Missing the Target

04May10

Budget Debate

School Board Chairman, a former councilman, on other side of the debate at budget hearing Monday
Richard Weizel, STAFF WRITER
Published: 12:00 a.m., Tuesday, May 4, 2010

STRATFORD — New school board chairman and former Town Council member Gavin Forrester found himself on the other side of the debate Monday night during a public hearing at Bunnell High School on Mayor John A. Harkins’ proposed $184.5 million municipal budget for 2010-11 that would slash the education request by $1.5 million and could mean teacher layoffs and cuts to vital programs.

And here we are, right back where we started; Seniors v. Parents. Seniors want more tax breaks and services for themselves and Parents want every educational program they can get. Each at the other’s expense. This zero sum game will play out into the infinite future.

This debate totally misses the target and wastes valuable time.

We have a mayor and council that are telling us they will lighten our wallets by another $520 based on….Gee, do you know?

No one, not the mayor, not the Council, not the Chief Financial Director, not the Town Attorney knows where the last $180 million went. Poof! “Give me more.” What’s worse is that there is no proposed restructuring of the administration, no new accounting system, no new efficiencies, no budget transparency and no new responsibility or accountability. It’s just the same old black hole we will pour our money into.

Q. How does a politician say “F**k you?”
A. “Trust me”.

It would be funny if it wasn’t totally accurate.

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77 Responses to “Missing the Target”

  1. 1 1george1

    Many bloggers love Gavin.

    But then Gavin may be repping their interest.
    Teachers & town employees pay taxes and vote too….
    even if 50 % or 80 % or 10 % live in other towns?

    I respect Gavin’s intelligence, ability, and public service.

    Something just does not add up, when he consistently sides
    with the DARK SIDE?

  2. 2 jezebel282

    George,

    “Many bloggers love Gavin.”

    Love? Didn’t you know? Gavin is 1/2 the man he used to be.

    “Something just does not add up, when he consistently sides
    with the DARK SIDE?”

    That’s Gavin…Mr Cheery. By the way, Mr. Forrester, posting actual expenses for the BOE wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

  3. 3 ronmoreau

    *$%#@*……..POOF!…….&*#@*$$$$

  4. 4 ronmoreau

    It all depends on what hat your are wearing.

  5. 5 ronmoreau

    Some people have a closet full.

  6. 6 jezebel282

    Ron,

    Lesson 1: You don’t have to click “submit” after every line.

    😉

  7. 7 1george1

    This Council did hit the target by
    1 – Rearranging Budget Hearings to have both /stratford

  8. 8 1george1

    Darn keyboard / fat fingers (Tom Moore original).
    I had no intent to be a Ron Moreau imitator …
    No offense Ron 😉

    Council did good having SHS + BHS Public hearings.
    Allowing people to speak at both.
    Linda Palermo, Karen Rodia, and I spoke at both.

    Karen had interesting and thoughtful comments for each night.
    I could only hear parts of them.
    Perhaps someone can find/get copies of her comments for each night.

    Syl and Linda did not like each other, as an understatement.
    I often find myself partially/fully disagreeing with Linda’s positions and
    definitely with some of those people she is used (Dick M) by or used.

    However, she and stoney brook gardens made huge points, especially
    Mary Henry who quote their taxes are $ 6 a sq foot, while Sikorsky +
    Oronoque are $ 2 a sq foot.

    THAT is a HUGE way to OBJECTIVELY MEASURE peoples’ homes/businesses.

  9. 9 jezebel282

    George,

    “THAT is a HUGE way to OBJECTIVELY MEASURE peoples’ homes/businesses.”

    Actually, it’s not. Do I really need to point out that Sikorksy is the last major employer in Stratford? Sikorksy sneezes and Stratford catches pneumonia. After all the comparisons are over, Stratford must still compete with states like South Carolina, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. The math is not that complex.

    As for an objective measure of the tax burden in Stratford, the answer is simple. There is none.

    Our tax burden is calculated by a template devised by Ben Branyan when he was Town Manager six years ago. Even that was based upon hypothetical operational numbers. Since then (and perhaps before) our budgets have been nothing more than wishful thinking. Unfortunately, we have to pony up the cash for those wishes.

    Until we have an honest accounting of where our money went and how it is currently used no reasonable debate about a budget can take place. Not a single councilman, mayor, department head or chief can answer that question.

    All that is possible are philosophical discussions of what citizens think is important. The “budget” may or may not reflect any of that. Flipping a coin is a better predictor.

  10. 10 1george1

    If I was Mayor, these would be my objectives:

    Town Hall renamed for Ed Hargus
    Police Station renamed for Diane Buda and Eleanor Burke
    Police car motto changed to read “to protect and serve the
    Constitution and legal, ethical and moral laws, with equal
    protection of the law for all Americans

    Ben Branyan and Ben Barnes would be CAO / COO for Town and BoE
    finance and operations – almost regardless of PAY.

    The Town Attorneys would be members of Ralph Nader’s raiders and
    on salary, with secretary pools, including paralegal.

    Monthly departmental expenses would be web posted.
    Salaries, benefits, and pensions would be indexed to reflect local
    situations and state / national realities of Private and Public Sectors.
    (of course negotitated)

    Schools would no longer have Principles, nor assistants.
    They would either be supervisors / teachers or area Managers
    Emphasis would be on educating children, not jobs / pay / benefits.

    The Town Charter would be reopened and 1st Amendment rights
    protected or reinstated.
    – The assistant Mayor would be an elected position.
    – 3 times as year there would be Town Councilors meetings with
    their constituents and meet the department heads
    – Twice weekly there would be meet the mayor
    – Annual Budget Referendums with line items to be OKED, with running
    totals being registered and posted electronically = no cheating.
    – There would be a systemic interactive communications flow from
    constituents to Town Councilors to Mayor and specific department
    head, whose staff would LOG and SOLVE ISSUE or respond back thru
    the chain of command,
    – Every job would be justified
    – Department heads would have to reply to citizen questions for
    Budget Workshops.
    – The past would be looked at without a desire for “pound of flesh.”
    Pensions would be based on defined contribution.
    Remunification can be in the form of donations/policies upon death.
    Unions can keep what they can recover from malpractice insurance. 😉
    Unions can keep what they can recover from R.I.C.O. Civil suit vs. the
    local / state / national parties and elected / appointed.

    Since Harkins told me in January, he was one and done
    and since Gavin is sooooo loved by Weisel and the CT. POST.
    it looks like my Mayoral opponent will be Gavin
    (if they don’t kill me first)

    Gavin has many advantages in being more intelligent and competent
    than I am, better looking, having a better resume (esp EMS), being
    a better speaker and writer, and having the support of both political
    parties personnel and finances.

    Maybe they would bring back Jimmy to run as the reason to vote for
    Gavin? I am certain they have some counterintuitive plan ….

    I would be lucky to get 200 votes … 😦

    I see Linda McMahon is using the normal script about running against
    D. C. or Hartford. Yet, the same way Gavin has the backing of Burturlas,
    Mirons, Fredette, Norm, Camillo, Darth, Cabrol, Hoydics, Kelly – Bishop,
    Florek, Army, state and feds
    – Linda has Watergate’s Weicker on her Board of Directors.
    – Remember uncle Lowell? He went to the same Greenwich Episcopal
    Church as G H W B….., who also starred during Watergate years.
    – I wonder which church Ned Lamont attends? Isn’t he from Greenwich?
    – Isn’t Blumenthol from Greenwich? I wonder if he converted?
    – Aren’t lip lock Lieberman and Malloy from Stamford?

