Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez writes in her latest commentary “Most of us would agree that keeping a muzzle on the Chief of Police, or any other department head, is not a policy that enhances the public good, or supports the public’s right to know.”
Watch what they do; not what they say!
Thanks to newspaper reports, many of us have had an opportunity to learn what Mayor Ganim has been saying regarding the December 12, 2021, untimely deaths of two Black Women, Ms. Lauren Smith-Fields and Ms. Brenda Lee Rawls. We have also learned what he is saying about his Police Department.
We have also had the opportunity to watch what he does.
We can reach only one conclusion: what he says and what he does, don’t add up!
According to press reports, there are a few things that we know. And there are many things that we still don’t know.
We know that on Friday, January 21, 2022, the family of Ms. Lauren Smith-Fields, through their attorney, filed a Notice of intention to sue the City in connection with the death of Ms. Smith Fields, and the ‘unacceptable’ investigation process utilized by the Bridgeport Police Department. That means that the City, as of that date was on notice that it will be a defendant in a lawsuit against it.
We also know that on January 30, 2022, nine days later, despite being on notice of a potential legal claim against the City of Bridgeport, Mayor Ganim sprinted to the TV cameras and lobbed a grenade aimed at our own police department. He did this, despite knowing that an investigation was in progress.
In her February 1, 2022 CTPOST article, Sandra Diamond Fox quotes the Mayor as saying, he is “extremely disappointed with the leadership of the Bridgeport Police Department and finds actions taken up to this point unacceptable.”
According to the CTPOST, we now have Acting Chief Rebeca Garcia’s four (4) page comprehensive letter, addressed to Police Commission Chairman Dan Roach discussing the situation and the response of the Police Department. It was released by the City on Friday, February 11, at 7:30 P.M, without comment or explanation. The impetus for releasing the letter was a Freedom of Information request seeking disclosure.
We now know, that Mayor Ganim was dragged, kicking and screaming to a position of transparency, after initially withholding a copy of Chief Garcia’s letter, based upon a spurious claim of privilege.
It is unfortunate that our Mayor did not offer any details, or even acknowledge, actions already taken by his police personnel prior to his media splash on January 30, 2022.
But it is even more unfortunate that police personnel cannot answer questions, posed by the media or by ordinary citizens, due to Mayor Ganim’s “media policy” which imposes a gag order on municipal employees, including the Chief of Police.
In his February 4, 2022, article CTPOST scribe, Brian Lockhart states that “what has been missing in all of this is Garcia’s side of the story.” He continues by reminding us that “Garcia … like other department heads under Ganim, is not allowed to speak to the press without permission.”
Why she is not allowed to speak to the press?
Consistent with Mayor Ganim’s need to control every aspect of his administration, he has implemented a written “Media Policy.” This policy requires all department heads to “call the Mayor’s Communication Director,” before responding to any media inquiries. The Media Policy includes a script for the Department Head or Supervisor to follow once a member of the press approaches a municipal employee.
This is a gag order dressed up as a municipal policy. Chief Garcia did not promulgate this policy, Mayor Ganim did.
While Mayor Ganim is not the only chief executive to adhere to such a restrictive media policy, he does happen to be the Mayor who keeps members of Boards and Commissions in their positions long after their terms have expired. According to the City Website, two members of the Civil Service Commission, Melva Falberg and Richard P. Rodgers are serving terms that ended in 2017 and 2010, respectively.
Every single member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, according to the City Website, is serving an expired term, and the Chair of the Commission, Mr. Melville Riley, is serving as Acting Chair.
In addition, the Mayor also has a well-established practice of keeping department heads in acting positions, rather than empowered as the actual head of the department. Just think back to “Acting” Personnel Director of Civil Service, David Dunn, and of course, “Acting” Police Chief AJ Perez, both of whom distinguished themselves with terms of imprisonment for federal convictions in connection with their service to the City.
And of course, the Website also states that our Fire Chief Lance Edwards is also serving in an acting position. The department of Public Facilities is also led by an Acting Director Craig Nadrizny.
A fair question for the Mayor is: What are you afraid of?
Does the truth frighten you so much that you must control every detail of information given to the residents of the City? Why do you need to regulate and control every detail of a department head’s speech? Why can’t the Chief be available to respond to inquiries from the press?
Must everyone who works for you, surrender their right to communicate with the public, while distancing themselves from accountability?
