Corporate Viewpoint, Ethics, Malloy Corporate Influence, Ethics, Malloy
At the very moment Governor Malloy’s political operation was weighing the political fallout of his trip to the White House Correspondents Dinner and whether he should “reimburse” People Magazine for $1,000 or so (we still don’t know how much taxpayers shelled out for Malloy’s security detail), the U.S. Security Industry Association was releasing a press release that Malloy would be this year’s “Keynote Speaker” at their Security Industry Association Government Summit next month in Washington, D.C.
According to the Security Industry Association (SIA), the event is the “premier annual public policy conference in the security industry.”
The press release explained that Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy will serve as the keynote speaker and that, “Gov. Malloy’s remarks will precede a panel on school safety on day two of the Summit. Violent events in our nation’s schools have demonstrated that these “soft targets” are not sacred to those seeking to do harm. Understanding there are many factors that can contribute to secure learning environment, this panel will examine those factors as well as the contributions the industry can make to provide safe educational facilities.”
The press release goes on to note that, “The SIA Government Summit provides attendees with unique insights that help them better understand how policy drives business in the security industry. The exclusive nature of the setting allows one-on-one conversations with government decision makers.”
According to the Security Industry Association’s website, they are “the leading trade association for electronic and physical security solution providers. SIA protects and advances its members’ interests by advocating pro-industry policies and legislation at the federal and state levels; creating open industry standards that enable integration; advancing industry professionalism through education and training; opening global market opportunities; and collaboration with other like-minded organizations. As a proud sponsor of ISC Expos and Conferences, and owner of the Securing New Ground Conference, SIA ensures its members have access to top-level buyers and influencers, as well as unparalleled learning and network opportunities.”
Interestingly the press release did not reveal whether Governor Malloy’s trip to Washington D.C. would be paid for by the Security Industry Association or the taxpayers of Connecticut.
Ethics, Malloy Ethics, Malloy
“To remove a needless distraction when there are far more important public policy issues to deal with, Gov. Malloy has made the decision to personally reimburse People Magazine for the costs of his attendance at the White House Correspondents Dinner. He has written a personal check for $1,234.62,” said his spokesman, Andrew Doba.
You have got to be kidding me!
So it was an official visit to Washington, but he will reimburse People Magazine…and yet the taxpayers will still pick up the tab for the airfare, accommodations, payroll and overtime for Malloy’s security detail – - – the cost of which Malloy’s office refused to provide…
As just reported in the CT Mirror, Malloy’s spokesperson said;
- “We are confident that People Magazine’s payment would have been proper under Connecticut’s ethics laws…The governor attended the event in his official capacity and used the opportunity to advance Connecticut’s interests. The governor’s office accepted People Magazine’s gift in order to relieve taxpayers of the cost. Instead of shifting the cost to the taxpayers, the Governor is personally paying the cost.”
- “First, during the event, Gov. Malloy engaged in substantive discussions with numerous senior officials,” Doba said. “To note just a few discussions among many, he talked with Small Business Administrator Karen Mills about Connecticut’s Hurricane Sandy relief plan and small business investment programs under the JOBS Act, talked with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer about the strategy for pursuing federal gun control legislation, and talked with Congressman Steve Israel about proposals for the establishment of a regional infrastructure bank.”
- “And Gov. Malloy promoted Connecticut’s economic development agenda in discussions with numerous business and media leaders.”
See CTMirror Blog Post at http://www.ctmirror.org/blogs/malloy-reimburses-people-white-house-party
Ethics, Malloy Ethics, Malloy
True it is only May 1, 2013, but Governor Malloy has swept into the front-runner position for the Wait, What? “Quote of the Year” competition with his explanation to WTNH Channel 8 news regarding his decision to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner.
“I could do it with state dollars, or I could do it with someone else’s dollars. I thought doing it with somebody else’s dollars made a lot of sense,” Malloy told Channel 8 news.
According to the Channel 8 report, People Magazine paid about $1,000 for the cost of airfare, hotel accommodations and the ticket to the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.
