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District B Dems to BoE member Anderson: RESIGN

District B Secretary Darlene Young, left, and District B Chairman Bruce Morris, during a discussion Thursday about Board of Education member Erik Anderson.

District B Secretary Darlene Young, left, and District B Chairman Bruce Morris, during a discussion Thursday about Board of Education member Erik Anderson.

Norwalk Board of Education member Erik Anderson.

Norwalk Board of Education member Erik Anderson.

Updated, 11:41 p.m: Anderson’s meeting now scheduled for March 15; PDF of email added. 4:30 p.m.: Number of people present.

NORWALK, Conn. — It’s time for Erik Anderson to go, District B Democrats said Thursday, after Anderson, their in-district Board of Education member, skipped a meeting he said he’d attend.

District B members unanimously voted to send Anderson a registered letter demanding his resignation, after saying they’d had a no confidence vote on Anderson last month.

This was a voice vote made at a meeting attended by about 25 people, some of whom did not have voting privileges. Some did not live in District B.

Anderson called NancyOnNorwalk half an hour before the District B meeting to say he’d just attended a fundraiser at Jefferson Elementary School.

“I got to be around the school community, which is why I got involved,” Anderson said, explaining that he had decided to go to the fundraiser at Brookside Elementary School and then the one at Columbus Magnet School rather than keep his promise to meet with the B Democrats.

“I am reminding myself who I serve,” Anderson said. “I don’t serve a District Committee. I serve the residents of South Norwalk, District B, all of them, Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated, and all their children. The amount of time and effort I have spent battling, at times, against political powers that be, my time is better spent putting my efforts toward the community and the children I am hoping my policies will benefit.”

District B Chairman Bruce Morris, at the meeting, laid out the history of the Committee’s relationship with Anderson, who unseated BoE member Migdalia Rivas a year and a half ago, against the will of some Committee members. Anderson hasn’t been to a Committee meeting in months, Morris said, and last month it was decided that the group would hold him accountable, hence the request that he speak this month.

The meeting had been arranged on a date that Anderson chose, Morris said, recounting the District’s objection to the process by which the BoE was deciding what to do to alleviate overcrowding, mulling a new school in South Norwalk.

“It’s more than just a building,” Morris said. “What is the program, what are you going to give us? No one ever said, ‘We don’t want a school in South Norwalk.’ We said we just want it done right and we were called obstructionists.”

Committee members objected when Republican BoE member Mike Lyons was made chairman again, with Anderson nominating him, Morris said.

“People within the party were saying Dr. Yvel Crevecoeur, who has a Ph. D, would have been an ideal candidate,” Morris said.

Lyons won 6-3 but Morris called Anderson a swing vote.

Regarding the new school effort, Morris said, “We did have objection from the very beginning that if you were going to make it a neighborhood school that would be problem because we’re predominantly black, brown and free and reduced lunch. We said you wouldn’t be able to do it. We kept saying it does matter. We kept saying even if you are going to build it what resources are you going to give our kids?”

Finally, in November, Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski admitted that a neighborhood school wouldn’t work, he said. So in December, when Mayor Harry Rilling backed up District B’s desire to spend more time talking about the education options, Anderson voted to go ahead, Morris said, using the term “swing vote” with more accuracy, as that was a 5-4 vote.

Anderson had been invited to give District B an update because he is District B’s representative and hasn’t delivered a report in quite a while, Morris said, going on to express mystification that somehow the word got out that there was going to be a presentation on a night when parents could not attend due to the numerous fundraisers happening at the same time.

Democratic Town Committee Chairman Ed Camacho called because he had heard from parents who were unhappy that they were being excluded, Morris said.

“Excluded from what? All we are asking is for just an update from our person. … We are a political body,” Morris said. “… We have been asking for over a year for our representative to come and talk to us. … Everybody else in the city, they have come, our representative has not come.”

Morris said he understood that Anderson had been sick for a while, but now he’s better and he was expected, and had said he’d be there.

Anderson had tried to rearrange the District B meeting, after finding out that there were fundraisers that night. His email to the District suggested that they come see him speak March 14 at Columbus, a meeting he said he was setting up.

He was going to fundraisers because parents had requested his presence, he said.

“I have been elected to represent the entire population of District B regarding educational matters, and I feel bound to uphold the request from the school communities to attend their events tonight,” Anderson said.

Morris read that part of the email to the Committee.

“I admire that he wants to attend these events, that’s great but if you look historically at his commitment to District B, it’s non-existent,” Sandra Stokes said. “… I would love to hear him have that commitment toward District B, and this is a regular meeting.”

“It seems like this man doesn’t care and doesn’t want to represent us,” Brad Schmidt said, making a motion to ask Anderson to resign.

