‘They Vote To Ban Chocolate Milk, But Wouldn’t Vote To Ban City Employees Serving On City Council’

chocolate milk

In an OIB post former City Council President Lisa Parziale wrote “How ironic, they vote to ban chocolate milk, but wouldn’t vote to ban city employees serving on the City Council. Just saying!” When it comes to political campaigns there’s nothing like the simplicity of contrast. He did this but wouldn’t do that. Such is the peril of election-year voting for State Senators Anthony Musto and Andres Ayala, both of whom represent Bridgeport and face August 12 Democratic primaries. They voted to ban serving chocolate milk in schools, a bill vetoed last week by Governor Dan Malloy who photo oped his veto message with a swig from a container of chocolate milk.

In response to Parziale’s comment, former City Councilman Joel “Speedy” Gonzalez wrote, “Touchdown by Lisa Parziale!”

And poster Mustang Sally wrote, “All that EVIL chocolate milk. IT. MUST. BE. STOPPED!”

And Godiva2011 added, “Yes Sally, oh, the perils of drinking it! As of today in my adult life, I am still drinking it, as is the governor. It began in my childhood. All joking aside, aren’t there much more important issues the Senators should be addressing? This is pure folly–ridiculous in my opinion.”

Musto and Ayala voting to ban chocolate milk in schools is also instructive of legislators not always understanding what they’re voting for or against. In this case it was a bill to lower the sodium intake of school children. How many legislators actually take the time to read the language in the bill and what it represents?

Thus both Musto and Ayala have placed themselves in the position to explain why they both torpedoed a government reform bill to enforce the Bridgeport City Charter prohibiting city employees serving on the City Council, but voted to ban chocolate milk in schools.

The answer is simple: both Musto and Ayala caved to their political pals on the council and special interests that wanted the bill killed.

The Bridgeport City Charter approved by voters is clear: no city employees shall serve on the City Council. The intent is to avoid conflicts of interests such as city employees voting to pad their wages. City Attorney Mark Anastasi has rationalized state law creates a loophole allowing city employees to serve on the council irrespective of state judges ruling that state law cannot be used as a pretext to abandon home rule.

What’s the rub? State law correctly bans municipal employees from serving on boards of finance, but Bridgeport’s legislative body also serves as the budget authority. A majority in Connecticut’s State House, led by Representatives Jack Hennessy and Auden Grogins, support closing that loophole to extend state law to include all municipal entities with budget authority.

In Musto’s case, he is supported by City Council President Tom McCarthy who works at the pleasure of the mayor as deputy director of Labor Relations. Just about anywhere else in America that scenario would be illegal, be it state or federal government. Legislative branches are supposed to serve as a check on the executive branch of government.

Can you imagine the head of the federal legislative branch serving at the pleasure of the United States President? Same thing on a state level. Both are illegal.

But in Bridgeport, irrespective of what the City Charter states, it’s okay. Pass the chocolate milk.

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28 comments

  1. Are we going to go through this again? Let’s see how the voters think about the charter. If this is going to be the battle cry, it is going to be a most boring, uneventful election cycle and Musto and Ayala may as well be celebrating. Honestly, who are the political advisers? Why is everyone joking about the chocolate milk? It is funny, Bloomberg is trying to ban Gigantic Soft drinks and Michelle Obama wants kids to eat healthy? What’s funny is the idiot Republicans thinking America should be obese and Sarah Palin slugging her oversized soft drinks with 10 shovels of sugar. Chocolate milk may have nutritional value but truth be told, so do maggots. I do not think Ayala and Musto thought it was a joke. I would be more concerned by the other garbage they are serving kids in school. Government needs to get involved because the truth is low-income families cannot afford to buy healthy food as well as a lack of education on nutrition. I do not laugh when the government is stepping up to improve the health of our youth. I commend Musto and Ayala for their effort. It may have failed and Malloy enjoyed a photo opportunity drinking chocolate milk, but childhood obesity and diabetes has become an issue. It is bad enough these kids eat potato chips for breakfast before they eat the other shit the board of Ed serves.

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    1. It’s campaign season. You expect we should compliment Musto’s hair? He and Ayala are more than welcome to send anything they want to OIB to garner support. Too many politicians win elections based on the “halo effect.” They make momentous efforts right before elections to sway people’s attention away from the fact the rest of their term was spent in consideration of just about everything else than what they should have been considering–good government. It’s up to us to make sure folks remember things as they really were.