People Magazine explained that they invited Malloy because he would make an interesting guest as a result of the Newtown nightmare. Or as the editor of People Magazine put it, “with all eyes on the tragedy in Newtown, a story that People readers care deeply about, and that People has been covering intensively, we saw Governor Malloy as someone suddenly playing on a larger stage, someone interesting to our readers, our editors and other guests.”
Malloy defended his decision telling Channel 8, “With all due respect, it’s not a gift, there was an offer to pay to have the Governor of the State of Connecticut, in his capacity as the Governor of the State of Connecticut, attend a very important meeting, session, series of events,” said Governor Malloy.
Channel 8 went on to explain that in addition to the dinner, the Governor attended, “at least one party after the star studded annual event on Saturday night, and quickly came back to Connecticut, a visit by his estimate of about 22 hours.”
While Governor Malloy’s “official schedule” is always made public and Malloy, himself, explained that his trip to the White House Correspondents Dinner was made exclusively in his official capacity as Connecticut’s Governor, his press secretary told CTNewsjunkie and other media outlets that they did not issue a press advisory about Malloy’s trip to D.C because they only inform the media when “Malloy is speaking or has the opportunity to be interviewed. The correspondents’ dinner fit neither category.”
Considering Malloy said the trip was funded by private dollars, it must be assumed that the $1,000 for airfare, accommodations and other expenses covered the governor and his security entourage.
As usual, the controversy is not so much that he attended the dinner…who wouldn’t want to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner…but the political spin around that decision.
You can read and watch the Channel 8 news story at: http://www.wtnh.com/dpp/news/politics/magazine-paid-for-malloy-to-attend-correspondents-dinner#.UYBtqys_9B1?utm_source=Coffee+and+Politics+No.+415+May+1%2C+2013&utm_campaign=Issue+415+%7C+Morning+Coffee+%26+Politics%3A+Budget+Analysts+Predict+%24488M+Drop+In+Revenue&utm_medium=email
Bridgeport, Ethics, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas Bridgeport, Conflict of Interest, Ethics, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas
As a member of the Bridgeport Board of Education, Hernan Illingworth took actions that directly benefited him and the company that he works for.
That is an ethics violation.
It is a serious ethics violation and it requires action.
Mayor Finch, the state is waiting to see how you handle this issue.
The Bylaws of the Bridgeport Board of Education: Policy 9270: Conflict of Interest
“(1) No member of the Board shall have any direct pecuniary interest in a contract with the school district, nor shall he/she furnish directly any labor, equipment, or supplies to the district. It is not the intent of this bylaw to prevent the district from contracting with corporations or businesses because a Board member is an employee of the firm. However, in such instances the member may be expected to declare his/her association with the firm and will refrain from debating or voting on the question.”
The spirit of the Conflict of Interest rule is simple enough.
If you are a member of the Bridgeport Board of Education and your job is with a company that is connected to the functioning of the school system, you are expected to declare your association with that company and abstain from discussing or voting on issues related to the products or services provided by that company.
Hernan Illingworth works for Uniformz. He sells uniforms to students and families who attend Bridgeport’s schools.
As reported here at Wait, What?, according to the company website, the uniform company that Illingworth works for opened a much larger, more accessible store on Main Street in July 2009 in preparation for the implementation of Bridgeport’s new uniform policy.
As the company’s website explained, “The main reason for this move was to handle the school uniform needs of Bridgeport parents after a new uniform mandate (K-8) went into effect for the 2009/2010 school season.”
The website goes on to report, “Uniformz quickly became the “ground zero” of the back-to-school uniform rush! The Bridgeport PAC held a press conference, TV news crews arrived throughout August and our overflowing parking lot caused some minor traffic jams on Main Street.”
The Bridgeport PAC mentioned on the Uniformz website is the Bridgeport Parent Advisory Council and Hernan Illingworth was the President of that Parent Advisory Council.
