Another effort to stamp out democracy in Bridgeport – What is it with Mayor Finch and the Charter School Industry?

What is it with Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Connecticut’s Charter School Industry?

We already know these people have a problem with democracy, but here we go again!

First Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and his Corporate Education Reform Industry allies persuaded Governor Malloy’s administration to illegally take over the Bridgeport School System.

The Connecticut Supreme Court ended up intervening and forcing the state of Connecticut to hand Bridgeport’s Schools back to the voters of Bridgeport.

As a result of Malloy’s illegal action, the Supreme Court even had to order a new election to fill the seats on Bridgeport’s democratically elected Board of Education.

But not to let a little thing like the law stand in the way, Bridgeport Mayor Finch and his supporters then tried to jam through a change in Bridgeport’s City Charter that would have completely eliminated a democratically elected Board of Education.

Mayor Finch’s solution was to replace democracy with a board of education appointed by him.

The Charter Revision campaign failed, but not before Finch and his Charter School buddies spent a record breaking amount of money.

Political Action Committees affiliated with the Corporate Education Reform Industry spent over $560,000 trying to convince Bridgeport voters to give up their democratic rights.

Major contributors to the anti-democracy campaign included the Charter School front group Excel Bridgeport ($101,803); Michele Rhee and the charter school advocacy group StudentsFirst ($185,480); Achievement First Bridgeport Chairman Andy Boas’ personal foundation ($14,000); ConnCAN ($14,000); Harbor Yard Sports & Entertainment ($14,442); Pullman & Comely law firm ($7,000); Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($25,000); Achievement First and ConnCAN founder Jonathan Sackler ($50,000); and a who’s who of the Bridgeport’s business community.

After failing to persuade Bridgeport voters to hand their schools over to a non-elected Board of Education, Charter School Team Finch went on to lose both a Democratic Primary and the General Election for the Bridgeport Board of Education.

But apparently Finch and the Charter School elite that have been targeting Bridgeport over the past few years just won’t rest until they actually destroy democracy in Bridgeport

Their next target appears to be Bridgeport’s Parent Advisory Council, an organization that has been around for 45 years and has become a strong and effective voice for Bridgeport’s parents and students.

And an effective voice for parents is apparently just too much democracy and power for the Finch loyalists who are now engaged in an undemocratic strategy to derail this important vehicle for parent involvement in Bridgeport’s schools.

Late last Friday a “special notice” was sent out announcing that the Bridgeport Board of Education would be holding a “Special Meeting” to deal with the Bridgeport Parent Advisory Council tomorrow – Monday, February 23, 2015.

The notice for a special meeting comes despite the fact that the Bridgeport Board of Education already has a regular meeting scheduled for 6:30 P.M.

Issuing an updated agenda would have been easy enough, but the pro-charter school, anti-democracy crowd went with the “Special Meeting” tactic.

Why would they want a “Special Meeting” instead of taking up whatever clandestine effort they are going to attempt at the Bridgeport Board of Education’s regular Monday Meeting an hour and a half later?

Because under their rules, the public is not allowed an opportunity to speak to the Board of Education at Special Meetings, whereas at regular meetings public input is allowed.

No really…

While it appears true that we are called the United States of America where the notion of freedom and democracy is supposed to be among our most cherished fundamental and inalienable rights, but when it comes to the Charter School Industry’s agenda and tactics, nothing is sacred.

Apparently “simply” undermining democracy isn’t enough for the charter school advocates.

They are not only engaged in a strategy to undermine Bridgeport’s Parent Advisory Council, but they want to do it in a way that completely and utterly destroys the notion that Bridgeport’s parents even have Freedom of Speech or the right to be heard before their government takes action against them.

Adding further insult to the already absurd farce is that the “Special meeting” is scheduled for 5:00 PM, a time many parents and community members are still working or are busy fulfilling child raising duties and unable to make it to a hastily scheduled Board of Education Meeting.

The agenda for the “Special Meeting” is ominously entitled, “Discussion and Possible Action on District PAC Leadership.”

The agenda item being a not so hidden reference that the Board of Education may take “action” against Bridgeport’s Parent Advisory Council.

The entire development is just one more disgusting reminder that while we claim to be fighting the enemies of freedom abroad, some of the most serious threats to our American principles can be found right here at home.

If you happen to know Mayor Finch or his Charter School Allies…

Oh, never mind, it is no use talking to them, they simply don’t care about notions like democracy and Freedom of Speech.

And tomorrow they will try to prove that point yet again.

