC had ruled on the procedures to be followed at meetings of public agencies, the City will make sure to follow the ruling in the future. (Deflect)

Attorney Jankovsky did not offer an explanation as to why six City Attorneys who were present while the BAC convened an illegal Executive Session, remained mute in the face of such clear violations.

In light of that sad reality, the Commission overruled the objection and entered an order that the BAC must participate in a training, and “all attorneys of the City of Bridgeport’s City Attorney’s Office are strongly encouraged to attend.

The complainant’s request to impose a civil penalty of $25.00 was overruled on the basis that there is no evidence that that the City officials have ever received training on the FOIA. The Commissioners emphasized that once the training is given, any further violations of the law will be not be tolerated and subject to a civil penalty.

Most of us in Bridgeport are ashamed that our officials govern city affairs in a manner so reckless and shocking that even the Hartford Courant ran a story on it.

If only Mayor Ganim and his City Attorneys felt ashamed, but they are shameless.

And we all know that you can’t shame the shameless!

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12 comments

  1. This is mindset is how business is done in Bridgeport with not only the City’s Attorneys Office but with David Dunn as the Personnel Director and in Labor Relation, delay, deny and deflect. Mayor Ganim sets the climate and his minions follow. We all know that Hamilton Burger is no match for Judge Lopez. Remember the Oz the Great and Powerful in the Wizard of Oz but Toto goes behind the Powerful Oz curtain and pulls the curtain down and the Oz is exposed that he didn’t have any power but just a machine that makes a lot of noice to scare people in order to control them. Judge Carmen Lopez has taken down the curtain of the City’s Attorneys Office and the six of them are not match for Judge Lopez. City Council members trust and depend on everything these attorneys tell them as if they were god. This is how Mario Testa and Joe Ganim control the City with delay, deny and deflect. Thank you Judge Lopez for pulling down the curtain on these losers.

    1. The Wizard of OZ (Bridgeport)

      Dorothy Gale (Joe Ganim) lives with her Cairn Terrier dog  Toto ( Stevie A.)on the Connecticut  farm of her Aunt Em (lisa Parziale and) uncle Henry( Andy Fardy). Dorothy Gale’s Toto (Stevie A.) bites witchy neighbor Miss Almira Gulch (Judge Carmen Lopez ), who then obtains an order for Toto ( Stevie A.) to be euthanized. She takes Toto away on her bicycle, but he escapes and returns to Dorothy (Joe Ganim), who decides to run away from home to save her dog ( Stevie A.).

      They meet Professor Marvel, ( John Marshall Lee) a kindly fortune teller who uses his crystal ball to make Dorothy believe that Aunt Em (Lisa P.) may be dying of a broken heart. Dorothy (Joe G.) races home, arriving just as a powerful tornado strikes. Locked out of the farm’s storm cellar, she seeks shelter in her bedroom. Wind-blown debris (scrap metal) knocks her unconscious and the house is sent spinning in the air. She awakens to see various figures fly by,(like Danny Roach or a Significant other) and including Miss Gulch (Carmen Lopez), who transforms into a witch on a broomstick.
      The house lands in Munchkinland (OIB Bloggers) in the Land of Oz (Bridgeport).  Glinda the Good Witch( Eleanor Guedes) of ( North (Trumbull) and the Munchkins welcome her as a heroine, as the falling house has killed the Wicked Witch of the East (Maria Pereira) only the witch’s legs and the ruby slippers on her feet are visible. Her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West,( Judge Carmen Lopez) arrives to claim the slippers, but Glinda (Eleanor Guedes) transports them onto Dorothy’s (Joe G.) feet first. The Wicked Witch of the West (Carmen Lopez) swears revenge on Dorothy (Joe Ganim) for her sister’s death, then vanishes. Glinda (Eleanor Guedes) tells Dorothy to follow the yellow brick road (Main St. North) to the Emerald City (Bridgeport), where she can ask the Wizard of Oz ( Mario Testa) to help her get back home.

      On her journey Dorothy meets the Scarecrow (Mark Anastasi), who wants a brain; the Tin Woodman (Ned Lamont) who desires a heart; and the Cowardly Lion (Chris Meyer), who needs courage. Dorothy (Joe Ganim) invites them to accompany her to the Emerald City (Bridgeport), where they can ask the Wizard (Mario Testa) to help them too. Despite harassment from the Witch (Carmen Lopez) they reach the Emerald City ( Bridgeport) and are eventually permitted to see the Wizard (Mario Testa), who appears as a large ghostly head surrounded by fire and smoke and pizza). He agrees to grant their wishes if they prove their worth by bringing him the Witch’s (Carmen Lopez) broomstick.

