Judge Radcliffe Questions Legal Settlement For Road To Manny’s Mansion

From Dan Tepfer, CT Post:

Make that a $500,000 driveway the city has built for millionaire developer Manuel “Manny” Moutinho by Sikorsky Memorial Airport. A legal settlement to end one of the more bizarre events in Bridgeport history nearly fell apart Thursday. A judge refused to sign it after learning the city will pay $30,000 to Moutinho’s lawyers and an as yet undisclosed amount to map out where the driveway–that the city last year paid Moutinho $400,000 to build–actually is.

“You mean to tell me the city is subsidizing Mr. Moutinho’s legal bills after he has already gotten everything he has asked for?” Superior Court Judge Dale Radcliffe asked the lawyers for the city and Moutinho. “I take it this was not submitted to the city council for approval.”

Full story here



  1. So Rick, you and all the council members who voted to approve this settlement really blew this one. And with arrogance, the city attorney’s office claims you, the City Council, does not have to approve the settlement of the legal fees because they say so since they are going to charge it as outside legal counsel.
    So much for a new set of eyes watching over the city. I guess the new eyes don’t do any good if they have blinders on.

  2. And this is the same City Attorney’s office that decided they didn’t need any council approval on the private driveway to begin with!!!
    And the council has never demanded a full written explanation of what went on AND more importantly what needs to change to make sure this never happens again. But the City Attorney will tell you not to worry about that.

    1. Judge Radcliffe is right!
      City Attorney Schmidt said “Moutinho’s lawyers were arguing on behalf of the City during the appeals process.”
      Now that was a lie! During the ZBA appeal, Schmidt asked Moutinho’s lawyer what was he doing here at ZBA. Moutinho’s lawyer said “he was at Stratford ZBA for his client’s benefit, seeing that the application has changed.” “And he would like to get paid for his services, just like (Breakwater Keys) Attorney Saxl.”
      At that point City Attorney Schmidt almost had a coronary, then said “he will work something out with him,” under his breath. This was after February’s City Council settlement with Breakwater Keys.
      The City Attorney’s office (Schmidt) never went back to the CC for approval and attorney fees for Moutinho.
      So Rick Torres and the City Council never knew about the Finch Team’s backdoor deal on Moutinho’s legal fees until now!

      I love Driveway-gate!

  3. Perhaps it wasn’t that Judge Radcliffe didn’t like the fact the city is going to pay the $30,000 in legal fees to Manny’s lawyer. Sounds to me what pissed him off was the lawyer:
    “Bercury told the judge they wanted $10,000. But after a recess in which she huddled with Schmidt on a hallway bench, Schmidt told the judge the total was $30,000.”

    This is after Radcliffe stating Tte city of Bridgeport was not a bottomless pit. By Bercury trying to pull off a fast one on him, she simultaneously let him know the city is a bottomless pit by showing him in just minutes they went $20,000 dipper into the pit.

  4. I disapprove of former Councilman Bob Walsh using OIB as a platform to express his displeasure with current members of the City Council. This is what happens when credibility escapes its leash. He’s becoming OIB’s resident fido, arf arf.
    *** sidenote: Great three-panel forum at University of Bridgeport last night hosted by Mary-Jane Foster. It was about their tech incubator and its promising prospects.

    1. I bet you had a good view from where you sat, Local Eyes. Tech is not my area–too much competition–Microsoft, MIT, Caltech, The California Valley, Google, Apple, Samsung, etc.
      Promising for UB as far as collecting royalties. Where is the help for the little people? Connecticut is still asleep at the wheel with the Pro Bono aspect of the America Invent Act. Going solo isn’t bad either, but it helps to have an extra pair of eyes, just as long as the eyes don’t have huge money signs on them. OPIC is part of my start-up plan.

  5. If you followed the money on this deal, Moutinho has every right to be compensated for his legal fees. How about the $20k paid to outside counsel Ira Bloom by the city?

  6. The tortured legal reasoning that has been a hallmark of this entire project continues.

    The facts seem pretty clear:
    First, the payment for Mr. Moutino’s legal fees is clearly part of the settlement agreement and should have been submitted to, and approved by, the City Council along with the rest of the settlement agreement.