To them, the end always justifies the means and the Corporate Education Reform Industry won’t stop until they truly destroy public education in our country.

Here is to the hope that our fellow citizens in Bridgeport can fight back against the anti-democracy movement that is out to get them.

NEWS FLASH:   Malloy + Finch ally – Rev. Kenneth Moales to run for state senate?

Rev. Kenneth Moales Jr. is known for a lot of things — charter school champion, Dannel Malloy cheerleader, Paul Vallas defender, Mayor Bill Finch’s former campaign treasurer, bully, tax cheat, law breaker and the list goes on and on.

Well, now comes that news that Rev. Kenneth Moales Jr. may be running for the vacant State Senate seat in Bridgeport.

Fellow blogger Lennie Grimaldi, who whose blog is appropriately called, “Only in Bridgeport,” is reporting that,

Radioactive Board of Education member the Rev. Ken Moales is contemplating a run in the State Senate special election to fill the seat vacated by Andres Ayala, the new commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Tuesday night a collection of political leaders, neighborhood activists and clergy gathered in the Holiday Inn Downtown to hear from prospective candidates.”

Moales, who could not attend, sent his wife to spread the news that he might soon become a candidate for the Connecticut State Senate.

Attending the event were prospective candidates State Senator Ed Gomes, former State Representative Don Clemons, local Sierra Club organizer Onte Johnson and 2003 mayoral candidate Carl Horton.  Apparently Rev. Kenneth Moales’ wife, Eda, attended to explain that her husband was “planning to run for the  seat.”

Moales is nothing short of infamous for his role in helping the Malloy administration after they illegally took over the Bridgeport Schools, for his unending support for Corporate Education Reform Industry Kingpin, Paul Vallas, for his ability to acquire a multi-million dollar early education contract from the Malloy administration while serving on the Bridgeport Board of Education, for having illegally put dozens of little children in his daycare centers despite the fact that the building did not meet fire code or have certificates of occupancy and for his long-standing support of charter schools.

Most recently, Moales’ charter school advocacy took the form of leading a local group in support of Capital Prep Steve Perry’s successful effort to get Malloy’s Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education to approve a charter school for Perry’s private company despite the $1.4 billion deficit facing the State of Connecticut.

Long time Wait, What? readers will recall some or all of the following blogs:

Will Bridgeport learn from the Michael Sharpe and Jumoke/FUSE disaster?(6/23/14)

Will politics prevent justice from being served – the Kenneth Moales Story Continues (6/8/14)

And from Bridgeport – Even more serious questions about the Moales daycare center (5/29/14)

Meanwhile in Bridgeport…  More state funds to Moales’ Kingdom Little Ones in Christ Inc. (5/12/14)

And the scandal surrounding Moales, Finch, Vallas, Pryor and Malloy grows. (5/10/14)

State agency determines Malloy ally Rev. Kenneth Moales overcharged state by at least $75,000 for day care slots (5/9/14)

Will State Board of Education over look conflicts of interest to approve more charter schools (3/31/14)

Malloy’s proposed budget underfunds public magnet schools while increasing money for charter schools (3/29/14)

Look out Bridgeport, here comes Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry (3/13/14)

The Malloy/Pryor Jumoke Charter School Gravy Train (3/10/14)

No real financial support for public schools, but plenty more for charter schools (especially Bridgeport) (2/20/14)

Who is pushing Capital Prep Steve Perry’s Capital Prep Harbor Charter School application? (2/9/14)

 

2013

Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. – Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer is classless to the end (12/9/13)

Bridgeport (and Connecticut) has a right to expect better (10/25/13)

And speaking of Bridgeport, Former Judge Carmen Lopez’s letter on the upcoming election (10/25/13)

Kenneth Moales Jr. arrested…  (10/23/13)

Bridgeport’s Kenneth H. Moales Jr. served with arrest warrant (10/22/13)

Kenneth H. Moales… You are wanted by the Connecticut State Police (Literally) (10/21/13)

Playing politics with his religion and religion with his politics – The Kenneth Moales Jr. story (10/10/13)

Bridgeport Community Bank that Bridgeport’s BOE Chair Kenneth Moales Jr won’t pay back goes under (9/14/13)

Kenneth Moales Jr. and his Certificate of Occupancy Service and Party (7/28/13)

Bridgeport’s Kenneth Moales Jr. goes off the deep end; passes out flyer attacking CT Post and their lead reporter (7/24/13)

Divine intervention in Bridgeport…. (7/23/13)

We don’t need no stinkin Certificate of Occupancy…. Laws don’t apply to Rev. Moales (7/23/13)

