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BOE Fights, GE Demo, Health Benefits And UB Donation

March 24th, 2010 · 20 Comments · Education, National Politics

Former City Councilman Tom Mulligan had the perfect description for City Council meetings: The Monday Night Fights.

I’m thinking the best fights are now during Board of Education meetings. New board member Maria Pereira, a walking ticking firecracker, doesn’t like Superintendent of Schools John Ramos. She’s part of a minority coalition of board members that opposes almost everything Board President Barbara Bellinger and Finance Committee chief Pat Crossin recommend. We see this a lot in city politics. If you’re for this, I’m for that.

I’m wondering about the stance Maria and her board alliance of Bobby Simmons and Sauda Baraka will take when it comes to urging union givebacks. Things are testy between BOE leadership and union representatives for teachers and administrators. Management wants givebacks from unions. The unions are balking.

Management is threatening to close schools with teacher and administrator layoffs. Will the BOE actually follow up on its threat to unions? We’ll keep an eye on this.

Gee, It’s About Time

Can you believe it? GE is actually making plans to demolish the hulking antiquated mass of buildings it owns off Boston Avenue on the East Side. When the Remington Arms plant was built it was the marvel of its time, 13 interconnected buildings, the single largest factory building in the United States, manufacturing arms and munitions for World War I. It was also among the most government-guarded buildings in the country. GE completely phased out manufacturing services there in recent years leaving the building empty. Now, it appears, the company is moving forward with deconstruction. What to put on the land once demolition is completed?

What The Health Care Deal Means

What are the immediate health care benefits as a result of Barack’s signature? From Congressman Jim Himes:

Health Care Reform: Immediate Help For Connecticut

The passage of health care reform marks an enormous step forward in the goal of stable, affordable, high-quality care for all Americans. Some of the most important benefits of health reform kick in right away:

1) For the Uninsured, Early Retirees, and People with Pre-existing conditions: Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition will be able to buy affordable coverage through a temporary high-risk pool.

2) For the Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping people when they get sick through “rescissions,” and new protections against lifetime and annual coverage limits take effect right away.

3) For Seniors: Seniors will see immediate relief from high prescription prices with a $250 rebate for Medicare beneficiaries who hit the “donut hole.” The legislation also makes preventive services and immunizations free under Medicare right away – eliminating co-payments for preventive services and exempting these services from deductibles as well.

4) For Young People: Insurers will be immediately banned from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, and young people will be allowed to remain on their parents’ insurance policy until their 26th birthday.

5) For Small Businesses: Small businesses that provide coverage to their employees will be immediately eligible for a tax credit of up to 35% of premiums.

6) For Low-Income Communities: The bill increases funding for new training programs to train a greater number of primary care doctors, nurses, and public health professionals and ramps up investments in community health centers, allowing them to double the amount of patients they treat over the next five years.

7) For All Consumers: The bill requires every newly issued insurance policy to cover preventive services and immunizations with no co-payments, explain coverage options in plain English, and guarantee access to an effective internal and external appeals process for all insurance company decisions.

For more on implementation timeline himes.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=115&sectiontree=13,15,115

UB Big Donor

Hey, I wanna be friends with Shintaru Akatsu. The University of Bridgeport alum donated $2 million to the design program. Anyone who makes gelato is fine by me. OIB friend Con Filardi loves gelato. From UB:

UB alumnus Shintaro Akatsu

UB alumnus Shintaro Akatsu


University of Bridgeport alumnus Shintaro Akatsu has given $2 million to enhance the school’s design programs with several critical capital improvements and an expanded curriculum that has been reorganized under the newly created Shintaro Akatsu School of Design, the University announced today.

“Shintaro’s gift is the largest to UB from a single donor in a long time,” said University President Neil Albert Salonen, “and his remarkable dedication makes it possible to create a design school that prepares students with a full range of training in all aspects of design, from industrial design to video production and new media concentrations to design management. The University launched its first design programs in 1949, and SASD will uphold decades of excellence in design training.”

Mr. Akatsu, 48, graduated from the University of Bridgeport in 1988 with a B.S. in International Business. He is president of the energy company Kamata Corporation and other businesses, including Tokyo-based Grom, a specialty gelato store, and the Berengo Akatsu Art Gallery.

Mr. Akatsu’s experience as a businessman, he said, as well as his appreciation for the arts, inspired him to support the University’s design programs.

