Connecticut Post editorial writers continue to pump out powerful pieces

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.” – Edward R. Murrow

 

I’ve used that quote before here at Wait, What? I believe it to be one of the most important political statements in American history.  It was uttered by the great journalist Edward R, Murrow.  As one of the greatest war correspondents, Murrow’s impact on the american people was profound.  But his greatest contribution was probably his willingness to stand up and speak the truth when it came to Senator Joseph McCarthy.  When Murrow and his team created a hard-hitting documentary on Joe McCarthy, CBS refused to pay for any publicity related to the piece or allow Murrow to use CBS’ logo.  So Murrow and colleagues purchased their own newspaper advertising.

Murrow understood that when the opposition is silenced, the demise of democracy is not far behind.

It is that very understanding that made yesterday’s Connecticut Post’s editorial entitled, “Opposition’s emergence benefits city” so noteworthy.

The Connecticut Post wrote;

“In a city like Bridgeport, where an entrenched political establishment seemingly gets its way on everything, days like Tuesday don’t come around very often.

Party-endorsed candidates lost across the city in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. The makeup of the City Council and school board will be dramatically different thanks to a combination of voter unrest and organized opposition of the sort that rarely makes a dent in city elections.

The Bridgeport electorate is overwhelmingly Democratic. Republicans seldom make any noise, and have been mostly surpassed by the Working Families Party as the Democrats’ main opposition. Still, whoever wins the Democratic nomination is considered a heavy favorite on the November ballot. That’s what made the primary vote so important.

The City Council has for years been all Democrats, but a number of longtime incumbents were beaten on Tuesday. Some of the winners look like they will be critical of the city’s entrenched powers, which would be a healthy sign. A council that agrees on everything is the cause of debacles like the $400,000 airport driveway for a connected developer, which was approved this year while the council slept.

The biggest change will be on the school board. With four incumbents not running, there would have been serious turnover anyway, but now it looks as though control of the board will shift away from party-endorsed members. If the general election goes as expected, a majority on the board will be staunch opponents of the mayor’s school-reform efforts, and dedicated skeptics of the work of Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas.

Voter turnout was a disappointment. But the conventional wisdom that low turnout favors the party machine was turned on its head. In fact, it was a blowout in favor of the school board’s challenge slate, with the three Row B candidates racking up wins across the city, often by large margins.

It would be hard to view this as anything other than a rebuke to the city’s ongoing education reforms. The endorsed candidates had each pledged support for Vallas and the changes he has wrought, and the challengers all spoke against his work. The challengers won, and it wasn’t close. District leadership will have to respond to that message.

Most promising, even given the low turnout, is the appearance in the past year or two of a viable opposition. It took hold in the defeat of a charter revision plan last year that would have removed the public’s right to elect a school board, and the momentum continued Tuesday. Anyone who chalked up last year’s charter defeat to the simultaneous presidential election, which always attracts high turnout, must face the fact that a low-turnout election has now produced the same result.

Opposition is healthy. Change is good. The city will be better because of it.”

You can read the Connecticut Post’s editorial at: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Opposition-s-emergence-benefits-city-4806360.php

  • jrp1900

    There must be some Democrats (and even a few Republicans) who find Malloy’s cosy relationship to the corporate education reformers unsavory, wrong-headed and possibly even illegal. Where are these people when it comes to speaking their mind? Why don’t we hear them voice their criticisms in open debate? It can only be that they are playing the game and that they view “dissent” as “disloyalty.” But as Jonathan says, a loyal opposition is no opposition at all. Malloy, Pryor and all the others are precisely emboldened because no one dares to stop them, or even question their actions. The recent hearing at the State Board of Education on the performance of Steven Adamowski was a royal joke. Mr. Adamowski was allowed to spin beautiful fairy tales about the wonders he has performed in Windham and New London. No one on the board seriously challenged him. We would all look great if we were allowed to be the judge and jury in our own case!
    The Board showed a degree of deference and naivety which is unbecoming a government body charged with oversight. The same holds for the legislature. The Special Master Office and the laws on waivers for superintendent certification were their creations; and yet the legislature has not been moved to look closely at what has been going on. Given that the Special Master Office effectively cancels local educational democracy and given that a superintendent has significant executive power and ought to inspire confidence among teachers and parents, you would think the legislature would monitor the activities of Adamowski and Vallas. But no, the legislature, being full of “loyal” toadies to Malloy and his gang, has averted its eyes and it has let these people have free rein in their dominions.
    And perhaps Malloy will now pay the price, for cowing the legislature into complicity with his “reform” efforts. US politics is generally all about bribing and wheeling and dealing and trading and bartering and extorting and sometimes outright embezzling. The political scene in Connecticut is no different. Wall Street people (bent on privatizing public schools) gave Malloy a lot of money and in return Malloy made Stefan Pryor (a man who has never even been a teacher!), the education commissioner. Pryor has made it his business to empower Steven Adamowski and Paul Vallas, both of whom are well-respected in the “business community” for their dedication to the corporate agenda. Every politician in the state legislature is capable of seeing this unseemly set of connections, but none will speak of it. They all embrace the canard that while principle matters it is political expediency that wins the day. In other words, they justify their cowardice and their complicity by reframing them as “prudence” and “realism.”
    It is time for Don Williams and the others to realize that if they don’t turn on Malloy sometime in the near future, his cynicism and corrupt dealings will bring them all down. Surely that is the message of the Bridgeport primaries…?