As Bridgeport leaders spin out of control… (7/17/13)

And massive foreclosure lawsuit against Kenneth Moales Jr. and his Prayer Tabernacle Church of Love, Inc. officially filed (7/12/13)

News Update: More on financial problems facing Bridgeport Board of Ed. Chair Kenneth Moales, Jr. and his church (6/26/13)

Update: Moales Empire Collapsing, foreclosure to take his state funded childcare sites, churches and apparently his residence. (6/21/13)

Moales Empire Collapsing, Moales’ state funded childcare sites being foreclosed on (6/20/13)

The push back against Malloy, Pryor, Vallas and Moales grows (6/12/13)

$1 million in public funds for Bridgeport BOE Chair’s family – without a vote (5/16/13)

Wait, What? Bridgeport Board of Education scheduled to approve $1 million for Moales Daycare facilities despite foreclosure threat (5/13/13)

Is Bridgeport Board of Education Chairman Kenneth Moales, Jr.’s financial empire collapsing? 4/30/13)

The Bylaws of the Bridgeport Board of Education: Policy 9270: Conflict of Interest (4/19/13)

And in Bridgeport, the winner is Finch’s Campaign Treasurer, Kenneth Moales, Jr. (3/26/13)

Rev. Moales; It’s called the Freedom of Information Act and it even applies to you… (3/21/13)

Silence from Finch as his campaign treasurer embarrasses himself and his allies (3/28/13)

It gets worse…. (3/4/13)

2012

Did that Democrat say he is for school vouchers?  (8/12/14)

NEWS FLASH: “It is not a conflict” says Malloy school board appointee whose family “wins” half a million dollar contract. (7/24/12)

And the list goes on and on and on…

Check back soon for more on this breaking story….

You can read more at the “Only in Bridgeport” blog: http://onlyinbridgeport.com/wordpress/moales-take-my-wife-please-the-rev-a-candidate-for-state-senate/#more-67512

 

Squelching dissent in Bridgeport City Hall (by Carmen Lopez)

This commentary piece first appeared in the CT Post on June 25, 2014 

The 1949 movie “All the King’s Men,” based on the novel of the same name by Robert Penn Warren, opens with the main character, Willie Stark, confronting political corruption in a small southern town.

Stark, played by Broderick Crawford, claims that a schoolhouse was built with substandard material and that the cost was inflated by a politically connected contractor. The political establishment tries to silence Willie, by concocting and pretending to enforce a non-existent ordinance which prohibits addressing a public gathering.

Thugs are sent to assault his son while the lad is attempting to pass out campaign flyers.

Stark loses the election for county treasurer, but when a stair case in the new school collapses, killing several children, those who attend the funeral show genuine remorse.

“We should have listened to you, Willie,” the mourners sob, although it is too late to save the dead school children.

At the February 2014 meeting of the Bridgeport Board of Education Facilities Committee, committee chairman John E. Bagley, in the best tradition of democratic populism, allowed members of the public to be heard. The topic was the proposed construction of a new Harding High School on a contaminated Boston Avenue site owned by General Electric and used as a factory for many years.

Any objective review of the transcript of the Facilities Committee meeting reveals that Bagley was fair, even handed and respectful.

The debate was not one-sided. Members of the Finch administration were given the floor, as were construction trade members, as well as a member of Finch’s Republican choir. All opinions were solicited, all input was welcomed, and no one was demeaned in the process.

So how did Mayor Finch, his appointees, and press personnel react? In a word, they were apoplectic!

How dare John Bagley bring a little participatory democracy to Bridgeport, they fumed. He had some nerve allowing the masses to speak before well-paid city and state employees.

Some even claimed that Bagley had violated Robert’s Rules of Order and the Freedom of Information Act.

Of course, in the best tradition of the fictitious ordinance applied to Willie Stark, no provision of Robert’s Rules of Order or the FOIA prohibits the receipt of public input.

Bridgeport officials seem to fear the voice of the people. Therefore, officials and employees routinely and reflexively seek to squelch meaningful public participation in the governmental process.

The city’s opposition to public participation surfaced once again at the June Facilities Committee meeting. This time the issue was a new roof for Bassick High School. John Bagley continued his policy of allowing parents and community members to address the committee concerning this long-delayed roof repair project.

Since a City Council Resolution had established a building committee in 2011 to facilitate the roof repair, those in attendance wanted to know “what is taking so long?”

Bridgeport’s Director of Facilities, Jorge Garcia, objected to the public participation and was very annoyed.

