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How Coalition Control Of School Board Self Destructed

November 17th, 2014 · 79 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, Development and Zoning, Education

school board members

School board hears from candidates to fill John Bagley’s slot.

In a September 2013 primary, insurgents wiped out the three Democratic-endorsed candidates for Board of Education providing an embarrassing political moment for Mayor Bill Finch’s education agenda and solidifying coalition control of school policy between the Connecticut Working Families Party and education advocates opposed to the mayor. What a difference a year makes.

Just over a year ago the insurgent coalition was victorious in the November general election. About a month later Sauda Baraka, elected on the Working Families Party line, became chair of the nine-member school board. It took just a few months for the coalition to start coming apart with Sauda’s leadership position in jeopardy as the board prepares for another organizational meeting the beginning of December. That chuckle you just heard came from mayoral operatives who just a year ago were licking political wounds.

BOE challenge slate

Hennessey, Baker and Gardner crushed the endorsed Dems in 2013.

The tonic came a lot quicker than anticipated.

What happened? Finch’s political operation pretty much had its way electorally in candidate support, except for education issues where they’ve taken their lumps. In the days leading to the July 4, 2011 weekend, a plan had been hatched for the elected school board to throw in the towel and request the State Board of Education assume control of city schools. The takeover also engineered the appointment of new school board members and the hiring of national education reformer Paul Vallas to lead the school district.

Opposition forces to the takeover included elected members of the Working Families Party and retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez. The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled the takeover illegal and ordered a special election to reseat a body elected by the people the day after Labor Day 2012. Former Harding High School hoop star John Bagley won election to the school board giving the Working Families Party all three minority party seats on the Board of Education.

Carmen Lopez

Retired Judge Carmen Lopez, CT Post photo.

Meanwhile Finch had empaneled a City Charter revision commission to place a question on the ballot for the November 2012 election that if approved by voters would empower the mayor to appoint all school board members. In the most expensive local election in history that approached the $1 million amount in spending from a variety of education activist groups, the ballot question was defeated at the polls aided by thousands of African American voters, turning out for President Obama’s reelection, irritated their vote to elect school board members could be taken away.

Defeated at the polls, Finch political operatives turned to 2013 with an electorate growing agitated by influence over school policy. At the July convention the Democratic Town Committee endorsed the three Finch-backed candidates for school board. One candidate who had some support from the DTC but came up short for the endorsement was City Councilman Andre Baker, a Finch critic, with a strong following in his East End voter base. Rejected for endorsement, Baker joined former city councilman and retired school teacher from Black Rock Dave Hennessey and West Side political activist Howard Gardner in a challenge slate backed by the Working Families Party, Connecticut Education Association and Bridgeport Education Association. Marilyn Moore, elected to the State Senate a few weeks ago, served as campaign manager for the candidates.

Sauda Baraka and Maria Pereira

Sauda Baraka and Maria Pereira won school board seats running on the Working Families Party line.

Embracing home rule, and castigating outside political forces, the challenge slate crushed the endorsed candidates in the primary. Baker, Hennessey and Gardner joined Baraka and Bagley seemingly as a five-person coalition controlling school board policy with three Democrats Ken Moales, Hernan Illingworth and Jacqui Kelleher on the outside looking in. Shut out of a school board slot for a few years, Republicans managed to elect Joe Larcheveque backed by a large turnout in Black Rock–featuring a high-profile general election for City Council that elected Republican Enrique Torres–for the other minority party slot.

Maria Pereira, a spitfire Finch opponent, decided against seeking reelection after winning a seat in 2009 on the Working Families Party line, but remained active in education issues. Former Judge Lopez, a crafty wordsmith, lent her legal and language skills as an informal adviser to the loosely aligned coalition castigating Finch in opinion pieces as well as the Democratic Town Committee for which she herself had sought the endorsement for school board several years prior.

The newly elected school board coalition started with a dogged uncompromising approach: if Vallas, a charter school proponent, had anything to do with it, be against it. Lopez had taken Vallas to court asserting he did not have the credentials to serve as chief of a Connecticut school district. The trial court agreed, but was overturned by the Connecticut Supreme Court. Vallas, however, had decided to bail out of the district, facing a hostile school board, to run for lieutenant governor in Illinois. (Vallas lost.)

Paul Vallas

Lightning rod Vallas has left school district.

The first public, if minor, fallout of the coalition emerged during the organizational meeting of the school board in December 2013. Sauda Baraka, the most senior member of the board, positioned for the chairmanship. Hennessey, newly elected, also wanted it. Baraka won, but it created some bruised feelings.

Enter Andre Baker in a flashpoint moment that created the first public breaking of the coalition. A new high school to replace Harding, the 90-year-old compromised structure serving the East Side and East End, had been on the school board radar for several years. Finch proposed building a new school on Boston Avenue property owned by General Electric that once housed the nation’s largest munitions factory. The property was dirty, but state employee environmentalists said it could be cleaned to residential standards sufficient to build a new school. Finch cynics on the school board questioned vociferously the logic of the state environmental professionals.

