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School Board Member Bobby Simmons Suspended From NAACP For Rules Violations, Denies Charges

March 28th, 2013 · 15 Comments · Analysis and Comment, News and Events

Bobby Simmons

Bobby Simmons

Bridgeport Board of Education member Bobby Simmons has been suspended as a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, accused of an unauthorized attempt to remove the names of two officers as signatories of the local Bridgeport branch account at People’s United Bank, according to a letter issued by Benjamin Todd Jealous, the national president of the civil rights organization. Simmons is a member of the executive committee of the local Bridgeport chapter. Carolyn Vermont, president of Greater Bridgeport NAACP, is one of the officers whose name Simmons is accused of trying to remove as a bank signatory in violation of rules. The other is Errol Earle, the treasurer.

Vermont, in an email to OIB wrote. “As far as any questions, I cannot speak on this issue while an investigation is pending that could result in criminal charges. National NAACP Member & CT State Conference President Scot X. Esdaile is the individual authorized to speak on this issue.” Esdaile, reached by OIB, had no comment.

Simmons, a certified public accountant, is a Democratic member of the school board aligned with three members of the Connecticut Working Families Party largely opposing the initiatives of Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas. He’s the senior member of the school board. He issued a statement to OIB denying the accusations. Three officers of the local NAACP branch, Keith Williams, Jeff Baldwin and Delores Crawford-Carey, also were suspended as members of the national organization for signing and issuing the unauthorized letter to People’s United Bank, according to Jealous.

In a letter dated February 25 and addressed to Simmons, Jealous writes: “… please be advised that your membership is hereby suspended effective as the date of this letter … This action is taken to protect the NAACP from the danger of irreparable harm for the following:

1. Prepared unauthorized letter bearing your signature on NAACP letterhead and logo to the Peoples Bank removing the names of the President and Treasurer as signatures of the Branch bank account on November 18, 2012.”

The letter continues Simmons “misrepresented NAACP policy … only the National Board of Directors has authority to remove an officer of a unit.”

The letter adds Simmons “Misrepresented NAACP policy … the Treasurer is responsible for receiving and dispersing all monies and the President is a signatory on the checking account.”

Jealous’ letter also directed Simmons from “acting or holding yourself out as a member/officer of the NAACP. All NAACP property and records in your possession are to be returned to the Greater Bridgeport Branch office within seven calendar days from the date of this letter.”

OIB received a copy of Jealous’ letter independent of Vermont.

A power struggle has split the ranks of the local NAACP branch–with charges and counter charges–between an opposition force led by Wayne Winston and Vermont. Winston failed to unseat Vermont in the last branch election in 2010. Simmons is aligned with the Winston faction of the branch. Vermont has accused Winston of spreading lies about business conduct of the local branch. In January Vermont called city police accusing Winston of harassment and disrupting a meeting.

Simmons has appealed the decision to suspend his membership before a hearing of the NAACP national Board of Directors. Simmons issued this statement to OIB:

This is to inform you that a member of the Bridgeport NAACP Chapter’s Executive Committee came by my office last November and requested that I sign this letter. I did not prepare and/or draft the letter.

I was told that the only purpose of the letter was to obtain the financial records of the Bridgeport NAACP Chapter. I know for a fact that for over two (2) years there has been an ongoing effort by the Bridgeport NAACP Chapter’s Executive Committee to obtain bank statements and supporting financial records involving cash receipts and disbursements. However, the Branch’s president, Carolyn Vermont and the so~called treasurer have consistently refused to release these records. Over a year ago, the Bridgeport NAACP’s Executive Committee met with the State (CT) president, Scott X. Esdaile and this individual assured the Bridgeport NAACP Chapter’s Executive Committee that the financial records and supporting financial documentation (cash receipts-donors, cash disbursements~invoices) would be furnished and made available to the executive committee.

No such records have been provided.

It is also important to note that the Bridgeport NAACP Chapter’s General Membership and the Executive Committee requested a financial audit; however, Carolyn Vermont has refused to provide the records for the audit.