Fortunately, after 11 years in the National Basketball Association, John Bagley can recognize trash talk when he hears it. The public was able to have its say, much to the frustration of the city employees in attendance.

The unreported story and the unanswered questions are these: Why does the Finch administration continue to make an issue of the fact that an elected official gives the people who elected him the right to be heard on issues of public importance? What are Mayor Finch and his administration afraid of?

Instead of focusing on whether the people of Bridgeport should be allowed to speak and voice their opinion, perhaps attention should be redirected, particularly on the Harding issue, to the many unanswered questions, such as:

1. In December 2010, the site of the existing Harding High School was designated as the site of the new school by state officials. In fact, in an April 2, 2010 article, the Connecticut Post quoted Mayor Finch as saying that the existing Central Avenue location could be used for the new school. Did the proposed location change before, or after, the illegal school board takeover in July 2011? What role did the chairman of the illegally appointed Board, Robert Trefy, the former president of Bridgeport Hospital, play in the decision to change the location?

2. Is there a contract requiring General Electric to convey 17 acres of the Boston Avenue site to the city of Bridgeport? If the answer is yes, what are the terms of the contract and why has no-one seen a copy?

3. The proposed site is adjacent to Remington Woods. If contaminants migrate, through flooding, ground water, or other means, who will be responsible for any subsequent remediation?

4. Why were zoning approvals sought, and outside counsel paid $10,000 before we know the site is safe, and approved by the State Department of Administrative Services or the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection?

6. Has any site as contaminated as the GE property on Boston Avenue been approved for use as a school anywhere in the state of Connecticut?

These are only a few of the important questions, which have been highlighted and which have gone unanswered by City officials and their corporate collaborators at O & G Industries, Inc. Instead, we are asked, why did John Bagley allow the people to be heard?

The refusal to answer legitimate questions, while accusing the questioners of “delay” is inevitably the last refuge of a political scoundrel bereft of a cogent argument.

Members of the Bridgeport City Council and the BOE must not be coerced into silence, or stampeded into hasty action, by the mayor and his political spin doctors.

Twenty years from now, we don’t want to listen to an anguished citizen exclaim, “We should have listened!”

By then, it will be too late.

Carmen Lopez is a community activist and a former Superior Court judge.

And from Bridgeport – Even more serious questions about the Moales daycare center

Question:     Did the Malloy administration inappropriately aid and abet Moales’ in his successful effort to get a third daycare facility license on his property?

Question:   Did Mayor Finch and his top staff help Moales get around zoning and code requirements for his new daycare facility?

Question:  Although Moales was caught inappropriately billing taxpayers for more than $75,000., did Moales still collect more than what he was legally allowed to collect?

And the most important QUESTION of all… Are children in a daycare center and church run school that does not have a permanent certificate of occupancy and did not meet the legal requirements to be licensed?

These questions all arise from files of new evidence that has surfaced.

The documents raise the specter of potentially legal and financial wrongdoing by Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. and his family as it relates to their newly acquired, state financed daycare center.  The new center joins two others that are owned and operated by Moales’ family and rent space from Moales.

The fact is that every month, the taxpayers of Connecticut shell out tens of thousands of dollars in payments to a series of daycare centers own by the Moales family, all of which are housed on church property that is owned and operated by Kenneth Moales.

Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. is a key political ally of Mayor Bill Finch and Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy.

Moales served on Malloy’s illegal Bridgeport Public School Oversight Board and then won a seat on the re-constituted board thanks to Mayor Bill Finch.  As a Bridgeport Board of Education member, and eventually as its chairman, Moales who was one of Paul Vallas’ biggest supporter and helped move the public school privatization effort that was designed by Vallas and Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education.

The newly acquired documents call out for an independent investigation into whether Moales or others violated civil and criminal laws.

For those unacquainted with the Moales daycare center saga, in August 2013 Moales’ mother and sister received approval for their third daycare facility license.  All three daycare centers rent space from Moales’ church and taken together, the three facilities are costing taxpayers upward of $1 million a year.

As previously reported here at Wait, What?, the newest daycare center is steeped in controversy and the additional documents indicate that the new daycare center, and the church run K-8 day school which is housed at the same location, never acquired the proper zooming approvals and are functioning in a building that was never granted a permanent certificate of occupancy, a requirement that must be met in order for these facilities to be open.

But despite the apparent lack of appropriate zoning and occupancy permits, Governor Malloy’s Department of Public Health, with input from the Department of Education, granted the Moales’ family their third daycare facility license last summer…knowing that it did not have the necessary zoning and occupancy permits.

