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Letter: Norwalk BOE Negotiations Committee deserves praise

By Peter Berman

NORWALK, Conn. – Anyone wondering how Norwalk, a town of modest household incomes, ever managed to underwrite the fifth highest public teacher salaries in the state with generous provisions seen nowhere else need only read the Jan. 14, 2013 edition of the NFT edition of the Vanguard edited by NFT Chief Bruce Mellion as follows:

“In those early days of the NFT, I used to stop in at the grocery store on North Taylor Avenue to visit with Frank (Esposito) and to see what was going on that was impacting the teachers and the NFT. He was always most gracious with his time and always had a smile, and he’d ensure me that everything was fine, as he talked and waited on customers.

“After he became Mayor in 1987, John Altieri and I would go to see Frank, usually in the driveway outside City Hall, to see what was going on with the operating budget or with teacher negotiations and he would respond with something like, ‘Ah you’ll be OK! And we were just that, for we did not have to go to binding arbitration from 1982 until this past fall. It was just that simple,’ You’ll be OK..

“Thank you, Frank, for all you did for the City of Norwalk and the Norwalk teachers.”

What a way to run a railroad!

The city owes a huge debt of gratitude to BOE members on the Negotiations Committee — Lyons, Haynie and Chiarmonte — for having the sheer grit and old fashioned civic pride of responsibility to take the NFT to arbitration and demonstrate for one and all the consequences of backdoor Norwalk politics.

Sincerely,

Peter I Berman

January_2013_Vanguard

Comments

4 responses to “Letter: Norwalk BOE Negotiations Committee deserves praise”

  1. M. Murray’s

    Mr.Berman, it would be helpful if you posted the top ten highest wager by location so we could compare apples to apples. How many of these top 5 or 10 are in Fairfield county?

  2. Oldtimer

    Peter
    Esposito’s store was on West Cedar St. close to, but not on, North Taylor Ave.

  3. piberman

    The issue is not that Norwalk lies in Fairfield County as does Bridgeport but that Norwalk’s income ranks only 17th in the state but our elected officials have been giving away the farm with 5th highest paid school teachers. By any reasonable standard Norwalk’s school teachers are overpaid relative to the community’s abilty to pay – its income levels. We are surrounded by 5 cities with nearly twice as high incomes. Surprise. Our teachers are better paid !

    Now its nice to pay high salaries to teachers who reportedly return the favor by mostly living outside Norwalk. But high salaries require high property taxes and as the Awards Panel cites those high taxes are responsible for declining property values. Not impressed with the Report ? See Zillow.com.

    If we had our “ducks” in order with more careful attention to municipal salaries/benefits we’d have lower property taxes and collectively several billion dollars more property values. As they say “it ain’t hay”.

    Fairfield County is not the problem. Its salaries/benefits well above our ability to pay. And consequently much higher property taxes than our neighbors. So guess what – lots of “for sale” signs.

    What can we do about it ? Well, first the elected officials have to acknowledge we have a problem. So far that’s not on the menu. Certainly not in this mayoral campaign. But its not an impossible task to resolve. One needs begin by asking why Norwalk, unlike most municipalities, raised taxes during the recent Great Recession ?

  4. M. Murray’s

    Actually the issue is what goes in in surrounding communities. Many teachers try to teach in the districts near where they live, while maximizing their salary and benefits. If a new teacher gets hired in a district that pays less, and an opening occurs in a nearby district that pays much more, why would they stay? And if it is a good teacher, they are likely to be hired away by the higher paying district. Bridgeport has one of the lower paying districts. When they hire a new teacher who turns out to be good, what for you think that teacher does? They leave for greener pastures. Put yourself in ther place. If you had an opportunity to do the same job you are doing now for a competing company the next town over for more money, better benefits, and better working conditions, what would you do??

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