Daisy Franklin seconded the motion. There was no discussion.

“We’ve done this before,” District B Secretary Darlene Young volunteered. “I don’t know how much power we have to make that happen so I think at some point we need to be strategic about saying we’re holding someone accountable.”

Anderson has 2.5 years left in his term and District B is stuck with him, she said, again advising strategy.

A flier for Erik Anderson's community conversation, rescheduled to March 15 due to the expected snowstorm.

A flier for Erik Anderson’s community conversation, rescheduled to March 15 due to the expected snowstorm.

“I feel that strategically we still have an advantage because we can show his voting pattern,” Schmidt said.

Franklin spoke up to explain why she seconded the motion.

“Now he is saying he doesn’t have no obligation to us. So my second for his resignation is because he has no respect to write this letter, and by his attendance,” Franklin said.

“We are his constituents,” Morris said, ending the meeting. “We fully agree and approve that he needs to reach out to Republicans and everyone, fully agree with that…But we should be no less valued or attended to than anyone else. In that point he has missed it. We specifically asked him for a year to be here. I am done.”

“I am not going to resign,” Anderson said in an email after the meeting.

“I didn’t run for this seat to be bogged down by politics at every turn and that is truly what it has felt like, it has felt like almost being bullied at times. I am not going to stand for that. I have tried to work with the district so many times,” Anderson said before the meeting.

He had reconnected with constituents at Jefferson and discussed school issues that would not come up at the Committee meeting, he said, adding that he has offered his email address and phone number to Committee members many times.

“I do feel like it is important to connect with my constituency outside of a once a month meeting,” Anderson said. “There have been almost no responses the entire time I’ve been elected. The people outside that Committee, yes. I have built so many wonderful relationships with parents and community leaders who don’t involve themselves in that District B Committee.”

erik-anderson-to-district-b

23 comments

Angel R. March 10, 2017 at 7:59 am

Kudos to Erik Andersen. Don’t let Morris bully you into resigning. The BOE (majority of them) are setting a wonderful example of doing the right thing for the schools and standing up against the bullies of the city. Don’t give up on us! I am proud that you, mike Lyons, mike Barbis and a few others give us a voice when we can’t!

Norwalk Dad March 10, 2017 at 8:00 am

Erik- I get it and I somewhat agree with ” my time is better spent putting my efforts toward the community and the children I am hoping my policies will benefit.”

However, you can’t do much without your committee. No one will support you on the issues you surface in the field. You need to do both to help you district.

Patrick Cooper March 10, 2017 at 8:09 am

Bruce is upset. Bruce is angry. Bruce is the conductor of his own show, that’s for sure. See posts elsewhere on NoN that condemned the district’s planning – conflicts abound – seems almost deliberate. Expect more shenanigans from the man – he knows Mosby is toast this fall – so he’s out of plants on the BOE. Eric Anderson please stand tall – do your job, have your accomplishments ready for 2019, and yes ignore the obstructionist political pontificating coming out of the same old tired mouths.

Nabil March 10, 2017 at 8:29 am

DO NOT GIVE UP ERIK. I’m a south Norwalk dem and I support you as so many others here. It’s sad that it has come to this but don’t fret.

It’s funny that the letter says you don’t represent your constituents. I personally do not feel represented by the leadership in district B. You have done an incredible thankless job on the board and you have been one of the voices of reason.

You have motivated more people like me to get more involved. We have your back Erik!!!!

Nora K King March 10, 2017 at 8:50 am

Another power play by toxic Bruce Morris. Many parents and PTAs asked him to move this meeting and he wouldn’t. This is how he operates. Holds meetings when he knows people can’t attend and then makes some sort of resolution or plea where the entire community cannot weigh in.

I want his resignation from his State Rep role. I think perhaps we should start a petition to remove him from office. He does not uphold the democratic principles of his own party.

Non partisan March 10, 2017 at 8:58 am

Erik- thank you.
There should be no room for politics in education.
Anybody who politicized education should be removed from the table.

John Levin March 10, 2017 at 9:22 am

Why not just reschedule the meeting? What’s the big deal? Scheduling conflicts come up and meetings get rescheduleda all the time, sometimes even if people don’t like it. This seems silly – we live in the same town, just pick another meeting time. Yikes.

srb March 10, 2017 at 9:31 am

What hypocrisy, wasn’t it Morris who wouldn’t delay the meeting for the parents at 3 elementary schools (who couldn’t make it due to prior commitments) and told them that this wasn’t a meeting about schools? The he goes after the BOE rep. for not attending a meeting not about schools? Morris is the one who should resign- he does not have the interests of District B on his agenda. I live and vote in District B.

Tom Keegan March 10, 2017 at 10:30 am

I’ve always thought I was a pretty intelligent guy….but for the life of me I still can’t figure out what specifically Morris wants!

