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Does The City Charter Prohibit Leticia Colon From Serving On City Council And School Board?

August 29th, 2012 · 29 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, Education, News and Events

From the City Charter:

No person while holding office as a member of the city council shall be a member of any of the boards of the city …

Let’s reminisce about the future. The two candidates running on the Working Families Party line in Tuesday’s special election for Board of Education, John Bagley and Barbara Pouchet, finish among the top four vote producers, which shifts the balance of power on the board to the WFP. Elected board member Leticia Colon, a Democrat, is also a member of the City Council. Legal minds (paging City Attorney Mark Anastasi) are examining if the City Charter prohibits her from holding her legislative seat and school board position at the same time. If she cannot, what seat would she relinquish? The City Charter calls for sitting school board members to replace a vacancy. Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez who’s working in earnest on behalf of the Working Families Party could end up on the school board if the WFP prevails to control the balance of power. That’s exactly what operatives of Mayor Bill Finch want to avoid.

A few years ago, the Democratic Town Committee rejected Lopez’ overture for an endorsement in her quest for a school board position in favor of Colon. Lopez did not run a primary. Carmen, once a member of the DTC, has waged war against the party since her retirement from the state bench, the very party that aided her appointment.

Carmen is smart and cunning and brings expertise to the table about Connecticut law. She’s also a mercurial personality who’s been a toothache to the political establishment that did not embrace her return to the political process. Carmen is not a suck up. Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa says Carmen forgot about the peeps who supported her bench appointment.

So a lot is on the line in Tuesday’s special election. The Connecticut Supreme Court invalidated state control of city schools and called for an election to fill four school board positions. The Supremes also ruled the elected school board will be reseated following certification of Tuesday’s results by elections officials.

The five elected school board members whose terms have not expired are Leticia Colon and fellow Democrats Tom Mulligan and Bobby Simmons as well as WFP members Maria Pereira and Sauda Baraka. Pereira, Baraka and Simmons had generally voted in a bloc against the majority board that voted for state intervention in July of last year. If Bagley and Pouchet are elected on Tuesday the little WFP will be in a position to control the majority and select replacements should vacancies occur, as provided by the City Charter. That’s a nightmare in the making for supporters of Finch who say Lopez, Pereira et al. are obstructionists with their own agenda to control city schools.

The three Democratic candidates in Tuesday’s election, Jacqueline Kelleher, Ken Moales and Hernan Illingworth, are all members of the state-appointed board. City electors can vote for any three of nine school board candidates. One of the four open slots is reserved for minority party representation. Will it be a WFP candidate or one of the three Republicans, former Registrar Joe Borges or husband-wife team Evelyn and Wayne Hayes?

But if Bagley and Pouchet both manage to win just imagine the possibilities. That’s something Finch supporters are working hard to avoid.

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29 Comments so far ↓

  • Ron Mackey

    Hmmm!!! A female Latina, Leticia Colon, could leave the Board Of Education and now a female Latina, Carmen Lopez might replace her, hmmm. A couple of questions Lennie, where did that come from and is it because a female Latina is leaving that the name of Carmen Lopez comes up and would it have come up if a black or white male BOE member was to leave? Just asking.

    • LennieGrimaldi

      Ron, this is not about a Latina replacing a Latina, it’s about the WFP wanting to control the school board. That’s why they’re putting up candidates. If Tom Mulligan decides to resign from the school board the issue would be the same. The difference here is at some point Colon may have to make a decision–resign from the council or the school board, unless, of course, City Attorney Mark Anastasi can craft a legal argument to allow her to keep both seats.

      • Booty

        When it comes to the City Charter, Bridgeport is Wonderland, Colon is Alice and Anastasi is Humpty Dumpty:

        “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.”
        “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
        “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master–that’s all.”

  • Local Eyes

    Carmen Lopez dislikes campaigning but is working in earnest for the WFP. Here’s why: she wants to be appointed, not elected. She’s accustomed to delivering verdicts; not waiting for ballots! Conclusion: she’s been spoiled by affirmative action.

