Vote No, Vote Yes, Vote No, Vote Yes–The Schizo Dueling Headquarters For Battle Over School Board Question

Vote No/Yes
The side-by-side Stratford Avenue headquarters of the Vote No and Vote Yes coalitions.

As if city pols aren’t paranoid enough! The forces powering the messages that will determine if school board members remain elected by voters or selected by Mayor Bill Finch have a regular Smith versus Jones war playing out on Stratford Avenue near Central Avenue in the East End. Vote No is plastered on the headquarters door at 1242 Stratford Avenue. The next door over Vote Yes papers the window of the HQ featuring images of Barack Obama, Congressman Jim Himes and other Dems on the Nov. 6 ballot. Nothing like chummy neighbors, eh? How did this happen? One thing’s for sure, the landlord has both sides covered.

Vote No headquarters

Vote Yes headquarters

On Nov. 6 city voters will decide this ballot question:

“Shall the City of Bridgeport approve and adopt the Charter changes as recommended by the Charter Revision Commission and approved by the City Council, including education governance reforms?”

The question is located at the top of the ballot above candidates for public office. If a majority of voters fill in the yes oval, Finch will be authorized to appoint members to the Board of Education. A no majority means it stays the same, with voters choosing school board members.

The Vote No operation consists of a coalition of organizations such as Connecticut Working Families Party, Bridgeport Education Association, Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, Connecticut Citizen Action Group, as well as political organizers former Board of Education President Max Medina, former City Councilman Bob “Troll” Walsh, outgoing State Senator Ed Gomes, former State Senator Ernie Newton and East End District Leader Ralph Ford. The opposition has just launched a website www.protectourvotingrights.wordpress.com. The no side is framing this message as a power grab that will forever erase voter selection of school board members. Part of the coalition challenge is explaining what a yes vote means. The question doesn’t specify that voters will give the mayor more power.

The Vote Yes operation appears to have a dual role, pushing a yes vote on the ballot question while advancing the efforts of Democratic candidates. Finch is putting his prestige on the line pushing for a yes vote across the city, saying if you’re going to hold me accountable for schools give me the power to make them better. He is highlighting  improvements made during the roughly one year an appointed state board set school policy before a special election was ordered by the Connecticut Supreme Court. A coalition of Finch political supporters has also fanned out across the city identifying voters supportive of his measure.

Aiding the mayor’s campaign is the political action committee Residents For A Better Bridgeport www.residentsforabetterbridgeport.com, expected to spend roughly $200,000 on this effort by the time election day arrives in less than two weeks. Direct-mail pieces, cable television, neighborhood canvassers and election-day workers are all part of the plan. The effort is financed heavily by the regional business community.

Wednesday afternoon an operative for the no side was guiding a canvasser about identifying no votes in the East End neighborhood. The Yes campaign was not open, but a number of pols say it has been active at night with campaign workers.

If anyone hears about a good fight between the Smiths and Joneses, please let us know.

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31 comments

  1. Lennie, you have the phone numbers.
    How do Jim Himes, Steve Obsitnick, Linda McMahon and Chris Murphy feel about the Bridgeport Charter question? Do they support it, or are they against it? A Yes or No vote.

  2. Some residents changed their mind after seeing last night’s program, now saying they would vote ‘Yes’ on charter revision instead, from feedback afterwards. Dedicating an hour to discuss this issue and taking questions from callers with subject matter experts at hand may have had an impact. Next week’s program: the benefits of a ‘No’ vote. If you want to participate, please tune in or contact us before.

  3. Based on procrastination, arguments and petty snickering, the Bridgeport BOE is a broken model with a track record that’s difficult to defend.

    The “no” crowd never mentions Bridgeport’s children; they’re too fixated on losing their vote.
    The “no’ crowd seeks to maintain the status quo irregardless of the students.
    The “no” crowd stands on a mountaintop and tearfully explains: “no, we can’t.”

