OIB Poll: Share Your Opinion About Proposed Location For New Harding High School

Mayor Bill Finch wants to build a new school to replace the troubled Harding High on property owned by General Electric that requires environmental remediation. Do you support this location?

  • Yes, if property is cleaned to residential standards. (63%, 116 Votes)
  • No, it's not a safe location no matter what they say. (32%, 59 Votes)
  • I don't know. (4%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 183

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  1. Dear OIB,
    You present your question to be answered with “Mayor Bill Finch wants to build a new school … .” That statement stops me from providing a response unfortunately because Mayor Finch is much about building and new playgrounds that spring out of his brain spontaneously, it seems, but not in any kind of orderly process, open to public view and review, and failing public input so often.

    What does the BOR want, in terms of priorities on the school building front? As far as School Building Committee in Bridgeport, where are the meetings, the agendas, the materials distributed and the minutes for this “public body” located on the City of Bridgeport website? On the financial side of educational matters, where does the Mayor stand publicly on assuring the BOE and Schools superintendent Fran Rabinowitz the upcoming year’s “minimum budget requirement” will be met without smoke and mirrors and deferring response? Six million dollars is the initial amount reported and can you tell from the “Bob and Bill public relations show” the question has been heard in the front court and will be addressed positively? It’s about public trust that has been allowed to fail and weaken in recent years with patchwork from the State of CT so often.
    There are reasons pro and con on the Harding question: with considerations of expense and timeliness relating to City share as 20% or 40% if delayed too long; concerns about adequate remediation to residential standards and the party owning any residual long-term liability; the justice of the current facility as contributing to a good learning environment; as well as the agendas of GE and Bridgeport Hospital with respect to the land transfer.

    Where has there been a complete statement of “the project” with a description of how it is seen and designed at the moment, the expense of bonding to City budgets annually for years into the future, the additional operating expenses possible at the new school facing BOE future budgets and the effect of “more Net Grand List” land removed as taxable property? I suggest were you to provide your question above to your readership, after presenting the financial facts, assumptions, and caveats inherent in any plan, you might receive a better and certainly more informed response. What do you think, Lennie? Time will tell.

      1. Lennie, the points I have tried to make for several years now is there are no “others” in the City approval process. If you think “otherwise” you will begin to see the City Council is ill-equipped to “consider, research and vote on other.” The Boards and Commissions to the extent there are not vacant positions keeping them from quorums are peopled by folks who have exceeded their original terms and are therefore on a “month-to-month” extension, waiting for the Mayor to become displeased and replace them. The CT Post makes a “thin soup” of investigative reporting for the public. So where is the “approval process” in Bridgeport for the most part? It has gone to Fantasy Land, along with a respectful understanding of the meaning of “conflicts of interest,” “checks and balance” and an oversight or monitoring function in governance. How will this change? Time will tell.

    1. Lee–Your points are true and valid but irrelevant to the question. The question pertains only to the land. Lennie provides who wants to build it and why but only asks “Do you support this location?” So you can disagree with the location for any number of reasons. None of the reasons you mentioned would be addressed by changing where the school is built.

  2. Lennie,
    The “plan and expense presentation” I reference above would always be subject to changes because of another “bright idea” or “time pressure” because we live in Bridgeport. The mini soccer field shoehorned onto the Roosevelt School rebuild and the “access road” paid by Bridgeport for a Stratford resident in order to meet FAA timelines supposedly are recent examples of our “planning process” and extra expenses that get paid from where? Time will tell.

  3. Disagreement with the administration of Bill Finch is not a valid reason to oppose the school. It is coloring the argument here.

    The community has a chance to replace a dismal 90-year-old school building. Yes, the social problems will remain. Yes, the correct educational mix for students to be successful remains to be found. But at least the building is taken off the table as a problem. It is a start.

    You are not asking Finch to certify the building site is clean. The state of Connecticut must do it. General Electric, one of the largest corporations in the world with its headquarters within 10 miles of this location, is doing this.

    Move ahead.

    1. General Electric is not a reputable company. Although GE is a billion-dollar company it pays $0 in federal taxes.

      As a Harding High graduate who grew up on the East Side, I am opposed to this site absolutely and unequivocally. Build a new Harding absolutely, but not on the largest brownfield site in CT.

      1. At least they paid what they owed. Look at this disreputable multi-billion dollar company that did not pay what they owed and they have contracts with the BBOE. A bunch of corporate crooks.

        Some 14,000 teachers in Connecticut use Scholastic Book Club programs, all of which the state now considers to be “representatives” of the company. Based on that definition, the company has been assessed more than $3 million in back sales taxes and penalties.