    Uncle Joe Lieberman’s biography about John Moran Bailey was juicy,
    and the biographical data he knew likely helped his political rise …. 😉

  11. 11 genuinephyllis

    Whoa George you failed to mention Peter Schiff(R)…Owner of Euro Pacific..Known to many for his knowledge of Economics..for if anyone bothered to listen to him from 2002- present perhaps things would not be quite so dreadful…
    For more info check on Youtube>> “Peter Schiff was right”..quite intriguing also “Peter Schiff for Senate”.. This man is great and would be benefical to the seat I amost happy Dodd will vacate(finally,sheesh!!)
    Sorry Jez but I think Schiff is the bomb!!!

  12. 12 jezebel282

    Phyl,

    “Sorry Jez but I think Schiff is the bomb!!!”

    No apologies needed. I don’t think anyone is all that excited about the wrestling lady or Miron’s buddy Blumenthal.

    I am just genetically predisposed to a (real) Democrat. Right now, Bernie Sanders and Alan Grayson are my heroes.

    Although I am disappointed Sanders caved on a complete audit of the Fed. I still don’t understand how the Fed can lend money to the big six banks and then they turn around and buy notes from the Treasury at 3% interest. In effect, American taxpayers (you and me) are paying the banks interest on money WE lent THEM.

  13. 13 1george1

    Bernie Sansers, Alan Grayson, Peter Schiff = all unknown by me.

    I will check over the weekend.

    The FED LENDING practices to GE BORROWING RATING guaranteed successful
    ROI from almost FREE MONEY to getting 20 % ROI.

    That GE CEO who backed RON REAGAN’s 20 mule team for GE THEATER made
    either a very prescient investment, OR just another example of the “command
    economy” investing in paying off leaders.

    All the Presidents / Key players get $ 10 – $20 million book deals = same thing,

    Tom Clancy, Grisham, Ludlam, Spielbreg. Lucas, and others don’t work
    directly or indirectly with planning and operations?

  14. 14 1george1

    Combined post:

    1 – I was told yesterday that Rich Weizel and others were cut
    from the CT Post.
    A) Sylvia though Weizel was great.
    B) I thought Weizel was a shill.
    > He was anti Miron
    > Kept any mention of me or many pro Stratford issues from the paper
    > backed the Butternuts agenda.
    C) I still feel badly for Rich and his family.

    2) If Obama was serious about a real consumer protection
    Agency or Department,
    why not:
    A) Put it under Justice Department with FBI support
    B) Appoint Ralph Nader – google his accomplishment – Wikipedia
    C) Make political promises undet consumer protections laws/penalties

    3) NOTE my May 6 Stratford Star Letter to Editor mentions war gamed
    computer program can affect Stock prices and my past mentions
    of analogous to Heath Ledger Joker and Die Hard Fire Sale …..
    > 700 point drop of $ 1 Trillion in under 10 minutes the same day?
    > I wonder what affect if any, there was on the Pension Portfolio.

    4) Note a powerfull Albany Power Broker will go to jail 2 years.
    > So far, Dead Beat Dick has no sentence?
    > I wonder what the results could be relate to arrest, indicment,
    conviction, and jailing of certain Stratford / Bridgeport political…

  15. 15 jezebel282

    Update:

    School board to hold hearing on revised budget May 26

    Written by John Kovach
    Tuesday, 18 May 2010 17:20

    The Board of Education will hold a hearing on its final proposal for the 2010-11 school budget Wednesday, May 26, at 7 p.m. at Center School.

    Chairman Gavin Forrester said it was the first time in recent memory such a hearing had been scheduled.

    The board’s Finance Committee unanimously voted Monday to refer a new proposal to the full school board, taking into account a $200,000 cut imposed by the Town Council when it approved the municipal budget May 10.

    Stratford residents and taxpayers will be given five minutes to speak, Forrester said.

    The revised budget will be posted at stratfordk12.org.

    Forrester said the board hopes to proceed directly from the hearing to a special meeting to move the budget May 26.

    How many teachers, aides, custodians, secretaries (anybody but administrators) are we going to lose because of Connecticare and a 62% rate hike?

  16. 16 1george1

    When the Council passed the Budget, Superintendent Cornish had that smirk.

    I wonder how many seniors have died because of Taxes and costs since the
    beginning of Bush – Cheney / R + D and into local?

  17. 17 jezebel282

    Reminder:

    The Stratford BOE will hold it’s final budget hearing tonight at 7:30PM at Center School.

    I am sure the topic will be dealing with the cuts imposed by the Council in the face of a 62% increase demanded by Connecticare in insurance premiums.

  18. 18 cstratct

    It’s time for people to STOP using the word “cut” when referring to the BOE budget.

    “The board’s Finance Committee unanimously voted Monday to refer a new proposal to the full school board, taking into account a $200,000 cut imposed by the Town Council when it approved the municipal budget May 10.”

    The Town Council DID NOT impose a “cut” of $200K. The BOE budget received a sizable increase, regardless of what caused the increase. The BOE did not receive the total amount requested. THAT IS NOT A “CUT.”

    This type of misleading statement, pushed by the BOE and the Superintendent, is disgusting. Thankfully the BOE didn’t get every penny it requested. They should have received significantly less and eliminated some of the exhorbitant administrative salaries. $200K, that’s not even 2 assistant principal salaries.

    Maybe our tax increase would have only been 2 mill instead of 3.

  19. 19 1george1

    Chris,

    Again you have hit the nail on the head.

    Consider also:
    Normal Benefit packages in the private sector run 40 %
    I forget if this included the approx 8 % FICA / MEDICAID / SS
    The BoE fully funds the Health Care to the cost of over $ 17,000

    Over 60 % of Teachers are at Top pay grade of $ 88,000 to $ 92,000
    All Administrators are over $ 110,000

    Aproximately 300 +/- average cost to Tax Payer exceeds $ 150,000
    pay + benefits

    Teachers work 186 days per year, but have vacation / sick time.
    Administrators work 220 days per year, but have vacation / sick time.

    In no way do I disparage Teaching / Education.
    Just the opposite.

    However compare this to the average and mean incomes and work
    schedules of the people of Stratford

    We have the Education DeGREED complex
    We have the Ancient Orders Rites of DeGREES complex
    We have the Lawyer / Business GREED complex

    Effete elites who are selfish and insensitive to others?

  20. 20 sudds

    HEY CSTRATCT…

    Are you sitting down???

    (before I continue… you’re the arts guy, not the Councilman, right? LOL!!!)

    I AGREE 150% WITH YOUR STATEMENT!!! 😀

  21. 21 gforrester

    Chris;

    “The board’s Finance Committee unanimously voted Monday to refer a new proposal to the full school board, taking into account a $200,000 cut imposed by the Town Council when it approved the municipal budget May 10.”

    Neither the BOE nor the Superintendent gave that quote to the press. The press wrote the article that way as they interpreted what transpired at the meeting. I have never said our budget was cut but rather our requested allocation was reduced so please get your facts straight.