Harding High School

Harding High School. Image courtesy of Morgan Kaolian.

As a city councilor Baker had heard from numerous constituents about the need for a modern facility as a sanctuary from the hellish learning environment. Baker announced if a workable plan to clean the site made sense he would back it.  Opponents to the Boston Avenue site argued we need a new Harding, but not there.

General Electric property

Proposed site for new school to replace Harding. Image courtesy of Morgan Kaolian.

Finch supporters argued the litmus test of being against Finch for any reason was shortchanging the students. Arguing he does what’s best for the kids, Baker publicly broke from the coalition and supported the Harding plan on the donated GE property. He was joined by the senior Democrats on the board as well as Larcheveque. Some coalition supporters, including Pereira, called Baker a sellout.


Joe Larcheveque with children during 2013 campaign.

Baker, who had been largely a Finch critic, found himself on the same side as Finch in a high-profile education development issue. Lamenting they had not backed Baker for school board, Finch operatives began reaching out to Baker with some common ground: Harding.

Ernie Newton

Ernie Newton was defeated by Baker in a primary.

Another twist occurred. Ernie Newton, with an East End base of support seeking a comeback from corruption charges that had forced him from office, announced his candidacy for his old State House seat. Finch, once an ally of Newton, did not want him returned to the State House. Finch operatives that included city employee Deborah Sims persuaded Baker to run with a promise of financial support to qualify for public funds. Baker ran and defeated Newton in an August primary. The insurgents turned up more public criticism of Baker for accepting Finch’s support.

Finch backers believed the toxic criticism against Baker, who said he would not be bullied on the Harding issue, moved the sides closer together. Other coalition members whispered the insurgents’ uncompromising mantra was suffocating progress in general.

John Bagley

John Bagley campaigning in 2012. Photo by Jim Callahan.

Meanwhile, the Harding school site issue was also close to the heart of John Bagley, one of the great athletes to come out of Harding. Bagley had remained publicly loyal to the the insurgent forces. But in a surprise move Bagley resigned from the school board October 15 perhaps in frustration with the Harding process, weeks after he issued a blistering letter that condemned the veracity of several officials including Baraka involved in the Harding project.

Legal counsel ruled that Bagley’s replacement, elected by school board members, must come from someone registered with the Working Families Party. Problem was, only about four electors among the city’s 58,000 registered voters were affiliated with the WFP whose state leadership encourages supporters to remain Democrats so they can participate in primaries. The search was on to find an unaffiliated voter to switch to the WFP for recruitment to the school board.

Finch supports charter schools that run independently of traditional public institutions. Opponents to charter schools claim charters rob money from the neediest public schools.

Kadisha Coates

Kadisha Coates. CT Post photo Autumn Driscoll.

Enter Kadisha Coates, a young African American mom with children who attend charter schools. Finch operatives believed they found someone acceptable to the majority board to replace Bagley.

Coates received coaching prior to her public interview with the school board to deflect focus from controversial charter schools. When asked about her position on charter schools and vouchers, anathema to many public school advocates, she deftly sidestepped adding “Our main focus should be to improve our schools.”

Moales, Larcheveque, Hennessey, Baker and Illingworth voted for Coates after hearing from five candidates for the position.

In a few weeks, Coates will be among the nine school board candidates to select a chair at an organizational meeting that will be run by Finch.

Barring another strange twist, it looks like Baraka will be out as chair. Leading horses? Hennessey wants it, but there’s support for Larcheveque, the one Republican on the board. Some board members are reticent about supporting Hennessey who’s close to the Bridgeport Education Association leadership.

Sources say Larcheveque, an emergency management professional, is concerned about the time required serving as chair. So right now the chair money is on Hennessey or Larcheveque.

Baker will receive the oath of office in January for his State House seat. How long will he remain on the school board?

Irrespective of the new chair, one thing’s for sure, the coalition of Working Families Party and insurgent Democrats that came together last year is sayonara.


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79 Comments so far ↓

  • Bob Walsh

    Well said, Lennie. Maybe a few too many words (JML the editor of OIB) and lacking a few salient and concrete examples but my take 100%. As I said, a coalition created to win but not to govern.

    • Maria Pereira

      Bob, I strongly urge you to stop posting on BBOE education issues. Your comments stating “a coalition created to win but not govern” are completely false.

      Here is a letter submitted by Andre Baker, Dave Hennessey and Howard Gardner that was published in the CT Post on October 22, 2013. After the primary and just days before the general election.
      www .ctpost.com/default/article/A-vision-for-the-future-of-Bridgeport-education-4866692.php

      As you can see, the letter specifically states “we are candidates who will demonstrate a commitment to shared governance.”

      In addition, the letter states “our team has a pro-reform message, but not the narrowly defined, flawed, privatization and corporate takeover.” Charter Schools are a form of privatization and they are part of the national corporate takeover schemes occurring across the Unites States. Andre Baker and Dave Hennessey knowingly voted to select a charter school parent who is completely pro-privatization and part of the CT corporate deform movement.

