How much has the city’s termination of former Personnel Director Ralph Jacobs cost taxpayers so far?
Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez wants to know. (Me too.) Lopez has sent letters to City Attorney Mark Anastasi and Finance Director Michael Feeney requesting billing info and payments made to outside lawyers hired by Anastasi. A lawyer from the firm Berchem, Moses & Devlin armed Civil Service Commission members with the ammo to terminate Jacobs, calling Jacobs’ suggestion that a city employee seek arbitration to resolve a layoff “breach of city loyalty.” Jacobs’ lawyer former Mayor Tom Bucci calls that claim a bunch hooey.
Anastasi hired another law firm (Durant, Nichols) to make the actual claim against Jacobs and defend the city against Jacobs’ court action. That sound you just heard was the cash register of the lawyers’ billable hours. Apparently, no in-house lawyer for the city is competent enough to do the work. See Lopez letter below:
Dear Attorney Anastasi,
Chapter 7, section 4 of the City Charter states that outside legal counsel may only be retained with the approval of the City Attorney.
In reviewing the transcript of the Civil Service Commission hearing regarding Ralph Jacobs, it became apparent that two attorneys who are not members of the City Attorney’s Office participated in the hearing.
It also appears that prior to the hearing, Attorney Bayonne compiled a ‘report’ concerning Mr. Jacobs.
Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I am requesting copies of the following:
1. A copy of any retainer agreement, or any other type of agreement, between the City of Bridgeport and Attorney Bayonne, Attorney Lucan and the Law Firm of Durant, Nichols, Houston, Hodgson & Cortese-Costa, P.C. setting forth the scope of services to be performed by each of the attorneys, and the objectives of the representation.
2. Records of payment and billing invoices, whether paid or unpaid, made to any of the above mentioned attorneys and related to the Civil Service Commission hearing, including the investigation conducted prior to the hearing.
3. Copies of any written authorization, including notes, memoranda, e-mails or other communication by which you approved the use of outside counsel to investigate and/or prosecute the matter concerning Ralph Jacobs.
4. A copy of Attorney Bayonne’s report, which was apparently shared with the Civil Service Commission during its Executive Session. This document is not privileged in that the Civil Service Commission proceedings involving Mr. Jacobs have concluded.
5. Canceled checks or other documents indicating payment, to the above mentioned attorneys, for all work performed in connection with the Civil Service Commission case against Mr. Jacobs.
Chapter 7, section 4 of the City Charter also states that the decision to retain outside legal counsel is to be made “provided that funds are available for such purpose.”
Please provide the records, in whatever form available, setting forth the amount of funds that are available on an annual basis for the exercise of your authority concerning the retaining of outside legal counsel.
Thank you for your attention to this matter,
Carmen L. Lopez
Statement from the Diocese of Bridgeport:
We are disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to extend the stay.
The content of the sealed documents soon to be released has already been extensively reported on.
For more than a decade, the Catholic Church in Bridgeport has addressed the issue of clergy sexual abuse compassionately and comprehensively.
For now, however, the serious threat to the First Amendment rights of all churches and the rightful privacy of all litigants remain in jeopardy because of the decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court. This, indeed, is regrettable.
Really? Already reported on extensively. So why not release the documents in the first place?
Let’s see now, the Diocese has shelled out $35 million in settlements for abuse that filled the confessionals of Bishop Curtis and Bishop Egan. How much more in attorneys fees? Oh, it’s okay, the flock didn’t pay for this, it was the insurance companies and we received lots of cut-rate legal fees.
Comment by Bishop Lori to Connecticut Post:
My concern is not about the content of the documents, much of which has already been written about extensively, but it’s more a question of legal principles at stake. This ruling compromises the right of churches to govern themselves.
The right of churches? What about the rights of those kids who put their trust in the men of the cloth? Oh, it’s okay because we paid out millions. Jesus, has the Diocese hired Karl Rove to spin their confessions? You expect this stuff from pols, not from men who vowed to dedicate themselves to Christ. What would Jesus think?
Follow The Leader
Okay, the 2010 cycle has begun in earnest and that’s fine by me. Uncle Joe Biden visited the region on Monday to pay tribute to Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Jim Himes. One of Jimmy’s Republican challengers Rob Russo didn’t waste any time launching a goof on Himes. See Russo release below followed by video:
Russo Releases “Great Followers in History” Ad
Ad Uses Humor to Emphasize How Jim Himes Follows Nancy Pelosi 95% of the Time
Fairfield – On the day Vice President Joe Biden visits the fourth congressional district to raise money for Congressman Jim Himes, congressional candidate Rob Russo launched the first advertisement of the congressional campaign with a web video titled “Great Followers in History.”
