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Merry Christmas! City To Pereira: Accept Our Lawyer Or Pay Personally To Defend Human Rights Complaints

December 23rd, 2016 · 47 Comments · Education, News and Events

If Board of Education member Maria Pereira chooses her own legal counsel to defend complaints filed against her with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities she must pay for those services out of her own pocket, according to City Attorney R. Christopher Meyer who notified her that the city has retained the Hartford-based labor law firm FordHarrison to represent her interests in the age and racial discrimination allegations. Pereira is crying foul.

In a letter to Pereira, Meyer asserts that state law provides her indemnification against damage suits but does “NOT entitle you to select the attorney who will provide you with a legal defense at the expense of the City of Bridgeport Board of Education.”

Outgoing acting Superintendent of Schools Fran Rabinowitz filed a complaint with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities alleging discrimination based on race. Rabinowitz, 67, also claims age discrimination. Rabinowitz is white. So is Pereira who asserts the complaints were orchestrated by Rabinowitz who announced her resignation Oct. 5 declaring Pereira “created anarchy in the name of democracy.” Francine Carbone, principal of High Horizon Magnet School, also asserts she was “harassed” by Pereira. For background see here.

“Providing you with legal representation by FordHarrison LLP fulfills the Board’s statutory obligations,” writes Meyer. “Be advised that should you reject the legal representation provided pursuant to Conn Gen. Stat 10-235, the Board will not directly pay for, nor reimburse you for, alternative or private legal counsel. In addition to FordHarrison LLP, you are free to retain private legal counsel of your own choosing to represent your personal interests at your own expense.”

Pereira has demanded legal counsel of her choosing because she has litigation matters pending against three board members in which she’s challenging Mayor Joe Ganim’s authority to fill vacancies if the school board does not act within 30 days. Pereira challenged the city’s legal interpretation in court. Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis sided with the city. Pereira has appealed. Pereira wants Kevin Smith who represents her in that legal case to fend off the CHRO allegations.

In an email response to Meyer and Board of Education Chair Joe Larcheveque, Pereira declares:

This is not acceptable to me.

I have already spoken with my attorney regarding you and Dennis being listed as witnesses for Fran Rabinowitz, yet you did not disclose that on Tuesday. You chaired the portion of the meeting where I tried to add the CHRO complaints and voted against doing so although you are a witness for Fran Rabinowitz which is a very real conflict and unethical.

You allowed three board members I have pending litigation against to vote against adding these CHRO complaints to the agenda which was also unethical.

Please provide me with a copy of the retainer with FordHarrison LLP.

I am also requesting a list of every case FordHarrison LLP has represented the City of Bridgeport and the Board of Education on. I also want Shipman & Goodwin to disclose its relationship with FordHarrison LLP.

I also want copies of all communication with any Board of Education staff, Board of Education members, Shipman & Goodwin, Mayor Ganim’s administration, Fran Rabinowitz, and FordHarrison LLP regarding all the CHRO complaints listed in the memorandum and my representation in any of these matters.

I am going to write a formal letter to the head of the CHRO regarding your conduct, Bradley’s conduct, the City Attorney’s conduct and Thomas Mooney’s conduct.

I want a complete hold on these complaints until the matter of the legal representation I am entitled to is addressed.

Generally, ones enemies don’t get to choose your legal counsel.

This is war.

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47 Comments so far ↓

  • Maria Pereira

    Fran Rabinowitz filed another complaint against the Bridgeport Board of Education dated December 8th. There are now five CHRO complaints. Three against the Board of Education, one against both me and the BBOE, and one just against me.

  • Grin Ripper

    Merry Christmas! Ho! Ho!! Ho!!!

  • Tom White

    Maria, these complaints have no merit. The complaints appear to be intended to get under your skin (and they apparently are). How were they harmed? Do your research on CHRO complaints and present it to the City Attorney to use. If they don’t, you can address the commission. Be reasonable as to how you direct your energy.

    • Bob Halstead

      Hey Tom, whatever happened to your case against the City? It seemed to be a good one.

    • Ron Mackey

      Once again here we have someone giving Maria good advice just like others have on different subjects, and trust me, she will not “Be reasonable as to how she directs her energy.”

    • Maria Pereira

      Tom, I am not giving the City Attorney a thing. The City Attorney’s office is filled with party hacks who have been bought and paid for. We aren’t talking about honest, ethical and competent attorneys.

