Judge Upholds Ganim’s Authority To Fill School Board Vacancies

Negron, Fonseca
Appointed school board members Annette Segarra-Negron and Rafael Fonseca in front of court house. Photo courtesy Dollie Fonseca.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis on Monday ruled in favor of the defendants upholding Mayor Joe Ganim’s authority to fill Board of Education vacancies. The two school board members in question Annette Segarra-Negron and Rafael Fonseca, represented by the mayor’s brother attorney Paul Ganim who also is the city’s judge of probate, were sitting in the front row as Bellis issued her afternoon decision from the bench after hearing legal arguments. Mayor Ganim may very well have another vacancy to fill with the recent resignation of Republican Kevin McSpirit.

“It is unfortunate that this issue had to go to court,” said Mayor Ganim in a statement. “I am very thankful to Judge Bellis for taking such a thorough look at the issues and supporting the legality of the appointments I made to the board of education. I do not want to be in the position of appointing members to the board, but given the reality that there was simply no consensus to choose replacements for members who resigned, I was compelled to act. It is clearly in the best interests of the 22,000 students in our district and their families that we have a full board that can make critical decisions regarding the future of our schools. Nothing is more important for the future of our city. My hope is now that the board can come together and move a positive agenda forward for the good of our schools, teachers, and most importantly for our students.”

The short term impact of this decision derails a four-person school board coalition’s push for special meetings due to a lack of quorum in light of Chair Dennis Bradley and three other members boycotting regularly scheduled meetings in opposition to board member Maria Pereira who brought the lawsuit asking the court to vacate Ganim’s authority to fill vacancies if the board fails to act within 30 days. Pereira had hoped the judge sided with her position, invalidating Ganim’s appointments that would have created a four-person quorum. As it stands the board has eight members with one vacancy requiring a quorum of five.

Pereira, represented by attorney Kevin Smith, claimed Ganim violated the City Charter and had no legal grounds to cite state statute to fill vacancies. Associate City Attorney Bruce Levin argued before the court that the plaintiff’s position is “absurd” asserting the board has been operating under “deadlock and dysfunction.”

Levin said state law addresses the logjam of filling vacancies and Judge Bellis agreed with him ruling Ganim “properly exercised his authority” to fill vacancies after the board failed to act within 30 days.

“I am thankful to Judge Bellis for her thoughtful review of the law in this case,” said City Attorney R. Christopher Meyer in a statement. “We were confident of our legal analysis and I am appreciative of Associate City Attorney (Bruce) Levin who did an outstanding job representing the City of Bridgeport. This ruling clears the way for the BOE to be able to accomplish their very important work for the benefit of the students.”

Pereira’s two-fold complaint also questioned Ganim’s appointment of Segarra-Negron to fill the vacancy of Dave Hennessey who was elected in 2013 as a Democrat but switched his affiliation and resigned this year as a Republican. Pereira argued that because Hennessey was elected as a Democrat his replacement must be of that party. The judge ruled in favor of the defendants.

Bellis issued a bench decision but announced she will submit a formal written ruling in a few days.



  1. Not so fast. Attorney Smith will await the written decision and we will await his position on the matter.

    As of right now, our initial thoughts are we have a solid basis for appeal based on the Home Rule Act.

    I have to wait a few days before he can review Bellis’ written ruling.

  2. The “dysfunction” of the BOE is that of Bradley, Larcheveque, Negron and Fonseca who have refused to attend meetings and fulfill their statutory obligations to over 21,000 students.

    Mayor Ganim, we are the third largest district in CT, not the largest, and we have slightly over 21,000 BPS students, not 22,000. You should at least know that.

    Anyone here believe Ganim doesn’t want to control the BOE through his appointments and in turn control a $247,000,000 operating budget?

    Do not believe for one second these appointments have anything to do with the well-being of children. It has everything to do with unethical and dishonest adults having access to taxpayer-funded positions, funds meant for students and contracts.

  3. As many know, Sauda, Ben, Howard and myself called a Special Meeting allowed under state statute to be held at Geraldine Johnson School tonight. The meeting was under our complete purview.

    We arrived at 6:30pm wearing our Bridgeport Board of Education IDs. There were two police officers, a security guard, and two custodians who locked the doors and refused to let us in. They refused to open the doors for Lighthouse parents picking up their children and escorted children from the rear of the school to the front of the building. Two parents stated they were going to file complaints.

