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Norwalk BoE approves custodian outsourcing, 4 to 3

Mmebers
Members of AFSCME Local 2405 applaud President Stanley Shular’s comment to the Norwalk Board of Education: “God sees and knows what is going on behind closed doors. You can fool us, you can fool each other but you can’t fool God.”

NORWALK, Conn. – A move to outsource custodial work at two Norwalk schools was approved Tuesday despite skepticism expressed by some Board of Education members about the need to save the city money when the schools have a $2.9 million surplus for the last fiscal year.

Concerns about the safety of Norwalk children and loyalty to Norwalk employees as well as accusations of secrecy also accompanied the 4-3 vote to approve a contract. The deal will allow United Services of America to provide custodial work at Columbus and Jefferson Elementary Schools, a move that NPS Chief Business and Financial Officer Rich Rudl predicted will save the BoE $182,784 this school year.

Rudl also told the board that no one who is employed as a janitor with Norwalk Public Schools at present will lose their jobs. The contract can be terminated with 30 days notice, he said. While school administrators cannot fire United Services workers, school administrators can say they do not want an employee of the company in the building any longer, and that request will immediately be complied with, Rudl said.

Members of AFSCME Local 2405 made a futile effort to persuade the board not to approve the contract.

Local 1042 President Stanley Shular said union members had negotiated with former Superintendent Susan Marks to save their jobs and took a hit for a couple of years.

“Now this time around it’s been secrecy,” Shular said. “Half the board knows and half the board doesn’t know. How can you vote on something like that? You guys took office to be up front and honest, not only to the community but to your office. … My problem is you guys really don’t come to the union, don’t come to the custodians and ask our opinion on how we can improve stuff. You just take the management side. Yeah, they’re going to say the best things for them because they need to keep their jobs, but there’s a lot of stuff that goes on behind closed doors that you guys don’t know. I’ve been president for a year and a half. Not one board member came to me and asked me how the custodians are doing, how we can improve the system, and I think that’s bad.”

“We privatized our trash. We privatized our recycling. Now we are privatizing our school system. What do we think of our kids? What example is this for our kids?” said Carmelo Somma, a Norwalk resident and custodian at Norwalk High School. “… We don’t want to lose our jobs because the way we are losing our jobs is not fair to us and it’s not fair to our kids.”

“My problem with privatization is more than just custodians losing their jobs. It’s the people you are bringing in,” said Charlie Wyatt of Bridgeport, a Cranbury Elementary School custodian. “We don’t know who they are. The parents of our children don’t know who they are, and as a parent that kind of disgusts me as well as worries me.”

“For 10 years we live in fear of our jobs while we have a Republican mayor,” said Bobby Arvauitakis, a 30-year resident of Norwalk. “He raised our taxes three times and froze our income two times. Finally we elected a Democrat and we thought our fear would go away. We were wrong. I was wrong. It seems some politicians are only for using the mayoral race and want to take advantage of the people. … When I cast my vote for a certain person and I believe for a certain party I would like that person to stay in that party.”

United Services will provide 4.5 employees at both Columbus and Jefferson.

Rudl said no United Services employees will be allowed into Norwalk schools without being vetted through a background check that includes federal and state fingerprint records, sexual offender watch list, terrorist watch list, Social Security trace, and state and federal criminal records check.

“In fact, it’s actually a more rigorous employment background check than the Norwalk Public Schools does for their own employees,” Rudl said.

One phone call to United Services would remove an unsatisfactory custodian from the schools, he said, adding that the company has a “deep bench” of 600 employees to draw from.

“I worked in HR, I know exactly what those background checks are like,” BoE member Rosa Murray said. “My thought is I don’t want to be sitting on the board if somebody slips through. You can’t get that back. This is the same position I had when we were on curriculum because we talk about experimenting with our children. I just have something about the fact of safety for our children.”

BoE member Shirley Mosby said parents had come to the previous board meeting and said they didn’t want outsourcing. “They want what they have now.”

“We just sat here and put some central office positions in place to make it comfortable for central office to work. That’s fine. What about making it comfortable  for the parents to have peace of mind when they go to work or whatever they do when their kids are sent to school?”

The audience, which consisted largely of union members, applauded.

She continued, “Are we that in the hole that we have to do this now? Are we that in the red? Seriously. Are we?”

Well, no. BoE member Migdalia Rivas pressed Rudl for a financial report. He said that the review of the 2013-14 fiscal year shows a $2.9 million surplus. Details will be provided in a Finance Committee meeting Wednesday, he said.

