Letter: GOP leader’s influence bad for Norwalk’s schools

By Steve Colarossi

To the Editor:

NORWALK, Conn. – A local political chief has proven, once again, why Norwalk’s community values aren’t represented by his attempts to impose political influence on the Board of Education. And it demonstrates why Norwalk’s voters are supporting Norwalk Community Values’ endorsed candidates Andres Roman and me (Steve Colarossi).

Let’s put aside the sheer hypocrisy that a political party that has just nominated an outspoken member of the opposing party wants a different rule applied to candidates who defect from their ranks. And let’s put aside the unmitigated chutzpah of a local party flack who is somehow so taken with the trappings of his post (by vote of fewer than 100 people) that he alone is to decide the political parties in which one might register in our otherwise open and free democracy.

But, then again, this is the same political club that is refusing to allow its Board of Education candidates to run their own individual campaigns and is, instead, directing and controlling their four candidates’ campaigns.

Fortunately for Norwalk’s families, children and taxpayers, they have a real choice. Andres Roman and I believe that Board of Education members owe their allegiance to the families, parents, students and taxpayers of Norwalk. Andres Roman and I believe that, in order to restore accountability to the Norwalk Board of Education, members need to be accountable to the voters and not to local political party chiefs.

Andres Roman and I believe that the Norwalk Board of Education must represent Norwalk’s community values, for we are a city that values the education of all our children and a respect for the taxpayers whose profound sacrifices make that education possible. We are united, not by a political ideology imposed by the organizers of Norwalk Community Values, but by a shared belief that accountability is the key to improving education for all.

These are not the values the local GOP overseer has espoused. He critiqued my preparing an alternative budget plan that was revenue neutral for the taxpayers, but that did not contain the detrimental cuts to elementary education contained in the plan supported by his party faithful. He dictated who should be Board of Education chairman and who should lead Board of Education committees.

As his emails and public comment suggests, he demands that allegiance to his club takes precedence over allegiance to Norwalk’s taxpayers, families and citizens. However, it was those taxpayers, families and citizens who elected me to the Norwalk Board of Education. It is them to whom I owe my allegiance and from whom I am seeking support in the upcoming election. And, with the election of Andres Roman and me in November, I believe that the best interests of the entire Norwalk community will be well-served as we craft a Board of Education free from undue political party influence.

Steve Colarossi

(Steve Colarossi is an incumbent Republican Board of Education member running for re-election on the Norwalk Community Values ticket.)



13 responses to “Letter: GOP leader’s influence bad for Norwalk’s schools”

  1. Norwalk Lifer

    Dear Mr. Colarossi:

    Here’s to hoping you are successful, what’s at play here is the future of every Norwalk student, I find that a solemn task, and no one should use their position on the BOE as a political tool. That’s sub-standard and low rent. But of course, the children are watching.

    Norwalk Lifer

  2. Lisa Thomson


    I wanted change, voted for you last time around and even campaigned for you in Rowayton and then once elected, you threw your lot in with Bruce Mellion (who has been calling the shots in this town for decades) and you lead the charge of disruption on the board, wreaking havoc and tying the hands of Dr. Marks for two years (with the help of some friends) in your power as Chairman of the Finance Committee.

    Don’t you find it curious that the GOP put a Democrat, in your stead when the BOE Chairmanship changed? I’m not keen on party loyalty oaths, etc. but if the GOP put a Democrat??? in this partisan town, in charge of finance, one has to ask why?

    NPS has been on hold for a year now, after making immediate strides of new programs and outside foundation money for kids through Dr. Marks. Are you going to start giving Dr. Rivera a hard time (after the election, of course!) if re-elected? Please stop campaigning as if you are the ONLY member or candidate running for the BOE who ‘values’ the kids, teachers or community. We all do.

  3. Once again, an alleged “reformer” (who didn’t raise her voice above a whisper when essential services for elementary school students, programs for middle school students and a critical technical program for Norwalk High School students were being slashed by the former superintendent) wants to cast me as the union Manchurian candidate. As I have often stated, show me one vote I’ve taken that was not in the best interests of our students and taxpayers. As a former high school teacher, guardian ad litem, juvenile public defender, municipal budget official, counsel to pre-school programs and juvenile court investigator, I have a unique perspective on the educational needs of children and families. I also have the strength of my convictions and will advocate for the needs of my constituents regardless of who opposes or supports me, and regardless of the political consequences.
    I did oppose the overspending, improper hiring and unauthorized raises to administrators undertaken by Supt. Marks. And yes, I strenuously objected to two years of budget proposals that failed to explain the rationale for program and staff reductions and failed to adequately explain her plan to implement those reductions. To do otherwise would have been to compromise my duty to the families and taxpayers I represented. The question shouldn’t be why did I oppose wasteful spending that took money from our classrooms, but why didn’t every member of the Board of Education and every member of self-proclaimed education reform organizations join with me.

  4. Admo

    When are we going to stop talking about Dr Marks? She was not qualified! Move on. Why was everyone in Rowayton so in love with her? We need people on the board that speak for ALL children in Norwalk and people who actually know something about education and listen to what teachers have to say about curriculum.After all it is their profession. Good luck to you Mr Colarossi.

  5. Mr. Ludlow

    Nice to see we have a candidate who stands up for what he believes in. Walking away from the majority political party and taking on the local gadflies- he’s talked the talk and now he’s walking the walk.

