Luke Bronin’s Law Firm – 131 White Lawyers, No Latino Lawyers

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After serving for two years as Governor Dannel Malloy’s chief lawyer, Greenwich native Luke Bronin left his $160,000 a year state position to run for mayor of Hartford.  At the same time Bronin landed a lucrative position as a partner with the major law firm of Hinkley-Allen.

According to Law Firm Stats, the “world’s largest and most detailed source of information about law firms,” Hinkley Allen has 131 White Lawyers, 2 Asian Lawyers and 2 African American lawyers.

The law firm tracking company reports that when it comes to diversity – or the lack thereof – Hinkley Allen’s failure to hire Latino and African-American’s places it almost in the bottom 10 percent of all major law firms in the nation,

While Bronin’s law firm may lack diversity, lawyers with the firm have certainly been stepping up to support their colleague’s campaign.

In the first 120 days of Bronin’s campaign, there were at least 29 major contributions from attorneys with Hinkley Allen.  The amount of money pouring in from lawyers at the firm totaled $13,500 and that doesn’t even count the money that came in from their spouses.

Originally based in Rhode Island, Hinkley Allen has offices in Hartford, Boston, New York and elsewhere.

Hinkley Allen arrived in Connecticut in 2008 when it merged with the law firm of Tyler, Cooper & Alcorn.  In 2013, the politically connected law firm of Levy, Droney became part of Hinkley Allen.  John Droney, a co-founder of Levy, Droney is the former chairman of the Connecticut Democratic Party.

Hinkley Allen is perhaps best known for its representation of major contractors including a number that have contracts with the State of Connecticut and the City of Hartford.

Just don’t mention race, ethnicity or white privilege and everything will be okay.

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Despite the angry remarks and heated denials, as the United States flirts with the potential of beginning a discussion about actually coming to grips with the rampant racism that undermines its egalitarian principles, the fact that the Hartford Democratic Town Committee handed its endorsement for mayor to a white, wealthy, privileged Greenwich native is, in fact, an appropriate issue to discuss.

For Democrats, who have traditionally supported the underlying value and necessity of affirmative action and recognized the critical importance of political self-determination, Luke Bronin’s rising candidacy could be called an example of neo-colonialism, in which the super elite and outsiders, claiming to “know best,” manipulate or corrupt the political process.

To others, Bronin’s arrival on the scene is being described as a way to save Hartford from itself.

As a suburban Democrat posted to Facebook yesterday,

“For when you consider Luke Bronin for Mayor‘s resume, its more like a top-notch major league pitching prospect choosing to start his career with a basement-dwelling single-A ball club that nobody goes to see play.”  He added, “Hartford is incredibly lucky that a man with Bronin’s ambition, strategic vision, and demonstrated ability to execute wants this job.”

However you see it, this political development pushes Hartford and Connecticut into the national debate about the role of race, ethnicity and white privilege in American politics.

The tone and tenor of the comments, Tweets and Facebook posts the followed the recent publication of the Wait, What? post Wealthy, White, privileged, male from Greenwich tells Hartford – Make me your leader also say a lot about how we grapple with the topic of race, ethnicity and power.

As we should all be keenly aware, racism, discrimination and the notion of white privilege goes well beyond the issue of shooting unarmed African American men in the back or dragging an African –American woman off to jail because she was not a “model person” when inappropriately stopped by a white police officer.

So “with all due respect” to the individuals who commented or Tweeted that I was a racist and a bigot for even discussing Luke Bronin’s rise to stardom, the facts themselves are pretty simple.

In a city in which half the residents are Latino, and more than 80 percent are “minority,” it is certainly newsworthy that Hartford’s Democratic elite have thrown their money, power, support and endorsement behind a White newcomer rather than go with the incumbent Latino mayor.

With Mayor Pedro Segarra calling the endorsement process corrupt and walking out of the Democratic Town Committee meeting last night, the final vote was 49 for Bronin with 23 members abstaining.

But more hidden from view, and far more consequential was the dance of the power-brokers who had successfully lined up considerable support for Bronin’s candidacy.

With significant guidance from William DiBella, the former State Senator and present Chairman of the influential Metropolitan District Commission, along with other key white political players at the state and local level, Bronin has been able to persuade many political and business leaders in Hartford to support him rather than support or seek out alternative African-American and Latino candidates.

In the world in which we live it would be unlikely, even unfathomable, that a young Latino or African-American would be able to move from Hartford to Greenwich and quickly line up the support to become the town’s first selectman.  For that matter, any person, no matter their color, would have a hard time moving from one town to another and then announcing that they are ready to be chosen as the community’s chief elected official in a matter of a few years.

However, the reality surrounding wealth and white privilege functions by its own set of rules – especially when it is inserted into the urban, minority politics of a major city.

Not only did the stars align early for Bronin’s quest to become Hartford’s mayor, but the evidence is clear that Governor Malloy, top Democratic state leaders and a number of the state’s corporate executives played a major role in giving life to Luke Bronin’s aspirations.

And leading the list of factors is harsh reality that money is “The Mother’s Milk” of politics.

According to his most recent campaign finance report, Luke Bronin raised a record-breaking $661,000 in the first six months of his campaign, leaving him with five or six times what Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has to defend his position.

Bronin’s donor list turns out to be a who’s who in Connecticut government and politics including Malloy’s former Chief of Staff, Tim Bannon, and a lengthy list of major lobbyists, those who do business with the state and those who have benefited from Malloy’s corporate welfare programs.

The money trail also speaks volumes about Luke Bronin’s candidacy, modern politics and the state of our democracy.

In the opening weeks of the campaign, Bronin raised just over $381,000 including nearly 100 $1,000 donors – the maximum allowable contribution – from people who reside outside of Connecticut.

While this mayoral election is about who should lead the City of Hartford, Connecticut, a leading source of Bronin’s major donors is New York, where he collected $50,000 in 50 individual $1,000 checks in just the first sixty or so days of his campaign.

