Gov. Malloy, school administrators endorse Rilling for mayor

NORWALK, Conn – Gov. Dannel Malloy announced Friday he has endorsed Harry Rilling for Mayor. Rilling also picked up the backing of the Norwalk Association of School Administrators.

The union also endorsed Board of Education candidates Steve Colarossi, Artie Kassimis, Shirley Mosby and Andres Roman.

In a statement, Malloy lauded Rilling for his experience and leadership in the city of Norwalk.

“Norwalk needs a mayor that can get the city moving again,” Malloy said. “Harry has the experience, leadership, and management style needed to bring change to a city like Norwalk.”

Malloy said when he was mayor of Stamford he enjoyed working with Rilling, then Noralk’s police chief.

“As police chief he was open, transparent, and always got the job done,” Malloy said. “I know that when he is mayor he’ll be the same way.”

The Norwalk Association of School Administrators endorsement came in a statement from union head Tony Ditrio. The union represents all the principals, house masters, assistant principals, and supervisory staff of the Norwalk Public Schools.

“Our desire is to have a mayor and Board of Education that will work hard to make the Norwalk Public Schools the best it can be for the children of Norwalk,” Ditrio said in the statement. “We are endorsing those candidates who we feel will contribute the most to helping us provide a quality education to ALL of our students.”


60 responses to “Gov. Malloy, school administrators endorse Rilling for mayor”

  1. nwkprobate

    This endorsement only begs further questions … Did the NASA membership vote to endorse these candidates? I wonder why the NASA union chose these 4 candidates? Is the NFT Teachers Union going to endorse individual candidates as well? Well, we know who the NFT leadership does not like … read their Vanguard newsletter …

  2. Lisa Thomson

    Mr. Ditrio’s endorsement of those specific BOE candidates should confirm to Norwalk voters which candidates will maintain the status quo. The Fab 5 bi-partisan members of the current BoE brought in nationally recognized superintendent Manny Rivera. Voters have a clear choice this election year. Do we move forward and bring outside foundations, reform and achievement to ALL students, bringing families back to Norwalk or do we vote in those who will do the bidding of the union bosses to maintain the status quo. They ran out the previous superintendent. Please do not let them do it with this one.

    Voting will be tricky this year. Unaffiliated voters will have to sift through the candidates. As one can see by the union endorsement, you have a Republican, Democrat and two Community Values Candidates- which should more or less be called the Ditrio-Mellion Party.

    It will be tricky voting this year but there is certainly enough information out on the candidates and their positions. Voters do have a CHOICE this year and that is a good thing!

  3. Don’t Panic

    Surprised at you. Ditrio-Mellion party? Not like you.

  4. Lisa Thomson

    @Don’t Panic
    Sometimes you have to call it like it is. Having been an active parent in the district,I’ve seen what the status quo does to the district and any attempt to drive Norwalk into the 21st Century. We can no longer be a collection of schools and fiefdoms. We are moving forward, but it shouldnt be so difficult. Also, not just a Norwalk problem – did you see that Darien’s status quo super just resigned!

  5. Lifelong Teacher

    Lisa, I’ve been a Norwalk resident for more than 35 years, and have been involved with our schools for most of that time.

    I had great hopes when Susan Marks came to town, and I was a supporter, personally and professionally, but she was a huge disappointment. Did she have a lot to deal with, including central office and union opposition? Absolutely, but in that position and with the salary she was paid, she should have been up to the task. She aligned herself with the wrong people, both within and without the system. Her poor decisions decimated the elementary schools (ask the teachers and administrators if they feel children are being served well), and then she collected a nice fat bundle on the way out of town. None of us should feel sorry for her!

    Moccia’s sophistry with finances is shameful. He can blame others, and he did, but he took money from the schools at every turn. The post retirement benefits $4M issue should have been no surprise to he second floor at city hall. When the state came through with additional funding, desperately needed, he took back every single dollar for schools from another area. He forced repayment of our loan, but has forgiven debts from the Maritime Aquarium and Oak Hills.

    Attacking teachers is counterproductive, and forcing a language arts program on the elementary schools isn’t within the board’s purview.

    Rivera is a wise and strong leader who actually listens. He will lead us forward. No one is trying to run him out of town; but he won’t be able to lead a school system with no money.

  6. Lisa Thomson

    @lifelong teacher
    I agree with much of what you have said. I believe Dr. Rivera will lead us forward.

    And there has been some curious accounting on the 2nd and 3rd floors – but i know it was an outside force that exposed the nonsense. Huge loss of COO Elio Longo to Westport.

    As a lifelong teacher in NPS, you know what is going on and where the gatekeeping camps are that have caused us to run as a collection of individual schools instead of a school system. It is obviously more challenging to run a district like Norwalk than one of our neighboring suburban districts… But the ‘cronyism network’ that dominates is hurting our staff, city and kids. I somehow get the impression that Mr. Ditrio is trying to stack the deck with candidates that will reject any Strategic Plan that Dr. Rivera comes up with that they dont want. Every Teacher I know is also begging for leadership… I believe Dr. Rivera got a standing ovation at convocation. But as you know, there is a battle going on regarding how to move public education forward and teachers have had to keep their heads low, so as not to get hit in the crossfire.

  7. Don’t Panic

    I had not seen the news from Darien. It’s all some of us can do to keep up with what is going on in Norwalk.

