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“¡Ya Basta!” Clean Up Sewer Collection Mess At WPCA

February 7th, 2018 · 44 Comments · City Council, News and Events

Lopez book signing

Carmen Lopez, left, “Stop farming out collection and foreclosure cases.”

UPDATE, related story here. Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez is providing guidance to the City Council’s Ordinance Committee that wants to reform collection practices of the Water Pollution Control Authority following constituent complaints. In this OIB commentary she writes “It is true that state law considers a sewer bill that goes unpaid for thirty days delinquent. Furthermore, the law allows recording a lien on the property to secure payment of the bill. But the law does not require that a foreclosure be commenced, nor does it require the incurring of prohibitive legal fees and court costs.” Her commentary follows that includes a remedy, “stop farming out collection and foreclosure cases.”

A funny thing happened to me on Friday, January 26, 2018.

Perhaps funny is not the right word, perhaps unusual and out of the ordinary better describes the event.

And, perhaps, it did not just happen to me, but to all of the residents of our City.

For the first time in recent memory, a committee of the Bridgeport City Council decided to stand up to the City Attorney’s Office and stop asking for permission.

By now, thanks to OIB and Brian Lockhart, a CT POST reporter, most of us have been made aware of some kind of ‘sewage’ issue bubbling up in our City. It appears that residents have begun to grumble louder than usual around the collection practices of the city agency known as the WPCA.

For many years, as documented in its minutes, the Ordinance Committee of the City Council has been attempting to obtain information from the City Attorney’s Office to clarify the methods and process used by WPCA to collect payments.

Through the years, meetings were scheduled and re-scheduled due to the City Attorney’s failure to produce the necessary witnesses to provide needed information.

On January 23, 2018, the Ordinance Committee members had had enough, and said “Ya Basta!”

If the Executive Branch would not cooperate with their efforts to fulfill their legislative duties, they would have to take serious steps to get the information they needed to respond to their constituents.

They would use the subpoena power given to the City Council in the Charter.

They were exhausted, insulted and frustrated by the obstacles and barriers put in their way, by none other than their own attorneys.

But not even veterans of the “City Attorney Dance of Obfuscation” were prepared to hear that the City Council could not invoke the Charter language granting it subpoena powers. When committee members read the Charter’s language to Attorney Anastasi, the City Attorney shifted gears.

After the Committee scheduled a Special Meeting for January 29, 2018 to hear from the necessary witnesses, it was threatened, by its own lawyer, with the specter of a lawsuit, should a subpoena be issued.

This was the proverbial straw that broke and shattered the City Council’s confidence in the advice and counsel given to it by the City Attorney’s Office.

And that is when the funny thing happened to me; I received a request, in writing, from the committee leadership asking me to provide guidance to it as it prepared for this meeting.

A review of the minutes of the Ordinance Committee going back to June 2015, confirm the fact that the Ordinance Committee has been repeatedly asking the City Attorney’s Office for assistance in creating a mediation program to move many homeowners and business owners away from the WPCA foreclosure pipeline.

As I read the minutes of the June 25, 2015 meeting, I was struck with a statement made by City Attorney Anastasi. According to the minutes, he warned that “the Council has to be careful not to intrude on various departments such as the Police, the WPCA, the Tax Collector and other parties involved.”

Did an employee of the Executive Branch really tell a Committee of the Legislative Branch, that they have to be careful to “not intrude?”

What happened to the oversight and budgetary powers granted to the Legislative Branch by the Charter?

Clearly, those powers are considered a minor inconvenience that can be spun in whatever way the master weavers in the City Attorney’s Office desire.

And weave they did!

While reading minutes of Ordinance Committee meetings may not be preferred reading for many, I would recommend that folks set aside some time to read the minutes to get the flavor of the disrespect shown by the City Attorney’s Office to the City Council.

We all know how much Attorney Mark Anastasi and now Chief City Attorney Christopher Meyer enjoy reminding all of us that they represent every agency, board and commission in the City. They are in charge, they select outside counsel, and they rule the roost of municipal government.

Well, we know who to blame for this WPCA mess, Mayor Ganim and his Chief City Attorney Chris Meyer and his go-to guy, Attorney Mark Anastasi.

As most of the Boards and Commissions in our City, the WPCA board is currently operating with vacancies and expired terms. In fact, according to the City web-site, one member on the commission has been serving since 2005.

