Nieves Raises Conflict Of Interest Questions Over City Council Members’ Attempted UB Land Grab, Two Councilors Affiliated With Firm To Benefit

UPDATE: City Councilman Michael DeFilippo contacted OIB with this statement: “I’m not on the board of directors of bpt labs. I have a notary stamped letter stepping down early last month after I started to feel uneasy about the true motives of this thing.”

Original story: City Council President Aidee Nieves has asked the City Attorney’s Office to issue an opinion on a resolution authored by councilors Jorge Cruz and Alfredo Castillo “to create a task force to review and recommend specific strategies to acquire the charter and assets of the University of Bridgeport, referred to Education and Social Services.”

Problem with this resolution, the organization that would benefit is Bridgeport Labs whose board of director includes council members Cruz, Castillo and Michael DeFilippo who was on but has resigned. In addition City Clerk Lydia Martinez is secretary. Conflict? Ya think?

Ramya Subramanian is president of Bridgeport Labs. She’s a former actress who owned a short-lived restaurant in Stamford.

From Bridgeport Labs website:

One of the purposes of Bridgeport Labs is, through its board membership and community support, seeks to acquire a private educational charter for conversion as a public university certified to be certified as a US DOI Minority Service Institution (MSI) thus joining the MSI ranks of prestigious minority universities.

South End community activist Kate Rivera sounded the storm clouds on social media of politically connected “working to tank the UB/Goodwin deal behind the scenes.”

Goodwin University is one of two higher-ed institutions poised to assume the assets of UB, a key economic driver for the South End connected to Seaside Park.

In addition State Senator Dennis Bradley has been maneuvering preemptively to support his political pals, writing letters to the Department of Justice and New England Commission of Higher Education questioning the veracity of Goodwin’s takeover which is supported by Governor Ned Lamont and Mayor Joe Ganim.

But what of Bradley, council members et al. conflicts?

What would get the immediate attention of federal investigators? Council members sticking their noses into private education to wire a deal in which the organization they represent benefits. On top of that, Bridgeport’s City Clerk is the organization’s recording secretary.

Fire up the grand jury.

Some of the same players were involved in trying to locate a cricket field in Seaside Park. It was rejected by the Parks Board.

The resolution is scheduled to be referred to committee Monday night. See agenda here.

Cruz, in a text message, says there’s no conflict:

Remember, that it was Goodwin, University of Bridgeport and the mayor who did all of the deals secretly. As co-chair of the Education and Social services committee I had all of them including Sacred heart attend our public meetings and yet they wouldn’t answer any questions because according to them they had signed a Non Disclosure agreement. The Mayor is guilty of the secret. Our efforts are not secret one bit, it was reported by the CTpost a while ago. Aidee Nieves was part of our team at the beginning and she knows she’s full of it. There’s no damn conflicts here. LOL WEEPA WEEPA



  1. Thanks again Kate, pay to play Bridgeport, these Democrats are still playing follow leader, Joe Ganim played the game and now some of his team members are playing the game.

    1. Michael Defilippo involved in some type of land deal scheme? Say it ain’t do!!! Maybe he wants to locate another liquor store where one is not allowed!???? Just kidding of course, but the fact he that he was placed on Bridgeport Labs which is self described as a “minority nonprofit, organized as a economic development corporation“ is first a conflict of interest, which is why of course he quickly issued that letter, and secondly, highly suspect because anyone who really knows him, knows he could care less about minorities. He is and has been a shill, planted by Mario et al to benefit himself and the corrupt people we always opine about. You the citizens of Bridgeport voted him in despite all of his shady dealings. I don’t know if this deal will or would be a plus for Bridgeport but obviously, with these shady characters involved it is highly suspect. Who benefits? That’s the question. Fire up the grand jury you say?!! Lennie, go back and research what I wrote on OIB about this guy and I’m not talking about the liquor store issue. I’m talking about his and other peoples high hopes for him in Bridgeport’$ Politics. Yes that was a $ not a S.

  2. Agreed. First of all, I cannot remember when the council passed a resolution in which they also named the members to be placed on a committee.
    Pass the resolution and empower the president to name the members. However, when you call into question the motives of a committee of the council you are calling into question the motives of the entire council. The president is a bit careless in questioning their motives without removing them from the committees as a whole.
    Then Mike DeFilippo produces a motorized letter stepping down from the board dated last month yet he didn’t show this to Aidee at the time (or did he) but waited until it made the news before he made it public.
    What a mess! And they think they are qualified to determine who runs UB in the future? Please.

  3. But I am a bit remiss in not thanking Kate Rivera for once again revealing the true motives of people serving in public office in Bridgeport.
    Keep it up Kate. Thank you.

  4. Before commenting I checked the Department of the Interior, Office of Civil Rights web page to see how they described The Minority Serving Institution Program.

    I also checked with the Commercial Recording Division of the Office of the Secretary of State to determine what Bridgeport Labs, Inc claims to be and who are the individuals involved.

    The content of the council resolution is laughable. It appears to be a compilation of social justice warrior expressions.

    Kate Rivera’s instincts are solid. Mike DeFilippo was wise to exit the relationship.

    As a UB graduate (MBA) and former adjunct professor, I am saddened by the demise of UB as an independent institution. I am aware that UB and Goodwin College will soon be making an announcement regarding the structure of the new institution on part of the south end campus.

    I hope the City Attorneys’ office takes a close look at this.

  5. In a moment of full transparency, Only In Bridgeport profits from doing business with Bridgeport Labs Inc through their advertising dollars. See below.
    So did somebody say call in the Grand Jury?

    1. Bob,this administration is rotten from the top down,nothing that goes on surprises me. And Aidee asking the City Attorney’s Office to “issue an opinion” on this is a joke as well…

  6. Hey Ron,
    Just wanted to let you know that I saw yours and mine favorite police consultant and MSNBC this morning and he was saying the shooting of the 13 year old kid in Chicago was perfectly fine. So we can rest well tonite knowing that.

  7. Are we being informed that several members of elected Bridgeport governance are participants in a plan that would change the direction of a current magnificent landholding where the University of Bridgeport has survived and grown in recent years until COVID provided added challenges? Where did the plan for an operating private not-profit University with certain UB programs, SHU, Goodwin College, and Paier Art School change and where is the Trusteed leadership of that institution stand at the moment? Where does the City show the story of how Bassick HS was most recently relocated from a West End site, with a building designed for it, without major climate threat, to a site on the UB campus, for a price of $6 Million but many questions unanswered by the Mayor (who has been busy helping distribute HUD funds to small businesses, and the first of these has a fishy name, but no allegations of impropriety at this time? As I read the “Whereas” statements above I remain confused as to how relatively silent, non-combative, and uninvolved City Council representatives have been for years in providing a counterpoint to the City meager funding of the BOE budget and how that results in programs and results that underperform our youth overall and send them into the world underprepared?

    For the Council members participating in the not for profit headed by a former actress and temporary restaurant owner from Stamford, with no publicized ties to the future of Bridgeport or youth education, a non-profit does not mean no opportunity for financial benefit to those involved. There are many ways to benefit financially and if Council members are not aware of such, perhaps they will ask their own lawyer (or perhaps legal counsel supplied by the City at some point, for why those opportunities for self-aggrandizement are one basis for why some in the City see profound “conflicts of interest” at this time.

    If the FBI investigators have not left the City yet, perhaps they will see to it that elected City figures, are not implicated in a scheme to benefit personally from public dollars, please? Thank you Kate Rivera. Continue to LIVE THE QUESTION of how we reach leadership with vision, capability, and integrity in our City? Time will tell.


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