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Retired Judge Lopez Shares Legal Insight Into Weldon School Board Seat, City Attorney Agrees, Six Seats Up For Grabs

July 6th, 2017 · 41 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, Education

Update: City Attorney R. Christopher Meyer on Thursday afternoon told OIB he agrees with the legal interpretation shared by Judge Lopez. “I have the utmost respect for Judge Lopez,” said Meyer. “I generally concur with her interpretation of the statute and will set forth a formal opinion within the next few days.” That opinion, he said, will be shared with the Office of the Connecticut Secretary of the State in which he’ll advise that John Weldon’s school board seat should appear on the November ballot to fill out the term ending 2019.

Original story. The city faces uncharted territory this election cycle in the number of Board of Education seats up for grabs because of a vacancy Mayor Joe Ganim filled following the resignation of Republican Kevin McSpirit who was replaced by John Weldon. With party endorsements weeks away, elections officials are uncertain if five, the traditional number this cycle, or six seats are up this November. OIB is awaiting an opinion from the City Attorney’s Office. Meanwhile, we reached out to retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez who was gracious to share her take on this with insight and sense of humor. It’s an engaging read.

We have to start with the election of Kevin McSpirit to a four-year term in 2015.

When he resigned, Chapter 15 section 1 (d) of the City Charter, was the controlling authority.

That section states that “if a vacancy arises for any reason in the membership of the Board of Education, the remaining members shall elect a new member for the balance of the term vacated. The person so elected shall be a resident and elector and a member of the same political party as the member vacating such office.”

Because McSpirit’s resignation occurred during the (Dennis) Bradley-led boycott, no meeting was held and no replacement was chosen by the Board. For this we have to thank the Republican party, which endorsed the Bradley-Ganim boycott and prevented the Board from filling the vacancy.

Because the Board did not fill the vacancy, the City Attorney cited Section 7-107 of the General Statutes as authority for a mayoral appointment. As you pointed out, the statute reads, “Except as otherwise provided by law, if any vacancy occurs on any town board or commission, and such board or commission has power by law to fill such vacancy but fails to do so within 30 days after it occurs, the Board of Selectman or Chief Executive of such town, may appoint a qualified person to fill such vacancy until the next municipal election.”

Because the Mayor utilized this statute to appoint Mr. Weldon, to the McSpirit vacancy, the appointment can only last ’til the next municipal election, in this case, November 2017.

This is consistent with section 10-219 of the General Statutes, which provides, “if a vacancy occurs in the office of any member of the local board of education, unless otherwise provided by charter or special act, such vacancy shall be filled by the remaining members of said board, until the next regular town election, at which election a successor shall be elected for the unexpired portion of the term, the official ballot specifying the vacancy to be filled.”

It could be argued, that our Charter provision would supersede this statute, had the Board of Education voted to fill the vacancy. However, because Mayor Ganim, and presumably his legal team, relied on section 7-107, the seat is only filled until the November election.

Our election laws provide for the filling of an unexpired term. In section 9-167a(d) of the General Statutes, this scenario is clearly spelled out, “If the unexpired portion of a term is to be filled at the same time as a full term, the unexpired term shall be deemed to be filled before the full term, for purposes of applying this section. At such time as the minority representation provisions of this section become applicable to any board, commission, committee or body, any vacancy thereafter occurring which is to be filled by appointment shall be filled by the appointment of a member of the same political party as that of the vacating member.”

Therefore, the two-year term remaining from the “McSpirit” seat will be filled first.

There are currently three Democrats who are not up for re-election:
1. Ben Walker,
2. Maria Pereira, and
3. Dennis Bradley

Assuming a Democrat wins the two-year seat, this will mean that Democrats can win, no more than two (2) of the remaining four (4) year seats, because no more than 6 members of the Board can be members of a single political party. This would mean that all three members nominated on the Republican line would automatically win because only two Democrats can be elected to four-year terms, unless the Working Families nominates a slate and those candidates once again, out-poll Ganim’s (as my husband would say) wholly owned Republican subsidiary.

Because of this scenario, Driveway Mark Anastasi (associate city attorney) may contort himself into a pretzel in order to say that Weldon does not have to stand for election because his term does not expire until 2019.

I hope this is helpful to you as you work diligently to keep your readers informed and outfox those ‘say what you are told’ members of our $5.5 million a year city attorney’s office.

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41 Comments so far ↓

  • Maria Pereira

    I love you, Judge Lopez.

    I had assumed the candidate with the lowest vote count in November would automatically fill the remainder of McSpirit’s two year term with the 5 candidates with the higher vote counts winning a four year term.

