Baker: I Do What’s Right For The Kids

Andre Baker
Andre Baker

A day after his swing vote on the Board of Education approved the site plan for a high school to replace Harding on Boston Avenue property owned by General Electric, former East End City Councilman Andre Baker tells OIB his school board votes will not be swayed by candidate alliances he built for his election nor influenced by Mayor Bill Finch.

“I’m not going to be bullied into we ran together so we must always vote together,” says Baker. “I do what’s right for the kids. Whether Bill Finch supports the project or not, it does not matter to me. Bottom line is the kids.”

Baker admitted to some fatigue on Wednesday morning following a marathon eight-hour meeting that began Monday night and lasted until 2 a.m. Tuesday.

(Is school board member John “Bags” Bagley snoozy? Who could blame him after the long Monday Night Fights. Chair Sauda Baraka is speaking. Bags coulda used some NoDoz during her speech. Education Bridgeport scribe Megan DeSombre, not a friend of school board leadership, shares this video.)

Baker represented the 139th District on the council where Harding serves students in the East End and East Side neighborhoods. The school board’s 5-4 approval of the site plan now green lights a remediation plan by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in support of the $78 million construction project on roughly 17 acres that was the site of a munitions factory and then former manufacturing plant owned by GE. The company will donate the property.

Baker has taken some heat for breaking from a Working Families Party coalition that argues more time should be given to review the clean-up plan. Baker counters the city has been searching for a new location to replace the physically challenged Harding for nearly 10 years and board members have had plenty of time to do their own diligence regarding a clean-up plan for the GE property. Baker ran on the WFP and Democratic lines last November.

He’s also at odds with former Bridgeport WFP chair Maria Pereira regarding the city’s compliance with the education Minimum Budget Requirement. Pereira, a former school board member, had a recent falling-out with WFP over the state party leadership’s support for Governor Dan Malloy. Pereira announced she could not be part of a coalition that supports a governor who supported state control of city schools that was overturned by the Connecticut Supreme Court. Pereira, who’s not bashful about sharing an opinion, posted some pointed remarks about Baker on the CT Post comments section such as:

Fran Rabinowitz, Andre Baker, Hernan Illingsworth and Joe Larcheveque are publicly supporting this ILLEGAL deal that serves to hurt over 20,000 public school students and their families. In-kind services cannot be counted towards the Minimum Budget Requirement. The law is quite clear that only CASH may be counted towards meeting the MBR. I am not shocked by Hernan Illingsworth or Joe Larcheveque, after all they are Finch puppets. Fran Rabinowitz needs to replaced as quickly as possible and a permanent superintendent with a back bone needs to be hired asap. Andre Baker is an absolute disgrace who has difficulty understanding and comprehending the most basic information. He WILL be removed in his next election.

For his part, Baker, the cerebral funeral home director, says he respects his peers on the school board and will continue to review all sides of education issues and register votes irrespective of personalities.



  1. I am a fan. Listening to him in City Council meetings and participating in the vetting process with CW4BB, my experience is this man thinks, listens to his fellow citizens, and researches diligently the short- and long-term benefits and possible downside for both his neighborhood and the city and votes accordingly. I am sure this was not an easy decision for Andre and I support his decision and appreciate his dedication to this city.

        1. I like Andre and I know he is independent. Might have been with Finch and crowd on this but he is, in fact, an independent thinker. I support the Harding vote. I cannot, will not ever support the starvation of our school system at the hands of the Finch administration. He had kids in the system. You would think he would fund it instead of throwing hundreds of thousands of more dollars at sycophants in his office. Wait no, he would definitely spend more on toadies than his own kids’ education. What was I thinking?

  2. What people have to understand about Andre Baker is he is his own man and you CANNOT bully him and I don’t care who you are and he CANNOT be bought.

  3. I will say this, if we had 19 more Andre Bakers on the council this city would be in a lot better place financially. Andre was the one beacon of light on the council who actually cared about the people.

  4. Andre, so you are doing “what is best for kids.” Moales made a motion to add Harding High School to the agenda shortly after the meeting started, and you seconded it. There was a 20-minute discussion regarding the fact the GE remediation plan had just been received that very day. John Bagley said his committee would review it at his next Facilities Committee meeting on May 7th. The Board reached consensus that would be the course of action. Moales withdrew his motion and you withdrew your second.

