Stubbornness can be a tricky thing for a person in a powerful position. Depends if you’re on the side of the angels.
Superintendent of Schools John Ramos has power. When you’re making a quarter of a million dollars a year with some nice perks to boot doing battle with a couple of dozen school nurses with a base pay four times less it can be time consuming and irrational, especially when they had a clear agreement to receive a 52-week pay period including summers off–just like teachers–in exchange for zero pay increase for four years. That’s right … four years.
Ramos won’t honor the deal his people helped negotiate. The other day Ramos pulled a fast one on school nurses when he authorized letters sent to them–with checks cut as well–appearing to resolve the summer pay dispute simply to avoid placards showing up at a Board of Education meeting Monday night. Let’s get this stuff out on Monday before the meeting! Ramos ducked a night of confrontation, but what he’s creating instead is a self-induced migraine, and the nurses aren’t offering Tylenol any time soon.
Yes, checks were cut to the nurses, but the super has declared it advance pay for work rather than retroactive, as agreed upon. So the nurses are right back where they started which means no pay next summer. Their grievance continues and placards poised for the next BOE meeting.
Mayor Bill Finch has weighed in on behalf of the nurses, urging Ramos to pay what they’re owed.
While Ramos plays cute he doesn’t realize that he’s sporting a bull’s eye on his forehead. Right now he’s a marketable monster for the mayor to exploit. This is the guy running our school system: purveyor of the largest single portion of the budget, he screws workers, loses track of $2 million that could have been spent on kids, pencils, paper, books, classrooms. I know a teacher who was told recently rather than ordering new textbooks for kids to photostat an existing book because there was no money. Nice, now we’re placing books on copy machines.
Mayors are reluctant to take on school chiefs. It’s lots of work. But Ramos controls one third of a roughly $490 million city budget. Ask a taxpayer, a homeowner what they think of the school system and you’ll likely hear a prehistoric noise.
They’re not angry with the teachers or students. Tons of terrific teachers with accomplished kids in the system, working under conditions and social issues alien to suburban communities, and some that end up at Ivy League schools. You been to Harding High School lately? Seen Joel Barlow in Redding? Egad, the difference.
The school system is part of the equation when businesses and residents weigh moving into Bridgeport. How good are the schools?
Sounds to me that Ramos doesn’t have his priorities straight, and it gives the mayor a platform to talk about what’s wrong with the system and what realistically can be done to improve it. Finch has spoken about vouchers. And why not? Let’s start a discussion if it gets the system to a better place.
Ramos will inherit a new school board later this year armed with political supporters of the mayor. This will provide Finch the leverage to influence what goes on in city schools. John, you getting any of this?
What did Ramos write in his statement the other day: ignore those blogs! Hey, I call mine a webzine.
Speaking of the kids, this from John Ramos:
Students Honored at the District’s First Back to School Regional Youth Education Summit
BPS Students with Perfect Attendance & Young People from Workplace Inc. Enjoy a Day of Fun-Filled Activities
Three hundred students with perfect attendance, as well as 8 hundred youth and young adults involved in the Workplace Inc., summer program, were honored at a special back to school event. Two age-appropriate events ran simultaneously at Columbus School and, from across the street, at the University of Bridgeport’s Arnold Bernard Center. To commemorate the new school year, students and their families joined in on the festivities with specialized workshops designed to inspire the students grades K thru 12 to have a productive and positive school year. The event was part of the district’s first Regional Back to School Youth/Education Summit in partnership with Community Health Network of Connecticut and Workplace Inc. of Bridgeport, CT.
“Community Health Network of Connecticut was proud to be a partner in the Back to School Youth/Education summit and to support another wonderful initiative in Bridgeport Public Schools. CHNCT’s goal is to build strong and healthy communities through direct health and wellness education programming so that our children and families can lead healthy and happy lives,” said Sylvia Kelly, President & CEO of Community Health Network.
“This event caps off our Summer Youth Employment Program, in which young people throughout the region have gained paid work experience with local employers, funded by the stimulus (ARRA),” states Joseph M. Carbone, President & CEO of The WorkPlace, Inc. “It sends a strong message to our region’s youth: commit to learning, to making good choices, and to preparing well for the career you choose this year and in the years to come.”
Bridgeport Public Schools is seeing an increase in the number of students receiving perfect attendance. This year there were 802 students with perfect attendance, which included high school students.
“We are seeing some progress in the number of students receiving perfect attendance”, said Dr. John J. Ramos, Sr., Superintendent. This event was designed by our Communications Department to celebrate those students and give them an added incentive to continue and spread the word about the importance of coming to school every day. We wish to thank Community Health Network and Workplace Inc. for partnering with us and the other sponsors for investing in our youth.”
News release from Governor Jodi Rell. Check out the port authority idea. Yeah, baby, let the state take over the airport.
Governor Rell Announces State’s First-Ever Comprehensive Economic Strategic Plan
Calls for Second Round of Public Meetings on ‘Blueprint for Connecticut’s Economic Success’
Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced the release of the state’s first-ever Economic Strategic Plan–a detailed, statewide blueprint for keeping and growing jobs, making the state more business-friendly and investing in the infrastructure and technology that will keep Connecticut competitive in the 21st Century.
“This plan will shape policy and priorities as we recover from the current economic downturn and as we make our state’s economy second to none in the years ahead,” said Governor Rell. “The goals are simple: Jobs, jobs, jobs–the same goals I have had from the beginning. We want a vibrant, diverse and safe state, a place where everyone has a chance to enjoy success and the quality of life that makes Connecticut so special.
