Ganim Names Meyer City Attorney, Prioritizing Chief Gaudett’s Status

Ganim, Adams, Meyer
R. Christopher Meyer right with Ganim and Ed Adams, the retired FBI agent hired by Ganim

R. Christopher Meyer, who worked in the City Attorney’s Office for 26 years, has been named by Mayor Joe Ganim the city’s chief lawyer replacing Mark Anastasi who will remain in the office as an associate city attorney. Ganim had appointed Anastasi city attorney shortly after his election in 1991 when Anastasi was a young lawyer in the City Attorney’s Office and he remained there through the Fabrizi and Finch administrations as a well-liked loyalist. Anastasi also enjoys classified job protection to remain in the office.

Meyer, who volunteered legal advice for Ganim’s campaign, will oversee an in-house legal staff of about a dozen lawyers. He will be paid $124,100, the low end of the pay scale for the position, according to the recently updated salary range of executive appointed officials.

One of the items at the top of Meyer’s list is examining the last-minute five-year contract extension Bill Finch authorized for Police Chief Joe Gaudett who’s not a popular figure within the Police Department, especially among union members who supported Ganim’s election.

Finch, leaving office, said the contract extension did not require City Council approval.

“Finch also thought he was gonna be the candidate of the Job Creation Party,” cracked Meyer regarding the Finch campaign bungling the state paperwork to place his name on the general election ballot after losing to Ganim in the Democratic primary.

Meyer says the contract requires council approval, adding “whether or not it’s a valid appointment is a different question,” asserting without specificity that Gaudett may not possess the legal criteria to remain on the job.. “We’ll be looking at it.”

Meyer also said he will also handle a case load as city attorney instead of just directing legal traffic, assigning cases and issuing opinions.

Anastasi, city attorney in name, was actually the “mayor’s attorney,” loyal to whomever was chief executive. During the Finch years it was difficult to secure any information from City Hall without issuing a freedom of information request routed through the City Attorney’s office, even mundane information, where it often languished. Anastasi legal decisions were sometimes crafted to the whim of the mayors he served and he’d occasionally freelance opinions even when City Charter language was clear, for instance when the Park Commission last year rejected a Finch-backed agreement between the city and United Illuminating to install solar panels on the old municipal dump in Seaside Park, Anastasi announced the Park Commission decision was “advisory.” Not exactly. Finch pressed for another vote and it passed.

It was Anastasi who crafted a legal opinion that state law trumps a City Charter provision prohibiting city employees from serving on the City Council to avoid conflicts of interest. Rather than enforcing the City Charter and placing the burden on a plaintiff to cite state law in court, Anastasi decided it de facto protecting politically connected council members’ paychecks. It has brought into question checks and balances in government between the executive and legislative branches of government.

Meyer says he will also take a look at Anastasi’s legal opinion and the legality of city employees serving on the council in light of Ganim stating on the campaign trail that conflicts on the City Council must end. Currently only three of 20 council members receive city paychecks.

Anastasi, well liked among city employees, has classified job protection to remain in the City Attorney’s Office. Aside from that Meyer says, “while we may not agree on everything, he is an excellent attorney with a wealth of historical knowledge and am very happy to have him on my staff.”

John Bohannon, a veteran lawyer who has done work on behalf of the city for years, has been named deputy city attorney replacing Art Laske who received a termination notice upon Ganim taking office.

CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart shares related story here



  1. (From a previous post)

    Jeff Kohut // Nov 29, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    In regard to Chief Gaudett’s reappointment: I recall a Bridgeport City Charter requirement that both the police chief and fire chief must reside in Bridgeport. I know it was in effect during the Sweeney Administration. I don’t recall any charter referenda during the intervening years, to the present, that proposed to rescind that requirement. It would seem there is some probability that current, online and hard copies of the City Charter might have been scrubbed, in regard to the inclusion of that requirement–for obvious reasons.

    A retrospective study of city actions regarding the city charter over the past 25 years or so would seem to be in order at this time. There should be records from the City Clerk’s office, in this regard, as well as official copies of the city charter covering each of these years, that would allow a determination of when this requirement disappeared from the charter requirements regarding the residency of the police and fire chiefs. The two studies, along with a search of records of election outcomes for this period, should be able to confirm whether or not the residency requirement is still in effect regarding the police and fire chiefs. (Lennie, do you have any recollection about charter changes for this period in this regard? Perhaps the Connecticut Post could assign an eager young reporter the task of accomplishing such research. Do any OIB bloggers have a handle on if, and when, the charter change referendum item rescinding the police and fire chief residency was put on the ballot and whether or not it passed? I pay close attention to such issues and can’t recall such an item appearing on any Bridgeport ballot during the past 25 years.)

    In any event; if the residency requirement is still in effect, it puts a whole new spin on the issue of Chief Gaudett’s reappointment.

    Beyond the charter issue; for Chief Gaudett to put himself under the auspices of an administration that has already rejected him, especially without any significant public support for his tenure, is career suicide and a guarantee of a tarnished legacy of service.

