Finch Hires New Flack

Mayor Bill Finch has appointed Brett Broesder as the new director of communications, replacing Elaine Ficarra who has left the city for a new opportunity she’s expected to announce within the next few days. Ficarra spent about six years as the city’s spokesperson, a nice run for what can be a burnout job (having done it myself for a few mayors). From Finch:

“I’m excited to have Brett on our team. We will expect a lot from him, but after spending 10 minutes with him, I knew he was up to the challenge,” said Mayor Finch. “With his wide-ranging experience in communications and policy, he is sure to be an asset to Bridgeport as we continue moving our great city toward a more prosperous future.”

Broesder joins the City of Bridgeport with more than a decade of communications experience. Most recently, he served as the senior director of communications for the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), an education advocacy organization located in New Haven.

Previously, Broesder served as: a direct mail consultant for The Baughman Company; Communications Director for the Montana Democratic Party; a media relations specialist for global communications firm’s Hill & Knowlton and Ketchum; Policy and Legislative Director for Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin; and Campaign Manager for Peter Kilmartin’s successful Rhode Island Attorney General Campaign in 2010.

“I am thrilled to join Mayor Finch and the City of Bridgeport,” said Broesder. “It’s an exciting time in the state’s largest city. The people who live and work here know first-hand the great things happening every day in Bridgeport. I look forward to working with the City to share Bridgeport’s story to folks across Connecticut.”

Broesder holds a B.A. in political science from Rhode Island College. He is replacing Elaine Ficarra, who left the City to pursue a new opportunity.



  1. I personally wish Elaine Ficarra best wishes and much success in her new venture. At times her work has certainly been thankless in providing “information” from the Office of the Mayor and serving as a form of “relations administrator” for the same. As I reflect on it the Mayor got to broadcast all the upbeat spin about the City and Elaine was often provided the opportunity to mop up a messy or darker issue.

    Is it possible a new communications director (with political campaign experience) has been appointed to begin the preparations for the 2015 campaign? That does not seem to be too significant a stretch, does it? I hope he takes a look at the material issuing forth from the City regarding fiscal management and record keeping and provide an additional set of eyes that will spot errors, inconsistencies and narratives that fail an accuracy description. People will be very attentive to budgets, property values and tax bills during the next 20 months. Can he assist the administration in meeting the questions in a more open, accountable and transparent manner? Time will tell.

  2. I wish Elaine all the best. Thankless task and she did what she could. Usually with real grace. I have to imagine this is an enormous relief for her.
    Bill’s new flack has his work cut out for him. Not easy spinning the hallucinations of success the mayor keeps spitting out without a shred of evidence. Hope Broesder brought plenty of meds with him–he’ll need them. LSD for the delusions, Valium for the temper tantrums and some sort of speed to keep up with the mayor’s mouth. And mega Tylenol for good measure.

  3. Wall Street Journal has a column on the editorial pages regarding Bridgeport public schools and charter schools. Yet again and just after the highest tax stories, Bridgeport looks like crap.

    Let’s turn this new guy loose and see how he can make lemonade out of lemons.

    1. The article is worth reading. WFP party activist lines up speakers at BOE meeting (precluding parents of Charter School students from their time) and promptly leave after speaking when the BOE work and discussion begins. Not all are residents of Bridgeport but they are party line supporters and continue the liaison with Bridgeport Education Association leaders who were able to commit over $120,000 last year in the BOE election run. The talk is about the kids but the action is about adults, power, money and influence.

      Bridgeport’s War on Poor Kids
      March 11, 2014 6:09 p.m. ET
      The latest polls show Connecticut’s Democratic governor, Dan Malloy, in a close re-election race with his likely Republican opponent, Tom Foley. Connecticut is a deep blue state that President Obama carried by 18 points in 2012, so Mr. Foley will have to appeal to Democrats and independents to prevail in November. To that end, he could do worse than to start talking about the sustained war on low-income children that’s being waged by teachers unions and their political allies in Bridgeport.

      This week the Bridgeport school board approved a resolution that urges the state to place a moratorium on new public charter schools. “The resolution comes as the city prepares to host the first of two public hearings on proposed new charter schools,” reports the Connecticut News-Times. “The non-binding local school board action came at the tail end of a meeting that started with a number of speakers–all signed up by Working Families Party Chairwoman Maria Pereira–who spoke against any more charter schools.”