“Goals are unlikely to be reached, however, without an effective plan–and that is why this document is so critical, the Governor said. “The plan outlines the smart, targeted investments we need to make in housing, our transportation system and work force development. It spells out the commitments needed from government leaders in both the Executive and Legislative branches to work together to eliminate roadblocks to growth and build on a climate for success. And it makes clear that these steps must be taken with the principle of Responsible Growth foremost in mind–preserving the charm and character of our state for our children and for generations to come.”
The full text of the nearly 550-page plan is being posted today on the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Web site at www.ct.gov/ecd.
As the plan was being developed, DECD held public meetings in 10 cities and towns in late 2007 and early 2008 to gather input from residents, business leaders and lawmakers. Since then, the global economic downturn has taken a tremendous toll on Connecticut families and employers, causing tens of thousands of job losses and leading to multi-billion-dollar state budget deficits.
Because of the enormous–and continuing–changes in the economic landscape and to ensure that people who helped in the development of the plan have a chance to review it, the Governor is soliciting further input from business leaders and legislators and directing DECD to hold a second round of public meetings.
“When I first proposed developing this plan, Connecticut’s employment was approaching an all-time high of more than 1.7 million jobs,” Governor Rell said. “The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression has cost far too many families their jobs, their homes and their financial security. These economic challenges have made the plan all the more important even as they have complicated its development.”
The plan reviews numerous factors that influence the state’s economic climate, from its transportation network, housing market and education system to its relative tax burden, energy costs and health care system. The plan then recommends more than 60 specific strategies and initiatives for the future, grouped in three general areas: Talent and Technology, Cultivating Competitiveness and Responsible Growth.
Creating a $100 million, public-private student loan partnership, offering loan forgiveness in most-needed occupations such as science and engineering and depending on the length of career spent in Connecticut after graduation.
Creating a $25 million International Opportunities Program to encourage global technology companies to locate their North American headquarters in Connecticut
Implementing an Angel Investor Tax Credit, giving a tax break to individuals, corporations or institutions that invest in qualified start-up enterprises in areas such as biotechnology, digital media and “green” technology.
Continuing the development of regionalism–programs and policies that have cities and towns working together rather than competing with one another.
Creating a statewide Connecticut Port Authority consisting of the ports of Bridgeport, New Haven and New London; Bradley International Airport; Tweed New Haven Regional Airport; Waterbury/Oxford Airport; and Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport.
Building the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield, Massachusetts, commuter rail line, then adding a spur to Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks.
Governor Rell said getting a last round of public input is a critical final step, especially in light of the changes, large and small, that have happened since the economic slide began.
“The collapse and restructuring of Wall Street, for example, will have a lasting effect on Connecticut,” Governor Rell said. “Tens of thousands of our residents work in insurance, financial services and banking–and the job losses in these businesses have been excruciating. The final shape of the financial industry is still unknown, but any economic plan for the future must anticipate and reflect these dramatic changes.
“This plan is the blueprint for Connecticut’s economic success,” the Governor said. “We owe it to ourselves and to everyone who will follow us to make sure it is as canny and complete as possible.”
Yet Another Senate Candidate
Who’s next, John Rowland? Peter Schiff marks the fifth Republican to challenge Chris Dodd. Schiff, who’s something of a Wall Street watchdog, will be well financed. He already has $1 million in the can. All we need is one more GOP hopeful and then we can organize a special six-person tag team match. Who wants to partner with Linda McMahon? Statement from Schiff:
You’re the First to Know
Well, it looks like you have made a difference.
Based upon the unbelievable support that I have received from 10,000 supporters like you, I have decided to throw my hat into the ring to challenge Chris Dodd for the honor of representing the state of Connecticut in the United States Senate. I will announce my candidacy on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show on Thursday, September 17 at 8:15am eastern time. Sorry for the short notice, but its important to honor commitments and keep these things under wraps until the day the news breaks.
At this time last year I could not have imagined that that I would be making such an announcement today. I had never intended to become a candidate for public office. But these are extraordinary times. Our economy is falling apart in front of our eyes and Washington seems intent on making the wheels come off even faster. At a time when we desperately need adult supervision, the economically illiterate are running the show. As I love my country, it now seems clear that I must try to do something to help. The emotional and material support I have received from across the country has made the decision much easier.
So today it begins. As I’m sure you are aware, the rules in politics bear only scant resemblance to those which govern polite society. As a result, I am wading into strange waters, and I’m sure strange things will happen. But I promise to maintain my composure and give it my best shot. Based on the support that I have received thus far, I fully expect to be facing down Chris Dodd in the general election just 14 months from now.
As my campaign takes flight, I appreciate the patience and trust that you have shown. To commit time and money to a long shot candidate for high office is a hard choice. I hope to repay that trust with a first class campaign.
I look forward to your feedback and your continued support.
DANBURY, Conn. – Mary Travers, one-third of the hugely popular 1960s folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, has died.
The band’s publicist, Heather Lylis, says Travers died at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut on Wednesday. She was 72 and had battled leukemia for several years.
Travers joined forces with Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey in the early 1960s.
The trio mingled their music with liberal politics, both onstage and off. Their version of “If I Had a Hammer” became an anthem for racial equality. Other hits included “Lemon Tree,” “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and “Puff (The Magic Dragon.)”
They were early champions of Bob Dylan and performed his “Blowin’ in the Wind” at the August 1963 March on Washington.