    Also it takes approximately $4.5 million dollars to equal one mill ( George will correct me if I am wrong) so it would take the reduction of all the assistant principals and then some to reduce produce your statement “Maybe our tax increase would have only been 2 mill instead of 3.”

    Now maybe if the Town Council didn’t add $20,000 to the Arts Commission budget the night of the meeting Town we could have fixed more sidewalks or streets or ballfields so our kids could play.

  22. 22 gforrester

    Here is something else that needs to be looked at. I know that some members of the Town Council have indicated to expect the same amount this year as next year for both the municipal side and BOE side but there appears to be State of CT. mandates with regards to spending in order to qualify for ECS funding.

    From the Ct Post today re: Seymour.

    “That budget figure is the same as the current year’s budget, and if it is cut further it will fall below the state mandated per pupil funding level, officials warn.

    If that happens, the next state Education Cost Sharing grant could be reduced $2 for every dollar the district underfunds the budget.

    “I think we need to get the Board of Finance, the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Education together and take a close look at that state statute,” said tax board chairman Mark Thompson. “

  23. 23 jezebel282

    Whoa there, Mr. Forrester.

    “state mandated per pupil funding level”

    Care to define “per pupil funding”? Does a $50,000 bonus to Dr. Cornish count as “per pupil funding” for example?

  24. 24 gforrester

    Now Jez;

    You know based upon the contract that was signed last November that her salary was reduced to $90,000 from upwards of $160,000 +. Besides none of the contracts currently in place were voted on by this Board as group so if your giving the Mayor an opportunity to deal with the contracts & pensions it’s only fair to do the same for the BOE.

    Honestly I am not sure what the calculation is since I have never run across that issue but I am just going off what was reported in the newspaper to point out something that might have to been addressed in the coming years.

  25. 25 jezebel282

    Mr. Forrester,

    “so if your giving the Mayor an opportunity to deal with the contracts & pensions it’s only fair to do the same for the BOE.”

    LOL! Consider this as me being fair to you.

    “I am just going off what was reported in the newspaper”

    I understand that. But I just want to be sure that we are not talking about “per pupil funding” as having BOE meetings in the Caymans and a parking lot full of BMW’s. I was sort of hoping for actual dollars spent on actual pupils.

  26. 26 jezebel282

    Mr. Forrester,

    “You know based upon the contract that was signed last November that her salary was reduced to $90,000 from upwards of $160,000”

    I almost forgot….

    There is that $50,000/year bonus for every year she is there correct? So, it’s not really $90,000 is it?

  27. 27 gforrester

    Caymans and a parking lot full of BMW’s. – WOW now why didn’t I think of that, I think I might have to endorse you to run for BOE lol.

    I’ll look at the contract again as I don’t YET have it memorized word for word.

  28. 28 jezebel282

    Mr. Forrester,

    “WOW now why didn’t I think of that,”

    Oh right, you were a councilman not a town attorney.

  29. 29 cstratct

    Gavin,

    Go back to last year and look as some of the comments from the Superintendent. This type of language absolutely was used when talking about the proposed reduction to the BOE budget, and NOT just by the press.

    When talking about the reduction last year Superintendent Cornish said this:

    “I can understand that the union executive board felt they had made concessions last year and is determined not to make any more. I also have stated repeatedly said contracts should be honored. But I think we are living in a very tough economic climate and after the council restored a considerable portion of the mayor’s cut, the union could have compromised to save jobs and keep our staffing level intact.”

    http://www.allbusiness.com/education-training/education-systems-institutions/12478721-1.html

    Did you catch that last line? After the council restored a considerable portion of the mayor’s cut…”

    And how much of an increase did the BOE get last year?

    So how about you get off your high horse. Talk about thin skinned.

    And as for the arts commission budget, the summer arts festival offers Stratford residents a recreational opportunity that is sorely needed in this town, considering the loss of Stratford Day and a dire lack of community activities.

    You really are a piece of work Gavin. I know it was Mr. Kovach who wrote that particular statement, but the idea of a “cut” is perpetuated by BOE members and the Superintendent.

  30. 30 cstratct

    And yes, please look at the contract again. If my memory serves me correctly, the Superintendent will receive $90,000 per year PLUS the $50K bonus for $140K per year.

    Cornish will be paid an annual salary of $90,000, plus an annuity of $50,000, starting July 1 — nearly 30 percent lower than her current salary of $196,413, according to the school board.

    http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Stratford-superintendent-retiring-but-not-284904.php

  31. 31 phineast

    I’m going to chime in on this one-
    Gavin-I graduated from BHS in a class of 461 students, which at the time I was there was a median size senior class. We didn’t have the huge addition to the school and we all survived 4 corners and the number of students in the classes which ranged from 25-30 depending on the class popularity. Many members of my class have been quite successful-Wall Street Hedge Managers, SISCO exec’s, doctors, nurses, etc. The biggest change I have seen is that SEVERAL former classrooms are now OFFICES for the multiple layers of department heads. Back in the day there was one department head for each subject town wide., not one for each school in addition to….you have heard lots of this before and when you were on council you used to actually say it as well. The BOE is just TOOOOOOOOOO top heavy. It is just TOOOOOOOOOOO expensive to continue to maintain in this fashion. If BOE members need to really grasp this concept-I believe that you do for the most part. I also believe that there are BOE members that will protect admin jobs at all costs. Here is the thing-I don’t have a problem paying the per pupil requirements IF I can be shown that our students are really and truly the real beneficiaries. There are lots of things that are included in the costs that should be parental responsibility-and if they want it it should be self funding. The BOE is going to bankrupt the town- we have how many other departments operating in town that when you add them all together are less than the BOE operating budget. The is something dramatically wrong with this picture. No offense to Ms Cornish but there are heads of universities that make less than she does. You can have a teacher with an amazing pedigree that sucks as a teacher and one that has a 4 year degree that is amazing at their job. I personally thing the pedigree step line needs to be negotiated away as well as tenure. The teachers need the supplies to do their job, they need a curriculum that is set up in reasonable and achievable fashion and the kids need the opportunity to have TIME in the curriculum to actually master their subjects. That is how the kids will do better give them time to master their subjects and the teachers time to teach them-don’t throw the money at supervisors which is what I believe has been historically done. If we are going to see a positive change this is some of what needs to be done. The real problem is that we need someone who has the gonads to take it on. I had high hopes that it would be you. I wish you luck and will do my best to support you if you choose to really help the town-if it is more of the same old same old I won’t be part of that. Good luck.

  32. 32 jezebel282

    The NYC school system serves 1.1 million students with 1,600+ schools, 80,000 teachers and a $21 billion annual budget.

    Joel Klein, the NYC School Chancellor takes home about $25/hour more than the Stratford Superintendent in total compensation.

    I’m jus’ sayin’…..

  33. 33 gforrester

    Chris:

    “You really are a piece of work Gavin. I know it was Mr. Kovach who wrote that particular statement, but the idea of a “cut” is perpetuated by BOE members and the Superintendent.”

    Your statement was “This type of misleading statement, pushed by the BOE and the Superintendent, is disgusting.” and it was made with reference to this years newspaper article and the $200,000 reduction in allocation. You are saying that the Board is using the term “cut” and that is simply not an accurate statement.

