The attack on Bridgeport BOE member Bobby Simmons’ integrity says more about his attackers…

Yesterday, Bridgeport Board of Education Bobby Simmons had an incredibly powerful commentary piece published in the Connecticut Post. 

I re-posted it here at Wait, What under the title “Here is what a real Democrat says in the face of injustice.”  The piece generated dozens of comments about Simmons’ courage, commitment and dedication.

Bobby Simmons is the only Democrat on the Bridgeport Board of Education who has been willing to speak out against the abuses of Paul Vallas, Mayor Bill Finch and Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.

Of course, to the establishment, such courage is an anathema and worthy of verbal assault.  Nowhere was that clearer then on Bridgeport’s local blog “Only in Bridgeport,” where the blog’s author and some of his readers spent the day verbally assaulting Simmons.

A number of Wait, What? readers took great offense to the outrageous comments posted on that site and wrote in asking that the truth behind their lies be revealed.

On behalf of all of us who see Bobby Simmons as a champion, public education advocate and fellow blogger, Sarah Darer Littman authored the following piece.  She speaks for everyone who believes the residents of Bridgeport and Connecticut deserve nothing but the whole truth and nothing but the truth…

“I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”                -Margaret Thatcher

We couldn’t help but be reminded of this quote from Britain’s “Iron Lady” after reading Lennie Grimaldi’s blatant attempt to smear Bridgeport Board of Education member Bobby Simmons School Board Member Bobby Simmons’ “Plantation Mentality” Claim–Real Or Imagined? following the publication of Simmons’ scorching op-ed in the CT Post.

Instead of addressing the issues Simmons brought up in his piece –Grimaldi attempts to attack Simmons’ integrity, bringing up the NAACP controversy of earlier this year. But Grimaldi’s earlier “coverage” (if one can call it that) of the NAACP events was hardly objective.

At that time Grimaldi chose to emphasize infighting rather than the attempt of the NAACP executive committee members to do what they are meant to do; provide oversight and due diligence.

Perhaps it’s not surprising then, that Grimaldi is long on spin and innuendo and character assassination and short on facts and research when he denigrates Simmons’ op ed expressing his frustration with trying to provide a similar function in his role as a member of Bridgeport Board of Education.

You have to ask yourself why Grimaldi is such an unquestioning mouthpiece for the Bridgeport political machine. Perhaps the best way to answer that is to read words straight from the horse’s mouth.

Take a trip back in the Wayback Machine to the administration of Mayor Joseph Ganim, for whom Grimaldi acted as campaign manager. Grimaldi testified against his former boss, who was convicted of 16 counts: one count each of racketeering, extortion, racketeering conspiracy and bribery; two counts of bribery conspiracy; eight counts of mail fraud, and two counts of filing a false tax return.

Grimaldi himself pled to federal charges of racketeering, conspiracy and filing false tax returns and testified against his former boss for a reduced sentence of 14 months.

When explaining his own illegal activity to the Washington Post, Grimaldi admitted he’s short on cojones.

“Grimaldi said that the city’s political culture dictated that he lavish gifts on the mayor or else worry that his clients would be frozen out of city business.

“It started off with, you know, buying dinners, and then expensive dinners, and then a little bit of wine, and then the gifts. . . . It became this monster,” recalled Grimaldi, who served 10 months in prison and has become a successful freelance writer after his release. “I didn’t have the guts to say no to a mayor that had a tremendous amount of economic power over me.”

What does it say about the character of this man, about the character of the Bridgeport Democratic Machine, about the state of politics in “Corrupticut”, that a man like Bobby Simmons, a man who does have the strength, the integrity and the courage to say “no” to a mayor with “a tremendous amount of economic power”, must endure orchestrated attacks on his character because he is trying to get to the truth that a healthy democracy requires, and fight for the children of Bridgeport when it’s obvious that “the fix was in” ?

If Connecticut is ever going to shed the moniker “Corrupticut” we need fewer cowards like Lennie Grimaldi and more brave stand up folks like Bobby Simmons.

  • Apartheid First

    Wow! What a great piece, Sarah Darer Littman! I do recall the Ganim days, Turkish carpets, bespoke shirts, dinners, and all, but, as an outsider, I had forgotten about the “collateral damage,” the walk-ons like Lennie Grimaldi, who helped stoke the machine so well.
    Paying an uncertified employee’s legal bills in a lawsuit brought against him as an individual, as in the case of Vallas, may just have to rank up there with dinners, wines, and unspecified gifts. Why should the democrats, the mayor, the State Board of Education, and the Commissioner of Education be rushing to the support of a corporate raider and champion of segregation?
    Ever more details are emerging about Vallas’s actions in Chicago, his legacy in the Recovery District, his tenure in Philadelphia (not to mention Arne Duncan’s utterly shameful reign as never-certified CEO of Chicago schools)–so why come to Vallas’s defense? Why launch ad hominem attacks on Bobby Simmons, who has the courage to question and criticize the payment of Vallas’s legal bills?
    I look forward to more op-eds and informative, factual articles by Simmons.

    • Castles Burning

      I look forward to more as well.

  • Castles Burning

    Sarah and Jonathan, Deep thanks for presenting this post “[o]n behalf of all of us who see Bobby Simmons as a champion [and] public education advocate. As stated, not only was his letter a powerful demonstration of the abuse of power and the mentality behind such entitlement, but the posted comments int the Post were a wonderful tribute of support. Reading them, I could tell how much the writers enjoyed being able to congratulate the speaker of truth and cannot recall such an opportunity to declare allegiance to “telling it like it is,” instead of hiding behind the “script” (such as the one presented to the BOE that Simmons told us about).

    I am not even going to comment on the piece in OIB, which began with what I consider to be an insulting title, and led . . .

    Again, thanks for closing the day with another chance to stand strongly together in support. We have not yet had enough of these occasions, but I suspect there will be more ahead. The words of the Carpenters just came to me, “We have only just begun . . .”

  • TMS

    Wow!!! What an eloquent, reasonable, mature, intelligent, response to such a juvenile post by Mr. Grimaldi. Your only mistake is assuming he’s smart enough to understand it. I’m pretty sure it’s over his head, but maybe he can get Mr. Vallas to explain it to him; you know, since he’s taken a course and all. Thank you Sarah for representing and speaking for us so well.