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Duff: ‘Time to think big,’ new Norwalk High School to be built

A crew of painters work on the Norwalk High School facade in 2015.

Updated, 2:08 a.m. Tuesday: Full story. 4 p.m.: quote from Sarah LeMieux.

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) , second from right, unveils the highpoints of the plan to build a new Norwalk High School, Monday at the school.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk plans to build a new Norwalk High School, in what Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski predicts will be a “game changer for Norwalk education.”

This would involve a P-Tech (Pathways in Technology) Middle College with 100 students from around the county, a pilot program that makes Norwalk eligible for 80 percent state funding rather than the usual 32.5 percent, State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) said in a Monday morning press conference. Norwalk would spend about $40 million for a new school rather than $11 million to renovating its current 48-year-old building, taking advantage of low bonding rates and spreading the interest out over 30 years instead of 15, Mayor Harry Rilling said, predicting, “It’s not going to have that much of a significant impact on the operating budget.”

Videos by Harold Cobin at end of story

There would also be Visual and Performing Arts Academy for 500 students. This would bring total enrollment up to 2,000 from the 1,600 it is now, in a 337,000 square foot building.

It’s hoped that the school would be open in 2023. It would be built on the current Norwalk High campus in stages.

The current school construction and renovations plans are not affected by this proposal, according to Rilling.

Duff on Facebook said Norwalk children still need to attend the school “for at least four more years. I disagree that it is wasted $$.”

 

 

 

‘Innovative’ concept began developing in May

Duff cited a long-term relationship with Konstantinos (Kosta) Diamantis, Director of the Connecticut Office of School Construction Grants & Review, in explaining this switch from renovating Norwalk High to constructing a new building. He was talking to Diamantis in May about the focus on repairing the aged Norwalk High School, and supporting Norwalk schools in general, he said.

“Unfortunately, with the age of the building, resources provided and unanticipated costs, a lot of the larger projects would be either done inadequately or not at all. Especially the ones that were most important to the students and their success,” Duff said.

Diamantis heard the frustration and a movement to seek a more global solution was born, Duff reported. “It was time to think big for Norwalk High School.”

Rilling, Duff, Norwalk Public Schools administrators and others met with state officials in May to explore options and again in August and September, and on Nov. 6, the day after the election, according to Duff. A plan was formulated and a week ago approval for a new school was received from various state agencies.

It was initially thought that there would be an addition or the school renovated as new. “Those ideas would have made some areas bright and shiny but would still leave have left us with a 48-year-old building compounding the same old problems, such as attending a school modeled after a prison,” Duff said.

“When we first sat at the table, I think there was some doubt that we were going to able to be able to pull this off,” Rilling said.

“This is an out of the box thinking method that would allow us to create a beautiful school within this particular community and enhance programs that exist here that have clearly demonstrated to the public that it works,” Diamantis said.

Enrollment always drives the program and the size of the building and while enrollment in Norwalk arts programs is dropping, “one of the things that makes (this) innovative” is bringing other children in from other districts, he said.

 

No more magnet schools

The state cannot keep rebuilding programs in every community “when in fact sometimes it’s difficult to duplicate a program that’s already successful, like the P-Tech program,” Diamantis said. A black box theater for a performing arts center is very expensive and it cannot be done in all of Connecticut’s 1,187 schools.

The state isn’t doing magnet programs anymore because it has “become very, very expensive to do those kinds of things, he continued.

“So what’s next on the agenda? The governor wanted us to consider consolidating and maximizing the various programs that we put that we put into schools, one being, of course, the P-Tech program that has been a revelation, has been outstanding,” Diamantis said.

 

 

ETA 2023?

As mentioned, the school will be built in segments.

“There’ll be a phase in process so that we have minimal disturbance to the school. And then we’ll demolish as we move along and continue to erect and eventually have an entirely new school,” Diamantis said.

Norwalk High School. (Harold Cobin)

He’s hoping this will be complete in 2023 but, “We’re vetting the process. So it’s still new. I mean, we’re in we’re in schematic design is what will begin and we’ll be able to identify what that phase will look like.”

It has to be fleshed out with education specifications, first to the Board of Education Facilities Committee and then to the full Board, Duff said. Then it would go to the Common Council, which must also approve the Ed Specs and commit to the funding.