As further background, the August 15, 2013 state daycare license was granted ten months AFTER the Moales family was supposed to have opened the new facility as part of a no-bid multi-million dollar contract that they received in connection with Governor Malloy’s 2012 early childhood initiative.

In the fall of 2012, Moales’ mother and sister were given 60 of the 72 new early childhood slots that Governor Malloy gave to Bridgeport through his 2012 Early Childhood Initiative.

This lucrative contract was given out despite the fact that Kenneth Moales Jr. served as a member of the Bridgeport Board of Education at this time and the Bridgeport Board of Education serves as the fiduciary agent for this state program.

However that ethical problem is minor compared to the bigger issues related to the inadequate zoning approval and lack of occupancy certification.

The new documents clearly make the case that the Bridgeport Fire Inspectors Office has been raising significant concerns about the building that houses Moales’ newest daycare facility (and the school) for years.

It was November 17, 2009 when the Fire Marshall”s office first realized that the building was in use without a Ccertificate of occupancy.

More concerns were raised in September 2011 when the inspectors discovered that the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit had moved their school to the location in August 2011.

Yet despite identifying fire code issues, Moales’ church school remained open.

A year later, on July 2, 2012, Bridgeport’s Fire Marshall issued an official letter to the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit noting code violations and demanding that corrective action be taken within thirty days.

The Fire Marshall’s report further noted that “Certificate of Occupancy Not Completed” and the letter states that while there were two classrooms in the original architectural drawings, drawings, “I saw seven classrooms therefore 5 are illegal change of use.”

The documents further indicate that while Moales’ family submitted their daycare facility application in February 2013 to the State Department of Public Health, which is obligated to license and monitor daycare centers determined that the application was inadequate and needed, among other things, proof of proper zoning and a permanent certificate of occupancy.

In an odd twist, on February 28, 2013, days after the Moales application for a new daycare license was submitted, Kenya Moales Byrd (Kenneth Moales’ sister) filed an application with the City of Bridgeport for a Certificate of Zoning Compliance to “add two classrooms,” to the church to facilitate the new day care.  While that zoning application was approved, the proper documents were never submitted to the Building Permit’s Office and therefore the classrooms were never inspected and never received a Certificate of Occupancy.

In addition, the building itself still didn’t have the permits needed to run a daycare center or a school and did not have a permanent certificate of occupancy.

At about the same time, Moales’ Kingdom’s Little One’ Daycare Center started invoicing for the additional slots they that they had been granted in the fall of 2012.

But in July of that year, the State Department of Education discovered that the daycare center appeared to be double billing and an audit was conducted which led to the determination that the Moales family had inappropriately billed the state by at least $75,000.  The State Board of Education ordered the Bridgeport Board of Education to repay the funds and take the necessary steps to recoup the ill-gotten money from the Moales daycare facilities.

Although Kenneth Moales Jr. had become Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education by this time, the Board was never notified of the audit or its findings.

The complete lack of any Certificate of Occupancy also came to light in the summer of 2013 after the Connecticut Post featured an article about the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit’s failure to obtain even a temporary Certificate of Occupancy, as required by state law.

As news broke about the lack of any Certificate of Occupancy for the church and its activities, local officials moved with lightning speed to help Moales get a temporary Certificate of Occupancy.

The newly acquired documents trace a series of emails that track back to the highest levels of Bridgeport City Government.

At one point, the City’s Zoning Enforcement Officer emailed the City’s top building official stating, “I see no reason not to approve of a temp. C/O.”

But interestingly, these same city officials never indicate that Moales lacked the most basic zoning approvals for a daycare center or the school.

In yet another incredible series of emails, Mayor Bill Finch’s top staff appears to be trying to intimidate the city’s professional staff into moving quickly to grant Moales’ the approvals he needs. The email trail includes Adam Wood (Finch’s Chief of Staff), Adam Nunn (Chief Administrative Officer) and David Kooris (Bridgeport’s Director of Economic Development).

But what makes the intrigue behind the whole issue even more noteworthy is that although the Connecticut Department of Public Health had made it clear, in writing, that Moales would need proper zoning approval and a permanent Certificate of Occupancy before a daycare facility license could be granted, the license was, nevertheless, given to Moales without those documents on August 13, 2013.

Although it is clear that something was moving the process along, the documentation fails to clarify who in the Malloy administration had intervened on Moales’ behalf or how the agency decided to give a license for a facility that failed to have the proper zoning approvals and failed to acquire a permanent Certificate of Occupancy.