      As the four plus Toto (Stevie A.) make their way to the Witch’s castle, the Witch sends her winged monkeys (some members of the CC) to capture Dorothy (J.G) and Toto (S.A.) At the castle, the Witch realizes that Dorothy (Joe Ganim) must be dead before the ruby slippers can be removed. Toto escapes and leads her three friends to the castle. They ambush three guards, don the guards’ uniforms, and march inside to locate Dorothy( JG). The Witch (C.L) and her guards chase them through the castle and surround them. When the Witch sets fire to the Scarecrow (Mark Anastasi AKA Hamilton Burger), Dorothy tosses a bucket of water at him; (water from the city attorneys water cooler) also splashes the Witch (Carmen Lopez), who melts away. The guards rejoice and give Dorothy(Joe G.) the broomstick.

      Back in the Emerald City (Bridgeport), as the Wizard (Mario Testa) stalls in fulfilling his promises Toto( Stevie A). pulls back a curtain and exposes the “Wizard”(Mario Testa.) as a middle-aged man speaking through a microphone. He denies Dorothy’s accusation that he is a bad man, but admits to being a humbug. He then gives the Scarecrow ( Mark Anastasi AKA Hamilton Burger) a diploma, the Lion a medal, and the Tin Man a ticking heart-shaped watch, helping them see that the attributes they sought (brains, heart, courage) were never in them and probably will never be. He then offers to take Dorothy (Joe Ganim) and Toto (Stevie A.) home in his hot air DTC balloon.

      As Dorothy and the Wizard prepare to depart, Toto (Stevie A.) jumps off and Dorothy goes to catch him, so the balloon leaves with only the Wizard. Glinda (Eleanor Guedes) appears and tells Dorothy that the Ruby Slippers will take her home. Following Glinda’s (Eleanor Guedes) instructions, Dorothy taps her heels together three times and repeats, “2019 – 2019 -2019 “.
      Dorothy (Joe G) wakes up in Easton surrounded by her family and friends. Everyone dismisses her adventure as a dream, but Dorothy insists it was real, and says she has learned there is no place like Bridgeport.

  2. There is no one I would rather go into battle with than Judge Lopez.
    She is ethical, honest, politically astute and absolutely brilliant.
    Once again, Judge Carmen Lopez for Mayor!

  3. How many years has Anastasi been making it up as he goes along? How many times has his “opinions” coincided with what the mayor at the time wanted? This has been going on for years.

  4. All validate questions Harvey and how long has the different city council members over the years been following Anastasi opinions with blind allegiance, no questions asked and whatever he said. Like Christiana Smith said, I make a motion to go into executive session on what he said.

  5. Let me first separate a few things about Tom White, he’s way off base when goes into his talk about race but the City Council and the mayor made a bad move by defunding of White’s job as legislative services director. The council has no one to do any background or research of policies and law so they turn to the City Attorney’s Office for help and the City Attorney’s Office is there to help the mayor and the mayor’s agenda and not the City Council.

    Let me repeat myself from a earlier post, Another important point is, “I also agree with Jeff Kohut in his comment on the arrogance and ignorance of city council members. Many of them (perhaps most) see themselves as celebrities and have an inflated view of their ability.” There’s not doubt that most of the City Council members truly think that are celebrities and Mayor Ganim makes that possible by having so many photo-op in promoting himself and these council members go out of their way to be in those pictures standing next to the mayor. They all need to primary. Judge Lopez is performing a huge task for the residents on Bridgeport something that the City Council is unable to do and who don’t care. The only thing these 20 council members care about is not getting primary.

  6. The City Attorneys provide a service to a paying master, in this case the political will of Joe Ganim and the Dark Lord of Madison Avenue. Judge Lopez is motivated by the cause of the people of the city of Bridgeport.

  7. By accident, I caught the last City Council meeting on a public access channel. It was so sad to watch the characters trying to carry out an agenda. With the exception of Kyle Langan, Pete Spain and his partner, the rest were “twisting in the wind.” No articulation, apparel disrespectful of their office, some just sat looking like “deer in a headlight,” no discussion or interaction of items to be acted on, I could go on and on, but it breaks my heart to remember the quality of the City Council members in days gone by. It was obvious that the Mayor could hardly wait for the meeting to be ajourned. I’m sure he remembers the stature and professionalism from his first go round. (Well at least most of the time, we had our moments.) I had had high hopes that Ernie might have been an influence on them since he served before with dignity. But, ten Ernie’s couldn’t change this class, I feel for him.

    1. The sleazing down of City Hall is complete. Not surprising given the mayor is a convicted felon and disgraced attorney. He’s also a liar than cannot be trusted.

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