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Lopez: In Bridgeport, Sausage Making Gets Bad Rap Compared To Law Making

March 27th, 2017 · 27 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Council, News and Events

De Yulio sausage

Tastier alternative to lawmaking.

In a follow-up to her commentary confronting the city’s new Downtown “RoboCops” parking meters, retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez grinds up the city’s process to “essentially privatizing parking meter enforcement.” Like many, Lopez received a $40 computer programmed parking ticket for not completing a meter transaction within five minutes of pulling up. Her parking ticket appeal has been denied. She has requested a formal hearing, per state law, that could be scheduled in late April by the Police Department’s Parking Violations Bureau.

Bridgeport parking meter

CT Post photo.

Lopez commentary:

For as long as I can remember, people have always said that if you like law or sausages, you shouldn’t watch either being made. Otto van Bismark and Mark Twain have both been credited as the originator of the maxim.

Regardless of who said it first, the statement conveys the message that making either laws or sausages is unsightly, and the process should be kept out of public view. Only when the law or the sausage is finalized and ready, should it be exposed to the public.

In Bridgeport, sausage making gets a bad rap when compared to law making!

After reviewing the recent processes used by Bridgeport’s City Council to make the new law creating a parking division and to approve a contract essentially privatizing parking meter enforcement, I set about to investigate whether sausage making is as unsightly an operation, as making laws.

Being somewhat familiar with the law making process used by the Bridgeport City Council, I stopped by DeYulio’s Sausage Company, 1501 State Street in Bridgeport, unannounced, to personally observe the sausage making process. My hope was that someone would take mercy on me and give me an appointment for some time in the future.

Lo and behold, I was not turned away!

Instead, I was welcomed into the plant by Michael Taylor, a member of the management team. As soon as I explained my mission, he agreed to give me a tour of the facility and answer questions.

As he led me through the sparkling and impeccably clean facility, I was amazed at the order and respect permeating the atmosphere. Key ingredients are required by the recipe in order to maintain the integrity of the product. These ingredients are always included. Machines were quietly being operated by a team of dedicated and committed employees, obviously concerned with producing a quality product. The workplace was bright, open and inviting. The employees were courteous to me as a visitor.

While I was there, the US Department of Agriculture inspector was making his daily visit; everything passed inspection.

In Bridgeport, most of the law making process is performed in one of several City Council committees. Ms. Eneida Martinez and Mr. Jose Casco were co-chairs of the Ordinance Committee at the time that this parking ordinance was approved. Mr. Jack Banta and Ms. Jeanette Herron were Co-Chairs of the Contract Committee at the time of approving the agreement with Laz Parking LTD.

Democratic principles are a key ingredient in the recipe for making laws. The recipe requires that the law making function of city government be independent of the executive branch (the Mayor). Sausage makers are loathe to dilute key ingredients for fear of compromising the integrity of their product. Contrast that with lawmakers in Bridgeport, who are flexible and lax with key ingredients, and even allow the Mayor to script the recipe.

The Ordinance Committee Co-chairs knew that the Mayor and his ethics czar, Ed Adams, were eager to remove the parking functions from the police commission and give it to the Department of Public Facilities as soon as possible. They also knew that the Contracts Committee co-chairs had managed to get the Laz Parking LTD agreement through the committee process and obtain City Council approval in less than 30 days.

Not to be outdone, on June 29, Ms. Martinez and Mr. Casco called for a special meeting for the next day, Thursday, June 30. This happens to be the eve of the 4th of July weekend.

The committee approved the ordinance and recommended that the City Council also approve it.

The City Council accepted the recommendation and approved the ordinance on July 5, one business day later, moments after a two minute public hearing on the subject.

On July 6, the Mayor held a press conference, joined by members of the Bridgeport Business Council, heralding their product, the new smart meters, as the best thing since sliced bread.

No wonder sausage makers are insulted when their work is compared to making laws; a special thanks to DeYulio’s for helping me understand their reasoning.