Ramos/Illingworth Letter to Parents
In fact, in the spring of 2009, John Ramos, in his capacity as Bridgeport’s Superintendent of Schools and Hernan Illingworth, the President of the Bridgeport Parent Advisory Council (PAC) were on the cover of the Bridgeport Board of Education Newsletter.
That cover was a letter to parents and students informing the community that the Bridgeport Board of Education had formally adopted a mandatory uniform policy for K-8 students. According to the letter, “This policy was enacted after several months of meetings and with collaboration between parents, the Board of Education and District Administration. The letter informed parents that the mandatory school uniform policy would officially be enacted in August 2009.
The letter ended with the news that, “In the coming months the District Executive PAC will work with every school to provide more information to parents to ensure the implementation of the policy.” It was signed by John J. Ramos and Hernan Illingworth. However, nowhere did Hernan Illingworth explain he was a salesman for Uniformz.
CT Post Covers Uniform Policy
On August 31, 2009, the CT Post’s Linda Conner Lambeck wrote a story entitled, “FOLLOWING A NEW UNIFORM CODE.” In it she wrote, “Outside Uniformz, a new shop on upper Main Street, a sandwich-board sign proclaims ‘Bpt. Public School Uniforms, 10% Sibling Discount.’”
Lambeck added, “On Wednesday, if the policy works, a sea of nearly 15,000 students, all wearing collared shirts, and dress trousers — not a baggy pair of jeans in the bunch — should converge on the schools for the first day of classes.”
The story listed Hernan Illingworth as the President of the Bridgeport Parent Advisory Council (PAC) and as one of the parents who successfully pushed the uniform policy. However, the story failed to note that Illingworth worked for Uniformz.
The CT Post did explain that, “planners anticipate a child can get by with a wardrobe of three to five pairs of pants, six tops and a sweater for about $120. Logos, for schools that have adopted them, would be an additional cost.”
At the time, Hernan Illingworth told the CT Post that it would take time to get full participation in the uniform policy, but added, “If we get 75 percent on the first day, I think that would be a nice goal. Once the 21-day grace period is over, I think participation will become more universal.”
In April 2011, the Bridgeport Board of Education voted to expand the district’s uniform policy to cover high school students. At the time, the CT Post wrote, “Hernan Illingworth, president of the District PAC, said uniforms were a much easier “sell” this time around because the policy is already in place in the elementary schools.”
Illingworth appointed by Malloy Administration to illegal Board of Education
By the end of that summer, in August 2011, Hernan Illingworth became the seventh member of Bridgeport’s new, illegal Board of Education. As noted on the Only in Bridgeport Blog, Illingworth was the “second Finch campaign supporter” named to the Board, the first being Finch’s campaign treasurer, Kenneth Moales.
As the Only in Bridgeport blog reported, at the time, Finch’s campaign website included a testimonial by Illingworth in which he wrote, “Being both the Mayor and a father to children in Bridgeport Public Schools puts the Mayor in a unique position. His commitment and dedication to improving education shows.”
As the request of Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, the illegal Board of Education then brought on Paul Vallas to serve as Bridgeport’s Acting Superintendent.
One of the initial actions following Vallas’ arrival was the creation of the Bridgeport Education Reform Fund. The Chairman of the illegally appointed Board of Education, Robert Trefry, announced that the names of donors to the fund would be kept confidential and that a committee would be created to oversee the distribution of the funds. Trefry then appointed Andy Boas, the Chairman of Achievement First – Bridgeport, Anita Gliniecki, Bruce Hubler and Hernan Illingworth to manage the fund.
As part of Mayor Finch’s slate of Democratic candidates, Illingworth later ran and won a seat on the democratically elected board.
Most recently, rather than abstain from any discussions about school uniforms, Hernan Illingworth has used his position to pressure Bridgeport school administrators to get tough on forcing students to buy and wear school uniforms.
As was reported in Wait, What?
Last week, with only about 40 days left to the 2012-2013 school year, Central High School announced that they would begin enforcing Bridgeport’s district-wide school uniform policy.