  • Ron Mackey

    Local Eyes, look up American history and see where “affirmative action” started and who got the benefits. White males had all of the benefits not base on merit but on being a white male, they had all the rights, only they could vote, own property including owning blacks and not paying them, white women could not vote or work, blacks were told do not apply. Local Eyes, let’s put the bio of Mayor Bill Finch up against Carmen Lopez and let’s see who got the benefits of affirmative action, let’s compare their educational backgrounds. Let’s see how many jobs were given or set up for Bill Finch by others.

    • Local Eyes

      You’re diluting my post with unneeded references (let’s compare Ron Mackey with Local Eyes).
      Affirmative Action was started by Congress in 1964. Its benefits were reserved exclusively for non-whites. I encourage you to re-read your own post before I stop laughing.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    To me, Leticia Colon is a non-issue. She went on the BOE with a personal agenda involving children’s health care. She also wanted to be president of the BOE. Leticia Colon did not like the number of meetings being on the school board required.
    She quit the board to be a council person and thus should not be allowed to retake her seat without resigning from the council.
    Carmen Lopez is a strong, opinionated women and if there is one thing that scares the hell out of this administration it’s strong opinionated women. Just look at their track record and what they did to these women. Here is a woman who is a lawyer, was a sitting judge and has had a private law practice for years. People say she is aggressive and outspoken, so what’s wrong with that? You don’t get to be a judge by not being able to work with others.
    I could give a shit less about a Latina replacing a Latina. I do care about putting the most qualified people in the right spot. Do I want someone who will kiss the administration’s collective ass or do I want someone who cares about the kids and is not afraid to speak for the kids? That’s an easy one, the KIDS come first.

  • Ron Mackey

    Local Eyes, why was that law written?

  • Jim Callahan

    Carmen Lopez was a loyal party member back in the day, as I recollect. She could stand up for herself like any other active member.

    That stated, she could be pretty opinionated 30 years ago: It went with the package that is called Carmen Lopez. I don’t see how her strongly stated opinions today are that much different from her strongly stated opinions back in the day.

    I’m baffled to see how her loyalty to a political organization that appointed her judge could expect her to have loyalties to a political organization that has evolved and changed over the decades. Apples and oranges.

    Shoot, even Mario went through an evolution from Mandy to Tom Bucci, Joe Ganim and now Mayor Finch. The relationship with the mayor has been rocky at times, and Mario Testa is pretty much the definition of organization Democrat.

    Lopez is a free agent. Is she expected to be a loyalist to the mayor because she used to be a judge, is Puerto Rican, or is a woman? I’m confused.

  • Ron Mackey

    Let me be clear, I don’t know why affirmative action is connected when Carmen Lopez’ name is mentioned. I find it demeaning to speak of retired Judge Carmen Lopez. She is demeaned because of what Andy Fardy and Jim Callahan wrote.

  • Bob

    And one of the pervasive problems in Bridgeport is double- and triple-dipping at all levels of gov’t.

  • Bridgeport Now

    Did the state takeover process start before or after the two WFP members had joined the BOE?

  • Jim Callahan

    Yo Ron:
    I don’t think I said anything demeaning or mean about Carmen Lopez. She’s a smart, strong-willed woman. She is. You can agree or disagree with her. She states her case well. What’s wrong with that?

    I don’t see what affirmative action has to do with Carmen, either.

  • Bridgeport Now

    Next Tue is the final meeting of the state-appointed BOE. Is there a list somewhere of what they have done?

  • Ron Mackey

    Jim Callahan, in no way was I suggesting anything negative about your comments, in fact I was saying I was in agreement with your comments and those of Andy Fardy concerning Carmen Lopez, I guess I was not that clear.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    You can bet your house on the fact the city attorney’s office will make up another bullshit ruling that will allow Leticia Colon to hold both seats no matter what the charter states. She will take a leave of absence from her council position and sit on the BOE. She resigned from the BOE and her position should be open.
    I hope Tom Mulligan does the right thing and does not take his seat back. He couldn’t do the job and did join forces with those other six cowards who voted to disband the BOE. Tom you are a nice guy but you had your run in the sun, move on.