  8. First, neither Andres Roman nor I sought, applied for or were consulted with the endorsement by the association representing Norwalk’s principals.

    We do have great respect for our school leaders and appreciate that, despite our calls for increasing accountability by them, and despite my record of cutting administrative positions over the past four years, they would include us in the slate of candidates they feel can best deliver the reforms needed for our children, families and taxpayers.

    Second, at some point, Lisa Thompson and those she supports must get embarrassed that all they can do is engage in name-calling in order to discredit my four years of votes which show a nonpartisan approach to protecting the best interests of our taxpayers, students and families. They may find fault with some of the specifics of my Kids First Alternative Budget (as do I), but they cannot explain why they believed that the cuts they voted for were the best possible cuts. At some point, they might want to explain how that budget was passed with no debate, no in-depth discussion, at a meeting lasting less than one hour. At some point, one of them might dare to offer how crowding kids into classrooms at Brookside, or cutting intervention aides, or voting to eliminate the Transportation Technology program at Norwalk High School (with no program replacing it) advanced the best interests of our children.

    Third, this election should not be about the lack of success of the former superintendent. I had been a strong supporter of her hiring, and (if you dare to read public comments I made) believed that she could bring about the accountability we needed. I did insist that she, like every administrator, be held accountable for knowing the parameters of her position and for the acts and omissions committed. I did take exception with some glaring administrative lapses and budgetary mismanagement that were Dr. Marks’ responsibility. Each time money was spent in a manner not approved in the budget, or each time someone was overpaid or improperly hired, I believed that we were wasting money that should be spent in the classroom.

    Let me give you some concrete examples– (i) her initial retention of a consultant despite no budgetary authority for that hire and her giving an interim employee a raise despite that person’s salary being set by the BoE in its budget (during her first weeks on the job), (ii) her providing interim raises and promotions to two employees in December of 2010 which were never disclosed to the BoE or the public, (iii) her repeated hiring of personnel without BoE approval (as required by charter and BoE policy), (iv) her overpaying certain administrative employees even after being advised of the errors, (v) her decisions in the 2012-2013 budget to unfairly target critical elementary school services, (vi) her hiring more than a dozen teaches at the start of the 2011-12 school year that exceeded budget authority, (vii) her presumptive “re-organization” plan that did not include any changed job descriptions or lines of authority but only the creation of a new job (ostensibly earmarked for a close associate) and (viii) her refusal to timely provide any impact statements and implementation plans for the budgets cuts she proposed in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. I also believed that when she promised a re-organization plan and came to the Board with the same old, out-dated organizational chart but with the lone inclusion of a single additional employee (whose duties were not fully delineated on the chart) and no modification of the lines of command and control, I expressed the concern that many in the community had.

    There was also a general lack of leadership shown, such as when her first budget was presented as the Superintendent’s “Un-Recommended” budget, or when at the time of reconciling her second budget she included teacher cuts that would have resulted in half-day kindergarten but never disclosed that to the public in the documents which presented those teacher cuts.

    If failing to provide full disclosure to the public or showing a lack of leadership are signs of the reform Ms. Thompson and her groups’ endorsed candidates support, then Andres Roman and I certainly made the right decision in supporting a non-partisan Board of Education that offers true accountability as the first reform which is needed.

  9. EDR

    What is up with a union endorsement of candidates for the BoE? Is that to make sure that candidates who are elected will continue to maintain the unsustainable level of teacher compensation? Let’s face the harsh reality here the union has never been about education but about maintaining the status quo for themselves. I realize that people will disagree but as a hardworking taxpayer who pays more taxes than most I am getting annoyed with folks who are local government union employees who think they have been treated badly in your contracts. Really? You have a great gig. Stop complaining.

  10. Piberman

    With our unions, NFT , school adminstrators plus our Democratic Governor all supporting Democrats in Norwalk there’s no doubt Democrats would impose major league new taxation here. If it works in Hartford why not Norwalk. Everyone knows what “more respect for City employees” means – bigger salaries and much higher taxes for property owners. And declining property values. The future for envisaged by democrats looks increasingly like Bridgeport.

  11. Lisa Thomson

    Let’s be clear. Mr. Mellion’s and Mr. Ditrio’s JOB is to get the best deal for their members NOT to reform work rules that do not favor kids or compensation that balances taxpayers ability to pay! Any endorsement of a candidate by these gentlemen IMHO demonstrates who they think will support their platform. What do these candidates or Mrssrs. Ditrio and Mellion have to say about what CT. Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, NCC President David Levinson or nationally recognized Supt. Manny Rivera had to say about reform last night in the GenRe Forum at NCC?

  12. Daisy

    That’s RIGHT. Ditrio actually voted for Moccia at least once. And many of his staff don’t respect him but are afraid to say so ’cause he’s big on retribution. But like all the union people, they’re all only thinking of their own paychecks and benefits.

