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Mark It Up! Attorney Anastasi Retires And Returns With A Fatter Paycheck

August 2nd, 2018 · 52 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Council, News and Events

Anastasi

Mark Anastasi. CT Post Photo Autumn Driscoll

If you have value as a municipal lawyer, retire, collect your pension of more than $75,000 per year, and return to pad your paycheck $112,950 more as a paid outside attorney. Not a bad deal, eh? Mark Anastasi who served for more than two decades as chief of the City Attorney’s Office is the latest tenured lawyer to take advantage of the windfall. Anastasi enjoys historical, institutional knowledge of the inner workings of city government and has no problem doing the dirty legal work of the mayor, irrespective of the chief executive in charge. This financial arrangement gives new meaning to the term mark it up.

CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart shares the numbers:

Meyer argued it is a good deal. Anastasi was earning $136,214 annually plus benefits working a minimum 40-hour work week. With longevity bonuses and reimbursement for unused time off, his gross take-home pay in 2017 was $143,825.

Anastasi is now paid $112,950 as an outside attorney with no benefits for a minimum of 30 hours per week–a rate that, Meyer said, is far less than what would be charged by other private attorneys.

… We don’t have money to give to the kids (public schools), but employees can retire and come on as a consultant?” said Councilman Ernie Newton, who has also sometimes been at odds with Anastasi. “He’s a smart lawyer, but he’s retired. From what he was making you could probably bring on two younger lawyers, with benefits.”

Full story here.

Anastasi, who joined the City Attorney’s Office in 1983, is also eligible for lifetime city benefits in his retirement package. Anastasi was appointed chief lawyer in 1992 by Joe Ganim in his first tenure as mayor. He remained in that role throughout JG1, John Fabrizi and Bill Finch mayoral years, working long hours and shielding mayors from thorny legal and even public relations issues, be it corruption (paging Ganim), drug use (paging Fabrizi), or dubious land use deals (paging Finch). His title was “City Attorney” but in reality he was the mayor’s attorney. When Ganim regained the mayoralty in 2015 he appointed his close friend Chris Meyer, who had spent more than two decades as an assistant city attorney, as chief lawyer. Anastasi reverted back to his classified position as associate city attorney, but a lawyer both Meyer and Ganim have counted on to push the administration’s legal agenda.

“Mark, what’s the law on this?”

“Well, here’s my legal position … but if you want me to argue it a different way I can.”

Mark accommodates mayors. He’s loyal, smart and thick-skinned, willing to take on anything in the interest of protecting the mayor. In the face of dichotomy, Mark equates protecting the mayor and taxpayer as the same thing.

His role as chief legal protector of the mayor has often frustrated members of the legislative branch of government. How can lawyers in the City Attorney’s Office serve two masters, the executive branch and legislative branch that’s supposed to provide a check? Their interests can be different, sometimes on legal grounds as well. Every now and then members of the City Council push the idea of budgeting and hiring their own lawyer, but Anastasi then and Meyer now push back, arguing attorney hiring authority per the City Charter rests completely with the chief lawyer. The council, however, has authority to approve budgets of various departments, but has never leveraged that power in the cause of crafting a municipal lawyer that’s solely their own.

When Anastasi became city attorney in 1992 he chose to turn it into a full-time position. Historically, the city attorney job was considered part time that allowed for private legal work. Meyer, as chief lawyer, has also eschewed private work. although he could do so. The office has about 12 full- and part-time lawyers, but also farms out legal work to a variety of other law firms. Anastasi is now one of those outside lawyers.

So Mark’s retired from his classified position, but still very much engaged in legal niceties as outside counsel.

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52 Comments so far ↓

  • In The City

    A certain council person talks about collecting 2 paychecks. Shall we look into the city council stipends where certain council members use it as their daily piggy bank. It is a shame that these council members will open their mouths about something, and then at the same time, use tax payer money to support their daily food habits and overdraw their accounts. Tgen tgey ask where is the money coming from. That made me laugh. Try using your head once in a while before opening ypur mouth. My momma always said ” people make think your stupid, but don’t open yiur mouth and prove them right”.

    • Ron Mackey

      Who are you, cowards hide their name because then they can makeup stories like you’re doing. If hat you wrote is true then you should have given the information to Hamilton Burger to take action.

