Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez addressed the newly minted Board of Education prior to the organizational meeting Monday at the Aquaculture School. In her prepared remarks Lopez highlights Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis’ decision to order a third Democratic primary in a North End City Council district. What does this have to do with the newly elected BOE? asks Lopez. “Everything.” Lopez comments follow:
In view of this being your first meeting as a Board, I don’t know whether to offer congratulations or condolences to the six new members and the three returning members.
But in any event, I do wish to comment on your duties as elected members of a Board of Education.
Being elected necessarily means that you have gone through a political process.
You have been nominated by a political party and you have run a campaign seeking the support and the trust of the Bridgeport voters, parents and most importantly, the public school children of Bridgeport.
Six of you have been nominated by the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee and its Chairman. I realize that three of the Democrats are here because they ran a primary against the Democratic Town Committee, however you are here as Democrats.
Three of you are here because you were nominated by the Republican Party and of course, one member who has also been nominated by a minor party.
In addition to your duties as members of the Board of Education, as elected officials, you have the responsibility and the opportunity to restore public trust and confidence in Bridgeport.
As some of you may know, the City’s reputation has been further tarnished by the actions of the Democratic Town Committee Chairman Mario Testa, as chronicled by Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis in a case brought by Bob Keeley contesting the results of a primary election in District 133.
You may ask what does this have to do with a newly elected BOE.
The answer is unfortunately, EVERYTHING.
As I said the three new Democratic members have been endorsed by Mario Testa and his Democratic Town Committee.
In her written decision on this case, announced from the Bench at the close of the case, stated her findings of fact, including on page 13 of the decision, and I will read from it.
“Bridgeport Police Officer Paul Nicola, a 30-year police veteran, was on patrol duty on November 13, 2017 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. He was called on the air by Officer Stroebel and given the directive to meet with Chief of Police Perez, who he met face to face. Perez gave him the duty order to contact and meet with Mario Testa because Testa and the party needed an officer to pick up absentee ballots. Perez told Officer Nicola that Testa would draw up a list and tell Nicola what needed to be done. Nicola then went to Testa’s Four Corners Pizza Parlor where Testa introduced him to candidate DeFilippo, and approximately one half hour later Nicola was provided with a list of absentee ballot pickups from DeFilippo.”
Furthermore, in closing the Judge states on page 19, that
“The Fact that the city of Bridgeport, Registrar of Voters Ayala, Head Moderator Mullen, Head Moderator of Absentee Ballots Erichetti, Town Clerk Clemons, and candidate Herron argued to this Court, defending Mario Testa’s personal use of a police officer, with Chief of Police Perez complicit to run absentee ballots at the direction of the candidate is why the people of the City are now faced with a third election for the 133rd District with the attendant costs and with the potential appeal of this decision with the costs that are attendant to that as well. The fact that this all occurred in a court-ordered special election with a court-appointed moderator speaks to the level of dishonesty and corruption when it comes to absentee ballots in the City of Bridgeport.”
There may come a time, when the Chairman of the Democratic Town Committee or the Mayor, whose silence in the face of this corruption has been deafening, will approach you just as they approached Chief Perez and require that you meddle with the affairs of the Superintendent of Schools.
We need a Superintendent of Schools, independent of the Testa Ganim Machine; we have one.
Because everyone will be watching.