Kay Anderson March 10, 2017 at 11:05 am

Erik’s comment at the beginning of the story is precisely why he is needed on the Board of Ed: He serves all his constituents and children in district B. I would add his commitment to knowing the issues our schools and children face serves all of Norwalk . Thank you, Erik, for your thoughtful service to our city’s parents and kids.

Bruce Kimmel March 10, 2017 at 11:10 am

As an elected official, I recall long periods of time when I could not possibly attend the meetings of my “political district,” which is called D. There were just too many other responsibilities that I had to attend to, including my family life.

Never once did anyone from the district make an issue of my attendance; they were aware that my first priority was to the community — and not to the dozen or so politically engaged Democrats who came to district meetings.

They also appreciated the fact that once someone is elected to office they must make decisions they believe are in the best interests of the city, and which on occasion may go against the majority sentiment of the political committee in the district.

Interestingly, and not mentioned in the above story, is that the District B political committee did not support Erik Anderson for the BOE. He had to primary his way onto the ballot. Winning a primary in Norwalk is not easy; Erik’s victory meant that he had broad support across South Norwalk.

We all expect, or at least give lip service, to the idea that elected officials should vote their conscience, and that they should always put principle above party. Erik Anderson should be commended for doing just that.

Sick and Tired March 10, 2017 at 11:18 am

In my opinion….
Bruce Morris has a clear agenda against the BOE and is pulling out every trick in the book to obstruct them continuing the momentum with Dr. A at the helm.

He is the most toxic individual not just to the Norwalk Public School system but to the entire Democratic Party. As other have mentioned, he does not stand by the true principals of the Democratic party.

Bruce is exhausting every avenue to obstruct the work of the current BOE. First the Mayor, then Bob Duff, Chris Perone, The Teachers Union, The NAACP, and now his district committee.
Whats next?

I commend Erik for standing up to his party to do whats right for the community. He is elected to serve ALL people of District B, not just the self-serving Democrats.

If the District B committee doesn’t feel that he is providing updates etc. then provide written updates on a monthly or quarterly basis. The truth is, they are using this as another PR stunt because Bruces hidden agenda is going no where.

Can you imagine the resources that would be available to Norwalk if he took the same fight to Hartford?

Karen March 10, 2017 at 12:38 pm

Who are the leaders of the spanish speaking community in B? From the census and school data, it appears that this is the fastest growing population group in B. Is Bruce Morris proclaiming to represent that demographic as well? I think Eric’s heart and actions are in the right place – out of politics and with the school community level. It remains to be seen in a few years whether that helps or hurts him politically. For right now, keep doing what you’re doing.

Norwalk Native March 10, 2017 at 12:45 pm

As a constituent of Bruce V. Morris’s district and a person who voted for Eric Anderson, I would like to ask Bruce Morris to resign.

Mickey March 10, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Morris is nothing but a political hack and thug,who has done nothing but look out for his own interest. Useless…. Get rid of him and all his cronies from District B

DrewT March 10, 2017 at 1:11 pm

First of all Erik IS NOT GOING ANYWHERE!! Let me make that perfectly clear!! Second where does Bruce and Co get off asking for his resignation?! I guess when people like Erik work and truly serve his community must be very scary for someone like Bruce, who is currently suing the BOE after his 20 years of “service” what did he do exactly?! Morris and his friends are still “Old Norwalk” thinking! Erik is along with many members of the BOE see our bright future!! He wants us to advance even further and TRULY BELEIVES IN OUR CITY AND CHILDREN!! He has volunteered at many, many events, attendees countless meetings! He ia what we need now and the future! He works so well with Dr A and the BOE. He is kind and respectful to all! I’m done with Morris and Fix it sometime in the future Duff holding people like Erik down and preventing our progress ! There time is over!! The furrier is bright in excited about what it looks like and with people like Erik We have one of the good ones to lead the charge!! If anyone should resign and fade off to the sunset it should be Morris and Company. We are done and tired of his poison! Thank You Erik, Mike & Mike, Heidi, Artie and Dr A for your visions and desires to truly take our students to that next level!!

ANGEL R. March 10, 2017 at 1:21 pm

I agree! Bruce Morris needs to resign! He does nothing but get in the way of progress in the NPS!!

Patrick Cooper March 10, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Bruce is not going to resign. It’s about power, and access – not pay (excepting benefits & pensions). Our state reps. make $28,000 a year. Why do you think he’s so angry about losing his NPS no-show job? It’s hard to keep his JC Penny wardrobe up to date (Herman Cain collection) on that kind of scratch.

