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What were Lavielle’s votes at ALEC?

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To the Editor:

In 2011, State Rep. Gail Lavielle acknowledged attending a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Education Task Force in New Orleans. She was listed in the months before the meeting as a ‘Legislative Member’ in the 2011 ALEC annual meeting substantive agenda.

In public statements she has neglected to mention her votes on ALEC model legislation at the Education Task Force Meeting she attended.  According to minutes contained in ALEC’s 2011 States & Nation Policy Summit Substantive Agenda “members approved the Task Force Meeting Minutes from the 2011 Spring Task Force Summit and discussed a review of existing model legislation.” Members then voted on seven pieces of ALEC model legislation.  Ms. Lavielle, representing our state and our city at the New Orleans conference and within this controversial organization, voted on ALEC model legislation.

I want to know as a Norwalk resident what her votes were, yea or nay:

  • Amendments to Higher Education Accountability Act: Sponsored by Dr. Harry Stille (28 yeas, 1 nay)
  • Indiana Education Reform Package: Sponsored by Rep. Cindy Noe, Indiana (29 yeas, 0 nays)
  • Resolution Opposing the Implementation of the Common Core State
  • Standards Initiative (TABLED): Sponsored by Jonathan Butcher, Goldwater Institute
  • Resolution on Digital Learning: Sponsored by Sen. Rich Crandall, Arizona (15 yeas, 5 nays)
  • Statewide, Independent Charter Commission: Sponsored by David Hansen, National Association of Charter School Authorizers  (13 yeas, 2 nays)
  • Taxpayers’ Savings Grants Act: Sponsored by Marc Oestreich, The Heartland Institute  (12 yeas, 2 nays)
  • Free Enterprise Education Act: Sponsored by Roberta Zenn Phillips, U.S. Chamber of Commerce  (7 yeas, 2 nays)

The “Indiana Education Reform Package Act” is the only bill where the public knows her vote as it was unanimously approved. Unlike legislatures, ALEC does not keep specific tallies of individual votes in their minutes nor are they obligated to release information publicly.  I want full disclosure on Ms. Lavielle’s voting record during her brief participation with ALEC.  These are five controversial initiatives she voted on that have negatively impacted children across our nation.

Stephanie Bernstein Pollard

Comments

17 responses to “What were Lavielle’s votes at ALEC?”

  1. John Hamlin

    Really? You want to know her “votes” at a non- governmental conference held three years ago in a state across the country on matters that have never been proposed or voted on in Connecticut? She’s got a voting record here in the Connecticut legislature. Why not look at that?

  2. Casey Smith

    Okay, Stephanie, if you want to know what Gail’s ALEC votes were, just click on the link and read the article that addresses this.

    https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/06/lavielle-i-am-not-an-alec-member/

    She voted with her feet. That seemed to be abundantly clear to me.

  3. Milton

    Does the KR campaign staff have anything else? This dead horse has been beat to death several times over. I do not care that Ms. Lavielle attended an Alec meeting. For the record, I also don’t care that Mr. Rodgerson’s Harvard degree is from the online school that does not have any admission requirements other than paying your fee.

    With only 2 weeks left until the election I think you should focus on the issues that matter to people and explain how you would address them.

  4. Joruh

    @Casey Smith: that article states Lavielle attended her Education Task Force meeting. If Ms. Lavielle voted to approve right wing legislation to weaken public schools across our nation the public have a right to know. Millions of dollars of public school dollars were diverted from American schools after this meeting. What did she support and why did she gloss over the most controversial actions at the conference?

  5. There is nothing in the referenced documentation indicating that Ms. Lavielle voted on anything; she may have simply attended to observe. If you want to talk about diverting money from public schools, I have a closer, more relevant observation – the Democrats in Hartford have diverted $20-$30 million per year away from the Norwalk schools by supporting the grossly unfair ECS formula. Democrats in Hartford have contemptuously dismissed Norwalkers who attended public hearings to try and change this. Democrats in Hartford rejected Gail Lavielle’s bill that would have redressed it. And we’re supposed to support a Bridgeport Democrat over Ms. Lavielle to rectify this? For anyone who believes that, I have some ocean-front land to sell you in Nevada.

  6. DJ

    She handed in ALEC model legislation, worked for an ALEC subcommittee co-chair as national spokesperson (Wal Mart,) was endorsed by an ALEC member PAC, was listed as a Legislative Member months BEFORE (not after as she stated) her meeting. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and won’t say a word about whether or not the duck agrees with ALEC’s corporate far right agenda…well, how did she vote?

  7. Joruh

    @Milton…Nice try. “For the record, I also don’t care that Mr. Rodgerson’s Harvard degree is from the online school that does not have any admission requirements other than paying your fee.” That horse was DOA and you are flat out lying. Online…in 2001? No admissions process? You are as moraLly bankrupt as Lavielle-Alper.