      Last year, this same school board and union-backed Working Families Party ran Paul Vallas, one of the nation’s most accomplished school superintendents, out of town on the pretense that he lacked an advanced degree in education and therefore was unqualified to run the Bridgeport school system. How have Bridgeport public schools performed under supposedly more qualified superintendents? According to the Northeast Charter Schools Network, half of the city’s grade-school kids and two-thirds of its high schoolers are performing below grade level.

      Mr. Foley might consider explaining to voters that charter schools are often the only decent education option for the inner-city poor, which is why the charter wait list in Bridgeport contains more than 1,100 names. Students in the city’s existing charters outperform their peers in traditional public schools. But rather than allow for the expansion of these successful education models, opponents want to snuff them out and relegate underprivileged students to education hell holes.

      Bridgeport has only four charters schools. In three of them, teachers aren’t organized, and none of the charters is beholden to the work rules in place at the city’s traditional public school. What the unions can’t control they want to destroy. In other words, they would rather see poor kids fail in union schools than succeed in non-union schools.

      Administration officials generally have not been in attendance at BOE board or committee meetings to observe. One exception was Josh, Mayor Finch’s Education Czar who was listed at $102,000 compensation. That position is open? Or closed? And the Good Schools Fund is being tapped for funds received and pledged funds still not received. Money, beyond City and State taxpayers supplements programs in the schools.

      The 2013-14 school year has less than one quarter remaining and the City has not announced that it has met the “minimum budget requirement” for this year and signed on to the commitment letter requested by the State for next year, apparently. That would be really good news. That’s a place for the new spinmeister to begin, isn’t it? Time will tell.

      1. More incoherent and unsubstantiated ramblings from John Marshall Lee.
        And how much did the privatization side spend on their effort to get rid of an elected Board of Ed?

        1. Gee Bob, still grumbling? How much did the privatization side spend on their effort to get a YES vote? And you can check to see I personally contributed to the BOE challenge candidates, too. (Remember we were on the NO to the Charter side together?) Is your memory failing you?

          As far as ramblings, blame it on the WSJ. I think you caught my drift pretty directly.

  4. What the flack is a Flack? For chrissakes, I just found out what a flacking Mulligan is. All these political jargon words are too next level for a hack like me.

    [Ed: Flack is slang for a PR person.]

  5. Bob Walsh and Ron Mackey,
    Do you guys know or care whether the Finch administration meets their commitments to school budgets? When will you speak up about it?
    Administration talks (as in words about the importance of education to the youth of Bridgeport) and then it walks away by failing to fund its critically important “minimum budget requirement” in a timely manner. Does this concern you? “If you see it, say it.” Heard that before? Time will tell.

    1. John Marshall Lee, you don’t know what I’m doing or saying. I have the right to act and speak without checking in with you. You do things your way and I will do things my way and I’m sure Bob will speak for Bob.

      1. Ron,
        I can only read what you write and assume it is truthful. And when you do not provide serious comment on education of youth in Bridgeport, a very important topic, but rather hit the drum one more time regarding former Superintendent Vallas who was legally found suitable by the courts, I question how serious you are about Bridgeport youth. But you are also correct in indicating you are free to choose your own subjects.
        You do provide me with the opportunity to indicate one more time, “money makes all municipal activities go ’round.” Twenty-seven months ago the public schools had no formulated budget for that school year and the community was hearing about school closings, teacher layoffs, and other equally dire commentary. Vallas was responsible for rapidly coming up with a multi-year plan and a BALANCED BUDGET to match. He also believed in OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT as governance values, and that earned my immediate attention and support.
        We now have a new superintendent who is picking up the reins and planning and budgeting with the grace of starting with a balanced budget, no small advantage. The City needs to be reminded of its responsibility by all those who maintain it is “all about the kids.” What does it say when more voices are not raised? Time will tell.

  6. I’ve cut & pasted the following from today’s Diane Ravitch’s blog which I find quite relevant to the discussion at hand, re: Charter Schools. The commenter is referencing Ohio, but I believe the same questions/issues pertain to Connecticut as well.

