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.