  13. Tony Ditrio

    I probably should not reply to the comments, but then again since some people keep claiming to know what I think and why I do anything, I feel compelled to try and explain myself. Let me start with the expected reaction by those who NASA did not endorse. I did expect Lisa Thompson to try and find a way to discredit us since her two candidates’, Sue Haney and Lauren Rosato did not get endorsed. I guess I hoped for a more civil explanation. Instead Lisa decided to go for the jugular and make outrageous claims and to put forth revisionist history. I am disappointed because I still believe that Lisa wants what is best for kids. I just strongly disagree with her approach and her constant character assassination. Almost nothing she says can be backed up with any real facts. I could refute each of her allegations with facts but why bother. The endorsement is the result of administrators feeling that our schools are not being properly supported. It has NOTHING to do with our pay or benefits. That process is entirely separate and those claiming different just don’t understand the facts. I am offended that Lisa would claim that my intention is simply to get stuff for administrators. This was not my personal endorsement. Most everyone knows that I am a Democrat that worked hard to try and get Matt Miklave elected Mayor. The endorsement was for only two Democrats out of six endorsements. We talked with almost every member of our Association before we made the endorsements. The executive Board had overwhelming support for our actions. The fact is that the vast majority of those who work closest with staff and students are in agreement with this endorsement. In comments I constantly see the name of Bruce Mellion placed next to mine as if we were a team. Mr. Mellion is the President of the teachers union and it is essential that we communicate and work together on items that involve the teachers and administrators. Most times he is on the other side of the table when we are dealing with school related issues. I think it is foolish to not work with the head of the union that represents all our teachers and support staff. That was probably Dr. Marks’ biggest mistake. I think it is also foolish to attack rather than talk. That seems to be what some members of the Board and some elected officials think is the civil thing to do. There has never been a Ditrio/Mellion anything. I say this while still declaring that it would not be in the best interest of the District and it’s students to not work together. It seems what some want is a similar situation as the federal government now has where no one works together to solve issues but rather just bashes the other side.
    The next issue I want to address is the issue of school budgets. When Dr. Marks came to Norwalk she decided to create a new budget committee. It included Central Office staff and the heads of the three largest bargaining groups. I represented NASA on that committee. I brought to the table many years spent understanding the Norwalk Public Schools budget process. I think that my various roles made me highly qualified in this area. During the next two years I was involved with the entire process and worked closely with the Board Finance Committee led by Mr. Colarossi. We spent many hours discussing budget issues over this time. When the Board was in utter chaos, in Dr.Marks’ last year, it did seem appropriate for me to first fight long and hard to get us the funding we needed, and to also propose alternatives that better represented the needs of the schools. Some seem to forget who led the battle over getting the $4 million dollar Board “error” resolved in the interests of children. Some want to forget the hundreds of parents and students who protested what the City Administration was doing. Some want to forget that the budget put forth as an alternative was one designed with parents and students in mind and not politics. Some also want to forget that the budget the Board passed allowed for no discussion from the public and was passed with no discussion. Sue Haney says our budget was built on sand. This is the same person who touts her conquest of the teachers union in arbitration. Well the reality is that she represents the same people who “lost” $4 million dollars and constantly get less for the students of Norwalk. Her great victory has Norwalk teachers getting the largest raise in the State next year. She can talk about sand because her entire platform is built on it.

    The last item is the hiring of Dr. Rivera. The truth is that those few who were allowed to take part in the process wanted someone else. They wanted someone and offered the position to someone else they really wanted. We got lucky that their first choice did not accept. I am thankful of that very day. The administrators that I represent are hard working and caring individuals who want the best for our students. We are not greedy or lazy and we do not deserve to be treated with so little respect by the Board. I expect those outside the system to attack at times but I also would expect that the Board would speak the truth and defend us. Unfortunately that has rarely occurred lately. I personally and those I represent, will do all we can to help Dr. Rivera make his vision become a reality for our students. The best interests’ of the students is what we always have in mind and we will continue to work hard for them. I am sure that there will be times that we may disagree with a Board decision but that does not mean that we are against change and improvement.

  14. Piberman

    Norwalk would much better served if its school teachers and administrators stayed out of politics and behaved like real professionals. Everyone who reads the NFT Vanguard monthly knows how strongly the NFT is fighting for a Democrat controlled BOE and City Hall so they will never have to suffer an Arbitration hearing ever again and further inflate their lofty salaries – 5th highest in CT. No other city in CT has a teachers and administrators union so engrossed in City politics to feather their own nests. It’s disgraceful and utterly unprofessional. All voters need remember that 2of the 4 Democratic BOE members voted against hiring Dr Rivera. NFT and school administrator support for Democrat run BOE would be an enormous step backward towards revolving Supts. Union support for BOE members ought to be the kiss of death for citizens wanting a well functioning public schools system. Voting for the team that brought Dr Rivera to Norwalk in the first place not only supports Dr Rivera but encourages an even stronger BOE. As well as demonstrating to our highly unprofessional union school teachers and administrators that the public really does want the unions to stay out of our City governance.

  15. Don’t Panic

    Mr. Ditrio is about as far from vitriolic as a man can get. I remember his impassioned pleas on behalf of the kids during the public meetings over the budget shortfall.
    He does not deserve to be vilified like this.

  16. marjoriem

    I strongly support Mr. Ditrio and what he has said. Parents know that their building principals want what is best for students. Parents know that these principals are not voting with their bank accounts in mind. Principals do care or they would be out in the corporate world making much more money, Reach into your hearts and seriously think about who wants the best for students and who is in this for power. Lisa and your Apples should be ashamed of their bullying, name calling and lying. You are a small, but sad group of power hungry women. Unfortunately for you, Marks is no longer around to be your puppet. P.S. I am not involved in the union.