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    2. Hey Steve. What are you doing posting at 10:45 pm? Don’t you know the government is passing a law that says you must be asleep by 10:00? It’s people like you who want government to run their lives who make everyone sick, not chocolate milk! Here’s an idea for you, think for yourself, worry about your own health and get a gym membership. Or maybe you’re waiting for the Democrats to take my money to buy you a membership. At some point they’ll run out of everyone else’s money … that’s right, they have! I’m on my way to McDonalds now to fill up, unless the food police or Steve arrest me first.

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      1. On the contrary Phantom, I want the government and the Church to keep the hell out of my business. I don’t mind the government stepping in to educate families on nutrition. Growing up I ate very well. No obesity in my family, though these days I am getting a little porky. I agree with Bloomberg on the soda scenario because it is just not healthy for children. If an adult is that ignorant they drink gallons let alone feeding it to their children, then yes, I am for Government intervention. Phantom, I have stayed away from McDonalds for 35 years but must admit I do go there for their dollar menu. As an educated individual I know the sodium level is as high as you can go and it is pretty much poison. Fast food is also addicting, so enjoy. I do not support the government telling you to not eat their food but do support the government requesting a higher pay rate for those with families, enough said on that.

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        1. So if 40% of the youth are obese, why is it necessary to regulate the consumption of the other 60%? Install a la Walt Disney World–you must fit through this doorway to enter the chocolate milk line.

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          1. Jennifer, it really does come down to one common denominator. You either care or as a Republican and Christian you just don’t give a shit but expect to be saved anyway. It is the right thing to do, period. You don’t like the cost? Tough shit. We all pay one way or another. If we want our youth to grow up with diabetes and obesity then we really are up shit’s creek, aren’t we? A glass of non-diet soda has 74g of sugar. Do you really think the government has no place in discussing the liabilities on our healthcare system down the road? Anyone? It is a very sad commentary especially for the Republican party. It is so sad to me to listen to this badinage at the expense of the youth. Where is Marilyn Moore on these issues? I am very very curious. Not as an instigator but seriously, am I the only one here defending humanity and Democratic ideological beliefs? I am a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. When it comes to the youth, if we expect women to carry them to term and they cannot take care of them, then it is up to the Church or the government to step in. We are all responsible in the end. If we know something is detrimental to our health, then it is our responsibility to share our knowledge. I do not have any children, yet I am part of the human fabric of our society, so yes we need to step up and support certain issues when it is the right thing to do. Period!

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    3. Steve, somewhere along the line the parents need to get off their fat asses and monitor what their kids are eating away from school.
      These same parents need to stop taking their kids to fast-food restaurants and stay home and cook super.
      The government is not big brother like you and other liberals want it to be. People need to get off their asses and provide for themselves.
      Liberals today act like poverty was just something that happened in the last 20 years. Poverty has been around forever and you know what Steve, we survived in spite of the government. Tell me one family in the USA where they warm bricks at night with a coal stove and put them under the blankets to warm the bed up.
      Today people ask for a handout and are looking for a freebee rather than work.

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      1. Andy, for the most part I agree with you. However, since we know some of these parents are ignorant, you can not hold the children hostage to their stupidity. The reason why children are fed in school all day is simply because parents just do not know how to care for them or just do not have the means. Get with the program. Some of these parents need life-living skills more than their kids need daycare.

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        1. Bob Walsh, actually Bloomberg is more of an independent and leaning more Democratic these days. He only supported Republicans who shared Democratic ideologies. Funny, when you have money you can do whatever you want. Bloomberg is an atypical Republican. I’d say his stand on gun control, gay marriage and attempting to control obesity shows just how at odds he is with a party that has lost its way.

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      2. Andy, Steve and Phantom have it a little wrong. It is not a chocolate milk ban. Just stop giving it to the kids for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. Milk is good for you but so is a glass of wine. The logic does not follow if a glass a day is good for you, a bottle is better. Chocolate milk with hot breakfast OR white milk with cereal. Yogurt or cheese and water with lunch, juice for snack and a beer with dinner. Why would that be bad for the schools?

