Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez has become a stick in the eye to the Finch administration.
She has filed a complaint with the state claiming the Civil Service Commission violated Freedom Of Information laws when it dumped Ralph Jacobs as personnel director last month. Jacobs is appealing the termination in court. It’s the first time the city’s non-political personnel director has been canned and opens to door to Mayor Bill Finch to fill civil service slots with political supporters.
City Attorney Mark Anastasi has own take on freedom of information: freedom from information. We’ll see how this plays out. Lopez complaint to the FOI Commission:
On August 21, 2009, the Civil Service Commission of the City of Bridgeport, held a meeting at Bridgeport City Hall. The purpose of the meeting involved the status of Mr. Ralph Jacobs, who was the Personnel Director of the City of Bridgeport.
Upon information and belief, the Civil Service Commission voted to enter Executive Session, for the purpose of discussing Mr. Jacobs performance, and possible dismissal. It entered Executive Session without giving Mr. Jacobs an opportunity to discuss the matter at an open meeting, as required by Section 1-200(6)(A) of the General Statutes. Following the Executive Session, the Commission voted, without comment, to dismiss the Personnel Director.
On September 1, 2009, the undersigned communicated via email with David Dunn, Bridgeport’s Acting Personnel Director. (see attached forwarded email)
I explained to Mr. Dunn that the minutes of the August 21, 2009 meeting were not available for inspection, and had not been posted on the City’s web site. This was, and to my knowledge remains, a violation of Section 1-225(a) of the General Statutes which reads:
“the votes of each member of any such public agency upon any issue before such public agency, shall be reduced to writing and made available for public inspection within forty eight hours and shall be recorded in the minutes of the session at which taken. Within seven days of the session to which such minutes refer, such minutes shall be available for public inspection and posted on such agency’s internet web site, if available….”
Mr. Dunn informed me that the minutes “are being prepared,” and asked that I request a copy, “in writing.” I expressed to him my belief that an email is “a writing” and satisfies the requirements of Section 1-212(a)of the General Statutes, which requires a person to apply for a copy of a public record “in writing.”
In addition, Mr. Dunn informed me that the City Attorney would review the minutes before they were made public. The taking of minutes would seem to be a function of the Commission’s secretary or Clerk, and not the City Attorney.
To date, I have received no response from Mr. Dunn, or from the Office of the City Attorney concerning my request for copies of any minutes which may have been prepared, despite a second communication on September 10, 2009. (see attached forwarded email.)
I am therefore requesting that the City of Bridgeport be found in violation of the Freedom of Information Act, due to its failure to compile, post, and make available, minutes of the August 21, 2009 Civil Service Commission meeting.
I also believe that there has been a violation of the Act, upon information and belief, because the Executive Session was illegal, and the public should not have been excluded.
Furthermore, requesting a document from the City of Bridgeport via email is a “writing” as that term is used in the applicable statute.
I believe that some or all of the above referenced violations of the FOI Act were committed without ‘reasonable grounds’ in violation of Section 1-206(b)(2) of the General Statutes.
I therefore request that a civil penalty be imposed.