  17. Mike Lyons

    Regarding negotiation of the teacher contracts in Norwalk vs. the State, the statewide average increase for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 negotiated last year was 5.48% (2.58% and 2.90%). By contrast, the arbitration award in Norwalk resulted in a settlement last year of a freeze year one and a projected cost of 4.27% year two, a two-year total of 4.27%, or 1.21% lower than the state averages (saving us well over a $1 million vs. cost if we merely matched the state average). Finally, the Arbitration Panel rejected the union’s last best offers providing for further increases, and it awarded the Board the reopener it sought so that it will have an opportunity to address the structural problems with the salary schedule.

    We have only one teacher settlement this year so far in Connecticut. Bozrah, a small town in eastern Connecticut, reached a very large settlement (11.66% over three years).

    Norwalk did very well against BoEs in the state in general, and we’re hopeful we can continue that progress when the contract reopener goes forward.

  18. Suzanne


    From the Gallup Management Journal: what makes a workplace successful PRIMARILY is not compensation so much as appreciation and positive recognition of a job well done. Mr. Ditrio’s statement bears this out: “The endorsement is the result of administrators feeling that our schools are not being properly supported. It has NOTHING to do with our pay or benefits.”

    Those that continue to back bite, castigate and complain (see definition of “whine”) do not help our schools, not one bit. Rather, in reviewing the research on what makes a workplace successful and productive, honest appreciation does.

    Those that continue to criticize thinking they are being of service to our schools might take a look at this research and change their tune, one hundred and eighty degrees.

  19. marjoriem

    (1) Many districts received 0% in the last negotiations, and the 4.3% for next year’s budget is going to bankrupt Norwalk. The third year will go to arbitration. No arbitrator will award 0% twice in a three year contract. Mike, you forgot to mention Haynie lost to the union on class size. That was a mighty large dollar loss for taxpayers.
    (2) So who was the Board’s first choice for the Superintendent’s job? You mean there was another candidate who walked even higher on water?

  20. M Allen

    Suzanne, that’s quite right. When people are asked what makes them happy, it tends not to be money and benefits. But when it comes time for a union to negotiate its CBA, for some crazy reason they don’t attempt to negotiate intangibles, only tangibles – money and benefits. Teachers, and all public employee unions for that matter, are in a difficult position. They eyes of the public are upon them for both their output, what they do for the city, as well as what taxpayers have to pay for that output. During difficult financial times, or during times when the output seems to be yielding results the public is unimpressed by (no finger pointing, just making a generalization) then taxpayers fall back onto what they are paying for it all. It is a very difficult time in Norwalk and it is showing more and more each day. I truly hope when this election is over that the disparate groups can come together, regardless of the outcome on Nov 6.

  21. Lifelong Teacher

    There is no one who cares more about Norwalk’s children than Tony Ditrio. His vilification here is horrible. Tony is fighting for kids, especially poor children, to get what they need.

    The administrators in Norwalk support Manny Rivera and desperately want him to succeed. I would say most teachers want the same thing. It’s not about bigger salaries for them. Those were set years ago in collective bargaining. Some of the clauses and benefits are ridiculous, for sure, but don’t blame us for that. Blame previous generations of BOE negotiating the contracts.

    Marks ran our schools down. Imagine trying to manage a school with only $25,000. Books, paper, crayons, computers, postage, Xerox toner, pencils, outfitting a library, professional development (non existent). We dont get workbooks from t he BOE, so we have to buy everything, often with teachers spending their own money, and copy for students.

    You wonder why schools operate as what others on this blog call ‘fiefdoms’? We have had no choice. There has been no leadership for decades. Building principals have shut their doors and done what’s right for their students.

    How can you argue with that?

  22. Mike Lyons

    If the teachers’ pay raise “bankrupts the City” next year, that is the fault of the teachers union, not us. That is the raise they demanded. The BoE won year one (0%) and year three (reopener) in the arbitration, the union won year 2 (they had demanded similar raises for years 1 and 3). This, unfortunately, isw how ‘last best offer’ arbitration works. Would we have been better off with something like the 11% in Bozrah, which is about what the union demanded here?

  23. Hobbes the Calvinist

    With due respect to the previous post, huh?????????
    The arbitrator gave the teachers the 4+% in response to Negotiation Chairwoman demanding 0% for year one. You can’t blame the teachers for the Chairwoman making ridiculous demands.

    About that “re-opener”, do you really believe that the “re-opener” will be less than 2%? I don’t, especially if you consider raises for superintendent and tech director.

  24. Lifelong Teacher

    The superintendent And tech director don’t come under the NFT contract.

  25. marjoriem

    Thank you, Hobbes the Calvinist. You explained that very well. If Haynie knew what she was doing, the outcome might have been different. If she had been reasonable for the last best offer, the arbitrator might have chosen her % increase. What she didn’t research is the fact that arbitrators do not give 0% increases two years in a row. As a result, when stuck with choice (A) Haynie’s second year of 0% and choice (B) NFT 4.3%, the arbitrator had to choose for the NFT. Arbitrators only have the two choices. Mike Lyons can’t blame the Union for bankrupting the city for next year’s budget. He can blame Haynie.
    Lifelong Teacher, I think Hobbes was saying that since the Superintendent and the It Director will be getting large wage increases next year, it would impact the %age raise for teachers. It doesn’t matter that they are not NFT members. Spin! Spin! Spin!

  26. marjoriem

    Sorry…the “Spin” comment was meant for Mike Lyons.

  27. Lifelong Teacher

    Thanks, Marjoriem, I wondered what that was about.