Clearly, this is one of the preferred methods of operation of Mayor Ganim, the appointing authority. This provides him with the flexibility that many experienced politicians crave. Do what I say, and if not, I will appoint your successor, immediately.

This fiasco can be remedied by making some changes, starting in the City Attorney’s Office.

The first is to stop farming out collection and foreclosure cases.

With an office the size of the Bridgeport Legal Department, there is no need to refer these types of cases to outside counsel.

It is true that state law considers a sewer bill that goes unpaid for thirty days delinquent. Furthermore, the law allows recording a lien on the property to secure payment of the bill. But the law does not require that a foreclosure be commenced, nor does it require the incurring of prohibitive legal fees and court costs.

This is a choice that Mayor Ganim and his Chief City Attorney have made.

We, the people, need to demand that serious changes be made in the City Attorney’s Office.

We fail to do this at our own peril.

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44 Comments so far ↓

  • Local Eyes

    Kudos to Judge Lopez. She’s doing pro bono work for her chosen constituency. No election required.

  • Ron Mackey

    Hamilton Buger has met his match, first with certain members of the City Council and now retired judge Carmen Lopez, now we have a Perry Mason moment at the 55 minutes into the show where Hamilton Burger takes another lost. Thank you Judge Lopez for your love of our City and for bringing truth to power.

    • Rich Augustynowicz

      Wow! That was great!! Thank you Judge Lopez. Kudos to the Council members. This is a clear example of what happens when enough people say “enough”. Let’s see what the “they” do now. In a previous post I stated that the “new” blood on the C C needed to get going fast if they were to change anything and they need to get a momentum going. The new blood and old got this started. Now keep the momentum going. Start looking at the obvious and end the political games that have cost the taxpayers money on behalf of those few that are POLITICALLY CONNECTED. Don’t allow payments to outside attorneys that assist in the continuing corrupt efforts to help only a few. Some advice: hold press conferences. Get your efforts out to the public. Use the media. This could be the beginning of something great for this city and it’s in your hands. You just proved it. Have a nice day!

  • Jimfox

    If you think this is a scandal, wait till you investigate the Tax Department, people will be going to jail, this go’s back to Finch 1.

    • Rich Augustynowicz

      That’s only part of what I mean when I sign off by saying “more to come”. Get the momentum going. Speak up. Use the media. Council members: you will gather many supporters along the way.
      Have a nice day.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      I remember that, seizing automobiles for unpaid taxes. When Finch was told about it he laughed. What an asshole. He shouldn’t be a janitor at the Discovery Museum.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    You go, Judge Lopez. Put Mark Anastasi and R. Christopher Meyer in their places. Nice to see a distinguished member of the bar standing up for the common folk, pro bono.

    • Ron Mackey

      Derek, Judge Carmen Lopez is truly a jewel for the residents of Bridgeport that most people in Bridgeport are not aware of the things that she does behind the scene and pro bono. Hamilton Burger (Mark Anastasi) Christopher Meyer and the others City Attorney are no match for Judge Carmen Lopez, she takes a backseat to no one.

      • The Bridgeport Kid

        Thank you for identifying “Hamilton Burger.” His name ought to be Mark Anesthesia.

        All judges are lawyers; not all lawyers are judges. Carmen Lopez is a legal scholar. She knows how to separate fact from fiction. It’s a good sign she called out Mark Anastasi and R. Christopher Meyer on their bullshit. Both of them should be brought before the bar association disciplinary committee.

  • Bob Halstead

    Pure enjoyment reading Carmen’s text from this weary, battered former Councilman who was ganged up on when turning to her advice on Board of Ed issues with the School Building Committee. Things are indeed changing! So I’m having a better day today.

  • Ethan Book

    Thank you, Judge Lopez! I also question Attorney Anastasi’s statements that the penalty interest on WPCA bills is set by statute and that the WPCA does not have the authority to forgive past-due accounts. In addition, typically when city attorneys are in court against a citizen, they typically do not fulfill their professional ethical responsibility to act as public citizens having a special responsibility for the quality of justice, rather they tend to twist legal norms expecting favored treatment from judges. When a city official has made a mistake which causes significant prejudice, and that is clear, the city should be willing to at least discuss a reasonable settlement. But no, they proceed to further burden the litigant in an attempt to evade normal legal responsibility. They probably even high five when the judges rule in their favor. This is related to the issues discussed here of the WPCA. For it’s actions, city attorneys with the blessing of the administration, are imposing a real type of novo slavery, and that upon various groups!

