Website Promotes Yes Vote For Charter Question To Decide School Board Battle

Finch, Obama
This image of Mayor Bill Finch and Barack Obama leads the website promoting a yes vote on the charter question.

An advocacy group website is complementing Mayor Bill Finch’s public outreach urging electors to vote yes on the Nov. 6 charter question that if approved would empower him to appoint members to the Board of Education. The website features the direct mail pieces hitting boxes the past few days, including residents highlighting education improvements made the past year.

The message of this campaign doesn’t specifically point out a yes vote means the mayor appoints. The central theme instead focuses on school improvement that requires a yes vote to maintain the progress.  One statement declares: “If you believe quality education is a civil right, VOTE YES.”

The charter question below:

“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.”

Estrada quote
From the website, a quote from city resident George Estrada who served on the charter commission that helped fashion the ballot question.

University of Bridgeport Vice President George Estrada, who served on the Charter Revision Commission that submitted recommendations to the City Council for ballot approval, urges a yes vote in one of the featured mailers.

The website also declares:

We’re making progress for our kids. YOUR YES VOTE ON 1 can help us to keep:

Offering ways for students to take free college courses at four local colleges, earning credit for both high school and college

Building new schools like the ones being built at Roosevelt, Longfellow, and Harding, and completing Bridgeport’s first new high school in 50 years

Making extensive renovations at Black Rock School and Central High School

Creating new and unprecedented ways to bring parents into the schools and to get them more engaged and involved in their children’s education

The site provides links to the charter question, an explanation of what it means as well as a link to education “Record of Progress.”

The advocacy committee Residents For A Better Bridgeport is financed largely by city business interests in support of a mayoral-appointed school board. Lillian Wade, political activist and president of the East End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, is the treasurer.



  1. I don’t think President Obama would appreciate his image being used on an ad that promotes taking away his people’s civil rights. This is the worst misrepresentation I’ve seen by the Finch administration, and I have seen some bad stuff.

  2. Hey Bill, when did president Obama weigh in on the charter vote? Did he send you a letter telling you he was in your corner on this issue? Does he know you are taking away the people’s right to vote for who represents them on the BOE?
    Hey Bill, tell these people from lower Fairfield County to revamp their own school systems before they come to Bridgeport. What does some bored white woman know about growing up here in Bridgeport?
    What does this bored white woman from the ‘burbs know about the school budget you did not raise in 5 years? I will answer for you. NOTHING.
    If all these out of towners are so concerned about our kids and our school system have them move here and really show a commitment.
    Bill, tell the truth. All you care about is getting your hands on vendors who sell to the BOE. Your lack of proper funding for the past five school budgets says it all about you and education.

  3. *** The Coalition to Protect Voting Rights should contact the main Obama Campaign Head-quarters in CT; and fax the vote “yes” add along with the pro & cons info. to see if the Obama people are kool with this misleading political add? If memory serves me correct, Finch was pro H.Clinton during the primarys in 2008! Fake smiling faces once again tell lies, no? ***

  4. *** The Coalition to Protect Voting Rights should contact the main Obama Campaign Headquarters in CT and fax the vote “yes” ad along with the pro & con info. to see if the Obama people are cool with this misleading political ad. If memory serves me correctly, Finch was pro H. Clinton during the primaries in 2008! Fake smiling faces once again tell lies, no? *** BEWARE ***

  5. If the Obama camp does not take strong action in this matter this week, I will vote and campaign against all people who support–even by their silence–this initiative by the Bridgeport machine.

  6. The Obama quote reads:
    “We need to fix and improve our public schools, not throw our hands up and walk away from them.”

    What part of this doesn’t mayor Finch understand? Obviously the whole statement. Bill Finch asked the Brigeport BOE to do exactly what the President said we should not do. Six BOE members–the majority–granted Finch’s request. The Obama quote is one I totally agree with and it’s exactly the quote the NO supporters should use. I will use it and there is no need to have a photo of me with the President of the United States.

    Last night Mojo and I reported the calls and this mailing. As I had mentioned, the piece misrepresents George Estrada as Vice President of the University of Bridgeport. Even Lennie Grimaldi was fooled by it. “University of Bridgeport Vice President George Estrada, who …” The following was copied and pasted from yesterday’s blog topic:

    Joel Gonzalez // Oct 12, 2012 at 9:06 pm
    I received the same call, Mojo. The caller had a strong Oriental accent. She asked me to vote yes on question 1 but could not tell what was the question nor the intent or purpose of the question. It got worse a second after I hung up and noticed this piece in my mail. From Residents for a Better Bridgeport and I quote:

    “I’m voting yes on one because our city and our schools are making progress–and they should keep making progress.”
    –George Estrada, Vice President, University of Bridgeport

    On the other side:
    “All children deserve a chance to get ahead. Voting yes on 1 means better schools, More opportunities for kids, and more rights for parents.”
    –George Estrada, Vice President, University of Bridgeport

    I have a few question for George Estrada and the university of Bridgeport. Is George Estrada the Vice President of the University of Bridgeport?
    Does the University of Bridgeport support a yes vote on question one (1)?
    Mr. Estrada, if “voting yes on 1” means better schools, more opportunities for kids and more right for parents, why would you vote yes to take away the voting right and opportunity for a parent to run for Board of Education if he or she wanted to do so?
    This mailing piece in my hand will end up in the hands of the University of Bridgeport Board of directors. Keep in mind this board is not appointed by City of Bridgeport pols.