While gag orders have become a common practice in government, they are frowned upon by the courts. These gag orders are referred to as ‘prior restraint’ of speech. They are intended to prevent speech even before any words have been spoken.
Although public employees rarely challenge these gag orders in court, when they are challenged, the employees have prevailed on many occasions.
Most of us would agree that keeping a muzzle on the Chief of Police, or any other department head is not a policy that enhances the public good, or supports the public’s right to know.
It is the antithesis of transparency.
Mayor Ganim, lift the gag order!
OMG, thank you again, Judge Lopez for your vigilance and concern for the citizens of Bridgeport. Thank you, Lennie, for providing us with information we are entitled to, especially when it is about one of the most important departments in the City. I’m sure, by now, the entire State of Connecticut is looking at this abuse of free speech and saying “only in Bridgeport.” No pun intended Len! The Judge has detailed and made clear the many belittlements the Acting Chief of Police has had to endure, along with policies prohibiting employees of the City, in particular, Department heads. What’s next? Elected officials? Will they be threatened with primaries or lack of service they provide to their constituents? If not for the intelligence of Judge Lopez along with her moral character, and complete knowledge of the law, we might as well be living in a totalitarian city. Danny Roach is the Chair of the Police Commission, I believe in him, and it’s my opinion he will only go so far before he speaks out. I further believe that the owner of this blog will continue to inform the uninformed. He only takes so much. When Acting Chief Garcia was appointed to fill the vacancy of Police Chief I wanted to send her congratulations, but then thought I should mind my own business. She’s a professional that doesn’t deserve this verbal abuse and constraints. I won’t use the name of the only person capable of imposing these mandates. But, watch out, you’re not dealing with a puppet!
The Gag Order has been lifted. From now on it’ll be Duck Tape.
Did Ganim lob the grenade at the Police Department or did he just pull the pin on the grenade that was created by the police department that landed on his desk for the inept actions of officers within the department, who didn’t do due diligence in performing their duties in serving the public at large, that their actions, or lack of, resulted in an intent to sue the city and garnered national news coverage?
It may be a fair question, but is it an honest, transparent question? In politics, what politicians are afraid of most is losing in the next election cycle, outside being caught for criminal behavior that may lead them to prison, maybe death too, among few.
So in the spirit of your question, what Mayor Ganim is afraid of most? Being a mayor who lost his job and went to prison for 7 years for political corruption, the logical conclusion is losing the next election cycle.
Harry S Truman stated” the buck stops here”, but what does that actually mean? Surely the role of the mayor
is not to investigate untimely deaths. Does not a mayor of a city have to oversee many departments in city governments? Is the mayor of Bridgeport any different in that regard? I will not get into the apparatus or policies of the mayor’s office regarding appointments, commissions for that entails much larger in-depth conversation.
However it is important to watch what they do and what they say to make sure things add up, and there are many things that don’t add up regarding these two cases of Lauren Smith-fields and Brenda Lee Rawl that made national news and was the opening to this commentary.
I am not sure if there’s a gag order at the Medical Examiner’s Office, but to date, I don’t believe they have issued a report on the cause of Brenda Lee Rawls. Why do we have a report on the cause of death in one case but not the other? It seems the need for information, gagged or not, is warranted, wanted and selective at times.
Did Judge Lopez just critique Danny Roach’s boss? I am sure Ganim is pleased Danny called her to become a member of his slate for DTC., think Mario has her vote? 🙂
JML, you’re the math man. Any of this shit adding up. 🙂
P.S Speaking of adding up, and to be fair, Joe lifts the gag order, Pivot, Pivot. 💣,✌🚀,👁🗨😀🚀🌎,👽
As always I depart with the prophet Eminem. 😇
Judge Carmen Lopez, thank you again for speaking truth to power, Acting Chief Garcia has been left out there spinning in the wind like someone who doesn’t know what to do. Lisa, to your question, “What’s next? Elected officials? Will they be threatened with primaries or lack of service they provide to their constituents?” HELL yes, you know that’s what’s going to happen.
I want to go back to December 12, 2021, untimely deaths of two Black Women, Ms. Lauren Smith-Fields and Ms. Brenda Lee Rawls and the disgraceful lack of leadership from Mayor Joe Ganim in not reaching out to the families of Smith-Fields and Rawls. I hope that Smith-Fields and Rawls families along with their Attorney Darnell Crossland would contact Attorney Ben Crump and Rev. Al Sharpton and seek their assistance in getting a fast resolution concerning the death untimely deaths of Ms. Lauren Smith-Fields and Ms. Brenda Lee Rawls. Here is my concerns.