Additional maximum contributions came from people in Washington D.C., Florida, California, Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, Hawaii, Nebraska, Delaware, Missouri, Colorado, Wisconsin, Vermont, North Carolina and Nebraska.

During those early weeks, Bronin held two campaign fundraisers in Washington D.C., as well as fundraising events in Los Angeles and New York City.

Bronin was also able to cash in with donors from his hometown of Greenwich, where at least 31 people gave him the maximum allowable contribution of $1,000 per person.

As the first fundraising period ended, Bronin had nearly 120 people in suburban Connecticut donate the maximum $1,000 contribution.

Next to Greenwich, the most fertile ground was West Hartford were his donor list includes some of the biggest and most consistent donors to the Connecticut Democratic Party.

Whether measured by the influence of Connecticut political and business elite or by the massive amount of money that is pouring into Luke Bronin’s campaign, what is happening to the people of Hartford is indicative of something much bigger than simply a primary challenge between the community’s various political factions.

Self-determination is traditionally defined as the right of the people of a particular place to choose their government and leaders and where they have the freedom to make their own choices.”

Luke Bronin may very well get elected and be a fine mayor, but to pretend that race, ethnicity and white privilege is not a factor in the Hartford’s mayoral campaign is to deny reality and to deny the truth is a grave injustice to the people of Hartford.

For more about recent political developments in Hartford check out the following links;

Hartford Courant – http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-democrats-nominating-convention-0728-20150727-story.html

CTNewsjunkie – http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/segarra_walks_out_as_bronin_secures_mayoral_endorsement/

Colin McEnroe – http://courantblogs.com/colin-mcenroe/city-of-hartford-jedi-masters-need-not-apply/

WNPR – http://wnpr.org/post/hartfords-pedro-segarra-wins-emotions-luke-bronin-wins-endorsement

NBC (CT) – http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/politics/Hartford-Mayoral-Candidate-Luke-Bronin-Wins-Democratic-Party-Endorsement-318727211.html

WFSB (CT) – http://www.wfsb.com/story/29643077/hartford-dems-endorse-luke-bronin

 

 

Wealthy, White, privileged, male from Greenwich tells Hartford – Make me your leader

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UPDATED to include Bronin’s time in Hartford in when he served as aide to the President of Hartford Financial Services

Meet Luke Bronin.

Luke moved to Hartford from Washington just over two years ago.

[Luke had previously lived in Hartford for period in 2007-2008 when he had served as the top aide to the President of the Hartford Financial Services company]

Luke grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Luke attended the exclusive Greenwich Day School and then Philip Exeter Academy; the nation’s most elite preparatory boarding school.  Bronin went on to get degrees from Yale University, Oxford University and then returned to Yale School of Law for to get his law degree.

With no municipal or elected experience, Luke now says he is ready to “bring new leadership” to Harford, the poorest city of its size in the United States.

In a city in which more than 80% of the residents are “minority,” the notion that a White, privileged, wealthy, young man from Greenwich would move to Hartford, Connecticut and run for Mayor might raise some eyebrows.

So would the fact that Luke Bronin, who has never run for office, raised more than $660,000 in first six months of his campaign, a significant amount of that money coming from the white, business elite who may work in Hartford, but live far, far away from the city and its troubles.

But perhaps the most telling development of all is that with the Hartford Democratic Town Committee set to meet tomorrow, July 27, 2015 to select their nominee for mayor, Luke Bronin appears on the verge of getting enough support from Hartford’s leading political players that the Democratic Party will jettison its Hispanic, incumbent Mayor, Pedro Segarra, and hand the Democratic nomination to the newcomer.

Back on January 15, 2013, Governor Dannel Malloy named Luke A. Bronin to replace Andrew McDonald as the governor’s chief counsel.

At the time, Bronin announced that he was “happy to be moving back” to Connecticut and would be locating in Hartford.  Unmentioned was the news that Bronin and his wife had purchased a dilapidated Bushnell Park Brownstone seven months earlier and were part-way through renovating it.

Less than two years later, Malloy’s Office announced that Bronin was leaving the post as Malloy’s legal advisor.  As the Hartford Courant explained at the time, Luke Bronin, who is “strongly considering” a run for mayor of Hartford, will join the law firm Hinckley Allen.

On January 15, 2015 exactly two years from the date Malloy announced Bronin would leave Washington for Connecticut, Bronin announced that he would be challenging Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra for the mayor.

The move surprised many since Mayor Pedro Segarra has worked tirelessly on Governor Malloy’s behalf and not only had he appointed Bronin’s wife to serve on Hartford’s powerful Planning and Zoning Commissioner, but despite her being new to the City, made her the Chair of the PZC where she helped push through the new Hartford Stadium Project.

But Luke said he was running and compared to Hartford’s per capita income of $16,610, the Bronin’s income must place him among the wealthiest 1% in the Capital city.

Certainly his prestigious education background and golden-boy credentials put him in a league by himself.

Bronin’s state-of-the-art website, developed by a Washington D.C. consulting firm that built Governor Malloy’s campaign website and has also done work for the Connecticut Democratic Party, features a “Meet Luke” section in which the viewer will be informed by pictures of Luke Bronin on the steps of his Hartford Brownstone, a picture of Luke in full military battle attire and the ever-present picture of Luke surrounded by his attractive family.  (Mayor Segarra, whose spouse is male, has pictures that are somewhat different).

The Meet Luke bio explains;

Luke is a father, a husband, a veteran, an attorney, and a committed public servant — who is running for Mayor to get Hartford working again — for all of Hartford’s residents.

In this day and age when people often “pad their resumes” or go so far as to attempt to “change” their race or ethnicity to gain the upper hand, Luke Bronin’s website, interestedly, makes absolutely no mention, at all, of his educational background.