      Bob, before you continue to publish completely false statements you need to learn how to utilize this revolutionary technological advance called GOOGLE.

    • John Marshall Lee

      You have prepared an article that belongs in a City newspaper perhaps as a two-part story. It is objective and covers a four-year period including many battles and skirmishes that are part of the struggle by different parties to arguably improve educational opportunity and performance for the youth of the City.

      Troll hits you for “too many words” but your writing provides a genuine framework to anyone attempting to understand activity around education in this time period. Inclusion of “salient and concrete examples” would have used more words, Bob. So would dealing with the money spent on “youth education” in Bridgeport during that time period. That sum would be in excess of $1 BILLION for operating expenses! There has been an additional $500 MILLION of school building capital construction in various stages during the same time period.

      It may be more exciting to talk about the people (either celebrating or demonizing them at various times) we have elected or rejected through voting, or those who have been hired by them. Too often that creates an excess of emotional toxicity in the public sphere. OIB has reported environmental toxicity with the GE property as a problem. Perhaps a focus on the MONEY, with open, accountable and transparent reporting, review, monitoring and public learning might lead to a better understanding of the problems, issues, and concerns retarding educational achievement in the City. Have you studied the Bridgeport Public Schools website recently with its information on operating budget, grants budget offerings and employee positions? Will you attend the BOE Finance meeting tonight to see what issues are addressed by that group? Isn’t it money that makes the world go around? And people are the stewards of lots of “other people’s money,” so how are they doing in that regard? Time will tell.

      • Bob Walsh

        John Marshall Lee,
        The one thing that appears to be missing from Lennie’s blog post is, hmmm, NEWS. Hence the term newspaper.
        As far as I can see, all Lennie did was rehash all of the items previously written on OIB.
        Did Lennie provide any quotes from John Bagley as to why he resigned, or personal insight from Andre Baker as to why he voted the way he did or from Dave Hennessey about him running for board chair or maybe from Sauda as to her take on all of this???
        Maybe JML is being very provocative in his posting by suggesting the Lennie post is worthy of a City newspaper because he knows the city’s newspapers only report what is easy. Kudos to you John if that was your point.

        • John Marshall Lee

          How much “news” content must be carried in a paper to consider it credible? If sports “news” is removed, and business “news” hides public relations efforts by the businesses themselves, after you subtract the Classified, Legal and advertisements, you find very little “news.” So a connected, factual story stitching the events can be very informative to the public at large, beyond sound bites, YouTube moments and blog screeds. Informing and educating the public at large so they will have the confidence to vote is important, one person at a time, one day at a time and one subject at a time. Sooner or later the voice of the people gets to the ears, hearts and minds of the people. Time will tell.

          • Bob Walsh

            I don’t even think your post makes sense let alone has value.
            Don’t take this the wrong way but most of B’port doesn’t even know OIB exists.
            And in spite of what Maria says most of the ‘Port is too busy surviving to care about charter school versus public school. It’s all the same to them.

          • LennieGrimaldi

            Troll, I know a whole bunch of pols who read OIB but deny it exists. We must all be in heaven.

  • Bob Walsh

    Maybe we should take the Sports Authority lead and begin calling the BBOE the Trumbull Board of Ed. That’ll teach Timmy Herbst.

  • Pete Spain


    Regarding what you’ve been asserting regarding last Thursday night’s five-vote selection of Ms. Coates to fill Bagley’s vacancy:
    Even if you are on the BOE, are not satisfied with Baraka’s leadership, and believe a change in leadership is in order to meaningfully improve the BOE for the benefit of the 21,000+ students it serves, their families and communities in our city (note: I’m trying to hypothesize the best motivations here … yes, naively) … was there no better way to effect this change (which I’m not suggesting was needed) than by striking a pre-meeting deal last week with Moales to blindly vote for someone who appears to be a lackluster charter school puppet? Couldn’t Coates have at least come to the meeting without having a FUSE Jumoke insider at her side?

    Wasn’t the real assignment Thursday night for the eight members of the BOE to select the best applicant for the job?

    Isn’t that what those of us who vote for our BOE members reasonably expect from them?

    Do we deserve less than the best applicant for the job, Bob?

    In my humble opinion, as a result of five members’ vote for Ms. Coates, the BOE has ceded ground to the charter school regime, giving that small minority in our city’s school universe at least a second, if not a third vote, on the BOE. That is nothing less than a betrayal of the public majority that elected this board overseeing the public schools in Bridgeport. I will add it’s a damned shame Bagley couldn’t finish out his term.

    Regardless of whether the WFP was outfoxed, etc., bigger than any political score, Bob, last week’s coup if it does change the BOE leadership and the formation of a six-voter bloc including Coates and Moales and Baker’s replacement will likely have an adverse effect on many important things in our city re the schools, such as, but not limited to, (1) the selection of and transition to the next superintendent, (2) how the BOE engages its outside counsel to deal with the city’s meddling, incompetence, cronyism, and failure to meet the MBR, and (3) BOE’s committees and processes for managing the single largest part of the city’s annual expenditure.

