Mercury Rises Over Suds Flap

From Brian Lockhart, CT Post:

A City Council “informational session” on changing zoning rules controlling liquor sales threatened to turn into a rowdy bar brawl Wednesday night.

After hearing derogatory comments about his client, prominent zoning attorney Charles Willinger demanded, “Who are these guys to come over here and talk about my client like this?”

Willinger’s client, Michael DeFelippo, is a politically connected 29-year-old whose efforts to open a new liquor store in the North End have ignited a debate over whether Bridgeport’s zoning regulations are outdated.

>Full story here.

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11 comments

  1. From the CT Post article:
    Casco said he received approval from City Council President Tom McCarthy to hold the informational session. McCarthy, who did not attend the meeting, confirmed Casco’s remarks: “They (the rival liquor store operators) asked to talk to the council. I’m not going to say ‘no’ to anyone who asks.”

    McCarthy isn’t going to “say ‘no’ to anyone who asks?”

    That should be the headline!

    What about when John Marshall Lee shows up and asks? Let us know when you say “yes” to him, okay Mr. McCarthy?

    Whatever became of the promised report from the Airport Commission on the Moutinho driveway debacle? Mr. McCarthy, you and the ex-mayor were co-chairs of that commission, yes?

    What happened legally and financially with the Airport Commission’s handling of the driveway? Thanks to John Lee’s research and posts, readers of OIB know the Airport budget followed the Finch pattern of operating at hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars in losses. For whose benefit?

    Enough of the double standards.

    Enough of the extra and oft-inexplicable expenses to our city.

  2. Tom McCarthy,
    Will you please have a copy of the City Council rule book available at the Public Hearing this evening? Where does it show any opportunity for an “informational session” to be convened by one or more City Council members, presumably with such a matter discussed and voted upon by the entire Council in advance? In such a situation what are the rules to open such a meeting relative to a quorum? Public notice was apparently required, but were all the rules for that met? Has there been any discussion on the City Council during the past four months of the new session about what OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT and HONEST might mean in terms of a change in Council process? Were minutes taken and supplied to the City Clerk’s office?
    Do you believe your record as a City Council representative for your District with the additional responsibilities of an elected leader of the entire legislative body will be attractive to voters within the State Senatorial district? Will you be running on this record?
    With Federal, State and local budgets moving into the RED regularly, what experience will you point to as a “cost cutter,” budget monitor, fearless protector of the “taxpayer dollar?” What specific advice have you provided to the City Council where you appointed five brand new Council members to Budget and Appropriations where they have no staff to provide backup to them because of your “legislative assistant” vanishing act four years ago? Time will tell.

    1. There is no such thing as an informational session. If the public or interested parties want to speak about an issue they can sign up to speak before the entire council at the public hearing portion of the council meeting. Tom McCarthy has no authority to authorize this “made up” informational session. Shame on the City Clerk for sending out a notice regarding this meeting with no agenda or specifications. She knows better! Once you open that door, any interested party has a right to be present. This is getting out of control. I may support McCarthy just to get rid of him, we did it with Finch and had peace until John Stafstrom needed a Mayor he could control, and managed to talk Finch into coming back. Talk about history repeating itself!

  3. A City Council “informational session,” now that’s great!!! Community groups and others can get all the information they need from these “informational sessions” with City Council members.

    No John, take what is there right now and build on it. McCarthy has okayed “informational sessions,” just sign up for them. Pick the committee you want to talk to and put it in writing and ask for a written reply back. Now let them deny you and there is your case and issue, make them say no.

    1. Ron, thank you for some positive advice. However, as you know I attempt to be factually accurate, generally objective and law-abiding, so I will look for McCarthy to share Council rules. If the info is not in the rules, but subject strictly to leadership interpretation, then we are in a different place.
      By the way I will remind you as I have said in the past, when you have items of value, they call for protection. So Public Safety employees protect human lives and property and in smaller ways people you have lights, fences, locks, Neighborhood Watch groups AND WATCHDOGS to stay on the alert and bark.
      In the public sphere we have lost a City sense of what it means to be a genuine WATCHDOG. The RED RUBBER BOOTS I have used this year are ‘symbols’ of our underwater, all-wet position for both the current Operating Budget and City Balance Sheet. More later at the Public Hearing for this evening.
      By the way, not for nothing, is the State of CT operating budget $19 Billion? And is the Governor telling us the projections show it to be $900 Million in the RED? What does that work out to be? Five percent? 5%?
      If you are going out to dinner and realize the projected expense is 5% more than you have in your pocket very likely, don’t you adjust? Skip the appetizer? Cut out the dessert? (Don’t take it out on the server. Tip well if the service has been good.) Is it the end of the world? Why is it being made to sound that way? Time will tell.

      1. JML, I truly appreciate the time, work and information you provide all of us whether I agree or not. Unfortunately you are overwhelming those council members with your questions and the information that you provide and they are embarrassed because they really can’t answer your concerns but they can’t admit it. John, use the “informational session,” that way you can spoonfeed these members with less information so they can get to understand what you are saying.

        1. I am willing to attempt such if you will join me. Test such presentation against your own standards of “Too complicated” or ‘so simple as to be insulting to CC members.’ Help me get it right. (Do I expect such to happen in the near future?) Will you join me? Time will tell.

  4. Information sessions are not new. They have been held by previous councils. They must be posted by the city clerk and open to the public like any meeting of the city council and committees.
    There could be issues if there is a majority of council or committee members present.
    The issue in question is not before the city council. It is before the Planning and Zoning Commission which has legislative authority. Of course, they could also portray a gathering as a Democrat party caucus since all the council members are of one political party.

  5. This sounds like a little weasel deal, with the zoning change opposition being on the wrong side of a little conspiracy to quash debate on the merits (or lack thereof of the issue).

    The “good guys” aren’t supposed to play like that. The City Council isn’t supposed to sanction exclusionary meetings.

    And then, to berate the zoning-change applicant on old, legally and pragmatically mute minor legal issues, truly speaks to the questionable ethical and moral standing of those in the opposition (to the zoning change) who took the tack to meet in secrecy, as well as those on the CC who sanctioned/condoned such an ill-conceived opposition maneuver.

    This was definitely a “foul” against Attorney Willinger and Mr. DeFillipo. At the very least, this will cost the CC and the zoning change opposition a big chunk of good will from the public.

    Bad move! Not the way to secure the moral high ground! Shame!

  6. The last thing the people of the city of Bridgeport need or want is another goddamned liquor store. Michael DeFelippo ought to open a convenience store, sell tobacco, newspapers, candy, lottery tickets, beer.

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