While dozens of Bronin bios on the Internet celebrate his elite educational achievements, there is not a single word on his campaign website biography about where he went to school or that he is new to Hartford.

While there is mention of his work fighting “Al Qaeda” and “rogue regimes like Iran and Syria, and international organized crime,” there is no mention that he graduated with a law degree from Yale University in 2006, or got a degree from England’s venerable Oxford University in 2003, or a Philosophy degree in 2001 from Yale.  He even fails to mention he graduated from Philips Exeter Academy, the most prestigious boarding school in the nation, or that he also graduated from the Greenwich Day School, the very same institutions that educated President George H.W. Bush.

Bronin’s pitch stays on the straight and narrow message that he is a “Man of the People” and simply arrived on this earth ready for battle for the “little people.”

While the Bronin website goes into great detail about his previous occupations, there is no mention of the Greenwich Day School (Tuition starts at $33,500 for kindergarten and rises to $37,500 a year for the higher grades), Phillips Exeter Academy (With a cost of $48,000 a year, although that does include the $180 “Linen Fee”) or that he spent ten years in the halls of Oxford and Yale.

In today’s dollars, the cost of an education like that would be far more than the vast majority of Hartford residents will ever make in their lifetime… In fact, it is more than all the residents of entire Hartford neighborhoods earn.

There is certainly one thing you can say for Luke Bronin…he has been planning for his rise to power and stardom for a very long time.

Long before Luke Bronin announced that he was planning to become Hartford next mayor in January 2015, he had already reserved a plethora of website names, including;

ilikeluke.com

ilikeluke.net

ilikeluke.us

ilikeluke.org

Along with other sites he might need such as luckbronin.com, lukebronin.us, lukebronin.net and lukebronin.org.

All are now linked to his campaign website: http://lukebronin.com/

Most, if not all, of these sites were purchased when Bronin was still a kid at Yale University, where he collected the website names using his Yale University email and his Greenwich home address.

In total, Bronin appears to have reserved at least twenty three website names, the majority aimed at locking down any and all that he might want to use in his future political endeavors.

Although, at the time, it looks like he also purchased underpuppy.com and underpuppy.net, but one assumes that must have been for some unrelated project.

And then there is this…

While Bronin’s early effort to buy up every “ilikeluke” website reveals the drive of the young politician, the more noteworthy tidbit may be that on January 12, 2015 – three days before Bronin announced that he was running for mayor– some “entity” purchased and locked up:

Ilikepedro.com

Ilikepedro.net

Ilikepedro.org

And that secret entity?  PERFECT PRIVACY, LLC, using Network Solutions LLC

And what do does one discover when looking up the various Ilikeluke and his other Luke Bronin campaign websites?  They are all managed by PERFECT PRIVACY, LLC, using Network Solutions LLC.

Yup, looks like Luke Bronin is so “sophisticated” that not only did he buy up websites that he might need to promote his own name, but before he even announced that he was running against Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, he bought up the websites Segarra might want to use.

Bronin’s calculated effort to become Hartford’s mayor is a powerful reminder that while hashtags like #blacklivesmatter continues to trending on Twitter,

#wealthywhiteprivilegedandmale is still a concept that is very much a part of the American political environment.

Stay tuned for the news from tomorrow’s Hartford Democratic Town Committee meeting.

Setting the record straight on Adamowski and Hartford

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Robert Cotto Jr. is a member of the Hartford Board of Education.  He is also a leading academic expert on education policy in Connecticut.  His articles have appeared in numerous publications and his writing and work can be regularly found in the Hartford Courant, CT Mirror and CT NewsJunkie.

Having seen witnessed Mr. Adamowski’s time in Hartford first-hand and written extensively about the challenges facing Hartford’s public school system, Robert Cotto Jr. sent the following letter to the Norwalk Board of Education today.

Letter to Norwalk Board of Education (By Robert Cotto, Jr. June 16, 2015)

This letter is sent in my capacity as an individual and do not represent the views of any organization I am involved in.  The views are my own.

Dear members of the Norwalk Board of Education,

Several newspapers recently reported that the Norwalk Board of Education would be hiring a former Superintendent of the Hartford Public Schools (HPS). As a Hartford Board of Education member since 2010 and an educational researcher, I write to raise concerns about claims made about the Hartford Public Schools between 2006 and 2011.

A press release from the Norwalk Board of Education suggests that HPS improved test results and graduation rates because of a change in policies and a new superintendent in 2006. It is true that HPS embarked on a policy of expanded school choice and hyper-accountability. This included closing schools and reopening them as themed academies.

However, there is little evidence that these policies alone resulted in improved achievement and graduation rates. As I wrote in The Hartford Courant in 2011, there was a mixed result from these policies – at best. Most importantly, the apparent “increases” only began when testing and graduation policies changed to artificially inflate this data.

Hartford’s “historic” test result increases only began when low-income, Black, and Latino students with disabilities were removed from regular tests and allowed to participate in a separate modified assessment in 2009. By 2011, 10% or more of all Hartford students, all with disabilities, were selected for a separate test. While this was happening, the HPS superintendent and administrators took credit. They also took bonus money for the subsequent increases, caused in large part by removing these kids.

I have written extensively on this issue. You can read my Op-Ed in the Hartford Courant, my report for CT Voices for Children, and my TEDx Talk at Central CT State University on the issue. This is not speculation, but fact.

Hartford’s graduation rate also has a number of question marks. Between 2006 and 2011, several policies changed that inflated graduation rates. First, the formula changed to calculate graduation rates. This new formula has excluded hundreds of Black and Latino students. They have been transferred out of their cohorts, and effectively removed from all calculations.

Second, online credit recovery and the policy of mandatory minimum grade of 55% inflated graduation rates. Online credit recovery, required by State law in 2010, meant that students that did not pass a course the first time were allowed to take the course online instead.