As the CT Post wrote, “The edict, made during morning announcements Tuesday by Principal Stephen Anderson and sent home to parents by letter, was ordered by the district administration after some board members learned that the district’s 2-year-old high school uniform policy was being ignored at Central.”
That Board of Education member was Hernan Illingworth…who just happens to be a salesman for Bridgeport based Uniformz, whose website reports that the company is, “the premier local supplier of School Uniforms to the students of the Bridgeport (CT) Public School System.”
In this case, Central High School’s new principal, Stephen Anderson, was not a fan of the uniform policies for high schools, but Bridgeport School Board member, Hernan Illingworth, explained to the CT Post, “I am sorry, that is unacceptable… “It is a district policy. He can’t decide he is not going to do it.”
It is hard to imagine that the violation of Bridgeport’s code of ethics and conflict of interest rules could be any clearer.
Hernan Illingworth was, and continues to be, a major force behind the effort to require Bridgeport students to wear school uniforms.
Illingworth works for a company that proudly proclaims that school uniforms are a vital part of their business.
Rather than announce his conflict of interest and exempt himself from discussions and actions related to school uniforms, Illingworth used his position to push for greater enforcement of the uniform policy.
As a member of the Bridgeport Board of Education, Hernan Illingworth took actions that directly benefited him and the company that he works for.
That is an ethics violation.
It is a serious ethics violation and it requires action.
Mayor Finch, the state is waiting to see how you handle this issue.
Christina Kishimoto, Ethics, Hartford Christina Kishimoto, Ethics, Hartford
I was recently introduced to a blog written by Kevin Brookman called “We the People.” Brookman created the site as a way to shine the light of truth into the inner-workings of Hartford City Hall.
One look at the blog and you can see why some of Hartford’s political elite should be living in fear of his efforts to inform the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut about what is actually going on in the state’s capital city.
Of particular note is his recent acquisition of 257 pages of credit card charges by city officials, using their city credit card.
Although the information is certainly a public record, Hartford officials failed to provide Brookman with the information, despite a Freedom of Information request for the data. However, he was finally able to acquire the reports by, as he puts it, “alternative means”.
Brookman writes, “After reviewing the reports below, I can see now why the City did not want me to see them. So much for that transparency they keep talking about.”
The reports reveal literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenditures charged to Hartford City Government Credit Cards.
Many of the charges are clearly personal in nature and it isn’t clear whether these high-ranking Hartford city officials are required to reimburse the city for their personal expenditures.
Assuming the expenditures are reimbursed, it is still a stunning portrayal of arrogance that any public official would think to use a public credit card for such expenditures.
And if the expenses are not reimbursed, there should be a whole lot of job openings in Hartford in the coming weeks and at least one multi-passenger bus ferrying former city employees off to various correctional facilities.
One look at the list will paint a far more provocative picture than I ever could.
And as Brookman notes in his blog, “One of the highest paid City employees, Jose Colon Rivas seems to enjoy the finer things in life, running up a hotel bill at a luxury hotel in California. Over $7,400 in the course of 6 days at the Hotel Palomar in West wood LA. “
Here is a link to the credit card report: http://www.scribd.com/doc/134568220/Hartford-Pcard-Report-All-Users.
Feel free to nominate expenditures that deserve follow-up.
My favorite is the dozens of expenditures on Amazon.com. Maybe part of Malloy’s corporate welfare package for Amazon was an understanding that some key public officials in Hartford would use public funds to buy hundreds of items from Amazon thereby helping the internet giant and funding Connecticut’s growing deficit via Amazon’s new willingness to collect sales tax.
Another “head-scratcher” is the various expenditures for iTunes including $29.97 worth of expenditures that Hartford’s Superintendent of Schools, Christina Kishimoto charged to her City Credit Card. Maybe she was downloading the audio version of the education reformer’s best seller, “How to Privatize American’s Public Schools.”