BoE Facilities Chairwoman Erica DePalma was briefed on the proposal and a special meeting is planned for Thursday week so that all the elements of the proposed plan can be reviewed and vetted in committee before moving to the full board, BoE Chairwoman Sarah LeMieux wrote in an email.

“Figure a year of design and architecture, and then three years of construction,” Duff said.

Building in phases eliminates the need for portables, which have become very expensive, Diamantis said. “The last price we had: 40 portables, which would house roughly four classrooms or so in each of the portables, was around $4 million.”

 

Community involvement expected

“The arts are a strength of Norwalk High School. So we would be building upon that strength and all of the community involvement already inherent in it,” Adamowski said.

He’s going to appoint a study committee to create the design specifications, “what is needed, both programmatically and from a building standpoint to support it for the Visual and Performing Arts Academy,” he said.

“You may know that there are several quite famous schools like this in the in the nation,” Adamowski said. “So we have a number of examples to look at and being the latest, we want ours to be the best and, and to ratchet up to the to the highest level. There will be opportunities for community involvement and participation all along the way in this process.”

 

Saving Norwalkers $100 million

“This announcement today was an important one, since the school construction priority list for the state will be released shortly, and the new Norwalk High School will be on the list,” Duff said.

Duff and Rilling said the 80 percent reimbursement rate will save Norwalk taxpayers $100 million.

That rate “will allow us to continue with all the other school construction projects we have been planning,” Rilling explained in a text message. “Rather than a band-aid approach to NHS by putting $11m into repairs, we will be getting a new school for approximately $40m. This is a tremendous opportunity of which must take advantage.”

It’s estimated the new school will cost about $200 million but, “We do not have exact costs yet,” Rilling said.

“Because we’re able to get this 80 percent reimbursement, we’re still able to move forward with the other kinds of projects that we have on the boards,” Rilling said during the press conference. “I don’t want people to think that we’re not going to be doing that and other things will be delayed or taken off the table altogether. We have a lot of things that we’re planning, we’re going to be able to do all of them.”

 

 

Optimistic thoughts

“Norwalk has been blessed with quality public schools for many years, and that’s one of the reasons why it is such a thriving city,” Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D-11)  said. “But … the physical plant of this building is as it exists is increasingly inadequate. Renovation costs would be prohibitively expensive over time and only do a partial job. Starting with a new school and creating all of the state-of-the-art amenities that will be included in it will mean that this will be in effect, a just a beacon of what a quality 21st century high school can be in the state of Connecticut.”

“I think this is a kind of thing that this basically attracts a diverse student body and just makes this just going to make Norwalk a very dynamic place for education,” State Rep. Chris Perone (D-137) said.  “…After about 15 years or so you reach a point of functional obsolescence with the schools. And then after that, it just becomes more and more expensive to take care of.”

“I’m excited that we’re going to have this brand-new school for all of our students,” State Rep. Travis Simms (D-140) said. “ I think this is going to make Norwalk, transcend Norwalk, make Norwalk attractive, and actually bring in more resources and businesses and corporations that make sure that when our kids are finished school here that we will have plenty of jobs for you.”

“The new Norwalk High project seems like an exciting opportunity,” LeMieux wrote Tuesday. “… According to everyone I’ve spoken to – and this would have been a concern of mine as well – this project won’t impact construction or renovation of elementary schools, either in process or in the pipeline. I’m looking forward to learning more about it.”

“This could not be afforded given our other needs, without the very significant participation of the state at the 80 percent level,” Adamowski said. “And so we have a lot to celebrate today, a lot of people to thank, I think this goes to show that government can work and that public purposes can be achieved. I’m just very grateful on behalf of all the generations of students that will benefit from one of the finest high schools in the in the nation for all the efforts that have brought this to fruition.”

Original story, posted at 3:41 p.m. Monday

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk plans to build a new Norwalk High School, rather than continue with renovating its current 48-year-old building.

“Thanks to the innovative thinking of the group, staunch support from Mayor Rilling and his team, expertise from Dr. Adamowski and Dr. Costanzo and their teams, and generous financial commitment from the state of Connecticut and the City of Norwalk we are very pleased to make a big announcement,” State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) said in a Monday morning press conference.

It’s hoped that the school would be open in 2023.