    The BOE may soon become another Finch rubber stamp, as the City Council is. And Bob, you want us to say, “Blame Sauda Baraka. Way to go Andre”? Will Andre even be around for the fallout? Seems unlikely.

    It’s this kind of politics-as-usual thinking that keeps Bridgeport treading water, poorly.

    • Ron Mackey

      Pete Spain, excellent, I’m glad you took the time to lay everything out. The BOE next month will return back to what it was before with a 6 to 3 vote on almost all important issues. Taking “power” always has the problem with keeping it, before one takes power they must be ready to govern and think as if they were in charge before their takeover because there is no time to re-adjust. Be careful of what you wish for because you might get it. Time will tell as JML would say.

    • Bob Walsh

      Please Pete, I never said anything positive about Andre’s vote or his actions. Your reading comprehension skills must be on the other side of the bell curve.
      But if the coalition falls apart in less than a year’s time, then I must believe it is the fault of leadership.
      If you care to you can blame Andre, you can blame John Bagley, you can blame Dave Hennessey, but eventually you need to blame the leadership.
      Whether leadership made serious misjudgements about how the coalition members think or feel, whether leadership failed to effectively communicate with the members of the coalition, whether leadership would not listen to members of the coalition, whether leadership did not continuously nurture and build the coalition, whatever the reason(s) is and I am not privy to it or them, at some point the ONLY person(s) you can blame is leadership or the lack thereof.

      • Maria Pereira

        Bob, at least Pete has attended BBOE meetings and has some insight into what has occurred at BBOE meetings. The first person to break away from the coalition was Dave Hennessey and that occurred directly after the primary and it was because he started lobbying to become the chair of the BBOE BEFORE he was elected in November.

        You have absolutely no clue about was has or has not occurred on the BBOE. Please stop pretending you do. You do not know one thing about John Bagley’s reasons for resigning from the BBOE so stop pretending you do. Andre Baker showed his true colors when Adam Wood played the role of the Wizard from the Wizard of Oz and repeatedly called Andre Baker out of a BBOE meeting from behind a curtain and told Andre to add the approval of Harding to the agenda and then had Mark Anastasi write out his motion for him and hand it to him in front of the entire room and then he read it aloud verbatim.

        These are adults, not children, therefore they must own their actions and decisions and you should not be attempting to deflect criticism Andre and Dave so richly deserve.

  • Maria Pereira

    I just had a lengthy conversation with someone who has known and supported Andre Baker since he arrived from Norwalk. She was actually at an event on Friday night and Andre Baker was there. She told me the black community is both shocked and angry with Andre for his betrayal, and his new-found allegiance with Mayor Finch and Moales. She said “everyone is talking about it.”

    This is the complete truth. She actually told me her elderly mother just told her when she dies she is absolutely not to have her funeral services at Andre Baker’s funeral home. Her mom told her to have her services at Morton’s funeral home. Her mom said she was completely disgusted with Andre Baker.

    She went on to tell me she has heard others in the community say the same thing and “everyone is talking about it.”

    • Bond Girl

      Gossip is as gossip does. It just seems ridiculous to say “everyone is talking about it.” The statement evokes a visualization of bored housewives burning up the phone lines, looking to create drama.

      From what I can remember, the mass exodus of the WFP began with you, right? You can resign, but no one else can, unless they want to subject themselves to having their every move watched and analyzed and spun in whatever way conveniently supports your point of view?


      • Maria Pereira

        Bond Girl, believe me it is not just bored housewives. Political and community leaders are talking about it, church members are talking about it, business owners are talking about it, volunteers who worked to elect Andre & Dave are talking about it, BBOE administrative staff is talking about it, teachers are definitely talking about it. People from all walks of life and different political affiliations are talking about it.

        What does my resignation have to do with Andre and Dave’s betrayal? I didn’t betray the WFP. When I could not in good conscious support their inevitable decision to support Malloy for re-election, I therefore chose to resign. I didn’t tell them I am with you, I support your view on this and I will help and then betray them by helping Tom Foley. I took a stand on an issue I felt deeply about and resigned in a professional manner.

        I support John’s decision to resign and have made no negative comments about his decision to do so. He was unwavering in his commitments, values and principles and that is not something Andre Baker or Dave Hennessey can ever lay claim to, Ms. Parisi. We interviewed all three candidates and specifically asked them their position on Vallas, charter schools, privatization, etc. Their positions on specific education issues was why we chose to support these candidates. John Bagley NEVER betrayed his word, not once.

        Of course you wouldn’t know one thing about that because you were not part of the coalition and you do not any attend BBOE meetings, therefore I would suggest you focus your time and attention to topics you possess some level of knowledge about, like how to swoon over Dave Walker.

        • Bond Girl

          You love to tell people what to do, don’t you?

          I would kindly ask you to not make assumptions regarding what I do and do not know, if you please. That would be awesome!