Hartford’s “F-55″ rule mandated that a student failing a quarter or semester would get a 55% percent. With this rule, a student could earn a 75% in one quarter and pass the rest of the course, even without doing any work or even showing up to class. The Hartford Board of Education never approved these changes for online credit recovery and the “F-55” policy.

The information is not new, but ignored. Elected board members in Hartford raised concerns about both the test scores and graduation rates with little response from the Superintendent or his successor. Interestingly, the video of the meeting in early 2011 where Board members confronted the superintendent about the test inflation was reported as “damaged”. This was the only missing or damaged meeting video in my six years of service.

Rather than outright success, much of what happened in Hartford can be explained by these data illusions. Also, the tremendous State investment in school choice, particularly magnet schools, under the Sheff v. O’Neill agreement has played a major role.

The Hartford Public Schools are still trying to recover from the considerable damage caused by the school “turnarounds” started in 2006 and the unregulated school choice system. Our district is in as much or more financial distress with the expansion of school choice programs beyond our ability to support them. Many of the “turnaround” schools have experienced their second closure and reopening. In many of the Sheff magnet schools and most of our non-magnet schools, our staff still struggles to meet the needs of all children. Even former proponents of these policies have come to question their viability and performance.

I believe deeply in the ability of our city’s children and families, mostly Black, Puerto Rican, and Latino folk, to succeed academically and thrive in life. That is what we have been doing for hundreds of years with substantially unequal and separate opportunities in education and the economy. Yet, the limited resources that sustained our Black and Latino communities are now diminished, dismantled, privatized, or provided to only selected students. These resources included broad academic curriculum offerings, sports, special education services, bilingual education, and libraries.

While you are free to make the decision that is best for Norwalk, I would recommend not to make that decision based on discredited claims about Hartford. What happened from 2006-11 in Hartford may have helped some kids, but came along with further marginalization of the most vulnerable children and families in our city. In Hartford, we are still working for equitable opportunity.

Sincerely
Robert Cotto, Jr.

Member, Hartford Board of Education

– See more at: http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/2015/06/16/letter-to-norwalk-board-of-education/#sthash.6WmgJGGa.dpuf

Charter School Mogul Steve Perry owns it all – even without legislative approval

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True, Connecticut’s Steve Perry has been serving as the principal of Hartford Connecticut’s public charter school named Capital Prep Magnet School but that hasn’t stopped him from opening up a charter school management company using the name of his public school.

For a long period of time, his private company even listed Hartford’s public school address as his private company’s corporate location for its IRS filings.

Now, with only days left to the 2015 Connecticut Legislative Session Perry is counting on Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy to force the Connecticut General Assembly to provide the public funds Perry needs to open his privately owned charter school in Bridgeport Connecticut.

Not one to stand on ceremony, or even legality, Perry’s company website is called “We Are Capital Prep.”

And as a visit there reveals, Perry’s self-described “boutique” charter school chain not only includes the unfunded and unopened Capital Preparatory Harbor [Charter] School in Bridgeport but it also includes the equally non-existent Capital Preparatory Harlem [Charter] School in New York City.

But the piece de résistance is that the man who calls himself the “most trusted educator in America” continues to tell the public that his “Family of Schools” includes Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School… which remains, at least for now, under the care, control and ownership of the Hartford Board of Education and the people of Hartford.

Just check out the site: 

CAPITAL PREPARATORY SCHOOLS

The Capital Preparatory family of Schools includes the Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut; Capital Preparatory Harbor School in Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Capital Preparatory Harlem School in New York City.

A click of the mouse will even take you to the taxpayer owned website of the taxpayer owned school called Capital Prep Magnet.

But clearly Perry belief is that the motto in today’s corporate education reform industry world is that something as simple as the basic truth shouldn’t stand in the way of good corporate marketing campaign.

Oh and special word to Connecticut’s state legislators;

Remember, if you use Connecticut’s scarce public funds to preserve vital health and human services rather than fund Perry’s private charter school venture…. Well, you are hereby warned;

The last time he didn’t get his way, Perry took to his Twitter account to threaten;

 Dr. Steve Perry‏@DrStevePerry

“The only way to lose a fight is to stop fighting. All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.”

Hartford and CT Taxpayers still subsidizing Steve Perry’s private Charter School Company

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Steve Perry, the man who claims to be America’s Most Trusted Educator, also says he owns a “boutique” Charter School Management Company.

Steve Perry has even created a website to show off his private company:

The website can be found via http://wearecapitalprep.org/

According to the website, Steve Perry’s “family of schools” includes Capital Preparatory Harbor School, Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School, and Capital Preparatory Magnet School.

Of course, Capital Preparatory Magnet School is the ONLY one of the three schools that actually exists and it is technically and legally owned by the people of Hartford and not by Steve Perry or Steve Perry’s private company.

Perry’s website goes on to brag about another member of his family of schools – “Capital Prep Harbor School, located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, provides grades 6–12 with a year-round, college-preparatory education that encourages students to become scholars and agents of change.”

Although to be honest, Capital Preparatory Harbor School doesn’t actually exist.

True Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education and Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education approved Perry’s application to open a charter school in Bridgeport, but there is presently no funding allocated for the privately owned but publicly funded school and there is certainly no “Capital Prep Harbor School, located in Bridgeport, Connecticut” that is providing children in grades 6–12 with a year-round, college-preparatory education.

It is worth noting though that while Governor Dannel Malloy has proposed cutting state funding for Connecticut’s public schools by more than $70 million, Malloy is has also asked the Connecticut General Assembly to approve a new state budget that would increase the amount of taxpayer funds diverted to charter schools by more than 25 percent over the next two years. More

Htfd mayoral candidate Luke Bronin says plow streets better!

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In what would undoubtedly make a great segment on the Daily Show, Luke Bronin, Governor Dannel Malloy’s former top lawyer turned mayoral wannabe “blasted” the City of Hartford for not doing enough to plow the streets of Hartford following this week’s winter storm.