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27 Comments so far ↓

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Lol. Good for Ms. Lopez, hope her appeal is granted. I still haven’t been back downtown since this parking meter debacle started, I would like to go to the new cheesecake store I read about down there, but no way am I dealing with those meters.

  • John Marshall Lee

    I moved my office to 277 Fairfield Avenue officially on March 1, 2017 after operating from various addresses in the Town of Fairfield from 1964. After checking on several restored spaces for offices I settled on a 4th-floor location in the same building as the Bijou Theater.

    In the weeks just before, the new meters were in use and I went through many quarters in order to avoid a large penalty, now $40 up from $35. However, I was not attentive enough because on February 28 I was 9 minutes and 40 seconds over the 120 minutes I had paid $2.00 for according to the report mailed to me two weeks later with pictures of my bumpers and license plate. (I thought, for some reason I cannot remember now, that there was a ten-minute grace period.)

    Last week when I went to LAZ Parking HQ on State Street I exchanged my $40 payment for a copy of the infraction notice, only to be told that I had generated another ticket ten days later.

    Didn’t that take the cake, I thought? I asked for the paperwork on that one, thinking I had been very careful whenever I parked on the street subsequent to the ticket in question. The second infraction showed I had placed only $.25 in the meter but stayed almost 90 minutes. Wait a minute, I thought, and checked the time period for which I had been charged with a second infraction. It showed me arriving at the meter around 5:38 PM, when the meter will only allow a $.25 payment to the meter, as there is no charge for parking after 6:00 PM. But nobody had told the meter so it followed its protocol and programming, took a picture and mailed a notice to me. I asked how I can be penalized for a time period when meters are not collecting fees? It took ten minutes for management to meet and decide that my question was a reasonable one and they waived the second payment. With so many things done with technology today, we are often asked if we would like to be part of a survey. But nothing shows up on response to these meters. Time will tell.

  • Maria Pereira

    Judge Lopez is the smartest person I know. She is so skilled at shredding propaganda into tiny little pieces without using bad words, or raising her voice, etc. She simply does the research, asks the right questions, and simply lays out the facts.

    I was handing out Easter Egg Hunt invites on Granfield Ave. a few weeks ago at a condominium. This woman on the first floor was speaking to a family member through the window; when we handed her an invite she said “can you do something about those horrible parking meters downtown?” I replied “that’s our city council people’s job, but they voted for them. In fact, they have voted for EVERY single thing Mayor Ganim has proposed.”

    I went onto say “we’ll be getting rid of them this Summer and we’ll need your help.” She replied with “you got it.”

    And that’s how it’s done, folks!

  • DougDavidoff

    The meters are a good thing. I support them.

    The $40 charge is a Bad Thing. It is a mistake. It is an error.

    I’m in favor of the flexibility of the meters, and now we must use the flexibility the technology provides. This foolish policy should take five minutes to fix. If it takes five weeks, I will be disappointed.

    A message to my 131st District Councilor Jack Banta: Make This Stop! A message to Ed Adams: This is a mistake. Make It Stop. A message to DSSD: Tell The City to Make It Stop.

    Refund all $40 payments made to date. Stop the lunacy. Stop inhibiting downtown commerce. Send a gracious letter of apology from Mayor Ganim to people who have paid. Repeal this ordinance, and repeal it right now. Do it with smiles and cheer.

    Turn lemons into lemonade. End this mistake.

    By the way, where is our parking smartphone mobile app? We could have been using Parkmobile or ParkWhiz by now. There has been no explanation for the delay.

    We invent technology to make our lives easier. You have managed to use technology to make Bridgeporters’ lives more difficult and increase our city’s undercurrent of disdain and suspicion. Stop It!