“International business has cultures and rules that are particular to different countries. It can make it difficult to communicate,” he said. “But design doesn’t have a barrier. If it’s good, people respond to it. Also, a lot of my time is devoted to designing products, to marketing, to branding. Design is very important in the business field these days.”

A loyal supporter of UB, Mr. Akatsu has previously given $20,000 to upgrade the women’s gymnastics team locker room, $10,000 to renovate Hubbell Gymnasium, and $10,000 toward the construction of Knights Field.

Design management, pre-archtecture among new classes offered:

The Shintaro Akatsu School of Design (SASD) is located on campus at the Arnold Bernhard Center, 84 Iranistan Avenue, the longtime home of the University’s design programs.

Starting in the fall 2010, SASD will expand course offerings—which currently include tracks in graphic, interior, and graphic design—with additional undergraduate and graduate programs geared to the professional design world. They include a:

• Bachelor of Arts in Pre-Architecture, including internships and other opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience working at architectural offices. The program will start in the fall 2011, pending approval by the UB Board of Trustees and state education accreditation officials.

• Masters of Professional Studies (MPS) in Design Management will start in the fall of 2011, pending approval The MPS combines design and business-management training for project managers who oversee creative teams and other design professionals. SASD will be one of just three schools in the northeast to offer a MPS in Design Management.

• New Mac Pro Computer Classroom, opening in April 2010, with a smart podium for 3D rendering, animation, video, and photography.

• Video-Production and Photography Studio. Launching in the fall 2010, it will serve a graphic design track in new media.

• Exhibition and Furniture Design Lab, opening in the spring 2010, for the creation of full-size furniture and massive exhibition displays similar to those found at conventions and major sports events.

• Ceramic Design Studio, due to open in the fall 2010. The studio will be used for new training programs in tabletop design, the production of mass-produced lines of glassware. The program will be overseen by SASD Director Richard Yelle, who before coming to UB, worked with Villeroy & Boch and cofounded UrbanGlass, the nonprofit glassmaker in Brooklyn, New York.

Additional information about the curriculum can be found at the SASD Web site, www.bridgeport.edu/sasd.

About SASD

Originally founded in 1949, design programs at UB have been distinguished by their career-focused education. Faculty forge strong ties to the design industry through their work with Microsoft, Sony, Crate & Barrel, and MTV, and other firms. Additionally, students, through collaborative projects, internships, and other programs, augment studies by working with companies such as LG Electronics, Johnson & Johnson, C2 LTD Design Associates in Fairfield, CT; Haverson Architecture and Design in Greenwich, CT; and Atmosphere Design in Westport, CT. Since 2001, students have won more than 115 prizes, including awards from the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the $10,000 CTIA Wireless Fashion in Motion Award, and the Automobile Safety Competition, which held annually in conjunction with the New York International Auto Show.

To read an interview with Shintaro Akatsu, and for more information about SASD, see the latest issue of Knightlines found online at www.bridgeport.edu/knightlines.

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20 Comments so far ↓

  • Grin Reaper

    NEW HAVEN — The evidence against James Botti, a Shelton developer accused of conspiring with Shelton Mayor Mark A. Lauretti to push through Botti’s 828 Bridgeport Ave. development, came to an end Tuesday with testimony from two witnesses.
    William F. Dow, III, Botti’s attorney, called Neil Heslin, a long time Botti friend, and Paul DiMauro, a part-time Shelton public works employee, as his final witnesses.
    Heslin claimed he overheard Andre Czaplinski, a key prosecution witness, angrily tell Botti he was going to lie and tell federal investigators the developer paid the mayor $50,000. Heslin said the argument resulted from Botti’s failure to sell Czaplinski a piece of property on Bridgeport Avenue.
    But on cross examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Kale tore into Heslin pointing out he told no one about this 2006 incident until last month. Kale further noted Heslin did prison time for a DUI conviction.
    DiMauro testified that he spends every Christmas morning with Lauretti. DiMauro said he asked the mayor once if he was ever a partner in any way shape or form or had any transactions with Botti. “The mayor said no,” Di Mauro testified. “He emphatically said no.”
    When the trial resumes Wednesday morning the jury will hear final arguments from both sides and are expected to begin deliberations on Thursday.
    —By Michael P. Mayko

    So Leonard, what’s your take?
    Guilty or not???