    Thorough as always. Are you paying attention “Driveway Mark Anastasi”?

  • Maria Pereira

    John Weldon ran in 2009 and 2013 and could not get elected. He has an abysmal attendance record, has never offered a single savings recommendation, revenue generating idea, or policy that helps our students, families or staff.

    He has however voted exactly the way Danny Roach tells him to.

  • Grin Ripper

    Pretzel Logic!

  • Frank Gyure

    Do we really have a 5.5 million dollar City Attorneys Department. That sounds awfully high. Unfortunately the only City entity that can investigate that level of funding is the City Council and we know that the present CC just won’t do it- they will be told not to do it or they lack the courage or knowledge to do it.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Frank,
    Expenses in the City Attorney (CA) office (FY 2017 just ended projected to be balanced at end of May for June 30 closing at $5,497.938) have certainly climbed in the past decade. Using the CAFR annual reports available on the Finance site from 2006 FY where the approved budget for legal was $2,323,098 and eleven years later the final budget, 2016, indicates $4,598,279 a doubling. Seven of the eleven years showed overexpenditure by the department and four showed a surplus variance. Overall the average OVERAGE was $555,000.

    CA budget appears to have three main areas of expense:
    **Full time staff with benefits: the employed attorney number does not seem to have changed much though if you begin to question whether certain staff attorneys were carrying a full weight of responsibility while the taxpayer was contributing at 100%, some slack was noted.
    **Staffing for outside legal counsel especially where expertise within the City legal department was less expert. Has insight into who, how successful a strategy, and fiscal results ever been shared? (Think Pullman Comley with Stafstron – Bond Council and Pension A expertise; Bohannon – labor employment and various;etc,)
    **Actual legal settlements as a result of cases against the City (slip and fall, police car at fault in accident, etc.) as well as agreements where the City has to deal with costs when they agree to end a case (perhaps Wheelabrator, as an example, but maybe the negative results are recorded elsewhere?) Cases in front of the City at any time as a potential liability are known to but a few. What would that number look like? What is the risk of being wrong or over confident? Where are those cases warehoused in the meantime? Has administration improved?

    While we note the doubling of taxpayer funds,at nearly a 6% rate per year, can anyone identify the major driver that explains such increase? Time will tell.

    • Frank Gyure

      JML..thank you for the additional info. However,the additional info begs the following question;are all these various costs broken down into the various categories that you listed. I would think that the taxpayers of a municipality should know the breakdown of costs.

      • John Marshall Lee

        There may be a breakdown as such but it is not available to the taxpayer as such.
        Salaries and fringe are fairly easy to secure from the monthly financial report. Some settlements flow through City Council for approval,but others do not. And a review of purchases might show law firms, but you would not necessarily know whether the firm so identified is being paid for legal work for the City or to receive the settlement on behalf of a client. Why do you think such info should be available to taxpayers? Why do you think so few people seem concerned? Time will tell.

        • Frank Gyure

          Because,in a sense,it is OUR money and taxpayers have a right to know. Also,in general accounting principles,I would think that individualized line would be better to project cost,was there possibly an anomaly in settlements in one year and why? It goes back to your key words of OPEN(transparent) and honest government. Good governance would inspire trust and confidence between the electorate and elected officials. IMHO,this is lacking in Bridgeport. Why do so many seem unconcerned? Some don’t care. Some have given up hope and lost trust in government in Bridgeport,some are too busy and just fighting to stay afloat on a day-to-day existence. It’s hard to get involved and stay involved in civic affairs. It requires a level of dedication,perseverance and a “love and pride” of that particular neighborhood,city,state,country.

  • Jimfox

    It looks like Ganim will start his first cuts, in the CA’s office,
    chow Hamilton Burger!

    • Andrew C Fardy

      Well Jim I think you maybe wrong about Anastsia (Hamilton Burger).Many years ago he was made a assistant city attorney under civil service. I believe he is one of only a few that are civil service and would be amongst the last to get laid off.

      • Frank Gyure

        Unfortunately,Anastasi “should” be one of the first to go because he has developed an attitude that he does not answer to the people of The City of Bridgeport.Anastasi and Liskov are the co-conspirators in the City Attorney’s Office with the parasite lawyer,Judah Epstein, and the whole WPCA foreclosure mess. There is a positive reason for civil service.Civil Service would protect the “day-to-day” government employees from political patronage but,at the same time,IMHO,civil service employees cannot be allowed to develop an attitude that they are “safe” and their performance does not count as being servants to the people that should be serving. Yes…I Know..sounds utopian but there is nothing wrong with setting high standards.