Bronin, who grew up  in Greenwich, attended the prestigious Philips Exeter Academy ($48,000 per year), as well as Yale and Oxford universities (more like $75,000 per year), moved from Washington D.C. to Hartford about two years ago when Malloy appointed him to serve as the Governor’s chief counsel and top legal adviser.

Although Bronin has no experience in local government, let alone running a diverse, urban city like Hartford, Bronin recently set up a campaign committee, a campaign website and is now running to become Hartford’s next mayor.

Candidate Bronin began his campaign by telling FOX CT this week,

“[Hartford] Roads weren’t plowed all the way to the side, snow mounds in crosswalks, roads not treated – simple stuff like that…”

Later in the day Bronin even issued a “press statement,” proclaiming,

“With more snow on the way this week, the people of Hartford should demand that the mayor more effectively deploy city resources to ensure that people can get to work and school and that pedestrians can walk safely in Hartford.”

Adding that it was Mayor Pedro Segarra’s fault, Bronin told the Hartford Courant,

“It is stunning to me that the Mayor only budgeted for three storms, and that admission explains why Hartford’s plowing and snow removal has been worse than any other city or town around us.  Sure, we’ve gotten a lot of snow this year, but we’ve gotten a lot of snow each of the last few years.  To budget for only three storms is irresponsible.  Under-budgeting is a gimmick that the people of Hartford and Hartford’s businesses have to pay for in a different way — in the form of impassible sidewalks, one-lane streets, traffic jams, and dangerous road conditions.”

Wait, What? –  “Under-budgeting is a gimmick that the people of Hartford and Hartford’s businesses have to pay for…”

This comes from the guy who spent the two last two years shilling for Governor Dannel Malloy who, despite an obvious and growing state budget deficit, spent his entire 2014 gubernatorial campaign lying to the voters of Connecticut by claiming there was no budget deficit, nor would there be one.

You mean Luke Bronin actually said … “Under-budgeting is a gimmick that the people of Hartford and Hartford’s businesses have to pay for…”?

This from a man whose boss “inherited” a $3.7 billion state deficit, implemented the largest tax increase in Connecticut history that disproportionately hit the middle class while coddling the rich, has consistently claimed to have put Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, and yet – after four years in office – has created a situation in which Connecticut State Government faces a $1.4 billion deficit next year, more than a $1.6 billion deficit the year after that and a total budget shortfall in excess of $5 billion over the next three years?

If Bronin has learned anything in his two years in Connecticut State government it should have been that the gimmick of “under-budgeting” is Governor Malloy’s greatest legacy to date.

But Luke Bronin says “It is time to get Hartford moving again” and he is the man to do it.

According to his campaign website,

“Luke is a father, a husband, a veteran, an attorney, and a committed public servant — who is running for Mayor to get Hartford working again — for all of Hartford’s residents.”

As proof of his commitment to the people of Hartford, the candidate’s website explains,

 “In 2012, they [Luke and his wife] bought a dilapidated townhouse, invested their savings to renovate it, and became more involved in Hartford’s civic life.  Luke proudly serves on the boards of the Hartford Public Library and the Amistad Center for Arts and Culture, two great Hartford institutions.

For the past two years, Luke had the privilege of serving as the General Counsel to Governor Dannel Malloy.  In that job more than any other, he learned what leadership can achieve.  He worked closely with an active, hands-on chief executive who raised the minimum wage, invested in education, reinvested in our cities, appointed the most diverse groups of judges in Connecticut’s history, and has committed himself to achieving meaningful, comprehensive criminal justice reform.”

For more, you can check out “Vote Luke” at http://lukebronin.com/ or maybe, if we are really lucky, Jon Stewart will turn his wit and humor our way and highlight the absurdity of Luke Bronin’s run for Mayor of Hartford…before Stewart leaves the Daily Show.

Greenwich Yalie prepares to Save Hartford?

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Although Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has been one of Governor Dannel Malloy’s biggest supporters and communities of color make up 85% of the population of Connecticut’s Capital City, Governor Dannel Malloy’s Greenwich raised, Yale and Oxford educated General Counsel, Luke Bronin, recently resigned his position as Malloy’s top lawyer to announce that he was “strongly considering” a run against Segarra in this year’s Hartford mayoral election.

What makes Bronin’s move so bizarre is that, as CTLatinoNews recently observed, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and Governor Dannel Malloy are considered to be “longtime allies.”

Mayor Segarra has been particularly supportive of Malloy’s corporate education reform industry initiative and the Latino Mayor of Hartford has been at Malloy’s side throughout the Governor’s first term, including during Malloy’s competitive re-election campaign this past fall.

While Malloy calls Luke Bronin, “one of my closest advisers,” Bronin only arrived in Hartford in 2013 when he was appointed by Malloy to serve as General Counsel in the Governor’s Office.  It was at that time that Bronin, his wife and children moved from Washington D.C. to Hartford.

To say the Latino community is surprised and concerned by Bronin’s move would be an understatement.  Writing for CTLatinoNews, Bill Sarno recently reported,

For Latino leaders around the state, the announcement that the governor’s former top legal aide Luke Bronin is challenging incumbent Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra for the Democratic nomination is raising red flags as to where the governor’s loyalty lies.  Not because of Bronin they say, but because of Governor  Malloy’s current stance of not getting involved in this race, which is being viewed as a quiet nod to his friend and as a betrayal to the state’s Latinos.”

The CT Hispanic Democratic Caucus is challenging the governor’s silence on the matter and it seems the gloves are off.  Its chair, Joseph Rodriguez, said, “We just had a tough statewide election and were successful because we rallied behind the governor, as did the mayor.  It will be unfortunate and a slap in the face to Mayor Segarra, if the Governor chooses not to partake in this primary.”