  8. Milton

    @ Mike – How did the Dems divert $20-30mm with the ECS forumula? It is not a loaded question. I genuinly do not understand how the ECS works and why they would not want to change this.

  9. Joruh

    @Milton…I’ve seen your comments on other sites. You have been able to rattle off Bill lists from the House on a moments notice. Don’t play dumb…people aren’t as stupid as you think.

  10. Won and Done

    @Mike Lyons: As Chairman of the Norwalk BOE where do you stand on virtual schools? For that matter, where does your candidate stand and where did she stand? If you look at the definitions of ETF members their role is to vote. What does she have to hide? She should embrace her corporate far right beliefs.

  11. Milton

    From the NYT

    “There are no requirements to take extension courses; getting into the bachelor’s degree program is permitted if students get at least a B minus in three extension courses, including expository writing. ”

    “There’s a much wider spectrum of good and not so good and poor students,” Dr. Koester said.

    “If for some reason your finances or your SAT’s wouldn’t get you into the Ivy League,” he said, “you could come and get a very similar experience and then have the Harvard name on your résumé. People say Harvard-trained, they don’t say Bunker Hill Community College-trained.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/18/national/18harvard.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

    Now can we move on?

  12. DJ

    @Mike Lyons I thought that Rodgerson was an Independent in Bridgeport? Lavielle didn’t even live here then. I’d trust a Fairfield County Independent over a Houston Republican anyday.

  13. Won and Done

    @Milton: What does that have to do with Rodgerson and how does that pertain to Ms. Lavielle’s voting record as a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council? This is a desperate offensive.

  14. We Deserve Better

    @Mike Lyons: So you’re comfortable saying that she was only an “observer” on the Education Task Force too? But the docs say she was a member of the same body. Wouldn’t you think that if she only wanted to be an observer, that would be noted in the membership listing?

    Whether or not she’s currently a member of ALEC isn’t exactly the point. But what I’d like to know is why she keeps introducing legislation that mimics ALEC’s verbiage? Or why she’s so proud of accepting an endorsement from the NFIB, which is an ALEC member?

    Simply put, if “all things ALEC” are so taboo to her, then how do “all things ALEC” keep popping up around her? Seems too much just to be a coincidence.

  15. One and Done

    Mike Lyons is right. The state Democrats have screwed Norwalk out of a half a billion dollars plus since ECS was founded. Instead that money goes into the rat hole of Bridgeport so they can hire incompetents like this carpetbagger to do nothing for society except hiding behind his phony degree.

    One and Done. The original. Watts up with that.

  16. Won and Done

    But what were Lavielle’s votes at ALEC, One and Done? Conservative pride, eh?

  17. Well, I seem to have struck a nerve right into Left Wing Central’s funny bone with my comment on the ECS formula. Let me address some of the comments made in response (first the non-partisan one, then the others).

    Non-partisan comment:

    Milton –“@ Mike – How did the Dems divert $20-30mm with the ECS forumula? It is not a loaded question. I genuinly do not understand how the ECS works and why they would not want to change this.”

    The ECS formula is set by the state legislature, which has been Democratic-controlled for all but about 4 years since 1966. It computes the amount of money that municipalities receive from the State for their educational systems through a calculation that is almost entirely based on the size of a given municipality’s Grand List of real estate. The formula pays no heed to the per capita income of the municipality, nor of factors that can impact the municipality’s school system’s needs (e.g., percentages of students from poor families, non-English speaking, proportion of special needs students, etc.). This has resulted in a gross injustice to Norwalk, which is a ‘land rich, cash poor’ middle income and working class city. We are treated by Hartford as if we were indistinguishable from Westport or Greenwich, because our land values are relatively high. We thus get a far smaller proportion of state funding to support our schools than all other state cities except Stamford (which receives the same mistreatment). And we don’t have Stamford’s commercial tax base to soften the blow (Norwalk’s commercial Grand List is $2.2 billion in size, vs. Stamford’s almost triple-larger $6.0 billion commercial Grand List).

    The $20-$30 million figure probably understates the degree to which Norwalk is underfunded annually because of this formula. I get there by looking at the closest demographic match to Norwalk in the State – Danbury. Although larger cities get well over half of their school budgets paid directly by the State, Danbury gets about the average for cities in our reference group (DRG H), or 26% of its budget paid by the State. Norwalk gets 7%. If we got the same percentage as Danbury, we would get $37,233,000 per year in State funding, versus the $10,999,000 we get. Thus by this rough calculation we are shortchanged by $26,324,000 PER YEAR. Read that number again. That means in the last 10 years, we’ve been shortchanged by something like a quarter of a BILLION dollars. Think how much (i) school funding improvements and (ii) taxpayer relief could have been provided to Norwalkers if that injustice was redressed. [N.B. – another calculation by an outside source stated that the MINIMUM amount of underfunding Norwalk has been subjected to is $21.3 million per year – see https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/06/unfair-connecticut-education-formula-to-be-challenged-this-fall%5D.