But Hartford City Treasurer, Adam Cloud, easily beat out Kishimoto with $51.50 worth of iTunes on his Hartford credit card.
And you can find more in Brookman’s blogs, which can be found via the following links: http://wethepeoplehartford.blogspot.com/2013/04/mayor-segarra-get-out-scissors.html?m=0 and http://wethepeoplehartford.blogspot.com/2013/04/city-credit-cards-full-report.html?m=0 and http://wethepeoplehartford.blogspot.com/2013/04/mayor-segarra-time-to-join-aaa.html?m=0
Adam Goldfarb, Charter Schools, Ethics, Malloy, Stefan Pryor Adam Goldfarb, Charter Schools, Conflict of Interest, Ethics, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
Add one more item to the list of real or perceived conflicts of interest surrounding Commissioner Pryor, the State Board of Education and Governor Malloy’s education reform efforts.
It turns out that in addition to serving as Chief of Staff for Connecticut Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, Adam Goldfarb has been serving as Vice President of the People’s Preparatory Charter School Board of Directors in Newark, New Jersey. Goldfarb also served as an intern for Steven Pryor when Pryor served as the Director of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.
Adam Goldfarb was Pryor’s first hire when Malloy’s new Commissioner arrived in Connecticut.
Despite purportedly making $75,000 as a senior policy advisory for Pryor at Newark’s Brick City Development Corporation, Pryor asked Malloy’s Chief of Staff if he could hire Goldfarb as his Executive Assistant at a rate of $99,000 a year plus benefits.
That was just fine with Malloy’s office.
And soon, Goldfarb’s title was changed to Chief of Staff.
And while Connecticut deals with the destructive ramifications of inadequate funding for its schools, Goldfarb’s salary is now up to $106,000 plus those valuable benefits.
But perhaps the most interesting piece of news is that while serving as the Chief of Staff for the Connecticut Department of Education, Goldfarb has been serving as an officer for a charter school in Newark, New Jersey.
People’s Preparatory Charter School was granted a charter by the New Jersey Department of Education in July 2011. The school started with 95 ninth graders in the fall of 2011 and is scheduled to reach its capacity of 380 students in 2014. It is co-located with two other schools in Newark.
According to documents filed with the State of New Jersey, Goldfarb has been with the charter school from the beginning and his term as a member of the People’s Preparatory Charter School Board runs through June 2013.
Of course, we have a Commissioner who co-founded Achievement First, Inc. the large charter school management company and only resigned his position on their Board to become Malloy’s Commissioner of Education. In his capacity as Commissioner he is overseeing policies that are pushing millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to his former company.
More recently we’ve seen Governor Malloy nominate Andrea Comer, a high-ranking official from FUSE/Jumoke, Inc., another charter school management company, to the State Board of Education. FUSE/Jumoke, Inc. is also benefiting from millions in taxpayer funds.
And now we learn that even Pryor’s Chief of Staff is serving on a charter school board of directors.
It makes one wonder…
The list of real and perceived conflicts of interest associated with Commissioner Pryor and the Malloy Administration seem to grow on a daily basis. More to come, but we’ll leave the list as is for now…
Ethics, Poverty Ethics, Poverty
As so many religions celebrate this season of renewal and rebirth, it would seem that some among us have forgotten the core teachings and guidance of the Wise. Whether those words come from the Holy Books or the Holy Visionaries, they follow a common theme;
“A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” – Proverbs 22: v 9
“For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi
“The believer is not the one who eats when his neighbor beside him is hungry.” - Prophet Muhammad
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Buddha
“The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.” – Lao Tzu
Yet according to a recent article in the Atlantic magazine, the wealthiest are often the stingiest. In fact, you could call them miserly when it comes to paying their fair share in taxes and even more miserly when it comes to their level of generosity.