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  2. Both Musto and Ayala need to get their ears to the ground. Probably too late for Musto who is tone deaf on most, if not all, issues in Bridgeport. Ayala is everywhere and supports lots of good things in the city but he also supports and encourages the status quo–that includes the Mayor’s agenda, Tom McCarthy’s infinite list of conflicts (which is to say opposition to Hennessy and more), Lydia Martinez and Americo Santiago’s absentee ballot escapades (called voter fraud elsewhere), and so on.

    Musto is toast–no hope for recovery. Ayala is much more vulnerable than he knows. Go back to the last several city-wide votes–Charter Revision, BOE and you will understand there is a new wind in Bridgeport and it blows for change. And it’s not going back in the bottle–Musto is all but gone. Be interesting to see how Ayala moves through this landscape.

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  3. Political posturing is amazing.
    Finch backed the millionaire other guy in the Gov primary, then became buddy-buddy with Malloy after he won and is now hanging out with Boughton from Danbury, the Republican running for Gov.
    I wonder if Mayor Mark likes chocolate milk.

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  4. This issue opens up an opportunity both Moore and Hughes should milk for all it’s worth.
    Picture this: A campaign literature piece in the shape or picture of a milk carton; the word ‘MISSING’ with a picture of Musto or Ayala below; the challenger’s message to the voters.

    A spoof of this Old School Hip Hop classic starring a Musto and/or an Ayala lookalike making it clear to the viewer they don’t care.
    www .youtube.com/watch?v=39q3MUZLTDM

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  5. Yoo-hoo!!! I received a basic lesson from someone who knows (all objections to the data presented are probably due to my hearing) about meals in public schools. Obviously we have been focused on one element of school diets here in Bridgeport.

    There is a program called the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) with rules, regulations, and guidelines one comes to expect of Federal programs and learning some of them provides a better foundation to look at the ‘chocolate milk controversy,’ perhaps.

    NSLP has guidelines that indicate 95% of Bridgeport students qualify for breakfast and lunch programs. What I found interesting were the following rules:
    ** Youth in K-8 qualify for no more than 650 calories per day including breakfast and lunch
    ** High School youth qualify for 800 calories per day for breakfast and lunch.
    ** Regulations prohibit all vending machines, eliminate bake sales, and disallow foodstuffs as part of positive or negative behavior modification.
    ** Some providers to school food programs as a matter of their company policy provide unlimited amounts of fruits and vegetables on the menu.
    ** The chocolate milk in your local stores (or the Governor’s hand) is different from the formulation permitted by NSLP standards where no fructose is allowed, 1% or more milk is necessary, low sugar and less sodium are all part of requirements for that favorite liquid to appear at a school meal paid for by the taxpayer.

    Health issues for youth in Bridgeport including overweight cannot be explained by the NSLP, it seems if the above are accurate, so you need to look elsewhere for causes it seems, which may include: fewer athletic programs and opportunities (less safe place to play outside with parents fearful), family cultural patterns of foods, meals and times consumed, genes, and responses to multiple stresses inducing unfavorable eating habits.

    Most lunches appear on a foam tray that is used once and tossed. How green is my City lunch program? What is the cost differential between a biodegradable food tray and foam? Time will tell.

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    1. Remember when we used to have those plastic trays, with the little cubbies that used to get washed and all the uneaten food went down the garbage disposal (or recycled into the environment instead of a landfill)?

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    2. The choc milk served to Bridgeport public schools contains 22 g of sugar per 8 oz serving. The reg milk 12 g (no added sugar–that’s the sugars in the milk naturally).
      Source: Wade’s Dairy

      The following is excerpted from Mark Bittman in today’s NY Times (link below for the rest of the piece):
      The food industry also wants us to ignore its use of that strategy to increase its market share and profits; and it wants to maintain legitimacy at a time when community groups and public health officials are, writes [Professor Ivy] Ken, “demanding limits to their involvement” in supplying food to children.

      Our efforts to demand limits on the sale of junk to children are a threat to Big Food. If we succeed, it fails, or at least suffers. But if industry succeeds, whether in selling blatant junk or re-engineered versions that are low in fat or sodium or gluten, or sugar-free or reduced-calorie or high fiber or whatever–companies can create any frankenfood they feel will sell–we will continue to suffer. ([Professor Marion] Nestle often says, “A slightly-better-for-you junk food is still junk food.”) Our health will decline further, the environment will be further degraded, and our health care system (and therefore economy) will spend an increasingly disproportionate amount of money on diet-generated chronic disease.