    Seems like Haynie’s position in the arbitration wasn’t so smart after all. Everyone, from the HR director to the deputy sup’t’., is saying that the teachers’ increase next year will crush NPS. Fasten your seat belts, everyone, it’s gonna be a rocky ride. Thank Haynie and of course Mr. Mellion.

    It will mean even less for our students. Less library books, less staffing to keep entry and dismissal safe, less supplies, no one to monitor the SRBI process for struggling students.

    I am watching families leaving Norwalk, and understand why.

  28. Better Norwalk

    [I]Well, we know who the NFT leadership does not like … read their Vanguard newsletter …[/I]

    And who would that be?

  29. Mike Lyons

    If the teachers raise next year will “crush” the school system, and its all Haynie’s fault (the teachers union didn’t really want the big raise, you see, Haynie just MADE the arbitrators give it to them), then can’t the teachers union magnanimously give up a part of their raise “for the good of the children”? That way we won’t have “less library books, less staffing to keep entry and dismissal safe, less supplies, no one to monitor the SRBI process for struggling students”? Haynie isn’t FORCING them to accept the raise, after all. Or is all the talk here about caring about the kids just “spin”?

  30. marjoriem

    Mike Lyons, you know full well that the arbitrator chooses one of the two last best offers. Haynie put forth her 0% and the NFT put forth 4.3%. What is it about this that you don’t understand? The arbitrator chooses ONE OF THE TWO. If Haynie had put forth 2.3%, there was a good chance she would have gotten it. Haynie didn’t know what she was doing! And this was Bruce’s fault???? Now you want the Union to give back what you and Haynie have been boasting about as a win over the NFT? As for the union giving up their raises, you should also be aware that a budget hasn’t even been presented yet. How can they even think about giving up anything when there is no budget. Oh, would you like to contribute 4.3% of your salary to help our kids? How very generous of you to set an example for our teachers. Speaking of budgets, what happened to Daddona’s 3 year budget???? How come it’s such a big secret? Mike Lyons, I wouldn’t toss my hat in with the Apples if I were you. They are falling fast and hard. How do you feel about applesauce?

  31. Piberman

    Left out of the discussion above is the Arbitration Report’s statement that Norwalk public school teachers are the 5th highest paid in CT and highest of any City. Pretty pricey for “devoted public servants” serving in a City ranking just 19th in income. Similarly the Arbitration Report cited Norwalk’s higher property taxes required to fund such salaries as responsible for our lower property values during the Recession. The NFT’s outrage at the Arbitration results is readily visible – a clarion call for a Democrat gov’t in Norwalk. So much for professionals working on behalf of children. The NFT is just following Gomper’s famous phrase. “More, always more.” Nothing better reflects the NFT’s utter disrespect for Norwalk residents than its monthly Vanguard. Would that it be up on the City’s web site so everyone can see the professionalism of Norwalk’s public school teachers. The question is why Norwalk’s NFT is so different from school teacher unions in other cities where professionalism is so visible ? And teachers respected and admired ? Imagine what could be achieved here with real professional teachers, not ones trying to manipulate City governance to their own benefit.

  32. marjoriem

    Mr. Berman, left out of your argument is the fact that Norwalk is in Fairfield county, the richest county in Connecticut. The teachers live in a very costly county with home prices that are extremely pricey. Why don’t you compare teacher salaries with our neighbors, Westport, Wilton, Greenwich, etc.? THAT would be more reasonable. Additionally, our teachers are faced with all of the problems that an inner city brings with the job. Maybe you should even compare Norwalk with our neighboring New York where teachers are covered for medical insurance for life.

  33. Lisa Thomson

    I like Mr. Ditrio personally, but I disagree with him using his influential NASA position to endorse 2 husbands of NFT employees and the daughter of a vocal, retired custodial union head and one (somewhat out of place) Republican. As a parent, who I support is irrelevant and nobody cares! Voters will make their own minds up shortly. As an unaffiliated voter, I am supporting 4 bi-partisan, reform minded women who do not owe their personal livelihoods to NPS and can work TOGETHER and compromise. Mr. Bazzano and Mr. Williams are good men as well.

    But I’m frustrated with the power, culture and mindset that union leadership has over our education system in Norwalk and the state! I respect Mr. Ditrio on many levels but public education has GOT to move forward if our children and country are to thrive. Locally, that means supporting a visionary superintendent and working together to balance educational needs with taxpayer’s ability to pay.

    Other Norwalk politicians (both R’s and D’s) seeking their respective offices have got to stop glazing over the subject of ‘fully funding or not fully funding education.’ Go deeper and look at WHERE the $ are spent and if effective before you speak. And, those educators in leadership positions (most are also the union heads) have got to do it smarter faster, better. It’s time to metaphorically move out of the little red schoolhouse model from the turn of the LAST century and make the Great Leap Forward, if we’re to keep up with 21st Century costs!

    My taxes have nearly tripled since i moved here in 1998; my house value has not nor has my private sector pay. My property taxes equal my mortgage payment, (likely to exceed, next year. ) It’s not sustainable. Our locally funded, U.S. education ‘model’ outspends more than any industrialized nation but our achievement levels don’t. Our students can’t crack the Top 10!

