Judge Lopez Blasts Senator Moore’s Support To Remove Elected School Board Members

Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez writes in a commentary that State Senator Marilyn Moore’s support of a bill to remove elected school board members “is a “Bad Idea” which will enable a tyranny of a super majority, and, will strengthen the hand of the political machine Senator Moore opposes and seeks to topple.”

Philosopher George Santayana famously said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Mr. Santayana, meet State Senator Marilyn Moore.

Not so long ago, (2009), Mayor Bill Finch and his employee and rubber stamp City Council President, Tom McCarthy, sought to remove an elected member of the City Council.

That member was Bob Walsh.

They sought removal, because of a private message left by Walsh for another member of the Council.

The message had racial overtones.

A group met in my dining room to devise a strategy designed to counter what was a blatantly illegal attempt to remove a legally elected official from office. Senator Marilyn Moore was present at the meeting as a show of support for her long-time ally, Bob Walsh. I presented a body of research, and a letter was sent out, describing the reasons that any ouster from the Council was illegal.

That battle was won; Finch and McCarthy backed down when the legal basis of their removal efforts crumbled.

I couldn’t help but remember that 2009 meeting as I read the press release that Lennie Grimaldi published in today’s Only in Bridgeport post. The release announced Senator Moore’s support for SB 393, “An Act Establishing a Process for the Removal of a Member of a Board of Education.”

It is incredible that the Education Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly would propose legislation that would grant to members of a Board of Education the power to remove a duly elected colleague. It is astonishing that Senator Moore supports and endorses this bill.

This is a “Bad Idea” which will enable a tyranny of a super majority, and, will strengthen the hand of the political machine Senator Moore opposes and seeks to topple.

It was a bad idea in 2009, and it is a bad idea in 2020.

While the bill only covers elected members of a Board of Education, it is a small step on the slippery slope of removing elected officials from a municipal legislative body, land use boards, boards of finance or even the General Assembly.

It is a tool that will be used to chill dissent, whip recalcitrant members into line and get rid of “troublemakers,” a/k/a “independent thinkers.”

While the use of this tool to remove Jessica Martinez from her elected position may be appealing to Senator Moore and others, this may not be the case if it is used to remove an elected official who happens to be an ally or supporter.

Whether we like it or not, we are still living in a democracy.

The respected theologian and public intellectual, Reinhold Niebuhr, said it best when he said, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”

The plain language of SB 393 allows for the removal of an elected member of a board of education “that has been convicted of a crime or is guilty of misconduct or willful and material neglect of duty in the conduct of such board member’s office.”

Furthermore, the bill gives discretion to the members of the Board of Education to “make such investigation of the charges as such board deems proper, and shall, if such board is of the opinion, … prepare a citation in the name of the state, commanding such board member to appear before such board, … and show cause, if any, why such board member should not be removed from office.”

Given the sad reality of human nature, does anyone really believe that a Board of Education, such as we have here in Bridgeport, would exercise impartial judgment as they ‘make such investigation’ of a colleague they wish to remove from office?

According to the language of the bill, members of a Board of Education, would act as decision makers, or judges, in a ‘proceeding’ held to present evidence to determine if the accused board member should be removed.

How will these judges weigh the evidence presented; in other words, how much evidence will be needed to remove the accused? How will they manage their conflict of interests and personal vendettas as they render their ruling?

Can anyone believe that elected, partisan members of a Board of Education would approach such a proceeding with a posture of general and community interest, rather than with a specific self-interest designed to promote the goals of their particular group?

We all know the answers to these questions, don’t we?

This issue is not about Jessica Martinez, just like the City Council’s 2009 attempt to remove Bob Walsh was not about Bob Walsh. It is about a serious attack on the rule of law and our democracy.

The proponents of this legislation, and supporters such as Senator Moore, would be wise to remember that a remedy exists for the removal of elected officials found guilty of such conduct.

It is called an Election!

Let us stand up for our democracy, while we still have it. Legislation like this proposed bill threatens our democratic way of life. Thank heavens that our democracy still grants each of us the right to vote.

We must use that right to vote, or risk losing it!



  1. Too often issues of importance become “informal public voting” sessions where quite often the issue gets misplaced by fans for the folks caught up in the dispute. I know most of the folks caught up in the current issue that surrounds a public image on social media that has a message that can be easily misunderstood by younger folks. So I reflect:

    Is there a member of the Board of Education who continues her or his education beyond whatever basic level so far attained? Perhaps we may call that person a “lifetime learner”?
    We learn from life experiences, books and commentaries on life events and from folks who have values and purposes similar to our own? We need to believe this to forge more effective approaches to issues in our community. We need role models of adult, rational, and practical behavior, especially when resources do not cover the needs.

    Did BOE elected members know of the existence of this photographic image when they initially voted? I would like those persons to explain their vote in light of this negative personal information in an extended comment on what thousands of students open to information on the internet would comprehend when seeing this for the first time?
    It really is not about the pursuit of more laws, is it? (Or perhaps it is..)

    But where are the other adults on the BOE whose vote has been called into question? We look for teachers in our system who are of the same color as students since that makes a difference in results we are told. How about demonstration of moral behavior by which the “adults in charge” live as consistently as possible? Time will tell.

    1. JML, great question but the answer to your question is those on the BBOE meet the qualifications and what are those qualifications, the meet Mario Testa’s standards.

  2. Ron, Whether I am a new reader of OIB or decade long addict to the mixture of news, repartee, and rank rumor regularly served up, let’s say his standards, rules of the game, and cause of action is not understood. How is it that you connect people on the BOE and a man who has but one vote, right? Where does his power get multiplied? How does he lay out his commandments? Does he recruit supporters? What does he use as attraction, ‘bait’ or reward? Where are his goals made known? For instance how and why has he allowed a majority of rising kindergarten students, already coming to Kindergarten with less preparation than contemporaries in neighboring towns to move from September to June and fail to gain enough instruction such that they do not meet or exceed the CT standard for entering Grade 1 based on reading ability tested statewide?? There are many other questions that might be asked reasonably. What does the record show for what would be a response from Mario? Just the facts, folks? Time will tell.

    1. JML, the BBOE is just like the City Council, none those Democrats want a primary, Mario has no problem in finding someone to run as a challenger. Remember, there is real big money in all type of school contracts like building new schools, vendors for food, transportation and so many others vendors who n turn make donations to the Democrats in different forms, it’s always about money and control.

  3. We are having a good conversation so far without getting sidetracked or detoured it seems. So money from suppliers of services and work to the City is the answer and what makes the wheels of city governance operate? So you are informing us that the cost of operating goods, and services and capital items from other budgets include enough fat or surplus to allow for more generous political contributions to the dominant party, the DTC? Does that happen as fully, in your opinion, in communities where governance included a Board of Finance, elected, bi-partisan, and requiring some level of fiscal experience? If that Board were elected to four year staggered terms, perhaps with two full terms as a time limit, it could develop its own memory. Does such a move require a Charter Change or is there a petition route or other pathway to get more intelligent and focused oversight than is current with the City Council, readers? Time will tell.

  4. There are remedies to remove “Judges” from the bench. The public deserves it.
    Why not for “School Board Members”? Parents, children and the public deserve it.


Leave a Reply