By that point, state official knew that Moales had “inappropriately” billed the state $75,000 and had consistently failed to acquire the proper zoning permits and certificates of occupancy…and yet the additional license was granted and Moales further ramped up the amount he was billing taxpayers…all while the safety and well-being of the children at the daycare center and in the K-8 school housed at 729 Union Avenue in Bridgeport remained in question.

While a full-fledged independent investigation is needed into the whole situation, Sauda Baraka and the new majority on the Bridgeport Board of Education are taking their own action to determine whether Kenneth Moales Jr. is violating Bridgeport ethics rules by serving on the Board of Education while he is connected to entities that are making money from funds controlled by the Board.

For that story see the CT Post’s Board wants legal opinion on Moales

It also remains to be seen whether the State Department of Public Health will take enforcement action to close the new daycare center until it meets all of its legal requirements and if the State Department of Education will pursue a full refund from the Bridgeport Board of Education for all the payments that were inappropriately made to the Kingdom’s Little Ones Academy.

What hangs in the balance is the question of whether the Malloy administration will continue to provide cover to Kenneth Moales Jr. and his daycare operations or whether it will reverse course and ensure that state laws are equitably enforced and taxpayer funds properly monitored.

CT Post: “School board slips away from Finch”

Huge victory for the students, parents, teachers and citizens of Bridgeport.

Governor Malloy, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and Mayor Finch loses control of the Bridgeport Board of Education.

Kenneth Moales Jr. will  lose his position as Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education

And Bridgeport’s Faux superintendent of schools, Paul Vallas, will be packing up and shipping out.

Victory thanks to citizen uprising with the help of Bridgeport and Connecticut’s teachers, their union and the Working Families Party.

From the Connecticut Post:

BRIDGEPORT — The city Board of Education slipped out of the hands of Mayor Bill Finch and Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas on Tuesday despite the surprise win of a Republican school board candidate.

The majority of the nine-member school board tipped in favor of the Connecticut Working Families Party.

The winners include Democrats Howard Gardner, Dave Hennessey and Andre Baker, joined by incumbent Working Families member Sauda Baraka and Republican Joe Larcheveque.

Larcheveque won largely by the power of 593 votes he received at Black Rock school. Baker who was cross-endorsed by Democrats and the Working Families Party, was the top vote-getter by a long shot, with more than 5,200 votes, unofficially. Hennessey had an unofficial tally of 4,105 and Gardner 3,765. Larcheveque’s unofficial total was 1,751 votes; Baraka’s, 1,815.

The race pitted the Democratic party machine against the combined efforts of the Working Families Party, sympathetic Democrats and strong support from the city teacher’s union. To many, more was at stake than control of one the most troubled school districts in the state. Some had pegged it as the epicenter of a nationwide struggle over the control of public schools, a fight against efforts to cede control to corporate interest groups that seek to privatize educations.

Vallas was brought into the district in late 2011 after the local elected board was replaced by the state, a move later overturned by the state Supreme Court.

During the primary, the Democrats who won made it clear they are not fond of Vallas, and the Working Families Party has actively worked to remove him. In a statement issued early in the day Tuesday, Working Families Party Chair Lindsay Farrell made it clear replacing Vallas would be tops on their agenda.

Only the Republican candidates have stated outright they would join three incumbent Democrats on the board in supporting Vallas if he is deemed qualified by the state Supreme Court. The court is currently determining if the law was followed when Vallas, who has previously served as superintendent in Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans, received a waiver of a requirement that he hold an education administrator certificate to serve as superintendent in Connecticut.

You can read the latest at http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/City-school-board-tips-away-from-Finch-4958627.php or www.ctpost.com

 

Bridgeport Board of Education Committee votes 3-2 to undermine our nation’s democratic traditions

Those voting in favor of taking away democratic rights:

Thomas Mulligan (D), Hernan Illingworth (D), Rev. Kenneth Moales Jr. (D)

Those in favor of preserving democratic rights:

Mara Pereira (WFP), Bobby Simmons (D)

The members loyal to Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch are victorious.

Last night, by a vote of 3-2, a Bridgeport Board of Education Committee voted to change the Boards rules to limit the rights of the minority.  The proposal now goes to the full Board for a vote.

In parliamentary procedure it is referred to as “Calling the Question” or “Moving the Previous Question” or “Moving to Close Debate.”  It is seldom used in a democracy because it is a procedural move that seeks to put an immediately end to all debate so that a vote can be taken right away.

While we Americans strongly believe in majority rule, our fundamental democratic beliefs require that the minority should always have the right to be heard.