    Then Adam Wood takes you out of the meeting so you, Adam Wood, Mark Anastasi, Ruben Felipe, the O&G rep and Finch’s new communications director all huddle together to discuss placing Harding on the agenda that night. You re-enter the meeting and before you are even fully seated, you make a new motion to add the approval of the new Harding High School site plan.

    Who are you kidding? You were called out of the meeting by Finch’s henchmen two additional times before the vote was even taken. Anastasi wrote down the motion to approve the Harding site plan and handed it to you in front of everyone. You read it word for word and you want to tell us it is all about the kids?

    How is taking $2.2 million less this year and $2.0 less in cash next year, “what is best for kids?” Next year, Mayor Finch will now be allowed to reduce his contribution to the BBOE by $2.2 million. The year after, he will be allowed to reduce his contribution by another $2.0 million. In addition, next year state law requires a penalty in your state grant TWICE the amount of the Minimum Budget Requirement shortfall. Therefore, the law requires the state to reduce their cash contribution to the BBOE by $4.4 million next year and $4.0 the following year. Your actions, and those of Hennessey, Moales, Illingworth and Larcheveque just cost the “kids” a $16.8 million dollar cash reduction for this year and next year. Great job doing “what is best for kids.”

  5. There are at least three new jobs all over $100,000 since we took the new tax increase, so everyone can talk until they are blue in the face but it is the same old at City Hall.

  6. The Working Families Party got exactly what they recruited, and what they claimed they were looking for in a candidate. An independent thinker, who vowed to put kids before politics, and someone who is no rubber stamp Board Member. This should be no surprise to them.

    In all fairness, it is NOT the WFP who is stinking up the joint with character attacks and venomous aspersions. It’s Pereira throwing the world-class hissy fit. She is always telling us who she is. What is so incredible is she does not seem to be the least bit embarrassed be her own inability to control herself.

    Pereira sure seems to “step down” from elected and appointed political positions a lot. What’s up with that? 😉

    1. We have two issues stinking up the joint as you put it. One is Pereira who has forgotten she no longer sits on the board and has given up her WFP post and has only her own solo constituency, and Moales who clearly has been given marching orders by Finch to create chaos at all costs. Between the two, life is difficult at the BOE. I think Sauda is doing a remarkable job given the dynamics and she needs continued support to stand strong. Standing strong will pre-empt both Pereira and Moales–really it will. Baraka has shown real signs of being a leader. Let’s let her do that. Otherwise she gets thrown to the wolves of Finch and the gazillion-dollar reformers.
      On another note–holding members of the BOE to litmus-test votes is counterproductive. I voted for the challenge slates and while I’ve been disappointed by a couple of their votes, I will take their intelligence, thoughtfulness and independence any day over the man-handled, over-managed and threatened Finch stooges.

      1. Yes, true statement. Moales is a thorn in the side of educational progress for sure. His behavior is just as reprehensible as Pereira’s. But I was referring to her statements from the Post that are quoted here in this post.

        1. Maria has never called Moales names, even when he asked her if she was “special ed. or on Ritalin.”
          She has never stated “If I was to send my children to the Bridgeport Public Schools, I would be committing child abuse.”
          She has never bashed Bridgeport Public School teachers or the teaching profession.
          She has never attended a BBOE meeting ill-prepared.
          She has never influenced the BBOE in the hiring of any parishioner, friend or family member.
          She has never used her position for personal financial gain.
          She has never given up on Bridgeport Public Schools children, parents and teachers.

          What she has done is defend both your and my right to vote for our BBOE members at significant personal expense. As a matter of fact, if it weren’t for Maria, Bobby, Sauda and Judge Lopez, you wouldn’t have ANY BOE members who are “independent.” Every single one of them would be Finch appointees.

      2. What Pereira hasn’t forgotten is she was born and raised in Bridgeport, she is a graduate of the Bridgeport Public Schools, specifically Harding High School and she is a Bridgeport public school parent.

        It is standard practice for constituents to hold their elected officials accountable based on their voting record. It really doesn’t matter what an elected official says, what matters is how they vote.

    2. Mustang, putting thousands of students and hundreds of educators and support staff in a new school that is being built on the largest brownfield site in CT, without reviewing the site plan or without reading a single page of the proposed remediation plan, can only be described as completely irresponsible.