  • town committee

    Why would the teachers’ union agree to givebacks? The city administration got givebacks from city unions and then went on a spending spree. The spending spree consisted of arbitrary firing of department heads that have since costs us 100s of thousands of dollars in buyouts. The city has hired a lot of consultants and political pals all the while the unions got screwed.
    If you are going to get union givebacks then you have to show political & financial restraint. This administration has not done that.
    The BOE states they would have to close a school and fire teachers and administrators. If you can close a school because of no givebacks then that school is already in need of closing. Close it and consolidate it with another school.

  • anna

    Why are teachers and administrators always last to be part of the solution?

    • Mojo

      *** “Why,” not sure on the actual “%” breakdown but I would say more than 50% of Bpt admin & teachers live outside of our city limits. So they don’t pay taxes to Bpt nor do their kids or grandkids go to Bpt public schools. They put up with the daily B/S in our public schools, make a decent paycheck/benefits, etc. and go home @ day’s end. Newbees get 3 years on the job work experience & bail for the subs hopefully closer to their homes with more pay & less B/S! Many feel it’s a lost cause & just go through the motions after about ten years in the system & stop caring overall. Especially when it comes to Bpt politics & the city government it produces along with its “$” problems. “Not my problem,” I only teach in Bpt not live there seems to be the usual response! No incentives for good in-house teachers with the time & needed education and training because the system seems to always hire from outside for admin jobs or bring back ex-retired admins only to pay them twice as much! The entire BOE system & city government is much too comfortable, hates new changes & ideas about accountability, has too many political chiefs and not enough working indians. It should be independent from city government’s major support, and come under the Conn Dept of Education state guidelines with its own budget & grants dept. which can be audited every other year. But ideas such as these will never happen because Bpt’s entire political city government is partially corrupt & still in the dark ages far from the 21st century with no signs of light @ the end of the tunnel! ***

  • MCAT

    Lennie, I hope you don’t mind if I wax poetic for your Monroe readers (and there a few). I am trying to impress upon the people the need to pass our budget on the first time around.

    The Thing That Ate Monroe

    Beware the Thing that ate Monroe.
    It ate our schools, our roads and parks,
    Out there lurking in the dark,
    Staying home or voting no,
    how far will this mad monster go?

    It chomped on our textbooks, desks and teachers,
    This mistrusting, doubting creature.
    It swallowed asphalt, buildings and doors,
    Cutting our library, hiding asbestos in floors,
    Then it ate our sidewalks, this stomping creature.

    It tore up band uniforms, and burped bio labs,
    Silenced our singers and made school life drab.
    It demanded money from kids who play sports,
    Taking their helmets, their shirts and their shorts.
    What an endless appetite this monster had.

    It played in the pot holes its neglect created,
    Is this really the future our Monroe is fated?
    Where is the future for kids and cuts for seniors?
    I don’t think I could picture a Monster that’s meaner.
    This monster of no, that made our budget leaner.

    Please come out and help fight the monster of no,
    Make Monroe a place of possibilities, to prosper and grow.
    Fight for the dollars to go back in our schools,
    Keep the people we need and give them new tools.
    Let’s stop this thing that ate Monroe.

    Call friends, and strangers to vote yes for our town,
    Be the champion of yes and bring this monster down.
    Stop the habit of being penny wise, pound foolish.
    Thinking only of now is folly and ghoulish.
    Let’s be the smart future of yes, let’s turn this town around.

  • Wingnut

    Because they make all the big money! Money, Power, Greed, get it? It’s the way of the times! Anna do you live in a BUBBLE?

  • Frustrated Bridgeport Democrat

    Why is it schools are so sacrosanct and when times are difficult, their budgets cannot be tightened up?

    Frankly for years the teacher union has come across as very greedy. I remember in Bpt a number of years ago, a teacher I know screaming to beat the band because their work day was lengthened and they got absolutely nothing for it … When I asked how much longer, I was told five minutes!

    Teachers now make roughly $70,000 after 6-8 years, work nine months, have unbelievable benefits and pensions and these cheap bastards couldn’t even take a furlough day to help balance the books.

    Not a lot of sympathy from taxpayers.

  • Bridgeport Now

    This is a success for the city … taking down the GE buildings, formerly Remington. Over the past year, including last night, we showed pictures of this and had historian Charles Brilvitch explain the history.