Again, my only reason for signing the letter was for the purpose of assisting the Branch in obtaining the financial records. I have absolutely no regrets in signing the letter.

Certainly, Scott X. Esdaile and Carolyn Vermont should release the financial records and not spend their time pursuing ridiculous efforts to suspend honest and sincere NAACP members.

In response to Simmons, Vermont told OIB, “The treasurer has followed all the bylaws and has turned over all the records to the secretary, as required by the NAACP constitution and bylaws. As president, I don’t handle any of the finances and documents.”

Vermont says that Simmons has attended only four meetings of the NAACP branch in the past two years. She says the local branch conducts two meetings per month.

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15 Comments so far ↓

  • Mojo

    *** Though there are always two sides to a story with the truth somewhere in the middle, this type of behavior seems to also be present on the BOE at times, no? *** My Way! ***

  • Donald Day

    I don’t think there is a power struggle involved in the local chapter of the NAACP, nor do I believe Wayne Winston has anything whatsoever to do with this situation.

    Instead I believe there is an attempt by four (4) dedicated executive board members whho want a fair and accurate accounting of the local affiliate’s finances that haven’t been provided in two (2) years. I believe Bobby’s character and integrity are being called into question because of his work on the board of the BOE and his alliance with the Working Families candidates on said board. I know Bobby and for them to call into question his integrity, when all he ever wanted was the best for our children’s education is an affront to all I believe in.

    One can see the fingerprints of Moales and Finch are all over this!

  • Bridgeport Sunshine

    I think individuals can get an accurate story from the executive committee members which include Mary Bruce, Sylvia Martin, Vanessa Williams, Joanne Butler, Immacula Cann, Craig Kelly, Sonny Gardner, Warren White, Eroll Earl, Carolyn Vermont, Bobbi Brown, Jeremy Jamison, Gloria Brown and Rev. Michael Jamison. They have all experienced the chaos the four suspended individuals have created whenever those individuals have attended meetings. It has been about power and destruction. Who in their right mind creates a fake organization letterhead, lies in the letter to the bank stating the executive committee voted on something they had no knowledge about and changes the organization mailing address to their home address so the bank statement goes to them? Please take the time to talk to the larger group of dedicated executive committee members to get the facts about this situation. This recent incident is just one of many carried out by the same four individuals.

  • John Marshall Lee

    I know nothing more than what has been shared on the above subject. However, that is enough to categorically state: OPEN? ACCOUNTABLE? TRANSPARENT? Not even from a galloping horse!

    Public and private institutions are initially formed to serve people. Unfortunately, over time, vision, mission, goals or objectives stray or change without full review or agreement, and then people have trouble understanding or reconciling the changes. Time for a time-out? But who can call it and have the parties come to agreement? King Solomon, where are you when you are needed? Time will tell.

  • BridgeportBooster

    Another all-star on the Bridgeport Board of Education! What a disgrace.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Smooth move, Ex Lax. You just blew your credibility as a CPA.

  • Ron Mackey

    Bridgeport Sunshine, let’s say everything you said is true, would you please address what Bobby Simmons stated in his statement, “I know for a fact that for over two (2) years there has been an ongoing effort by the Bridgeport NAACP Chapter’s Executive Committee to obtain bank statements and supporting financial records involving cash receipts and disbursements. However, the Branch’s president, Carolyn Vermont and the so~called treasurer have consistently refused to release these records. Over a year ago, the Bridgeport NAACP’s Executive Committee met with the State (CT) president, Scott X. Esdaile and this individual assured the Bridgeport NAACP Chapter’s Executive Committee that the financial records and supporting financial documentation (cash receipts-donors, cash disbursements~invoices) would be furnished and made available to the executive committee.”

    “No such records have been provided.” Bridgeport Sunshine, address that statement.

  • Bridgeport Sunshine

    Talk to the 14 executive committee members. Their names are listed in my previous comment.

  • Bridgeport Sunshine

    But to answer your question Mr. Mackey, the records were provided. Again, verify this with the executive committee.