    Second, Mr. Moutinho’s lawyer was representing his interests, not the city’s. The fact those interests coincided to some extent is irrelevant. She was representing Mr. Moutino, not the City of Bridgeport.

    Third, under the City Charter the City Attorney’s authority to hire and pay outside counsel is manifestly limited to counsel representing the city, not private parties.

    Fourth, while it is understandable Council members would want to avoid voting to approve such a payment, that is the only lawful way the payment can be made.

    Rather than create some sort of legal fiction in an attempt to justify this payment, the city attorney’s office should seek the Council approval it should’ve gotten in the first place. Even better, Mr. Moutino should quit while he is ahead and pay his own lawyers.

  7. What kind of bringing more transparency to government and new leadership with this comment, “This whole matter is very troubling,” said City Councilman Rick Torres, R-130, who sat in on Wednesday’s hearing. Torres–a freshman councilman who campaigned last year on bringing more transparency to government following the driveway controversy–said the council, which approved the settlement in February, was not told of the additional $30,000 legal bill.

    “He (Moutinho) is one of the wealthiest people in this community. I didn’t think we should be paying for his driveway and I don’t think we should be paying his legal bills,” Torres said.

    Still, Torres voted for the settlement in February. It doesn’t matter if Moutinho is one of the wealthiest people in this community, this about a legal settlement.

    1. Ron, Rick Torres and the City Council had no clue about the $30k settlement for Moutinho’s legal fees, it came into play during the Stratford ZBA hearing. Not back in February.
      The February settlement was just for Breakwater Keys and Attorney Saxl.

    2. Ron,
      Surely you salute Councilman Torres’ attempt to bring open, accountable and transparent process to the City. It seems almost as if you are holding him solely responsible for the patent lack of transparency in the whole Sikorsky debate as you make no mention of any other Council persons, especially those who have served multiple terms, and their success or lack thereof in making things clearer in City process.

      Do you have any thoughts right now, at City budget time, on how the City will meet the BOE “MBR” this year? It’s important to you the BOE gets adequate City funds, isn’t it, especially if the State that sends the City $165 Million for education can ‘adjust’ the amount if the City doesn’t hold up its responsibility?
      Do you have any ideas on areas of the Mayor’s budget that may need trimming or wholesale cutting? What would you point out to your Council persons? Have you asked them to share how they have used their Stipends in the past year, for instance? Have you asked them under what written authority one or more CHARITABLE checks were advanced from their LEGISLATIVE account in 2013? If they did not request such checks personally, what do they think about OTHER SERVICES funds being spent, when there was no service provided by each charity. When there was a priority and election upcoming did they see any political motive indicated? Will they consider a reduction in the Stipend line by at least $80,000 and from the Other Services Line of $70,000 for 2015? It represents $150,000 of potential spending the Council has not used for their purposes in years and therefore offers no pragmatic difficulty to the Legislative Department. Isn’t your own budget a good place to look for cuts at the start? Time will tell.

      (Of course Ron, you do not have to answer any of these questions. That can go unsaid, except you have more than once answered in that way. I just thought the budget is a larger issue in the City at this moment than Rick’s single vote on the matter. And there is some detail available through FOI on your Council persons at this time.)

      1. John Marshall Lee, you ask me all these questions, for what? Does that make you feel big or something? What does knowing the answer to all those questions done for you, Rick Torres, the City Council or the mayor? NOTHING. You and your group got together to support this guy who is going to save Bridgeport riding in on his two-seat bike, he was going to bring open, accountable and transparent process to the City and make the other 19 City Council members see the errors of the past and of their ways. Then you go to council meeting to deliver an educational lecture, well how’s that working out for you? What Council member has join you and your group seeing as you have both the questions and the answers? Time will tell.

        1. Ron,
          Let me answer your overall question which is, what has my curiosity, research, public speaking, etc. over the past four years done? Of course you asked what it has done for me.
          I have some satisfaction facts and actions show those with power are not following the Charter, the Ordinances, the check and balance process and not caring except about their own narrow interests, in too many cases.

          So I have expended time on behalf of the community from my viewpoint, in the face of frequent negative inputs or inattention or ridicule, but I expected that in the pursuit of institutional OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT. The work is not for me, and many folks in Bridgeport still do not understand someone who is not in it for themself.