  34. 34 gforrester

    phineast

    You make many valid points and the national trend is to eliminate tenure and go to a more performance based system for educators but it will take time to change contracts and past practice. Not sure when you went to school but I would venture to guess that it was a much different environment in terms of governmental mandates and reporting requirements, each of which brings with it more paperwork with unproven results. We have a trickle down process working whereby the State Legislature passes along new laws which put the burden on the local boards to implement with no funding attached to them. Just this past session a complete reform of secondary education with more class credits required in world language and the sciences was approved to go into effect for 2018 so Connecticut could have a better application for Race To The Top funding. Problem is that if we don’t get the funding the requirements are still law and we will have to hire more teachers to implement, and who pays, we do.
    The entire salary structure is out of balance, not only in Stratford, but in the entire state and it will not change overnight. I get the fact that throughout Connecticut people are tired of paying for Administrators and Supervisory personnel, just look at what is happening in Seymour where they can’t pass a school budget, so maybe it is time to once again look at changing the charter to allow for referendums on both budgets, at least that way there is no one to blame but ourselves.

    Maybe if more people showed an interest and came to Board meetings changes would come about faster, last night we had maybe 20 citizens who came to the budget public hearing and were matched by about an equal number of teachers and staff.

  35. 35 cstratct

    Gavin,

    I stand by my words. I believe the BOE and the superintendent do nothing to dispel the notion that a refusal by the Town Council to fully fund a proposed BOE budget is “cut” when in actuality that is not the case. I provided a specific example from the previous year that is consistent with my statement. While those exact words may never have come from you, I haven’t seen the BOE or the superintendent attempt to clarify the situation. It’s disingenuous and leads people to incorrect conclusions. Again, I never said that you made this statement, but I do believe the BOE and the superintendent has a hand in muddying the waters.

    And for what it’s worth, if you believe the “entire salary structure is out of balance” as you stated above, why do you take such offense at my raising the issues of administration salaries and the number of administrators?

    As for changing the charter to allow for referendums, we elect school board members who are supposed to be fiscal watchdogs. How is a referendum going to affect the administrative structure? If the budget is defeated, the BOE will do what it did last night, cut front line teachers while the administrative structure stays intact. A referendum isn’t going to change that, is it? Will residents be able to vote on who stays and who goes or a reorganization of the administrative structure? I would be very surprised if that is the case but would happily admit my error if I’m incorrect.

  36. 36 gforrester

    Chris;

    So in your mind you proved your statement about the Board by locating a quote from a previous year by the Superintendent and can automatically come to the conclusion that means the the Board is “disingenuous”.

    That being the case we will agree to disagree as it is obvious that we don’t agree on this or many other issues.

  37. 37 cstratct

    Gavin,

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough the first time around. What I find disingenuous is the fact that neither the BOE nor the superintendent does anything to dispel the notion that the Town Council’s refusal to fully fund the BOE request is tantamount to a “cut” in funding. If you read the first paragraph from my previous statement you’ll see that is exactly the case I described. I believe that the lack of clarification perpetuates the idea the refusal to fund is the equivalent of a “cut” in funding.

    Obviously we don’t agree on many issues related to the BOE but I do find it curious that you ignore the entire second part of the discussion. If you believe the “entire salary structure is out of balance,” why do you take such offense at my raising the issues of administration salaries and the number of administrators?

    Also, how is a referendum going to affect the administrative structure? If the budget is defeated via a referendum, the BOE will do what it did last night, cut front line teachers while the administrative structure stays intact. A referendum isn’t going to change that, is it? Will residents be able to vote on who stays and who goes or a reorganization of the administrative structure?

    I’m not making this personal but it seems you keep taking it as such. By coming here and raising these issues and ideas you open them up to discussion. I’m simply taking the opportunity to address question those ideas. Your senseless jab at the Arts Commission budget was nothing more then a petty sneer meant to (I assume) take a shot a me for questions and comments about the BOE and its handling of the budget. For what it’s worth, that $20k is 1/6 of one asst. principals salary and will help to provide a community-wide event which will be open to all the residents to enjoy.

  38. 38 gforrester

    Chris;

    What I find disingenuous is the fact that neither the BOE nor the superintendent does anything to dispel the notion that the Town Council’s

    Chris what would you have us do – hold a press conference to clear the air. I am not in the business of “dispelling” any misconceptions that are out there.

    If you believe the “entire salary structure is out of balance,” why do you take such offense at my raising the issues of administration salaries and the number of administrators?

    The salary structure for the entire State seems to be out of balance not just Stratford and that does not mean that the individuals that we have in administrative positions don’t perform their tasks so cutting them without someone else to complete the tasks would be pointless. Of the 5.9 teaching positions that were cut 1 was due to reduced enrollment and remaining were because we had excess capacity and the work could be absorbed by someone else. As I have already said I took no offense to your line of questioning but it is easy to sit back and say we should reduce the number of administrators and then not have to offer any suggestions so to who should absorb their duties.

    My point about a referendum was that people who now feel that they have no say in how much they are taxed would have the power of the referendum. Of course they have no say, just as they have no say on the municipal side, as to how it gets spent. Based upon term limits no Board member can stand for re-election so what accountability does the public have?

    The point about the arts commission funding is to question how much more money do we have to continue to fund without any return on our investment during dire economic times. You are entitled to your opinion regarding intent and we don’t agree on most issues, BOE related or not.

  39. 39 rex525

    I have to agree with most of Phin’s statement, another problem in the education field is the excess administration pressuring teachers to teach students to pass the mastery test, not in teaching students to master the subject matter.

    Bureaucracy runs deep in public education and to even consider laying off teachers before administrators is a deplorable thought. But what else can you expect from a bureaucracy that thought it wise to “dumb down” americas future? Don’t think so, pay attention to your next young cashier who enters the wrong amount of cash tendered and watch them panic in an attempt to figure out your correct change. Gavin, give em hell, that’s what we sent you there for!

  40. 40 1george1

    Also it takes approximately $4.5 million dollars to equal one mill
    ( George will correct me if I am wrong)
    GM > GAVIN us CORRECT.

    so it would take the reduction of all the assistant principals and
    then some to reduce produce your statement
    “Maybe our tax increase would have only been 2 mill instead of 3.”

    GM > If we eliminated ALL Principles, Assistants, and BoE management
    it might be 25 people making:
    $ 110,000 to $ 160,000 per year +
    $ 30,000+ unemployment insurance since $ 51,200 pay had $ 14,300 cost +
    $ 16,500 net healthcare cost +
    Vacation + sick days + MEDICAID + SS ? + other benefits
    STATE RETIREMENT – PENSIONS

    With Branyan’s own figures last night, the Health + Unemployment insurances
    on the $ 51,100 employes was about $ 31,100 or about 60 % benefit to salary
    before all of the other goodies.

    Now I see how Berchem has his BoE empire, with Towns / Housing / Parking
    / Insurance / Construction / Real Estate / Accounting assets / JUDGES /
    PROSECUTORS / US ATTORNEYS / SENATE / CONGRESS / STATE REPS / it is a
    nice criminal enterprize legitimatized by Tammany tactics of color of the law.