  • Mojo

    *** Why doesn’t someone just ask Colon if she’s still interested in sitting on the BOE, no? ***

  • Mojo

    *** Off topic: I will be voting for Republican L. McMahon and I liked some of what Ron Paul used to bring to the GOP past debates instead of Mitt. I also enjoyed Gov. Christy’s straight-shooter speech the other night at the GOP convention. However, when I see the camera shots of the people at the GOP convention, it seems like you see a very small percentage of people of color in a large sea of white! Don’t know what the breakdown would be but it seems like 1 person of color to 100 whites; and I don’t mean just blacks when I say persons of color, I’m talking brown, yellow, red, etc. Is this the new real Republican party in America, land of the free that viewers are seeing? It’s a bit scary when you think just how bad the party seems to want Obama out, no? *** TALK TO ME, OIB ***

    • Ron Mackey

      And you think voting for Linda McMahon will help change those numbers of people of color in the Republican Party?

      • Bob

        Ron, don’t you want the most effective leader? Oh, by the way, not only is Linda McMahon white so is her opponent Chris Murphy. She, at least, has created jobs in Connecticut, many of which were for people of color. He has not.

  • Mojo

    *** My original choice was Shays but that’s history now, McMahon is change from the same old “work in progress” career politician Murphy. I’m voting for the “individual” not the party, which are the only ones as a whole that can change the numbers of minorities within their party. Sometimes when you’re desperate for political change you’re willing to gamble, maybe not so much on the party but the individual running. This is such a case for me! *** CHANGE ***

  • Ron Mackey

    So what change do you see for people of color from Linda McMahon, is it reflected in her campaign staff, her campaign ads, her campaign promises, what makes you think by voting for Linda McMahon there will be change for people of color?

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Ron, people of color have chosen their party and their candidates. They have chosen the Democratic party pure and simple. What has it gotten them? Lip service.
    On a local level they are promised the moon by the Democrats. Every election year the black clergy comes out and rallies their church members to vote Democratic. Every year things are promised to the black community that are never fulfilled.
    In every administration you see a few token blacks in positions of authority and that’s it. There are a few who benefit and those are the few who push the administration’s agenda.
    Hey Ron, what’s the makeup of the Democratic campaign staff? For that matter what’s the makeup of Obama’s campaign staff at the higher levels? Overwhelmingly white.

  • Ron Mackey

    Andy Fardy, first, there is no Republican Party in Bridgeport so on the local level there is just one party. The Bridgeport Democratic Party and its elected officials has taken the black voters for granted and they have only dealt with just a few black ministers and so-called black leaders who have not brought anything into the black community. Just look at the East End, they will vote over 95% for whoever runs as a Democrat but look what they have gotten from those Democratic mayors, nothing, no drug stores, no gas station, no supermarket but plenty of liquor stores. Now, what has the Republican Party done? Nothing and neither has the Democratic Party.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Ron, on that you are right about the upper East Side but when Ann Barney and I ran against Curwen & Paoletto we would have beat them if the administration did not get two black candidates at the last minute to run in the primary.
    When qualified candidates such as MJF ran in the primary and offered change and inclusion the ministers came out in force for Finch and company. How has that been working out? You don’t need to join the other party, you need to take control of this one. The numbers indicate that can be done minus the ministers and Ralph Ford & Company.
    Let’s see how the vote goes for the BOE, should be a no brainer as to the WFP.

  • Mojo

    *** Don’t see how pointing out the small number of people of color at the GOP convention has anything to do with the individual Linda McMahon or what she brings to the table as far as bringing more minorities to the Republican Party and what changes per se will affect people of color. But for the citizens of CT if she can bring more “MONEY” in whatever form (grants,etc.) for things like JOBS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, HOMELAND SECURITY, EDUCATION, just to name a few and have it go to the cities and towns that need it most while working with our other US Senator to make this New England State a leader again in the eyes of Washington DC, that would be positive change for all! In the city of Bpt voting Dem all the time has brought what we have now, no? ***

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