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Mayor Addresses Charter Revision Commission, Says Current Education Model Doesn’t Work

February 15th, 2012 · 13 Comments · Education

Mayor Bill Finch Tuesday night urged the Charter Revision Commission that he empaneled to modernize the city charter with an emphasis on transforming the Board of Education from an elected body to either one appointed or a hybrid of the two. Whatever the commission decides must be cleared by the City Council and submitted to voters for approval. From Mayor Finch:

 “I would like to see our Charter become a more streamlined, Constitutional document, which will allow us to be more nimble in our governance of the City,” said Mayor Finch.

Among the topics he will cover is a need for greater accountability, a more modern government and business practices, and broader citizen involvement in the future of the City.

The Mayor also plans to discuss his views on education reform and how the current system can change to the benefit of the students. The Mayor has previously stated he would like to see the current model change so elected officials would have more accountability and responsibility for the success of the City’s schools.

“I look forward to sharing my views with the Charter Revision Commission tonight, and working with them to create a new, more modern document to help us govern the City,” said Mayor Finch.

The Charter Revision Commission is comprised of seven Bridgeport residents who serve in a volunteer capacity. The members of the Commission are:
· Florisca Carter, Unaffiliated
· George Estrada, Republican
· William J. Marshall, Democrat
· Ruben Felipe, Democrat
· Cathleen Simpson, Democrat
· Charles Valentino, Sr., Republican
· Harry Weichsel, Democrat

The Mayor initiated the charter revision process on December 19, 2011 when he presented two resolutions to the City Council calling for a Charter Revision Commission.

The last time there was a major update to the City Charter was in 1993.

The outline of the Mayor’s testimony follows:

· We need a new vision for our government which will only come from an overhaul of our current charter

· I want to thank each of you for giving your time to craft a new charter for the City of Bridgeport

· I look forward to working with you to create a new, more modern document to help us govern the City

· I want the charter review/reform process to assure the citizens of Bridgeport that their city government will be more “user friendly” and will function with higher levels of efficiency, accountability and responsibility throughout City government

· We need a new vision for Bridgeport governance, a modern efficient charter will help us realize that vision

· A new charter will provide us with a path to the future a path that:

o Gives us greater accountability;

o More modern business and government practices; and,

o Greater involvement by Bridgeport citizens in what will be a prosperous future

· In regard specifically to education there are some things I do know:

o The current model allows for two bodies of elected officials. One has spending authority without any taxation authority (BOE) while the other (City side) is responsible for half of the spending but all of the taxation. That does not allow for accountability or responsibility to those electing the officials.

o Adults can point fingers under the current system and the children are often forgotten

· I don’t know what the right model will turn out to be. It could be:

o Chancellor model, if allowed by Connecticut law, like in NYC

o A mayoral appointed Board of Education

o Or some sort of hybrid as we see in New Haven or Hartford.

o Whichever model you recommend must optimize student achievement reforms

· Before making that decision, I hope that the committee will request to speak with others who have studied and experienced different solutions to these challenges. They should include:

o Policy makers

o Educational leaders

o Governmental leaders in other communities

o And of course, our own community leaders

· These experts can help all of us become more educated about the differences and benefits of each of the potential solutions.

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • Sue

    I can’t keep up with this.

  • Ron Mackey

    Has the smoke cleared yet? What a way to show leadership and direction by saying, “I don’t know what the right model will turn out to be. It could be:” Here is a man who promise the taxpayers of Bridgeport a $600 rebate once he became mayor the first time he ran and won by 270 votes, Finch needed to lie because that was the only way he could beat Chris Caruso.

    Three years into his first term as mayor he decided he knew better than the voters and taxpayers of Bridgeport and he took their rights away for them to vote for who they wanted on the Board Of Education.

    Finch gets re-elected as mayor because the voters really didn’t know Mary-Jane Foster, so now he feels he has the power to do what he wants because no one is looking over his shoulder and the City Council will do what they are told.

    Mayor Finch has now overreached and he will see the voters won’t TRUST him.

  • Jimfox

    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 & DTC, the same venders and contractors that work on the schools.
    If you have control of the BOE Members, you control the school bids, right Mario/Finch?
    DTC needs the State BOE to get out of the way before the next school projects.

    Question: How will a Charter change help the 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 the 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!

  • town committee

    Ron, you are right on the money. Finch convenes a charter revision panel whose main job is to change the way BOE members are selected and he does not have a clue as to what it will look like. This man suffers from terminal dumb ass.
    He goes on to say greater involvement in government by Bridgeport citizens. That is total bullshit. Last year I attended every Budget and Appropriation meeting. There is no participation by citizens allowed. At the end of the process they have a meeting at which the public can air its views. All the members sit up front like stone statues and say nothing. They do not answer questions, respond to charges. NOTHING.
    If you contact one of the vendors that deal with the Financial management, people like Dawn Norton holler at you and say do not call any of our vendors. Someone needs to call this witch and tell her we are the ones paying the vendors not her.
    This going to be the same disjointed administration we have suffered through for the last four years. Open and transparent, my ass.
    Oh yeah one more thing, Finch you want citizen involvement yet you have 87 vacancies on the boards and commissions.