In fact, Robert’s Rules of Order, the primary parliamentary guide used among boards and commissions across the country, requires that a vote to close debate be passed by a two-thirds vote.

A super-majority is needed because we believe that the right to be heard trumps the need to rush through meetings.

That’s the way the Board of Education works in the towns surrounding Bridgeport.

In Milford and Stratford and Trumbull and Shelton and Monroe and Easton and Fairfield and Westport, Roberts Rules of Order are used and a 2/3 is needed to end debate.

And that is the way it has been in Bridgeport.

But if the Finch forces have their way, that is about to end.

The simple concept of democracy and the right of the minority is apparently a concept that annoys those in charge of Bridgeport’s Board of Education so they are taking the unbelievable step of ending the right of the minority to be heard.

While their action is nothing short of un-American, that fact doesn’t seem to bother Kenneth Moales, Jr. and his two Democratic associates, Thomas Mulligan and Hernan Illingworth.

It will be interesting to see if Mayor Finch steps in and stops this outrage before Moales and company continue to destroy the image of Bridgeport.

Wait, What? Bridgeport Board of Education scheduled to approve $1 million for Moales Daycare facilities despite foreclosure threat

(Written by Jonathan Pelto and Carmen Lopez)

In about 100 days, Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr. and his Cathedral of the Holy Spirit and Prayer Tabernacle Church of Love, Inc. may well be facing the foreclosure and public auction of property owned by Moales’ church, located at 1231-1243 Stratford Avenue.

The loss of the church property would mean the loss of the space that Moales’ mother and sister use for their taxpayer-funded daycare centers.

But despite the very real possibility that the centers would lose their space, Bridgeport “Superintendent of Schools,” Paul Vallas, is recommending that the Bridgeport Board of Education renew the grants to the Kingdom’s Little Ones Academy and the Kingdom’s Little Ones Christian Daycare.

That grant is expected to provide Moales and his family with more than $1 million in taxpayer funds, a growing portion of which goes to Moales’ church as rent.

Of course, Moales will have to recuse himself from the debate and vote at tonight’s Board of Education meeting, due to his conflict of interest.

However, considering Moales serves as Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education and was Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer, it is unlikely that the Democrats on the Board of Education who are loyal to the Finch operation will take action to ensure Connecticut taxpayer funds are properly protected.

The Kingdom’s Little Ones Academy and the Kingdom’s Little Ones Christian Daycare are two of a dozen community organizations that provide Bridgeport with 1,158 subsidized daycare spaces.

These daycare spaces are funded through Connecticut’s School Readiness Grant, which brings in a total of $11.4 million to Bridgeport.  Ironically, the Bridgeport School System is the “fiduciary agent” for the grant program, meaning it is their responsibility to take all necessary steps to ensure that the funds are spent appropriately.

However, rather than separate out the money for Moales and his family to ensure the day care spots are available for the full two-year period of the grant, Paul Vallas and his Chief Administrative Officer, Sandra Kase, have recommended that the Board of Education simply approve the entire grant program that runs from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014.

In addition to the potential loss of daycare spaces, there is the very real concern about how the money is being spent.  According to the most recent IRS forms on file, of the $1 million that is expected to go to the Moales day care facilities, approximately $83,000 is passed along to Moales’ church in the form of rent.

The rental payment to Moales’ church has more than tripled since 2006 when the amount spent for rent was only $25,000.

Overarching the entire controversy is the fact that the spaces Moales rents to his mother and sister are part of a property this is facing potential foreclosure due to non-payment of loans, bills and taxes. Continue reading “Wait, What? Bridgeport Board of Education scheduled to approve $1 million for Moales Daycare facilities despite foreclosure threat”

Vallas, Pryor and the State Board of Education temporarily dodge lawsuit (Bridgeport Style)

The state law Governor Malloy pushed through allowing his Commissioner of Education to waive the certification requirements for Paul Vallas had two simple provisions.  To become Bridgeport’s permanent superintendent Vallas would have to complete his “probationary period” as Acting Superintendent and pass an Education Leadership Program at a Connecticut institution of higher education.

In early March, the members of the Bridgeport Board of Education loyal to Mayor Finch voted 5-3 to grant Vallas a three-year contract despite the fact that Vallas had not completed his probationary period or even begun his education leadership program.

The move was illegal and former Connecticut Judge Carmen Lopez brought a lawsuit to have the decision ruled illegal and to prevent Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, from waiving Vallas’ certification requirements.