The article explains, “In 2011, the wealthiest Americans—those with earnings in the top 20 percent—contributed on average 1.3 percent of their income to charity. By comparison, Americans at the base of the income pyramid—those in the bottom 20 percent—donated 3.2 percent of their income. The relative generosity of lower-income Americans is accentuated by the fact that, unlike middle-class and wealthy donors, most of them cannot take advantage of the charitable tax deduction, because they do not itemize deductions on their income-tax returns.”
Or as Paul Piff, a professor at the University of California – Berkeley wrote in a New York Magazine article, “The rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people…more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes.”
The Atlantic Magazine will leave you shaking your head as it reveals that the truth that surrounds us;
“Wealth affects not only how much money is given but to whom it is given. The poor tend to give to religious organizations and social-service charities, while the wealthy prefer to support colleges and universities, arts organizations, and museums. Of the 50 largest individual gifts to public charities in 2012, 34 went to educational institutions, the vast majority of them colleges and universities, like Harvard, Columbia, and Berkeley, that cater to the nation’s and the world’s elite. Museums and arts organizations such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art received nine of these major gifts, with the remaining donations spread among medical facilities and fashionable charities like the Central Park Conservancy. Not a single one of them went to a social-service organization or to a charity that principally serves the poor and the dispossessed.”
Furthermore, the Atlantic writes, “More gifts in this group went to elite prep schools than to any of our nation’s largest social-service organizations, including United Way, the Salvation Army, and Feeding America (which got, among them, zero).”
The full article can be found at http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/04/why-the-rich-dont-give/309254/
Bridgeport, Education Reform, Ethics, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas Bridgeport, Education Reform, Ethics, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas
Last week we heard Bridgeport’s Acting Superintendent of School, Paul Vallas, claim that certification was a waste of time for highly capable people like him.
Yet, in Connecticut, certification is required for nearly every administrative and teaching position in our public schools. As it says on the State Department of Education website, “Eligibility for certification will be determined based on review of all required application materials. The type and duration of the certificate issued will depend on proper documentation of your education and experience.”
But in Vallas’ world, certification is… well … optional…
For example, among the individuals that Paul Vallas brought to Bridgeport upon his arrival, via no-bid contracts, was a new Chief Financial Officer named Marlene Siegel. Siegel had previously worked as a deputy superintendent in New York City and continues to do education management consulting on the side.
Although the evidence was clear that these people needed to be classified under federal and state law as employees and not consultants, Vallas held firm that they had to remain consultants.
At one point, the Board of Education even voted 5 to 4 in support of Vallas’ position on the consulting issues, despite more than ample evidence that the Board of Education was breaking the law keeping these employees classified as consultants.
Now that Vallas believes that he is staying around for the next three years, he has changed his position and demanded that these top administrators be made employees. Of course, he wanted that to happen without going through the appropriate process of posting the positions and conducting open and honest interviews to identify the best possible people for the job.
So the majority on the Bridgeport Board of Education dutifully voted 5 to 4 to grant Vallas’ request and turned the long-time consultants into full-time employees, without posting the positions or conducting any interviews.
As the CT Post noted today, the move was not without a bit of controversy, especially when it came to the appointment of Marlene Siegel.
An editorial in today’s CT Post reads, “Before the vote, board members questioned Siegel’s lack of certification to hold the position — a perfectly reasonable line of inquiry. Board member Kenneth Moales, though, called it insulting. But the question was not about Siegel’s ability to do the job, but whether she is legally certified to hold the position. If such questions can’t be raised, then what, exactly, is the point of the school board, and how can it ever be expected to function?”
But the five members loyal to Mayor Bill Finch are so committed to insulating Paul Vallas from criticism that they have become active partners in the scheme to undermine the rule of law.
Here are the facts;
To serve as Chief Financial Officer of the Bridgeport schools, the individual MUST have a School Business Administrator’s certificate. To get the certificate, the person must (1) Hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an approved institution with a major in business administration or public administration, and completed course work in law, accounting, finance, management, personnel and informational systems; OR (b) Holds a bachelor’s degree from an approved institution OR a master’s degree or sixth year degree in education administration, having completed 12 semester hours of credit in school law, school finance, school plant planning and operation, school business administration, budgeting and resource management, personnel, collective bargaining, systems analysis and operation; OR (c) in addition to holding a bachelor’s degree, three years of experience in public or private business administration, educational administration, or public administration, which involves at least six of the responsibilities listed in the school business administrator regulations.”