    They’re willing to tolerate reality.

    The YES crowd decries the apathy shown towards children, rejects the status quo and fixes things when they’re broken. These people say: YES, we can. Join their ranks.

    1. Local Eyes,
      You are never in doubt, but wrong once again!!!
      Most people speaking to YES or NO are interested in the education of youth even if they do not mention it in their first breath each time. The difference between the two camps is how we get there and who will be ACCOUNTABLE for getting us to better academic results.
      The YES camp came into being because the Mayor APPOINTED seven residents who were not regular attendees of City Council, Board of Ed or other relevant examples of current City broken governance. Some had relevant ‘conflicts of interest.’ Residents who volunteered for this duty and who had similar or better credentials than those chosen but who raised questions previously were not selected for the most part.
      So the Charter Review group did as it was instructed, ignoring or ignorant of the larger community issue, fiscal governance with appropriate checks and balances that results in OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT process.
      Seventy changes noted, but one question on the ballot referring to “reform.” But it is not the current elected Board that requires reform, is it?
      History shows appointed Board, new Superintendent, balanced budget for 2012 and same looking forward (including accurate, timely fiscal reporting including large grants revenue and employee positions, not seen in this City on the BOE or City side in how many years???
      So the YES group’s only mission is to deliver the APPOINTMENT responsibility and supposed ACCOUNTABILITY to a current Mayor who has failed at ACCOUNTABILITY and APPOINTMENT responsibilities in this City for five years … AND loses the current youth the opportunity to become informed and ask elected BOE representatives to be ACCOUNTABLE in future years!!! So I vote NO and hope to provide evidence of the YES position weakness when Bridgeport Now NO show airs next week.
      TIME WILL TELL!

      1. Within the BPS system are many teachers who get painted by an uneven brush. If you want ACCOUNTABILITY, vote YES. Here’s why: the current system is a magnet for people who like power, spending money and avoiding criticism. The likelihood of being appointed (as opposed to getting elected) is much higher, too.
        The new system recognizes the BOE’s importance to the community–it’s an economic development issue–and places accountability in a place where it can be removed every four years. When was the last time a BOE member was publicly chastised for the lousy performance of Bridgeport’s schools? Give the teachers a better environment by booting the BOE. YES, we can.
        When you relinquish your BOE vote you gain a child’s smile and that’s the kind of math any teacher can appreciate.

        1. “and places accountability in a place where it can be removed every four years. When was the last time a BOE member was publicly chastised for the lousy performance of Bridgeport’s schools?”

          Thank you for responding, LE. You have placed your focus on at least two issues here, but only scratched the surface, so let’s go a bit deeper.
          ** Where was Mayor Finch during the past five years, by using a press secretary, meetings of City Council Education Committee, or daily opportunities for media coverage, to say nothing of DTC connections to NOT provide at least some positive criticism of Superintendent goals/objectives and/or Board of Ed oversight? There were BOE members challenging other BOE members but this was called ‘dysfunction,’ wasn’t it? So if the Mayor had an interest in the education of his children, he had private and public tools and means to open up lousy performances, didn’t he? What does the record show?
          ** And if you have a four-year term, flat-fund education for multiple years and raise taxes right after an election, how does the public hold you ACCOUNTABLE? What metrics do they use? A “child’s smile” can be caused by something funny or gas waiting to be released, neither of which is worth multiple opportunities in a four-year period to share my opinion about a BOE representative’s work and holding a Superintendent and system responsible. The multitude of teachers in the system may not be happy about the decline in system leadership or all of the changes in the reform, but the ones I hear from are even less trusting in Mayor Finch’s claim of ACCOUNTABILITY. You have to give the Mayor more homework to understand the concepts of OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT governance, and based on his current results, he continues to flunk ACCOUNTABILITY to the Charter, if not other measures of municipal leadership. Time will tell.

