Budgetary Forum Heald at Black Rock School

The chaotic scenario of  the recent, Feb. 13 Bridgeport Board of Education meeting – a specially-called meeting to institute new, controversial, by-laws —  resembled meetings defining the deliberately engineered chaos that served as the requisite prelude used to facilitate the ill-considered, illegal, state takeover of the Bridgeport public school system by the Gov. Dannel Malloy administration in July 2011.

The aforementioned state take-over used the  “Massacre” of the July 4th weekend of 2011, engineered then-Mayor Bill Finch, in which the majority membership of the board of education resigned, proclaiming incompetence/impotence in administering the school system, with their subsequent request for a state takeover.

As it turned out, the takeover was illegal, as was the appointment by then-Gov. Dannel Malloy of an out-of-town,  handpicked, replacement board that illegally hired and appointed the unqualified businessman-politician, school-privatization maven-investor, Paul Vallas, as Bridgeport School Superintendent. He was subsequently removed by court-order (through action initiated by retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez, et al.). But this was only after furthering the chaos of the Bridgeport School system through attempts to “reform” and privatize the system. (The latter situation involved several billionaire hedge-fund investors who wielded influence with the Malloy and Obama administrations — and who have significant influence in the Lamont and Trump Administrations, and who include Greenwich billionaires Linda McMahon and Stephen Mandel.)

The Finch Administration was pigeon-holed into facilitating the state takeover by the Malloy administration through its response to the city’s request for an increase in state funding and general assistance for the inadequately-funded system which receives some $40 million less in state aid for public schools, per year, than the smaller cities of Hartford and New Haven. Finch initiated a ballot referendum item in the 2012 state-elections cycle to allow mayoral appointment of the full board of education. That anti-democratic referendum was defeated at the polls and is considered one of the factors that played into Finch’s ultimate defeat by Joe Ganim in the 2015 Bridgeport mayoral election.

This present, anti-democratic, Bridgeport Board of Education chaos (under the auspices of a gubernatorial administration which has an agenda and tone that some would say increasingly resembles the Malloy Administration) presents itself in an eerie, déjà-vu manner — just in time for Joe Ganim’s re-election bid.

With the resurrection of voter memories from July 4, 2011, the current, Bridgeport board of education chaos may very well play a major role in Joe Ganim’s electoral undoing in mayoral election 2019 (and, in the aforementioned context, could conceivably come back to bite Ned Lamont in the electoral-rear-end in 2022).

As Bridgeport good-government watchdog John Marshall Lee would say: “time will tell”…

Jeff Kohut is a private consultant, tutor and writer who lives in Bridgeport.

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