Education Advocacy Group Presses Ganim For More School Funding

FaithActs for Education founder Pastor William McCullough on Thursday delivered a letter to Mayor Joe Ganim reminding him of “promises he made at FaithActs’ Nov. 18 public meeting” that includes $2 million per year increase to local school funding. Ganim will issue his proposed budget to the City Council the first week of April.

During his 2019 reelection campaign Ganim promised more funding for schools. The question is, how much? $2 million a year is not a major stretch considering the built-in increases the school district faces each year including bargaining-unit raises.

See video above from Nov. 18 meeting as well as delivered letter below:



  1. Looks like the city Attorneys got a nice raise,combine that with the massive payments to Guidepost,does Joe claim he has no money for BOE again??

    Despite what some say are frustrations with the quality of work they get from the law department, a majority of City Council members approved a new contract for the municipal attorneys with a sizable pay hike.

    Not only will the lawyers immediately receive two retroactive 2 percent raises — on average with what other unions have been getting — but a new salary step was established, boosting what the top six earners make from $136,214 to $148,257.

    The attorneys do not receive overtime.

    “I think we’re in line” with other municipalities and with the state, Associate City Attorney John Mitola, who leads the city lawyer’s union, said in a brief interview Wednesday.

    Mitola had offered that same argument last week to the council’s contracts committee before it approved the new five-year collective bargaining agreement. Since the previous contract expired on Jan. 1, 2018, the new pact is retroactive until then.

    The full council took up the labor deal Tuesday night and after some debate, finalized it, 15-4, with one member absent.

    As was the case at the contracts committee meeting, freshman Councilwoman Maria Pereira was the most vocal critic.

    “This is one of the most outrageous labor contracts I’ve ever seen,” said Pereira, who previously served on the school board. She complained that a half-dozen municipal lawyers will suddenly get an $18,700 bump in their paychecks.

    “A contract is about we get something and they get something,” Pereira said.

    Two other “no” voters — Eneida Martinez and Maria Valle — voiced overall frustration with the service the council receives from the law department. Martinez in particular over the years has publicly clashed with some of the lawyers as a chairman of the ordinance committee, complaining they are not responsive enough to requests for information and advice.

    “We have no level of respect” from the attorneys, Martinez said. “The office is a disadvantage to council members.”

    Valle recalled that a year ago she emailed a question to the law department, “And here we are today with no answer.”

    City Attorney R. Christopher Meyer said he tries to accommodate the council, but answering their questions is only part of what the office does.

    “Listen, I always try and take into consideration what my client (the council) wants and the best way to serve my client,” Meyer said Wednesday. “(But) the changes to the contract don’t automatically bring in more lawyers. I know every (council) committee would like me to assign every lawyer I can to them. But we have federal cases, state cases, legal opinions, Freedom of Information requests, zoning and administrative cases, Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities cases. … We try to manage the legal business of the city as effectively as we can for the least dollars we can.”

    Meyer has noted that, according to the finance department, his budget had a $175,000 surplus in the last fiscal year.

    Council President Aidee Nieves on Wednesday said that for the most part she believes the city gets good value from its attorneys and that they need to receive competitive compensation.

    “But there is room for improvement,” Nieves said. She said that is why the legislative body on Tuesday also supported a resolution proposed by Councilman Ernie Newton that the next new legal hire be assigned exclusively to aid the council.

    Veteran City Attorney Mark Anastasi, who retired in 2018 and was rehired as an outside, non-union counsel, often attends council meetings and committee meetings.

    “But Mark is really part time,” Nieves said. “One man cannot take care of 20 people.”

    Previous councils have considered hiring their own private lawyer, arguing that individual would not only give them more attention but have greater independence from the mayor. But that effort has clashed with the charter, which appears to give the head of the legal department — currently Meyer — the sole power to hire counsel for Bridgeport.

    When exactly new lawyers will be hired was unclear. The revised contract was written with recruitment in mind, Mitola said.

    Beside raising the top pay, the labor pact also set two new lower starting salaries or steps of $77,000 and $84,000. Mitola Wednesday said that should help to attract and retain younger lawyers as seasoned staff start to leave.

    “We have a lot of institutional knowledge with the lawyers who work here now (but) at some point in the next five or 10 years, a lot aren’t going to be around anymore. They’re going to be be retiring,” Mitola said. “Under the old contract, the fist step paid $96,000.”