  • Lisa Parziale

    JML, are you losing it? Why would you put yourself or clients through the anxiety of going downtown in this City? Approximately 22 years ago I made a conscious decision to do my business in a Fairfield location. While I do business in Bridgeport, I couldn’t have clients navigating the Bridgeport weeds. I was still on the City Council, and at that time there weren’t half the problems people face today. This new system falls under the purview of Public Facilities. I remember Tiago and Gina discussing the product that is now causing hardship for taxpayers. I’ve noticed Public Facilities is the new BOE and Nutrition Center when it comes to patronage jobs. The Director of that facility is joined at the hip with Mario Testa, so everyone and anyone is stuck in Public Works where no questions are asked or answered. My one-time friend Danny Roach is there now, as well as a recently transferred Ganim volunteer who was originally put in Engineering; a long-time employee was switched from the Annex to Engineering to make this possible. I would guess 80% of the Ganim campaign workers are now employed in various positions in Public Facilities. Go Mario and your flunky JR.

  • John Marshall Lee

    There are parking garages for those who come for court duty, regular business, etc. and the new machines are not everywhere. Many of the younger folks downtown (they are one to two generations younger than we are, Lisa) have no cars. They use public transportation or uber for getting about.
    But Doug D. hit it on the head, why go only part way with technology, and that is something the City is guilty of during Finch and Ganim2. Software is purchased and not used. Developed but not carried out for ease of use or for providing public access. Lots of money wasted ultimately. How many hits are coming through on Open Bridgeport these days? Enough to justify City expense of $2,000 per month? How to make it more useful? Now we’re talking. Time will tell.

  • Robert Teixeira

    Can’t you just put a piece of tape over the camera on the meter when you park?

    Problem solved, you’re welcome. :)

  • Jeff Kohut

    To have a real “downtown,” a municipality must provide a safe, attractive collective “downtown” venue, as key aspects of an overall “inviting” atmosphere. Bridgeport is making at least tentative strides toward the re-creation of a real “downtown” in this regard.

    But when access to the downtown is hobbled by lack of convenient, “friendly” parking and transportation options, the “invitation” to the downtown is going to be torn up and thrown away by prospective visitors and businesses/customers that require the provision by the municipality of “friendly,” convenient access.

    Bridgeport is displaying a lot of “stupid” in its downtown, visitor/customer access policy.

    If this key aspect of re-creating the downtown isn’t effectively addressed soon, the downtown resurgence will never get fully on track.

    Again: the emphasis on “transit-oriented development” in the form of housing, to revitalize the downtown is the one-trick pony that will assure the downtown is never revitalized. The negative impact of overly-intense downtown housing development on visitor/customer access to downtown venues is already becoming pronounced and beginning to derail the downtown resurgence.

    The development of a significant downtown neighborhood will add to the momentum of a downtown resurgence, but cannot serve as the key ingredient, per its intended function as a customer base or retail base. It will crowd out the real tax base and preclude the development of extensive retail, per parking and location usurpation. Any urban planner worth a paycheck will tell a mayor that.

    An example of a terrific, economic-engine downtown can be observed by a short trip down Fairfield Avenue to downtown Fairfield. The Fairfield downtown is SURROUNDED by healthy neighborhoods, with very little housing within the downtown itself, but lots and lots of unique bars, coffee shops, delis, restaurants, retail, professional services locations, etc., and with some of the best locations still unoccupied. AND THERE ARE NO PARKING METERS AT ALL! ZERO PARKING METERS IN DOWNTOWN FAIRFIELD!

    Why does stupidity continue to rule in Bridgeport development policy? Who is advising City Hall on development policy? It must be a resident of one of our economic rivals. (Is David Kooris still on the payroll of the Economic Development Department?)

    Judge Lopez certainly knows a sausage-making operation when she sees it. Presently, Bridgeport seems to be operating under political and economic-development sausage-making strategies. In Bridgeport’s case, sausage making, although “state regulated” is definable in terms of the sausage-making in Upton Sinclair’s novel, “The Jungle.”

  • Grin Ripper

    Very well written in a natural casing, sweet and hot, without any missing links.

  • Robert Teixeira

    On a serious note, the way technology has advanced to where it allows you to use an app to add time to a meter and avoid getting a ticket. It’s also like having a Meter Maid waiting at the meter for it to expire to give you a ticket, adjustment needs to be made to create harmony. It’s a guarantee you will get a ticket and most people take a chance on the meter running out and not have a Meter Maid nearby to ticket you, if you’re few minutes overdue, or even taking a chance on not putting any money in the meter at all.