    Joel Gonzalez // Oct 13, 2012 at 1:16 am
    George Estrada is indeed the Vice President of a division at the University of Bridgeport. I did a directory search on the UB website and this is what I got:
    Estrada George
    VP Facilities Maintenance
    Main Campus Wahlstrom Library 752

    Yes, VP Facilities Maintenance. I asked my wife to read the residents for a better Bridgeport piece I received. I asked her to tell me who is making the statement she just read and she responded George Estrada el Vice Presidente de la Universidad de Bridgeport. She then added she didn’t know the Vice President of the University of Bridgeport was hispanic. I then showed her what the UB directory spelled out as to what role George Estrada plays at UB. George Estrada, UB lying!

    1. “Elected school board quite simply failed the city and its children.”

      Had this jerk paid any attention to details and facts, he would have known (I’m sure he knows, but won’t admit it) without Mayor Bill Finch’s approval of the BOE budget increase request, the BOE was doomed to fail–at least financially. Nowhere does he mentions the mayor’s flat funding of the BOE four times at least while increasing the taxes and the debt by over $100 million.

      “One reason for this failure is that, counterintuitively, Bridgeport’s elected school board had less democratic accountability than the appointed board put in place nine months ago.”

      Jerks normally come up with one reason–always a poorly thought-out, and weak one–to defend their position. During just about Bill Finch’s entire political career he ran with BOE members on the same ticket and never complained or questioned the qualification or performance of any one of them. There will never be any “democratic accountability” with a process in which BOE members are appointed by one person–they will only be accountable to the person who appoints them.

      “School board terms were staggered, so voters could not hold the entire board accountable for bad policies.”

      Imagine if this jerk had the power to change the “staggered” way in which Members of the US House of Representatives and the US Senate are elected. We would have the entire US Congress body running for office at the same time. After the election, we would have an entirely new congress if every incumbent lost. There would be no senior members and no one would have a clue as to what exactly could or needs to be done. By the time they get a handle or a feel for the job, it’ll be time to run again. Imagine if one person were given the power to appoint the members of Congress. I wonder if this jerk knows the locally elected people are the closest ones to us. We can reach out to our locally elected representatives much quicker and personally than members of congress or the president. Why the hell should I reach out to people appointed by someone who orchestrated the robbing of my right to vote or opportunity to run for office if I ever chose to? We can all wait for the time when it’s an elected official’s turn to run for re-election. If I don’t like their performance, I vote against him or her and can even run or campaign against them. Anyone else wouldn’t be able to do this if they are appointed.

      “Mayoral elections, in contrast, have much higher turnout. And when a mayor-appointed school board does a bad job, voters can quickly and decisively change course by voting in a new mayor.”

      The people decisively vote for a mayor who promises to change the charter to re-institute the peoples right to elect BOE members. The whole process starts again. The administration under the appointed board had falsified, lowered the standards, and misrepresents the results of the improvements to show and argue appointing the BOE was the right thing to do. It could play out many ways. The new mayor may even change his or her position and leave the same appointed board. How does this hold anyone accountable? The elected members of the Bridgeport legislative delegation haven’t done such a good job themselves. Isn’t it time we allow the mayor to appoint then instead? That ‘JERK’ you just heard was from the Bridgeport delegation.

  7. Wow. This is sleazy even for this group of characters. A total misuse of the President’s image for a completely unrelated, and very important issue. If I may. My name is John Iannuzzi. I am a South End resident. Candidate for State Representative, and a very passionate Bridgeporter.
    After the “Parents for Progress rally” on Monday at City Hall, the deluge of mailers from “Residents for a Better Bridgeport,” hearing from “Excel Bridgeport” at this week’s South End NRZ meeting, and then finding out University of Bridgeport VP George Estrada  supported this Charter Revision … well, I started to think I was the only person left who was opposed to giving up our right to elect our own BOE. Then I attended today’s “Vote No” campaign kickoff on Stratford Ave. The organization dubbed Coalition to Protect our Voting Rights has assembled a very energetic, active, vocal and motivated cross section of Bridgeporters who have one thing in common, a serious aversion to giving up our right to vote. 
    Please do not confuse the issue, no matter what you hear from the Mayor or those in support of this initiative, in the end it is undemocratic and will set a very dangerous precedent. You never want to give up your right to vote. Not for Board of Education. Not for anything.
    I was extremely inspired by those I heard today. I think former State Senator Ernie Newton said it best, we should have the right to elect Mickey Mouse if we want to.
    So many different folks spoke up today, but the theme was clear. Bridgeport cannot allow this ballot initiative to pass. 
    I am proud both as a candidate for office and a South End resident to stand with the Coalition to Protect our Voting Rights.