In addition, the individual must pay a fee and file the appropriate paperwork with the State Department of Education.
Unlike the law that allows Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, to waive some of the certification requirements for his friend, Paul Vallas, there is no mechanism to waive certification for the job of Chief Financial Officer or other key administrative officials.
So has Vallas’ Chief Financial Officer gone through the steps necessary to acquire Connecticut certification?
The answer to that question is a big NO.
And when members of the Board of Education raise that point, the Vice Chair of the Board of Education, who also happened to serve as Finch’s campaign treasurer, says those members are being insulting.
Who knew it was insulting to ask someone to follow the law?
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Ethics, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Stefan Pryor Achievement First, Charter Schools, Conflict of Interest, Ethics, Fuse, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
(Written by Jonathan Pelto and Wendy Lecker)
A Conflict of Interest: A situation in which a public official’s decisions are influenced by the official’s personal interests.
From 2009 to 2011 she served as community outreach director for Achievement First, the large charter school management company co-founded by Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.
In 2012, after a short stint as spokesperson for Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, she went to work for the Jumoke Academy, the Hartford-based charter school.
In October 2012, the Jumoke Academy’s CEO, Michael Sharpe, named her to the post of Chief Operating Officer for FUSE (Family Urban Schools of Excellence), the new charter school management company that Jumoke created to expand and “replicate” its schools.
According to a media report at the time, as COO of FUSE, her job would be to “core operations functions that support FUSE’s mission, overseeing organizational planning and serving as a member of the senior leadership team.”
Just six weeks ago, on February 21, 2013, she went before the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee to speak in favor of more funding for charter schools and Governor Malloy’s education reforms saying, “I am here representing Jumoke Academy and its charter management organization Fuse, as its Chief Operating Officer…”
And then, a few days after that Governor Malloy nominated her to the Connecticut State Board of Education.
In addition to serving as COO of a charter school management company, she would be voting on whether to expand existing charter schools, authorize new charter schools and move more taxpayer funds from public district schools to charter schools.
Yesterday, the legislature’s Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee held a public hearing on her nomination and then immediately voted in favor of her nomination.
Next step for Andrea Comer – the Connecticut House of Representatives – for a final confirmation vote.
Certainly her conflict of interest is obvious.
Under Connecticut law, “A ‘substantial’ conflict of interest exists if a public official or state employee has reason to believe or expect that he or she, his or her spouse, a dependent child, or a business with which he or she is associated will derive a direct monetary gain or suffer a direct monetary loss by virtue of his or her official activity…”
And the law goes on to say that a ‘Business with which…associated’ is defined to include any entity through which business for profit or not for profit is conducted in which the public official or state employee, or a member of his or her immediate family, is a director, officer…”
The language is simple and direct.
The conflict is obvious!
Jumoke Academy’s charter, the document that allows the school to exist, must be reviewed and reauthorized by the State Board of Education on regular basis. The COO of Fuse/Jumoke shouldn’t be on that Board.
Jumoke Academy’s request to expand is voted on by the State Board of Education. The COO of Fuse/Jumoke shouldn’t be on that Board.
The Commissioner’s recommendations concerning The Jumoke Academy at Milner (part of the Commissioner’s Network of “turnaround schools”) is voted on by the State Board of Education. The COO of Fuse/Jumoke shouldn’t be on that Board.
Proposals to expand the number of Jumoke/Fuse schools in Connecticut are voted on by the State Board of Education. The COO of Fuse/Jumoke shouldn’t be on that Board.
Regulations and funding for charter schools is voted on by the State Board of Education. The COO of Fuse/Jumoke shouldn’t be on that Board.
Putting the COO of Fuse/Jumoke on the State Board of Education is inappropriate and wrong.