    We had every legal right to hold that Special Meeting. Are we in the Twilight Zone???

    A couple days’ rest and then onto the next chapter.

    1. I’m amazed people pick on Trump for constantly tweeting and haven’t noticed Maria has morphed into him. She uses this blog as her personal grievance forum. Twilight zone, indeed.

      1. The Phantom/Coward,
        I am nothing like Donald Trump. I am not sexist, a racist, a bigot, I have never filed bankruptcy, and I have never allowed financial gain be the driving force in my life.

        I can also speak intelligently on a variety of topics but especially public education.

        P.S. I also don’t twitter, you twit. 🙂

          1. Kid, you can call her anything you wish, that goes for everyone else on this blog, but consider this, too many have GONE away, and that’s why we’re still struggling with the same old problems. It takes determination, tenacity, and a lot of hard work to bring about change so “sticks and stones may break my bones,” Maria is a rarity in Bridgeport, she takes the verbal abuse, and she can give it as well no doubt, but she stays. When some stop criticizing her for her style of communication and take a hard look at her desire and willingness to bring about change, you’ll look back and say damn it was worth it. Try accepting her goals for transparency and fairness in City matters and we’ll have the start of a meaningful coalition to work together for issues important to all who are frustrated with the blatant will of the powers that be.

    2. Dissension is an essential part of our American process, Maria. There’s no one here who has issues with the “fight” in you for the kids. It’s your approach, strategy and seemingly thinking this has been a positive process for you, your colleagues, students and administrators. Again, EFFECTIVENESS is the key, which after this court battle has only firmed, bogging down the process, polarizing the entire board, creating cause for the Interim to resign, along with the long list who choose to not work or interact with you. Not on topic, but on process. I would highly suggest you regroup, pick attainable goals and THE BIG ONE, really try to not force things to court. This is an indictment on your effectiveness whether you like it or not. For a lot of us it only shows your inability to resolve issues or dissent without having to bring it before a judge. Should a Board member who is unwilling to negotiate, bargain, advocate on behalf of the children still be allowed to disrupt, be counterproductive due to her non-negotiating and lack of diplomacy on behalf of the kids? Your fight is without question remarkable, your process to achieve these Goals is horrendous! Make the correct adjustments in your process in order to achieve your Goals.
      Basically Maria, Stop Falling On Your Sword! Keep up The Fight! Re-strategize your process. The Children would expect NO less!

        1. The Truth Hurts Barnum & Bailey Clown Ringleader! Enjoy digging out the hole you put the kids in, Effective One! Now how’s that Quorum thing going to go, Maria?
          Great Work!

          1. SeaYoung, wait until you see what results from the Judge’s decision. Testa and Ganim will now have carte blanche to do whatever they wish.

          2. Sea Young/Coward,
            You have great difficulty with capitalization, your postings are incoherent, and you are not a resident of Bridgeport.

            Unlike you and others, I don’t just whine and complain on a blog, I actually get out and do the work.

            I am still waiting for my attorney’s review of Bellis’ decision. If Kevin tells me to appeal I will be setting the wheels in motion to appeal.