    Mitola said that, speaking as the union president, it “may be a difficult thing to do” to have one attorney only serving the council “based on the amount of work we have and the resources we have.”

    Newton said he has spoken to Meyer and believes he will be asking for money to hire more staff.

    “The budget season is coming up and he really wants to bring in new fresh blood,” Newton said.

  2. This statement here ..”“We have no level of respect” from the attorneys, Martinez said. “The office is a disadvantage to council members.”

    This obviously tells us that Mario&Joe instruct the city’s legal dept to give the CC as little info as possible.Again,everything is a secret in Joe’s administration…And of course,other than Maria,Martinez and Maria Valle,the other members sit there and wait for Joe to tell them how he wants them to vote for things,never really knowing the specifics of what they are voting on because the legal dept is on lockdown.Bpt,we are screwed..

    1. Harvey you took the words right out of my mouth. I was going to point out that on this topic which you raised- other than Eneida, Maria P., and Maria V., everyone else on the council sits on their hands waiting for instructions as to how to vote and what to do on any given topic. Those three ladies on the council have, on numerous occasions, witnessed how certain attorneys act and advise the various committees when they are there to do just that- advise. I’ve seen these attorneys in action AND inaction, totally dismissing public comment as well as totally dismissing council members comments and ideas and requests when issues come up in front of all in a public forum.
      Liskov’s actions towards Eneida, and the rest of a large group of citizens and other CC members comes to mind at a zoning hearing a few years ago regarding liquor zoning and Defilippo’s store. Liskov was totally out of line and to Eniedas credit she spoke up to correct him on comments made by him and he threatened to call and have police come to ‘restore order’. What a joke that was and as we all know there are many situations where he must do the bosses bidding. Everyone knows that the DeFilippo issue was exactly one of those situations. It’s a shame these incidents are not clearly captured on video and showed to the public as other outrageous incidents are sometimes shown on news outlets. Rarely do these incidents even make the newspaper but even when they do the effect is far from the same as being able to see it as it occurred.

      1. It’s just another go-around for those who use corrupt practices to get around the law or in Defilippos case go around the law and write new law that the common guy would NEVER be able to accomplish. Right Mike!?!!
        Defilippo even either got lucky or Mario has connections with the liquor authority-(of course he does) because consumer protection would have made him remove all the liquor product from his location across from the pizza place when he was forced to close. Instead he’s able to dust them all off from YEARS of dust and ready them for his grand reopening which may occur before April. It is also ILLEGAL to place delivered liquor to anywhere other then the location it is delivered to. Years ago Mike had product placed in the storage area of Mario’s pizza place instead of his liquor store across the street. Remember when the FBI was doing surveillance?
        And bartender, no tip for you.

  3. It’s really sad to see that only three Councilwomen Maria Pereira, Eneida Martinez and Maria Valle — voiced overall frustration with the service the council receives from the law department and the City Attorney’s pay raise. Councilwoman Eneida Martinez was really disrespected by the City Attorneys with the WPCA conflict. The Bridgeport City Council must have their own attorney to assist with legal issues, someone who is not from the City Attorney Office and paid for by the City. City Attorney Hamilton Burger has been misdirecting the council for over 30 years. The Bridgeport City Council has been bless and fortunate to have former Judge, Carmen Lopez involvement with legal issues to assist the interest of the voters of Bridgeport, plus Judge Lopez provides her legal service for free. NEVER except Ernie Newton to go against City Attorney’s office. “We have no level of respect” from the attorneys, Martinez said. “The office is a disadvantage to council members,” really sums everything up concerning . City Attorney Hamilton Burger and that office.

  4. This has been going on for 20 years.
    Mark would tell the council that the mayor was his client not the council. But that the City Council could not use funds for outside legal representation.
    You try to figure out that warped logic.
    But during John Fabrizi’s term as Council Prez and Tom McCarthy neither challenged that. And I guess it still goes on.

  5. But Ron, the city attorney maintains that his office and his office alone can hire outside legal help. And that does not mean allocated funds but does the actual hiring. So even if in the budget cycle the city allocated funds, Hamilton and you’ll need a name for Chris Meyers will pick who they want.

    1. Bob, they changed the rules to allow council members to receive a “stipend,” the council had a perfect chance when the City Attorney’s contract came before them for a vote.


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