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Madame Chair

The highly anticipated vote results in the first Democrat Board of Education Chair in more than 30 years.

First, let's start with the end — Democrat Moriarty is voted in as Board Chair with a 5-3 vote; here is how:

  • Democrats Dayton, Kail, Moriarty, Ospina and Republican Sherr supporting Moriarty
  • Anderson, O'Neill and von Braun supporting Anderson

Now the back story:

Chair Anderson began the meeting by informing the board and public that the second opinion that was sought from the board's attorney, Tom Mooney, a partner with Shipman & Goodwin, returned in "lock step" with Town Attorney John Wayne Fox on the definition of a majority vote.

Mooney is the author of A Practical Guide to Connecticut School Law (6th
Edition, 2008), a comprehensive treatise on Connecticut school law, published by CABE (Connecticut Association of Boards of Education) and used by teachers, administrators and board of education members throughout the state.

Two nights ago, it was  unclear whether a 4-3 vote with one abstention in favor of a Democrat for the board chairmanship constitutes a "majority vote," according to Town Attorney John Wayne Fox.

Ironically, it was Moriarty who made a motion for the matter to be referred to Board of Education attorney Mooney and then suspended the election until the Dec. 1 work session.

Anderson began the work session as chair stating that he heard from Mooney late last night that 5 affirmative votes are needed to elect a board chair thus as Anderson paraphrased “in lock step” with Wayne Fox.

Wayne Fox was present at the meeting and discussed legalities of G-002 and the nuances of the state statue.  He said recognizing the importance to the Town of Greenwich and to the individuals concerned he has taken this matter very seriously.

Following Wayne Fox's explanation to the board, Peter Sherr stated that he believed that "it is unfortunate that we put the two of you (Mooney and Wayne Fox) in this position.

After much discussion, Wayne Fox said that he advised the Board of Selectmen to take no action until 30 days are up calling it a much needed "cooling off" period.

It was then, before the vote, that Sherr made a telling statement that his "own view is that this election is supposed to remove controversary." Sherr was referring to the past two years on the board which he called "difficult." Sherr  asked, "for the good of the school system, I plead with the rest of you that we need to resolve (the issue) this evening and resolve it by us. I am not prepared for this to continue beyond this evening." After the vote for chair, Sherr left the meeting and was unavailable for comment.

After the chair vote, Barbara O’Neill nominated Steve Anderson for Vice Chair, however Anderson quickly removed his name from consideration. Anderson then in turn nominated O'Neill who was elected 7-0 for vice chair. Democrat Adriana Ospina was elected by the same margin as board secretary.

Both O'Neill and Ospina were just sworn in as board members a mere two days prior. O'Neill looked at the new Board Executive Committee as a "great opportunity" predicting that the such opportunity would translate into "great progress."  While Ospina humbly reacted; "I hope to do justice to your trust."

After the meeting, this is what Anderson reflected on the past two years and what his plans are for the next two. "I have been honored to chair us for the past two years," Anderson said. "A majority of the board has spoken for new leadership; I respect that and thought it proper to entirely remove myself from the Executive Committee. I look forward to continue my focus on improving the academic achievement level of every student whole maintaining proper fiscal stewardship."

The last Democrat to lead the Greenwich Board of Education was Beverly Jomo, who served on the panel from 1971-1979, chairman for the last four.

Lisa McLoughlin December 02, 2011 at 02:07 PM
Connecticut is one of the few states in the country where our political parties have any role in the nomination of school board trustees. While I feel CT voters were extremely misguided in not re-electing Marianna Ponns-Cohen, the Republican Party has only itself to blame by running four candidates instead of two. Mr. Scherr boldly voted his conscience by siding with the Democrats instead if supporting Mr. Anderson who had conspired with former Superintendent Freund on the IB expansion application.
Ed Krumeich December 02, 2011 at 10:37 PM
Congratulations to Leslie Moriarty. Peter Sherr's vote saved the Board of Education from more unnecessary conflict.
Historian December 03, 2011 at 04:00 AM
Congratulations to Mrs Moriarity for achieving the Chair however one must wonder what exactly happened in the backrooms to make it happen. While Mr. Sherr publicly clashed with Mr Anderson, he equally was critical of Mrs Moriarity. Why the sudden switch of allegiance? Will Mrs Moriarity stand up and swear that no deal had been cut? Is the not so subtle hand of Mrs Ponns Cohen to be found in all of this? Interesting that she chose to sit between Sean Goldrick and Frank Farricker at the Tueday meeting, seemingly enjoying watching the continuation of the turmoil she created. Have to say, the Patch coverage of this story has been excellent. Well done Patch!! I think there are a few more stories to be written on the matter however.
Chris Davies December 04, 2011 at 01:21 PM
Actually, Mr. von K or Steve W, it is in Ms. Ponns Cohen's best interests for Anderson to have remained chairman, because the dysfunction under his leadership would have continued unabated. And, as I recall, Ms. Ponns Cohen was also critical of Mrs. Moriarty. Your philosophy is, when in doubt, blame Ms. Ponns Cohen -- nice one, but no cigar.
Historian December 04, 2011 at 08:16 PM
Good try on the name game but nope, neither one. I think you summed up Ponns Cohen's best interest perfectly however. It has nothing to do with the children, nothing to do with the best interests of the Town. It is to see the chaos she created hopefully continue so she could be happy. How dysfunctional is that. But Chris, or whoever you really are, you did capture her legacy perfectly. It was all about gaining power and trying to put down others, regardless of the cost or consequences. Kids?? Farthest thing from her mind. Better to try and intimidate and belittle others. That's her reputation and that is why she was pushed out.
Chris Davies December 04, 2011 at 11:06 PM
OMG, it's Mikey.
Lisa McLoughlin December 05, 2011 at 01:29 AM
Wow. I have a very different perception of what Marianna's "interests" were when she served on the Board. It seems to ME that Marianna was the PRIMARY Trustee to question the "expansion" of IB to the HS via a "secret" agreement signed by Anderson and Freund without the knowledge of the rest of the Board .... an agreement that involved the commitment of "significant" funds which Greenwich Schools had neither budgeted for nor conducted a feasibility study about! It was Marianna who insisted upon a committee which surveyed the HS teachers and found that they were NOT in favor of IB! So Marianna, in my opinion, stood up for transparency, communication with teachers and fiscal responsibility. You want to tell me how that lines her pocket? It DOESN'T! It's gutless cowards like you who won't sign their real name (a violation of Patch policy, btw) who feel the need to try and belittle a patriot and honest citizen like Marianna to try and justify your corrupted Progressive agenda.

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