But wait just a second; on Wednesday she was given a letter from the Office of State Ethics saying that she doesn’t have a “conflict of interest.”
How is that possible?
Because it turns out that according to the Office of State Ethics, the Ethics Code defines the term “Business with which…associated” as “an entity of which you are one of the following: director, officer (i.e., president, executive or senior vice president or treasurer), owner, limited or general partner…”
Despite the fact that she has come before the legislature to call for more funding for charter schools, in general, and Jumoke Academy in particular;
Despite the fact that her job is to expand the number of Jumoke Charter School;
Despite she clearly has a real and perceived conflict of interest;
According to the Ethics Commission’s regulations, as COO, instead of “president, executive or senior vice president or treasurer” she isn’t prohibited from serving on the State Board of Education.
What an amazing travesty of justice.
If something looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quakes like a duck…
And perhaps most shocking of all is why Governor Malloy thinks this appointment is okay. Even if it doesn’t violate the absolute “letter of the law,” it so flagrantly violates the spirit of Connecticut law that it is an insult to everyone who believes in open, honest and transparent government.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Ethics, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor Achievement First, Bridgeport, Charter Schools, Ethics, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor
One of the votes in favor of extending Paul Vallas’ contract as Superintendent of Bridgeport Schools tonight will certainly be Democrat Reverend Kenneth Moales, Jr.
Unlike the spectacular “It Gets Better Project” which communicates to youth around the world that it gets better, and seeks to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them, Kenneth Moales Jr. is a sad reminder that when it comes to politics, sometimes it actually gets worse.
In August 2011, Kenneth Moales was appointed by the Malloy Administration to Bridgeport’s illegal Board of Education. At the time, he was serving as Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer. As a member of the Democratic slate, Moales later won a seat on the democratically elected board.
Less than a year later, when Governor Malloy increased funding for early education slots in the state, Kenneth Moales and his family jumped at the opportunity to expand their daycare facilities. According to the CT Post, “Nearly half of the new preschool slots awarded by the state to the city are going to a program that is part of the ministry of Rev. Kenneth Moales Jr., a state-appointed city school board member.”
The article continued with the information that “Kingdom’s Little Ones Christian Academy, an East End daycare and after-school program run by Moales’ mother, Peggy Moales, and his sister, Kenya Moales-Byrd, is getting 60 of the 130 new slots awarded to the district and some $500,000 that goes with it.”
As Wait, What? readers may remember, an earlier post had focused on the fact that “Kingdom’s Little Ones in Christ, Inc., a company affiliated with Prayer Tabernacle Church of Love, Inc., [Moales’ church] had received approximately $600,000 in public funds for daycare and after-school services from the City of Bridgeport over the past year and more than $2.2 million since 2006.
As if the extra half a million a year wasn’t enough, just two months ago, Kenneth Moles Jr. took an additional step and submitted an application to open a new charter school.
According to Moales, his Bridgeport Prestige Academy College Preparatory Charter School for boys would “prepare young men in grades 3-8 for admission to and success in demanding college preparatory high schools.”
Despite no background in education, except for the fact that he owns daycare centers with his mother and sister, Moales has now positioned himself to collect another $1 million a year in state funds if Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor and the State Board of Education select his proposal in the coming months.
As Vice Chair of the Bridgeport Board of Education and chair of the Board’s Finance subcommittee, Moales has been one of Paul Vallas’ strongest supporters.
As we know, Vallas is fond of making it clear to anyone who will listen that he was brought to Connecticut by Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor. As Bridgeport’s Superintendent of Schools, Vallas will also play a crucial role in the selection of which Bridgeport charter schools get funding.
Will it be Pryor’s own Achievement First that gets more public funds?
Will it be Kenneth Moales, Jr. new charter school?
Tonight’s effort to extend Vallas’ contract is just one more piece of a much bigger puzzle.
It is a puzzle that spells the demise of Connecticut’s system of public education, with some “education reformers” getting rich in the process.