More Loot For Lawyers, Plus: Columbus Fest And Political Possibilities

This may be a first, the City Council has hired its own lawyer. Sort of.

City Attorney Mark Anastasi has proclaimed repeatedly that the City Charter gives the city attorney–and only the city attorney–the authority to hire outside counsel.

Council members have hired Berchem, Moses & Devlin to review and advise them regarding the Steel Point development agreement. Council members have meowed for years that advice from lawyers on the payroll slants to the mayor. Anastasi has a history of loyalty to the chief executive. He is hired by the mayor and in his view must be absolutely loyal in his legal advice.

Well, what about us? ask council members. The advice given to the mayor is not necessarily a legal opinion good for the legislative body. The council must ultimately sign off on the development agreement crafted between developer and the mayor.

This kind of hire, however, can be tricky. The council has hired an accomplished firm to guide them legally. But it is also a firm that has and is representing the city on other matters. Could this eventually present a conflict between mayor and the council? Wouldn’t it be better to hire a firm that has no ties to city work?

The council has said screw it Mark, we want our own person on this one. And it appears the city attorney will play ball on this one rather than fight it. Mark has a few extra bucks stashed away in his legal account to pay for this. And Bob Berchem, the leading partner in the firm, has presented a proposal to the council that caps the legal work at roughly $20k. The council doesn’t have to worry about bidding the work if it’s run through Anastasi’s office. So there’s a bit of a wink going on between Mark and council members. Give us this one, Mark, and we won’t break your stones.

But it opens the door for the council to hire a lawyer on other matters as well.

Caruso And Columbus

Yeah baby, pass the sausage and peppers and pizza fritta, it’s Columbus Day weekend.

I chatted with the indomitable State Rep. Chris Caruso, a key weekend festivities organizer, about events sponsored by the Council of Italian American Societies. Friday and Saturday night at 7 the U.S. 2nd Marine Division Band will play free concerts at the Klein. If you’ve never seen the band or the Klein, check it out. The Klein is a sweet city-owned venue.

Tix are free and can be picked up at Lupe’s, 3129 Main Street, Bridgeport. Call 203-374-0600. Non-perishable food items are requested for distribution to needy vets.

On Sunday, the Columbus Parade kicks off at 1 p.m. at Wayne and Jewett, heads south on Wayne to Madison Avenue where it will end around the area of Micalizzi’s Italian Ice. Lots of floats and bands on tap including PAL Buccaneers, Park City Senior Drum & Bugle, Holy Rosary Church and The Shriners. Love those old guys on their cycles.

Parade organizers could use convertibles and welcome classic cars. (Hey Yahooy, here’s your chance to invite Anna in your ragtop.) Anyone with a convertible or classic car should contact Rose Vizzo at 203-452-7573.

Weather looks nice for Sunday. Ms. Mo and I will be harassing all the pols in the parade. Well, maybe just me. She loves to wave and blow kisses.

Speaking of Caruso, I hope to do a Pol Pod with him very soon. He’s always an interesting interview. The 2010 gubernatorial cycle will be a pisser and then we segue right into the mayoral cycle. Just think of the possibilities in 2011. Bill Finch, Chris Caruso, Johnny Fabs. Could Carmen Lopez jump in? Paul Ganim? Or Joe Ganim? How about State Rep. Don Clemons? State Rep. Andres Ayala? Maybe I’ll move back into the city and run myself. I might get one vote. Maybe not, I don’t think I could convince myself to vote for me.

Could Finch say screw it and make a play for Connecticut secretary of state next year? That’s the job Bill always wanted before city pols pressed him to run for mayor. Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz is the leading Dem along with Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy for the gubernatorial party nod. That leaves SuBy’s seat available.

No, I haven’t lost my mind. These kinds of opportunities in politics don’t come around often. You take your shot when it’s available. And it would be a free run for Bill. He doesn’t have to give up his mayoral seat to run for secretary of state. All Bill has to do is pick up the phone and call Dem Party Chair Nancy DiNardo and say I want in. What she’ll say is a different story. That scream you just heard was Nancy saying, “Lennie, leave me alone.”