      • In The City

        Go look at the bank statements yourself. It makes me sick looking at what tgey spend money on. And not just because of the greasy garbage they eat, but the fact that they are spending our money while doing so.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Ain’t politics great…

  • Andrew C Fardy

    This city is a cesspool of thieves and crooks. How can a person retire from city employment and then get a $44,000 raise to come back to work for the same place he retired from. Anastasi did just that he now works 30 hrs per week for $44,000 more per year. We have 2 other city attorneys doing the same thing. So these 3 crooks are racking in an additional $132.000 per year in the mean time the BOE does not have enough money to operate properly.
    If I am not mistaken the charter forbids employees who retire from the city from returning to work for the city without forfeiting teir retirement pay in lieu of salary. For Mackey and Day I know the fire chiefs did it and that is wrong also.
    Just take a look at what this little shit Ganim has done to the city;
    Pays ex police chief $6,000 per month to do what?
    Pays ex Fed who was coffee boy for investigators $6,000 per month
    We have paid amd are paying Fire Chief a full pension plus a 6 figure salary
    We are paying former council person in excess of $45K to put people on various boards and commissions
    We named a bar owner to a high paid job in public facilities
    We have an acting police chief whose claim to fame is he covered for Ganim and was given police chiefs job for which is is NOT qualified.
    Ganim has not replaced the do nothing police commission and shit keeps happening.
    Finally to all the Black ministers who pushed for Ganim I hope you are happy

  • Maria Pereira

    This is why so many residents and voters are disgusted with Bridgeport.

    This is absolutely appalling.

    • Rich Augustynowicz

      Maria: sorry for you and all others I left behind but you and all (well most) here look at all of this with disgust. I hope that one day you guys can right the city. good luck .

  • Bob Walsh

    They asked Mark for an opinion and he said “works for me”

  • Bob Walsh

    And when we had charter revision did the council bring up this issue????
    No. They felt it did need revision. It works just fine for me. Or at least that’s what the lawyers said.

  • Bob Walsh

    Get another opinion. Oh that’s right you can’t. At least according to the city attorney.

    • Ron Mackey

      Bob, this opinion came from the history that former City Personnel Director, Ralph Jabobs gave to the Civil Service Commission when Acting Fire Chief Brian Rooney force the City to make him a Provisional Fire Chief so that he retire with a pension of a Fire Chief instead of a Deputy Chief which was his true position. Then Rooney was appointed Fire Chief after pacing third on the Fire Chief exam. Ralph Jabobs was totally against this move but it was approve by the Civil Service Commission with the blessing from Hamilton Burger. This written report is in the records of the Personnel Director office. It’s been all down hill with this double payments of taxpayers money.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    This is nothing more than a “ I’ll take care of you, you take care of me” arrangement.Anastasi knows a lot of “secrets”,he has to kept happy.Meanwhile while Mario’s &Joe’s “friends” are bilking the city for everything they possibly could, teachers are getting laid off,school security officers are being let go,teachers have to buy their classes paper and pencils out of their own pockets because Joe says “there’s no money” available for education.. Ya, this is the thief we want for governor.. pfffttt.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    No matter how Meyers frames this it is illegal, First there are no part time jobs allocated in the city attorneys table of organization and now we have 3 of these leches that are collecting a pension and screwing the city on a part time basis.
    Has the city attorney gone to civil service and asked them to remove the 3 classified positions from their table of organization. If not why not. Who authorized 3 part time positions at $112 K did the council? Did the arrogant assholes of the king Ganim just do this on their own? Why do we have a council? Why do we have a civil service commission?

  • Mojo

    *** Lets blame M.A for taking advantage of the city charter & city civil service & political raise rates he’s hung around for! The entire city charter & the ways salaries & pensions are negotiated needs over-hauling. Till then complaints from city council members, retired city workers, etc.. just falls on deaf ears; its old hat.***

  • Andrew C Fardy

    First off the charter does not allow for a person to retire and then return to the city employment collecting a second salary and a pension. The charter states such a person must give up a portion or all of his pension when returning to city employment. Just so you know salaries and pensions are negotiated between the city and the various unions.
    There are no part time positions in the city attorneys office that pay $112,000 per year These positions are illegal and should not be given to favored employees

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      Chris Meyer has been collecting retirement and salary since he returned to the city attorney office. Remember he retired his part time city attorney position under Finch? Doesn’t the city have (had.) police employees doing the same?

