Judge Lopez Provides Legal Analysis On Budget Battle Between Mayor And City Council

From retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez:

In response to the OIB request to comment on the legal aspect of the drama playing out in Bridgeport’s Municipal Government, I offer the following observations:

The budget recommended by the Mayor became the Bridgeport Budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2022, pursuant to City Charter Chapter 9, Section 5 (h). The full City Council did not act on the proposed budget prior to May 10, 2022, the second Tuesday in May, and therefore the budget proposed by the Mayor was approved by operation of the Charter.

The City Council’s frantic attempt to put the genie back in the proverbial bottle is flawed, and ineffective, for several reasons:

  1. The City Council agenda for the Monday, May 16, 2022 meeting does not comply with the Freedom of Information Act, because it does not sufficiently describe the proposed action. Resolution Number 82-21 states “Proposed Resolution regarding the budget and Appropriations Amended 2022-2023 Municipal Budget, For Immediate Consideration” This does not provide proper notice to the public of what action will be taken.
  2. The Council is attempting to apply General Statutes Section 7-191b, retroactively, after the budget has already been adopted as a matter of law. The statute does not give to the City Council the power to void an adopted budget.
  3. Resolution Number 82-21 does not comply with Section 7-191b. The statute allows for a charter amendment “for the sole purpose of modifying its budget adoption dates.” The proposed resolution does not contain a specific date for budget adoption, and talks about a budget adopted by “a committee” taking effect. Pursuant to the City Charter, only the full Council can adopt a budget, not a sub-committee.
  4. The Mayor was not required, pursuant to the City Charter, to call a Special Meeting of the City Council. The City Council has the power and authority to compel the Mayor to call a Special Meeting, pursuant to Chapter 5 Section 5 (a) of the City Charter. This can be done if three City Council members submit a written request to the Mayor. This was not done. Furthermore, notice and service of a Special Meeting must be made pursuant to Section 2.06.030 of the Code of Ordinances. This section requires notice to the City Council members “by a City Sheriff or some indifferent person.” This was not done.
  5. These events demonstrate that the City Council needs committed legal advice to assist them during the budget process. The agenda for Monday’s meeting includes Resolution Number 83-21 for obtaining an Independent Legal Opinion for the City Council. There is clearly a conflict between the City Council and the Mayor in this instance. Chapter 7, Section 4 of the City Charter reads, “If a conflict arises between different boards, commissions, departments, officers, or between any of them and the City Council, the City Attorney shall assign different attorneys within the Law Department to represent each said governmental body in conflict and said attorneys shall represent them in the manner required by all Rules of Professional Conduct of Attorneys, unless the City Attorney determines that the only manner in which a conflict can be avoided is by retention by Private Legal Counsel for one or more of such governmental bodies, in which case the City Attorney shall select said Counsel.” Why didn’t the City Council make an official request pursuant to this Section of the City Charter? One does not need to be a lawyer to understand the plain language of this section; it just has to be read.

Hopefully this analysis will be helpful to OIB and its readers.

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6 comments

  1. What fool would sell an Airport!

    Joe Ganim was looking at a million dollar deficit in this years budget, so he needed to sell something fast, like the Airport for a cheap price, you couldn’t build an Airport TOWER for 10 Million now he has a 9 Million Dollar surplus and bragging rights for his Mayoral run next year.
    Town of Stratford offered 13Million for the Airport, this deal should be investigated!

    What will Ganim and Flatto sell next, Seaside Park, Fairchild Wheeler Golf Course?

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  2. Wow! What a beautiful example of clear legal analysis and communication! (We’ll — that’s why she has the title “judge!”) Very eloquent, Judge! Nice job!

    So: any confusion about the collective ineptitude of the Bridgeport CC (not without individual exception) should have been cleared-up by this piece by the Judge. Similarly, the fact of a new, unexamined/unchallenged, Ganim Administration-created budget should also have been cleared-up.

    But all of this begs the question; are we to believe that this competing-budgets farce was for real?! Of course, it wasn’t! This is the most transparent mayoral-CC conspiracy every played out in Bridgeport. Everybody in City Hall and the CC gets what they want. The CC gets to look like a “stand-up” (albeit, grossly inept), independent body, the Ganim Gang get$ what they want in the budget, and the citizens of Bridgeport remain largely unaware of the dirty details of the bait-and-switch budget that keeps their taxes untenably and unfairly high for yet another budget year… What can be better than that in Ganim Land?!

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  3. I’ve said this before and I’ll said it again, Carmen Lopez should be the mayor and if not then the city attorney. I don’t know of anyone on OIB providing the level of FREE legal advice. The majority of city council has always been under the control of the mayor and the head of the Democratic Town Committee, the reason why, is because elected members do not want to be primary and if they don’t follow direction then they will get primary and they don’t want to have to go door to door getting signatures to get on the ballot. The city council now wants to flex its muscle to hire its own staff Mayor Ganim out played them because the city council had nobody like Carmem Lopez to give them direction.

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  4. “Hopefully this analysis will be helpful to OIB and it’s readers”. !!!!!
    Your Honor, if you keep this up it will be helpful to the entire city as many ‘controlled’ council members and their handlers will pack it in. Same goes for people like Liskov and the disciples who frequent the pizza place where they go for their orders. (Non-dietary of course)
    Cheers!!!!!

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