Video by Harold Cobin at end of story

Duff cited a longterm relationship with Konstantinos (Kosta) Diamantis, Director of the Connecticut Office of School Construction Grants & Review, in explaining this switch from renovating to constructing. He was talking to Diamantis in May about the focus on repairing the aged Norwalk High School, and supporting Norwalk schools in general, he said.

“Unfortunately, with the age of the building, resources provided and unanticipated costs, a lot of the larger projects would be either done inadequately or not at all. Especially the ones that were most important to the students and their success,” Duff said.

Diamantis heard the frustration and a movement to seek a more global solution was born, Duff reported. “It was time to think big for Norwalk High School.”

Mayor Harry Rilling, Duff, Norwalk Public Schools administrators and others met with state officials in May to explore options and again in August and September, then on Nov. 6, the day after the election, according to Duff. A plan was formulated and a week ago approval for a new school was received from various state agencies.

It was initially thought that an addition or renovate as new. “Those ideas would have made some areas -bright and shiny but would still leave have left us with a 48 year-old building compounding the same old problems, such as attending a school modeled after a prison,” Duff said.

The new school will be 80 percent funded by the state and will house 2,000 students, according to Duff. It will feature and expanded P-Tech academy (Norwalk Early College Academy, or NECA) and a Norwalk Visual And Performing Arts Academy. It would be built in stages.

This news comes after Norwalk has invested capital dollars into replacing woodwork in the high school’s hallways and spiffed up its exterior with a paint job.

Duff on Facebook said Norwalk children still need to attend the school “for at least four more years. I disagree that it is wasted $$.”

This story will be updated.

26 comments

Mike Lyons December 9, 2019 at 4:07 pm

The current Board of Education school building plan prioritizes the elementary schools for a simple reason – they need the work more than our high schools do. We are overcrowded in our elementary schools, not our high schools. Our high schools are newer than our elementary schools. This is why our building plan calls for building new K-8 schools and doing extensive renovations at the existing schools. This announcement is classic pork barrel politics; its everything that’s wrong with the state of Connecticut government. Bob Duff on his own decided that we should get a new high school, while starving us of the funds needed to address the real problems in our elementary and middle schools. He did so with practically no consultation with the Board of Education, which has legal control over any such projects. Of course, now that the mayor and Mr. Duff have achieved their long-time objective of getting a puppet Board of Education in office, I’m sure this will sail through, just as all their directives sail through the puppet common council. Look, as a Norwalk High School graduate, I don’t mind the idea of having a new high school per se. What I mind is using funds that could be better used rebuilding more of our elementary schools than replacing a high school that doesn’t need to be replaced. This is what you get when you have one party government.

Bryan Meek December 9, 2019 at 4:25 pm

When Duff was “thinking big” last May, why didn’t he include the BOE? The city could have saved $ millions on projects that were just started last summer. Projects that Bob as a member of the NHS School Governance Council would have been aware of. So are we going to finish these projects, then knock the building down? For example, the $500,000 hallway veneer project that partially finished has exposed concrete walls with bolts sticking out….are we going to finish that or will it just stay that way for the next three years?

Besides the $30 million this will cost the city, $20 million for “our share” and the $10 million in recent renovations we are still paying for, did this cost us a yes vote on tolls on every Norwalk River crossing?

Bryan Kerschner December 9, 2019 at 6:26 pm

Norwalk needs elementary schools, badly. I hope this doesn’t alter the school construction program in a way to adversely effect the progress of the New/Old Columbus, Jefferson, and possible Cranbury school schedules.

Ron Morris December 10, 2019 at 3:40 am

Thank You Bob Duff for accomplishing what the past failed BOE did not. I find it sad that some would find fault with this.

Piberman December 10, 2019 at 10:00 am

It’s unprecedented that a CT Legislator would announce CT State funding for a new public school before its been formally approved by the appropriate Legislative and State committees. That process normally takes several years. If not more given the State’s fiscal distress. Is Sen. Duff diverting attention from recent City embarrassments regarding our BOE ?

Bryan Meek December 10, 2019 at 10:17 am

@BryanK. I wish I shared your optimism. The last board was railed against for lack of public input after having a half a dozen meetings and vetting plans before fast tracking Ed Specs.