    1. Top 40 Fortune Cookie sayings:

      40. You will find a bushel of money

      39. Your smile will tell you what makes you feel good

      38. Don’t panic

      37. The best year-’round temperature is a warm heart and a cool head

      36. It could be better, but it’s good enough

      35. You will find a thing. It may be important

      34. Your reality check is about to bounce

      33. Two days from now, tomorrow will be yesterday

      32. When chosen for jury duty, tell judge fortune cookie say “guilty!”

      31. Stop eating now. Food poisoning no fun

      30. You are cleverly disguised as responsible adult

      29. Drive like hell, you will get there

      28. Person who eat fortune cookie get lousy dessert

      27. Okay to look at past and future. Just don’t stare

      26. Soup was secret family recipe made from toad. Hope you liked!

      25. You will soon have an out-of-money experience

      24. He who dies with most toys, still dies

      23. Person who rests on laurels gets thorn in backside

      22. Two can live as cheaply as one, for half as long

      21. Life is a sexually transmitted condition

      20. Give person fish, he eat for day. Teach person to fish, he always smell funny

      19. Person who argues with idiot is taken for fool

      18. Look before you leap. Or wear a parachute

      17. The end is near, might as well have dessert

      16. This fortune no good. Try another

      15. Wise husband is one who thinks twice before saying nothing

      14. Marriage lets you annoy one special person for the rest of your life

      13. Run

      12. Make love, not bugs

      11. You will read this and say “Geez! I could come up with better fortunes than that!”

      10. I cannot help you, for I’m just a cookie

      9. The fortune you seek is in another cookie

      8. Don’t eat any Chinese food today or you’ll be sick!

      7. About time I got out of that cookie!

      6. Come back later … I’m sleeping (yes, cookies need their sleep too)

      5. You will be hungry again in one hour

      4. You will die alone and poorly dressed

      3. Warning: do not eat your fortune

      2. If you can read this, you are literate. Congratulations

      1. Don’t smoke in bed while reading OIB!

      1. And That’s exactly correct trying to follow Maria’s Mushfest affecting the children, our area and any real positive progression for the Bpt attending kids.
        And yes you are correct, IT IS PARAPHRASING SHIT, Maria’s! Can’t follow disarray of Maria The Bull in China shop. I’m certain Jim, if you had a child attending, you’d still be proud of the very well developed quorum, no thanks to Maria’s efforts, or lack thereof would be more appropriate.
        Jim, you seem just to be another applauding her on for this wonderful now Quorum she has eloquently brought to light for all upcoming issues for the kids.
        Great combo folks, a buffoon destroying any and all progression for her efforts all to be destroyed brushing her blind, self destructing EGO. Jim, now that you are an official Circus Peanut Gallery clown and Maria. What’s the party makeup of the Board and who NOW has the majority? Hmmm?
        Effective: NOT! Can you say Appeal, just more of Maria’s BS. Always missing the Goal and Target. Great Job Barnum & Bailey Clowns!
        Can’t wait to see the next Circus Act, Maria. What’s next Bull, the Board is going to become full Republican across the entire Board. Then, your efforts will Truly be seen and heard way beyond Bpt. Creating such an Elegant legacy, keep up the Great Work and Results!

        1. SeaYoung/Coward,
          You are clearly unable to write comprehensive and complete sentences with even the slightest semblance of a comprehensive trajectory or thought.

          You write what appear to be “bullets” and just jump all over the place.

          Capitalizing, exclamation points, etc. doesn’t give your posts credibility. If your postings are well thought out, cohesive, factual, etc. they are able to stand alone without window dressing. On that note, these posts are equivalent to some of the ugliest curtains I have ever seen. 🙂

    1. OIB.? Maria, I feel your pain, but at least you can still laugh through the disappointment. If you look very closely at “The City Emblem,” that low-hanging fruit there is “Sour Grapes.”

      The City Attorneys are doing their civil service jobs and are tasked to serve their Headmaster. Just like the Police Officers ORDERED to block your way. That does not make them bad people. “Strong-arm” abuse of power is a sign of weakness. It is a very Trump-ish Circus approach. For example:

      The city of Bridgeport has applied for $50,000 in “Grant Monies” to purchase body cameras to protect the public and men and women in uniform who LARGELY Protect and Serve us (not discounting a few Bad Apples out there in Uniform).

      They have recently been ORDERED by their “SUPERIORS” to remove their own personally purchased body cameras.

      Why you may ask, does that make any sense? It doesn’t. It’s the low-hanging “sour grapes” of the political powers. Those in “appointed positions of power” by their Headmaster, who would rather risk having a false claim made by a citizen upon an Officer (and the City), because they don’t want to risk having their own Internal Department Issues and Abuses of Power towards lower-ranking members of the Police Force “accidentally” recorded and used in the lower ranking Officers’ Defense. Not conjecture here, it is a fact.

      So when and if the City receives this $50,000 Grant for Body Cameras, when and where will these State funds be used?

      On a lighter/darker note: Will Jim Fox! be Headlining at the new Steelpointe BROWNFIELD Toxic Comedy Club? Here’s a little ditty.

      While the crowd laughed consuming sour grape wine
      The buried toxic waste was refumeing
      And filling the Comedy Hall
      Hysterical laughter, could be heard well after
      The first, last and only curtain call.

  4. THE ONLY ONLY ONLY WAY to change things in Bridgeport is through the voting booth. There should be some momentum toward city elections in 2017 but too many people are focused on the here and now. Just forget about the now and focus on November 2017. If you don’t, it will be at your loss.