“Hearing a $2.9 million surplus and here we are trying to get rid of people. … These workers are Norwalk residents, they are taxpayers, they’re voters,” Mosby said. “The hardest thing here is that they are born and raised. To sit here and make this an example of how we treat our employees. I know there was a comment made earlier about we are a corporation. I don’t care about that, just that even a corporation cares about their employees.”

None of it makes sense, whatever excuse there is, she said, getting applause.

BoE member Heidi Keyes asked what kind of references the schools got for United Services.

Rudl said United Services has been cleaning Stamford schools for four years. Stamford’s feedback was “very, very favorable with what they do, in regard with their cost and what they do with the schools,” Rudl said. That included comments “at great length” about how easy it is to remove an unsatisfactory custodian and about the background checks performed by the company.

Keyes asked that a survey be done six months into the school year, getting opinions from anyone who comes into contact with United Services workers.

Rudl said if, after six months, Norwalk is not happy with United Services it can opt out of the contract with 30 days notice.

BoE member Artie Kassimis said he had gotten emails protesting that Columbus head custodian Joseph Boccufuso would be transferred. Rudl said that would happen whether or not there is outsourcing. Boccufoso is an acting head custodian due to two other head custodians having health problems and being out for disability, Rudl said.  He is being moved due to union “bumping” rules, he said.

“Somebody said we are stuffing our pockets with the savings,” Kassimis said. “Can you tell us where the money will go?”

“We can redirect some of the savings into the classroom, whether it be for teachers or aides or textbooks or technology,” Rudl said. “Additionally, there is not a never-ending well of revenue that the city can generate. The city doesn’t have unlimited pockets, their ability to generate income on a year-to-year basis largely depends on the grand list … We can’t always consistently expect to get 3 or 4 percent appropriations ,so we are looking for opportunities and ways that we can deliver the same if not better services through all our schools.”

BoE Chairman Mike Lyons, Jack Chiaramonte, Kassimis and Keyes voted for the outsourcing. Mosby, Murray and Rivas voted against it. Mike Barbis and Sherell Harris were absent; Mosby protested that as chairman of the Negotiations and Personnel Committee, Barbis should be there.

City Sheriff Anna Duleep, who voted against outsourcing the city’s garbage pickup when she was a member of the Common Council, spoke to the board at the outset of the meeting, expressing concern about Norwalk’s ability to supervise United Services employees. After the meeting she said that she still had concerns, even if Kassimis had asked questions along that line.

“I am still confused as to the definition of ‘supervise’ because it’s a little bit different than an office situation when you are in a school, particularly when very young students call teacher ‘mommy’,” said Duleep, a tutor. “… They really do see every adult in that building as a parental figure in some sense.”

She wondered what would happen if a boiler blew the same day an employee was dismissed – who would unlock the doors to the building?

“I appreciate Mr. Kassimis’ efforts, but I found the answer ultimately unsatisfying and I do think this is indicative of a larger concern around the country, particularly in Wisconsin, of privatizing municipal services, which has not seemed to be working out so well in Wisconsin or Kansas,” Duleep said.

Union spokesman Larry Dorman said that, just because the BoE has a right to outsource, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

“The concern we have expressed more than job loss has been this whole process lacked transparency,” he said. “They kept the bidders secret, they didn’t disclose anything about the bidding companies, they just released the agenda, I think, yesterday. There really wasn’t a thorough review of this whole process. But none of our people got up there and said they were afraid of losing their jobs.”

Wyatt said he didn’t like losing jobs, but then agreed he meant the union was losing positions. Still, there are fewer people to do the same work, he said. No one who sits on the left side of the BoE table – those who voted to outsource – cares about the children, he said.

“You’re looking at death by a thousand cuts,” Dorman said. “As custodians retire, the Board of Ed wants to be able to replace them with a lower-paid, throw-away, Walmart-kind of workforce. I think that is clearly the goal of the people who voted for this. Certainly that’s one of the concerns we had. I think what you heard tonight wasn’t so much about job loss, it was about a process that was tainted from the start.”

Kassimis said Boccufuso is a nice guy who goes above and beyond. The acting head custodian just painted a room at Columbus for a teacher, out of the goodness of his heart, Kassimis said.

“It looks like the outsourcing is moving him, but it’s not. I was trying to fight to keep him because he’s a role model. … These are the votes we hate to be involved in,” Kassimis said. “We try to make the right decision.”

Correction, Aug. 21 11:37 p.m., Aruauitakis changed to Arvauitakis, quote changed from “rose” to “froze.” 

Comments

60 responses to “Norwalk BoE approves custodian outsourcing, 4 to 3”

  1. John Hamlin

    Be careful about using Wisconsin as a reason not to outsource. The state has saved enormous money on its government workers, lowered taxes, and the economy has bounced back phenomenally, in stark contrast to Connecticut. Wisconsin is the poster child for why other states should eliminate collective bargaining for public employees (except police and fire).