    Bill Phillis of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy here contrasts the governing structure of public schools and charter schools. The implicit questions: how transparent is their governing structure? How “public” are charter schools?

    “Governance of school districts compared to governance of charter schools.

    “School district board members are visible and scrutinized when they run for a seat on the board. They are visible and accessible to the public at well-publicized board meetings and on a 24/7 basis in their respective communities. The Secretary of State provides pertinent information about school district board members on a published statewide roster. This accountability and transparency of the lives and actions of board members are appropriate and essential.

    “But, what is the level of accountability and transparency of charter school board members? No statewide roster. In some school communities, one-fourth or more of the students are enrolled in charter schools, but there is no community-wide roster of charter school board members.

    “Three new board members in Columbus were recently featured in a front page story in The Dispatch. Although, about one-fourth of the students in Columbus City School District attend charter schools, there have been no front page stories about charter school board members. These individuals have little or no visibility in the community. In many charter school cases, board members are mere figureheads. Hence, who is accountable to whom?

    “The governance structure in the charter school kingdom is obscure. Who is held accountable for the use of funds and the academic rating of charter schools? The State Department of Education? The sponsors? The charter school board members? The education management company? The stockholders in the for-profit companies? The executive of the education management company? The board of directors of the education management companies? The charter school principal or site manager? Who? Who?

    “Who appoints charter school board members? The sponsors? The management company? The charter school employees? Public school districts give up funds and students to private operations over which the community school districts have no control. The only public aspect of charter schools is public funds. Period.”

    1. Maybe if we lived in Ohio this would be a problem. However, we do not. Let us not forget until Vallas fixed it, BPT’s schools were quite opaque. I found this info on a CT charter school network in 0.36 seconds:
      The questions she posts about Ohio’s charter school would be hard to answer about CT’s public school. These things vary from city to city. I.e.–some school boards are elected, some appointed, some schools have a special master, some a superintendent. It matter where you live and how your system is set up. I wonder why Diane Ravitch had such a hard time. It couldn’t be because she is unfamiliar with the Internet. Maybe she is planning to move to Ohio. Maybe she is not that bright Maybe it is her agenda or job to cast these dispersions and she uses all the information she can find. Even when it is not applicable. But who knows?

  7. Again, charter schools do not answer to a local BOE. There is much opaqueness to their financials as well. As for Diane Ravitch, I would think a quick search of her name would show you she is far from stupid. I guess it depends which Kool-aid tastes best to you. As for me, I believe the education reform movement and charters are a charade, funded by hedge funds, Gates, Broad and Walton foundations as well as test magnate Pearson. Follow the money.

    1. Then I guess it is true what they say: Opinions are like backsides. Everybody has one and they all stink. You see, I think public education is a charade, funded by taxpayers and managed by cronies and political hacks Every year they spend more of our money to fail more of our children. Their answer to all their problems is ‘give us more money.’ The fewer people who answer to our current BOE the better off we are. They can barely agree on how to conduct a meeting and things go downhill from there. Anyone who comes in to make any serious changes is quickly ushered out. The BEA took over the BOE and set to returning to the exact system that has failed so many for too long. They spent two entire meeting to STOP the building of a new Harding and one meeting to argue about who should manage the janitors and security. There is nothing more important in a school than who is in charge of the guy who empties the garbage. The only successful thing they managed to do so far is give the teachers an 8% raise. Follow the money.
      Every morning every day starts with one word, ‘lies.’ They pledge allegiance to a flag. One nation under God (that is debatable). Indivisible (we have been divided many times: north against south, blacks against whites, poor against rich, reformers against hidebound). With liberty and justice for all (unless you are a student in the BPT school system because you will not have the liberty of knowledge and all you will see is the injustice of poverty).

  8. The US public schools are the most perfect example of elitism to be found in civilian life. Serious education reform programs must put private citizens–students and their families–in charge of appropriating education funds, rather than political bodies. We have 900 kinds of shampoo and one outdated, nineteenth-century model of schooling. Education is not free, and the poor pay a disproportionately high price (their rent covers landlord property taxes with no tax benefit for renters) for our free public schools. If public education is critical to America’s economic future, it is time to recognize the need for various types of education ranging from classical liberal arts studies to forms of specific occupation training are needed to meet today’s job market.


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