This billboard on the Route 25-8 Connector has prompted Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa, a supporter of Mayor Bill Finch, to file this complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
Democratic mayoral candidate Mary-Jane Foster has gained ground on Mayor Bill Finch in a new poll conducted by the Merriman River Group. She trails Finch by seven points. Finch has large leads over two other challengers in head-to-head matchups, John Gomes and Charlie Coviello. A Democratic primary will take place Septmber 13. Who’s your horse?
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The Bridgeport Board of Education threw in the towel Tuesday night. We’re incompetent, they voted by a 6-3 margin, let the state take over the schools. Board President Barbara Bellinger says she had contemplated this decision since December. Why didn’t she signal then this could happen? Why didn’t she and Superintendent of Schools John Ramos pack the City Council Chambers in April during the BOE public hearing on Mayor Bill Finch’s proposed budget? Why didn’t they rally parents to the cause after another flatline budget?
Is it because they knew they’d take their hands off the steering wheel? Could they really be so calculating as to not fight, scratch and kick for more money publicly during the budget-making process? They intentionally gagged themselves in preparation of state control?
(Check out my daily webzine at www.onlyinbridgeport.com)
John Ramos makes a quarter of a million a year as head of the school system of Connecticut’s largest city, but now says the system is dysfunctional under his leadership (or lack of) and requires state intervention. Should he stay or should he go? From Democratic mayoral candidate Mary-Jane Foster:
Foster: Expel Ramos; Expel Finch
Bridgeport businesswoman and social action advocate Mary-Jane Foster, who is running for mayor, today called for the immediate resignation of John Ramos, Bridgeport Superintendent of Schools.
“Today Superintendent Ramos and Mayor Finch admitted their complete failure on behalf of our children, our parents, and our taxpayers,” stated Foster. “By calling for the State to reconstitute the Bridgeport Board of Education, Ramos and Finch have registered a vote of ‘no confidence’ in their own ability to fix our broken school system. Since 2007, the mayor has promised that under his leadership Bridgeport would have “…schools…that improve every year” yet today he is throwing up his hands to say he can’t get the job done.
Having acknowledged their total incompetence, I call on Superintendent Ramos to resign immediately and I urge taxpayers to expel Mayor Finch on September 13th. They both deserve an “F” for failed leadership, performance, and total lack of vision.
How is it conceivable that Mayor Finch, in a statement three days ago, is just “realiz[ing] our school system is at a critical crossroad?” Where has he been for the last three and a half years? Why, two weeks ago, did he promise two years of no layoffs to one union, financially tying the Board of Ed’s hands without their knowledge? Today he’s calling for the State to take over the Board of Ed. How can the mayor claim that such actions two months before the election take “politics out of the process?”
Finch’s incompetence, lack of leadership, and call for a reconstituted Board of Ed put Bridgeport in the same precarious position that Mary Moran did when she tried to declare bankruptcy 20 years ago. Has the mayor taken a moment to examine how his decisions could affect Bridgeport taxes and our impossibly high mill rate? Property values? The City’s bond rating?
I reiterate my call for the superintendent to resign. Bridgeport will have wholesale change under my leadership and I will issue an education reform plan for our city in the coming days.”
Join statement from Finch, Ramos and BOE President Barbara Bellinger:
Mayor Bill Finch joined Superintendent John Ramos Sr., and Board of Education President Barbara Bellinger in supporting a resolution that will come before the Board of Education at a special meeting on Tuesday evening calling on the state to provide assistance to the local board.
“As a public school parent I realize our school system is at a critical crossroad,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “I believe State oversight will be the best way to calm the waters, take politics out of the process, and allow us to put a renewed focus on improving outcomes for our students. State oversight is an important first step in achieving this,” Finch added.
“I remain committed to working together with the Board of Education and the state during the next few critical months to continue to identify cost-savings in areas which will least affect our students – as the challenges of the school system have increased so has our combined focus and diligence. We will continue to work around the clock with our Superintendent, our Board of Education and state officials to resolve this critical issue. With two children who will attend our public schools this fall, rest assured I believe there is nothing that is more important.”
“We have reached the point of no return. This is a major crisis, and the board members and I realize we can’t continue to function the way we have. We’ve drawn a line in the sand by saying we can’t function with the amount of money we’ve been allotted,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Ramos.
“This has been a long and difficult process for our board. We need to remember what’s most important in this equation are the children, who deserve a quality education that will enable them to compete on a level playing field with students from around the state,” said Board of Education President Barbara Bellinger. “During the past few years, the Board has struggled to gain a consensus on many issues. Without a laser-like focus on student achievement we are unable to dramatically improve student outcomes, our most important mission”.
The board is meeting Tuesday evening (July 5) at 6 p.m. in Cesar Batalla School, 606 Howard Avenue, Bridgeport CT.
(Check out my daily webzine at www.onlyinbridgeport.com)
It seemed inevitable given Superintendent of Schools John Ramos’ plea for financial help for struggling city schools. CT Post reporter Linda Conner Lambeck chronicles the request by Ramos and Mayor Bill Finch for state intervention here>
This is tricky stuff for the mayor two months before a Democratic primary and after that, assuming he moves on, a possible general election encounter with former Mayor Joe Ganim who’s weighing a run as an independent.
In asking the state to step in and control the Board of Education, Ramos is admitting I failed the kids. I couldn’t make this work. And Finch, who as a candidate promised to create opportunities for kids by improving education, lowering class size and putting more money into the system (which he has not) he’s gambling that voters will view this as reform versus failure. What say you?
School finances are a nightmare. Hundreds of teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists, literacy coaches and more could be cut as school officials respond to yet another flatline budget.