According to the CTLatinoNews article,

“[A]attempts to clarify Malloy’s position were referred by the governor’s staff to state party leaders who said that it is too early to comment on a possible primary that it is nine months away.  ‘At this time, the governor is focused on governing Connecticut. And when the time comes, the State Party will support the Democratic candidate for mayor,’ said Michael Mandell, executive director of the Connecticut Democratic Party.”

When Bronin announced that he was leaving his post as Malloy’s top attorney he told the Hartford Courant, “Many fellow Hartford residents have reached out and encouraged me to run for mayor and I’m strongly considering it.”

In addition to graduating with a philosophy degree from Yale University and a Law Degree from Yale Law School, Bronin, who is 35, is a Rhodes Scholar and attended Oxford University in England.  Bronin is also “an accomplished singer and songwriter” and was the lead singer for a country band called Old No. 7.

Before joining the Malloy administration, Bronin worked for the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 2009 to 2013, finishing up as an assistant secretary of the treasury where his duties included managing policies related to terrorist financing.

According to his on-line LinkedIn biography, for nine months of the time he worked for the Treasury Department (from late 2010 through early 2011), Bronin was located at “ISAF HQ” in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The oblique reference to ISAF is apparently related to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a “NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan,” whose mission was reportedly to train members of the Afghan National Security Force, assist with the rebuilding of the Afghan government and engage various insurgent groups.

Before his time in the Middle East, Bronin spent seven months as an International Affairs Fellow in India for the Council on Foreign Relations and previous to that, after graduating from Yale Law School, Bronin worked as the Chief of Staff to the President & COO of the Hartford Insurance Company.

While Bronin contemplates a run for Mayor of Hartford, he has landed a job at the law firm of Hinckley Allen, a firm originally out of Providence, Rhode Island but with offices in New York City, Albany, Boston and in other New England cities.  Less than two years ago, the law firm of Levy &  Droney merged into Hinkley Allen.

As for the issue of running for Mayor while holding down his new job, Bronin told the Courant that, “The firm … has made clear that they support my commitment to public service and the Hartford community.”

Bronin, and his wife, Sara Bronin, who is also a Rhodes Scholar and a graduate of the Yale Law School, moved to Hartford in 2013 and renovated a brownstone behind the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.

Sara Bronin, an architect and lawyer, teaches at the University of Connecticut law school and is the managing principal of Voladizo LLC, a Connecticut consulting firm she founded in 2012.   Her biography explains that, “Sara Bronin is one of the country’s leading experts in the areas of sustainable design, renewable energy, urban development, and historic preservation.

Sara Bronin was appointed to the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission in 2013 by Mayor Segarra and became the Commission’s Chair in August 2014, where she is playing a leadership role in the development of the controversial Hartford stadium project.

Meanwhile, back in Connecticut politics, the CTLatinoNews article reported that Democratic Latino leaders are angry that Malloy’s political operatives are claiming that Malloy “can’t support a candidate at this time.”

The CTLatinoNews article adds,

“The notion that the governor can’t support a  candidate at this time is ‘simply untrue’ [CT Hispanic Democratic Caucus Chair] Rodriguez said.   Adding, ‘He gets involved when it benefits him.   Recently, he supported William Tong, his good friend who had not been endorsed for the nomination, but was a Democratic candidate in the primary.’   Malloy also supported then, Senator Harp before the primary.   While she was the party’s nominee, there were three other democrats vying for that seat.  This tells me the governor picks and chooses the municipal Democratic elections he wants to become involved in.’”

Hartford State Representative Minnie Gonzalez has also weighed in on the issue, telling CTLatinoNews, “Segarra was out there for him (Malloy) but it seems the governor is not supporting our mayor…It was Latinos that got him elected four years ago and again last year.”

The politics behind the politics of the situation in Hartford will undoubtedly become clearer in the months ahead as Luke Bronin moves forward with his possible run for mayor in Hartford.

You can read the complete CTLatinoNews article at: http://ctlatinonews.com/2015/01/18/latino-democratic-leaders-challenge-malloy-on-his-silence-in-supporting-segarra/

Steve Perry’s taxpayer subsidized “Education Truth Tour”

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It is Tuesday, January 13, 2015 – another day of school at Hartford’s Capital Preparatory Magnet School – but Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry, who has been skipping out on his job there about 25% of the time, is off to Carrollton, Georgia for the latest stop on the “Dr. Steve Perry Education Truth Tour.”

Last month, it was another school day, and the speech was in Buffalo, New York.

Next week it is week day speeches in Radford, Virginia and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The week after that it is Indianapolis.

According to information posted by his publicist, the “Dr. Steve Perry “Education Truth Tour” will take him to twenty four cities in the coming months, almost all the speeches taking place on days when he is supposed to be running a public school in Hartford.

But despite the employment policies and procedures that must be followed by all the other employees of the Hartford School System, Perry has been gallivanting around the country while collecting a paycheck or, at the very least, collecting his pay by cashing in on vacation days, all of which has been signed off by the Hartford superintendent’s office and approved, at least by default, by the leadership of the Hartford Board of Education who have chosen to look the other way.

So who is running the operation back at Capital Prep while Perry is out collecting speaking fees on what are supposed to be work days paid for by the people of Hartford and Connecticut?

According to the charter school applications that Perry and his private charter school management company submitted to open charter schools in Bridgeport and New York City last year, Perry’s Capital Prep “management” team of administrators and teachers are not only running the day-to-day operations at Hartford’s public school, but they have been playing an in integral role in the development of Steve Perry’s private charter school management company, where they helped developed the charter school applications and will be managing the two newly approved charter schools.

As for this charade, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education and his political appointees on the State Board of Education approved Perry’s proposal for Bridgeport even though there is no funding in Connecticut’s state budget for another charter school. Perry’s charter application in New York was approved by the New York Board of Regents, despite the fact that the concepts, materials, programs, policies and operations that Perry says he will be using at these news charter schools were developed in the course of the work performed by the Hartford Board of Education employees making the information the property of the Hartford Board and Hartford’s taxpayers and most definitely not the property of Steve Perry and his team.