    It’s imperative that our BOE balance the needs of our kids, taxpayers and staff. The Founding Fathers created a separation of powers, so one branch of government didn’t get too powerful. In my opinion, and it is only mine, Mr. Ditrio’s particular slate tips the scales in favor of maintaining an NPS status quo. But voters needn’t agree with me or Mr. Ditrio. There are 10 candidates this year and who knows which combination of candidates will win. As an amateur activist, I am pleased that so many candidates want to get involved.

    But, with a fantastic and nationally recognized superintendent, Norwalk needs a majority BOE that will support his strategic vision and challenge a well meaning but entrenched NPS culture. We’ll all find out on November 5th who that will be and thankfully, this election season will finally come to a close.

  34. Piberman

    Marjoriem needs to get his facts straight despite hiding his well known name. Our surrounding towns have more than twice the median town income and many times the wealth with property valuations over a million dollars. That’s the appropriate comparison to make ? The NFT in its Arbitration brief claimed Norwalk was one of the wealthiest towns in America ! With a median household income of only about $70,000. That comparison is a cruel joke. Would it be so. But it illustrates a greedy union. We pay dearly to support the highest paid teachers of any City in CT. Witness stagnant property values for 3 years running and billions lost in deferred appreciation.

    Our NFT fiercely criticizing our BOE and vigorously seeking to put pandering Democrats in power to fatten their wallets is a good example of how public unions have so distorted their original purpose. We expect teachers to stick to their knitting – teaching, not gorging on the public purse.

    (this comment has been edited to conform to our policy)

  35. marjoriem

    Lisa Thomson, Mr. Ditrio did not use his influence to garner the votes. The memberships was asked. To comment that he supports candidates because of their spouses, family members or whatever is grossly untrue, but I’ll give you points for creative spin. Truth is, principals want who and what is best for their students. There are no ways to spin that! BTW, EVERYONE’s taxes are increasing no matter where you live. Norwalk is not alone by any means!
    Mr. Berman who thinks his way is right, you are so wrong about who I am. There are many forms of nicknames for Marjorie as well as people who go by their middle name. The “m” may stand for my middle name or my maiden name. One thing it doesn’t stand for is Mellion.
    Secondly, Mr. Berman, thank you for pointing out how expensive surrounding towns are. The employees who work in Norwalk have to be able to afford the costs of a home in Norwalk or surrounding towns. They have to be able to shop, provide food, etc. etc. etc. Of course their salaries have to be higher than those towns with much more inexpensive homes and costs. Or do you want our staff members to commute for two hours each way to get to work? (Forget the cost of gas!)
    Thirdly, Mr. Berman, the highest paid teachers in any city in CT? You carefully worded that NOT to include towns??? Clever, but obviously not too clever.
    Support your Republicans. You are probably a Tea Party member too. Good luck with that one!

  36. Mike Lyons

    Marjoriem, I know how arbitration works. Yes, Haynie could have offered a smaller increase in year 2 – and so could the union. Why is she the only one responsible? I reiterate – “Regarding negotiation of the teacher contracts in Norwalk vs. the State, the statewide average increase for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 negotiated last year was 5.48% (2.58% and 2.90%). By contrast, the arbitration award in Norwalk resulted in a settlement last year of a freeze year one and a projected cost of 4.27% year two, a two-year total of 4.27%, or 1.21% lower than the state averages (saving us well over a $1 million vs. cost if we merely matched the state average.” Since when is beating the State average, and saving taxpayers money, ‘not knowing what you’re doing’? You can spin this any way you want, but saving over $1 million is a win.

  37. marjoriem

    Mike, how does the Norwalk 4.3%percentage compared to Bozrah’s TWO year raise translate into dollars? Fairfield county percentages are much higher raises dollar wise than some of the CT northern towns. And Haynie couldn’t have offered a smaller salary increase. For two years she offered 0%. Were you thinking -4% ? Please do not use the three year Bozrah salary increases when calculating salary increases. Norwalk will undoubtedly have an increase in year three as well.

  38. marjoriem

    An added thought, if you please. What were Bozrah’s raises three years before the agreement? Thank you.

  39. Tony Ditrio

    I just want to remind Mr. Berman that NASA only endorsed 1 Democratic candidate for Board. I believe we endorsed those we think can make the District better. We did not care what party they were part of. In fact three are registered Republicans.
    Math lesson – 2% of $1000 is twice 2% of $500. You can not calculate a contracts worth by using percents.
    Another fact – most Districts got there zero percent settlements before Norwalk so the use of the next two years does not represent any real comparable numbers.
    I was wondering how long it would take for some on the Board to call for give backs on another contract settlement that they brag about.
    While the Schools were underfunded what happened to the rainy day account? I believe it got even bigger.

  40. marjoriem

    Thank you, Tony Ditrio! There are also 23 teachers in Bozrah, one school. Shame on you, Mike Lyons! You are full of spin!

  41. Piberman

    Tony Ditrio

    In other CT School Districts administrators act professional and stick to their knitting as employees hired by the BOE. And they avoid organized involvement in local politics. They don’t serve on mayoral campaign committees. They don’t write commentaries nor do they write OpEds criticizing the BOE. In a word they act as professional educators and enjoy the respect of the community. You do great disservice to our public school system and community by your efforts to influence the BOE and City school budgets. And you degrade the reputation of your union membership by these activities. Norwalk has long had a reputation of a highly politicized and hostile school teachers and administrators unions. That reputation makes it more difficult to hire outstanding teachers and administrators. So act professional just like school administrators in our surrounding towns. Or campaigns. another school district where school employees are encouraged and expected to engage in local politics. Norwalk expects its school employees to behave professionally. We have some widely admired principals in Norwalk. None of them to the best of my knowledge engage in politics or criticize the BOE. Or run for office. Or serve on campaigns.