          Now if you will excuse me I must get back to my swooning. Must not keep Dave Walker waiting!

          • Bob Walsh

            You are right on Bond Girl.
            If you believe half of what you read from Maria then Finch’s reelection effort is up in smoke.
            If the entire city is up in arms about Andre Baker supporting a pro-charter person to the BBOE then they will definitely be supporting anybody but Finch.
            I am shocked that Finch has not already resigned since all of Bridgeport is calling for Andre Baker to be gone.

          • Maria Pereira

            Bond Girl, sorry, I referred to you as Ms. Parisi in error. I believe you are one of two Black Rock residents associated with Joe Larcheveque. I made a simple “suggestion,” it was not an order. Feel free to post as many inaccurate statements as you would like around education issues. I have no problem taking time out of my day to correct you as many times as is needed.

          • Bond Girl

            Damn it! Stop trying to distract me from my swooning.

          • Maria Pereira

            Bob, I can’t find where I referred to Mayor Finch’s re-election bid. Can you point it out for me? Since we are on the subject, I truly hope Kenneth Moales, Hernan Illingworth and Kadisha Coates run on Mayor Finch’s slate next year. I am hoping they don’t decide to not run because I would honestly prefer to beat them at the polls.

  • Maria Pereira

    I have now had three different sources tell me since Andre Baker was elected to the BBOE, he has received the contract as the City of Bridgeport’s morgue. If this is true, I do not think it is a coincidence. All together now, “quid pro quo.”

    • Bob Walsh

      That is the proper way to handle something like you are alleging. Posting something on OIB does not constitute an official complaint.

      • Maria Pereira

        Bob, I don’t know if you have heard, but all the Ethics Commission members are appointed by Mayor Finch and the city attorney’s office guides them in their decisions. If you recall, Mayor Finch appointed a convicted sex offender and repeatedly convicted felon for drug dealing to this commission. What else do you need to know?

        • Ron Mackey

          Maria Pereira, so what, you still file the official complaint.

          • Maria Pereira

            We have filed previous complaints and it was an absolute joke. A complaint was filed against Kenneth Moales when he voted to block spending $5,000 to ask the BBOE attorney to craft a legal opinion on filing a lawsuit to block two new charter schools in Bridgeport. Kenneth Moales was designated as a member of Dr. Perry’s charter school which is one of the schools the BOE wanted to block, therefore it was a very real conflict.

            The Ethics Commission never issued a response to the complaint.

        • John Marshall Lee

          I am guessing Bob knew the answer to the appointment of Board and Commission members. The Library Board may be the only holdout in that regard in that they select and recrui their successors, subject to City Council approval.
          What is not realized or reported on OIB by enough people is there are several Boards/Commissions that are not listed on the City website including Pension A, School Building Committee, Airport Commission and perhaps the City Hall Committee. There may be more. But why are these groups not listed? And why are the meetings’ schedules, agendas and minutes including exhibits not posted on the City website? Too much work? Too much info? Time will tell.

  • Jimfox

    So that’s where we’ll have Bass Pro’s wake.

  • Lifelong Bpt

    This election season and in the comments to this story I keep seeing comments made by several readers, so I am not trying to single out any one person. I keep reading people making these statements “the black community is this or that.”
    Please–the black community is not one group mind. It is made up of individuals who are not all in agreement on every issue.

  • Maria Pereira

    Lifelong Bpt, I just want to clarify the reference to the “black community” was made by the black woman I was speaking with last night, not I.

    • Lifelong Bpt

      Maria, I understand. That is why I tried not to single you out. My statement was not in reference to you, but to those who use that “black community” designation. Andy, agreed. It is everyone’s community, and the kids are suffering from the political games of the “adults.”

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Black community? White Community? Who gives a shit, this is supposed to be about the kids and making things better than they were. Before I get started I do not attend BOE meetings but I pay taxes and have grandchildren in a Bridgeport school. This last election of the BOE was supposed to be the voice of the people of Bridgeport and what did we get? Different people on the board but the same old bullshit. It looks like Baker sold out, Bagley went the way of the coward and quit and Hennessey wants to be in charge. Moales still pulls all kinds of destructive maneuvering and the list goes on and on. What a shame for the kids of Bridgeport.

  • Ron Mackey

    Andy Fardy, ditto.

  • Maria Pereira

    Ron, are you agreeing with Andy’s statement “Bagley went the way of the coward and quit?”

    • Ron Mackey

      Maria Pereira, I have always had the highest respect for John in fact I still feel he has a lot to offer the City. Maria, unlike you and Andy I do not call people like Senator-elect Moore, State Rep.-elect Baker and John coward, sellout, traitor. I’m troubled by John’s decision to step down because too much was put into getting John elected and now with his leaving there was no plan to replace him and there was no reason given for why he is leaving. I think a plan should have been put in place before John was to leave.

