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Friday The 13th Election Phobia–The Complexity Of Setting A School Board Vote

April 6th, 2012 · 18 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Education, News and Events

Next Friday the 13th, legal parties with input from elections officials will appear before Judge Salvatore Agati in Waterbury Superior Court to figure out how to shoehorn a special election for four Board of Education seats between calendar-set party primaries and a general election in November.

The Connecticut Supreme Court in reversing state control of city schools ordered Agati, the presiding court judge, to schedule the election. Easier said than done. Lawyers for the city and elections officials cautioned the judge that he must schedule the election without encroaching already scheduled elections in April, August and November. A GOP presidential primary will take place April 24, primaries for state and federal offices Aug. 14 and a general election for president Nov. 6. The Supremes ruled the election for school board must take place within a 150-day window from the date set by Agati.

State law requires all election machines (tabulators) must be locked down in the 14 days after the respective elections to make room for recounts or legal challenges. This makes setting a special election date challenging. Lawyers say Judge Agati is examining a complete election window including party primaries. If that’s the case room must be made for party endorsements, petition challengers, primary schedule and then the general election. So perhaps we could see a primary date for school board seats set in July and general election in September.

Can Bridgeport borrow voting machines from area municipalities? Theoretically yes, but some area municipalities are facing potential budget votes bumping up against the presidential primary schedule. Many towns, according to local elections officials, are citing a state provision this year to resolve scheduling conflicts between budget referenda and the Republican presidential primary. Registrars can use paper ballots with no tabulators when elections are stacked. State statute language:

Sec. 9-272. Conditions under which use of voting tabulators may be discontinued. If, owing to the number of candidates to be voted upon or owing to inability to obtain a sufficient number of voting tabulators, it is found impracticable to use voting tabulators at any election to be held in any municipality, or in one or more of the voting districts therein, the registrars of voters may discontinue the use of such tabulators for such election in any of the voting districts therein, and shall thereupon cause ballots to be procured and used at such election, as provided by this part, in each of the voting districts wherein the use of voting tabulators has been so discontinued.

Dazed and confused? Local elections officials certainly feel that way with a busy election schedule and department budgets on the verge of breaking. Lawyers for the various parties involved in the school board case may call election officials to the stand to help Judge Agati figure out an election calendar to avoid chaos.

Not that Bridgeport is a stranger to election chaos, eh?

And would it surprise if city lawyers representing governmental interests in support of keeping state-appointed school board members in place as long as possible urge the judge to delay the election all in the name of efficient Democracy? Now that would be some irony.



18 Comments so far ↓

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Will the school board elections be as closely monitored as the last Democratic mayoral primary? I’ll give Finch some credit here. He dissolved an elected body with as many different agendas as there were members, everything and everyone in conflict all of the time. It was dysfunctional to the point of being nonfunctional. Getting rid of them was a good idea, even if Pepsodent Bill went about it in an underhanded way. So he gets a piece of candy. Not a big piece …

  • Chosen 1

    6 people had the mayor’s agenda
    3 people had their agenda
    6 to 3 majority
    wrong as usual, kid
    according to the supreme court it was illegal, not to mention underhanded.

    • Lifelong Bpt

      Chose–I think you miss Bpt Kid’s point. Everyone always said the mayor had 6, they had 3. True–no one denies that. Bpt Kid’s point (and I agree) is: will the public scrutinize these candidates more than they have in the past? Really request their credentials, plans, experience and what they will bring to the board. As opposed to just rubber stamping whomever is put before us in the election. Because if they don’t, then we are potentially in for the same type of dysfunction we had on the old board. Obviously, there were deep issues WITH ALL NINE MEMBERS that caused the majority to break it up.
      Lennie–any idea why the CT Post did not put their print version of their BOE story from last Sunday in the online edition? It was about the dysfunction, although the focus was mainly on Maria Pereira and her return to the board and those who supported/opposed her.
      Chosen–6 had the mayors agenda–the new election may not change that. Remember, people thought Finch was ripe to lose to Foster, and that did not happen. A year from now, there could be new names, but the same dynamic–6 to 3 Finch.

  • Chosen 1

    He dissolved an elected body with as many different agendas as there were members, everything and everyone in conflict all the time.

    Sounds to me there are nine people, all with different agendas.
    The six were always in agreement and so were the three … that’s two agendas for the nine people.

    • Lifelong Bpt

      Chosen–yes, it appeared that way. And I don’t know how we prevent that in the future. I’m interested in seeing how the reinstated members mix with the newly elected. If and when that happens.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      All nine of them had their own agenda. Don’t be so obtuse.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Lot of conversation about agendas today. Had there been real agendas maybe they could have run a meeting. Don’t you really believe trust has been destroyed in this community? How can people work towards the education of youth without trust? Towards being stewards of the taxpayer funds without trust? Towards working for others when you can’t trust the others are operating with personal conflicts of interest?

