Newton: Hold Off On City Council Presidency Election Until Everyone Seated

As a court battle plays out to determine the Democratic candidates in the City Council’s 133rd District, maneuvering is underway to select a new legislative leader December 4 to replace outgoing Tom McCarthy. But incoming council member Ernie Newton who served as council president back in the early 1980s says there’s no compelling reason to choose a new council president. He’s urging a vote delayed until all council members are seated.

“Everyone should have a say-so on the next council president,” says Newton.

Big Mac will still be a seated council member, based on City Charter language, as well as Jeanette Herron until resolution of a court challenge by Bob Keeley who’s contesting absentee ballots from the Democratic primary do-over. The district general election is scheduled for Dec. 12.

But does that mean McCarthy still remains president until a successor?

From the charter:

At the beginning of each term of office the city council shall elect from among its members one council member to be president of the city council who shall serve for a term until November 30 of the next odd-numbered year or until the president of the council’s successor has been elected.

McCarthy says he will stay on to represent the district until a successor is elected, but remaining as council president in the interim is not something he wants to do. He says he will cast a vote for council president if a vote advances on Monday.

Herron’s name has been floated as a potential candidate for council president. East Side councilor Aidee Nieves is also among the mix. East End council member Eneida Martinez has expressed interest in the position. South End/Downtown councilwoman Denese Taylor-Moye and AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia from the North End 134th District as well. And then, there’s Newton who says he’d like the position he had way back in 1981. In discussions with council members it appears Nieves and Taylor-Moye have the most votes.

The City Attorney’s Office will likely make a ruling on the particulars of a council presidency vote, with the legislative branch in unchartered territory.

From Chapter 5, Section 1(c) City Charter

Council members shall serve for a term of two years from the first day of December next succeeding their election and until their successors are elected and have qualified.

From the charter:

At the beginning of each term of office the city council shall elect from among its members one council member to be president of the city council who shall serve for a term until November 30 of the next odd-numbered year or until the president of the council’s successor has been elected. The president of the city council shall preside in the absence of the mayor, and when so presiding shall have a casting vote in case of a tie in addition to his/her vote as council member. In the absence of the mayor and the president of the city council at any meeting, the city council may choose one of its members to act as president for the occasion who, when so presiding, shall have a casting vote in case of a tie in addition to his/her vote as council member. In the event of the death, resignation or inability to act of the president of the city council, the council shall elect another president in his place.

… The mayor shall preside at the meetings of the city council, but shall have no vote therein except in case of a tie. The mayor shall not vote to break a tie in the election of city council president or adoption of an ordinance.

… In the event that the mayor is temporarily absent or temporarily disabled and is, because of such absence or disability, unable to perform the duties of his office, the president of the city council shall possess all of the powers and perform all of the duties of the mayor until the mayor is able to act.

… In the event that a vacancy occurs, for any reason, in the office of mayor, the president of the city council shall act as mayor, until the office of mayor is filled as provided in subSection (c) of this section.

Whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of mayor, other than during the final year of such mayor’s term of office, the city council shall cause a special election for the office of mayor to be held not less than 120 nor more than 150 days from the date that such vacancy occurs. The person elected mayor at such special election shall take office on the 7th calendar day following his/her election and shall serve the unexpired portion of the term vacated. In the event the vacancy occurs during the final year of the mayor’s term, the president of the city council shall become mayor and serve for the unexpired portion of the term vacated.

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35 comments

  1. Christina Smith got 995 votes in a off year election in the 130th district is truly amazing, Smith got more than 200 votes more than any other City candidate other than her running mate Pete Spain who received 929 votes. As the City Council now moves to select their leadership and Smith and Spain have demonstrated that they have the leadership to get voters out and need to be in the leadership of the City Council.

  2. Ernie makes absolute common-sense. McCarthy’s term has expired. Jeanette and Mike will most likely be the council reps for the 133rd. Why not wait until the entire Council is duly elected and seated before making a decision who the next president will be? How in
    good conscience can McCarthy cast a vote for this position when legally he’s no longer a member of the body? For the love of God, this man has caused more controversy than Testo ever has. We had to buy him out of a job he had no right to have while serving on the Council, now he wants to stay to cast a vote while he no longer holds a position. He reminds me of a baby weaning off its mother’s milk. Bive it up Tom!!!

  3. Lennie, Bubba will have to be patient, the issue of Council President is important especially given the unique circumstances. The wrong action on this could set a precedent.