      • Bob Walsh

        How about a plan AFTER John resigned?
        It seems to me the BOE sat around waiting for a legal opinion before acting and when they did, because there was no planning, it was interview on one night take it or don’t bother applying.
        Why couldn’t Sauda have taken the lead and suggested/developed a questionnaire for all potential candidates to respond to? I am not saying this would have guaranteed different results but at least it would have ensured a full or better vetting of respondents.
        But when Andre Baker suggested asking the mayor for more time, a reasonable and intelligent request, he was immediately attacked by people on this blog as a traitor. As doing the mayor’s bidding.

        • Maria Pereira

          Bob, how is the BBOE supposed to put a plan in place before they have a legal opinion about which party the candidate has to be a member of? They can’t advertise the vacancy without notifying potential candidates the requirements as per CT state statute.

          The CT state statute specifically states if the BBOE does not fill the vacancy within 30 days the legislative body, not the Mayor, selects the replacement. What is frightening is Andre Baker is going to pass laws in Hartford and doesn’t even understand Mayor Finch can’t arbitrarily alter a law passed by the legislature. The CT state statute doesn’t state the “Mayor” can grant an extension.

          Candidates were asked to submit a letter of interest and resume and each BBOE member was allowed to ask each candidate a question at the interview. That is reasonable and appropriate. All an advance questionnaire allows for is any potential candidate to gather assistance from others in filling it out and researching answers to the questions on a computer. Asking questions of candidates in person requires them to be able to draw their answers from their actual knowledge on the spot.

          The deal was done before Andre, Dave, Joe, Hernan and Moales ever walked into the room that night.

          • Bob Walsh

            Unless the law has changed, all of the time I was on the City council there was never a mention of this. The law Lennie posted said the Mayor MAY appoint.

          • Bob Walsh

            You are telling us each candidate submitted a letter and each board member was allowed to ask ONE question? Are you for real? Pete Spain. Are you reading this?
            Do you believe this process allows for a fully vetted candidate selection process?
            At times on the Council Misc Matters Committee, I would ask ten questions of a potential appointment to a board or commission.
            ONE QUESTION???
            THIS IS A JOKE!!!

          • Maria Pereira

            The CT state statute Lennie referenced filling a vacancy for every board and commission UNLESS there is a specific state statute that is applicable to a specific board and commission, and there is such a statute that is specific to boards of education, therefore that statute cannot be applied to a BOE vacancy. The statute I referenced is specifically about how a BOE vacancy is filled and it states the remaining members have 30 days to fill the vacancy. After the 30 days has lapsed the vacancy is filled by the municipal legislative body, not the mayor. A mayor cannot arbitrarily alter the 30-day timeframe because the statute in question does not grant him those powers.

          • Maria Pereira

            Bob, all the BBOE members voted on the protocol and Sauda actually suggested each candidate be given more time depending on how many applicants there were. Howard and Kelleher seemed to support her suggestion, too. Now let’s see who was opposed to that suggestion. Well there was Moales, Larcheveque, Hennessey, Baker and Illingworth. When the votes have been decided, why support extending candidate interviews? It was a done deal.

        • Ron Mackey

          Bob Walsh, I agree, why wait, leaders lead, you have the power, so lead. If you are wrong then you adjust but you can’t stand still. I don’t see how asking for more time makes someone a traitor. I’m not blaming Sauda because I like her because she is strong there was a core group and it seems everybody did nothing.

          • Maria Pereira

            I don’t recall anyone calling Andre Baker a traitor for suggesting the BBOE ask Mayor Finch for an extension. The issue at hand is the CT state statute specifically states 30 days and Mayor Finch does not have the authority to grant an extension.

      • Maria Pereira

        Ron, I honestly know what work you did to help elect John Bagley because I don’t recall ever seeing you at the campaign headquarters or hearing John mention you, however I know I went out with John on doors day after day and I really worked to raise money for his campaign.

        There aren’t many who can say they volunteered as much time on his campaign as I did, and if I am not “troubled” by John’s decision for resigning, why are you?

        When Pat Crossin resigned in 2010 he did not give a reason publicly and I do not recall the CT Post or others demanding an apology or reason for his resignation.

        Is there one set of expectations or standards for a white man from Black Rock versus a black man from the West Side?

        • Ron Mackey

          Maria Pereira, please, don’t do this.

        • Andrew C Fardy

          Maria you are a quitter also. You use Malloy as an excuse but you were tired of spending a lot of time and accomplishing nothing.
          Now you are trying to turn this into a racial issue and that like you is bullshit other thaan my saying John Bagley is a quitter I said a lot more about Pat Crossin so you can forget the racial stuff. BTW just because you the queen of BOE meetings did not see someone do something does not mean it wasn’t done.

          • Maria Pereira

            Andy, I am sure you are fully aware of why I resigned because you were and continue to be one of my closest confidants.

            I couldn’t respond to this post earlier because I actually attended the 6:00 Finance Committee meeting How are you going to tell me what did or did not happen at a BBOE meeting when I was in attendance and you are not? I attend 99% of all BBOE meetings and you don’t attend any. You look silly.