But with the “green light” from Governor Malloy’s administration and the New York Board of Regents, the two new charter schools will mean that Perry and his private company will be collecting  approximately $25 million in management fees over the next five years.

And how have the Hartford Superintendent and the Hartford Board of Education leadership handled this entire mess?

Without even a public meeting or a vote of the Hartford Board of Education, the Hartford Superintendent announced that Perry’s privately run, but publicly funded charter schools will be “sister-schools” with Hartford Capital Prep Magnet School.

In fact, it wasn’t even Hartford’s Superintendent who “announced” the deal, it was Perry himself who told the Capital Prep parents that he and Hartford’ Superintendent had developed a plan that, “will establish ‘sister schools’ between Capital Prep and our new schools,” and that Perry himself would be playing a primary role in the selection of Capital Prep Magnet School’s new principal

See Steve Perry announces Capital Prep will have “sister status” with his privately owned charter schools (12/12/14) and Steve Perry Claims Victory – Tweeting – “Not leaving, just expanding.” (12/15/14)

While it remains unclear just what the Hartford Superintendent actually committed taxpayers to fund, Perry explained that his strategy, “will ensure that students, parents and staff from each of the schools can collaborate for the betterment of all children. Together we will create the professional learning community that so many of us wanted.”

According to Steve Perry’s New York City charter school application he has committed that the Assistant Principal at Capital Prep would become the new COO of his private school management company and that at least  seven other Capital Prep administrators and teachers are founding members of this charter school chain and will provide the administrative and academic support for the new charters schools in New York and Bridgeport.

Obviously one of the most critical questions that remains unanswered is whether the “special deal” between Perry and the Hartford Superintendent is nothing short of an inappropriate, and perhaps an illegal, mechanism to keep the people who will be on Perry’s charter school management staff on the Hartford payroll, saving Perry’s private company millions of dollars in salary and compensation costs.

The agreements associated with the two new charter schools allow Perry to collect management fees of up to ten percent of the total school budgets each year.  If Hartford is going to pay for the lion’s share of the individuals working for Perry’s private charter school management company, it certainly leaves a lot more of the $25 million in management fees for Perry to use for himself or as he sees fit.

And meanwhile, what exactly is the message of the “Dr. Steve Perry Education Truth Tour”?

According to an article published in Urban Image Magazine about Perry’s performance in Buffalo, “During Dr. Perry’s speech in Buffalo, he informed us with his witty charm and humor, there are black people in Hartford!  Who knew!”

As for Perry’s extraordinary record of achievement, the article noted that, “To add the icing on the cake, since its first graduating class in 2006, Capital Preparatory Magnet School has sent 100 percent of its first generation high school graduates to four-year colleges.”   [A statement that, like much of what Perry says, is nothing short of a lie].

And the Urban Image Magazine reporter added that Perry told the audience that they should “Shut down all the Buffalo ‘raggedy” schools!’”

She also explained that, “He went on to say our kids can learn to play football by an uncertified coach with just a whistle and learn how to coordinate complex moves on a field, but they cannot read!  What is wrong with this picture?  Dr. Perry stated our kids are not dumb!  The fact of the matter is teachers are not taking the time to teach our children…Dr. Perry believes teaching is not a job, it’s a calling!  He stated some teachers are not meant to teach or cut out for the job.  Some of the same teachers you had when you were growing up, were no good back then and they are still teaching and they are still no good now Dr. Perry said!”

The real truth is Perry is making big bucks, bashing teachers, spewing hate speech about teacher unions and calling public education advocates, such as Diane Ravitch, racists.

And while it is bad enough that Perry collects tens of thousands of dollars traveling around the country selling his snake oil, it is even worse that he is doing it while serving as a full-time employee for the City of Hartford where he is supposed to be running one of the City’s public schools.

Perry appears to believe that he plays by a different set of rules and, to be honest, he has ample evidence to prove this is indeed the case.

According to state policy, children who miss more than 10 percent of school are deemed to have “excessive absences,” and labeled truants, and if a series of required steps do not correct the student’s truancy rates, the Department of Children and Families is called in.

But when Perry misses two or three times the number of days that would define him as a chronic truant, the Hartford School Board fails to act and the Office of the Hartford Superintendent of Schools continues to sign off on Perry’s schedule, allowing him to collect his salary despite missing massive amounts of work.

Now Perry and his private company have been granted two lucrative “charters,” both of them to be paid using tens of millions in public funds, even though Perry’s school has consistently failed to educate its fair share of Latinos, those with English Language challenges and those with special education needs.

Topping it all off is some bizarre deal that Perry, his private company and the Hartford Board of Education have developed that appears to require that the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut will continue to subsidize what is already Perry’s massive money-making scheme.

Oh, and of course, while all of this plays itself out, the “Dr. Steve Perry Education Truth Tour” continues to take Perry away from his sworn duties at Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School.

The Dr. Steve Perry Education Truth Tour

The Dr. Steve Perry Education Truth Tour from Perry’s website

 

Steve Perry Claims Victory – Tweeting – “Not leaving, just expanding.”

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Hartford and Connecticut taxpayers appear poised to subsidize Steve Perry’s private charter school management company thanks to an agreement announced last Friday between Perry and Hartford’s Superintendent of Schools.

Although labeled by Hartford Superintendent as an “informal, non-binding’” agreement, the plan would require the Hartford Board of Education and the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut to subsidize Steve Perry’s charter school management company [called Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. (CPS)] by paying the salaries of Capital Prep Magnet School Assistant Principal Richard Beganski, [who is slated to serve as “Chief Academic Officer” for Perry’s private company], as well as paying the salaries of seven other Capital Prep Magnet School teachers [all of whom are will be serving key roles in Perry private company].