  2. Anna Duleep, City Sheriff

    Follow-up question -Mike Lyons if you’re reading this thank you in advance for responding :)-
    HYPO: Janitor X has keys to Jefferson. Principal calls company on Thurs to complain about Janitor X. Company promises to replace Janitor X with Janitor Y on Friday. Boiler blows in wee hours of Friday morning. Who opens Jefferson?
    Please clarify, especially if I am wrong in assuming Janitor X personally holds keys (rather than, say, hanging keys on hook in Company’s office for whichever janitor works at Jefferson on a given day).

  3. Casey Smith

    @ Ms. Duleep – I would be extremely surprised to find out that these school facilities only have one janitor assigned to them. In the case of a blown boiler, most likely the other janitorial staff assigned to that school would be opening the building, the same as if someone was out sick.
    .
    @ Ms. Duleep – “I am still confused as to the definition of ‘supervise’ because it’s a little bit different than an office situation when you are in a school, particularly when very young students call teacher ‘mommy’,” said Duleep, a tutor. “… They really do see every adult in that building as a parental figure in some sense.”
    .
    Wow! Kids now can’t differentiate between their mothers and other female adults? Our former church ran a preschool and the kids would often be in the playground when it was dismissal time. A parent would walk up to the fencing and there would be a joyful shout of “MOMMY!” as her child raced across the sandboxes and around playground equipment to greet his/her parent. I never saw any child make a mistake when I was present in the church office on business or when Sunday School let out. Sound like today’s kids are losing ground if they can’t identify their own parent(s) anymore.

  4. Stuart Wells

    Sheriff Duleep asks an excellent question. As Registrar I have a similar concern about opening schools at 5:00 a.m. on Election Day. We use over half of the city’s schools for elections and failure of a custodian to get to work in time to open the doors for our poll workers would be a huge problem. Our only option is to call the fire department and wait for them to show up and open the doors. But we do not know, and the fire department may not know, what to do if there are also problems with heat, light, tables and chairs not set up, etc., etc.
    State law requires that the polls open at 6:00 a.m. but there is no way to do this if the ballots and equipment are locked inside a school gym and the poll workers are locked outside!
    Stuart Wells, Registrar of Voters

  5. Casey Smith

    “My problem with privatization is more than just custodians losing their jobs. It’s the people you are bringing in,” said Charlie Wyatt of Bridgeport, a Cranbury Elementary School custodian. “We don’t know who they are. The parents of our children don’t know who they are, and as a parent that kind of disgusts me as well as worries me.”
    .
    Do the parents personally know the janitors of the schools now? I would like to point out the irony of the fact that Mr. Wyatt is from Bridgeport and not a Norwalk resident. What would be different by having someone who is from Stamford or even Norwalk employed as a janitor in the schools? And I would hope that when Mr. Wyatt was hired, a background check was done, not only for safety reasons, but also because I believe it is State law.
    .
    “You’re looking at death by a thousand cuts,” Dorman said. “As custodians retire, the Board of Ed wants to be able to replace them with a lower-paid, throw-away, Walmart-kind of workforce.”
    .
    Interesting to see that how the current union members view the potential union employees. The lower pay portion comes from the fact that the District will not be responsible for covering the benefits for these new janitors, or have the administration costs to handle, not that the employees are necessarily paid less.
    .
    The use of the phrase “throw-away” seems to imply that if a current janitor was doing something inappropriate, they would not be removed from their position, which is scarier to me than the fact that a new company will be providing the services. I would like to think that if any NPS employee was acting inappropriately towards the students they would be removed ASAP.

  6. One and Done

    @Sherriff. Your hypothetical is so laughable. Here is the reality. That happens all the time now and no one is held accountable. Now we can actually fire them for lack of performance. Before we were required to give them raises for calling in sick and going out on disability all the time. Then when you really need them in a pinch, you had to call on the fire department as the registrar says. Bye Bye Afscme. This is what happens when you screw taxpayers.

  7. One and Done

    Forget hypotheticals. Now we can have accountability. Before we had to give raises for the shoddy work we were getting, excessive sick time, disability, and filthy schools. Now we can fire someone if we have to.

  8. Zoey

    Does the BOE have a code of ethics under which they operate? Ms. Mosby has a close familial relationship with the custodial union. I believe her brother is currently employed by NPS as a custodian. Shouldn’t she have recused herself from discussing and voting on the outsourcing issue? It seems there is a clear “conflict of interest” here. Why was this allowed?

  9. anon

    These janitors priced themselves out of jobs, simple as that.

    @Wells, why don’t you call up the Stamford Registrar to answer your question, they use same company.