    Why do the Democrats not want to change this? A combination of self-interest and barely concealed contempt for ‘wealthy Fairfield County’ by the upstate Democrats. This is not simply speculation. The House Democrat who Co-Chairs the Education Committee, Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, represents West Hartford. West Hartford has a median family income of $102,547 per year, vs. $93,009 in Norwalk (West Hartford’s incomes thus being 10.3% higher than Norwalk’s). But West Hartford, under the current ECS formula, gets $1,579 per student in state aid each year, vs. $930 per year in Norwalk – which is 70% more aid for West Hartford than Norwalk gets. Wealthier community – and 70% more state money. Is it any wonder that Fleischman finds the current ECS formula just peachy?

    But there’s more. Fleischmann is also the man who arrogantly and rudely dismissed the concerns of Norwalkers – Republican and Democrat alike – who went to Hartford to ask for relief from this grossly unfair formula, laughing and contemptuously dismissing those efforts (see http://norwalk.dailyvoice.com/schools/board-chairman-shout-loudly-norwalk-schools). Other legislators actually came up to the Norwalkers after the hearing to apologize for the treatment they were subjected to.

    But there’s still more. As a member of the education committee, Rep. Lavielle introduced an amendment to a budget bill in April, 2012 that would have allowed Norwalk and other towns with a significant disparity between property values and median household income to reduce by 10 percent the equalized net grand list figure used in the ECS formula, thus increasing their state funding to compensate somewhat for their lower incomes. How did Democratic Co-Chair Fleischman respond to this very reasonable proposal? “I will be glad to vote in opposition” to the proposal, he stated on the record, and the proposal failed on a party-line vote, all Democrats against. He didn’t just oppose this effort to correct the injustice to Norwalk – he was “glad” to oppose it, reflecting his view, expressed elsewhere, that Norwalk is a “wealthy community” like others in Fairfield County (see https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2013/03/new-state-ecs-formula-means-1-4-million-less-for-norwalk). He apparently has never been here.

    So yes, we are grossly underfunded, the Democrats keep it that way, and they do it with videotaped contempt for us and are “glad” to do so – in the Chair’s own words.

    Partisan comments:

    Won and Done – “@Mike Lyons: As Chairman of the Norwalk BOE where do you stand on virtual schools? For that matter, where does your candidate stand and where did she stand?”

    Virtual schools are probably going to be a wave of the future as technology improves. We are slowly moving into use of online courses as an adjunct to in-school instruction (with APEX Learning), but I see this as a gradual evolution, and I don’t see it supplanting in-person education in Norwalk’s schools (see http://www.thehour.com/news/norwalk/schools-look-to-expand-use-of-online-credit-recovery-tool/article_21dbb568-76c8-570f-aa8c-d82ce8da5ae2.html?_dc=831974463770.166). I have no idea where Rep. Lavielle stands on this, nor do I care – I’d rank it somewhere around number 127 on my priority list.

    DJ – “@Mike Lyons I thought that Rodgerson was an Independent in Bridgeport? Lavielle didn’t even live here then. I’d trust a Fairfield County Independent over a Houston Republican anyday.”

    Good for you. I never heard of Mr. Rodgerson before he ran for state rep. Unlike Ms. Lavielle, I have never seen him at a Norwalk Board of Education meeting, or Board of Estimate hearing on our school budget, or at a Norwalk school event. He hasn’t attended hearings in Hartford on our ECS issues, as Rep. Lavielle has. As for being “independent”, he was elected twice to the Bridgeport City Council (which doesn’t happen with Democratic Party support) and is now running as a Malloy Democrat, so I doubt very much he’d be “independent” from either.

    We Deserve Better – “Whether or not she’s currently a member of ALEC isn’t exactly the point. But what I’d like to know is why she keeps introducing legislation that mimics ALEC’s verbiage?”

    The record is pretty clear that she has never been a member of ALEC, so your question is (deliberately, I’m sure) misleading. ALEC is a conservative organization, and in this left-liberal dominated (and therefore failing) State, a little input of ideas from outside the liberal orthodoxy is a good thing. Given the utter failure of the State government to rebuild our economy, control our budget, or solve the myriad other problems facing Connecticut (including the largest achievement gap in schools in the nation), thank goodness there are at least a few state legislators willing to try something different, whether similar to ALEC’s ideas or not. That will definitely NOT be the case with a standard-issue politician as Mr. Rodgerson appears to be.

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