Seen and Heard in Norwalk: BOE muttering, buck passing

Norwalk BOE   062-20130521
Norwalk Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Elio Longo addresses the Board of Education Tuesday.

NORWALK, Conn. – Here are some items of interest that were seen or heard recently in Norwalk:

Where do you live, exactly?

Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Bruce Mellion drew a rebuke at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting after invoking the good of the Norwalk community several times in his speech chastising the board for keeping its superintendent search confidential. BOE member Sue Haynie took pains to point out that Mellion is not a resident, asking him after he sat down where his “9 Mott Avenue” was.

Mellion always identifies his address as “9 Mott Avenue” when he speaks at meetings. That is the address of his office. He does not live in Norwalk. An Internet search shows a Bridgeport address.

As the meeting moved on, Mellion muttered his desire to see Haynie leave office.

“Are you kidding me?” he said. “Past practice, 20 years. Wait ’til November.”

Please don’t go!

Norwalk Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Elio Longo’s resignation to go to work for Westport Schools drew no comment at the BOE meeting that immediately followed its announcement, other than a wry “You social climber, you,” greeting from BOE member Steve Colarossi before the meeting began.

On Tuesday evening, members could no longer ignore the issue as it was time to accept the resignation. It would have been done without comment as it was lumped in with other resignations, but Colarossi asked Chairman Mike Lyons if the resignations could be voted on individually, as he “might want to vote no on one.”

A brief buck-passing ensued – Chairman Mike Lyons asked who would make the motion to accept the resignation and board members stared at each other. After a bit of laughter Rosa Murray raised her hand.

Colarossi seconded. “When Mr. Longo came in we were in a transitional period and I was amazed at what he taught me on a very personal level … We are definitely a better district because of Elio Longo,” he said.

Haynie lauded Longo with the words “honesty, integrity and hard working.”

BOE member Jack Chiaramonte asked, “If we don’t accept his resignation, does that mean he has to stay?”

“I think that’s why there was a hesitancy on the motion on the second,” Lyons said.

Lyons gave a speech, thanking Longo for his service and ending with the thought that this was “definitely Westport’s gain.”

Then there was a vote. Two people abstained.

Need a new jacket? Try City Hall … 

It’s a mystery: Who does this jacket belong to?

Seen: A jacket hanging in City Hall’s Room 231. For a long time. “Forever,” according to Councilman Bruce Kimmel. No one knows who it belongs to, he said.

If it’s yours you might want to go pick it up.

Two oldies but goodies

 At the April 15 Democratic Town Committee meeting, state Sen. Bob Duff talked about the passage of new gun laws after the Newtown tragedy.

“There were Newtown families there, there were a lot of them; there were quite a few people who were against the bill,” he said. “I’ve never seen the capital building itself so filled with people who were against some sort of legislation that we were doing.”

 At the April 15 Planning Committee meeting, Common Councilman Nick Kydes (R-District C) said he thought the plans for Washington Village were wonderful and that he hoped building could begin as soon as possible.

“We’re very anxious, if we could have a ground-breaking before the end it the year that would be even better,” he said.

Councilman Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) set him straight.

“We’ll be lucky if this thing is done before we die,” he said. “This is government work, too, you know.”


7 responses to “Seen and Heard in Norwalk: BOE muttering, buck passing”

  1. LWitherspoon

    If Bruce Mellion wants Sue Haynie off the school board, that’s all I need to know – she has my vote.
    We are lucky to have a school board member with the courage to challange Mr. Mellion and incur his wrath. Ms. Haynie’s life would be a lot easier without all of Mr. Mellion’s anger, something she voluntarily deals with so that Norwalk taxpayers can get better value for the more than $150 million tax dollars we spend on education every year.

  2. 0ldtimer

    Ms Haynie takes a leadership role in negotiations AGAINST the teachers, Mr Mellion takes a similar role in negotiations FOR the teachers. That makes them natural enemies. Putting someone else in Ms Haynie’s role would make that person a natural enemy. Outside of the adversarial positions of the negotiation process, I doubt if either has much of any feelings for the other. Frequently, fiercely opposing lawyers in court are close friends outside of court.