          Pursuing your question: “How’s that working out for you?” And I will answer, not badly, as long as you have a long timeline of expectation. For instance it has taken all this time to secure an audited, final June City financial report to appear in January 2014. And what it showed me was City Revenue increased by cash in excess of $510,000 after the books closed in the Comptroller’s department. (And no one wants to tell us where it came from. And the Mayor’s budget shows it in the Comptrollers Department with a heading of COPIES? Copies or Cash?) And it showed me the Legislative Department in full “secret spending” blossom, using taxpayer money in June 2013 before the books closed, getting over $30,000 of charitable contributions made in the Other Services account. What that means is you have Council persons using tax funds to contribute to charities at a political moment in time. Where is the watchdog? Where is the authority to do this? How did the Finance Department authorize this? Are they in on the coverup? June payments should show in June … and if there were no 12th month report, audited, we would never know. That is progress to me.

          And this year there are Council persons, other than Rick Torres, who take my factual reports seriously. You look down on me as a sharer, or educator, or informer of the public. Why? We all can learn. and we can all participate in teaching. You see me as an enemy. Is that because you have talked with your Council persons and they are feeling the effect of the public learning what they are doing?

          CW4BB supported a number of new candidates in the City for Council and BOE positions. Why do you single out Rick Torres? Why not get pragmatic for a change? If you have friends who are elected, tell me what they are doing for OAT? Don’t knock Torres as one person who stood, ran, won and is pursuing good governance. It seems you are against good governance, doesn’t it? Why don’t you join the DISCOVERY party? You have my phone number, don’t you?

          Not too far in the future, CC people and others are going to be embarrassed by what is showing up. And it starts with contrasting poor practices and inattention to behavior and the law. That is what some of us have been about, while you and others disparage us at each step.

          Now if you are fine with City Stipends being spent at Stop & Shop 51 times in a year by a Council person without explaining how this supports Council duties, you are also one person. Others are curious and asking questions. We are waiting for answers. Time will tell.

          1. John Marshall Lee, let me make a few points to you where you don’t know what you are talking about. You said, “You look down on me as a sharer, or educator, or informer of the public? Why? You see me as enemy.” I don’t look down at you as a sharer, or educator, or see you as an enemy. I see you following what government does but in trying to preach and lecture council members in such a way that turns people off but that doesn’t bother you as long as people keep telling you, you are doing a good job.

            You said, “Don’t knock Torres as one person who stood, ran, won and is pursuing good governance.” Please, give me a break. This guy is self-centered and not a team player. There is no “I” in the word “team.” Rick needs to understand in order to get things done, he needs those other members’ votes and once you and Rick understand how to be apart of a team.

    3. “… City Councilman Rick Torres, R-130, who sat in on Wednesday’s hearing …”

      Ron Mackey and Bob Walsh, where were your Councilpersons? I know one of my council representative was there and he like all others was not told of the payment of Manny’s attorney fees. Rick Torres had made clear prior to all this the City Attorney’s office was refusing to provide requested documents to him.

      One lonely Republican Councilperson out of 20 and he is the only one you two attack?

  8. Bob and Ron. A little credibility loss for both of you on this one. Letting a personality conflict and your own prejudice of an individual coloring your perception of this matter. If you read the article it is plain to see the $30k to Moutinho’s attorney was not presented to the Council. You are barking up the wrong tree here. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story!

  9. Jim and Bridgeporteur,
    You are missing my point completely. Especially the new members of the council had the perfect opportunity to force the city to make full disclosure of all the events before, during and after the construction of the driveway.
    They could have refused to act on the settlement until a written report was produced and at least attempt to table the settlement absent this disclosure.
    Instead all it took was Mayor Finch going on one of his rents about the blood of future crash victims being on their hands. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!
    And what did they do? They caved. They whimpered and crawled away. They gave the mayor his settlement and this process is still dragging on.
    I would have told the mayor to drop the dramatics and any future blood is the responsibility of the city, the Finch administration and its total inept handling of the entire process.

  10. Bob, you’re right! the City Council should have never signed off on this. Nor should Judge Radcliffe, if the City Attorney’s office can call for a do-over on the Parks Commission then why not the judge?
    I hope Judge Radcliffe will hold all parties in contempt of court until we can figure out who’s paying for this morass!


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