  10. OhNoNorwalk

    Outsource the BOE, Police, Fire and the Over Paid managers and officials. Go get the Big savings. What a disservice to the tax payers.

  11. Pibermanfmc

    Another “no vote” by “the 3 no’s” and an illustration of how competent, experienced BOE members apply modern management to our once dysfunctional BOE brought low by politicos claiming to make decisions “for our children”. We ought to applaud how our BOE has revitalized our school system from the depths of despair and egregious mismanagement.

  12. Bill

    It makes me so happy to see Ms. Mosby’s father’s union get smashed to bits

  13. peter parker

    Disgrace!

  14. Bill

    Charlie Wyatt of Bridgeport, don’t worry, you live in Bridgeport, let us worry about our own kids.

    thanks,

    norwalk taxpayer and parent

  15. Anna and Stuart, in addition to the head janitor provided by the contractor, sets of keys (actually masters) are held by Bill Hodel (NPS Director of Facilities), each school Principal, and both the Police and Fire Departments (per the new security arrangements and locks installed in all schools this past year). So there would be four back-ups available for access to a school building in the unlikely event that a head custodian was ordered off a site and an emergency occurred before the replacement arrived the next day.

  16. Oldtimer

    No surprise here. Outsourcing was a done deal before the public ever heard about it. Hard to understand how a private for-profit company can provide comparable service for less money and make a profit. Either there will not be comparable service, or they will be using people who they can hire cheap and who will be looking for better jobs and won’t stay long.

  17. potaxpayer

    Bobby Aruauitakis says in the story ” Finally we elected a Democrat and we thought our fear would go away”. “We were wrong”. if anyone remembers a democrat privatized the parking authority his name is knopp, and if kimmel and geak both democrats voted for the city not to privatize garbage it would not be city carting picking up garbage it would still be a city job. but those two democrats voted for privatization. so all i’m saying is i’m voting republican from now on and so should everyone else. atleast republicans policys create jobs and lower taxes.

  18. potaxpayer

    oak hills golf course, the parking authority and the city sewer systerm (OMI) that we get charged $300 a year and going up fast , the transfer station. are all privatized too and all of them are doing a bad job and raising fees. property values are going down as fast as all of these privateers are raising there fees.

  19. Casey Smith

    @ Mr. Wyatt –
    .
    Come on, now — do you honestly believe the statement you made…”No one who sits on the left side of the BoE table – those who voted to outsource – cares about the children, he said.”
    .
    Really???

  20. Casey Smith

    @ Mr. Shular –
    .
    Local 1042 President Stanley Shular said union members had negotiated with former Superintendent Susan Marks to save their jobs and took a hit for a couple of years.
    “Now this time around it’s been secrecy,” Shular said.
    .
    Maybe you better talk to Mr. Aruauitakis, Mr. Shular, because I’m seeing mixed messages here.
    .
    “For 10 years we live in fear of our jobs while we have a Republican mayor,” said Bobby Aruauitakis, a 30-year resident of Norwalk. “He raised our taxes three times and rose our income two times.”
    .
    Let me recap what I think I read…under the previous administration, the janitorial union negotiated with the Superintendent of Schools to save jobs. Not only that, but there were two pay increases. But now that the administration changed to a different political party, and a different Superintendent, the decision was made in “secrecy”? Somehow that doesn’t really quite compute. Sorry, I have to agree with “anon”. You priced yourselves right out of your jobs.