    I no longer need anything stolen from my computer.
    It was always a means to an end.

    The local dregs believed it was them that I endangered.
    They are mostly worthless pawns who will be double crossed when the DJIA
    crashes after the Municipal and State Budgets get passed.

    I DO NOT want people losing their homes.
    I DO NOT want people committing VIOLENCE against TOWN COUCILORS
    present and past, nor TOWN COMMITTEE members nor BOARD of ED, nor
    TEACHERS, nor police. nor fire.

    How many future fires of homes will be to collect insurance money?
    Maybe a fireman dies or REALLY has a REAL lifetime DISABILITY because
    people could no longer afford their home?

    I think we should consider having at least 2 armed police at each door
    of every Town Council, Zoning, and Board of Ed meeting.
    Will POLICE or ELECTED OFFICIALS or TOWN COMMITTEE people die or
    be injured by people who lose their home?
    I am against violence for many reasons.
    Humanity – Morality – Empathy – Futility – wrong targets

    Teachers and Administrators are getting packages equal to or greater
    than pay and the top level are costing Tax payers over $ 170,000 annually
    with majority of police and fire packages and pension over $ 130,000

    over 70 % teachers pay no stratford property tax
    over 70 % fire pay no stratford property tax
    over 50 % police pay no stratford property tax

    Majority of top people on Town Committees pay $ 1 sq ft living space
    when lot size, garage + porch st ft factored, while most other pay $ 3
    to the Broadbridge $ 6 sq ft..

    Years ago Hank Ciechuk was paying almost 1/2 what Burturla + Norm
    were paying property taxes n their castles with multiple car garages
    and multiple porches with lots 6 times Hank’s lot size for his cape and
    1 car garage and tiny porch.

    Teachers, Police, Fire, all want more.
    It is understandable.
    They know they have a great deal.
    I suspect very few have run the numbers and comparisons.

    I doubt GAVIN has truly analysed the problems he and his social set and
    peers of upper crust are causing people.

    – Jeze – I am channelling the late great ED “BEEFY” HARGUS when I write
    about Senior citizens and low / fixed income.

  41. 41 jezebel282

    Wait a minute. What am I missing here?

    10 teachers were laid off (fired, let’s be honest) last year and another 6 (5.9?) fired this year and we have less students (really?).

    Zero assistant or full principals were laid off either year? How many teachers and students must we lose before we don’t need a single assistant principal? 20 teachers, 30? 100?

  42. 42 1george1

    Jeze,

    Are you agreeing with Chris on the same issues I raised from the O’Connell days
    about the number and need for “dunsel” management?

  43. 43 jezebel282

    George,

    “Are you agreeing with Chris”

    Me? Agree with Chris on something about Stratford?

    I suppose it is possible…..

  44. 44 1george1

    Gavin,

    Can we agree with Chris on a “certain” singular situation?

    A cut should be defined as a reduction from a actual past figure
    and not be defined as a reduction from a proposed figure?

  45. 45 1george1

    Gavin,

    I tend to agree with another term used by chris, but not necessarily in the
    context in which it was used ….. “disingenuous.”

    In politics loop holes are allowed.

    Grand theft takes place.

    Loop holes are closed.

    All better?

    Not exactly.

    Free money was used to make huge profits.

    People who got the free money are happy to repay and maybe
    pay what appears to be a penalty.
    However the repayment and penalty pales compared to illegal
    but scrubbed to be made legal … profits.

    Now Gavin considers a Budget Referendum?

    The AVCO and SHAKESPEARE assets, among others will have been
    steered and stolen, right GAVIN?

    The STOCK MARKET will bottom again, with certain people flush with
    CASH to BUY UP the newly DEPRESSED prices.

    Generally Shakespeare was correct about Lawyers and their surrogates,
    although violence is not the answer.
    Can’t shame the shameless.

    But it is nice to see Gavin post some explanations, which appear true, like
    many of the things Ron Reagan would truthfully state, things people knew
    to be lies, but Reagan trusted what he was told, so he could tell the truth.

    Kinda like Rich Weisel’s coverage of Miron / Henrick – Miron / Feehan Acting.

    It has gotten so that I do not trust much of what I read or am told.

    The documents deleted by human scum were value to them as they feared
    being used against them or to use situations against me. They are worthless
    scum who were obstacles to my targets much higher than them.

    And they shall be betrayed!

  46. 46 jezebel282

    George,

    I’m not sure that only every other paragraph being relevant to anything qualifies.

    However…..

    “Teachers, Police, Fire, all want more.”

    You mean like humans? Actually like most people (maybe more so with the police & fire) above all they want fairness.

    It is extremely depressing for cops to watch as the golden 10 continue to get away with whatever they want while racking up the OT. Grievances are ignored, requests for standard documents are denied, phone calls to supervisors are not returned or acknowledged and IA investigation are initiated for the most trivial actions. Yet nothing happens and nothing is done.

    Firefighters put on their uniforms and have no idea whether what they are told is a lie or the truth.

    Teachers are told teach it my way or the highway. And, by the way, where are those scores and reports? There are not enough young ones left to resist.

    I would have to say at this point it’s not about the money. It’s about basic fairness. For a few months there was hope, but now that has faded.

  47. 47 rex525

    Jez, “I would have to say at this point it’s not about the money. It’s about basic fairness”

    A brief internet search supports your thesis, in about 30 seconds the following was found on the web:

    “The following is a list of ten motivation zapping organizational behaviors that will demotivate your employees.

    Create an atmosphere full of company politics.
    Develop unclear expectations regarding your employees’ performance.
    Create a lot of unnecessary rules for employees to follow.
    Plan unproductive meetings for employees to attend.
    Promote internal competition between employees.
    Withhold information critical for employees to perform their work.
    Provide criticism instead of constructive feedback.
    Tolerate poor performance so your high performing employees feel taken advantage of.
    Treat employees unfairly.
    Underutilize the capability of your employees.”

    It would seem from the outside looking in, that Stratford is using the previous list as past and current town policy.

  48. 48 jezebel282

    Rex,

    Precisely.

    Management 101.

    However, in this case our lives, property and children’s education are at stake.

    Every single cop in Stratford knows without doubt that he/she will have zero support back at 900 Longbrook. Any positive initiative will be met with punishment.

    The same is true for any EMS volunteer. It may be a little worse there since the only administrative activity seems to be finding fault and distributing punishment.

    The FD is a little stranger since there seems to be no direction on anything. The primary purpose of the top command seems to be solely focused on telling Mayor Harkins whatever he wants to hear.

    Teachers may have it the easiest if they can struggle through the miles of red tape every day and actually teach children something.

    Even more demoralizing is that this sorry state has been going on for four and a half years. Clearly, it’s not about the money.

  49. 49 cstratct

    Gavin,

    I appreciate the more measured tone in your last response, but once again you create more questions then answers.

    You stated “The salary structure for the entire State seems to be out of balance not just Stratford and that does not mean that the individuals that we have in administrative positions don’t perform their tasks so cutting them without someone else to complete the tasks would be pointless.”

    Isn’t that the point of a reorganization? Major organizations downsize all the time to gain efficiences of scale. Productivity gains can be made with fewer people in certain positions. Honest question: How many administrators have been let go over the past two years? How about the past five? Or ten?