      Thomas Mooney and Shipman and Goodwin are charlatans who have absolutely no ethics. Thomas Mooney is a personal friend of Fran Rabinowitz and negotiated her contract on her behalf with the Board of Education.

      These two are waist deep in everything that has transpired with Fran Rabinowitz including these CHRO complaints and the boycott.

      I consider these entities to be my enemies. Since when is it acceptable to have your enemies choose your legal representation you aare legally entitled to?

      They don’t get under my skin, Tom. I get under theirs, which is why they do these things.

      You know why I can easily raise money for litigation? I simply go to Mayor Ganim’s enemies. And there are many wealthy former supporters who are happy to oblige.

      I know these cases have absolutely no merit, however you must always be prepared. That is something I always like to be.

  • Jimfox

    Merry Christmas to all OIBers.

  • Steven Auerbach

    Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas to all and a very Happy Kwanza and New Years as well as a safe Holiday and Winter season to all. I certainly hope I was inclusive.

      • Steven Auerbach

        Gage, you should know better. Eid al-Adha is the second holiest day of the Muslim calendar. It commemorates the day Ibrahim (Abraham according to the Jewish text) was commanded to sacrifice his son. The Jews believe that son was Issac. The Muslims believe it was Ishmael (his son with Hagar his Egyption servant) as opposed to the son of Sarah his wife.
        But I digress. According to Islam, the holiday is in September, sometimes October because their calendar like the Hebrew calendar is not based on a 12-month system, which is why this year Jews celebrate Chanukah the same Evening of Christmas Eve. Of course Chanukah was celebrated by Jesus as was Rosh Hashana as well as Yom Kippur, the two holiest days of the Jewish Calendar.

        Bottom Line–this holiday is not now, funny man!!! I know my stuff, huh??

  • Steven Auerbach

    Last night at a pre-Xmas eve gathering, we were wondering if R. Christopher Meyers was still with the city. Now we know! Cannot wait for all these lawsuits to be over with so we can start dealing with real issues with the Bridgeport School System.

    There should be a referendum open to only parents of Bridgeport public schools asking if we should get rid of the elected BBOE and get the state involved. It is time! Finch was before his time and Ganim may see this as his fight. Let the people who are affected have a voice and vote. Above board during the next election and let the pros and cons be made available.

  • Maria Pereira

    Steve, these are not “lawsuits.” They do not take place in a court of law.

    The most significant issue with our public schools is the severe underfunding. Maybe if everyone paid their taxes we could start to make a dent in the chronic underfunding of our schools. :)

    • Steven Auerbach

      Maybe if we had competent people on the board who had less of a political agenda and actually cared about the students as they claim, something constructive could get done. I maintain, let the parents vote and I can assure you they would dump Pereira in a heartbeat. Let the parents vote!

  • Maria Pereira

    Steve, there is no BOE member who has a stronger BPS Parent following than myself.

    They voted in 2009 when I was elected. They voted on the charter referendum in a presidential election with a high voter turnout in 2012 where the appointed board was easily defeated, and they voted to elect me in 2015 by over 10,000 votes.

    I’ll tell you what, Steve; why don’t you organize a debate between myself and you focused solely on the BPS and local, state, and national education policy.

    It will be easy enough to determine if I am “competent” or not. :)

    • Steven Auerbach

      Maria, There are many people who can give a judge the impression they are competent- You are totally documented. You are no idiot savant. You are just a person with a one-track mind. No outside interests. Your world is the BOE, which has become questionable to most of us. There is nothing else. You create dissension amongst groups. You may be right on certain issues but you are just a bad negotiator and you do not build bridges. Those who continue to support you have been bullied into doing so. Your neighbors on Nutmeg wish you’d stop knocking on their doors. You cannot ask them to vote for Ganim and then rip him apart. You cannot ask them to support Anthony and Nessa and then do character assassinations. You cannot ask the DTC to support Angel for DTC leader and then have a restraining order against him. You cannot pull a DTC ticket together and then absolutely destroy their character. Why the Fonsecas have not had a libel lawsuit against you is beyond me.

      When I run for Mayor and support Charter schools you can talk about foreclosures and back taxes because that is a sign of character. You are documented on this blog. Your character warrants that you are probably not the best choice for the BOE. Oh did I forget Dennis Bradley? He was your choice, he was the man. You were so impressed with him and personally introduced me to him.