The Facilities committee is meeting Thursday night and has NHS on the agenda for this reason. There is no specific mention of any of the elementary schools we needed yesterday. We have limited staff in this area, so it would be a reasonable conclusion that if they are working on NHS out of the blue, they are no longer working on elementary schools.

https://norwalkps.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_71596/File/BOE/MeetingDocs/2019-2020/FACILITIES/Facilties%20Committee%20Agenda%2012.12.19.pdf

No public input. No meetings with the community before ramming through Ed Specs. Bob Duff knows better than all the experts who put in 1000s of hours formulating these plans at great expense to the city.

Apparently Bob was helpless in getting the elementary schools we need fast tracked, but a new NHS is going through at lightening speed and at under $300 per square foot, when all current estimates of new construction range are closer to $500 per SF. Who gets to pick up the extra $75 million or so this new NHS will probably cost?

Mike Lyons December 10, 2019 at 10:49 am

Interestingly, the Board was blasted for ‘not getting enough public input’ on our Facilities plans, even after we had held dozens of public meetings, held public hearings, and conducted surveys. Some of the people who blasted us for that ‘lack of input’ were at Duff’s PR event. But now everyone’s OK with moving forward with an utterly un-vetted massive project, put together in secret with no Board input, and that bears no relation to the long-term Strategic Plan for our schools? Amazing.

John Miller December 10, 2019 at 2:07 pm

The Deans of pork barrel spending (the late Senators Robert Byrd D-WVA and Ted Stevens R-AK) are smiling down upon us. The taxpayers of our fiscally unsound State and City, not so much. Does anyone have a rubber stamp or two to spare?

Isabelle Hargrove December 10, 2019 at 6:25 pm

See how easy it is to find $200 million for a new school no one was asking for or realized they needed

Let’s keep this in mind over the next month, as Governor Lamont and most Democrats in Hartford come begging to tax us more and erect tolls because we simply do not have any more money to repair our roads and bridges and someone IS GOING TO DIE…

After spending the last few weeks reading about the audit of the CT Port Authority with blatant mismanagement and abuse of our tax dollars and reading this news, I am at a loss to understand how anyone can support any more spending, taxing, or tolling. Instead, we need reform and accountability.

John ONeill December 10, 2019 at 7:29 pm

It’s funny – I am still waiting for Duff to say anything about ELL funding? He does realize ELLers are costing Norwalk $30 million per year. I’ve finally realized he makes a great brochure, but a brutally bad state senator. Rilling seems to have forgotten we have a major crisis in our schools..The bill is quickly coming due.

Mike O'Reilly December 10, 2019 at 8:06 pm

Proof we are going over a cliff on spending.We are not even addressing the most pressing issues of elementary schools and English as a second language programs Worth reading each paragraph again. Here are two that should make your head spin.

“Spend $40 million rather than $11 million renovating this current 48 year old building. Spreading the interest rate over 30 years instead of 15 years It[s not going to have that much of a significant impact on the operating budget”
Think about this for a minute. You are assuming record low interest are here to stay. What happen’s if rates go up? More importantly there is no mention here of our most pressing issues of ELL and and the accommodation of elementary school growth.

There are a few other Dooser’s here but now Bob The Builder is also Bob The Architect when he say’s “Unfortunately with the age of the building resources provided add unanticipated cost,a lot of larger projects would either be done inadequately or not at all”

Let’s stop the nonsense and get the funding we need for Norwalk schools now.

,

John Miller December 10, 2019 at 11:54 pm

@John O’Neill: Do you really think that “Pork Barrel” Bob really gives a damn about the ELL funding problem? When politicians talk about “thinking big” it usually involves spending a great deal of money that we can’t afford on pie in the sky projects that we don’t need.and saddling the taxpayers with the aftermath of their Madoff inspired financing schemes that are more often than not significantly underestimated.

Mike Lyons December 11, 2019 at 7:50 am

Not mentioned in the article – this whole thing is based on the adoption of legislation Duff hasn’t even submitted in Hartford yet. Another curiosity – “a week ago approval for a new school was received from various state agencies.” Since state law requires that EdSpecs and budget be approved by the local Board of Education and Common Council before one can even APPLY for state agency approvals, just exactly how were all these approvals obtained before the Board and Council had even heard of this proposal?