    You may be sure that Norwalk citizens fully understand the implications of the Arbitration a Report that its public school teachers are the 5th highest paid in CT and more than in any other City. And we expect the BOE to pursue continued arbitration to bring school salaries in line with our income ranking – just 19th in the state.

    When school employees turn to politics rather than sticking to their professional responsibilities they do not earn the respect of their community. So you have some work to do. Put your energies into the job as educator and administrator, not working to secure a better deal for your union members. We need school employees to act professionally, not as political activists, if we’re to achieve the greatest success possible in our school system. Set a good example for our students. Leave politics to taxpayers. Earn our respect. By the job you do. Not rocket science.

  42. marjoriem

    Mr. Berman, people wear many hats in their lives. Mr. Ditrio is a husband, a father, a principal, the administrators’ leader, a Norwalk taxpayer and a brilliant mathematician. It is disrespectful and aggressively hostile of you to berate him for his role as a NORWALK TAXPAYER. Last time I looked, we lived in a country where we value freedom of speech. Yes, even from those of us who are in the noble profession of teaching , but who are politically vocal. Mr. Ditrio is setting a fine example for our students. You, however are not.

  43. Carolyn Chiodo

    Rillings just lost my vote. The thought of the Teachers, Administrators and Mayor in bed together with a BOE to rubber stamp everything sounds EXPENSIVE. Sorry, but I can’t afford it in this economy. At a tax payer I am worried.

  44. Don’t Panic

    As opposed to a mayor, redevelopment and developers being in bed together? I’ll take teachers and administration who show up for work and care for and teach our children over giant holes in the ground any day of the week.

  45. marjoriem

    First of all there is no money to give away to teachers. No one can afford to just keep giving taxpayer dollars to anyone anywhere. Secondly, principals put the best interests of their students first. As a taxpayer, I trust principals to make the right decisions. This political garbage spewed forth by the Apples to bash teachers and administrators as only out for money is simply not true. Trust those in charge of our children. They really are right about their choice for Mayor.

  46. Carolyn Chiodo

    Should Nowarlkers vote for individuals with personal/professional ties to NPS payroll and set POLICY???? Doesn’t that represent a conflict of interest? Look At NEON.

  47. Carolyn Chiodo

    and they won’t relinquish POWER either!!!

  48. M Allen

    So let’s see here, Marjorie says principals put the best interests of their students first. She trusts principals to make the right decisions. That we should trust those in charge of our children.
    Now I don’t fundamentally disagree with the exact words, more the meaning. I do believe teachers and aministartors place the interests of the stsudents first. But you can’t say it is their only interest. That would be disingenous. But are they the only ones with the right answers? Should there be no checks and balances on their insight? And should we extend the same to all city employees? Should we leave it up to the police to tell us what is a criminal act and what isn’t and then decide which laws they will choose to enforce? There is a reason we have government elected for the people by the people. It is not so we can turn it all over to the EMPLOYEES.

  49. Carolyn Chiodo

    Thank you M. Allen I completely agree. I do want to add that I love the NPS teachers.

  50. marjoriem

    Time after time the principals have proven their loyalty to their students. I guess they only get the taxpayers praise when they sacrifice their lives by getting killed. What a pity that our Norwalk taxpayers don’t recognize this loyalty and selflessness in our educators. I am simply stating that, in the choice of the administrators’ candidates, they are right. To state that one shouldn’t vote for a candidate who has a spouse or someone they know as a staff member is a ludicrous argument. Steve has always stated when there is a conflict of interest and has not voted. The Apples are trying to scare the voters using the “union” and “family member” connection. If that’s all they’ve got, they are only playing dirty politics. Don’t fall for it.

  51. M Allen

    Well perhaps the next union negotiation will focus on issues unrelated to money and benefits. When they are negotiating for more pay and benefits, perhaps they’ll request to take less in lieu of the crayons, paper, workbooks and the other items cited earlier.
    If the unions, teachers and otherwise, weren’t trying to be so politically obvious in helping pick the elected officials who will sit across from them at the negotiating table, the public would be more receptive to their needs in the classroom. But as a union, the intermingling of political motivations on the one hand and concern for the children on the other, are often lost in the mix.
    I’m terribly sorry if teachers or administrators feel as though the general public doesn’t value their service or sense of responsibility and loyalty to their students. I know I sure don’t feel that way. And it doesn’t take a teacher being killed to prove it. So no need for the outlandish hyperbole. There are simply more issues involved than trying to boil anything and everything involving those in the profession down to: everythign we do is for the kids. No, not everything. They are human beings and they have personal interests involved with all of this as well. Just as we taxpayers do. There is a limit to everything.

  52. Carolyn Chiodo

    M ALLEN I hope you don’t mind your message is great and I am posting it on my FB page. Thank you.