    I hope the Chief makes the right decision and voluntarily moves on. He is a decent, intelligent man, but not the right fit for Chief of BPD at this juncture.

    1. I believe the only Charter amendment passed since the comprehensive revision of the Charter in 1992 was the four-year term, which was effective in 1999.

      I know the Charter includes residency requirements for City officers and members of boards and commissions but I’m not aware of one for the police and fire chiefs.

  2. Chris Meyer is an excellent choice, good call, Joe! Mark is probably relieved, at last he can practice his craft without pressure to manipulate decisions. Mark’s a good friend of mine, and I appreciate all the guidance he gave me when I served.

      1. Thanks Ron, but back in the day, before blatant interference by Executive Officers, Mark was very different from how he’s perceived today. I know everyone has negative opinions of him, and they’re probably justified, that’s why I’m sure he welcomes this move. I hate it when I go back to placing blame on lame council members, but my class didn’t go for it and challenged him and any Mayor whose bidding he was doing; believe it or not, we were successful more times than not.

  3. Best wishes to Chris Meyer on his appointment to manage the City legal department (as well as complete some actual lawyering). Having listened to him for a few years regarding war stories of life in the litigation trenches, it was easy to understand his care about City interests. And it often ran beyond winning or settling a case advantageously from a City fiscal viewpoint because Chris also was concerned about the practical dynamics of lessons learned that may apply to the way certain departments might change actions in the future to limit City risks.

    Best wishes to John Bohannon also. He has weighed in on a variety of areas as a private practitioner called in as legal consultant where needed in recent years. Both Meyer and Bohannon are dog owners and walkers. I wonder whether the pace will pick up as they pursue their new roles. Can’t wait to see how the new team will tackle some of the “opinions” forced by “mayoral decisions” in the past. Change or status quo?

    I know there have been a number of modifying words placed between CITY (and) ATTORNEY in the past and I am not sure what they mean practically. But some of them allowed a practitioner to operate an outside practice as well as inside duties. How will the new department be configured? What will the actual lineup look like? Will the most senior practitioners be able to consider the check from the City as retirement income, or will there be an expectation of productivity from all those appointed? Time will tell.

    1. JML, good question about practitioners to operate an outside practice as well as inside duties. Lawyers make more as outside attorneys than as a City Attorney, so how will these attorneys work?

      1. Assuming they are asked to practice in an area where they have specific competency and experience, where there is sufficient legal work to justify the pay and benefits, and where their productivity can be measured in one or more ways, not a bad thing for the City. However, constant vigilance on potential for conflicts of interest must be maintained and a very specific and fully regarded process for identifying such early and communicating it to legal managers must be observed. Would anyone like a little more information about the variety of legal work, the process as envisioned by new “management” and fiscal reporting on same? Time will tell.

        1. JML, this is a big-ticket department because they farm out so much legal work to outside attorneys who have connection with the Democratic Party city and state wide.

          1. RM,
            Big ticket as in tens of millions, like public safety departments? Or because the City is engaged in multiple actions taking them to court for years at a time that are covered by outside firms with special expertise? Or counsel from outside the area who know about State Laws, are connected with current operating State officials, or who are worth $8,000 per month to hang around and see what comes up? Do you have predictions for the manner in which Meyer will operate? As a litigator, will he look to settle cases that have a poor chance of success and incur ongoing expense but allow the City to kick the decision down the road? Time will tell.

  4. Is it a stretch to believe Gaudett received a new contract from Finch/Wood if he waited until they left office to discipline the letter authors? One day after those bums are done raiding city hall, Gaudett actually does his job. Fire Gaudett!

  5. I would be remiss if I didn’t congratulate my long-time friend and former neighbor, Chris Meyer, on his appointment to a position for which he is uniquely qualified and deserving. He will serve our city very well, indeed!

    Chris’ father was my father’s attorney for many years and mentored one of my siblings as she navigated the system as a novice lawyer. His father was a great lawyer, gentleman, and neighborhood civic leader, as most Bridgeporters probably know, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Chris is every bit the savvy lawyer his late father was (and then some, having benefited from the latter’s mentoring and tutelage).

    We should expect great things from Chris Meyer’s service to Bridgeport as City Attorney. (Another bright spot in the new Ganim Administration.)

  6. Alright,
    R. Christopher Meyer is an excellent choice for City Attorney. He’ll perform as the city’s attorney, not as the mayor’s personal legal savant.

    Paris was the scene of a terrorist attack that left 130 dead and scores more wounded, many seriously. So far this year the United States of America has seen 355 mass shootings including a church in Charleston, South Carolina, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, a campground in Texas and now San Bernardino. Bridgeport has seen a horrifying increase in fatal and nonfatal shootings.

    All the political shit we’ve been blogging about pales in comparison to the increasing level of violence against (mostly) innocent bystanders. Bridgeport is becoming more violent, the nation is experiencing spasms of violence. Bill Finch giving himself and his cronies a parting raise is insignificant, Joseph Gaudett given another five fucking years to do nothing falls into the “Who cares?” category.


Leave a Reply