          • Andrew C Fardy

            Maria, I am not one of your closest confidants. In fact I don’t like you. You are a windbag who thinks because they attend BOE meetings they are accomplishing a lot. What are you accomplishing? You went around the city videoing charter school proponents and lo and behold we have a person from the charter school group elected to the BOE. So going to these meetings is no BFD and by the way I never blog about what goes on at BOE meetings.

          • Maria Pereira

            Andy, well I absolutely adore you. After all, you are one of my top sources for entertainment. Clearly, I am an effective windbag as demonstrated by the victory of the six Democratic Town Committee members I supported this past March.

          • Andrew C Fardy

            Maria, you didn’t do much more than the candidates did before election day, in fact before election day you spent your time telling absentee voters not to vote for my wife or Ann Barney. On election day you never mentioned the other candidates but what you did do is spend 14 hours telling people not to vote for Pat and Ann and even then they almost won. So tell the truth even though lying does become you.

      • Maria Pereira

        Ron, when you wrote “Andy, ditto” it implies you agree with all his comments.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Maria, why shouldn’t Ron agree with me I am right? Bagley ran for the BOE and asked us to vote for him, which we did. Then after a short while he leaves. Are you implying Ron Mackey a black man should not agree with me because I was critical of a black official?

  • Andrew C Fardy

    What do you call a quitter?

    • Maria Pereira

      Where did I state Ron Mackey shouldn’t be critical of John Bagley because they are both black men? I asked Ron because he and John actually know each other and I wanted clarification on whether he agreed with your specific comments about John.

      Since I have been involved in politics, McCarthy who served as a Democrat on the City Council representing Black Rock resigned, City Council representative Bob Curwen resigned, Patrick Crossin resigned and John Bagley resigned. There were a variety of reasons for the resignations including health issues and business and family obligations. Would you rather these individuals just ignore their responsibilities, stop attending meetings and not fulfill their obligations? Isn’t the professional way to handle this circumstance to submit a formal letter of resignation?

      Pope Benedict XVI resigned as pope in 2013. I guess he is a “quitter” too.

  • Bob Walsh

    I THINK THE POPE WOULD BE INSULTED BY THOSE COMPARISONS; McCarthy, Curwen, Crossin and Pope Benedict.

  • Bob Walsh

    Connecticut General Statutes
    Chapter 170
    Sec. 10-219. Procedure for filling vacancy on local board of education. If a vacancy occurs in the office of any member of the local board of education, unless otherwise provided by charter or special act, such vacancy shall be filled by the remaining members of said board until the next regular town election, at which election a successor shall be elected for the unexpired portion of the term, the official ballot specifying the vacancy to be filled.
    (1949 Rev., S. 1500, 1502; 1953, S. 950d; 1967, P.A. 173; P.A. 81-257, S. 2, 10.)
    History: 1967 act added qualifying phrase “unless otherwise provided by charter or special act”; P.A. 81-257 made filling of vacancy mandatory rather than optional unless otherwise provided by charter or special act by substituting “shall” for “may”.
    See Sec. 9-1 for applicable definitions.
    Court interpreted term “appointment” in Sec. 1-18a(e)(1) to include filling a vacancy as used in this section. 213 C. 216.
    “Filling a vacancy” as used in this section is an “appointment” within meaning of Sec. 1-18a(e)(1). 41 CS 267.

  • Maria Pereira

    This is not the statute that states the time constraints the remaining BOE members have to fill the vacancy and it moves to the municipal legislative body after the 30-day period. Clearly, this is not the relevant statute because it does not reference either the mayor or legislative body.

  • Bob Walsh

    CHAPTER 170*
    *Cited. 182 C. 93.

    Local boards of education are not agents of the towns but creatures of the state. 25 CS 305.

    Table of Contents

    Sec. 10-218. Officers. Meetings.
    Sec. 10-218a. Oath of office.
    Sec. 10-219. Procedure for filling vacancy on local board of education.

  • Maria Pereira

    Kadisha Coates attended tonight’s Finance Committee meeting. She admitted she had not taken her oath and did not participate in the discussion.

    I was really surprised at her appearance. I know it was a dreary and damp night, however she looked a rumpled mess. I couldn’t imagine wearing leggings to my very first BBOE meeting.

    After the meeting adjourned, I approached her and introduced myself and spoke with her about my concerns about serving on the BBOE. After speaking with her one on one, it appears she is nervous, timid and weak.

    • John Marshall Lee

      I just happened to be at 3/4 of the same Finance meeting where the subject of the timetable for next year’s budget decision making process, with enough time for all parties to be included, was Item 1. The second item covered by a LCLambeck post is the proposal for a dedicated not-for-profit fund for City schools.
      I missed 15 minutes of the meeting to address the City Council at their public session. Maria missed some part of the Finance meeting communicating by phone in the hall. (I honestly did not make a note of her outfit other than to notice she was bundled for the cold weather.)
      What is it about Ms. Coate’s clothing or Maria P’s perceptions of her that bears on advancing the cause of Bridgeport children educationally? Isn’t one of Maria’s tests of a citizen’s seriousness of purpose their attendance record at meetings? Did Maria make any comments to Finance last evening supportive of advancing the mission of the Public Schools? Time will tell.