        1. BOE SPY, you act as if they did something knowingly dishonest. These cases are happening all around the country and there are varying outcomes in each state. The same is happening for internet sales. By the way, I never worked for Scholastic Book Club, I worked for Scholastic Book Fairs.

          1. You act as if GE did something dishonest. They paid what they owed. GE is not currently and has never been found guilty of tax evasion for that tax year. Scholastics is a billion dollar company with real lawyers and accountants, not some ‘mom and pop’ company. Your theory is they did not knowingly do something dishonest? Was your last post an admission you participated in the scheme to illegally defraud the state of CT of more than $10 million tax dollars? Tax dollars that are desperately needed to fund education?

          2. GE is dishonest and will never be brought to justice because of their financial power.

            Really, you believe I was involved in a scheme with Scholastic Book Club to defraud CT? You are absolutely absurd.

            I am completely opposed to corporate welfare, tax breaks for the wealthy, unlimited campaign contributions, etc. You definitely have the wrong person and you probably need to seek treatment.

        2. Scholastic, Inc. is projecting sales of $1.8 billion in 2014 while GE is projecting approximately $100 billion, yet you expect us to believe GE is not committing tax evasion by paying $0 in federal taxes? Please.

          1. The claim GE pays no federal income tax at all is disputed by GE. Moreover, aside from corporate income taxes, GE pays payroll taxes, state taxes and local taxes. So your blanket assertion GE pays “nothing–zero–in taxes” is simply inaccurate. You pay corporate taxes on profit, not sales. GE paid $1 billion in federal, state and local taxes in the U.S. for 2010. You definitely are wrong on this and you probably need to seek treatment.
            www .factcheck.org/2012/04/warren-ge-pays-no-taxes/

      1. Sure, Finch and GE will clean up the site!

        The river, which rises from four sources near Pittsfield, Mass., stretches 139 miles south through western Massachusetts and Connecticut to Long Island Sound. General Electric, which opened operations in Pittsfield in 1903, dumped PCBs into the river from 1932 until they were banned by the federal government in 1977.

        During the 1940s, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) efforts to straighten the Pittsfield section of the Housatonic River isolated 11 former oxbows filled with material later discovered to contain PCBs and other hazardous substances from the river channel.
        www .registercitizen.com/general-news/20140627/epa-details-housatonic-river-cleanup-plan

        1. The city hired a watchdog to keep an eye on GE. The DEEP is there to keep an eye on GE. The only group involved who did not see fit to hire someone was the BOE. Thank God they replaced Baraka. She was asleep at the wheel.

          1. The city hired an expert to support the city’s assertion the GE site will be safe. He is on the payroll to support Finch. Do you honestly think he will take an opposing view from those who pay him his fees?

            Maybe if Mayor Grinch fully funded the BBOE as required by CT state statute, an expert could have been retained by the BBOE.

            Someone who has been involved in Bridgeport politics for decades told me he believes Dave Hennessey is going to implode. I think he is right and I will be at just about every BBOE meeting to watch it happen.

          2. The BOE had plenty of money to give the teachers a generous raise when every other city union is giving back. The BOE hired a dozen or so directors @$100K-plus. If the BOE feels the city’s expert and DEEP are untrustworthy, all the more reason to hire your own expert. I guess it goes to show where Baraka’s priorities were. Someone who has been involved in Bridgeport politics for decades and worked with Dave at BPT’s best school told me he believes Dave was an excellent choice to replace Baraka after the BEA chewed her and the WFP up and spit them out.
            Like the David of lore he slew the WFP goliath. Like Davey Crockett he will stand against the Santa Ana education problems in BPT. Like David B. Steinman he will build bridges not chasms. He is more than Dave Hennessey. He is super Dave Hennessey.

  4. The ministry of public enlightenment has declared Mayor Finch is the driving force behind the proposal to build a replacement for Harding HS on the former taxpaying GE site. Therefore, he is.

    Does he still wish to name it Obama High School?

    1. Of course he plans to name the school after President Obama because he needs a job after he leaves office because he has no job skills to get a real job so he will need someone in the Democratic Party to remember him when he leaves to get him a job.

    2. Tom White, Barack Hussein Obama High School would be an honor. I hope they pick a name that will instill pride for the students, teachers, neighbors, city and state. I think William Jefferson Clinton, the first black president would also be a suitable and acceptable name to me. President Hillary Clinton would love that! 🙂

  5. Why would the mayor have anything to do with Harding’s underachievement, truancy, violence and the other problems that are the issues that should concern people far more? Those issues are the property of the BOE.
    Since the old Harding, along with all the old broken-down schools, are a maintenance nightmare, they will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs they will no longer need to do; busted furnaces, broken pipes and buildings that are literally falling apart around you.