  53. Piberman

    Majoriem … might ask other Districts if their school employees engage in local politics to feather their own pocketbooks.
    Norwalk is an aberration. It’s teachers and administrations unions disgrace their profession and purpose and set poor examples for students. We’d be appalled if our fire and police officials engaged in these activities or published the hostile behaviors in n the NFT Vanguard. We respect our fire and police professionals for doing their job. Not for telling taxpayers how to do their job. Ask NON to survey readers on whether school employees should be actively engaged in City politics. Ask Mr Miklave if Mr Ditrio’s support helped his prospects as the “school union candidate” ? But I state the obvious. Ask parents if they want teachers and administrators as local politicians. Ask the students. Ask readers of NON to rise up and defend school employees engaging as politicians fattening their purse. Shameful behavior. Ask the principals who have strong reputations if their fellows should be local politicians. Maybe you could be on Mr Ditrio’s future campaign as he tries to move Norwalk (and the unions ) forward. Mr Ditrio as mayor ? Who knows !

    (This comment was edited to comply with our policy)

  54. marjoriem

    Ladies and gentlemen, if you work, don’t you get a yearly raise? Don’t you think your teachers and administrators deserve the same? It would be nice to know one can meet one’s monthly bill payments without borrowing more. I guess it’s okay for our attorneys, accountants, etc. to make big bucks, live in big homes and pay for their kids’ outrageous expenses. Educators are not getting big bucks compared to other professionals. ALSO, this is not about picking the people who sit across from them at a negotiating table. I am shocked by such a crass comment!

  55. M Allen

    Crass? Are you kidding me Marjorie? Seriously, you must be. Because outside of collective bargaining itself, one of the primary tools of the public employee union, teachers being the biggest of them all, is in electioneering. Helping to get candidates elected that support their causes. Now those causes may be more than just what comes out of the CBA. It may in fact be to get more “funding” for schools or to change the curriculum and standards. But to think public employee unions don’t participate heavily in electioneering to leverage their position at the bargaining table, you are either fooling yourself or being disingenous.
    And no, not everyone in the private sector gets a raise very year. Not everyone gets anything like what public employees get with regard to their post-retirement benefits. Or are you under the impression that what that sweet CBA gets you is what we all get? Or that we are all accountants, attorneys and plast surgeons? You can’t be that detached from the reality of what Norwalk’s majority population earns, can you?

  56. M Allen

    By the way, I may have my issues with public-employee unions and the leverage they have when it comes to helping to elect their bosses who then negotiate against them. However, I disagree with some previous comments that make it seem like teachers or administrators can’t act like normal citizens in having a voice in politics or holding public office. They are no less citizens than any of us and deserve those rights as INDIVIDUALS.
    But this is where some public-employee unions have put themselves. They are on both sides of the playing field. They are both citizens, voters and taxpayers as well as as employees of the same entity. On the one hand they are a group, in this case teachers and school employees, who the public should be working with to make our education system better. On the other hand, they place themselves in an adversarial position when it comes to organized negotiations and the organized political maneuvering they utilize in order to obtain better pay and benefits at the expense of taxpayer dollars. So while I find a great deal of sympathy and wish the public could rally more behind the issues that plague our schools, I’m not always certain the two very different pieces that the unions represent can be separated so easily. The same people saying we are hurting the children because we need more crayons are the same people who will be saying we are hurting the children because we don’t respect teachers enough to pay them 4% instead of 2.5%

  57. marjoriem

    M. Allen, you are correct and not correct. Yes, educators join unions to protect their rights. Before unions in Norwalk, the older, retired teachers would relate stories of after school meetings held by supervisors that lasted until 8PM. Teacher’s salaries were $6,000 in the early 70’s. (Feel free to correct me if I am wrong!) yes, unions fought to make a better life for teachers. Many of today’s teachers are the heads of their household. Many have to work two jobs to pay for their children’s expenses in a very expensive Fairfield County. Teachers pay exorbitant taxes wherever they live. Of course they are concerned about money. They are also a special breed of people. They care about their students so much that they spend their own money for supplies. How many times have I heard that teachers bring in clothes, snacks, books, pencils, crayons, winter coats for those who need them. Teachers very badly want the tools with which they can teach. They want the books, the paper and all that go with it.
    Of course I realize the socioeconomic groups that comprise Norwalk. There are many professionals in Norwalk, including professional teachers. There are also many who need assistance. We can see the very rich and the very poor here in Norwalk….with middle class folks here too. It’s just interesting to me that many of the Attorneys and Accountants emphasize how certain candidates are “union candidates” and therefore will cost them more money. The wealthy don’t wish to pay teachers as professionals. That is obvious.
    So M.Allen, yes, teachers don’t want a substandard salary and will fight for it. They will also fight just as hard for their schools.
    By the way, teachers have been getting pensions because they pay in to them Most retired teachers I know can’t get social security even if they have paid into it. It’s not allowed. Call the teacher’s retirement board if you want to confirm that.

  58. M Allen

    No, I’m quite familiar with entire system for police, fire and teachers in the state of connecticut where they don’t pay into SS, don’t derive a benefit, and even if they pay into SS after leaving teaching they received a significantly reduced benefit.
    I don’t in any way shape or form have issue with collective bargaining. I have a problem, at the local level, with collective electioneering. It is a conflict of interest.

  59. marjoriem

    Electioneering for educators is entirely legal as long as they don’t try to influence students in the lower grades. Even educators have the right to freedom of speech.

  60. M Allen

    Didn’t say it was illegal. They do have freedom of speech. It may be unseemly and a conflict of interest, but they currently have that right. Of course, abolishing the right to bargain collectively would also be legal. One can only hope that when the appeals are finally completed in the Wisconsic case and upheld by the SCOTUS, the remaining states will get on board and be done with this nonsense.

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