      • Ron Mackey

        Why would someone who becomes the City Attorney of Bridgeport years (well over 10 years) and gets demoted was from being the City’s top attorney to becoming a Associate City Attorney with less power? One would thing that with the experience that Hamilton Burger has that there would be law firms looking for a Hamilton Burger to join their law firm, well what happen here?

  • Ron Mackey

    City Attorney R. Christopher Meyer on Thursday afternoon told OIB he agrees with the legal interpretation shared by Judge Lopez. “I have the utmost respect for Judge Lopez,” said Meyer. “I generally concur with her interpretation of the statute and will set forth a formal opinion within the next few days.”

    Of course City Attorney R. Christopher Meyer agrees because he doesn’t want the City to get their ass kicked again by Judge Lopez.

  • Donald Day

    I’m told that the thing Mayor’s love about Hamilton Burger is that he is fiercely loyal to whom ever the mayor is and will do anything they want to get the job done. That kind of loyalty is hard to find and even harder to sustain.

    • Ron Mackey

      Don, I agree with you but what kind of attorney would willing to go backwards. Look, we both know a number of attorneys personally and in fact your best friend is a white attorney that none of would go backwards with their career, so why would Hamilton Burger, I mean Mark Anastasi?

      • Andrew C Fardy

        gee that’s great it was necessary to point out the attorney’s race

        • Ron Mackey

          Of course, with people like you but I’m sure that it was not a big surprise to you that his best friend is white, right Andy?

          • Andrew C Fardy

            That’s right Ron its not a surprise. You know what would be a surprise? Its you acting as a caring human being and not a black racist.

          • Ron Mackey

            HuffPost

            Reverse racism isn’t real. No, really.
            The “reverse racism” card is often pulled by white people when people of color call out racism and discrimination, or create spaces for themselves (think BET) that white people aren’t a part of.  The impulse behind the reverse racism argument seems to be a desire to prove that people of color don’t have it that bad, they’re not the only ones that are put at a disadvantage or targeted because of their race. It’s like the Racism Olympics. And it’s patently untrue. 

          • Andrew C Fardy

            The Huffington Post a very very liberal publication is 100% full of shit. Part of what they say is true people think that there are no poor white people and that all whites live in good housing. On the reverse side blacks like you make it seem that blacks are at the bottom of the socio economic ladder which is not true. Ron why dont you say and do something about the murders here in Bpt I may be wrong but just about everyone of the murdered this year are black and those caught fortheir shootings are black

          • Ron Mackey

            Andy, come on now, you can do better than this, “you make it seem that blacks are at the bottom of the socio economic ladder which is not true.” Andy when we get to the top I’ll let you know.

            Andy, you also said, “Ron why dont you say and do something about the murders here in Bpt,” Andy, I’m not God and I don’t have the power over anyone except myself but I do pray about the lost of innocent life. Now you tell me Andy who is the white leader who has the power to stop the killing of innocent whites, I know it’s not you?

          • Andrew C Fardy

            Oh Ron give it a break you took what I said and turned it around. Lets face it blacks are at the bottom of the socio economic ladder because of many factors like quitting school, 1 parent homes girls getting pregnant and entering the welfare system where they stay. The men are killing each other t a record pace. Why should you say something because you know why its happening and NOONE is doing anything about it. Why is that? You mean the black community cant put the pressure on the city and state leaders to get something done. How about passing a law with a mandatory 5 or10 years in prison for carrying an unlicensed gun or rifle, no plea bargaining. Do you think after a while the massage will get out there . BTW Ron the same goes for whites

  • Ron Mackey

    Andy, blacks first arrived in America in 1619, also most 400 years, now tell me at what point and time did blacks become equal with whites?

    • Andrew C Fardy

      Here you go again when you run out of arguments you resort to history. As far as I am concerned they are equal. You may not think so because it would take away your argument. Is there a difference between a poor black family and a poor white family?

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Ron that is a ridicules question and the type of question and statement you make when you have no argument. Chris Rock is funny but he is a racist. What has he done to help poor blacks in the country. You see Ron there are enough rich and influential blacks in this country that can help the poor in some small way. Where have these blacks been in regards to the genocide taking place in Chicago?

    • Ron Mackey

      Andy, do you know American history? Because if you did you would know why blacks have little power in America.

      Chief Justice Roger Taney authored the Court’s Majority opinion in the Dred Scott decision. This is just a small portion of the separate but equal decision.