The ad uses humor to drive home a very serious point: “Jim Himes votes with Nancy Pelosi 95% of the time.”
The Ad can be viewed here: www.russoforcongress.com
After highlighting three followers with their leaders, the ad culminates with Jim Himes as the greatest follower in history. The ad cites a Washington Post study of the percentage each member of Congress votes with his or her party’s leadership. The Washington Post study found Jim Himes votes with Nancy Pelosi 95% of the time.
“Jim Himes is a rubber stamp for liberal Nancy Pelosi on the economy, on health care, on taxes and spending,” Rob Russo said. “We need independent leadership who will vote to put taxpayers first and vote against mortgaging our future with hundreds of billions of dollars in new debt and spending.”
On the visit of Vice President Biden to fundraise for Jim Himes, Russo added, “It is clear Vice President Biden is here to raise money for Jim Himes as a reward for his loyal support for Nancy Pelosi’s liberal agenda.”
Rob Russo, a former State Senator and Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Christopher Shays, is a Republican candidate for Congress in Connecticut’s fourth congressional district.
News release from Auden Grogins
REP. GROGINS WORKED TO SECURE $22 MILLION FOR LONGFELLOW SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION AND IMPROVEMENTS
Representative Auden Grogins (D-Bridgeport) announced that Bridgeport will receive more than $22 million in state funds to build more classroom space at Longfellow School.
“Longfellow School students and teachers deserve these long-awaited improvements, which include plans to enlarge classrooms, so the educational environment is enhanced and one that is conducive to learning,” Rep. Grogins said.
Rep. Grogins, Bridgeport’s only member of the legislature’s Education Committee, announced that the State General Assembly approved more than $22 million in school construction funds to be used for improvements to classroom space at Longfellow School. The funding was part of a school construction package passed by the General Assembly last week.
Grogins has been a long-time advocate for these much needed funds to update and expand the school built in 1958. The school has not had any substantial renovations for over 20 years, she said. The proposed project adds over 24,500 square feet for classroom space, special education, and expansion of the computer and science labs.
Rep. Grogins represents the 129th district and serves on the Education, Government Administration and Elections, and Public Health Committees.
News release from Mayor Finch
City, ABCD reach agreement on Little Liberia and other properties
The City and ABCD have reached an agreement which will settle all current pending foreclosure claims between these two parties. The terms of the settlement agreement resolve legal disputes concerning three separate property sites, provide for substantial monetary consideration to be paid to the City for back taxes, and authorize the City to sell 354 and 360 Main Street (the Little Liberia houses) to a nonprofit entity to be selected by the City for historic preservation purposes.
354 and 360 Main Street Property (Little Liberia Homes)
Title to 354 and 360 Main Street will be granted to the City of Bridgeport as part of this comprehensive settlement. These two Main Street properties will then be sold for the sum of $1,000 to a third-party non-profit or historical society selected by the City. The purchaser will have 36 months from the date of conveyance, but not later than December 31, 2012 to rehabilitate the properties to the City’s reasonable satisfaction while preserving their historic significance.
These two homes were built by Mary and Eliza Freeman in the mid-1800s, and are said to be among the earliest homes built by black families in Connecticut. These small houses, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, became the foundation for a thriving community of free black people known as “Little Liberia.”
816 Fairfield Avenue Property
ABCD, Inc. will pay the City $35,000 dollars to clear outstanding taxes on the 816 Fairfield Avenue site, and the City will withdraw its pending foreclosure action on the property.
460 Lafayette Street Property
The City will convey title to 460 Lafayette Street to ABCD, Inc., for $1,000. The property is currently in use as a child day care and development entity, and ABCD, Inc. has committed to continuing to use it solely for that purpose. If the property is no longer used for that purpose, then title will revert to the City.
“Preserving the history of all Bridgeport people is vitally important to my Administration. I am happy to be in the position to help identify a nonprofit which can, and will, save these two pre-Civil War historic landmarks from destruction. Properties such as Little Liberia that recall the thriving community of free black people in the City are unique treasures. ABCD has contributed greatly to the Bridgeport community over the years, and has been a major provider of affordable day care options for our citizens. I believe this agreement is a fair, just, and equitable solution for ABCD, the City, and most importantly for the people of Bridgeport,” said Mayor Bill Finch.
“On behalf of ABCD, I want to personally thank Mayor Finch for his efforts to help the Bridgeport community rescue these historic homes, and for his Administration’s unfailing commitment to helping us to provide much-needed preschool education in the City of Bridgeport by ensuring that ABCD is able to keep its facilities open. This compromise is a good solution for all parties involved,” said Charles Tisdale, Executive Director of ABCD, Inc.