    Now how about teachers?

    Positions can be restructured so the tasks can be completed by others. Two asst. principals and a principal at each high school? Surely some efficiency of scale can be had there.

    As for this statement, “The point about the arts commission funding is to question how much more money do we have to continue to fund without any return on our investment during dire economic times.” How do you get a “return on investment” on “fixing sidewalks or ballfields so our children can play”? The ROI on fixing a ballfield is no different then a community-wide event? Unless the town is charging for use of the sidewalk or ballfield and is actually getting a ROI on these, you’re simply throwing out a red herring to cover the fact that you took offense at what I said and decided to take a shot. That’s your prerogative, but at least be honest about the intent.

  50. 50 cstratct

    PS – This was not supposed to be a question:

    The ROI on fixing a ballfield is no different then a community-wide event.

  51. 51 jezebel282

    Cstrat,

    “The ROI on fixing a ballfield is no different then a community-wide event.”

    Not to get in between you or Gavin, but sidewalks and ballfields last longer.

    (Sitting back now. Carry on, gentlemen.)

  52. 52 sudds

    Before I weigh in on this issue…

    sidenote: I tend to enjoy/suport the arts… but I also tend to think (since only a small percentage of taxpayers actually attend) that the arts should NOT be taxpayer funded.

    Can someone please tell me what the Arts Commission plans on doing with this $20k? (and what sort of expenses it will cover)

    Thanks!!!

  53. 53 cstratct

    Jezebel,

    “ballfields last longer.” That is debatable. There is constant upkeep on the property and supplies needed for the maintenance. The wear and tear requires maintenance, just like public parks. Besides the fact that you’re comparing apples to bulldozers.

    Sudds, how many taxpayers use a ballfield? Not all residents use every amenity offered by the town. Not every resident uses the library or the school system. Not all residents get the benefit of senior tax relief.

    The argument that because not every taxpayer attends an event or uses a service it shouldn’t be publicly funded means that basically the government shouldn’t provide any service or event/activity.

    As to what sort of expenses will be covered, the rental of supplies (tents, risers, lights, audio equipment), the artist fees (if any).

    And by the way, at this point I don’t know if admission will be charged, but whether through admissions or donations some of the costs will be offset.

    There are always going to be activities, projects or programs that the government funds that someone is going to find objectionable. I’m sure some people would argue that the health department shouldn’t pay for flu vaccines. The argument that “I don’t get one, so why should I have to pay for someone else to get one” misses the point completely.

    I have never advocated for unlimited funding for arts and cultural progams. I’ve never advocated for unlimited funding for anything. But do I think government has a role to play in supporting programs/activities that do benefit society as a whole (even if not every individual takes part in the activity/program).

  54. 54 jezebel282

    CStrat,

    “Besides the fact that you’re comparing apples to bulldozers.”

    I think Gavin and you were doing that. I was just being obvious.

    I agree that just because you do not use a public service is not a reason to refuse to fund it. I have never been incarcerated, but I see the need to fund correctional facilities. Likewise, my house has never had a fire (OK, those lamb chops don’t count. I told you, I thought I turned them off.) but I would not object to paying for a fire department.

  55. 55 sudds

    woooooooo Trigger!!!

    Breathe cstratct… breathe!!!

    I was just looking for information, and you got awfully defensive awfully quickly!!!

    Anyway…

    I think that $20k for this event is NOT a large sum to ask for.

    BUT (isn’t there always a but?)… I just wonder (relax there cstratct… I said “I wonder”) if there are other means of income (grants, sponsorships, ad revenue, etc) that can/should be required before the town just forks over tax dollars!?!?!

  56. 56 1george1

    Balzac motto to be on the Dollar:

    “All great fortunes, are made from great crimes!”

    Stratford to change the government’s motto to

    “So WHAT! This IS Stratford!”

  57. 57 sudds

    PS… can anyone shed a little light for me on how the Stratford Festival Group/Council/Comission/whatever is paying to rent a prime piece of commerical real estate???

    http://www.acorn-online.com/joomla15/stratfordstar/news/localnews/58718-stratford-plans-festivals-for-all-seasons.html

    note: if someone tells me this is taxpayer funded I am going to freak-out!!!

  58. 58 phineast

    Gavin- Thank you for the well presented response. We all agree on one thing-the BOE is too costly to maintain in its current state of hierarchy. Now maybe since we know what we agree on lets figure out a way to debate some possible solutions.

    I have a question that maybe you can answer, Gavin. Out of the entire BOE budget what is the amount in total that we receive in outside funding? I have a reason for asking this-it has to do with the “mandates”. Actually it is a legal question….in addition to financial. What are the ramifications legally and financially if Stratford (and other communities as well) sat back and said we cannot afford these mandates so were aren’t going to abide by them……..I mean not all the mandates but some of the most paralyzingly expensive ones.
    Also can you provide this forum with a short list of the most expensive mandates? And while you are at it if you have time, a list of the most counterproductive mandates.
    The reason that I ask for this is we the people have had it-we can’t sly a dragon if we don’t know what it looks like-so if you help us in identifying the target we can begin to work toward change and maybe get it accomplished before the Town and everyone in it are bankrupt.
    One last question for you Gavin, when is the BMD contract up and is the Board giving consideration to utilization of another firm when that contract expires? One of my friends keeps asking me if I can get the answer to this….Thanks again for your service and dedication to the town.

  59. 59 jezebel282

    Phin,

    “Out of the entire BOE budget what is the amount in total that we receive in outside funding?”

    I’ll take the easy ones (sorry Gavin):

    $22,961,753 (all of which is deposited in the Town’s General Fund)

    http://stratfordk12.org/images/customer-files/ParentResources/ProposedBudget20102011.pdf

    “legally and financially if Stratford (and other communities as well) sat back and said we cannot afford these mandates so were aren’t going to abide by them”

    Then we get to duke it out in State and Federal court. While our funding is suspended, of course.

    “I mean not all the mandates but some of the most paralyzingly expensive ones.”
    http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/reg/edpicks.jhtml?src=ln

    Good luck. It’s an incredible read. One thing that stands out is how the Secretary of the Department of Education repeatedly states in the regulations that no one knows how much this will cost.

    NCLB is a way for politicians to claim they’ve done something about education while assigning all the cost to us. No accountability for any politician. Sound familiar?

    I think Mr. Forrester would agree that Scheff v. O’neil is an expensive unfunded mandate as well as DCF placing children in our schools with no financial support at all. And that only scratches the surface. But the testing, reporting, testing, more reporting, a bit more testing and still more reporting can’t be an efficient system.

  60. 60 cstratct

    Sudds,

    There was no defensiveness. It was simply a way of pointing out the fallacy of your argument. There are many programs/activities that are not “universal” in the sense that not every resident utilizes the program or partakes of the activity. We still support those programs/activities with public dollars.

    Now, are you sitting down? I agree that funding should be diversified and should inlcude foundations, individual donations, corporate donations (and/or sponsorships), and earned revenue. Ideally an event like this would be self-sustaining or at least require only a minimum of public funding.

    Regarding the PS, I don’t have any knowledge regarding the facility, but there’s nothing in the article indicating that rent is being paid. If I can find out I’ll let you know. It could be a situation where the building is being leased/rented for a nominal fee ($1). The terminology escapes me at the moment, but I’m sure you get the idea.