      You do not see the problem but Parents do. I wonder what the parent associations think of you? The teachers? Jessica Martinez. According to you she was supposed to be gone by now. She has a child in the Bridgeport School System, she has a huge support group. Whatever happened to Kate Rivera? I have heard wonderful things about her. She was temporarily on the school board. I do not know what to say. Maria, you certainly do know the subject you spend 24/7 looking into. Maybe a vacation or an outside diversion would help you relate to the rest of the residents in this city. There have to be other topics that interest you. I do not believe you are incompetent at all.

      I just believe a State panel that was appointed above board and not behind your backs would be best for the city. I believe it would be best for the students. I think it would be best for the teachers. I totally believe it would be more professional and not Ganim-centric.

      Why would I want to debate you on BPS Local, State and National policy? Seriously, I could be less interested. I do care however for the education and reputation of the Bridgeport School system which is G-d awful.

      The good news for people is the new President of the United States support charter schools as well as his appointment. You may be able to fight City Hall and Joe Ganim but I think within the next eight years, your worst nightmare will become a reality.

      • Steven Auerbach

        Ray Fusci–you should have a special edit button so people can modify their posts after they are through. :-) TY Ray, Merry Christmas.

        [Sorry Steve, that would be way too dangerous and would quickly be abused. My suggestion to Frank goes for you as well, edit your post off-line, then copy and paste it in. And a Happy Chanukkah to you!--Ray]

        • Steven Auerbach

          Sounds good, Ray. Way too much work when you are multi-tasking. I do however appreciate your advice as always. Merry Christmas and a Happy New year! :-)

      • Ron Mackey

        Steve, you are more right than you realize, you put together the issues and problems Maria will NEVER get over, she’s a one-trick pony and it’s only about Maria and not the education of the Bridgeport students. She can’t expand her base because all she does is push people away, who wants to hear somebody always talking about how good they are but what the HELL has Maria done to make the education of Bridgeport’s students better? Answer, NOTHING.

  • Zena Lu

    Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all. Interesting Christmas Eve, as was this whole year. Let us hope for a blessed 2017.

  • Gary Tobin

    Should every voting resident in Bridgeport have a say in BOE matters?

    • Steven Auerbach

      I don’t think so! Most do not know the candidates and certainly have no investment in what happens in the classroom. Parents do!

      • Maria Pereira

        A third of every homeowner and commercial owners’ real estate taxes goes to fund our true public schools.

        I’ll be sure to let all my supporters know apparently I “bullied” them into it.

        Of course my neighbors on Nutmeg Rd. contacted you to inform you they want me to stop knocking on their door.

        You continue to rant, have no consistency in your posts, are unfocused and all over the place.

        I just lead a three-month effort to block the building of two apartment buildings in my neighborhood. I organized a community forum in September that had nothing to do with public education, and I just organized two highly successful Christmas tree lightings. What do any of these efforts have to do with the BOE?

        Public Education is governed by the states, not the federal government.

      • flubadub

        As a Bridgeport resident, taxpayer and registered voter, you’re damned right I have a right to a say in BOE matters.

        • Steven Auerbach

          Well flubadub, I can guarantee you if we knocked on 500 doors in any given neighborhood, less than 25 percent would be able to tell you two people on the BBOE. I’d be happy to walk sometime to prove my point. I am happy you are aware and want to be part of the process. I think the State takeover by Finch would have been successful if they took the time to explain the game plan and why. As a voter and taxpayer I supported the takeover because our schools are failing and felt a drastic measure was necessary.

  • Local Eyes

    Under the new administration, the federal government might play a larger role in public education. After all, the Education secretary is a cabinet-level position and the upcoming POTUS has given a strong indication about his involvement and dedication.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    First off, hope everyone has a great Christmas and a healthy and happy new year.

    Now back to the topic. Steve, I agree with everything you suggested in your post. Maria just can’t get along with people. With these suits against her now, what’s that make the total of litigations she’s involved in, eight or nine??? It’s crazy at this point. I think she should be suspended ’til all of them are processed and complete. She can’t possibly have a clear mind to help these kids with all the hate she has in her heart. Like I said previously, she has some issues that need addressing with her anger first. Maria, go get yourself some help, you can’t continue to go through life like this.

    • Maria Pereira

      Mr. Weintraub, I guess it’s safe to say you believe in propaganda.

      I have one lawsuit pending against Mayor Ganim to have Negron, Fonseca, and Weldon removed off the BOE.

      There are two CHRO complaints where I am named.

      What eight or nine litigation matters are you referencing?