Bruce “represents” the 140th – and the head count is pegged at about 23,670 individuals (as of 2010) – surely more now. Given we typically get about a 30% turnout – that means a new player would need to command about 4,500 votes max to take him out. Even if he owns 100% of the NAACP vote – he’s still vulnerable. It will take a moderate Latino who cares about the community – and can get that typically invisible vote out. They’ll need to bring thick skin and some ambition to unseat this guy – but he has run unopposed for too long to be assured anything once there is another candidate.

Dis-B Dem’s, get your duck’s in a row. Win November 2018, and Bruce drives a U-Haul out of Hartford January 9, 2019.

Editor’s note: Former Common Councilman Warren Peña ran against Morris in 2014, in a Democratic primary.

Martha Dumas March 15, 2017 at 11:39 am

1. This is not race driven
2. District B meeting is open to all who live in the community, so they should have been coming to meeting weather we agreed or disagreed.
3. Perhaps if Eric knew of these event, he shouldn’t have cancelled 2 hours before the District meeting was, and a mass email could have went out to those members .
In fact he do represent all, but being elected from this district is a reposiblity to report back,just as other district would expect the same of their BOE memeber they elected.
So why don’t others deal with theirs. Also people should really get it. Morris is the chairman and at least he puts it out for a vote TRANSPARENCY. The doors aren’t locked, so it’s open for all who live in DISTRICT B, STOP TRYING TO DEVIDE THIS COMMUNITY, IN ORDER TO CHANGE YOU HAVE TO BE APART OF IT!!!!

Erik Anderson March 21, 2017 at 11:15 am

@Martha Dumas – Thank you for your input. I wanted to clarify the 3rd point you made. It is important to know that I did know about these events and was working with the Executive Committe of our District (Bruce Morris, Bobby Burgess, Darlene Young and Manny Langella) to try and reschuledule the meeting from the initial date that was proposed. I sent an email on March 1st and 2nd informing the committee of the conflicts regarding the 3 school events. On March 3rd I received an email from Darlene on behalf of Chairman Morris, stating that the meeting would not be moved and the date of the 9th would be kept. At this point there was no notice sent to the District confirming that date. Many individuals strongly requested to the Exec Committee, including our DTC Chair and PTO representatives, to change the date to allow my attendance at those events and for parents in our district to attend our meeting. There was an email sent on March 7th to the District on behalf of the PTOs of Columbus, Jefferson and Brookside once again asking the Chair to reschedule the meeting. These efforts did not work and the meeting went forward. I sent my email on the 9th after more attempts to find a solution, however, after not being able to come to a resolution, I sent the email to notify the district that I would not be in attendance. I would like to note that there was an instance in October 2016 where I was notified of a change in our meeting 2 hours before by Chairman Morris.

Barbara Meyer-Mitchell March 21, 2017 at 11:41 am

Tilting at windmills

Erik Anderson is under no obligation to resign. It wasn’t that long ago that a petition made the rounds with hundreds of signatures that Shirley Mosby resign, and of course she didn’t.

Yvel crevecouer and other members of the Board of Education do not attend their political party’s district meetings.

Let’s remember that Erik was elected by a majority of the people in his district. He won a primary to do so. Candidates in District B generally run unopposed, so the leadership of the District B democrats are used to having more control over outcomes.

Stop bullying and threatening. It is embarrassing to form a committee to harass Erik with regular calls to resign. How about a more constructive approach?

It is my understanding Erik will submit written report going forward. He has also given the District B members his cell number and email to contact him directly.

Erik is a big part of the progress we are making in Norwalk Public Schools, and the results are starting to show. He has helped deliver the following key items that were high on the list of requests from parents across district B:

•A new school and a renovated as new school
•Closing the achievement gap through tier 2 and 3 interventions
•Sped turnaround plan
•School choice for district 99 children

Erik is a young man who is establishing his career. His attendance to BOE and committee meetings has been regular. That is what he was elected to do. The rest of this is political drama.

District B democrats need to reevaluate how they do business. Political meetings are held in a church. Whatever happened to separation of church and state? Doesn’t the church stand to risk their non profit status? Why not meet in a city building that is neutral territory for all constituents, like the South Norwalk Library or Columbus School? South Norwalk’s demographics are changing, and our party needs to be inclusive to reflect that.

Serving on the Board of Education is a thankless job. It is an unpaid, volunteer position requiring significant time commitment. Constituents tend to only reach out when something goes wrong. I would suggest that the quality of candidates we will have in the future is directly related to the way we treat the members of the Board of Education now. Our BOE members are elected to four year terms. Assess their factual accomplishments and vote accordingly.

I would suggest that the BOE is our voice, and we should hold our political parties accountable for choosing good candidates who will advocate and vote for strategic academic improvements. Erik has done that, and has served his constituents, the students and parents of District B, well.

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