  61. 61 phineast

    Jez-thanks for the weekend reading…..
    now here is the really tough question-how much does it cost us to provide for the unfunded mandates……is it more than what we bring in? If it is then it’s time for a policy revolution!

  62. 62 1george1

    Phin,

    I have posted answers to the question about outside funding / ECS for years.

    3 years ago Cornish set up the power point showing about
    25 % of Boe Budget is mostly State Grants
    On $ 80 million Budget that is $ 20 million
    On $ 70 million Budget that is $ 17.5 million
    On $ 60 million Budget that is $ 15 million
    On $ 40 million Budget that is $ 10 million

    Over the past 12 + years, an estimated $ 83 million was shorted to ECS
    Concurrently about $ 150 million was shorted to Town / BoE

    Because I raised those issues and Grants issues for years, and
    embarrased Miron. he was smart enough to increase Grants to
    Town by $ 6 million this year and $ 4 million next,

    When the Budget were lower in the 1990s to 2000s, then the
    same $ 4 or $ 6 million shortfall had a greater effect on Taxes.

    I

    The UNIONS position on the PENSION BOND is a LIE to try to cover
    the cascadingly increasing PENSIONS

    The NON Transition of AVCO in 1992 to over 10,000 jobs impacted
    Tax Base.

    The closed Shakespeare ,,,,,

    Everything has gone towards forcing changes people in DC wanted to
    Bridgeport and Stratford after 1987.
    Note the change in ZIP CODES where TRUMBULL + STRATFORD were
    ….. made into a continuation of BRIDGEPORT’S ZIP CODE.

    Stratford ZIP CODE was 06497 …………. off DI / off ID
    Southport was 06490 …………………….. of DIO (deus)
    Fairfield was 06430 ……………………….. of C.O.D.

  63. 63 1george1

    It is not inconceivaable that Stratford’s $ 200,000,000 Capital debt
    and $ 180,000,000 paid into Pensions since 2002 should neve have
    occurred.

    Norco and Branyan BOTH estimated $ 5 million a year in Town and BoE
    unfunded mandates, concurrently existed for at least 10 to 15 years.

    I have writen that Berchem / Kelly / Florek probably cost Stratford a
    minimum of $ 1 Billion and possibly $ 2 Billion in
    extra debt
    lost revenues
    added obligations.

    That may be conservative

    Gavin and Jeze, both have to concede I was well ahead of them posting
    these …. but if you defer to waiting for them to write it because you
    choose to believe people who would not touch the issue when I was,
    that is fine with me.

    Better late than never,

    When I write better late than never, I also refer to the numb nuts who
    have been on the Town councils, BoE, Zoning, Town Committees and
    Department heads for the last 23 – 25 years.

    But then, I am not related to any of them.
    Nor do I work for them.
    Nor do I get contracts from them.
    Nor do I have dust on my knees.

    USA politics is not a meritocracy. It is who you know and who you bl**

  64. 64 jezebel282

    Phin,

    “is it more than what we bring in?”

    You have to phrase the question differently. Obviously, it is illegal to run a deficit so the minimally correct answer would be “no”. On the other hand, since we have laid off 15.9 teachers, secretaries, custodians (hmmm, no assistant principals?) in the past two years you could also say “yes”.

    Remember when Bush started wielding the axe on taxes for the wealthy and claiming spending reductions? That was sorta true. What he did was cut funding to education, housing (Section 8), outreach programs, food stamps and infrastructure. That had to be funded by the states and then finally pushed down to local property taxes.

    Essentially, the burden was shifted from your paycheck to your mortgage payment.

    As for the cost to us of “No Child Left With a Dime”, you could say that any reporting requirements or testing that is not solely required and approved by our own Board of Education is an extra expense.

  65. 65 1george1

    po tam kin

  66. 66 jezebel282

    Reprinted without permission (but I don’t think she will mind):

    Funds should support education, not administrators
    Published: 03:25 p.m., Thursday, September 16, 2010

    I was happy to learn that Stratford will get $1.8 million in stimulus funds for education. Our children are our future and a better education may breed better politicians! I hope it goes for education rather than to further line the pockets of the school board administration on East Broadway. My husband is a school employee. He works as a school custodian and I can tell you, he’s not “raking in the dough.” No raise last year and probably nothing this year. After 26 years, he’s at the top step of his salary range which isn’t much, but he has a job. The administration will get their annual and merit raises for “doing their jobs” while my husband who rarely misses a day and has an incredible work ethic has never even been given a pat on the back. I doubt they even know his name!

    The same goes for the other custodial employees. Think they ever been considered for merit raises? The administration continuously sucks more out without ever give anything back. The administration needs to take it away from someone in order to keep and get more for themselves. My husband will have a pension, but it’s money taken from each paycheck which the town was to properly invest. Did they?

    There’s a saying: “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.” Maybe the school board on East Broadway should hold a bake sale!

    Patricia Clark Sperling

    Stratford

    (Ok…I HOPE she doesn’t mind)

  67. 67 sudds

    Does she have to use the words “my husband” so much???

    What a “downer”!!! 😛

  68. 68 1george1

    WONDER WOMAN PCS rocks.
    Adding BATMAN visual sound effects to highlite MRS PCS … 😉

    Our children are our future and a better education may
    breed better politicians!

    KAPOW!!

    I hope it goes for education
    rather than to
    further line the pockets
    of the school board administration
    on East Broadway.

    ZAP!! CURTAINS!!

    No raise last year and probably nothing this year.
    After 26 years, he’s at the top step of his salary range
    which isn’t much, but he has a job.

    OLIVER TWIST dared to ask for “MORE?”

    I doubt they even know his name!

    THEY DO NOW!
    HE’LL BE SHININ TOYLETS!

    “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need
    and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.”

    THIRRRREEELLLLL!!
    YEAAASSTT!

    Maybe the school board on East Broadway should hold a bake sale!

    BOOOOOOM! KAPOWIE!! ZAP!!

  69. 69 pcsperling

    Jeze, of course I don’t mind…… Sudds…….sorry, I think…LOL George….Thank you! Trust me, the BOE needs an overhaul, and they should start at the top! There’s a serious, serious problem there and it’s only getting worse.

  70. 70 1george1

    PCS,
    When Mrs. Cornish started and had the 3 Assistant superintendents
    of O’Connell find other employment the next year and saved those
    salaries for another year … I had high hopes.

    She hired Ben Branyan and implemented many good things.

    Then the hierachial politcal empire building started all over with her
    own people and/or political hires and then huge pay raises for Ben …

    I like Irene and Ben, better than I liked O’Connell.

    However the politically elected Board of Ed is about JOBS for political allies
    (no offense to your husband)

    Despite some people having strong political connections, the people in
    police, fire, public works, schools can be extremely competent and I
    much prefer professionals than amatuers (no offense EMS)

    PCS, I fear your husband will face reprisal.

    Unfortunately the POLITICIANS choose the LEADERS, not unlike Soviets who
    had political appointed apparatchiks mixed in with career personnel.

    In the USPO, the political appointed apparatchiks became career managers.
    I did not realize it, however both my dad and I were politically chosen.