David Bayne December 11, 2019 at 10:01 am

48 is not old in concrete building years. This is scary. What a complete waste of money.

Also, they should probably get their math correct before making public statements, but what’s a few 10’s of millions in the grand scheme of things?:

“Duff and Rilling said the 80 percent reimbursement rate will save Norwalk taxpayers $100 million.”

“Rather than a band-aid approach to NHS by putting $11m into repairs, we will be getting a new school for approximately $40m. This is a tremendous opportunity of which must take advantage.”

It’s estimated the new school will cost about $200 million but, “We do not have exact costs yet,” Rilling said.”

John ONeill December 11, 2019 at 10:24 am

Let me see if I understand this: These discussions have involved and will involve the following: 1) A lame duck superintendent 2) A recently elected Mayor who made no mention of this during the campaign which ended only 2 weeks ago 3) A state senator who’s been either incompetent or ignorant regarding the ramp up of ELL students over the past 10 years. (2,100 ELL kids didn’t just show up last month) 4)An inexperienced Board of Ed, who’s facilities committee head has not been around long enough to have her nameplate placed on her door 5) A New Board of Ed Chairman who has the position on a 3 month temporary basis. 6)Norwalk High School is possibly the only school in Norwalk that’s not over-crowded —- If these are the facts, we truly are living in an alternate universe where up is down and down is up. If one tended to be cynical, one would think Duff/Rilling smoke pot together on Saturday nights and brainstorm ideas on how to fool some of the people all of the time. Or, is it all of the people some of the time. For sure, it’s not all of the people all of the time. We’re not as stupid as they seem to think.

Alan Kibbe December 11, 2019 at 11:53 am

Norwalkers should understand that the reason the state is picking up 80% of the cost of this project is that, to some extent, it is going to be a regional high school. The P-TECH programs and probably the Arts Academy will be regional programs. Earlier versions of the announcement spoke of drawing students from Stamford and Bridgeport. I would like to hear more about that. It sounds like a reboot of the school district consolidation plan that Duff and Lamont tried to sell previously.

Anecdotally, it has been a few years since I visited NHS to support my sons’ activities, but I always felt that the school was bright, clean, and quite functional. If, as Mr. Perone states, school buildings become functionally obsolete after 15 years, someone has failed miserably in the planning and design phases. I would call foul on Mr. Duff calling NHS a school modeled after a prison. The building represents a trend in contemporary architecture of the time. Why would you promulgate the idea among students and parents that their school is a prison? Unconscionably manipulative!

NHS is a concrete and rebar building built for eternity. The cost to demolish it in an eco-friendly manner will shock everyone. But hey! It’s jobs.

Mike Lyons December 11, 2019 at 11:08 pm

It was also interesting to read the comments about how it ‘makes more sense to build new than to renovate’. The Board was blasted for saying the same thing about Columbus School. But now it’s a good idea?

Bryan Kerschner December 12, 2019 at 10:16 am

@Mike Lyons, there is no historical significance to the NHS existing building, while there is some with Columbus. I’m on the record that I think renovating as new for Columbus is a mistake, for a multitude of reasons, but to compare the two schools isnt fair.

Residente December 12, 2019 at 2:26 pm

The great state that is projecting a larger than expected deficit commits money for a discretionary new HS and an excessive walk bridge, yet has cut funding for UCONN causing a 23% tuition increase burden for students over 5 years.

Is Duff going to insist on curriculum that teaches HS students how to apply for bigger student loans?

David December 12, 2019 at 2:31 pm

This is amazing, and we as a community should be nothing but supportive of this. Needing to replace the high school is inevitable. The current “bulge” of elementary school enrollment is destined to go to high school, that too is inevitable. Education has changed since Norwalk HS was made, our students needs have changed, the economy they are entering into has changed.

Funding a new high school has WAY more impact on our community, long term, than updating or building a new elementary school or two, and constantly investing money into repairs of an old building is expensive and has diminishing returns on investment (as anyone who has ever owned an old house can attest to). Norwalk students need more career readiness programs and combined with those offered by BMHS, we are poised to do just that.

