Carson Zings Finch About Choosing School Board Members

David Carson

From Michael Daly, CT Post:

David E.A. Carson, former head of People’s Savings Bank, now Peoples United, was one of four long-time supporters of public education honored Tuesday morning by The Bridgeport Public Education Fund, an organization he helped get off the ground in 1983. Carson, in brief remarks, spoke forcefully about the nature of public education. He emphasized that “public” means exactly that, and that all constituencies, most particularly the students, have to be included in the process. “No one constituency should own public education,” he said. “And the public owns it when–sorry, Mayor–people elect their school board members.”

The remark drew substantial applause in the ballroom of the Bridgeport Holiday Inn. The audience included Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, an advocate of a mayorally appointed school board. Just minutes earlier, in fact, the mayor had once again extolled the virtues of an appointed board to the roughly 300 people in attendance.

The other honorees were Geraldine Johnson, the city’s first female and African American schools superintendent; Phyllis G. Marsilius, a BPEF founder and Elizabeth M. Pfriem, a philanthropist who has long supported education initiatives in the city.

Carson, Johnson, Marsilius, Pfriem, Grodin
From left David Carson, Geraldine Johnson, Phyllis Marsilius and Betty Pfriem were honored Tuesday morning as founding members of the Bridgeport Public Education Fund, a support group of city schools. At right is Charles Grodin, the actor and social activist who served as guest speaker.


  1. Mr. Carson is right on the money. The problem in Bridgeport is the Democratic party picks the candidates for the BOE and they usually get elected by a bunch of dumbasses who vote Democratic no matter what. I swear if the Democrats ran Howdy Doody, Mickey Mouse and Rootie Kazootie for office here in Bridgeport they would get elected. Oh shoot wait a minute, that may be an improvement over what they have been electing.
    There is something we don’t know about why Finch and Company want to appoint the BOE reps instead of electing them. Right now and in most times the Dems get their people elected. Just like before all this court bullshit. They had a 6 to 3 advantage. They control the school budget via the Budget & Appropriations committee of the council. Finch & Company flatlined the BOE budget for 4 years, SO WHY ARE THEY FIGHTING SO HARD FOR CHANGE?
    Could it be they want to control the BOE vendor process and thus reward their friends? I don’t know the answer but it’s more than appointing people to the BOE.

  2. The crystal ball is working!

    It’s all about school contracts, that’s what the City of Bridgeport lives on, school contracts.
    $250 million here, $300 million there, that’s the industry that pays the most in Kickbacks to the DTC and Mario Testa/Bill Finch and the Machine.
    Fixing up schools, replacing schools; that’s the ticket!
    NBC moves to Stamford with 500 jobs so who cares, right Mario/Finch?
    NBC, GE, Modern Plastics, Derecktor jobs, who cares?
    And CT Post feeds off the Machine, and the FBI sits on their Ass …
    Control the BOE and you control millions.
    That’s been the industry of Bridgeport for the past 30 years.
    Keep the taxes high, you keep manufacturing out of Bridgeport, right Mario/Finch?
    See who’s writing checks to the Finch Camp and DTC, the same venders, contractors who work on the schools.
    If you have control of the BOE members, you control the School Bids, right Mario/Finch?
    DTC needs State BOE to get out of the way before the next school projects.

    Question: How will a charter change help Bridgeport BOE?
    Answer: It can’t! Finch’s new appointed BOE members will control all school contracts and budgets.

    Removing elected BOE members over appointed puts Bridgeport BOE back on the road to corruption.
    Will the Supreme Court allow this to happen?
    Will the Supreme Court question the Mayor’s motive for a charter change at this time (appointed Vs. Elected Board BOE)?
    So if the Supreme Court overrules the taking of the BOE by the State BOE, Finch will have in place a new charter.
    So if the Supreme Court orders a new election and to reinstate all past members for the BOE, the charter change will null and void the Supreme Court’s order.
    Is that what Finch thinks? God help us!

  3. Once David threw off the mantle of People’s Bank President & CEO, he became an outspoken, articulate and forceful proponent of public education. His stint as a member of the Governor’s Commission on Educational Achievement, and now as chair of the Board of the CT Center for School Change, David has seen first hand what can happen when control of the public schools is taken out of the hands of elected officials and private-interest groups call the shots.

  4. David Carson has been a strong advocate of public education for at least the lifetime of the Public Education Fund. He was honored for taking on the initial leadership and sticking with it for years, encouraging people from all segments of the community to work together. Thanks for keeping us up to date on what he has added to his C.V. since leaving residence in the community.

    It will be easier to train, encourage, correct and cajole current BOE members to focus on their task, education of youth, in a collegial and high-minded way than it will be to hold a mayor “accountable” for the way a Board of Ed (or WPCA Commission) works–one vote every four years? If you consider the qualifications projected for BOE candidates and place them next to the way financial matters are handled on behalf of the taxpayers by our representatives, you will grasp how out of balance our governance is, and how vulnerable the City is to gathering fiscal chaos.

    At the moment all BOE members have access to financial info about their system (and you do too, OIB readers) in greater measure and expanse (as well as timely) than BOE members one year ago. Did it take a claim of “accountability” from the Mayor? NO is the correct answer. He did not direct the school’s CFO to create the current system of reporting.

    All it took was informative fiscal reports from the Public Schools’ Finance Director that match up to the School Based Budget Five Year Plan, also available as a public document. Even the grants budget and employee numbers are present. Is this rocket science? NO, certainly not.

    All it takes is a commitment to OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT (sorry if repeating this mantra is BORING to some), but it needs repeating until Board members and the public can simply, easily and regularly get good numbers and general information that shows the financial expenses and the objective and measurable results.

    Keep the vote. If we lose this right to vote it will be decades before a return to the current elective board. However, if Mayor Finch really wants change and accountability throughout the City, then he should empower a panel of all the people who volunteered and who he excluded this year. Direct them to look at City governance and come up with priority proposals that can be voted on next year with the City Council elections. We can then hear how the CC candidates feel about all of the Charter change nuances. Time will tell.

  5. The most lucrative contracts in the entire City of Bridgeport each year are for vendors providing goods and services to the Board of Education. Because the brain-dead registered voters will not get off their asses these contracts will receive no proper oversight. Let’s assume these contracts will, indeed, go to favored friends. The real problem is simple. Are we getting true value from these ‘friendly’ vendors? 12% turnout? Give me a break!!!


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