  1. I have said it before and will say it again Finch will not finish his term as mayor. I believe he is already testing the waters for Secretary of State.
    Maybe we should start a nominate Finch for Secretary of State Committee. If he gets that office he can take all of his staff with him including the architect of all this bullshit Adam Wood.
    After they leave we can start getting rid of the rest of the incompetents he has hired over the past 2 years. I will volunteer to hand out the layoff notices for these incompetents.

  2. I’m happy to see the Council look for outside counsel on Steal Pointe. Berchem, Moses & Devlin???

    C’mon guys! These guys are already on the pad. I guess even the Council doesn’t believe in Buy Local.

  3. Well we are hiring another outside law firm Berchem, Moses & Devlin at $350 per hour. They are hired to read the proposed steel point contracts. Are you telling me no one in the city attorneys office can do that?
    We are sending 7 council people back to Miami for another look at what was developed there. This is a one-day trip. What the hell are they going to learn that they did not learn the last time they were there?
    The interesting thing is where this money is coming from. The council seems to have their own slush fund and that is being used to pay the outside lawyers. The mayor has a slush fund that is paying for the trip to Miami. How much money has been put into these 2 accounts? This has never been reported. It seems that the Finch administration through the efforts of that financial magician Sherwood has money hidden everywhere.
    We screw the employees they give up wages and take unpaid leave and yet we have all this hidden money. How much money is hidden?

    1. This whole deal, the City Council “hiring” an outside law firm to sort out the Stealpointe plan, pew! Not Le Pew, just pew, plain and simple. Stinks like the shithouse door on a shrimp boat, or a whorehouse at low tide.

  4. Finch as Secretary of State? Ridiculous. Finch needs to realize that he is way out of his element and should leave public service sooner rather than later. How, in his entire life, has he ever served the public properly?

    1. I really think he would be an excellent Secretary of State. Bill is better when out of day-to-day details that have immediate impact on the ground. He has some good ideas and I think he would be a good advocate for small-business concerns and elections–as long as he is one removed from the ground. I say BF for SOS!

  5. We don’t have a lot of bucks. And once the rest of the state hears Finch is from Bridgeport it is liable to queer a nomination for secretary of state. So since the secretary of state is supposed to be a skirt, let’s get Finch a skirt. Size 14, no?
    That means we need a strong, masculine figure for governor at the top of the ticket. You know, someone like Ella Grasso. If we get an Ella Grasso-type for governor, we can run the political equivalent of Inspector Clouseau for secretary of state.

  6. The Oracle of Omaha Steaks!

    I could really go for some macaroni this weekend. Lennie, may I come up to mangia and talk Political Pastabilities?
    Free Junket to Miami! Why don’t they just tell Christoph to Junk-it! I didn’t know that Ernie “Moses” Newton was in a law firm?

  7. First of all the City Attorney is the Attorney for the whole City including the council. The City Attorney is not the Mayor’s personal attorney and the charter forbids him from having a personal attorney in city matters. The City Attorney is not the Council’s political director, by the fact it is the “City” Attorney the attorney should be doing the right thing by its citizens. In many states City Attorneys are elected so they do have to answer directly to the citizens. This is a very difficult thing to do in Bridgeport. There is virtually only one party in Bridgeport and these positions become political. Mark Anastasi is a civil service attorney, the Mayor can’t fire him just take away his title. (Hmmm wait I guess the Mayor can fire civil service guys.) It is not the City Attorney’s job to massage opinions to please the Mayor, nor is it within the purview of the council to spend the taxpayers’ money to see how the Steel Point deal will spin politically. (Leave spending taxpayers’ money for political gain to Lisa Moody and Gov. Rell.)

    Bercham has a direct conflict of interest as that firm has represented the “other city” many times and is a big donor to Finch. If the council is trying to hire them as an outside independent opinion they went to the wrong firm. It seems to me that creates a conflict. Will Bercham really give an opinion that goes against the Mayor and City Attorney? The City is a much deeper pocket for the firm. This smells worse than 2-day-old fish. The political strategist in me says McCarthy goes to Finch and says I don’t know I can get this through council without a big fight, the council wants an independent opinion. Finch perhaps suggests Bercham, but could it be that this “outside” firm isn’t so outside. Remember the lobbyist deal with the Port Authority. Methinks there should be a dusting for Wood’s fingerprints on this deal. Wood’s job is basically to be a smarmy, slick political hustler who gets it done without the Mayor’s “fingerprints.” He is good at that; he yells, he deals. Let him be the Mayor’s political adviser on the Mayor’s dime. Get a CAO who can do that job. I would bet that if Finch finally fires Wood or he resigns, Finch has a decent shot at winning the next election.