  3. LWitherspoon

    It stretches credulity for you to claim that Mr. Mellion has no animosity towards Ms. Hayne when he’s muttering “Wait ’til November” at school board meetings like some kind of cartoon villain.

  4. M. Murray

    I am sure there is animosity between the two. Otherwise why would Haynie be asking him where 9 Mott Av is?

  5. 0ldtimer

    Each of them is an advocate for a particular group. In that role, each will say things calculated to weaken the other’s position. You can’t possibly believe Ms Haynie doesn’t know where 9 Mott Ave is, or that Mellion’s home adress is not really relavent. Bruce, on the other hand, likes to remind opponents that he has some clout in local elections. Some people call such posturing “political theater” and know better than to take such comments seriously.

  6. Piberman

    I suggest everyone get a copy of the NFT monthly Vanguard publication to fully appreciate the extraordinary hostility of the NFT to the BOE, the Superintendent and our City. Reportedly no other local teachers union in our state exhibits such astonishing hostility. Month after month Mr. Mellion admonishes his fellow teachers to get Ms. Haynie off the Board. His comments on former Supt. Marks are nothing short of contempt. To claim its just an adversarial role is just myopic. I’m not aware of any union hostility that comes anywhere near the levels reached by Mr. Mellion. And I spent some serious negotiation time dealing with the Teamsters and Local No. 3 Electric Workers in NY City.

    Curiously Mr. Mellion has so far not admonished either interim Supt Dadonna nor BOE member Colarossi. Curiously Mr. Colarossi is the only BOE member to publicly question the wisdom of accepting the Arbitration Award Panel’s freeze recommendation. And the only BOE member to time after time argue against a modest overspending to secure prominent legal assistance that gave us the freeze. And the only BOE member in recent decades to publicly criticize another BOE member (Ms. Haynie) innumerable times in our local newspaper. More than a few well informed folks suggest that the NFT has at least one friend at the BOE.

    At day’s end no public school system can credibly perform its mission under the duress of a severely hostile public school teachers union. And, as Mr. Ditrio’s recent article demonstrated the Administrator’s Union isn’t far behind. How Norwalk regains normal union/BOE relations enjoyed by our neighboring communities and behind remains challenging.

    Not only does the NFT scarsely veil its continuing hostility to the BOE and Supts. but it manages to obtain the 5th highest salaries anywhere in the state. How was this achieved ? Not complicated. Our elected officials involved in the negotitions – the BOE, Mayor and BET – were out to lunch.

    In Norwalk being a hostile union brings home the bacon. And has been doing so for nearly 30 years of Mr. Mellion’s tenure. Obviously there’s a role for a mayor committed to the BOE as an ex-officio member, a more capable BET and more capable BOE members. Had BOE members Lyons, Haynie and Chiarmonte not had the real grit to take the public school teachers union to arbitration look where we’d be – $2.6 million poorer.

    So when a mayoral candidate takes the hostile Administration Union’s head aboard as Treasurer some of us wonder what must he be thinking. And why doesn’t anyone protest. Is running as the government union man really the way to improve civic life in Norwalk ?

  7. McFadden Biancatesta

    Over the past few years, most CT school districts got at least one zero percent increase in teachers’ negotiations. Few got a whopping 4 1/4 % raise that Norwalk teachers are getting next year (after the zero). So the high praise for the ZERO will be replaced next budget cycle with FEAR about paying for the big raise.

    On the topic of animosity, it’s real. Do you forget Chiaramonte’s “sheckel comment” or his diatribes two years ago about Mellion? The one fact Berman has right is that the union fishwrap whacks Chiaramonte and Haynie.

    What’s been the upshot of this silly feud? Last year there were NO concessions and a budget plan that laid off teachers and crowded classrooms. “They” showed Mellion who was boss and “they” showed kids that they’re just political pawns.

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