The P-Tech academy is a true differentiator in Norwalk. It is at capacity and needs to be expanded. On top if all this, it will be state funded? Amazing. The inevitable discussion of replacing the high school will come around and can you just imagine that conversation? It really wasn’t that long ago that parents were protesting on the lawn of city hall regarding the lack of funding of our schools. These conversations do not come easy to Norwalk, but now, it’s a conversation we do not need to have. The 80% funding is a great example of our tax dollars returning to the community. The 20% we will fund would have been eaten up in stop-gap repairs anyway. With this, we can now turn our FULL attention to funding elementary and middle schools – thankfully this is something the commenters on this site seem to be fully in agreement with. That should make the process much easier.

Property prices are directly correlated to school quality. This is a GREAT development for Norwalk.

As to those who are trashing this announcement, I’m sorry, but to this independent with kids in the Norwalk school system, it honestly looks like a case of sour grapes. Complaints seem to be along the lines of “Nobody asked us” or “that wasn’t what we decided” (I’m not even going to bother with the “spending/conspiracy/tolls” crowd). Constant engagement with state officials is imperative in forming local education policy, even if those state officials are from the opposing party. I’m sure there’s blame to go around – there usually is – but I wouldn’t be shouting the “I didn’t know” line from the rooftops.

A great announcement for Norwalk and the cities future.

Bryan Meek December 12, 2019 at 4:00 pm

Add David to the short list of people like Duff who know more than all the experts who put in 1000s of hours to the tune of $ millions to formulate these plans.

Of course everyone should want a new high school built when feasible and warranted. Right now, it isn’t. These half baked plans assume $300 / square foot construction costs when current market rate for new school construction is closer to $500 and we haven’t even considered the demolition costs for a building constructed like NHS.

Now, thanks to Duff, the city will get to spend $ millions more on architects to figure out this plan is going to cost more like $200 million and that’s before any cores are dug on the site which contains a massive amount of ledge anecdotally. There’s a reason the school was built with the front entrance where it is. I’m told that it was re-engineered due to the amount of ledge in the property that would have bankrupted the original project.

Worse than this, is this folly could cut into other areas and delay other plans based on the limited resources.

But the absolute worst part, is the admission that Duff is willing to circumvent process to fulfill his fancies, while doing almost nothing to help the district with what it needs and possibly even working behind the scenes to scuttle the current plans for the elementary schools we needed yesterday.

Rather than admit his mistake with his “Fix it First” scheme that flopped, he seems intent on scorching a new path here, that if approved and all will have seen about $30 million in improvements we are still paying for bulldozed. At that point we can congratulate Duff on this new scheme and call it what it is “Scrap it Second”

Bumpkin December 12, 2019 at 5:22 pm

How is the announcement of a new HS made one day after the mayoral election yet not word is uttered during the campaign? Is it because the older community/constituency would have possibly held back or changed their vote based on the assumption taxes would increase?

Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.

David December 13, 2019 at 12:02 am

Bryan, it’s that dismissive attitude that got you trounced in the last election. The BOE did a great job at working inside the box they were given, but did they push the envelope? Absolutely not. We heard non stop complaints of Hartford, when collaboration was called for. Something this big can’t be kept secret, and yet the BOE somehow managed to be blindsided buy the news. Sometimes it takes an external catalyst to spur innovative thinking.

Mike Lyons December 13, 2019 at 7:29 am

David, it can be kept secret and was. Mike Barbis heard about this shortly after the election and none of the rest of the Board were aware of it at all. Duff is an ineffective legislator but a master politician; he put this together with a handful of people, and obviously it was deliberately kept hidden from the Board of Education. Our ‘inside the box’ Board took Norwalk in 5 years to the position of best performing urban school system in the state (starting from way down the list) with student performance exceeding state averages for the first time, despite having a student population whose ELL numbers and poverty numbers were rapidly accelerating. And we accomplished that with practically zero assistance from Duff (in fact, Duff almost succeeded in completely derailing our school building program with his ‘fix it first’ fiasco). Skepticism about this new plan for Norwalk high school is fully justified.

Bryan Meek December 13, 2019 at 11:01 am

@David. Thanks for informing me that my election result should silence me. I still received the same amount of votes I did 4 years ago FWIW and my opponent was worthy and willing to pick up the torch. She seems to be off to a good start in spite of the back room shenanigans. As for innovative thinking? You mean like the grocery tax? Or tolls? Or a Bridgeport casino? Or shifting pension liability to the towns and cities? Try to see the bigger picture, please.

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