Judge Lopez Pays Tribute To The Uncelebrated Work Of Assistant City Clerk Frances Ortiz And Staff

Assistant City Clerk Frances Ortiz

They never seek attention. They simply put in the responsive work on behalf of city officials, citizen requests and media inquiries. City Hall professionals such as Assistant Town Clerk Christina Resto and Assistant City Clerk Frances Ortiz go about their business quietly without regard to the politics and personalities. They form the foundation that keeps the business of the people flowing in their respective departments.

Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez leverages her legal skills and experience to dig deep into city issues. But little things can mean a lot when attempting to secure city information and that includes reaching out to the selfless workers who provide necessary public information to keep the people informed.

In this commentary Lopez pays tribute to Ortiz and staff in the Office of the City Clerk.

As much as many of us in Bridgeport complain about the failures of our elected officials, our appointed officials and our civil servants, we often fail to highlight and recognize those public servants who go above and beyond the call of duty.

I would like to thank Lennie Grimaldi and OIB for giving me the opportunity to publicly commend and acknowledge the amazing work performed by Bridgeport’s Assistant City Clerk Frances Ortiz. It is hard to imagine our City Government without the competent, caring and conscientious contributions of Ms. Ortiz.

Unless you are active in municipal government, you may have no idea of the work performed in a City Clerk’s Office. Although the position of City Clerk is an elected position and therefore, a political position, the Assistant City Clerk and members of the office staff are civil servants and therefore not involved in the political machinery of the City.

The Bridgeport City Charter Chapter 4 describes the duties of the Office of the City Clerk. This office is responsible for making and keeping “true records of all votes and proceedings of the City Council.”

Can you imagine for just one minute, the incredible task of keeping accurate records of our City Council’s proceedings? Just last week, the presiding officer of the City Council, the Mayor, opened the meeting, read the first item on the agenda and immediately asked, “What is this doing on the agenda? Does anyone know?” Ms. Ortiz immediately responded to the Mayor, with the appropriate answer, thereby facilitating the orderly flow of business at the Council meeting.

How about preparing the agenda for each meeting? How about working with the distinct, intense, demanding and strong personalities of members of the City Council?

How about navigating through the absolute lack of civility and decorum exhibited by various members of the City Council towards each other, and towards other elected officials?

It is hard to imagine how hard they worked from home during the Pandemic. Faced with logistical challenges, they kept the City records available, and City Government open for business. They coordinated zoom meetings of the Council and various boards and commissions.

I would compare the work of the City Clerk’s Office to a traffic light. Both are indispensable, but are rarely noticed unless something goes wrong. Then all eyes focus in their direction.

I offer a football analogy that is attributed to a City Clerk in the State of California, “You never notice the snapper and the holder for a field goal when they do their job well, but you sure notice it when they do their job poorly.”

Ms. Pettway and Ms. Williams, under the guidance and leadership of Ms. Ortiz, are clearly the unsung heroes of our City. I have never experienced anything in their office but professionalism accompanied by a desire to effectively respond to my inquiry.

In light of all Ms. Ortiz and her office have done for us, a simple thank you seems terribly inadequate. It is however, worth saying and necessary; thank you!



  1. I may not always agree with Judge Lopez but this is one time I couldn’t agree more. Both assistants really run the offices. Both do not seek public attention but are doing their best when go about their jobs basically unnoticed.
    I know of Frances a bit better since she was serving at the same time I was where Christina Resto was after me but with both you know they are doing a good job when you don’t here any complaints.
    These are just two of the staff who go unnoticed because they do such a good job.

  2. Judge Lopez astutely (and appropriately) gives direct recognition to the most critical component of the gear-box of Bridgeport city government — the City Clerk’s Office and its small, hands-on/heads-on staff of Assistant Clerk Frances Ortiz and staffers Pettway and Williams.

    Truly; it would be a frightful, cold day in Bridgeport City Hall if a City Council Meeting were ever left totally dependent on the necessary meeting preparation and legislative and procedural knowledge of the Mayor and members of the CC… (And that would be true for any Administration in Bridgeport’s history that ever passed an ill-considered budget…)

    When I read the Judge’s commentary of praise for the now-sung heroes of the City Clerk’s Office, it reminded me of the pep-talk given to the GA Committee staffers on their first day of work at the Capitol some 2+ decades ago, by the powerful (then Appropriations Chair, Legislative Management Chair, and Assistant Leader of the House Dems), gentlemanly Rep. William Dyson of New Haven.

    In his short, but pragmatic and inspiring address to the newly-hired committee staffers — who would be responsible for the myriad research and communications chores upon which the members of the various committees of the Connecticut General Assembly depend in their pursuit of the creation and passage of the legislation that gives structure and direction to Connecticut state government — Representative Dyson made it clear that it was those staffer-bureaucrats that would accomplish the essential foundation-tasks involved in the creation and passage of critical, Connecticut state statute.

    He made us all feel validated, purposeful, and committed to our positions and the tasks that they entailed.

    He made us feel necessary to state government — which we, indeed, were…

    He made us feel worthwhile and responsible. And if we weren’t feeling worthwhile, responsible, and committed before his pep-talk, we were certainly perceiving our new jobs in those contexts afterwards.

    I’m sure that Rep. Dyson’s well-chosen, well-presented words went a long way in assuring legislative success that year for Connecticut. I’m sure that Judge Lopez’s words will similarly help to assure that our distressed city will make it through one more difficult year — even as the whole world finds it necessary to ascertain which way is up in this upside-down COVID-19-Pandemic year.

    Three cheers for the City Clerk’s Office! — and three more for Judge Lopez(!)…

  3. May I add my voice to the recognition and praise coming from Judge Lopez, former Council person Walsh and neighbor Kohut for the continuing “job well done” by Frances Ortiz, Lonnette Pettway and Althea Williams daily in the City Clerk Office. More often than not, they greet visitors with a smile and a ‘can-do’ attitude with good reason, because they have learned the responsibilities of the office and practice them with fairness and equality to those who approach. them.
    There are times when we are called by a critic to fight “the bureaucracy” for one reason or another. The City Clerk office never comes to my mind because ten years of regular personal experience seeking documents under their care, information about meetings, or access to speaking at meetings, their pleasant, objective, and accurate responses come to mind. This is good governance at work from the full time administrative staff. We may hope that other offices and departments in the City take note? Time will tell.

  4. Enough
    Enough with this being nice.
    Did you see the CT Post story with the Council?
    Guess who’s back in the news?
    The Keystone Cops and Eneida Martinez!
    The story that doesn’t stop giving.
    Seems that her Highness Aidee Neives hasn’t seen a story about this in awhile so it must be safe to reappoint her to her old positions and let bygones be bygones.
    Well we will see what the Chief has to say about this. Will she roll over and say nothing or will she violently protest?

  5. And in ending the story reporter Brian Lockhart reports that back in October Hearst Media requested all copies of communications from the Spring and Summer between the City and Keystone. The law deparrtment is still working on. There must be a bundle or there is something but they still can’t find.
    Chris M: Mark did you find anything? Wink wink 😉
    Mark A: Still looking. I know it was somewhere around here.


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