Shall a one mil tax be levied to establish and maintain a free public library and reading room?
In two weeks that question will be the most compelling oval to fill in on election day.
City Council and Board of Education seats are up for grabs as well, but (with a few exceptions) the races are foregone conclusions. That’s what happens with a Democratic-dominated electorate and a once-competitive Republican Party finding small victories in fielding candidates, let alone winning races.
The BOE race, however, features an interesting twist. Can incumbent Sauda Baraka, who was dumped by the Republican Party for what they claim is lack of effort for the task, win reelection running on the Working Families line? The BOE is guaranteed seats under state-mandated minority-party representation. And GOP BOE candidate Nate Snow has written to OIB to provide some perspective on his race.
First, the library question. Basically, one mil in the current city budget represents roughly $6.9 million. Library Board President Jim O’Donnell says current library costs, soup to nuts, including salaries, books, fringe benefits, maintenance, utilities, debt, all the expenses cover to cover are roughly $6 million.
This is the first time this question will appear on the ballot. And so far voter outreach has been quiet. That’s not to say it will not kick up in the final two weeks. Library supporters are challenged to persuade voters that the library expenditure represents a community investment and not a tax increase.
Many city pols I’ve spoken to about this say they don’t want anyone dictating city budget policy (except them, of course). What ever happened to … let the voters decide? Sylvester Salcedo, a library board member, has been prodding OIB readers for their positions on the vote. As a result some uneasy alliances have emerged. Yahooy and City Councilman Bob Troll Walsh, not exactly buds, say blowtorch the vote.
Big Mojo Ralph Mojica, former council member, supports the measure, as well as Anna and The Bridgeport Kid.
The last municipal election, in November 2007, featured a mayoral matchup to drive turnout. But that turnout was roughly a pathetic 25 percent. This election turnout looms lower, and that would be problematic for library supporters if, in fact, city pols work against the question. The party, if fairly united, can still produce a base vote of a few thousand votes.
But if they’re not engaged, library supporters could slip in under the radar by galvanizing enough voters to fill in yes on the question. And what if it passes? That’s when the hard part really begins.
From Nate Snow, Republican BOE candidate:
Dear Only In Bridgeport readers,
My name is Nate Snow, and I am a candidate for the Bridgeport Board of Education. Lennie is generous enough to let me post a quick note about who I am and what I believe.
After graduating from college, I moved to Connecticut to teach 7th and 8th grade English in Bridgeport Public Schools. My wife and I moved to Black Rock this summer after two years in the renovated City Trust building downtown. I am running for a seat on the Board of Education because my experiences teaching in Bridgeport schools showed me that ALL students have the potential to learn and to achieve amazing success in the classroom and in life.
In two weeks, Bridgeport voters will be deciding the future of their school district. It isn’t news to anyone that the district is currently failing to educate all of its students to high levels of academic achievement, nor is it a secret that the current board is not providing the leadership the district needs to be successful. But on November 3rd, we can begin to take the first steps in a new direction.
If elected, I will have the responsibility to work with the other members of the board to create a vision for reform and to set the priorities that will guide the entire district. To achieve a vision of yearly academic improvement, the board must reinterpret its role and begin making proactive decisions instead of merely reacting to everyday problems. In addition to its fiduciary responsibility, the Board’s key functions should be to establish a clear vision, to set key priorities, to hold the administration accountable to real results, and to build community support around a meaningful agenda of reform.
Bridgeport’s much-needed revitalization begins with a rebirth of its school district. For instance, we have learned in recent weeks that Bridgeport’s child poverty rate is now nearly 28%. One of the key weapons in the fight against poverty is education. Not education in name only, but education that literally places all Bridgeport students on an equal playing field with students from surrounding communities and with students from around the world. Currently in the state of Connecticut, only 1 in 10 students from low income communities will go on to graduate from college. Clearly, our failing system is not preparing students for life in a world that demands, and rewards, a quality education.
On Tuesday, November 3, 2009, we can begin to change that.
Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com with any questions, suggestions, or thoughts.
Speaking of Sly Salcedo, he’ll like this item from AP:
WASHINGTON – Federal drug agents won’t pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in states that allow medical marijuana, under new legal guidelines to be issued Monday by the Obama administration.
Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state law.
The guidelines to be issued by the department do, however, make it clear that agents will go after people whose marijuana distribution goes beyond what is permitted under state law or use medical marijuana as a cover for other crimes, the officials said.
The new policy is a significant departure from the Bush administration, which insisted it would continue to enforce federal anti-pot laws regardless of state codes.
Fourteen states allow some use of marijuana for medical purposes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
The One and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P.T. Barnum
Get the first look in the area at this new biography written for children!
Author Candace Fleming will be discussing her new book, The One and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P.T. Barnum on Sunday, October 25 at 2:00 p.m. at The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport. This brand new biography about Phineas Taylor Barnum was written for the enjoyment of children of all ages, but is especially geared for readers age 8 to 12. The book may be purchased and autographed at the event. This is a presentation by the Bridgeport Public Library Children’s Department and Historical Collection.
In her book, Ms. Fleming presents the larger-than-life biography of showman P. T. Barnum with vivid details. Known far and wide for his jumbo elephants, midgets, and three-ring circuses, the book is a complete and captivating look at the man behind the Greatest Show on Earth. Readers can visit Barnum’s American Museum; meet Tom Thumb, the miniature man (only 39 inches tall) and his tinier bride (32 inches); experience the thrill Barnum must have felt when, at age 60, he joined the circus; and discover Barnum’s legacy to the 19th century and beyond. Drawing on old circus posters, photographs, etchings, ticket stubs—and with incredible decorative art by Ray Fenwick—this book presents history as it’s never been experienced before—a show-stopping event. Ms. Fleming perfectly captures the spirit of an era, the spirit of the circus, and the spirit of P. T. Barnum himself.
Ms. Fleming is the award-winning author of The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, Our Eleanor, and Ben Franklin’s Almanac.
The Barnum Museum has three floors of absolutely fascinating exhibits that illustrate the extraordinary life of Phineas Taylor Barnum. P. T. Barnum, one-term mayor of Bridgeport and four-term member of the Connecticut General Assembly, was born July 5, 1810 in Bethel and died April 7, 1891 in Bridgeport. The original museum building, owned by the City of Bridgeport is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is handicapped accessible.
What: Book Discussion by Candace Fleming: The One and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P.T. Barnum
When: Sunday, October 25 at 2:00 p.m.
Where: The Barnum Museum, 820 Main Street, Bridgeport, CT
Cost: The program is Free with General Museum Admission
Adults $7, seniors and college students $5, children 4-17 $4 and children under 4 free.
For questions call 203-331-1104 x102 Jaime Knoedler or visit barnum-museum.org