    Since the tickets are guaranteed with a Meter Maid at every meter lying waiting to give you a ticket. They, the tickets, are going to increase exponentially to a point where it will have a negative impact on the locations they are serving.

    The answer lies with those wielding the app, and setting policies on how this technology is to be used. Since a ticket is guaranteed with a Meter Maid at every meter, the fees need to be time adjusted and set at a reasonable price. The app should even send an alert message notifying them their time is about to expire, so they can make the proper adjustment. How will this technology be used, and what will be its effects on the community they serve? TWT.

    • Frank Gyure

      Robert Teixeira. I am completely confused by your statement about these meters. You are talking about a perfect parking meter world. That is not the situation we are looking at. You need to make up your mind. You either want meters in Downtown Bridgeport, or you don’t. Time to make a decision.

      • Robert Teixeira

        The meters serve a purpose. They are there for a reason. If they weren’t there people who work downtown or pay a parking garage because they intend to be downtown a longer period of time would take them up, not allowing others who come to downtown and need a quick parking space.

        Take JML, he works downtown. Let’s say there were no meters. He would take one spot, not apply that to others who work downtown. Those street parking would be eaten up fairly quickly and people coming to downtown for a short period of time would have to pay and park at some garage that is nowhere near where they intended and wanted to be or they would just not come downtown for some quick visit.

        Adequate parking is key to any successful and thriving business in any location; street parking will never be adequate for a thriving downtown.

        There needs to be a balance, from what I read downtown doesn’t have meter after 6:00PM. You are able to go downtown after 6:00PM Frank without worrying about a meter. That being said I think the meter should have a three-hour limit. I think two-hour limits are cutting it tight on certain visits.

        The meters never seemed to be that much of a big deal other than people have no place to get change, but I could be wrong, either way they have been there for years. It’s not the meters, it’s the tickets that are currently an issue, seems to me. Having a Meter Maid at every meter and a guaranteed ticket is a major issue that needs to strike a balance. Developing a thriving downtown with adequate parking is another issue. Of course there’s also who is benefiting from the meters. (And those who would benefit from such a policy of not have any restrictions and free access.)

        My mind was made up, they’re needed. My statement was to make it more equitable for violators.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    A friend just texted me from the UCONN game at Webster. I asked if they got there early and had dinner downtown, his exact quote, “with all the problems with those new meters, we didn’t want to chance and have to rush to eat, we stopped in Stratford on the way in.”

  • Frank Gyure

    I’ve been saying this for the longest time. Downtown Bridgeport needs to look at all the barriers that are preventing any and all people from going to Downtown Bridgeport. With the old meters, we had the meter stormtroopers who “magically” swooped down on you as the old meters lost time on you. These new hi-tech meters are even worse. These new meters are “Orwellian.” Under no circumstances will I go downtown and deal with these “new” meters. The whole idea of parking meters in a a struggling downtown area is outdated. We are marketing Downtown Bridgeport that is appropriate for the 1950s. GET RID OF ALL METERS. The challenge is we have Bridgeport policy makers who don’t have to worry about meters, so they stick with a mentality that was appropriate for 1950s Bridgeport but no longer works for 2017 Downtown Bridgeport.

  • Ed Davies

    I’m confused. It appears parkers in Bridgeport have been able to “get away” with meter overtime infractions for years. Now the masses are upset that they are called into account for being only “a little illegally parked?”

    • John Marshall Lee

      When you put in eight quarters and purchased two hours, and on occasion found yourself late to get back to the meter because the City meeting had started late and was extended, for instance, you could play the odds and hope a “real live meter reader” would not catch the infraction. However, the camera technology with a five-minute grace period eliminated the gambler’s calculation, changes the odds of being caught, and the price at $40 is a steep one.