    UB Donation: we currently have a design intern who is doing graphics, so this is great news.

    Maria at BOEE. I think this is not a fair assessment, you wrote above:

    “New board member Maria Pereira, a walking ticking firecracker, doesn’t like Superintendent of Schools John Ramos. She’s part of a minority coalition of board members that opposes almost everything”

    Do you really think she just opposes whatever is said? If you say yes, she says no? Just taking the opposite side?

    I attended a board meeting in which she was the only one asking for a paper trail regarding BOEE overspending. It seemed like no one had ever asked the questions, for example how OT gets signed off on, for overtime by supervisors. Maria has only recently joined the board and also has a limited track record there. I don’t think your assessment is fair. She is one of only two who are not from the Dem pol party.

  • Solid as Barack

    Ramos! Vamos!!

    • Up On Bridgeport

      If you read the newspaper account of Monday’s meeting, no matter what side of the fence you sit on, Dr. Ramos’ behavior to a board member is a little unsettling.

  • Black Rockin

    Why is Patrick Timpanelli who lives outside of Bridgeport fearful of a BOE audit???
    Why is Finch fearful of Timpanelli???
    Just who is Timpanelli?
    Is Timpanelli someone’s “bend over Billy?”

  • john gilmore

    To Frustrated Bridgeport Democrat:

    You’re right when you said … “the teacher union has come across as very greedy … (they) now make roughly $70,000 after 6-8 years, work nine months, have unbelievable benefits and pensions.”

    They can afford this attitude because elected politicians–of all stripes and levels–want to come to these groups for votes, plain and simple. Let’s say it again, votes. Did everyone hear? The word of the day is “VOTES!”

    However, citizens are just starting to wake up to the fact–especially citizens in the private sector–that they have to fund their own retirement/healthcare packages AND those of public employees. That’s what a recession does, it makes you conscious of what you’re spending and paying for in life.

    Example–I have a friend who ponies up a $30 co-pay every month for a well-known prescription drug. One class of retired city worker pays a mere five bucks for the same medication.

    Maybe we should all get a teacher to help us do the math.

  • Grin Reaper

    Patrick Timpanelli is the bastardized son of Paul Timpanelli and S F. The result of a mad, passionate tryst that happened when Paul’s band, Yesteryear, was on break after a soulful rendition of In The Still of The Night.
    Finch is fearful of Timpanelli because he does not want the above story leaked.
    Timpanelli raises a lot of money for whomever the BRBC decides will be their next “bend over Billy” in the mayor’s office. They need their tax breaks and PILOTs and all of the financial incentives for living near Bridgeport and having to associate with the people from Bridgeport since most of their businesses are located there.

  • CH Consigliere

    The BOE can’t even agree on one thing, they need a umpire or a cop to referee the meetings.
    The sham hiring of Ben Barnes is a slap in the face to the people of Bridgeport, now he is gonna be back according to the CT Post in the job he was hired for. But all you hear was he was hired for his degree to keep someone out of the job and someone else in in the interim. Finance job my ass, this was a rigged election from day one.
    They should be ashamed of themselves and exposed for what they really are. Are there any honest people left in this city?

    I am a huge Mets fan and I am betting Omar Minaya could run the BOE better than it is run now.

  • Bpts Finest

    What is goin’ on over there … who’s on first? What’s on second … who is in charge over there now? The custodian or the Urban Legend … ooops … Urban Planner?

  • Grin Ripper

    There’s gold in them darn hills. He or she must be an Urban Panner!

  • Mojo

    *** Is it just my personal opinion, or are not decisions, bills, political appointments, etc. by the Obama Admin. & some Dems being used by not only the GOP but nationwide racists as an excuse to promote hate & violence in America? The next step might be to pass some type of political “hate crime” bill to keep things from getting out of hand nationwide? It seems as time goes by, more & more “racists” are grabbing @ any political issue as an excuse to fuel their true feelings about having a Black/White President. Just some of the comments heard in the nation’s capitol buildings by some white legislators have been totally disrespectful regardless of personal party political differences! The phrase 2 Americas is starting to be much more prevalent than ever before since the last presidential election. All behind “skin color” & the root of all evil (MONEY). Yet apparently for many, the answer to most of our problems. ***

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Hey Lennie, is that a Blue “Finch” on the top right corner of the screen?

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