  • Donald Day

    Andy, the reason Bill Finch put David Dunn in as Director of Civil Service and the reason Mayor Ganim leaves him in that position is so they can do this kind of nefarious stuff at the expense of the resident’s of Bridgeport. The Civil Service was always meant to be Autonomous where as now it’s merely a job bank for the Mayor’s office, approved by city attorney and carried out by Civil Service.

    That people, is a deadly two-headed snake. Which city council person will take the initiative, the gumption and the motivation to cut the heads off this two-headed snake? The residents of Bridgeport are counting on you to care about them as much as you care about your next election.

    • Ron Mackey

      Jasper McLevy must be rolling over in his grave.

    • John Marshall Lee

      And who serves on the Civil Service Commission as Chairperson? A resident of and voter in Trumbull, CT.

      She knows it is wrong and somewhere probably has signed paperwork attesting to a residence address that will trip her up. But a confrontation at an early meeting this year does not concern her brazen disregard for our Charter. It did generate a statement from her that she does not vote on Civil Service matters, only chairs the group. That is a classic Bridgeport comment from an appointed leader, isn’t it? And this is both a Ganim1 and Ganim2 move. Second chances in this regard did not move his integrity needle into positive territory.

      Stopped by Town Clerk’s office today and found that 16 of 20 Council members had attested to their residence. Missing (and tardy since January 31): DeFioippo, Lyons, Vizzo-Paniccia, and Castillo. They have lots of company as perhaps 125 members of boards and commissions are also out of compliance. Being a watchdog takes time. Enforcement with penalties is very lax. But sooner or later enough folks will realize that they have to rise from their slumber and do something about governance. Time will tell.

  • Bob Walsh

    The one I heard does not live in the city is among the 16 who have said they did.
    Now what do you do JML????

    • John Marshall Lee

      Evidence of residence was requested, though not printed, except in one case. Call me, please. 203-521-1930. Let’s compare notes. Then we can work on the Boards and Commissions? TIME WILL TELL.

  • Bob Walsh

    This s*#t has got to stop and stop now.

  • Bob Walsh

    Anastasi is not a good lawyer. He is a good soldier. He has almost always offer a personal opinion on anything but hardly a written legal option on anything. He should have been fired years ago and never allowed to retire.
    But this is the way of Bridgeport until 11 council members have the balls to vote no.

    • Ron Mackey

      Bob, you really nailed it, that exactly what Hamilton Burger does, he’s a good soldier but as a lawyer, please, that’s why he’s still works for the City because none of the big law firms want him. He’s just a bully with no facts to support his positions.

  • Jimfox

    Burger’s laughing all the way to the bank!

  • Bob Walsh

    Q – Mark, is this action allowed by the City Charter?
    A – In my reading of the charter there is nothing to the contrary of this type of action.
    Q – Mark, what does that mean?
    A – The mayor wants it.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Ron: I think that Jasper’s ghost wants to do a few 3:00 AM roofing jobs on the houses of a few of these “retirees” — just to thank them for their service and loyalty to the people of Bridgeport… (So if, Mark and company start looking weary, it might be because of all of the hammering and banging in their ears as they try to sleep at night… But hell, these public self-servants all deserve a free, 3:00 AM roofing job!…)

    • Rich Augustynowicz

      Joke of the day: at least now we gave an outspoken, educated and independent thinker on the council who vote his mind, heart, soul and his convictions : Michael Defilippo….lol…make me another drink please. Really nothing personal but THIS IS just another example of what’s wrong with this city.