    In every level of Government, it appears Eisenhower’s warning about internal
    usurpations and sabotage became prescient and understated!

  71. 71 1george1

    The same way I liked what I originally saw with Ms. Cornish, in the
    changes she bought to the Board of Ed and in saving money and in
    appearing to improve the quality of education and priorites ….

    I saw many fine political qualities with Lou DeCilio. He appeared to
    represent the public’s interest in the first part of his first term.

    I write ONLY in POLITICAL TERMS, relative to both.

  72. 72 portia1776

    PCS, congrats on the great letter. While some point to salary and pension numbers, I don’t begrudge anyone an honest living. What I do mind is when educrats are making money at the expense of teachers and staff and, most especially, school children. A few years ago I attended a budget presentation at which Superintendent Cornish bemoaned that there was not enough money to fully implement an effective reading program that had been tested and shown to be very promising. Of course there was not enough money in a system that has reading consultants and specialists in addition to teachers! There is now a growing body of evidence that spending is a necessary but insufficient factor in determining the quality of education. It really comes down to how the money is spent. For that reason, paradoxically, the stimulus money will probably do more harm than good, allowing the administration to avoid the overhaul it so desperately needs. As a taxpayer, I, for one, appreciate the service of our hard-working teachers and staff like your husband, who are the unsung heroes of a corrupt, monopolistic system. They, not the educrats, are deserving of six figures.

    Consider the example of New Jersey (courtesy of The Cartel: Education + Politics = $, a documentary on that State’s wretched public school system):

    “…The conventional wisdom says that our schools could be dramatically improved with better funding. If we would only ‘invest in education,’ the argument goes, our children would have a better future—particularly in urban areas, where leaky roofs, under-qualified teachers, and outdated textbooks are all too common

    And so the last few decades have brought an explosion of education spending, enthusiastically approved by local school boards and state legislatures and generally supported by taxpayers. That’s the moral cover under which our public school system wastes and steals billions of dollars every year.

    New Jersey offers a dramatic instance of this corruption and improvidence. After New York, no other state spends as much per pupil—but the Garden State has very little to show for its investment. Spending can exceed $400,000 per classroom, and yet only 39 percent of the state’s eighth-graders are proficient or advanced readers, and only 40 percent of its eighth-graders are proficient or advanced in math. Of new high school graduates attending the state’s community colleges, nearly 80 percent require remediation. More than three quarters of New Jersey’s high schools have been warned that they may be placed on the state’s list of failing schools. And the problem is not one of inadequate funding: Some of the worst schools receive—and squander—the most money (http://www.thecartelmovie.com ).”

  73. 73 pcsperling

    George ~

    After watching the antics at East Broadway, I disagree with you. I think Ray O’Connell was a much better Superintendent. He RESPECTED all employees in the Board of Education. I have heard this from many, many people. He went into the schools, he read to our children, he made it a point to be a part of the system. I have heard that Mrs. Cornish prefers a more bullying approach. She wants to rule with fear. Trust me, this doesn’t come from my husband. What I wrote in my letter was strictly because I am so sick of living in this Town, being a taxpayer in tihs Town, my husband works for this Town.

    Do you realize that Mrs. Cornish’s “assistant” – a secretary, by all accounts, makes more than the Mayor’s assistant; Mrs. Cornish makes more than the mayor. The Board of Education needs an independant, forensic audit. They’re not looking out for the teachers, custodians, CIAs, kitchen workers or anyone else who makes and keeps our schools running. They doing everything they can to cut out as much as they can from that support system and make East Broadway more top heavy.

    It really is time for a change. I too had high hopes for Mrs. Cornish, but no way has she walked in the respectful shoes of Ray O’Connell! There’s another old saying, you get more flys with honey (e.g., better work through respect).

  74. 74 1george1

    PCS –
    My impression of O’Connell was that he was a self promoting blow hard
    and blatherskite, who built an empire of hierachy and worked politics
    to be malleable.

    I later found that he also did a lot of good, including with minorities
    and he opened the Schools to Bob Mastroni’s (ex-Bunnell Football)
    merru band of old timers who raised about $ 200,000 for the WW II
    Memorial.

    I later found Jim Feehan & Dick Miron took credit while others did
    the work and Miron sold the stones and feehan wound up with 2
    firetrucks marked up 80% I believe ….

    PCS – I worked in the USPS and lived in fear for 20 years, trying to figure
    out how and why political miscreants and deviants took pleasure in
    torturing and killing innocents in the USA.

    Stratford BoE does not appear to be that level, however there are
    over 25 Stratford people where I wonder if their “apparent natural”
    deaths were …. facilitated or expedited by organic pathogins and by
    vehicular accidents and fire?

  75. 75 cstratct

    I promised I would stay out of local issues as I no longer reside in Stratford, but I just wanted to make a quick comment about Mrs. Sperling’s last post. When I lived in Stratford I heard the same thing with regard to bullying from teachers I knew and respected. I don’t know Mr. O’Connell so I can’t make comparisons, but I definitely heard quite clearly that Mrs. Cornish’s approach leaned toward bullying and intimidation. In some cases it was carried out by the Principals and not Mrs. Cornish directly, but it seemed that those involved knew where the directives were coming from.

    I posted for some time on the salary issues with respect to the BOE. Somewhere on this blog those numbers still exist. Again I agree with Mrs. Sperling’s comment:

    “They doing everything they can to cut out as much as they can from that support system and make East Broadway more top heavy.” Three to five percent raises for administrators while cutting teachers doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

    I’ll step back from this issue now but I just wanted to support Mrs. Sperling’s comments as I don’t think the concern regarding Mrs. Cornish’s management style is isolated or personal.

  76. 76 jezebel282

    PCS,

    “Mrs. Cornish makes more than the mayor.”

    That is an understatement. You must have forgotten to mention that every principal and assistant principal makes more than the mayor too.

    But then again..so does the Police Chief, Fire Chief, Public Works Director and Sanitation Superintendent. If you add in their existing pensions from other Towns…..

  77. 77 1george1

    I do not have the same access to teachers and staff of the BoE
    to defend or concur with the above about bullying styles.

    However, there seems to have been a consistent style within all
    government to poison relationships? I dunno.

    Rationale of pay:
    The BoE has about 1,000 employees.
    The Town has about 450 employees.

    800 lb gorilla:
    Defined Benefit Pension has about 600 retirees, including some from BoE.
    There are 300 or 400 more elidgible for Defined Benefit.
    Virtually all of them are getting 60 % of Base Pay, minimum, retiring in their
    mid 50 year old ranges, with Health Care.

    I wish there was a way to pay everyone that way with those benefits?
    Stratford can not print money.
    The Town Committes seem intent on working with Bridgeport to steer
    all economic development to their own construction companies?
    Steer all political jobs to their families and allies

    There is an attack on Unionism.
    Most existing Unions are government, construction, and transportation.
    Automotive is offshored or reconstructed.
    Even the NFL will unanimously decertify from being a Union.

    I will bet anybody there will be contractual repudication within 4 years
    and possibly 2 years, because people were suckered into being greedy,
    while the Lawyers, Accountants and others built their practices with
    Public Money.

    Democrats base are Teachers, Police, Fire, and Government workers.
    Republicans have been intentionally destroying their opponent and
    making government contemptible and unworkable!


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