The Letter–Read The Legal Opinion Addressing Removal Of Rogue City Council Members

Pereira Harding
File image of Pereira. Isn’t this really the Pereira Policy?

Commencing the new year City Council members have been placed on notice, per their own approval at Monday night’s meeting, that disruptive, disorderly, abusive conduct, etc. is subject to disciplinary action by the body.

City Council President Aidee Nieves sought a legal opinion from City Attorney R. Christopher Meyer addressing the required steps necessary to set forth a just cause action. Five members of the legislative body voted no, be it for procedural matters, disagreement on its premise or perhaps intended targets: Scott Burns, Matthew McCarthy, Michael DeFilippo,  Michelle Lyons and Maria Pereira.

These set forth decorum regulations apply to all council members but this may as well be called the Pereira Policy.

The councilor from the Upper East Side is something of a one-woman riot squad, gifted in research and gab, but also prone to inflammatory remarks at the body politic. Still, it goes to the core question: all of this effort for one person?

And as for removal from office, Bridgeport is a child of the state and as such subject to regulations that supersede local rule.

There’s no provision in state law that allows voter recall of an elected official. Meyer, in his legal missive, sticks strictly to the language of the City Charter which grants council authority to sanction one of its members and even “expel a member for due cause.”

Pereira, in her 10 years or so on the political scene, be it school board or City Council, is not a coalition builder of any lasting fortitude. Council members frustrated by her incendiary brand consider her a rogue operator with a thirst for vengeance who must be dealt with. She’s viewed much more of a Santa Claws than Santa Claus.

For Mayor Joe Ganim critics who assert Ganim backs this council action, the mayor’s spending very little time on Pereira other than chairing the full council meetings. To his way of thinking, if this City Council wants this fight, go knock yourself out, but he’s not leading it.

Most of the real work on the legislative body is done at the committee level run by the respective council chairs. They are smaller environments among seven members–in this era of Covid Zoom meetings–but Pereira attends many of those meetings even though she sits on not one committee, an action taken by Nieves in response to Pereira’s so-called conduct.

The issue of removing a council member came up about 10 years ago during the mayoral administration of Bill Finch. Bob “Troll” Walsh (yes, the same Walsh who writes in the comments section) was a pain-in-the-ass council member effective at chopping away at bureaucratic veracity and political spending issues. One day, in a fit of frustration, he left a voice message for his council partner that was fanned as racially inflammatory. Walsh is a stick-in-the-eye but no racist. A lot of hullabaloo followed about spanking Walsh off the council for action outside an official meeting. In the end the issue to remove was bagged because there was no legal force. Walsh issued a public apology and that was it.

This current effort at deciding decorum has taken on more steam. Still, wouldn’t it be better to ignore Pereira given her lack of coalition-building? Most council members assert she’s too disruptive to ignore.

See blow some relevant text from Meyer’s legal opinion. To read the entire document grab a bucket of eggnog and rum this holiday weekend and see meyerlettertocouncil.

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17 comments

  1. Chris Meyers should be doing his job as City Attorney so us taxpayers wouldn’t have to foot the bill for the many outside lawyers he hires. Maria could take him on and kick his little butt. It’s not JoeyG who’s trying to silence her, it’s Chris Meyers.

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  2. Lisa, you are absolutely correct, Mayor Ganim has to much on his plate ( The Feds are still here) to worry about City Councilors who won’t play nice. The City Attorney nor the City Council can subvert will the will of the voters irrespective of how big a pain in the ass one of the members are! If they want to shut her the hell up just do what’s right, what’s just and what’s in the interest of the residents of Bridgeport and once that happens she’ll have nothing to complain about. Oh yes and the City will be better for it.

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  3. This is just another victory for Maria Pereira because there is absolutely nothing that Maria can do to stop the City Council from voting for anything. City Council President Aidee Nieves continues to demonstrate that she has no leadership ability, the Bridgeport Police Department is in complete turmoil, with the police being arrested and is now waiting for his sentencing by the court, there have been lawsuit after lawsuit against the BPD, there is a lawsuit about who should be the police chief and Nieves and scare of what Maria might say to hurt her feelings instead of dealing with real issues effecting the city.

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  4. Donald and Ron, forget about the intelligence and knowledge you both have, it’s instinct that always make both of you spot on. Joe isn’t stupid, he knows he’s working with a politically naive council with the exception of a few, and he has no interest to waste his time with them. So he let’s his patronage minions go through the motions. This is one time I give Joe credit for keeping them at a safe distance. He’ll blow smoke up their butts and they salivate thinking he needs them. Remember, JoeyG spent ten years working with smart, savvy council members. You both know that better than anyone. I see a few with potential, especially Michael DeFillippo, he reminds me of a young Ed Gomes. You two, including Harvey are good when it comes to seeing through the BS. Love you guys, have a great holiday.

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    1. Merry Christmas Lisa,and to all who contribute here,and Lennie,thanks for keeping this place going,though we all may disagree at times,our common bond is our love of Bpt..