      Please do list them all here.

      • Steven Auerbach

        What about the lawsuit against Charles Stallworth and the group that put put that literature talking about your past erratic behavior? Wasn’t that a lawsuit? Maybe they never materialized but like Harry Weintraub and most on this blog, they imagine you are looking to sue many people and groups. Maybe just hyperbole. Even I couldn’t fathom all the lawsuits it seemed you had. Glad it was a gross exaggeration.

  • Maria Pereira

    Harvey Weintraub, you should focus your time enjoying the holidays with your friends and family.

    My mind is fine. There is no one who has fought more for the well-being of our children than me. I doubt we have ever met, therefore you are not in a position to analyze me, sir.

    I will go through life as I so please. The nerve.

  • Local Eyes

    It’s easy analyzing Maria Pereira. That’s the downside of massive publicity. We’re all experts on MP.
    No fighting allowed, though. I have direct contact with Bridgeport School children. Maria Pereira does not. Consequently, I have done more for the children than she has. There are many successful people in Bridgeport–I encourage Maria Pereira to join their ranks.

  • JanRawlings

    As a taxpayer in Bridgeport, I should have a say not just in what the BOE does, but also in how my tax dollars are spent. If it were up to me, they wouldn’t be going to support Maria.
    I’ve volunteered and worked for some of the same things she does, (though I can’t say ‘with’ because it seems if Maria is involved she is the central character and all others are just props) and seen her favor shift too many times to count.
    When Maria feels like she’s losing the game she doesn’t just take her ball and go home, she blames everyone around her for not hitting the ball the way she told them to, takes down the bleachers, slashes the coach’s tires and then goes home.
    In a school district as large as Bridgeport, everyone should be working for the good of the children. I haven’t seen that happen in years. Stop the infighting, stop the bullying and grow the hell up.

  • Maria Pereira

    Ms. Rawlings, you are a Charter School supporter, and have not done anything of significance for our true BPS children.

    I believe I have been clearly on the record that I do not represent the interests of Charter school investors, staff or parents. I was elected by over 10,000 voters to represent the BPS schools. Those who serve on unelected Charter school boards are appointed to serve the interest of Charter schools.

    Therefore you are entitled to your opinion, however it is irrelevant to me.

    My record of losses are few.

    I was instrumental in the ouster of Dr. Ramos, Paul Vallas, Fran Rabinowitz, Mayor Finch, Hernan Illingworth, Kadisha Coates, etc.

    I will work tirelessly to defeat those who do not do what is in the best interest of our true public school students and do not respect true public school parents.

    I was critical to Dennis Bradley’s defeat for state Senate. I was critical to the defeat of the endorsed Democratic BOE candidates in 2013. I defeated Melanie Jackson and James Morton for City Council after they broke their word. My nine-member slate defeated 17 other 138th TC challengers in a clean sweep.

    You would probably know a lot more about losing than I would, therefore you are able to speak to “losing” in a informed matter when compared to my level of familiarity on this particular topic.

  • JanRawlings

    Your need to belittle people on a personal level is very disturbing. You’re also misinformed. All my children attended Bridgeport public schools.

  • Maria Pereira

    You, however, are a Charter School supporter and a member of FaithActs for Education; are you not? Your children likely attended the BPS due to your age and that Charter schools were not prevalent in Bridgeport during the ’70s and ’80s.

    You just wrote outrageous remarks about my dismantling bleachers, slashing tires, etc. and you are concerned about my remarks which are factual. Pure hypocrisy.

    Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

    By the way; I don’t take my ball and go home; I will instead take your ball and hit it out of the park while you stand there with your mouth hanging open and speechless. :)

  • JanRawlings

    I simply used a parallel of a child pouting about a perceived loss to the way you behave toward others who don’t agree with you. No personal attack at all.
    Again, you seem to be misinformed. I don’t support charter schools and I’m not a member of FaithActs for Education. My youngest child graduated from high school a year ago. They all attended BPS because I wanted them to, and while they attended I was very active in the school community.

  • Maria Pereira

    Of course posting my behavior is akin to dismantling bleachers and slashing the coache’s tires isn’t a personal attack?

    I don’t know you, however you cannot make ridiculous statements that have no basis in fact and think I will take it because I will not.

    If I was incorrect about who I thought you were, I apologize. I believed you were a particular member of FaithActs for Education.

  • Nick Celio

    This is hilarious. I miss Bridgeport. Happy New Year!

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