  21. Some points on the matters above:
    1. For the umpteenth time, no current union custodians are losing their jobs, or CAN lose their jobs – the contract is clear that we cannot lay employees off and replace them with contractors. We can only fill positions that become vacant by attrition (retirement, quit, etc.). So the comments from Mr. Somma, Mr. Wyatt, and Mr. Aruauitakis about ‘losing our jobs’ are misinformed. We had an executive session meeting with the union where they were directly told their jobs were grandfathered and couldn’t be taken away from them, and have repeatedly stated that at public meetings and in the news media. And in fact, none have been laid off pursuant to this contract provision, or will be.
    2. The $2.9 million surplus we ran this year (our third surplus in a row) is a testament to the good financial management we have put in place through Dr. Rivera and Mr. Rudl, but much of it is one-time savings from delays in filling positions. Those positions now having largely been filled, the money won’t be available to fund big increases in on-going (base) expenditures. This is taxpayer money, not a pot of gold to fund high employee wages from. The fiscally responsible way to use these funds is to limit employee costs so as to minimize impacts on our base budget, instead using ‘one time’ savings to fund projects that won’t add base level costs to the system (as using the money for high custodian salaries would). That will be the thrust of Dr. Rivera’s recommendations for use of this surplus.
    3. Safety of our children is a high priority. Just as with our bus drivers (who are not school employees but work for the private bus company), the contract custodians (who will all be union members) will go through criminal and other background checks. The checks used by United are more in-depth than what we use with our own employees. A Board member’s statement that she doesn’t “want to be sitting on this board if somebody slips through” would apply even more to someone we hired to be a custodian employee, since that person would get a less thorough vetting than United’s employees will. And with United, if we feel a contract custodian’s behavior is inappropriate, we can remove them from the schools with one call to United. An issue with an employee custodian could take months or years to resolve through union grievance procedures. So, in fact, there are more protections for our children through this contractor than through our own hiring process.
    4. “Secrecy.” The provision in the contract that allows outsourcing was placed there many years ago (2003), long before most of us were on the Board. Interestingly, it was maintained in the contract in 2008 by a Negotiations Committee Chaired by Rosa Murray, and approved by a Board that included Ms. Murray and Ms. Mosby. It was then approved again in 2013. The clause hasn’t been “secret”. The RFP seeking bids was posted online and wasn’t “secret”. The multiple discussions at Board meetings on the topic haven’t been “secret”.
    5. Oldtimer – ‘how can a private company do something more efficiently than government.’ I suggest you take a look at a satellite photo of the Korean Peninsula at night (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140226-north-korea-satellite-photos-darkness-energy). The capitalist south is aglow with economic activity, as is the raging capitalist China (!) to the north. But North Korea, which believes everything can be done better by the public sector, is a black hole. Ask the South Koreans or the Chinese how private companies can do better, they can explain it.
    6. Mr. Wyatt – “No one who sits on the left side of the BoE table – those who voted to outsource – cares about the children”. The people on the left side are the ones who got our finances in order, brought in a nationally-recognized, dynamic superintendent, are supporting his strategic plan, adopted the K-5 Literacy program, set as the school system’s top goal eliminating the minority achievement gap by 2020, and a host of other things – usually over the opposition of the people sitting at the right hand of the table. And we do it for no pay. We do care for the children, and saving money like this (without laying anyone off), money that can pay for teachers, aides, technology, curricula, etc., is one way to do that.

  22. One and Done

    Mike, they know full well their jobs are protected. You think they’d be grateful for a benefit that NO ONE in the real world gets. Instead they are berating you/BOE because now they are actually going to have to work.
    .
    Before it was easy street. Call in sick 2 or 3 times a week without issue. Go on disability when you feel like taking a month or two off. Filthy, germy schools. Who cares? Those days are over and that is the outrage here.

  23. ScopeonNorwalk

    This was stupid and pointless. For less than $200,000 savings which will never be realized after unexpected expenses (which there will be because there always is). A savings that small is imaginary and the result of someone playing with the numbers to be as conservative as possible in an estimate in order to create an imaginary savings. Watch…

  24. ScopeonNorwalk

    It’s a long way to go for the Lyons and Chairmonte and Barbis to try to get back at the Mosbys, Rosa, and Migdalia. Petty.

  25. Savings will be $182,000 in year one. Full conversion to private contracting will save $2.1 million per year (enough to hire 25 teachers). Folks like “Scope” also said no savings would materialize from going to private contracting on garbage collection; they were proved wrong (https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/06/barron-outsourced-trash-recycling-savings-are-real). As for this being to “get back” at someone, the proposal to outsource was initiated back in February of this year. The NAACP complaint wasn’t filed until July. So there wasn’t anything to ‘get back’ at someone for in February. The initiative was followed because the contract permitted it, an opportunity for savings was found, and there was a clear need to improve quality of building maintenance.

  26. Norewalk Lifer

    Made your decision? live with the consequences.

  27. John Hamlin

    Sounds like the outsourcing, which will result in no current employees losing their jobs was the right financial and management decision. The only people questioning the decision are those that always support unions no matter what. Time to enter the 21st century. Public employee unions are killing the taxpayers and we should kill the public employee unions.

  28. Lifelong Teacher

    One and Done, you hit the nail on the head. There are a few exceptions, but way too much of that bad behavior has resulted in this situation,

    Not one current custodian will lose their position over this. For that, they should all be grateful. This is Mosby’s legacy.