Over the past couple of nights the hand wringing has played out at Board of Education meetings. The timing of this teeth gnashing is curious. Why didn’t Superintendent of Schools John Ramos crack the alarm bell in April during the budget-making process? In the old days Superintendent of Schools Jim Connelly packed the City Council chambers during public hearings screaming for more loot. If you stop yelling, everything is fine, no? Barely a peep was heard this year. The job of superintendent and Board of Education members is to worry about the kids and effectiveness of the district, not worry about the taxpayer. Let the mayor and City Council worry about the taxpayer. There’s a flip side to this from the long-suffering taxpayer: yeah, baby, cut that education budget!
Are these job cuts and programs cuts good medicine for a troubled school district? Or is this an educational Bermuda triangle?
What say you?
(Check out my daily webzine www.onlyinbridgeport.com)
John Marshall Lee, a Black Rock resident who organized a financial watchdog group to examine the finer points of the Bridgeport city budget, takes issue with the Connecticut Post Editorial Board’s support of Mayor Bill Finch’s decision to defer millions in pension payments for some uniformed retirees in favor of a long-term plan. See the Post’s editorial position http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Taking-steps-on-city-pensions-1408683.phpm
The mayor says he’s offering a long-term solution without raising taxes in an election year. Lee takes Connecticut Post news managers to task for not covering legislative budget sessions regularly, turning a blind eye to Finch administration spending and ignoring a review of city finances by the organization Institute for Truth In Accounting http://www.truthinaccounting.org/news/listing_article.asp?section=451§ion2=451&CatID=5&ArticleSource=964
CT Post as Financial Advisor to Bridgeport: Up with Finch or Line the Bird Cage?
The CT Post in an editorial today writes in favor of Mayor Finch’s second attempt in his four year term to avoid following actuarial advice on funding Pension Plan A. (It is curious that no one notices that Pension Plan B Fire and Pension Plan B Police seem to have been regularly funded as professionally directed. The City contributes, the workers do also, and the investment committees have successfully maintained their investment positions it seems and have achieved reasonable levels of funding.)
So why is there such attention to the problem of funding Plan A? It is because more than 95% of the folks who are rightfully entitled to draw pensions are drawing them already at a rate of $30-32 Million per year, and Plan A investments available to pay that may last only 5-6 years, then nothing but general tax revenues are available. That’s a “train wreck”, from a financial perspective! Finch, putting in $6 Million or 4 Million annually for the three years of his term, but ignoring Segal & Co advice to fund to a “minimum level”, has avoided a budget increase of $8-10 Million per year the last three years. Putting those funds in could have caused those responsible to tighten other parts of City budgets and put off the coming “train wreck” without a tax increase. Instead the Mayor has dithered, if you read his planning documents submitted to the State Treasurer and Director of Office of Policy and Management in 2010 and 2011.
And some readers seem to be encouraging the Mayor’s “kick the can down the road” process. For those folks, when the Prichard AL day arrives in Bridgeport, (which Marian Gail Brown wrote about in the same Sunday Post), what will you be saying to retired folks in their 70’s and 80’s? Will you look for State of CT to bail Bridgeport out? Do you guess that there will be legal issues with millions of dollars in legal costs to be paid by Bridgeport? Perhaps interest due on amounts unpaid plus orders to pay the Court decisions? How many new businesses will look for economic development in Bridgeport? Do you think that we ought to shut down the Office of Economic Development in the City today because they will be spinning their wheels until the train wreck and no use afterwards for many years? If you have a house or business, what will you predict about its value while Bridgeport becomes a poster boy for yet another negative?
And I am disappointed in the CT Post for ignoring Budget and Appropriations sessions this year or to tell the people what is really going on. Perhaps they have cut so deeply in their own “for profit budget making and staffing” that what happens with Bridgeport can be at least adequately covered by talking to Mayor Finch only? Let’s see what the Institute for Truth in Accounting has to say about insufficient levels of funding this week on BridgeportNow. And maybe David Walker will have some enlightening words on the same subject next week that differ from the paper.
All actions have consequences and no readers who are advocating the Finch approach are looking beyond today. Why not? That is the role of good governance in any City, and in Bridgeport, CT where so many keep repeating is “the largest City in the State”, we are not getting good financial governance. Is Bridgeport “too big” too fail? I think not. There are no financial stewards!
And that is the reason our taxes continue to be as high as they are. Actually taxes would have been higher in the past 10 years, except the ‘Mario Machine elect’ have: consumed 80% of the $55 Million in the rainy day fund when the Financial Review Board left town, minimally funded Pension Plan A for years (while being willing to repay $350 Million borrowed for Plan A with 7.64% interest to the tune of $900 Million over 30 years-the Stafstrom Plan), and is also playing games with underfunding retiree healthcare to the tune of $20 Million debt each year for the last three years creating an additional future tax liability of $61 Million for taxpayers. Where is a Post inquiry into “internal service funds”?
What say you CT Post about this mess, today? Where are your wise words of overview and comprehensive advice? You are a profit making business in the private sector. Are you funding your pension obligations on a regular basis? If you encourage City behavior that brings a “train wreck” closer to today by your blessing, where will your moral standing be in covering the bad news and suffering five years from now that you encouraged?
John Marshall Lee, 30 Beacon Street, Bridgeport, CT 06605
Ouch. A budget-hawk organization that calls itself Institute For Truth In Accounting doesn’t exactly paint a rosy picture about city finances. See this http://connecticut.statebudgetwatch.org/files/2011/05/Bridgeport-CT-2010.pdf
The organization issued the report in partnership with Bridgeport resident David Walker, the nation’s former chief accountant, who predicted the national financial collapse.