As Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch undoubtedly likes to remind Governor Malloy, without Bridgeport, Malloy would have lost the 2010 gubernatorial election.
Since then, Finch and Malloy have taken a beating in Bridgeport.
- Malloy and Finch conspired to have the state of Connecticut take over the Bridgeport schools. The move was deemed illegal by the Connecticut Supreme Court and the Malloy administration was forced to return the Bridgeport School system to local control.
- Mayor Finch’s attempt to pass a change to Bridgeport’s Charter to eliminate a democratically elected board of education and replace it with one appointed by him was soundly defeated.
- Malloy, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and Mayor Finch brought in Paul Vallas to serve as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools but their attempt to keep him in the post was deemed illegal and a Connecticut Superior Court judge ruled that Vallas doesn’t have the qualifications or credential necessary to serve as a superintendent of schools in Connecticut. Vallas is only holding on to the job due to the fact that Finch, Malloy and Pryor (using Bridgeport and Connecticut taxpayer funds) are keeping Vallas in Bridgeport hoping that the Connecticut Supreme Court will overrule the Connecticut Superior Court judge’s ruling.
- And in September, a slate of Democratic challenges opposed to the Malloy, Pryor and Finch education reforms crushed the slate endorsed by Finch and funded by the Bridgeport and Connecticut Democratic Committees.
So with Election Day coming up, Carmen Lopez, the former superior court judge who helped to orchestrate the successful law suit on the control of Bridgeport’s schools and brought the law suit the led to the ruling that Vallas doesn’t have the credentials to serve as Bridgeport’s superintendent asks, recently wrote a commentary piece asking, “What will the Election Day ballot of Mayor Bill Finch look like?”
And then Carmen Lopez goes on to lay out the following:
Along with many others, I have been pondering that question ever since the Sept. 10, 2013, Democratic primary, when the Democrats of Bridgeport, emphatically and unmistakably, repudiated the Finch machine and what it has come to represent.
Challengers, including three candidates for the Bridgeport Board of Education, were victorious across the board. As a result, some have begun to celebrate. While I, too, rejoiced in the victory of the Board of Education challengers, I feel compelled to sound a note of caution. To those who would celebrate before the votes are counted on Nov. 5, I would advise “not so fast!”
The first act of the newly elected BOE will be to elect the chair. Assuming that the three endorsed Democrats are successful, they will join John Bagley, who was elected in the 2012 special election on the Working Families Party line, and three hold-over Finch loyalists, on the new BOE. One additional vote will be needed in order to ensure a BOE chair who will ask questions, demand answers and will not rubber-stamp everything Finch, Superintendent Paul Vallas and City Attorney Mark Anastasi put in front of it.
Finch, Chief of Staff Adam Wood, City Bond Counsel John Stafstrom and BOE Chairman Kenneth Moales will do everything in their power to make sure that this does not happen.
After all, they all have a lot to lose.
Don’t think for a moment that the Finch machine has despaired. Rest assured that Finch, Wood, Stafstrom, Moales and their machine loyalists still have a card to play — an ace up their collective sleeves, in the form of their wholly owned and predictably compliant Republican subsidiary.
They will all, quietly of course, mark their Election Day ballots for the Republican candidates for the Board of Education. Republican success represents the Finch machine’s only chance to salvage control of the Bridgeport BOE. Without Republican help, they will be unable to retain Finch’s hand-picked chairman, the walking conflict of interest Kenneth Moales.
For those of you who question this analysis, and are scratching your heads, I will review some recent Bridgeport political history. As George Santayana famously said, “Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”
If you think my prediction is too Machiavellian, I would ask you to objectively examine the most recent history of the Republican Party here in Bridgeport. That examination reveals that Republicans holding public office have been reliable, loyal and dependable allies of the Finch machine.
In July 2011, the only Republican member of the Bridgeport Board of Education voted in favor of the illegal takeover, a takeover conspired by Finch, the governor’s office and wealthy down-county hedge-fund moguls. Although a party in the litigation that went to the Supreme Court, the local Republican Party never filed any papers in support of the challenge mounted to the illegal takeover.
After the court decision, when Finch and his attorney were attempting to delay the return of the lawfully elected board, their star witness in court was the Republican registrar of voters. The same GOP board member who voted in favor of the BOE takeover helped recruit Thomas Mulligan to fill a vacancy on the Board of Education, thus guaranteeing a reliable machine vote.
On the Civil Service Commission and Bridgeport’s land-use bodies, when the machine needs a key vote, the Republicans are always there to deliver.
Every Republican member of the Bridgeport Charter Revision Commission voted to disenfranchise Bridgeport voters, and marched in lock-step with Finch’s directive.
The Bridgeport Republicans may claim to be different at election time, but a look at their performance in office reveals total loyalty to Finch and his machine, and belies any claim of independence. Let’s not forget that in 2009, this Republican Party nominated Nate Snow for the Board of Education, the same Nate Snow who was a key conspirator in the illegal takeover attempt.
The truth is that unless the two candidates who appear only on the Working Families line, Sauda Baraka and Eric Stewart-Alicea are elected to the school board, history will repeat itself.
A reading of the tea leaves, informed by a reading of recent history, convinces me that the first vote cast by newly elected Republican members of the Board of Education will be to re-elect Moales, Finch’s campaign treasurer as the board chair. This will happen courtesy of the Bridgeport Republican Party, and will no doubt be justified as an exercise in civility and bipartisanship.
The chairmanship is key. The chair sets the agenda and runs the meetings. Finch knows that if you can control the chair, you can control the board.
The slogan for this ongoing whisper campaign might well be “Save Finch, Save Moales, Vote Republican for Board of Education.”
If this underground effort succeeds, then history in this one-party city will continue to repeat itself.
You can find Judge Carmen Lopez’s commentary piece letter to the editor at: http://www.ctpost.com/default/article/Predicting-the-mayor-s-Election-Day-ballot-4920372.php