  4. Mr. Newton is right, wait until the court rules. The way it looks to me the Evil Empire did not want Bob Keeley to win a seat on the City Council. First on absentee ballot mysteriously appears. Then a dizen more without postmarks are hand delivered by a Bridgeport Police Officer. Max Medina, the court appointed overseer, could not get a straight answer about those. I’ve been waiting all day to learn what occured in Judge Bellis’ court room today.

  5. Its back to court again tomorrow.
    There was some sort of testimony today that the Chief of Police assigned two police officer full time to go to peoples houses to collect absentee ballots.
    You have got to be kidding me!!!
    Why don’t you try to solve a murder or two rather than trying to figure out who is going to win the council seats in the 133rd???

    1. According to Find Law “A subpoena is a request for the production of documents, or a request to appear in court or other legal proceeding. It is court-ordered command that essentially requires you to do something, such as testify or present information that may help support the facts that are at issue in a pending case. The term “subpoena” literally means “under penalty”. A person who receives a subpoena but does not comply with its terms may be subject to civil or criminal penalties, such as fines, jail time, or both.”

      Judge Bellis made it clear the court has no time or patience for bullshit. If Testa and DeFilippo decline to answer a subpoena the court will hold them in contempt.

        1. Lisa,

          George Bohannon, the Assistant State’s Attorney handling the case, has subpoena power and a sympathetic judge. She has shown disdain for Joseph P. Ganim and the corrupt politics of Bridgeport.

  6. The city charter is open to interpretation.
    An election did occur and the term of the incumbents ended. There has been court intervention. The judge did not extend the terms of the incumbents. Had there not been an election, McCarthy would continue in office. There was an election though, and his term of office is ending.

    1. Tom, the city charter language was presented to Judge Bellis in court to configure a timeline of how the special election would bump against the term of office. So she was made aware of the charter language and the parties are operating on an extended term until filled via the general election for the district which is scheduled for Dec. 12, unless the judge orders another Dem primary.

  7. From this morning’s Connecticut Post:

    BRIDGEPORT – City Democratic Chairman Mario Testa was a no-show in court Monday as a police officer testified he was ordered to assist Testa and his hand-picked candidate for city council to collect absentee ballots for the special primary.

    Testa’s named echoed through the Main Street courtroom but there was no response as he was called to the witness stand before Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis.

    The judge appeared perplexed as the hearing’s second scheduled witness, council candidate Michael DeFilippo, also failed to respond to his call to the stand.

    Robert Golger, the lawyer for both Testa and DeFilippo, told the judge that while both men had voluntarily come to court for the hearing on Friday, they would not attend again without a subpoena or court order.

    “Are you telling me now that you are not producing Mr. Testa without a subpoena?” the judge asked.

    “I’m not going to produce him without a subpoena,” Golger responded.

    “Is he here?” the judge asked.

    “He is in the vicinity,” Golger said.

    Robert Keeley, who lost a primary for the second time for the seat in the 133rd district against the Democratic Party-endorsed candidates, is again seeking to have the judge overturn the results.

    He succeeded last month when Bellis ordered a new primary and continued the election for the district seat to Dec. 12. Keeley had lost that primary by a single vote which turned out to be in an absentee ballot that turned up during a recount.

    During the second primary on Nov. 14, Keeley lost by 18 votes.
    Keeley’s lawyer, M. Leonard Caine III, later said the failure of Testa and DeFilippo to come to court Monday raises many questions. He said he is going to look at other means to get them in court.

    “I want to look at other aspects of the law,” he said.

    The third witness on the list was very willing to testify.

    Officer Paul Nikola said he was on patrol Nov. 13, when he was dispatched to the office of Police Chief Armando Perez.
    “He (Perez) said Mario Testa needed someone to pick up absentee ballots,” Nikola said.

    Nikola, a 30-year veteran of the police force, said he was surprised at the request since he had never collected absentee ballots before.

    Besides, another officer had already been assigned to the town clerk’s office to pick up absentee ballots from voters unable to bring them in themselves.

    “I met him (Testa) at his pizza parlor and he introduced me to Mike, one of his workers who was putting together a list (of the absentee ballots). I gave him my phone number and he (Testa) said he was going to call me with the list,” Nikola testified.
    “I came to learn that Mike was Michael DeFilippo,” he added.
    Nikola said he then drove around the city’s North End in his police car as he was texted addresses to go to get absentee ballots. He said it was his impression that a majority of the addresses he was going to were of elderly or disabled people but acknowledged under questioning by Caine that one of the ballots was of a voter born in 1997 and another in 1981. On Alice Street he was told to take the ballot from the mailbox.