The lucrative deal for Perry was put together and announced without a vote of the Hartford Board of Education.

In announcing the agreement, “outgoing” Capital Prep Magnet School Principal Steve Perry wrote,

“I am pleased to announce that together with our superintendent, Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, we have generated a plan that will establish “sister schools” between Capital Prep and our new schools.”

In turn, according to a Hartford Courant article entitled, “Capital Prep’s Steve Perry, Superintendent Work On School Collaboration,” Hartford Superintendent of Schools Beth Schiavino-Narvaez provided the Hartford Board of  Education with a memo explaining that she had developed “’an informal, non-binding’” pact with Perry that would allow Capital Prep and Perry’s new charter schools to “share training among staff, guidance on best practices” and “opportunities for student collaboration on projects and visits.”

Later on Friday, when a Perry supporter Tweeted, “I’m sorry to see you leaving Hartford!” Perry responded;

Dr. Steve Perry‏@DrStevePerry
“Not leaving, just expanding.”

As for the parameters of the deal, The Hartford Courant wrote,

“Narvaez said the district would not pay a fee for the goodwill arrangement… [And] Narvaez stressed that Hartford does not cede any power to Perry or his charter group.”

However, what Hartford’s Superintendent failed to address is what appears to be the massive financial subsidy for Perry’s private charter school operation that is hidden inside the “agreement.”

As part of his application to the New York Board of Regents for his proposed Harlem Capital Prep Charter School, Perry wrote;

“CPS [Capital Preparatory Schools Inc. which is Perry’s private charter school management company] is designed to be a fiscally fit “boutique” charter management organization (“CMO”) ….Geographic clustering will allow us to stay small yet generate the revenue necessary to effectively maintain a CMO. Hartford, Bridgeport and Harlem are the three cities in which we have decided to manage schools.”

“Our anticipated enrollment across all four CPS network schools is approximately 2,500 students between 2015 and 2020. Capital Prep Hartford has 700 students.”

According to Perry’s application to open Harlem Capital Prep, his private corporation’s financial plan was based on collecting management fees from all of his schools, including the public school in Hartford.  The Harlem Capital Prep application reads;

“Surpluses are projected in each year beginning in 2015. The annual ending cash balance per year for CPS will be just over $500,000 in management fees collected. Conservative five year estimates have our year end cash balance at $2 million by year five between Hartford, Bridgeport and our Harlem 6 to 12 school.”

The application goes on to note;

“CPS [Perry’s private company] will support Capital Prep Harlem through its oversight of the principal, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, and its overall monitoring of fidelity to the Capital Prep model.  CPS will also utilize its two other schools in Bridgeport and Hartford to provide professional development and to share resources. The three schools will act as a ‘boutique’ network in which faculty, staff, parents and students participate in academic and social exchanges.”

According to the application, “MANAGEMENT CPS will launch operations with a core management team representing a mix of deep education experience, business expertise, and political savvy. This ‘hybrid’ team will be crucial to CPS’ success as a high-growth organization in a rapidly changing industry.”

The application states that Stephen D. Perry will serve the charter school management company’s “Head of Schools” and Richard Beganski will serve as CPS’ “Chief Academic Officer.”  Beganski presently serves as Capital Prep’s Assistant Principal.

The New York application states that, “Ten founding group members from Capital Prep came together to launch CPS as the school management organization to lead replication of the Capital Prep model.”  The founding members of the charter management company are then listed, nine of the ten being full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education.

The application reports that the CPS “GOVERNANCE” team includes;

Stephen D. Perry, MSW, EdD…

Richard Beganski, MA, has been the Academic Dean of Capital Prep since the school began in 2005. Mr. Beganski has created or co-created most of the original documents that have constituted the structure for Capital Prep…

Scott F. Wojnarowicz, MA has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the Math Department since 2005. Mr. Wojnarowicz was the founding member of the Capital Prep Magnet School planning committee. In addition, he was the primary author of the original draft of the Capital Prep Student Expectations manual, co-author of Capital Prep’s Blueprint, and author of Capital Prep’s Physical Education and Wellness Plan…

Kelly Horan, MA, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the Science Department since July 2011. Since joining the Capital Prep, Ms. Horan has taken on increasing levels of responsibility in an effort to improve teaching and learning through data-driven instruction…

Scott Kapralos, MA, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the Math Department since 2005. Mr. Kapralos was one of the founding members of Capital Prep and has committed most of his career to the development and improvement of the Capital Prep model…

Kitsia Ferguson, MBA, EdD, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the English Department since 2006 and is currently the Head of Capital Prep’s Lower School.

Monique Ethier, MA, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the Math Department since 2007.

Lauren Davern, MA, has been a teacher at Capital Prep in the History Department since 2007…

Lisa Loomis, has been Head of the English Department at Capital Prep since August 2013 and a teacher at Capital Prep in the English Department since July 2012…

All of these individuals are presently full-time employees of Hartford Public School System.

What is absolutely clear is that according to the documents Perry and his private company provided the New York Board of Regents, control of Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School was critical to his plans, not only since he would be collecting a multi-million dollar management fee for running Hartford’s public magnet school but because he would be using Capital Prep to employee the majority of the members of his private company.

By deciding not to turn Capital Prep Magnet School over to Perry and his charter school management company, Hartford put Perry’s financial plan in serious jeopardy.

However, as a result of the Hartford Superintendent’s new “informal, non-binding’” agreement, the Hartford Board of Education and the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut seem ready to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in subsidies to Perry’s operation by paying the salaries of Richard Beganski,( the “Chief Academic Officer” for Perry’s company) and seven other Capital Prep Magnet School teachers, who according to the New York charter school application, will be playing key roles in Perry private company.

Considering the financial issues facing the City of Hartford and the State of Connecticut it is astonishing that the Hartford would agree to divert scarce resources to support Steve Perry’s ambitions to develop a lucrative charter school management company.

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