    1. John Iannuzzi, welcome aboard! I missed the event, but I stand with you. There is one big problem the Bridgeport Republicans must address–the RINOs. Let’s take George Estrada for example. I’m not sure if he is still a registered Republican. The Bridgeport Republican party must address this problem. When Bill Finch selected Estrada as a member of the Charter revision, was the BRP asked for recommendations as to who the BRP wanted to serve on the commission? Keep in mind one Republican (Cunningham) voted to dissolve the elected board.
      Whenever a Republican not recommended by the RTC or the Republican party is selected to serve on boards or commission, I believe the Bridgeport Republican party must let the public know. Paging John Slater.

      1. You guys–the RTC–can label such Republicans as Republican non grata. Heck, I’ll admit some Democrats consider me a Democrat non grata despite the fact they wouldn’t be able to spell it or come up with such a term.

  8. There is still hope more people will vote no because in 2008 the CT charter question was voted no in the city of Bpt with 14,009 yes compared to 14,193 voting no. What was even more alarming is 12,000 people who voted in the presidential race decided to skip the question. So even if we see over 40k turnout like in 2008, less than 30k might vote for the question.

  9. George is of Cuban descent and a decent guy supporting an indecent proposal. I’m shocked he would support Fidel Finch! His two kids didn’t go to public school.

  10. *** I like George Estrada, always have! George’s problem is he’s too nice, doesn’t like to say “no” to people. And I’m sure he’s trying to do the right things in his opinion that will help Bpt’s schools in the end, even if it means the loss of an elected BOE that has been dysfunctional in many ways for years! For me it’s not so cut & dry on the decision; however I did not like the way the Finch Admin. went about the entire process from the beginning towards permanent change on the BOE. It was a quietly rushed political backroom decision with the premise of improving Bpt’s public schools but with the actual intent of gaining sole power over the BOE and the system’s operations budget. *** ALL ABOUT THE POWER AND BENJAMIN$ ***

    1. Is there a little-known method to communicate electronically and stay off the radar, protect oneself from or try to use this method and claim the above court ruling does not apply in their case? Yes and you will learn it here on OIB. This method could be used by terrorists, corrupt politicians, drug dealers. In fact I’m convinced it is being used by perhaps all of the above. This is how it works:
      I am going to log on to yahoo and create an account. I use the username and obviously I have a password only I know. I log on to my account and write a message. The message reads in straight English language or better yet in a secret coded language. I will not press send. Instead I will save it as a draft. The message reads: Lick Joel Gonzalez. What good is the message if I didn’t or never send it? I will meet, contact or already have notified hitman Lennie Grimaldi of how we will communicate. Hitman Lennie Grimaldi already has my password.
      Lennie logs on to Yahoo and enters the user name and password and reads the message saved in the draft and not sent, but received nevertheless. I hate to believe local, state and federal authorities do not know of this simple and obvious way for anyone to use the internet or e-mail system without actually sending the e-mail. If they don’t, now they know–assuming they read OIB. Do something about it.

  11. Does anyone know what position my opponent, Representative Santiago, has taken on this very important issue? I know Senator Gomes, former Senator Newton, and a handful of brave Council members have spoken out about the far-reaching implications of this “Charter Review.” I have been against it from go. I just can’t justify giving up my right to vote under any circumstance. It seems so cut and dry. I know Mr. Santiago works at City Hall, so I suppose I can guess his position. Would like to know where he stands.

    1. Really. First of all, Representative Santiago does absolutely nothing. Not in the legislature, not in his city job. His mom is married to Mitch Robles, his dad is Americo (“I’m a prostitute and proud of it”) Santiago so he can do whatever he wants or not and still get paid–for doing nothing. However, you can bet those to whom he is related will work hard to pass the Charter Revision proposal. Their livelihoods depend on it. Happily, Ezequiel does nothing so whatever his position on Charter Revision is, it’s irrelevant.

  12. Well, luckily you have an alternative. I can promise you I will never work for the city. I would never miss a vote in Hartford. I live and breathe the South End. The only time I have crossed paths with Mr. Santiago was when he was campaigning for Christina Ayala. Have never seen him at an NRZ meeting. Not at any UB functions. Not at education marches or rallies. Not at Council meetings. Not on local radio or TV. Not at Seaside Park. Not downtown … well you get the point.

  13. I had not seen this despicable piece of propaganda until today. Kids in the Bridgeport public high schools have been taking college level classes for YEARS–this is not new! Just drive around the city and see all the new school buildings … this did not just happen this year AND read the editorial letter from Max Medina that was in the Sunday CT Post to learn all that an ELECTED school board can and has done.
    Vote NO … vote NO … vote NO … vote NO …

  14. Ben Zimmer’s organization is controlled by GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley who is well known to be a proponent of corporate control of our schools and all forms of privatization of government services. VOTE NO on the Charter revisions.


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