    For what it is worth, the “current illegal” board is not faced with that issue, apparently. They had some time together and bonded, perhaps because they shared this very special distinction of how they came to serve. And perhaps discovered competence, expertise, genuine willingness to listen, and affirmation (from the others to indicate) they were there to benefit the kids.
    Listen to the comments on this blog about the motivation of people mentioned here, especially those who hold elective or appointed office. Nobody is perfect but it would seem from the view of OIB posters, people involved in City governance have fewer positive qualities than the many unregistered who sit on the sidelines complaining mostly.

    It is as much about the people serving as it is about the structures and rules and Bridgeport with the DTC and Charter direction has basically given too much power to the executive branch and failed to install any significant check and balance mechanisms. If you disagree, I would like to hear what structural mechanisms are in place and working in this City to assure the business of the City and the services to the people are accomplished with dispatch and integrity. Hope you can find a few and offer them up for consideration. Time will tell.

  • The Fixer

    Speaking of agendas, did anyone hear the health dept is being dismantled? A letter went out to health dept employees from Alanna Kabel threatening anyone who speaks about this to any member of the community or the mayor’s office for any reason will be written up for insubordination. Health dept employees are running scared, no one will talk about it. True police state.

  • Bridgeporteur

    I think a lot of people would agree this entire administration is dysfunctional, i.e., Steelpointe, Downtown North, closed-down bridges, an inactive harbor with blight all around it, no access to Pleasure Beach, Downtown North, the vacant Palace and Majestic Theaters and rising taxes.

    So when do we get to remove this administration and have an outside committee run the City without having to go through the election process?

  • Mojo

    *** Just another money- and time-consuming monkey wrench that’s been thrown into the politics of the Bpt BOE! *** IT’S A MADHOUSE, A MADHOUSE! ***

  • Grin Reaper

    Bill Finch lat summer publicly stated, “Sometimes democracy just doesn’t work.” In retrospect I am not sure if he was commenting on the city’s Board of Education or the prospect of his reelection in the fall.
    But when the mayor of the state’s largest city testifies in Hartford with a statement like this, no one should be surprised to learn he is prepared to spend over $100,000 to prevent another election for the Board of Education from taking place.
    Bill Finch is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure regardless of what the CT Supreme Court might rule in Bridgeport, his will reigns supreme.
    “Sometimes democracy just doesn’t work.” And sometimes if it might then it is right and proper to use taxpayers’ money against them.

  • Grin Reaper

    Oh, and lets not forget the wife of the private attorney who will bill the city the most to prevent another Board of Education election from taking place is the chairperson of the Charter Revision Commission that will approve the question of whether or not Bridgeport should abolish its elected Board of Education.

  • Grin Reaper

    It’s a family affair
    It’s a family affair

  • John Marshall Lee

    It is a sad state of affairs no doubt, but it still runs on money, doesn’t it? Taxpayer money!!! And for the most part the taxpayer is not protected in this City by any real form of checks or balance in governance structure. Notice, despite my invitations to OIB readers no one mentions any true taxpayer protections in the City. No one has even mentioned the functioning of any specific City Council representative. Curious?

    Just imagine if the Mayor looked into the envelope where the names and letters are filed from all those who volunteered months ago for the Charter Reform Commission but were ignored. Knowing who some of those folks are tells me they would make a great difference in the City … perhaps even form a Finance Board with real power to review, monitor, focus, and research how the Mayor and his Cabinet operate with our funds. They could start by reviewing the Management Letters that are “lost” or incomplete and the City responses to the Letters. In the Fabrizi administration, these letters were mentioned in the Annual Budget reports with an eye to getting improvement from the outside auditor. This administration rids itself of internal auditors, schmoozes and buffaloes the Budget and Appropriations Committee, keeps the public voice quiet by limiting any meetings where the public can be heard, and talks about “water taxis!” Finchwood is incredible, isn’t it? Thank you John Gomes and others who are “tax protesters.” The US has a long tradition and this is a necessary fight. Time will tell.

  • Grin Reaper

    Here is the Finch game plan:
    1. Delay, delay, delay. He has what he wants right now so the longer nothing changes the better.
    2. Dance, dance, dance. Dance around in Waterbury. Dance around this silly argument about machines. Dance about the city budget and how it can’t afford all these additional elections.
    3. Argue that Santa Ayala is incompetent and no election in Bpt is ever Telly accurate.
    4. Stall. Do everything possible and spend everything you’ve got to force these elections past the charter question.
    And pray that it works.

    • Phil Smith

      That may explain why the Charter Revision Commission is being asked to “simplify” the Charter by removing references to some departments and “letting the City Council handle that by ordinance.”

  • Mojo

    *** City Council’s Ordinance Committee can’t make a quorum let alone handle anything that would make it easier for the Charter Revision Commission to simplify the Charter! *** BLIND LEADING THE BLIND ***

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