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Meanwhile, Moore Receives Kudos For WPCA Action

September 14th, 2018 · 9 Comments · City Politics, State Politics

Black Rocker around town John Marshall Lee shares this commentary about Marilyn Moore’s legislative oversight of the collection practices at the Water Pollution Control Authority.

HISTORY: For several years complaints were raised from Bridgeport property owners about the collection efforts of the Bridgeport WPCA regarding outstanding unpaid sewer bills with fees. If they were not paid a house and its value could be lost through foreclosure … true financial loss. And that happened in some cases even when there was equity in the home and no mortgage. Greater Bridgeport NAACP Housing Chair Johnny Ray Moore, having encountered firsthand WPCA collections efforts, worked with local legislators, and shared information with Senator Marilyn Moore about the abuses in the system. As a result the City Council began meeting and talking up WPCA issues about the process and how difficult, expensive, particularly unfriendly and sometimes illegal collection process to everyone but the lawyers so involved.

The City Council dealt with the issue by passing an action by which a moratorium on foreclosures would be enforced for six months in 2018 and we are in that period today. During that time it is particularly important for those with a WPCA billing issue to reach out and work out a way of handling their personal issue.

Meanwhile, State Senator Marilyn Moore, after listening to the local voices sought a solution in the Legislature and championed Substitute House Bill No. 5509, An Act Concerning Water Pollution Control Authorities. The bill passed both the House and Senate and was signed by Governor Dannel P. Malloy on June 14, 2018 to be effective July 1, 2018. The bill did several things: placed a one-year moratorium on WPCA foreclosures, authorized PURA to oversee WPCA effective July 2019 and to lower interest rates on such amounts outstanding. WPCA customers in cities with a population of not fewer than one hundred thousand people will incur an annual $4 surcharge on their WPCA bills. This impacts two cities; Bridgeport and Stamford. The annual surcharge will assist PURA to develop plans to transition WPCA to PURA.

Governor Malloy expressed concern about a number of issues in terms of conforming existing municipal practices with the new law inside PURA that has no infrastructure at the moment.

A reader may wonder how this is a win for local WPCA ratepayers. Previous to the bill a property could be lost if foreclosed upon. PURA has no power to foreclose, so that threat appears to have been successfully removed from the future of Bridgeport property owners. However, it is important to see what is done locally by the WPCA, the Bridgeport City Attorney office and the collection process ongoing, to adjust, so that no unintended result ensues. We owe a special thanks to Johnny Ray Moore for his efforts in bringing these complex issues to light and a special thanks to Senator Marilyn Moore and other local legislators for the passage of this bill by Governor Malloy.

Local hearings to be held soon offer citizens an opportunity to submit letters, listen for more detail, or ask questions. Keep a lookout!! Time will tell.

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9 Comments so far ↓

  • Frank Gyure

    Too many people of Bridgeport were ripped of by the WPCA and their patronage attorneys. A past due amount of couple of hundred dollars escalated to a thousand dollars plus. The threat of foreclosure over such a small amount was terribly disturbing. This is one extreme case of “the insiders” literally financially raping the people of Bridgeport. Yes.,. WPCA needs to be paid but it should have NEVER EVER gone to the foreclosure level. Shame on all involved and this goes back to the Finch Administration.

    • Lisa Parziale

      The fear of foreclosure because of late WPCA charges has been a fear that too many have lived with for years. I applaud everyone, local as well as state individuals for finally stepping up. However, please someone, anyone, correct me if I’m wrong and I will apologize for my misunderstanding of how this issue became up front and finally addressed. Wasn’t it former Judge Carmen Lopez who was approached by some council members seeking her assistance, both legally and humanly regarding this debacle? She did the heavy lifting, got the ball rolling, and then others jumped on the bandwagon. I must admit it does make for a great speaking point for anyone running for public office. Hey, when I was an elected official I honestly used every tool in my box to promote what I accomplished, the difference with me is I didn’t plagiarize or take credit for what someone else started.