      Andre Baker’s actions reek of a “rubber stamp.” Rubber stamps do not review reports, data, plans, etc., they just do as they are told.

      Please list ALL the “elected and appointed political positions” Maria has stepped down from. She completed her full term on the BBOE and resigned from the State WFP Central Committee. What other resignations do you have for us?

      Maria has nothing to be embarrassed about. She had already told Andre she will not support him for re-election weeks ago and she was going to work to defeat him. Instead of running behind his back, she told him directly. I believe that is being honest, forthright and direct.
      PS Mustang, no one can hold a candle to you when it comes to venomous attacks.

      1. Mr. Moore, it appears your main goal in life is to kiss Maria’s ass from sunrise to sunset. And no one can hold a candle to you when it comes to that.

      1. Godiva–I would have gotten back to you earlier but I was busy cooking up my next venomous attack. Now if I could only find some puppies to kick … 😉

  7. Comment re the attempt at humiliating John Bagley by including this irrelevant video in the story regarding Andre Baker’s vote:
    Well, the meeting did go until around 2 AM, right? Eight hours.

    And largely, according to the Twitter feed of @lclambeck this was due to the venal verbal diarrhea of Moales (Finch’s campaign treasurer and, last I knew, board member of Steve Perry’s Capital Prep Harbor [Charter] School–endorsed by Finch).

    BTW: Is Moales napping in this video from the ConnCan-paid-for Megan DeSombre?

    Finally: To the officers, directors, agents, and employees of OIB: I really hope you begin charging ConnCan’t for its product placements via Megan DeSombre on your site.

  8. Andre Baker,
    You keep making me proud! Even when you you disagreed with me on an issue when we were on the council together, your decision was well thought out, well reasoned and well … wrong if you disagreed with me but I could always respect you and I would NEVER consider you a sell-out.
    You just need to keep doing what you have been doing. Weigh all of the pros and cons, follow your instincts, follow the facts and you will have no vote to be ashamed of.
    As I experienced with some voters, you could be right 99 times in a row but disagree with them on the 100th vote and you don’t know what the hell you are doing.
    Just keep on keeping on.

    1. Bob, how can Andre “weigh” all the pros and cons of the Harding issue when he hadn’t reviewed the site plan or read a single page of the proposed remediation plan before he pushed this project through?

      The bottom line is Mayor Finch, Adam Wood, Ruben Felipe, Mark Anastasi, Finch’s communications director and the O&G representative used him to do their dirty work. The same people who did everything in their power to defeat his candidacy for the BBOE, and the same group that was responsible for that horrible mailer that portrayed him as an elected official who utilized taxpayer dollars to buy steak dinners and martinis in New York, used him.

      If you don’t think every single one of them had a good laugh at his expense, you are kidding yourself. Andre allowed himself to be used. They will be back for more, and when they are done with him, they will simply discard him.

      You know better than anyone how two-faced Finch and his cronies are.

  9. Godiva, if you live in Bridgeport, maybe you would not like the way this corruption of this overpriced school takes place. All done in secret, taking 1.2 million square feet of industrial space off the tax rolls and a resultant operation cost that will blow our taxes through the roof. Also, if you think our education problem is the quality of the building, you and all the other supporters of these pork-barrel projects are either deluded or disingenuous.

  10. Andre Baker,
    You were open to questions I asked when you were on the Council. You were also open to information I learned as a result of study of City fiscal issues. You were only one person out of 20 on the Council but your attendance at B&A Committee after you were replaced and the questions you asked, for timely and comprehensive information were always reasonable in my judgment.

    I have watched you step into the role of Chair of BOE Finance and am happy you have seen the difference between financial presentations by CFO Siegel and those frequently made to Council members. You and other finance committee members are gaining a fiscal education that is good for Bridgeport in the long run.

    At the end of the day, you cannot please everyone, but you know that already. At the end of the day the best way for Bridgeport schools to rise from their current position is for new representatives like you to call for more resources in fairness and justice and to employ them with minimal waste and expect instructors and students to use their full measure of energy and ability. It is possible. Guide the way pragmatically, factually, and respectfully as you have learned to do. Time will tell.


Leave a Reply