  6. Victor Cavallo

    Steve: with all due respect, my friend and colleague, I agree with Lisa Thompson. You need to admit that your votes and positions during your term were inconsistent with the platform and issue positions that you and the other Republican candidates ran on during your last election,. You consistently supported Bruce Mellion in his quest to make teachers even more highly paid than they already are and assist him with hounding Dr. Marks into quitting, thus costing the city a severance package and an expensive search for a new superintendent, not to mention added instability.
    We taxpayers want Norwalk education to be more than just a paycheck delivery system for the NFT.
    Rather than take up bandwidth here, I’ll just direct you to an article that sums up our grievances. It’s a 2011 letter written proximate to the time of occurrence of events and therefore more reliable than any one person’s contemporary recollection of facts.


  7. oldtimer

    Schiallaba is so impressed with himself, he doesn’t need to know the rules. Trying to throw somebody out of his party might be entertaining to watch, but would not accomplish anything beyond getting more votes for Collarossi and Roman. Wiser folks within the party have probably already nipped this idea in the bud. Moccia will have enough trouble in his campaign with being asked to explain this one.

  8. It’s always a bad sign when someone starts an innuendo-filled and baseless blog post with the salutation of “Dear Friend and Colleague”.

    I wish I could explain to Atty. Cavallo that the article he cites was an editorial written by a disgruntled Board of Education member who had no support in her efforts to crowd kids into classroom as a means of the unplanned budget reconciliation proposed by the former superintendent two years ago. For those with the patience to read that piece, you’ll note that I refute most of the writer’s untruths and provide details about the lack of leadership shown by the then-superintendent during that budget cycle. I’m proud of the work I did during that budget cycle because, through my efforts of undertaking a comprehensive line-by-line budget analysis, we were able to preserve critical programs by making reasonable reductions in non-academic areas. I wish I could have been as successful in overcoming extreme political influences that created last year’s devastating budget reductions when there were revenue-neutral options that would not have had the same impact on our children (but, my options didn’t call for massive teacher layoffs that crowded kids into classrooms, so it didn’t pass the political litmus test employed by some).

    Now let’s turn to Victor’s recitation of the standard trope that I’m the union Manchurian candidate and ask if he offers a single example of a vote I took that was not in the best interests of our children and taxpayers? Of course he doesn’t, because one doesn’t exist. You see, I will hold my votes in stark contrast to the candidate he supports and ask a simple question– are children better off being in the crowded classrooms the budget plan supported by his candidate created? The answer is a resounding “no”.

    Atty. Cavallo faults me for standing up and shining a light on the history of misspending, overspending, secret raises and lack of accountability of former Supt. Susan Marks (which I recounted in the response to the baseless editorial he cites, but which must have eluded his glance when he was instructed to post the attack piece). Of course, if he actually looked into the budget process from 2011 that he cites as being the sure sign of my pact with the devil, he would have found that the majority of GOP members on the Board of Education voted with me. So, is Victor calling their service into question as well?

    And, if he thinks that GOP loyalty means supporting a former superintendent who blamed others for her failures, habitually hired administrative staff in violation of Board policy, failed to provide impact statements to explain her proposed budget cuts, refused to hold certain administrators accountable for overspending in their departments and who sought raises for key personnel at a time when she was proposing cuts to essential services for children—then, I made the right choice in choosing to run on the Norwalk Community Values slate.

  9. Dunning Brooks

    Thanks to Victor Cavallo for giving us the links to YourCt.com.
    You reminded us, Victor, of how hard Colarossi worked to clean up the budget. You reminded us how nasty Haynie was when she was on the losing side of those votes. You made us miss the editorial styling of Jackie Lightfield, which reminded us of how Dick Moccia shafted her on a zoning commission re-appointment.
    The GOP is lucky to have you as their pitbull.

  10. Joe Espo

    Apparently, this Board of Education candidate has had some bad influence from his teachers.

    His sentence beginning with “It is THEM to whom I owe my allegiance…” should instead begin with “It is THEY to whom I owe my allegiance…”

    The word “THEY” is the appropriate nominative pronoun.

  11. Ante Litteram BOE

    Whether he made a grammatical error or omitted the preposition “to” before “them”, Mr. Colarossi has succeeded in reminding dear voters of his diligent work. Perhaps others in public service will heed his example of fighting for one’s core beliefs.

  12. Kid Cupcake

    Coincidence, or does the resurgence of the Twinkie have something to do with all of this? Vote for Steve, because baked goods have no business in the classroom and is really what is wrong with education today.

  13. piberman

    Hands down Attorney Colarossi is one of the most interesting and lively commentators on Nancy’s. Even when I disagree with him completely ! It’s not often that a candidate for public office, the BOE in this case, has much to say about what they intend to accomplish once in office. Other than “moving the City forward”. So here’s a request to the learned counsel. Could you prepare a forward looking platform of the major items, say 6, that you would like to see changed or implemented (given available resources) on the BOE ? Without dragging up failed past initiatives or battles. In other words where do you think the improvements should be made given the available resources. Such a platform might well open up a useful public discussion about our BOE – Norwalk’s most important elected body. In past elections a forum such as Nancy’s wasn’t available. My sense is that there are a sufficient number of courteous readers to have a useful discussion and exchange of views without recriminations or accusations. You’re in a unique position both by training and experience as a BOE member to lead the discussion. How might the BOE improve ?

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