Last year the Board of Education gave back $4 million to help ease the city’s deficit pain. Don’t expect that to happen again. In fact, the BOE finance leader is requesting a 10 percent increase.
The BOE budget committee, chaired by Pat Crossin, is proposing a $238 million budget for the spending year beginning July 1, up from the $215 million the City Council authorized for the current year budget. What you ask for and what you get, however, are two very different numbers, and the request could change before the BOE must submit its recommended spending plan to city bean counters in two weeks. Mayor Bill Finch will submit his budget to the council in the beginning of April.The BOE budget makes up roughly 40 percent of the city’s overall current year $490 million budget. The new budget is crucial to the mayor’s reelection plans for next year.
The city’s state legislative delegation, led by senior member State Rep. Chris Caruso, gave the BOE a tongue lashing recently when educators reached out for state help. The Big Wave said don’t ask us to bleed for you if you keep giving money back to the city-side budget.
When it was announced last week that Connecticut had been shut out of a whole bunch of transportation dough, Connecticut’s federal legislative delegation threw a fit. They met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to vent. From Congressman Jim Himes:
Connecticut Delegation Presses Transportation Secretary on Grants
LaHood Tells Delegation DOT Will Meet with All Connecticut TIGER Grant Applicants
WASHINGTON – Today the Connecticut Congressional delegation met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to ask why our state – with some of the most crowded highways in the country – did not receive any of the $1.5 billion in federal transportation funds announced last week.
Secretary LaHood told the Connecticut delegation he shared their disappointment that the state did not receive funding even though good proposals were submitted.
As DOT decides which states will receive $600 million in TIGER grants this fall, LaHood promised the delegation that Department of Transportation officials will meet with ConnDOT and all of the Connecticut TIGER grant applicants to help them submit the most competitive applications possible.
“The Connecticut delegation is clearly united in their frustration and has done a good job of explaining why Connecticut needs funding,” said Secretary LaHood. “I appreciate their bringing me their concerns. My department will meet with each and every Connecticut applicant to ensure that they are fully prepared to compete later this year.”
Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), along with Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), John Larson (CT-1), Joe Courtney (CT-2), Chris Murphy (CT-5), and Jim Himes (CT-4) also reiterated their strong support for the development of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line and urged the Secretary LaHood to consider it for funding under the $2.5 billion in high speed rail grants DOT will award this year.
“As we told the Secretary, the fact that our state was passed over is extremely disappointing, and we won’t rest until Connecticut gets the resources it needs,” said Senator Dodd. “He assured us that his department will meet with our applicants as they apply for more funding in the coming months, and I’m going to stay in close touch with him, my colleagues, ConnDOT, and other Connecticut applicants to ensure these commitments are met.”
“I’m pleased that Secretary LaHood and the Department of Transportation have recognized that there were a number of worthy Connecticut projects that would create new jobs,” said Senator Lieberman. “It’s important that all Connecticut applicants get the opportunity to make their case for future funds, and I’m committed to working with the rest of the delegation to ensure that our state’s roads and railroad infrastructure are getting the resources they need.”
“While I remain disappointed that Connecticut was overlooked in the recent transportation project funding disbursement, I will work hard and advocate for our state’s many worthy projects in getting them the support they deserve in the next round of funding,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “I look forward to working with Secretary LaHood and my colleagues to improve our state’s infrastructure and to help alleviate the sky-high unemployment rates in the local construction industry.”
Congressman John B. Larson, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus said, “I am confident after our meeting with Secretary LaHood that with renewed efforts and the assistance for Connecticut’s applicants that the Secretary has committed to, that the requirements for our critical transportation projects will be met.”
“I appreciate Secretary LaHood’s candor today, and his regret that Connecticut did not receive TIGER funding in the first round. I look forward to working with the DOT, the State of Connecticut, and my colleagues in the Congressional Delegation to advocate for worthwhile projects in the upcoming second round of the program,” said Rep. Courtney.
“I’m glad the U.S. DOT now sees what we already knew – Connecticut has a laundry list of worthy transportation projects that deserve federal dollars,” said Rep. Murphy. “Connecticut has done very well in receiving stimulus funds to help put our people back to work, but this delegation isn’t going to let any potential funding pass us by. I’m glad to have the Secretary’s commitment to work with Connecticut in this next round of TIGER applications.”
“I was very direct with Secretary LaHood that, given Connecticut’s contribution to the national economy and the transportation challenges we face, the TIGER grant awards were completely unacceptable to us,” said Rep. Himes. “The Secretary committed to working together as the TIGER process moves forward to ensure Fairfield County gets the investment we deserve.”
Check This Out
Several OIB friends will display their artwork this weekend including Jessica Materna who dips the finest chocolate-covered strawberries on the planet. If you want some, see Jessica at Épernay Bistro on Fairfield Avenue. What, Jessica’s no longer at Epernay? Okay, indulge in her artwork and strawberries this weekend. But first, check this out:
The Gallery at Black Rock presents “Industrial Strength,” a juried show in which artists view the post-industrial landscape.
Artists have celebrated landscapes since the first chunks of charcoal were rubbed on cave walls. Through history artists have tried, with varying degrees of success, to capture the bucolic and stunning views of nature — mountains, trees, the sky — that surround them.
Today, artists are often confronted with a very different kind of landscape, the post-industrial urban landscape of the 21st century. But inspiration remains the same.
In cities like Bridgeport, Connecticut, we are surrounded by the remnants of a once-thriving manufacturing community. All Bridgeporters can resonate in some way to the towering red- and white-banded United Illuminating smoke stack, or to the crumbling hulks of once-thriving factory buildings that, in their prime, made Bridgeport one of the Northeast’s greatest industrial cities.
It is easy to vilify the industrial landscape as ugly or depressing, but through the eyes of an artist the sights that are so repellent to some, emerge with hidden, sometimes breathtaking, beauty.
The show will seek to address both points of view on this issue through painting, sculpture, installation and photography as well as film/projected image. There will be 14 participating artists including: Amber Madia, Jeff Becker, Liz Squillace, Brian Reiley, Ginger Hanrahan, Rachael Haymann, Mark DeRosa, Jessica Materna, Victoria Wyndham, Allen Wittert , BM Riely, Sean Corbett, Eileen Smith, Janine Brown and Michelle Beaulieu.
The show will be the Gallery at Black Rock’s First off-site installation and will take place at the site of Camelot Development on 51 Crescent Avenue in the city’s East Side. The location will act as part of the show’s vision as it is surrounded by part of the city that was once a thriving industrial site and still holds a neglected beauty.
The show’s opening reception will be held on Saturday February 27th 2010 from 3pm until 8pm. The site will be open for viewing on the following four consecutive Saturdays from 12 until 4pm.
The Gallery would like to thank Camelot Development and Eileen Smith for donations to the show.
Special thanks to Jurors Susan Breen, KHyal, Karl Heine and Keith Rodgerson