  • Michael Bottillo

    Wow So the city has money nice. I hope taxes don’t go up

  • Michael Bottillo

    Can we has taxpayers get a break

  • Mojo

    *** Mark took advantage of a poorly written city charter that’s been needing up-dating for a while. Aswell as so-called city civil service lawyers like McCarthy & Larry Osborn, etc.. along with the hired part-time out-side lawyers that negotiate city contracts with the different unions. Everyone & anyone that’s worked for the city of bpt. over a 20+ yrs. period expecting some-type of a pension at retirement did what ever he or she could @ the time to pad their pension for retirement. Whatever the city’s contract or charter, do’s & don’ts allow ,they will try! For many ex-retiree’s complaining, it sounds like envy with sour apples over something they would of done themselves if given the opportunity, no? ***

  • Harvey Weintraub

    I don’t blame Anastasi,or any of the others that are bilking the city, our charter allows it, who here, if you were in their positions, wouldn’t do it?.. What bothers me is shit like this just never stops,remember Finch’s last days?, he gave his inner circle raises and took as much as he could when he left.It just seems we just elect thieves, who in turn hire more thieves, and in the end, we get screwed.And this council, especially Ernie, feigning outrage is a joke,Ernie, your a convicted thief yourself,you’re not one to judge.The other councilors can say they are outraged, but in the end, they won’t do a dam thing about it.

    • In The City

      I do not believe all the councilors can be outraged. Some of them spend their stipends on a daily basis like it is their personal debit card. They overdraw their accounts (again, i said some). They should get 1099′S and pay tax on that money. They are using it like income.

    • Ron Mackey

      Harvey, you are totally wrong, the City Charter DOES NOT ALLOW for those bilking, again, the City Charter DOES NOT ALLOW for those bilking.

    • Ernie Newton

      HAVEY You Can Say All you like I’m in a resolution for The Mayor to set up a charter revision Commission to address out side legal Attorneys and The City Council Hiring its own Legal Staff.and bye the way i don’t give a damn about what your thought are about ME!

  • Ernie Newton

    I will be putting in a resolution to set up a charter revision with in 30-60 day to address these issues!

    • DC Faber

      Councilman Newton, why not suggested a whole Charter revision to correct all the loopholes, correct the grammar and make it a gender neutral document. I believe Councilmen Spain and Langan would both join you in such a resolution. You could even create a board of finance, or reduce the Council’s stipends so you could hire full time legislative staff. The possibilities would be endless if the Council has the political will.

  • Ernie Newton

    Commission!

  • Ernie Newton

    HAVEY You Can Say All you like I’m in a resolution for The Mayor to set up a charter revision Commission to address out side legal Attorneys and The City Council Hiring its own Legal Staff.and bye the way i don’t give a damn about what your thought are about ME!

  • Tom White

    Ernie,
    The suggestion that the city council have dedicated legal council has been played-out. The city attorney is corporate counsel and has the final say even if the city council had their own attorney. The problem is the city council and the lack of competent, credible people.

  • Tom White

    Charter revision of 1993 addressed gender neutrality regarding titles. The Board of Aldermen became the City Council and the title of alderman was replaced with Council Member, not councilman, councilwoman, councilor, etc.

    Charter revision of 1993 also allowed the creation of the office of legislative services to provide assistance to council members with tasks such as research. My goodness, what a concept.

    The currant charter includes language for council members to be reimbursed for expenses related to their duties as it has for decades. In 1998 it was revised to include details for reporting expenses, including those that are taxable, requiring a 1099 be issued.
    Former council president McCarthy introduced a debit card system so they are not bothered by the nuisance of reimbursement and having prying eyes see what they spend taxpayer money on. Oh, and the city does not issue a 1099 so they pay taxes on it.

  • Tom White

    Correction.

    In 1998, an ordinance was created with the details I mentioned. It has not been revised to reflect the switch to a debit card system.

  • Bob Walsh

    Tom White. I beg to differ with you. The city may not issue a 1099 but what do you mean “they pay the taxes”. The taxes should be determined by the individuals tax bracket which they would not know.
    If it was a business they might try to exclude the expense from the bottom line and therefore pay some taxes on it by default but since they don’t pay taxes, this won’t wash either.

    • Tom White

      Bob, read the entire sentence.
      A 1099 is to be issued if annual payment exceeds $500. The individual uses it to file their tax return. The City no longer issues a 1099 so it is unknown if council members report the taxable portion of their stipend and pay taxes on it.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Q: How man Bridgeport City Council members does it take to change a light bulb?

    A: None. Mark Anastasi told them they don’t have the legal authority to do so.

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