    1. Wayne Winston is organizing a rally in support of Fran Rabinowitz at 45 Lyon Terrace tomorrow because our children deserve continuity and our support.

      This from a manwhot was arrested after not paying child support of $26 and told a judge he couldn’t afford it.
      www .ctpost.com/local/article/State-takes-over-local-NAACP-chapter-4454784.php

      Those who blatantly choose to not support their child/children are really not in the position to speak about the need of others to “support” the need of our BPS students.

      The absolute hypocrisy of those in Bridgeport cannot be topped.

    1. Again worrying about others instead of The Kids! No wonder why your RESULTS are the way they are! One year Forward, five years Backwards! That’s The Maria way. RESULTS or Lack Thereof Speak For Themselves. Don’t They Maria? For all of Maria’s Barnum Circus Peanut Gallery. Here’s one for you.

      What’s the new and current makeup of The BOE Board now? And how much will really be achieved in regards to the essential needs of the children now left in the hands of all the recent Republicans put on? Any real important BOE measures being achieved for this school year thanks to Maria’s Mushfest Circus Act of 2016-2017? Definitely should be nominated. For a
      Springer as a recurring Fall on Your Face Guest! At least then it would just be you and not 22,000 children who suffer from your childish, counter productive going Backwards BullShit! Good Luck digging out of the “new” hole you’ve put the children, district and Board in, Maria. At least you’re Consistent!

  5. MuahFest Maria Bulletin:
    Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus Xtreme stops at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport for six performances, Thursday, Oct. 20, through Sunday, Oct. 23. Above is “Nitro Nicole–The Human Cannonball. Don’t Miss The Amazing Maria! The infamous China Shattering Bull.

    All are welcome to pick up as many pieces of Shattered Children as possible from this most “recent” Performance!

  6. Who are you SeaYoung?, allowed by Grimaldi to hide behind your Nom de guerre. Like other Phantoms on this website, where is this website’s transparency, evenhanded and fair treatment being called for by contributors on this site like JML for Time(s) Will Tell (assuming these phantoms can tell time)?

    Via the “sour grape vine,” If the Directive for “Officers to stop using their own body cameras,” if it was not approved by the Acting Chief, right under his nose, then he is not acting in a very Chief-like manner.

    Per the BOA shut out/up/lockdown, had those Officers not appeared for their JOBS they would not have their jobs for very long. Members of the BOA who refuse to show up for their jobs under the guise of BOYCOTTING should not have for very long either. Calling for a strike, organizing, unionizing, work walkouts and BOYCOTS are ethical ways and means to thwart unethical and bias in the workplace by overlords in business. Using this American Value as a veil to hide other agendas is disingenuous to say the least. And very transparent.

    Maria speaking of double standards, you seem to be a passionate, well and outspoken woman with resolve and fire in your belly, like it or not, someone who calls it like you see it. If you were a man (I assume these are Phantom male detractors) your style and efforts would not be mischaracterized or belittled by unknown weirdos with a seemingly sexist agenda.

    I have experienced first hand the “Circling of the Wagons” by various City Departments openly practicing biased application of the City Charter, Regulations and Ethical Standards. To point this out to them, by well documented facts, one is then treated as a hostile entity set out to upset their Biased Political Apple Cart. And it appears you are capable of reading between the lines, a dangerous line you have crossed into the inner “Circle of Wagons.” I hope you and/or someone video documented the BOE meeting shut down/up/lock down.

    Please read my comments regarding the acting Chief’s announcement about a new grant to add extra security at schools. Your recent experience was no doubt paid for in part by that grant. While I may have a wry sense of humor there this is nothing amusing about these blatant abuses of power. If they have not already crossed the threshold of Civil Rights Abuse they are scratching at the gates of a Justice Department Investigation, the glut of this bloated Political Distemper will surely burst at the seams. People in office need to Lead, Follow or Get out of the way, NOW, not fester until the next election cycle, because there is a Tsunami about to break on the shores of City HA-HA-HALL. It’s going to be a very messy cleanup effort afterwards.

  7. SeaYoung, again a handle, well that doesn’t matter to me, handle or not you’re entitled to your opinions and views, but why be so mean? It makes me think you’re a “mole” for the administration. If you are, again you’re entitled to your opinion, but use your name.


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