  29. Carmelo somma

    Ok they said we would not loose are jobs. What will happen two years from know . When our contract is up . Are they still going to say we not going to loose are jobs.will we get a written guarantee our jobs are protected for a defined period of time? I am raising three young daughters by my self.what is there to think ? Who is to say that they are not clean house . can we trust what we were told. Would you. And how can you vote when there was two members missing at a meeting that was important. And do you really think if these company. Does something wrong. It is going to surface . Not ? This part of the board we do any thing in its power to show they are right and look like super Heros

  30. Oldtimer

    Mike
    If none of this was done in secret, why were union reps not allowed to stay and listen to the job description being given to the contracting company ?
    We both know some things can be done very efficiently by private companies, but looking at a satellite shot of KOREA does not really answer the question. This for-profit company intends to make a profit on the backs of employees doing the same jobs for less. Will this same point of view hold the next time the BOE needs to hire outside experts to solve a particular problem ? Will the BOE be looking for the best, or the cheapest ? We might even find cheaper teachers.

  31. Oldtimer, all sorts of business activities go on in the schools all year without union reps being present. That doesn’t constitute some nefarious ‘secret’. The outsourcing contract term was negotiated with the union; they AGREED to it, in writing, in 2008 and 2013. Nothing secret about it. We had meetings with the union leadership starting in February and explained to them exactly what was coming; no secret. The entire Board met with the union leadership and about 20 rank and file members in an executive session in April and explained what was coming; no secret. The RFP was publicly displayed on our web site (which is how the union knew about the walk-through with bidders). The walk-through was for qualified bidders ONLY (in fact, one bidder who showed up without completing the proper paperwork was asked to leave along with the union reps who showed up uninvited). The union reps weren’t allowed to stay because they had no business being there for the walk-through.
    Our objective in everything and everyone we spend money on should be to find the best quality AND the best cost. That’s why bid processes award to the lowest priced QUALIFIED bidder.

  32. One and Done

    @Carmelo. Welcome to the real world. That is the fear that we live with every single day. But, you know what, it will make your work better and get you to think about ways on doing it more efficiently and maybe even get you to thinking about running your own cleaning business and achieving more in life.
    .
    This is the beginning of your liberation my friend. Being dependent on a dead end job and being paid more than its market worth is a form of bondage. Honestly ask yourself would anyone anywhere pay you what you are making now for the work you are doing? Does it feel good to be trapped in that system? Dependent on it for your existence and the well being of your children?
    .
    Seek out your true potential. Compete. Win. Feel accomplished and bask in the glow of knowing you made a real difference instead of leeching off the system and having this false sense of perception that you are adding value.

  33. Scott

    Not everyone is cut out to run a small business. More small businesses fail every day. There is nothing wrong with working for someone it isn’t a ‘ dead end’. And who is to say that with the experience a lot of these custodians have that they wouldn’t garner the same wage in the private sector. I’m a public works equipment operator and I know that operators on the outside make more in Fairfield County. Entry level wages don’t stay entry level unless the employer has a policy of never giving wages or the good employees leave to make a better living. What kind of employees will this savings be found behind? Everything always looks good in the beginning but big money is patient. I hope that the savings lasts long enough to be worth alienating devoted city employees.

  34. Bobby Arvanitakis

    My name is Arvanitakis, long most people misspelled it.

    C. Smith,I said three times my taxes were raised and two times my wages were frozen (for more than three years )…….not rose our income two times.
    Mixed messages? No.
    You trying to play with words? Yes.

  35. Bobby Arvanitakis

    Casey Smith…“For 10 years we live in fear of our jobs while we have a Republican mayor,” said Bobby Aruauitakis, a 30-year resident of Norwalk. “He raised our taxes three times and rose our income two times.”
    Do NOT change my words.
    I do not know you, if you wish to talk politics, you are welcomed in my house or the school I work to talk for hours.
    Please do NOT change my words, thank you.

  36. @Bobby Arvanitakis
    Casey Smith is quoting what I wrote. I heard “rose” but you said “froze.” I apologize. Also, I copied your name off the sign up sheet. I mistook “v” for “u.”
    I just corrected both errors.
    We appreciate you coming here to share your thoughts.

  37. Carmelo somma

    First of all I love what I do . And for you all on the board may god bless you. And there is a god believe me .

  38. Oldtimer

    Mike
    You are doing it again. You make arbitrary decisions and expect us all to fall in line behind you. You made a decision that Union reps had no business being there and they were, therefore tossed out. By what authority do you presume to dictate what is union business, or not ? If you run the BOE meetings with that same style, it is easy to understand why some members of the board feel marginalized or discriminated against. They seem to believe it is racial discrimination that they have come to expect. It could just be a too authoritative style. “I am always right-Trust me” and “We do not need your input, even though you were elected by the people.” I could see that feeling like racial discrimination.
    If the union reps had refused to leave, what could you have done ?

  39. Carmelo somma

    To one and done . Do you know me . Think befor you right.

  40. Bobby Arvanitakis

    This comment has been removed for violating our policy against name-calling and personal attacks.