  • Black Rockin

    Carmen Lopez a “Supreme” citizen.
    Judge Lopez should be our Supreme Court Justice.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Juda Epstein has legal problems of his own. From the Connecticut Post:

    “Stephen Scholz, who has run a business out of his home repairing and reselling industrial equipment, claims attorney Juda Epstein foreclosed on property adjoining his house where he operated his business after he was late paying $1,000 in property taxes to the city and then forced him to buy his property back for $28,000, according to the lawsuit filed in Superior Court.

    “’The lawsuit speaks for itself,’ said Scholz’s lawyer, Jonathan Klein.

    “Epstein did not return 3 calls for comment on the lawsuit made to his office on Tuesday and Wednesday.”

  • Ethan Book

    I observe various indications of possible criminal conduct on the part of Attorney Epstein. He needs to particularly disclose if he has any financial interests or any interests whatsoever in the Benchmark LLC’s. I see of this scandal that the City Attorneys and at least two city administrations have been to Attorney Epstein what the entertainment industry was to Harvey Weinstein!

  • Ethan Book

    And we can’t overlook that Attorney Epstein has close connections with Senator Richard Blumenthal and former Senator Joseph Lieberman. I suspect that Epstein has been thinking that he was invincible!

    • Ron Mackey

      That department feels that they are invincible because of Hamilton Burger career of doing what he wants to do and with no push back from the City Council.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Neither Blumenthal nor Lieberman are part of this. Epstein’s connections to the City Attorney’s office is the real crux of the biscuit.

      Wouldn’t be engaging in a little Jew baiting, would you Ethan?

      • Ethan Book

        TBK, the facts are the facts! Epstein has close ties with Blumenthal and Lieberman. Material that is related to the recent OIB article “Ethan Throws the Book at WPCA Collections”, suggests that there exists especially among attorneys a shadow government. From what I’ve seen, that doesn’t involve only Jews.

        • The Bridgeport Kid

          The three men you namespd are all Jewish. Just saying.

          That ‘shadow government’ theory is just bullshit, the kind of thing cited by paranoid conspiracy theorists. I heard it all in 1993 after the Branch Davidian compound burned to the ground. The fire was set internally but the alt-right produced doctored videos to back up claims the fire was set by the FBI. That sort of bullshit plays well in Elohim City, Oklahoma, and other bastions of the white supremacist militia movement. It don’t ork here.

          • Ethan Book

            TBK, the term shadow government was used with Ralph Nader’S book “No Contest – Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America”! The concept is implied with former Arizona Supreme Court Justice John Malloy’s book “The Fraternity: Lawyers and Judges in Collusion”. I support it with what I know of two federal lawsuits handled by Judge Dominic Squatrito, Lieberman’s former campaign treasurer (Ethan Book v. Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority et al., and Ray Clark v. David Chase Enterprises) also in two state court mortgage foreclosure cases (MERS v. Ethan Book and Titan Capital v. Morris Buchanan)!

          • The Bridgeport Kid

            Doesn’t hold water, not with YOUR name in two of the aforementioned lawsuits. Trump’s mouthpieces have spoken of a “shadow government” which pays well with the gun nuts and white supremacists that regard Timothy McVey as a national hero. give it a rest. There are three branches of government. Of the three the judiciary enjoys the most independence. That is to prevent fascists like Donald Trump from abusing power.

          • The Bridgeport Kid

            Let’s not forget about Randy Weaver’s standoff with the ATF at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1991. The Bureau was trying to arrest him on an outstanding warrent for sale of illegal firearms (sawed off shotguns, a violation of federal law). The ATF raided the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, 2/28/93 to serve arrest warrants for possession of unlawfully modified firearms (AR-15s converted to fully automatic).

            The aterernate right was up in arms, crying about the “shadow” government infringing on David Koresh’s right to keep and bear illegal assault weapons, treading on his religious freedom, a freedom that Koresh (born Vernon Wayne Howell) took to include child brides.

            I was living in the Midwest at the time of both incidents. The ATF botched both raids to be sure. That was human error, not the efforts of a “shadow” government.

          • The Bridgeport Kid

            I’m guessing you lost both suits. Spit out the sour grapes. Stop chewing on them.

  • concerned citizen

    Atty Epstein is also the atty that forecloses on condo units on Park ave and then arranges for them to be sold to his friend the investor in New York.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Epstein is a pimp. He sleeps well after looking in the mirror and telling himself “It’s all legal, It’s all legal, It’s all legal, It’s all legal…”

  • Bob Walsh

    I repeat. No contract? Services terminated immediately.
    Then watch how quickly a contract will be found.

