Assistant City Clerk Frances Ortiz
They never seek attention. They simply put in the responsive work on behalf of city officials, citizen requests and media inquiries. City Hall professionals such as Assistant Town Clerk Christina Resto and Assistant City Clerk Frances Ortiz go about their business quietly without regard to the politics and personalities. They form the foundation that keeps the business of the people flowing in their respective departments.
Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez leverages her legal skills and experience to dig deep into city issues. But little things can mean a lot when attempting to secure city information and that includes reaching out to the selfless workers who provide necessary public information to keep the people informed.
In this commentary Lopez pays tribute to Ortiz and staff in the Office of the City Clerk.
As much as many of us in Bridgeport complain about the failures of our elected officials, our appointed officials and our civil servants, we often fail to highlight and recognize those public servants who go above and beyond the call of duty.
I would like to thank Lennie Grimaldi and OIB for giving me the opportunity to publicly commend and acknowledge the amazing work performed by Bridgeport’s Assistant City Clerk Frances Ortiz. It is hard to imagine our City Government without the competent, caring and conscientious contributions of Ms. Ortiz.
Unless you are active in municipal government, you may have no idea of the work performed in a City Clerk’s Office. Although the position of City Clerk is an elected position and therefore, a political position, the Assistant City Clerk and members of the office staff are civil servants and therefore not involved in the political machinery of the City.
The Bridgeport City Charter Chapter 4 describes the duties of the Office of the City Clerk. This office is responsible for making and keeping “true records of all votes and proceedings of the City Council.”
Can you imagine for just one minute, the incredible task of keeping accurate records of our City Council’s proceedings? Just last week, the presiding officer of the City Council, the Mayor, opened the meeting, read the first item on the agenda and immediately asked, “What is this doing on the agenda? Does anyone know?” Ms. Ortiz immediately responded to the Mayor, with the appropriate answer, thereby facilitating the orderly flow of business at the Council meeting.
How about preparing the agenda for each meeting? How about working with the distinct, intense, demanding and strong personalities of members of the City Council?
How about navigating through the absolute lack of civility and decorum exhibited by various members of the City Council towards each other, and towards other elected officials?
It is hard to imagine how hard they worked from home during the Pandemic. Faced with logistical challenges, they kept the City records available, and City Government open for business. They coordinated zoom meetings of the Council and various boards and commissions.
I would compare the work of the City Clerk’s Office to a traffic light. Both are indispensable, but are rarely noticed unless something goes wrong. Then all eyes focus in their direction.
I offer a football analogy that is attributed to a City Clerk in the State of California, “You never notice the snapper and the holder for a field goal when they do their job well, but you sure notice it when they do their job poorly.”
Ms. Pettway and Ms. Williams, under the guidance and leadership of Ms. Ortiz, are clearly the unsung heroes of our City. I have never experienced anything in their office but professionalism accompanied by a desire to effectively respond to my inquiry.
In light of all Ms. Ortiz and her office have done for us, a simple thank you seems terribly inadequate. It is however, worth saying and necessary; thank you!