  41. Bobby Arvanitakis

    Mike Lyons
    Our objective in everything and everyone we spend money on should be to find the best quality AND the best cost. That’s why bid processes award to the lowest priced QUALIFIED bidder.
    We elected action bidders or public servants?
    How much costs a Norwalk family wellbeing?
    A HUGE mistake privatizing the garbage collection.
    Titanic mistake, giving the school yard lawns to a private (company) person from N.Y.
    What happened?
    They don’t come to cut the school grass no more. Why?
    We know WHY but Norwalk residents don’t.
    Next elections are near, voters get a better taste on candidates to serve the people.
    Pre election promises are like babies, easy to make, hard to deliver.
    B.A

  42. Carmelo somma

    Good question Bobby you are right what happend to the landscaping company . Norwalk residents do know.. Let them explain what is there to hide.

  43. Mike Lyons

    Oldtimer – “You are doing it again. You make arbitrary decisions and expect us all to fall in line behind you. You made a decision that Union reps had no business being there and they were, therefore tossed out. By what authority do you presume to dictate what is union business, or not?”
    .
    First, I didn’t make the decision to go with outsourcing; the Superintendent and CFO did. Second, I didn’t approve the contract with the contractor – the Board did, by majority vote. Third, I didn’t decide to tell the union reps to leave the walk-through (the Facilities Director did). Fourth, our outside counsel has confirmed what should be obvious – that the union, not being a party to the outsourcing contract decision, had no business being at the walk-through.
    .
    As for what is union business and what isn’t, that’s easy. Per our contract, everything that isn’t spelled out in the contract as “union business” is DEFINED as purely school management business:
    .
    Section 1.01.
    .
    A. The Board is a public body established under the Connecticut statutes and has the final responsibility for establishing the policies of the public schools and the management of the schools, and for directing their operations.
    .
    B. The Board shall not be deemed to be limited in any way by this Agreement in the performance of the regular and customary functions of management, and reserves and retains all powers, authority and prerogatives, except as herein provided for.
    .
    Nothing in the contract gives the union any right to participate in outsourcing decisions; that is purely a school administration prerogative, retained for us by the above contract language. That’s how the administration and the Board “presumes” to determine these matters.

  44. Bobby Arvanitakis

    Mr. Lyons
    You answered to a person that is ( anonymous )
    Answer my questions.
    First : How much a Norwalk citizen wellbeing worth to people we elect to serve us?
    Second: Why the lawn Company the BoE hired STOPED to service our schools?
    Third: The privatizing of the garbage collection, works well?
    Fourth: We have a 2.9 million surplus. Where are the misplaced 5.3 million of last year?
    Fifth: Are you punishing us the People of Norwalk for electing a different Mayor?
    Sixth: Who changed with out our knowledge the sentence ( BoE can outsource custodian jobs?)
    And finally I will serve justice, if any of you come and walk in my shoes for a week.
    Please give an answer to a concern Norwalk resident.
    Thank you.

  45. Mike Lyons

    Mr. Arvanitakis, I’ll try to address your questions (though some run somewhat afield from the discussion).
    .
    We elected action bidders or public servants?
    .
    One of the ways public servants deliver services to their constituents is by bidding out work to the private sector. This is a fairly routine process. All road paving, school construction and large public works projects are done this way, for instance. This often results in good quality work at lower cost to the taxpayers.
    .
    How much costs a Norwalk family wellbeing?
    .
    There’s no simple answer to this one. Depends on the size of the family, location, lifestyle. Obviously Norwalk includes people from all income levels, 87,000 of whom manage to live here on what they make.
    .
    A HUGE mistake privatizing the garbage collection.
    .
    The evidence refutes this statement; see https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/06/barron-outsourced-trash-recycling-savings-are-real.
    .
    Titanic mistake, giving the school yard lawns to a private (company) person from N.Y. What happened? They don’t come to cut the school grass no more. Why?
    .
    “Titanic” may be a bit over the top to describe a problem with cutting grass. My understanding is that there were problems with a contractor and the contractor was terminated. That’s the great thing about a contractor – if they do a poor job, you fire them and you’re done.
    .
    How much a Norwalk citizen wellbeing worth to people we elect to serve us?
    .
    Very much. We work all the time to improve the education of 11,000 young citizens entrusted to us, and to do so in a fiscally-responsible way that minimizes the burden on the taxpayers, thereby working to improve the well-being of all of them.
    .
    The privatizing of the garbage collection, works well?
    .
    According to the available data, yes (see link above).
    .
    We have a 2.9 million surplus. Where are the misplaced 5.3 million of last year?
    .
    I assume you’re actually referring to the $3.9 million deficit discovered shortly after I took office back in 2011 (almost three years ago)? The deficit was fully evaluated and explained through a city audit, and the ‘loan’ the city advanced to the Board to cover it has been fully paid back. This was extensively covered in the news media, including NON.
    .
    Are you punishing us the People of Norwalk for electing a different Mayor?
    .
    Punishing the people of Norwalk? By making more progress in reforming our schools than in 20 years? By getting our finances under control and lessening the burden on taxpayers? (See https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/06/opinion-a-status-report-from-the-board-of-education). I’d say we’re rewarding the people of Norwalk, not punishing them. And I’ve known Harry Rilling for over 30 years, we get along very well, and I have no reason to “punish” anyone for electing him Mayor.
    .
    Who changed without our knowledge the sentence (BoE can outsource custodian jobs?)
    .
    Well, the language was put in the contract originally in 2003, in a contract signed by the union (which presumably reads its contracts before signing them). It was kept in the contract in 2008, by a Negotiations Committee chaired by Rosa Murray, and was again signed by the union. It was kept in the contract again in 2013, and again signed by the union. If your union (Mr. Arvanitakis is a Norwalk school custodian) signed contracts with the outsourcing language three time (2003, 2008 and 2013) without reading its contents (which is the only way it could have been “without [your] knowledge”), you’ll need to take it up with the union leadership. We on the Board Negotiations Committee certainly knew it was there.
    .
    Hopefully the above has clarified some of these matters.