    • Ron Mackey

      Bridgeport Sunshine, so you are representing the questions and concerns Bobby Simmons had with bank statements and supporting financial records involving cash receipts and disbursements were made known to the membership and those seeking that information? If that’s true then what was the date of that meeting?

  • Mojo

    *** Two wrongs very seldom make a right, regardless of how “just” one’s intentions may be in casting light on the darkness! ***

  • BlackRockGuy

    Is it not true Carolyn Vermont is a supporter of Finch?

  • Mojo

    *** Very simple, if Mr. Simmons felt C. Vermont and the account treasurer have been in the “wrong” by not being more transparent and supplying the said records for an audit, he would also be in the “wrong” if indeed he misrepresented NAACP policy by trying to remove an officer from a unit by using NAACP letterhead, etc. without National Board of Directors authority! His response sounds as if he felt “justified” in his actions, no? ***

  • civilrightsfighter

    I would like to invite everyone to read the Only In Bridgeport article “NAACP Power Washed” because it clearly shows ALL the officers of the elected NAACP officers of the Bridgeport branch NAACP have been suspended due to not following the policies of the national office toward them NOT getting its portion of the membership dues. This includes President Vermont and her appointees.

    Bridgeport Sunshine does not reflect the truth even in this posting since there are only three members on the committee she mentioned who were attending ANY regular meetings. Those people are Sonny Gardner, Warren White and Joanne Butler. The rest are clueless beyond what she has told them. The vast majority of the other names did not show up until the January 2013 meeting when State President Esdaile came down to address the issue of the police being called to the Messiah baptist church for NAACP member Wayne Winston for reading the constitutional bylaws that were being violated by President Vermont.

    Vermont told the branch and the police that “She felt threatened” by Winston who only was reading the constitution to her and her supporters. She flew into a rage when Winston who had the floor by Robert’s rules of order refused to stop reading the excerpts. She threatened to call the police and did. When they could not arrest Winston because he had broken no laws, she then called Bpt Police Chief Gaudett when the officers would not do her bidding and to the Chief’s credit her request fell on deaf ears. The image Vermont has in the community vs how she runs the NAACP organization is what is at issue here. Many members think she feels she IS the Bridgeport NAACP.

    This is no Winston Faction, there is only the NAACP Constitution President Vermont refuses to recognize. Since Treasurer Errol Earl abandoned his post in March of 2010 it is well known in our branch suspended President Vermont played the role of treasurer and was the sole signature on the bank account other than Earl. She even admitted to sending in the membership payments from the NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet of 2011 to the national NAACP in February of 2012 despite the fact the National office reflected NO annual report for 2011 or ANY Freedom Fund Memberships or Reports as late as September of 2012. It was this violation that caused the national office to suspend all officers because of the confusion all this has caused.

    There was a spring fund raiser in 2009, a freedom fund banquet in 2010 and 2011, and a December 28, 2012 holiday party. All controlled by Vermont. Not one full monthly or annual report had been supplied to the branch as mandated by NAACP or 501(c)(3) standards have ever been supplied by Vermont or Earl.

    Finally 1st VP Keith Williams, 2nd VP Jeff Baldwin, Secretary Delores Crawford-Cary and Executive Committee member Bobby Simmons were fully within their rights to seek to protect the branch from further damage since they had the full support of the active branch members. President Vermont had not paid the annual dues necessary to keep the branch in good standing since taking over in January 2010 and they were forced to take drastic measures to protect the integrity of the branch. As duly elected officers they had the right to the letterhead or anything else. (Vermont has the letterhead which is supposed to be handled by the secretary, as well as the only key to the P.O. box that handles the financial business of the Bridgeport Branch as well.)

    If you want to know more about any of those meetings, ask these people. Verna Kearny, Former NAACP President Carolyn Nah, James Dancy, James Clark, Mechelle Mack or Pam Martin just to name a few and of course the elected officers aforementioned.

    Too many times these events have been chalked up to personal infighting and Vermont has been very successful in getting much of the media to believe it as well as some of the community. The truth however is all we want is a forensic audit and a chance to fight Civil rights. After all, when was the last time you have seen the Bpt NAACP involved in anything beyond inviting you to a dinner once a year?

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