    1. BOE SPY, the BBOE has three truancy officers for all 21,000 students with over 5,000 students in our high schools. We have one social worker for every 600 students when the recommendation is one social worker for every 300 students. We have one counselor for every 600 students when the recommendation is one for every 300 students. We do not even have a full-time nurse in each school. The BBOE has lost over 70 certified positions since 2011 due to lack of financial resources, and Mayor Grinch has underfunded our schools for three consecutive years in violation of state law.

      Mayor Finch’s illegal and immoral underfunding of our schools contributes to the issues facing Harding.

      1. Maria–Their are a lot of excuses for the BOE’s poor financial practices. Thank God you know all of them. Let’s get real. The mayor shorted the BOE about $6 million and replaced that with services. Let’s say you got the $6 mil. Would that have been enough to fill all those positions??? BTW–congrats to Dave Hennessey on his stunning victory in his bid for the chair of the BOE. All of BPT is looking forward to his re-election.

        1. BOE SPY–Every time the Mayor is illegally allowed to count in-kind services to the BBOE, he is allowed to underfund the BBOE by the exact same amount the following year. This is why he is so passionate about applying in-kind services towards his MBR contribution and it is absolutely illegal.

          Really, “all of BPT is looking forward to his re-election.” Now I know that is a completely false statement. Not only will he not be re-elected in 2017, the community is already organizing to make sure he loses his ill-gotten crown in 2015. He has betrayed thousands and the anger in the community is palpable.

          You do not reside in “BPT,” therefore you are really not in a position to speak for those of us who do.

        2. BOE SPY, if you think his “stunning victory” was so wonderful, I am sure you will feel it is a “stunning loss” next December. We are organizing, and I believe there will be at least $1 million spent on the mayor’s race next year, but I don’t think money will save him.

          Mayor Finch spent over $500,000 in the charter referendum to our $100,000 and we won. Linda McMahon lost twice although she had significantly more money. Eric Cantor was the second most powerful Republican in Congress and had $2 million, and his challenger was an unknown with $200,000 and defeated him. In Los Angeles there was a BOE candidate who had $1 million and was heavily backed by charter schools and deformers and his challenger defeated him with less than $100,000.

          Next year will be the greatest political battle this city has ever seen, and I know I will do everything in my power to defeat Mayor Grinch, Kenneth Moales Jr., Hernan Illingworth and Kadisha Coates. I hope many of the readers of this blog will join me.

        3. BOE SPY, please identify the specific garbage contractor the City of Bridgeport replaced at such significant savings. What are those savings?

          The City of Bridgeport bills both the Nutrition Program and the BBOE for the tipping fees. Most of the charges are assessed to the Nutrition Program because most of a schools daily garbage is from the breakfast, lunch and dinner program (select schools). The vast majority of the rest of a school’s trash is paper/cardboard that is recycled.

          Now, please list the specific “great savings” the BBOE is experiencing due to the generosity of the City of Bridgeport.

        4. Most of the savings goes to the taxpayer. The taxpayer does not have to pay a private contractor to pick up BOE garbage. The city garbage collector is already paid. The city gets the revenue from the recycling instead of the contractor. If the BOE pays the city the same or less than the contractor then the BOE wins as well. Why is this a bad thing? A savings for the average Joe taxpayer, a wash for the BOE, no effect on the kids.

        5. BOE SPY, you danced all around the question but never answered it. Please identify the contractor the BBOE formerly utilized prior to the City of Bridgeport picking up the BBOE trash/recyclables and please list the specific dollar amount of these “great savings” you claim the BBOE is being provided.

          There is no savings. As a matter of fact, after the BRBC claimed to be saving the BBOE millions by implementing the Gibson Report recommendations, Bobby Simmons and I met with the Director of Nutrition. Bobby is a CPA and after he completed all his analysis, only $26,000 was being saved. When we presented our findings to Paul Timpanelli, he admitted Mr. Simmons’ analysis was correct and apologized for the “misrepresentation” of $10 million in savings.

        6. The BOE used Waste Management, then Call Peter for trash removal. The city charges the BOE $371,967 in MBR services for refuse services and tipping fees: 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year by ~80 schools is about $18.00 per visit per school. That is AT LEAST one dumpster of garbage per school for $18. That sounds pretty fair. The transfer station charges *Commercial Tipping Fee per ton $80 through December 31, then $63. A commercial trash collector would have to charge that much to work for free.


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