    Really, I know everyone wants Finch out of office, but for anyone to imply that he could cut it as Secretary of State is ludicrous. Maybe he could go back to the legislature, unfocused people who can pass the buck can survive there. If he becomes SOS I doubt CT could ever have another election again, especially if Wood goes with him. (Could you imagine statewide lawsuits like Caruso’s?) As to small business SOS just makes sure the filings are all proper and i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. It is mostly detail as evidenced by SOS relationship with town clerks and registrars. I know you want him out of Bridgeport but let him go to the private sector or become a lobbyist and that goes triple for Wood.

  8. I was speaking with a very high-ranking member of the Connecticut Legislature around a week ago concerning our dear mayor and this person said that he doesn’t care what happens to Finch as long as he doesn’t return to the legislature. They had him and they are glad he is gone.

  9. The people of the city of Bridgeport will be glad when he’s gone. Well, at least a few of us will be glad when he’s gone. The rest of the electorate is apathetical. No one gives a shit.

  10. I finally got around to reading The Post. I’ve been accused of hiding in a bog for awhile, so does anyone know if 350 bucks an hour is the going rate these days for political lawyers? It used to be a C or thereabouts. Taking the rubes to the cleaners around here was maybe $150 for burgs like Bridgeport or New Haven. That’s going to take a lot of hack lawyering to put a tarp over the political sex between Finch and Bercham on this one. What was the City Council thinking?

    Oh, sorry.

    Unless the aldermaniacs have figured out a way to import South Beach to the ‘Port it is hard to see what they get out of a day trip to Miami. It’s not as if there are not enough relevant harbor developments up and down Long Island Sound. They end up blowing $5g to $10gs and spend at least a third of the day in transport. Not very efficient. From our standpoint, maybe they end up constipated from bouncing up and down on buses and sitting in cramped airplanes. At least we know they come back full of shit.

  11. There is not a damn thing that can be done about this shameless waste of money. Our Money!!! The people of this city just don’t give a damn. The Republican party is all but dead; there is not one person in this party that has balls enough to speak out. So off to Miami they go while their attorneys rack up $350 per hour. BTW it was nice of the attorneys to say they will not exceed $20,000 for their services.

  12. Lennie, perhaps you could find out if Judge Lopez gets the normal delay from the City for her request of information, just the current cost for outside attorneys for cases that are going forward now. The City is in the final stage of their State hearing with the six fire inspectors that were fired. (This will cost big money for the taxpayers when the City gets their decision changed and they have to pay back-pay and legal fees for that case.)

    1. Ron; I know you disagree with me on this one but these 6 should have been fired. They violated the people’s trust. How they got caught is immaterial to me; they got caught. There is no way you can justify a guy going to Massachusetts with a city vehicle while he was supposed to be on duty in Bridgeport. You cannot justify a guy parking his city vehicle, changing his clothes and working on his income property all while he was supposed to be inspecting buildings in Bridgeport. I do not want these 6 back.

  13. They’re good lawyers. I’m glad that they have been engaged to review the SteelPoint contracts. $350 per hour is not excessive … it’s usual and customary for that type of lawyering. I am comfortable with that firm. I don’t care if they gave money to Phinch’s campaign.

  14. “town committee,” the law is: DUE PROCESS–The idea that law and legal proceedings must be fair. The Constitution guarantees that the government cannot take away a person’s basic rights to ‘life, liberty or property without DUE PROCESS OF LAW.’ Courts have issued numerous rulings about what this means in particular cases.

    What steps did the Fire Chief take when he FIRST became aware of the action of those six inspectors? It is a piss-poor manager who would allow workers to continue to work if he knew that they were not doing their job. In the end it will show that the Fire Chief, David Dunn and the City violated the DUE PROCESS of those inspectors.

    Andy, the law works both ways.


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