  46. Carmelo somma

    To MR Lyons it was said no one was losing there job . But what happends in two years. When are contracts are up?

    1. Mark Chapman

      @carmelo

      I spoke with Mr. Lyons about that issue and I hope to have a story addressing that and other issues for you in the morning.

  47. Mike Lyons

    The contract is up for renegotiation in 2016. Unless the union agrees to delete the ‘no layoff for outsourcing’ provision (and I don’t know any Board members who want to delete it), it will stay in the contract.

  48. Carmelo somma

    Thank you Mr Chapman.

  49. Bobby Arvanitakis

    Well, the language was put in the contract originally in 2003, in a contract signed by the union (which presumably reads its contracts before signing them).
    Why it was put in the contract?( outsourcing )
    Why you terminated the lawn company BoE hired? Is it true a pedophile was cutting grass at Norwalk schools?
    I am a Norwalk citizen and the new garbage company, it’s a joke.
    Anyway, soon we will have Elections.
    Thanks

  50. Mike Lyons

    Bobby – as to why the outsourcing provision was put in the contract, you’ll have to ask the people who put it there (8 years before I joined the Board). Interestingly, at that time the Board had 9 Democrats and no Republicans.

  51. Bobby Arvanitakis

    And which BoE took action?

  52. This one, which consists of 6 Democrats and 3 Republicans.

  53. Bobby Arvanitakis

    I came two times, I just watched and listen.
    The second time I spoke, because my job and my wellbeing is at stakes.
    I didn’t see unity amongst BoE elected members.
    I didn’t see 6D. & 3R.
    I am a voter since for ever, I have voted for Republican candidates.
    Rick McQuaid, is a great human being, a friend, he listens plus we are both N.Y Jets.
    I didn’t hire the people, BoE did.
    I know, some are not doing their jobs.
    I know that only 74 of us are residents of Norwalk.
    Why, we don’t put Norwalk people first?
    I hope and pray to God, not to be replaced by a non resident.
    We are not the solution.
    There is a need for a better evaluation of a person to be hired.

  54. Bobby Arvanitakis

    Hello,
    Can anyone tell me, why the lawn company that BoE hired, was canceled(fired)?
    ANYONE?
    Mr. Lyons?

  55. Bobby Arvanitakis

    Anna Duleep, City Sheriff
    Thumbs up……….

  56. Bobby Arvanitakis

    This comment has been removed for violating our policy against name-calling and personal attacks.
    I didn’t attack anyone.
    If I did, I am sorry.
    Goodbye .

    Editor’s note: The comment in question referred to another commenter by his/her screen name as a coward and parasite, and said he/she was likely pro-modern day slavery.

  57. Bobby Arvanitakis

    Anonymous persons typing sarcastic like ” Your hypothetical is so laughable” ”This is what happens when you screw taxpayers” and the most inhumane was for a friend of mine and a Norwalk resident and taxpayer ”Honestly ask yourself would anyone anywhere pay you what you are making now for the work you are doing? Does it feel good to be trapped in that system? Dependent on it for your existence and the well being of your children?….
    Loosing his wife was bad enough, let his ”trapped” self and kids alone.

  58. Bobby Arvanitakis

    Question: Why the ”lawn company was fired?”
    Is it true a REGISTERED pedophile was cutting grass in OUR schools?

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