Ron Mackey says:
February 2, 2022 at 11:34 pm
TIME TO REFORM THE POLICE DEPARTMENT & MAYOR ! Below I’ve paste a comments from the the Conn Post that shows why Mayor Joe Ganim lacks the leadership skills to be the mayor. Mayor Gamin didn’t have the time, respect and sensitivity to reach out to these two families during this tragic lost to these families. The mayor was a total NO SHOW.
Rawls Washington said Ganim’s announcement Sunday , which included an apology to Smith-Fields’ family and her own, was “too little, too late.”
She said actions would speak louder than words, repeating her call for an independent probe. Rawls’ family doesn’t believe the department can do “a fair and thorough investigation,” she said. “We think someone from outside should be doing the investigation.”
The case echoes that of Lauren Smith-Fields , a 23-year-old Bridgeport woman found unresponsive and declared dead hours earlier — and blocks away — from Rawls, whose family has also raised questions about how the case was handled.
On what would have been Smith-Fields’ 24th birthday, her family and friends were joined by hundreds on a march from the police department to the Margaret Morton Government Center, where they called attention to Smith-Fields’ case .
Ben Crump and All Sharpton? That’s fucking funny. Hey Ron, why is it that Brenda Lee Rawls friend gets a free ride. She goes down the street to her friends house to spend the night. She dies that night in her friend’s house and a few days later a group of her relatives knock on her neighbors door to inquire about Brenda Lee’s whereabouts. He tells them she died and the full force of their grief falls upon the police. What kind of a friend fails to notify the family just down the street? There’s no need for a written policy or law to notify the next-of-kin in such case.
Joel, I fail to see your humor in your statement, “Ben Crump and All Sharpton? That’s fucking funny” you can be assure if they it involved these cases will get action right away and Acting Chief Rebeca Garcia might need legal guidance the way all of this is going.
February 9, 2022 at 11:56 pm
Let’s start here from the Post, “Smith-Fields, 23, and Rawls, 53, died in unrelated incidents Dec. 12. Their families complained that they were not properly notified of the fatalities by police and, at least in the case of Smith-Fields, that investigators did not scrutinize the white man she had spent the night with. Their stories garnered attention on social media, resulting last month in intense national media coverage and hundreds protesting downtown Jan. 23.” Joel who inform the families of the deaths and when?
Good, relevant detail provided by Judge Lopez that adds up to “ failed city.” The only solution available to We, the People, of Bridgeport to have an effective, open government, capable of bringing prosperity and livability back to our city is through a wholesale state takeover that places responsibility on Governor Lamont and the GA for overseeing either the total reconstruction of governance and economic development policy in Bridgeport ( backed by big-time state $) or the dissolution of incorporated Bridgeport into parts, with annexation of such by adjacent municipalities (the once, tongue-in-cheek Samowitz Plan).
Government reform in Bridgeport needs to be total — stem to stern, top to bottom — and will require a state takeover to develop and implement a plan for such…
The Steven Auerbach “Gag rule” now named “Media Policy for the City.” Since the time that little Stevie was given his city on parking tickets little Stevie A the superstar of OIB in Stevie’s own mind, could not make any post on OIB during workdays hours so little Stevie would post only on weekends or real late at night on weekdays. I would rib Stevie about that but now I see that there’s a real written policy.
Happy Valentines Day Mr. Mayor, hope you like the dark chocolates we sent you?
Most Taxpayers of Bridgeport also unknowingly contributed and also most members of the city council, you’ve been Flucking us for years and this is just a small token of our Love And Appreciation
‘It’s called the Bridgeport Syndrome.
Instead of Stock Syndrome or Helsinki Syndrome
The Bridgeport Syndrome is a psychological condition in which Taxpayers and City Council members (e.g the flucking Rubber Stampers) bond with their captors and thereby refuse to testify against you or vote against you.
So just one word from the City Attorney office ( aka Hamilton Burger)a rewording or a clarification and the City Council go’s into the (Bridgeport Syndrome) and that will be the last of the any City Charter Revision Commission in this City!
Happy Valentines Day………. Gen Later!