Instead of debating the merits of the case, lawyers working for  Attorney General George Jepson and for the City of Bridgeport tried to have the case dismissed, based on the fact that the state marshal hired to deliver the lawsuit had failed to serve the papers correctly.

The individual hired to serve those papers was State Marshal Charles Valentino, a long-time Bridgeport political operative who served as one of Mayor Finch’s representatives on the Bridgeport Charter Revision Commission that had recommended that the democratically elected Board of Education be eliminated and replaced with one appointed by Finch.

Well, to make a long story short, State Marshal Valentino told the lawyer and the judge that he had served the defendants as required by the law.

The only problem; Marshal Valentino’s statement was a complete and utter lie.  He had never delivered the paperwork in the way the law requires.

And now, as the CT Post is reporting, Finch’s Marshall is, “facing possible arrest for statements he made on the witness stand Wednesday in a civil case involving city Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas.”

The CT Post article explains, “’I have never had this happen in a case I have been involved with,’ said Norman Pattis, attorney for the plaintiffs, after Valentino, on Pattis’ advice, asked to consult with a lawyer before testifying further. Pattis then urged state Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis to notify the state’s attorney for possible criminal action against Valentino.”

Since Valentino failed to serve Stefan Pryor correctly, the judge was required to dismiss the portion of the case against Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and the case was continued to June 3, 2013 to give the plaintiff’s time to serve Pryor correctly.

The Marshall’s failure to do his job properly allows Vallas, Pryor and the majority on the Bridgeport Board of Education another month before they will have to face a judge on the Board’s illegal move to grant Vallas a long-term contract.

You can read more at the CT Post:  http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Marshal-faces-possible-perjury-charge-4461065.php

News Review: Vallas’ illegal contract leads to suit against Bridgeport Board of Education, Commissioner Pryor and Vallas

As first reported by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas in the CTMirror, Attorney Norm Pattis has filed a lawsuit in Superior Court alleging that Superintendent Paul Vallas’ contract to serve as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools is illegal.

Pattis is the attorney who brought the case that led Connecticut’s Supreme Court to rule that Governor Malloy’s attempted takeover of the Bridgeport School System was illegal.  In that case, an illegally appointed board of education, appointed by the Malloy administration, was removed and a democratically elected board of education was reinstated.

However, early last month, the five Bridgeport Board of Education members loyal to Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch voted to give Acting Superintendent of Schools, Paul Vallas, a three-year contract despite clear statutory language that would make such a contract illegal.

This new lawsuit, brought by retired Connecticut Judge Carmen Lopez and a Bridgeport parent, seeks to have Vallas’ contract ruled null and void.

As Attorney Norm Pattis explained to the CTMirror, “Bridgeport shows a curious inability to read the law.”

In Connecticut, state law requires that all teachers and education professionals hold the appropriate state certification.  However, the law was changed in 2007 to allow the Commissioner of Education to waive the certification requirement for superintendents in very specific situations.  In that case, the law was modified by the General Assembly to allow Steven Adamowski to serve as Superintendent of Schools in Hartford despite the fact that he did not have the certification necessary for the job.

The lack of certification issue arose again with the arrival of Paul Vallas who also lacked the necessary experience to be a superintendent in Connecticut.

In this case, the Malloy administration added language to Malloy’s “Education Reform” proposal to broaden the Commissioner of Education’s ability to waive certification for superintendents.  Ironically, at the same time, the bill sought to strengthen qualification requirements for teachers..

The final language of Malloy’s education reform law allowed an uncertified individual to serve as an Acting Superintendent for up to one year, but in order for that person to become a permanent superintendent, they were required to successfully complete their probationary period and must have complete a school leadership program at a Connecticut institution of higher education.

In Vallas’ case, the majority of the members of the Bridgeport Board of Education granted him permanent superintendent status despite the fact that he HAD NOT completed his probationary period and HAD NOT completed the required school leadership program.  In fact, he hadn’t even begun the school leadership program that was mandated by the law.

As the CT Post story notes, “When Vallas’ contract was approved in March; board member Maria Pereira warned the majority that what they were doing appeared to her to be illegal, despite assurances to the contrary from the city attorneys and state Department of Education. They were proved wrong once before, she said.”

Pereira is absolutely correct.  Bridgeport’s city attorneys and Malloy’s Department of Education were wrong before and it cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

Unfortunately, these people still seem to be missing the point that the rule of law means that law applies to everyone.

The CTMirror story can be found at http://ctmirror.org/story/19600/round-two-bridgeport-education-heading-back-court, while the CT Post’s story is at http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Lawsuit-challenges-Vallas-qualifications-4401209.php