    Local lawyer Maximino Medina Jr., who had been appointed to monitor the primary by the judge, testified that on the morning of Nov. 14, he went to the mail room at City Hall where some absentee ballots had been delivered. He said the supervisor of the mail room, Jack McDowell, told him he had brought the bundle of 15 ballots over from the post officer — but 12 did not have post marks.

    “I asked Mr. McDowell if that was unusual and he said no, but he couldn’t show me an example of it,” Medina said.

    Residents of the Northbridge Health Care Center on Main Street get to vote in elections though a mandated program called supervised balloting in which employees of the city’s Registrar of Voters process their ballots at the center.

    Democratic Registrar of Voters Santa Ayala testified at the hearing Monday that Northbridge residents often vote this way.
    But on the day of the special primary not one vote was cast at Northbridge.

    “Voters refused to cast their ballots,” Ayala testified. “They were confused.”

    But Medina testified that he went to the convalescent home on the day of the special primary and no one there appeared to know the voting was taking place.

    Testimony in the hearing is to continue Tuesday afternoon.
     

  8. If Testa and DeFilippo are a No-Show again today, Judge Babs will slap their ass with a BENCH WARRENT for Contempt!
    The Judge has been more than fair with Chairmen Mario and his Tapster.

    Seat Keeley Now!!!

    1. Sonny, Take your meds.

      Subpoenas compelling both men to appear in court to give testimony. If either ignores the subpoena THEN a bench warrent will be issued.

      1. “Robert Golger, the lawyer for both Testa and DeFilippo, told the judge that while both men had voluntarily come to court for the hearing on Friday, they would not attend again without a subpoena or court order.”

          1. Ah…  
            Robert Golger can challenge the subpoena. Unless his clients are suffering from apoplexy there is no reason they will not appear.

    2. To reiterate,

      “A subpoena is a request for the production of documents, or a request to appear in court or other legal proceeding. It is court-ordered command that essentially requires you to do something, such as testify or present information that may help support the facts that are at issue in a pending case. The term ‘subpoena’ literally means ‘under penalty’. A person who receives a subpoena but does not comply with its terms may be subject to civil or criminal penalties, such as fines, jail time, or both.”

  9. A police officer was assigned and on hand in the Town Clerk’s Office to assist in getting ballots from AB users in the City to the TC office and then transmitted to Registrar of Voters office from 9 AM to 8 PM.
    However, a call to Chief Perez from a non-City elected and non-City employed VIP was persuasive enough to pull an officer off patrol and have him collect from a “selective” group of signed out ABs. Interesting PUBLIC SERVICE?
    And then answering questions from a judge is something to be avoided? Where you have to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you”? Is this an ultimate confrontation of “speaking” “truth to power”? I wonder what has some folks tongue tied at the moment? Time will tell.

    1. At this point it is a safe bet everyone has seen reruns of “Law & Order” often enough to know no one lawyers up unless there is something to hide.

      Robert Golger has his work cut out. Officer Nikola’s testimony was pretty damning.

      1. TBK,
        Past actions are tough to live down, because it requires “living up” to newer and supposedly higher standards!! And when your are “Acting” and waiting for Civil Service leadership that is also “Acting” after a few years it gets “plain stupid” to anticipate “higher standards” doesn’t it? And Charter language that requires a Board or Commission member to be a resident and registered voter? How is that working out?
        How long will all of this “Only in Bridgeport” notorious activity to flash through the rest of CT awaiting an explanation by our “second chance” Mayor with gubernatorial aspirations?

        The Bridgeport taxpayer indeed all of the residents work on the DTC plantation where Master M.T. calls the shots. Did a Bridgeport officer find himself in a Fairfield Pizza location while doing Bridgeport election duties? How does that work? Time will tell.

        1. We’ve seen the manipulation of absentee ballots again and again nd again. Lydia Martinez had a few close shaves. Now this is coming out in court. It may not end in prosecutions but the memory will linger. The appearance of impropriety is more than enough.

  10. This crap goes on and on. Chief Perez is a Ganim piss boy. Ganim has kept him as police chief because of what he did not testify to.
    First off Perez is not qualified to be Police Chief, I dont believe he has the educational back ground required by the Charter.
    Perez has shown he will follow orders from democratic officials other than the mayor, he has also shown that he will do dumb things like remove the word Police from department wind breakers.
    While its admirable that police are being trained in
    more de-escalation training for officers to avoid violent confrontations who is going to train the shit heads that cause these confrontations. How many of you would let someone spit in your face and do nothing about it. Under Perez I guess you are supposed to smile and ask the person not to do it again.
    BTW notice to Police UNION PRESIDENT get your head out of Perez’s ass . To the union body get rid of this political kiss ass

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