  4. Local Eyes has started his own PAC. Trumbull Democrats in favor of eliminating B’port’s elected BOE.
    He will find a lot of friends and neighbors giving money to Residents for a Better Bridgeport.
    Like Localized cares about B’port kids.
    Maybe Localized can tell us why Finch’s kids don’t go to their local, neighborhood school because it seems Finch and Vallas aren’t saying anything about those B’port school children.

  5. Local Eyes, perhaps you could tell us what issue and what vote did Mayor Finch EVER lose when there was a vote by the BOE? And while you are at it how many times did Mayor Finch increase the funding to the BOE to educate the children of Bridgeport? And finally, what skills and ability does Mayor Bill Finch have that makes him a better judge of BOE members than the taxpayers and voters of Bridgeport?

  6. Do not confuse Localized with facts. He cannot handle the facts. As long as he can state unfounded i.e. make-believe stories he will be OK.
    Just like Mayor Finch
    TRUTH BAD
    Make-believe stories (lies) GOOD

  7. I just received three more pieces of propaganda from the people in favor of a yes vote on the BOE. They really do have a lot of money behind them. Two of these items say they were paid for by Excel and the third stated it was paid for by Residents for a Better Bridgeport.
    It’s too bad they can’t get their facts straight and keep sending out bullshit. They state new schools were being built and major renovations to two schools were the result of an appointed board and Mayor Finch. Both are wrong, these projects have been in the pipeline for years. They also claim a $19 million deficit was erased, well who created the deficit? Could it be Mayor Finch who did not increase the funding for the BOE in the five long years he has been in office?
    I must be missing the boat somewhere. There must be more at stake than the children. Could it be the control of hundreds of millions of dollars? I think it is. Just imagine a bunch of old white people from the suburbs running our school system. What a joke and what a slap in the face to the people of Bridgeport especially the minority community.

    1. Local Eyes, you really don’t want to screw with me. You have no facts and don’t know shit. I think it’s time to change the aluminum foil in your helmet. Stay in freaking Trumbull and help with their problems.

      1. Local Eyes, you really don’t want to screw with me. It’s the furthest thing from my mind. You have no facts and don’t know shit. Correct. I have no factual evidence that you have any marbles. And you’re correct again: I don’t know shit–that’s your department.I think it’s time to change the aluminum foil in your helmet. Here’s my deal: you remove the training wheels from your bicycle and I’ll remind you foil isn’t like a diaper–it doesn’t need to be changed. Sound fair? Stay in freaking Trumbull and help with their problems. Your kind thoughts inspire me. Have a nice day–unless you’ve made OTHER PLANS.

        (wink)

  8. Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened. And then there’s Lyon, pester and threaten the Mayor ’til you get what you want.

    1. invincible,
      I cannot tell whether you are for or against the Charter question. Scriptural references introduce your statement, but I fail to see the one that indicates: The Truth Shall Set You Free.
      There are many truths we uncover or stumble across in life, but when people use religious or patriotic statements to advance their cause but use them in a less than full or half-true way, they are bringing shame on their cause. Hypocrites taking advantage of poorly informed citizens and participating in the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars, reportedly. Why? Where will these folks be when the youth in school today read how their citizen rights were cut, restricted, limited by ??? and for what reasons??? The pendulum is in motion. Time will tell.

      1. I am against the charter revision and will be voting NO. What I truly believe brings shame is the way elected officials use their position to gain what they want at the cost of wanting to have someone removed from their job, so they could be closer to their constituents and to go as far as ROARING like a mighty LYON as to instill fear in the heart of the Mayor, because if he doesn’t give her what she wants, she won’t help support the Yes vote with whatever political pull and influence she has on the voters of the North End.

  9. Finch’s appointed board did nothing but spend money on outside contractors, sent money to institutions controlled by religious institutions (in violation of the constitution) and really did nothing for the poor kids, the ones who have been left behind repeatedly.

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