      Since I like to “follow the money story” in most cases, it would be interesting to look at the monthly actual results while these meters were being installed and the trends if any that can be seen.

      Line 41650 of Police Administration monthly revenue report for January 2017 shows the City budgeted $1,100,000 for revenues from fines in the 2017 Fiscal Year. YTD revenue is slightly over $600,000 through 7 months and the Finance Director has reduced the budgeted amount by $100,000 so he anticipates only $390,494. Keep track of the trend by checking on the February results, due by the last Friday of March. (Were any adjustments anticipated or made regarding employees who checked meters? Are Parking Violations budgeted gross or net of expenses to LAZ and meter company for their services?) Who is looking at the entire story at any time? Time will tell.

    • Tom White

      Judge Lopez commented on the poor execution of legislation by the Bridgeport City Council. Like making sausage, making laws can appear messy at times but can be well-organized and result in a useful product.
      The sausage makers at DeYulio’s, she suggests, are more competent at what they do than the city council members who endorsed a flawed ordinance. I will add that their action suggests the incompetence of the city council.

  • Bob Halstead

    There are no meters in Downtown Fairfield. They were always smart with their Downtown planning.

    • Robert Teixeira

      How can you even compare Bridgeport’s downtown to Fairfield’s, how many court houses or other service-driven municipality buildings, that service other cities and towns that are in Bridgeport that are not in Fairfield? Fairfield planning, but that in Bridgeport. Smh.

      • Bob Halstead

        RT. Courthouses and what else?
        How about intelligent city planning? Not being penny wise and pound foolish. K.I.S.S.
        Having no meters in Fairfield promotes a healthy business environment and a real Main Street, a real downtown.

        • Robert Teixeira

          Does it matter? Jury duty alone would eat up most of those spaces never mind court cases. Having no court houses promotes a healthy business environment too. Intelligent city planning is a different issue and parking has to be incorporated.

          What business makes a thriving healthy Downtown in your opinion? Minus the restaurants.

  • Ron Mackey

    I must say those posting on OIB on this topic by retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez is a excellent way to use OIB and there are many great comments and ideas in supporting Judge Lopez’ fight.

    There is a small list of people I know if they said to me I want and need you to help fight a cause and I would without even asking them why, and immediately come to their aid are my brother Donald Day and retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez. Simple reason why, I know whatever the fight is, it’s for the betterment of those who need help and it’s the right thing to do plus they are not looking for any personal gain.

  • Robert Teixeira

    Frank, let me try to clear up your confusion. You are confused not by my position on meters but what side I’m on. I’m not on a side, if I am, it’s only by default. That is where most of these comments originate from. (Except for Andy he’s against everything. :) )
    How one gets on a side, has many layers. What one will do for their side also has many layers, as well as why one does what they do for their side. While I recognize the reason for the sides and the game, I view it as potato vs potahto, a necessity like the meters, although there are levels that are far more imperative than a violation or free parking.
    Since even a broken clock is right twice a day, and when you choose a side you tend or have to overlook what is right. While I may be seen by some as someone not on their side, how that comes to be I do not know, the only side I’m on is God’s (Christ). So those who view me as not on their side and the side I have chosen is “Christ” then can only be on the Anti-Christ side. Know your side. If you want to help, help. No drowning person every refused anyone’s help, regardless of race, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, side, or even transgender.

    PS Thanks OIB for the education you have given me that was not received in school regardless of how much funding they would have received.

    Confusing maybe, in any event my OIB blogging will have to take a detour, for I have more pressing issues to attend to, like not ending up homeless for the fourth time, Happy Easter, Good luck.

    www .youtube.com/watch?v=v0WsnKQCax8

  • Lisa Parziale

    Bob H., there are parking meters in downtown Fairfield, my agency is there; however there is usually a police officer overseeing the location, and while they do ticket almost immediately we know this when parking in Fairfield center so it seems to create vigilance, except for circumstances stated by JML. I doubt they’ll ever create “terror” on behalf of parkers by using this “big brother” method imposed by the powers that be.

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