  • Donald Day

    Lisa, it was kickstarted by councilor Enida Martinez who herself and others were recipients of this outrageous behavior. While Judge Lopez acted on the glaring injustice it was Senator Moore that championed this through the State legislature to make this behavior illegal.

    I think when you frame your response as, “jumping on the bandwagon” you do a disservice to all those involved in changing how people of little of no means save their hopes, homes and dreams. I think what we lose sight of is that doing good is it’s own reward and receiving credit isn’t what anyone involved wanted or asked for.

  • Lisa Parziale

    Donald, I’m personally aware of how and when Judge Lopez was approached for her expertise and assistance in this matter. Lydia did not get the ball rolling, she may have advised the council members that did ask the Judge for assistance, but it was not my friend Lydia who moved it to a point where it became a public reality. It was former Judge Carmen Lopez who exercised her experience and formal background, spent dozens of hours working very closely with the relevant council members, prepared all legal forms and documents, and it then became evident that the City Attorney’s were no match for what she prepared. With that said, it was not then, nor is it now my intention to dismiss anyone who played a part in bringing this outrageous practice to the fore. It does, however, piss me off that the Judge’s name was never mentioned in the prologue of this discussion. I believe in fairness and acknowledgment, and that is not the case at this point. I’m extremely discerning when I use names. The only name I used was former Judge Carmen Lopez because I absolutely know how and when this started. I strongly and sincerely believe that you’re not aware, to the extent I am, or you would not have gently admonished me. But, I repeat what I’ve said many times before, I admire and respect you, because of that I appreciate your response to anything I post. If I’m off, I will profusely apologize, but in this situation, I’m not. Do a little more digging and you’ll see.

    • Ron Mackey

      Lisa, it was Eneida Martinez from the 139th district. City Council members were told about State Senator Marilyn Moore and the Legislature and championed Substitute House Bill No. 5509, An Act Concerning Water Pollution Control Authorities. The bill passed both the House and Senate and was signed by Governor Dannel P. Malloy on June 14, 2018 to be effective July 1, 2018. The City Council didn’t bring up this Substitute House Bill No. 5509, An Act Concerning Water Pollution Control Authorities, instead they were trying to something on their own with a City Ordinance and they were being threatening by two attorneys bringing false charges against them. Judge Lopez was working to protect them but they got scare.

      • Lisa Parziale

        I gotcha Ron, now that makes sense. I’m only commenting on what transpired at the local level, i.e. the City Council. That’s good information and I appreciate reliable information, thank you for taking the time to enlighten me. Again, I thank all that were involved, at whatever level, this was a long time coming. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but I still feel that the Judge should have been acknowledged for her involvement. She has no idea I put my two cents in, I hope I don’t get gently admonished again.

  • Donald Day

    Lisa, I apologize if you think feel or believe that I was gently admonishing you because that wasn’t where my heart was at the time. I merely felt the need to set the record straight on the who, what, when and where of the situation at hand.

    I know first hand that Enida started the ball rolling on this and the the good judge in her infinite wisdom assisted from that point and the Senator Moore added to this by introducing legislation to rectify this glaring injustice. My point was merely to suggest that if praise was to be administered then it should be to all three ladies that fought to bring about change and that I’m equally sure that all three ladies understand that doing good is it’s own reward. We good?

    • Lisa Parziale

      Donald, we will always be good! You are one of the “good guys” and I learn so much from your knowledge and understanding of this City. Sometimes I “jump the gun” but, I always appreciate when someone I trust sets the record straight for me. Thank you.

  • John Marshall Lee

    For the record, and for those who raised the important role Judge Carmen Lopez played in preparing the City Council for action, as I wrote the article today, it was to direct attention to this conclusive action at the State level. No more foreclosures while PURA is the agency of record, at least in the near term.

    Perhaps someone from the Council may take up the story of just what the moratorium has accomplished and what action if any the City will take to mesh City and WPCA process to fit with the bill’s language? I first became aware of the problems and concerns from John Ray Moore who was NAACP Housing Committee Chair. His experience and knowledge preceded that of any other official locally in my opinion. Time will tell.

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