      Now on to this topic,this sentence says it all..”And as for removal from office, Bridgeport is a child of the state and as such subject to regulations that supersede local rule”…Period,end of story,no matter how much time the legal dept& the Council waste trying to silence Maria,she’s not going anywhere.Stop wasting time and get back to what the taxpayers voted you all in for,to be our voice,to do what you can to improve Bpt.Aidee is making this personal now and it’s getting ridiculous.Bpt needs so many things that this Council should be trying to improve on.The monthly’let’s try to get rid of Maria hour” isn’t one of them.

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  5. Lisa, Joe needs a job, and maybe Joe Biden’s administration can mind Joe a spot in of their regional offices like in Boston. Joe’s dream of being governor is gone but he needs to cash in on his years as mayor bringing in votes for state and national elections. With feds still looking around in Bridgeport Joe needs an out but Mario needs a replacement that he can control.

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      1. Harvey
        That’s not how politics works.
        Some administrative job, as Ron said, in the Boston regional office of HUD in the area of Housing Security Oversight would fit the bill.
        He would basically be a grunt and be told if anything goes wrong under him he’s gone.
        No negotiations. Take it or leave it.

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  6. How ridiculous that the resolution introduced by Nieves and supported by attorney Meyer’s erroneous legal opinion passed our City Council by a 15-5 vote the other night!

    Apparently no one told them that their action actually violates a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling. The city council cannot remove an elected official. people have the right to “criticize those who govern you.”

    Here is a portion of an astute letter to Meyer from Council Member Pereira:
    “City Attorney Meyer, I found both the letter that you appeared to have drafted on behalf of City Council President Aidee Nieves and your letter/legal opinion to be deeply disturbing as I am sure you are well aware that the CT Supreme Court already ruled in Simons v, Canty that an elected official CANNOT be removed from office by the mayor, city council and not even by the voters via a recall effort … Both Chapter 5, Sec. 5 (b) of the City Charter & Ordinance, Sec, 2.04.140 – Removal from Office, cannot be utilized to remove any elected official, and you are well aware it is illegal which makes your “legal opinion” that much more egregious.

    In addition, in order to suspend a member from participating in debate of a city council meeting the conduct must rise to the level of a serious criminal nature or egregious conduct, and the decision cannot be capricious and an “abuse of discretion.” The duly elected members of the United State Congress regularly criticize each other, the president and appointees of the president during senate and house hearings, in written correspondence, in the press and via social media. … The voters of Bridgeport are the only decision makers in deciding who does or does not serve as an elected official, and they make those decisions at the ballot box in democratic elections…”

    Lennie, you suggest it would be better for the city council to ignore Pereira. I suggest they listen to her.

    – Madeline Dennis Raleigh, Bridgeport In The Know

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  7. Harvey, Ganim didn’t play the game right, Joe lost at the convention and he wasn’t even in the running but did Joe endorse Lamont, he’ll no. Joe decided to run in a primary and Joe got his ass kicked, Joe barely won Bridgeport so why in the world would Lamont do anything for Ganim, Joe created his death wise.

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  8. Maria is prepared, learned, and clearly a cut above anyone on the council when it comes to any procedural rules AND business that comes before the council.
    Those who believe that others there are similar or a cut above with “potential” need to be careful and not be fooled. I’ll leave it at that and try to be nice about it, But believe me I know what I’m talking about. (It’s not personal it’s business.)
    Unlike some who say and do things that others guide them to do, Maria makes her own actions guided by her own thinking. Maria, continue to give em hell and be careful
    Cheers!!!

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  9. Rich, I agree with you, I truley have so much respect for my friends who are regular contributors on OIB, but I suggest, with all respect, maybe it’s time to stop defining Maria for past displays of passion, and maybe a little anger. There’s no denying she’s committed to public service, and is very intelligent and hard working. She’s growing every year she continues her efforts to right wrongs. How many people do we know that had the ability to hang in and maybe change things, but they didn’t have the tenacity or stomach to take the slings and arrows so they left leaving open seats for garbage to slip in. I admire Maria as a person, I’ve witnessed the good deeds she has done for those in need, most of the time at her own expense. She doesn’t brag about what comes from her heart, but neither does she hold back when she has to take on corrupt politicians and some dumb councilmembers. There have been times when I questioned her approach, but I’ll never judge her. Maybe with some constructive comments, when deserved, she’ll build that coalition over time. Even the hardasses will eventually see that a good amount of the time she’s right. She started out frustrated with the lying politicians and maybe got a little carried away thinking everyone but a few are the same. Try giving her credit when she deserves it; I must say that some of you do. I’m not in a position to share the personal challenges she faces, yet she soldiers on. We don’t talk much, but I pay attention. I cringe when I think of the times when first starting my long tenure in local politics when at times I took some left turns. I was blessed to have professional, honest politicians who guided me, taught me, and never harshly judged me. I’m a fast learner and appreciated guidance and sincere advice. That’s all I have to say, just give some of what I said some thought. If Maria knew I was posting this I think she would appreciate what I think of her, but then again she might tell me she can speak for herself. I won’t be offended, I know Maria.

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  10. It’s a special trait. Even her detractors find something good to say about Maria Pereira.
    She has many (secret) friends but no peers. She invents her own category.
    Public opinion can change in the blink of an eye. That’s when former critics become new fans.
    Don’t be surprised if the herd mentality works in her favor.

    3+

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