Purporting to paint Republican mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton as anti-immigrant, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff recently accused her of being a racist in response to comments she made on a Nancy On Norwalk article. That article related to the costs associated with educating the recent influx of immigrant children into Norwalk.
As an immigrant myself, I was curious about all the fuss. And because Duff often has a tenuous grip on truth and fact, I looked up the article and Lisa’s comments and read them myself. Based on my read, Bob’s comments are misinformed and tremendously out of line.
The article notes that Norwalk Public Schools are dealing with an influx of some 450 ELL (English Language Learners) students this school year and discusses the attendant cost of educating those students. That cost is not small, especially given that the cost of educating ELL students significantly exceeds the cost of educating non-ELL students. The article also reports that current Mayor Harry Rilling, in his trademark abdication of personal responsibility for local issues, embarked on a dialing-for-dollars campaign with the state’s federal congressional contingent. He also planned to reach out to Bob Duff.
Rilling would have us believe that this is not a Norwalk issue, or even a Connecticut issue, but rather a U.S. federal issue. And it is nice of him to try to provide cover to Duff for his complete and utter failing on this matter. Duff, in turn, is apparently happy to be Rilling’s mouthpiece in the mayoral campaign, penning misguided hit pieces on Brinton like the one that is the subject of this letter.
However, as Brinton rightly pointed out in her comments, this is very much a state issue. It is Connecticut’s sanctuary policy that contributes to the continuous influx of immigrant students, and it is Connecticut’s education cost share funding methodology that ensures insufficient money to educate them. Hence Lisa’s comment: “The state’ sanctuary policy is out of step with its education cost share funding to aid municipalities like Norwalk.” If you read Lisa’s comments in their entirety, which I encourage you to do, you will see that, far from mongering xenophobia, she is lamenting the severe mismatch between enrollment and funding, which ensures that these poor students have almost no chance of a high quality education.
Of course, Duff neglects to include Brinton’s very next sentence: “It also doesn’t factor in that Norwalk was shortchanged tens of millions of dollars for over a decade.” This is hardly surprising, because it is Bob Duff’s fault. He is the senator for Norwalk, as well as the majority leader in the upper house of a state government that is dominated by Democrats. That he hasn’t worked to remedy Norwalk’s shortfall in education funding is shameful. That he is looking for someone else to blame is hardly surprising – “Senate Majority Leader Fails to Provide Adequately for Home Town” is hardly a catchy campaign slogan.
With all the serious issues facing Connecticut, one would think Duff had more important things to do than troll the mayoral race, but here we are. Duff would have you believe that Lisa’s intelligent questions about school funding “prove that the takeover of the Norwalk Republican Party by Donald Trump is complete”. In fact, his pathetic attempt at racial pandering and hyper-avoidance of personal accountability illustrate that the exodus of common sense from the Norwalk Democrat Party is at last complete.