  • Bob Walsh

    Open bidding on sewer collection fees begins TODAY.
    Get rid of this character.
    He’s giving serious collection lawyers a bad name.

  • Bob Walsh

    Carmen,
    You should have some of the council members submit for reimbursement a small token of their appreciation.
    Then lets settle for once and for all whether council members can hire their own attorney.

  • Ethan Book

    TBK, once again, the issue is the facts. The fact that I initiated two of the lawsuits doesn’t mean that I don’t comprehend errors such as of clear conflicts of interest of judges or have knowledge of specific areas of political intrigue which was pushing the cases in a particular direction. Just because one gets screwed doesn’t mean he is blinded from seeing where and how the unfairness came about. Don’t forget, there are two respected authors who support similar views. Also, the lawsuits aren’t necessarily over. In addition, while I support Trump, I’m not Trump. Our present conversation isn’t about what he has said or hasn’t said. Further, there’s much evidence to support that there exists a movement toward a New World Order; the Illuminati !!

  • Ethan Book

    Ron and TBK, which points do you challenge? I go by facts, not conclusory brush offs!

  • Ethan Book

    P.S. Ron and TBK, it is of interest that one of the key means of the Illuminati playbook is to make the Central banks of the nation’s of the world to be privately-owned! Our own Federal Reserve Banking System is not government-owned. It is a cartel of private banks including some European banks. There is much to support that the Council of Foreign Relations is an agent of the NWO. Our subject here is the existence of a shadow government. Our Senator Marilyn Moore stated recently that most of our legislature is the result of back-room deals! All this supports my position of the existence of a shadow government. Even what is being discussed in a separate OIB thread of the prevalence of municipal government corruption supports it. I don’t say that it’s absolute or ever will be. Much of that depends on what we do. I like much what MLK said that “The arc of history bends toward justice!”

  • Ethan Book

    TBK, check out “The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and The New World Order” by Terry Melanson (Dec. 21, 2013) with quotes from Felix Frankfurter, Supreme Court Justice (1939-1962), FDR (1933), and Senator William Jenner (1954), also with a listing of the ten largest banks which own the FRB.

    There is Adam Weishaupt who, on May 1, 1776, founded the Illuminati with the goal to establish a new world order which would be run secretly by international bankers primarily for their benefit and to the exclusion of people’s rights.

    There is also Georgetown Professor Carroll Quigley, author of “Tragedy and Hope”, who wrote that the CFR was a secret society with the objective to control all people and its goal described as “nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country of the world as a whole”.

    Remember that the Federal Reserve Banking Act was adopted in 1913, the same year that the 16th and 17th Amendments were adopted.

    Also, conspiracy is an established legal term. It cannot be dismissed simply because someone says it looks like a conspiracy theory. Established standards for stating a legal claim in court is merely to present enough evidence that that the claim is plausible (more than possible). For stating a claim, one is not required to present sufficient evidence that the claim is probable, only sufficient that it is plausible!

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      The Illuminati are not running Bridgeport. The municipal government is run by a few treacherous individuals that have subverted the electoral process to their own ends.

      • Ethan Book

        TBK, I brought the subject of the Illuminati up regarding my statement that I believe there is a shadow government which is driving much of the misconduct which gives rise to the WPCA and city tax collection issues! Can you say that some of the players in the local schemes are not tied to or supported by members of the CFR? I’m not saying that there are, neither am I going to exclude it!

        • The Bridgeport Kid

          Better line the colander with aluminum to prevent the CIAfrom your mind and controlling your thoughts…

          • The Bridgeport Kid

            Better line the colander with aluminum foil to block the CIA from reading your mind and controlling your thoughts.

          • Ethan Book

            TBK, my point was that you can’t say that the Illuminati/CFR does not have some role in municipal government/politics. I’m not saying that they do. I’m saying there’S no rational basis for you to say that it doesn’t. Everything I have said here is rational and logical. I have not reverted to ridicule and cynicism in responding to you. I’d appreciate the same respect in return.

            BTW, in 2013, I obtained information through the FOIA that former Mayor Finch got the City to join the U.N. International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) (and using our tax money to support an agenda that doesn’t care about our local or national sovereignty). Are we getting warmer?

          • The Bridgeport Kid

            I don’t put much truck to world conspiracies, Ethan. What’s next, Area 51? The communist plot to fluoridate the public water supply?

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