      They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race. It was regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics, which no one thought of disputing, or supposed to be open to dispute; and men in every grade and position in society daily and habitually acted upon it in their private pursuits, as well as in matters of public concern, without doubting for a moment the correctness of this opinion. 

      Andy, that was just 160 years ago and that’s not including Plessy v. Ferguson, (1896) and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) these were all U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Then it took the 1964 and 1968 Civil Rights laws to give all blacks the right to vote. Andy, poor whites and in fact all whites didn’t have to overcome these hurdles.

  • Ron Mackey

    Steve King Asks: What Have Minorities Contributed To Civilization? U.S. Congressman Steve King Iowa’s 4th congressional district. 

    https://youtu.be/tu-LBS_kpDQ 

    14/88 is a white supremecy code. 14 refers to the 14 words: “That the beauty of the white aryan woman will not perish from the earth.” 88 means Heil Hilter, as “H” is the 8th letter in the alphabet.
    One white supremicist would say to another “14/88 Heil.” And then they both burn in hell for being bigots.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    What are the code words the Black Panthers use or the words used by the Black separatists . The list goes on and on. Ron you have no argument put the history book down

    • Ron Mackey

      Andy, oh wow, the Black Panther Party, one organization that was around for 16 years and dissolved in 1982 and how many white hate groups are still around America today? You can start in the White House with Steve Bannon, President Trump’s chief strategist and the former executive chairman of Breitbart News of the so-called alt-right. Andy why don’t you tell me about Black Panthers?

      • Ron Mackey

        Andy, I didn’t even talk about the 250 years of FREE labor from slavery that build America while not having any rights and having their families torn apart and sold, 250 years not 7 years that poor whites at to work and then get their freedom.

  • Ron Mackey

    Andy, a lot of white immigrants coming to America came as indentured servants and worked between 4 to 7 years and in exchange for passage, room, board, lodging and freedom.

    • Andrew C Fardy

      Ron the Panthers are still here they were interfering with voting during Obamas second run for office. The panthers are a black anti white group. Ron is this a test. Hate groups try liberal democrats like former attorney General Lynch. The
      mayor and her staff in Baltimore,
      Black lives matter and the list goes Ron just a reminder 400,000 slaves came here and 12 million ere spread around the hemisphere why aren’t you talking about them? BTW who sent the slaves here

    • Robert Teixeira

      AND FREEDOM? So the were not free. 4 to 7 LOL

      Ron saying the Catholic Irish were indentured servants is like saying Africans were “unwilling participants in the expansion of agriculture” can’t you also say Africans received passage, room, and board and freedom themselves as “unwilling participants in the expansion of agriculture”? SMH

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrHVX1lrroY

  • Robert Teixeira

    Andy Ron’s question is not as ridicules as it sounds. “Would you trade places in life with a black man that has the same financial status as you?”

    Not if he’s uglier and has a smaller penis.

    Ron ask any black person with the same financial means as a white man if he would trade place with a white man if the white man was uglier and has a smaller penis? (uglier is push)

    PS Ron most if not all the slaves, blacks and white Irish Catholics were not brought to America. America was founded in 1776 and abolished the in-port of slaves in 1807, 40 years after its creation.

    Butthead, when Ron doesn’t have any point of argument he reverts to race but at least he didn’t insult you mother. SMH

    • Robert Teixeira

      30 years later and abolished it in 1865 after a bloodiest war America fought in. The casualties in the Civil War are more the all of the American wars combined, to date. JS

  • Ron Mackey

    After looking more there is this. Life after slavery for African Americans and  the KKK and the end of Reconstruction
    From the late 1860s white supremacists in the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) terrorized African American leaders and citizens in the South until, in 1871, the US Congress passed legislation that resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of Klan leaders and the end of the Klan’s terrorism of Americans for a time.

    But over the course of the late 1860s and throughout the 1870s, the federal government’s military presence was withdrawn from various southern states, and with the Compromise of 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes ordered the last federal troops in the South to withdraw.

    With no troops to enforce the Fourteenth and Fifteen Amendments, Reconstruction was at an end. Across the South lynching, disenfranchisement, and segregationist laws proliferated. It would not be until after the Second World War and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement that Jim Crow segregation would be outlawed.

  • Robert Teixeira

    LOL You mean the Democrat KKK and suppression of reconstruction. SMH

    Tell Black to stop vote for Democrats. :)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nowsS7pMApI

  • Robert Teixeira

    Ron you still didn’t answer my question. Would a black man with the same financial status of a white man in America trade place if teh white man had a smaller penis?

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