  • The Fixer

    Jimfox, dig deeper. An entire office for O & G staff was set up in the Annex so they could manage the school construction projects. Millions in tax dollars is going to O & G employees, many getting paid as outside vendors (not on payroll) so they don’t show up anywhere. Let me correct that, they are hidden in the budget in one of Sherwood’s hiding places. Everyone at the Annex knows who they are and how much they are making. This information was sent to the Post but they haven’t acted on it.

    • Bridgeporteur

      And while we’re on the topic of “digging deeper,” what about Mayor Finch’s boycotting the University of Bridgeport as an educational resource (for the ostensible reason he opposes “cults” but for the obvious reason he holds them in spite for firing him years back). Certainly this looks like a compartmentalization when he marquees the public school problems and does not recognize or acknowledge the resource of UB for perhaps solving some of these problems (not to mention solving our health problems). UB has a nationally renowned Naturopathic education program and an outreach program to the citizens of Bridgeport to provide them naturopathic health care for little or no money.

      They have as a department chair, the author of a national best-selling book: “Eat Right for Your Body Type.” There are so many health issues in Bridgeport from bad eating and bad health habits and here is a forerunner of the reform movement right under our noses and Finch ostracizes them and prevents any City or Health Planners from even speaking to them under the veiled threat they will be punished by the Finch Gestapo. Yeah, Education, right?

  • Jim Callahan

    You folks may want to drop over to the Connecticut Post and check out an article on your favorite local political action committee.

  • Bob Walsh

    Congrats to OIB Blogger Tom Kelly

    Panel: PAC that aided Finch misused funds
    Ken Dixon
    Updated 11:36 a.m., Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    HARTFORD — A father and son legal team from eastern Connecticut was fined $11,200 Wednesday in connection with the misuse of funds from a political action committee that benefited Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch.

    The State Elections Enforcement Commission unanimously agreed to accept a consent order with William A. Beccaro, of Old Saybrook, and his son William P. Beccaro of Essex, who earlier this month paid civil fines of $6,200 and $5,000.

    Read more: www .ctpost.com/news/article/Panel-PAC-that-aided-Finch-misused-funds-3332968.php

  • BEACON2

    Last night the Mayor was headed for Valentine’s Day dinner after addressing the Charter Review Special Meeting to hear his message, so perhaps he was off his message a bit? For instance, in the midst of his general criticism of the current Charter, he used the word ACCOUNTABILITY very frequently. Does the Mayor understand the meaning of the word?
    Perhaps he had some early info about the Beccaro money mess? Perhaps he was tired and hungry? But how would this Mayor look at what is available to the City about what is happening fiscally and say ACCOUNTABILITY is understood and practiced by his administration.
    ** How many people are working for CitiStat these days? How many calls are they getting and about what? What great efficiencies are newly practiced because of this well known ACCOUNTABILITY system in the past year?
    ** The Charter demands financial accountability in ways the Finch, Fabrizi and Ganim administrations at least have not practiced in years. They do not file a twelfth-month report that would complete the expenditure and revenue data for a year. Tom “we’ve done it that way since the Financial Review Board” Sherwood should know better! Perhaps he has gotten a legal opinion from Mark Anastasi on this one too?
    ** When something goes wrong financially, like the last three administrations presiding over the use of and decline of the City “unrestricted and unreserved fund balance,” shouldn’t somebody be ACCOUNTABLE and make it a PRIORITY? $55 Million down to $10 Million or so of true rainy day funds? You’re ACCOUNTABLE Mr. Mayor, not just a historian of the steady erosion!
    ** ACCOUNTABILITY for good education of City youth? Why did the Mayor for all practical purposes hold the education budget frozen at $215 Million of City and State funding for several years, while at the same time undermining the efficacy of a locally elected Board of Education? If the members of the Board were not up to the job, why didn’t the Democratic Town Committee responsibly replace their candidates? (I could lament the Republican Town Committee choices too, but the Mayor is not ACCOUNTABLE for them.) The Mayor has the ‘bully pulpit’ and he is not shy of using it for environmental purpose. What about the GREEN for EDUCATION? What about the GREEN ACCOUNTABILITY for taxpayers? Where is the auditor’s management letter shared with the public? Is the message a positive one for the past four years? Let’s demonstrate ACCOUNTABILITY to the Charter Review Committee and assume they have not been observing your administration for four years now.

    Perhaps the Mayor will craft a sign with a large letter A and wear it publicly? It’s historically in keeping with our Pilgrim forefathers and the Mayor’s understanding of what he claims is an archaic document, isn’t it? Time will tell.

  • Antitestoo

    It will be nice to run for Mayor on the Obama Ticket. No?

    It’s Time to resign, Mayor, and take that greasy little wop bastard Mario with you!
    NEXT!

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