      If the most profitable scenario means that most food choices are essentially toxic–in the sense that overconsumption will cause illness–that’s a failure of the market, not of individual choice. And government’s rightful role is not to form partnerships with industry so that the latter can voluntarily “solve” the problem, but to oversee and regulate industry. Its mandate is to protect public health, and one good step toward fulfilling that right now would be to regulate the marketing of junk to children. Anything short of that is a failure.

      Copyright New York Times

      Source: www .nytimes.com/2014/06/18/opinion/mark-bittmanthe-food-industrys-solution-to-obesity.html

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  6. Although I’m a local Democratic voter I cannot in good faith vote for Governor Malloy based on his record. I cannot vote for any of the three Republican candidates for governor based on their platform and their views and positions although even as a local Democrat I’m willing to vote for a Republican candidate if I can agree with their views. Third-party candidate John Pelto is the only candidate I feel comfortable supporting. Malloy is not a person who keeps his word, the Republican candidates have no interest in helping cities like Bridgeport. Can Pelto get the funding to run and if he does, well time will tell.

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    1. Follow the Money, you could be right and that might be what the Democratic Party would need because four more years of Malloy won’t work and those four years out of office would be a wake-up call to the Democrats but four more years of this crap, no way.

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    2. A vote for Malloy is a vote for the same agenda that has given plenty of Democrats a reason to look for another choice in the next election. The same thing many Pelto critics are saying about him and reacting to his candidacy is the same as when Weicker ran as an independent. Bridgeport fared better under Weicker.

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    1. No messages today, either culinary or political, Jim.
      But from what I posted above, the special formula required of chocolate ‘liquid’ offered in schools differs from what we think of as chocolate milk. As a matter of fact I learned a local dairy had problems getting the formulation correct early on and lost business on that account.
      I have not tasted chocolate drink or milk in quite a long time so an endorsement would not be in order. I was interested in some of the other background and requirements of ‘school meal programs’ however.
      What kind of message did you think I was sending? Time will tell.

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  7. Great, concise explanation, Lennie!

    The graphic for this post should be the word “DEMOCRACY” circled in red with a red line across it.

    On Sept 12, 2013, State Senator Musto e-mailed me the following. I wish he’d addressed it “Dear Dumbass,” because that was the underlying meta-communication:

    “Thank you for your letter regarding HB 5724 An Act Prohibiting Municipal Employees From Serving on Certain Municipal legislative bodies …

    “I was not in favor of this proposal as I don’t believe the solution to the City’s struggles will be found by barring people from public service. While there is a certain potential for a conflict of interest, members should recuse themselves when appropriate and if this is a problem it should be rectified by the voters, not by arbitrarily denying someone the ability to run for a chance to serve in their local government. At the local level, barring people from serving seems unfair as there are many issues facing the City Council that have nothing to do with the budget.

    “If the City Attorney has incorrectly interpreted the law, a lawsuit would be the appropriate way to address the issue, although the law has stood for several years without a legal challenge.”

    TAKE-AWAYS FROM MUSTO’S MISSIVE:

    1. Musto is ignorant, willfully or otherwise, that Bridgeport voters already approved a charter that prohibits this. We just need state legislation to close the loophole, which he doesn’t support. He doesn’t mention he also blocked the bill from getting a vote in the state senate.

    2. Musto, a lawyer by profession, distances himself from the state legislation and puts the onus on Bridgeport’s City Attorney. He wants it to be a Bridgeport matter. At the same time he wants the state loophole to allow the violation of Bridgeport’s charter, and if I have questions, take them up with City Attorney. Can you follow that? Sure!

    3. Musto leaves me, his constituent, with no positive pathway for democratic action except to bring a lawsuit against my city.

    Is it any wonder I’ll be voting against Musto?

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  8. There are reasons they vote the way they do. The milk producers make a lot of money through the school systems and donate accordingly. Get as fat as you want and let Obamacare worry about that. If taxpayers have to pay for your healthcare do we get to dictate how you take care of yourself?
    City employees on the city council support your positions. It is a home run. You pass or don’t pass laws for people who pay to keep you elected and keep the system so people who support you are in charge of all the ‘checks and balances.’
    This way you can have a Monarchy or Dictatorship and still call it a Democracy.

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