      • Maria Pereira

        Bow tie, you are not a woman and women do look at things through a different lens. I couldn’t have imagined attending my very first BBOE meeting looking disheveled and unprofessional. Personally, I remember encountering traffic once which did not allow me the time to go home and change, therefore I had to drive straight to a committee meeting wearing a baseball cap and sneakers and once I arrived I felt compelled to apologize to me peers for my unprofessional appearance. I often notice other BBOE members wearing sweatshirts, sneakers, shorts, baseball caps, sweat suits, etc. I just think it is unprofessional and unbecoming for elected officials to attend public meetings dressed so casually. It probably comes from working for retailers that had strict dress code policies. That includes Read’s, John Wanamaker’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, etc.

        As far as Kadisha Coates “advancing the cause of Bridgeport children educationally,” that is not what she is interested in doing while serving on the BBOE. She is there to feed information to charter school proponents, do Kenneth Moales’ bidding and do whatever she can to promote charter schools.

        • Andrew C Fardy

          How have the sitting BOE members advanced the educational opportunities for Bridgeport children? BTW when you showed up in sneakers and a baseball hat, you came from your day job working in a food truck at Seaside Park.

          • Maria Pereira

            Andy, I didn’t know there were food trucks at Seaside Park. I will have to swing by in the Spring. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with working on a food truck and I am sure the owners of these businesses feel the same way.

          • Andrew C Fardy

            Maria, I am surprised you did not know there were food trucks at Seaside Park when you worked on one. Nothing wrong with working on a food truck unless you are trying to act like a BFD while picking on someone’s manner of dress. Meow!!!

          • Andrew C Fardy

            Maria, you failed to explain the first question I asked in the above posting and that is how have the sitting BOE members advanced educational opportunities in Bridgeport. You never answer these types of questions.

        • John Marshall Lee

          Ms. Pereira, I think that you have voiced an objection on one or more occasions when someone dares to suggest what you think, what your viewpoint may be, or what you are likely to do or say. And in the sense of “live and let live,” I agree. However, if you sense it is fair to be treated, indeed, respected in that manner, aren’t you breaking your own rules when you comment on Ms. Coates?

          You provide me with too much info about your opinions on clothing and public appearance, unless you will begin to advance Ordinances to promote a “clothing police.” I have not had the opportunity to introduce myself to Ms. Coates but inasmuch as she is a parent of school-age youth, is interested in those opportunities in the City in which she resides, and is willing to attend BOE meetings to learn and share in the decision making, I applaud her. (Consider how many fellow citizens sit home, fail to become informed and fail to vote.) In line with a comment of Ghandi, perhaps she is attempting to become the CHANGE she wishes. Is that your reason also for community activity? Time will tell.

          • Maria Pereira

            I am entitled to my opinion as is everyone else. However people are not entitled to their own set of “facts.” I frequently see posts about the BBOE that are not factual and are not accurate. Unfortunately much of what is inaccurately posted is done so by those who attend very few or no BBOE meetings at all.

            I have thoroughly researched Ms. Coates and I have the documentation to support my claims she is affiliated with Families for Excellent Schools, ConnCAN, Education Bridgeport! (Megan DeSombre) and charter schools in general. It is not a guess or opinion, it is a fact.

            She is a charter school parent and advocate and neither she nor her two school-age children have ever spent one day attending a Bridgeport public school. She has such a concern for the BPS, the only time she had not attended a BBOE meeting prior to the night of her interview. If she is so passionate about education issues wouldn’t she want to serve on the Achievement First Charter School Governance Council where her child actually attends, not the Bridgeport Board of Education where neither she nor her children have ever attended?

            It is no different than a manager affiliated with Pepsi seeking to serve on the Coca Cola Board of Directors. Is the Pepsi employee really interested in the betterment of Coca Cola or is he there to help Pepsi? I already know the answer to this question. The only remaining question is do you.

  • Bob Walsh

    You could make Attila the Hun appear nervous, timid and weak.

  • Bob Walsh

    And remember to log onto OIB to get your free BOE member fashion reviews included in the low membership price.

  • Bob Walsh

    And remember, if you can’t say something bad about someone …
    What am I talking about, Maria can say something bad about everybody. She even called the Pope a quitter.

  • Maria Pereira

    I know Bob, because you yourself are so gentile, respectful and complimentary of others. I can’t even begin to count the number of times you have heaped compliments and praise on others on OIB. The number of compliments you have made about others should certainly place you in contention for the Guinness Book of World Records.

  • flubadub

    What role did the Working Families Party play in selecting/vetting members applying for the BOE seat?

  • Maria Pereira

    flubadub, the WFP generally leaves it up to the locals to choose someone who shares their values. My understanding is WFP leadership is very unhappy about Kadisha Coates’ appointment to fill John Bagley’s vacancy and of course she will not be endorsed by the WFP for election next year.

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