Drama of Greenwich Board of Ed Elections Continues

Republican Town Committee Executive Committee to meet on Peter Sherr's vote to elect Democratic ed board chairman.

The sturm und drang that lead to a major changes in the composition and leadership of the Greenwich Board of Education doesn't appear to have abated.

The leadership of the Greenwich Republican Town Committee is set to hold a special meeting tonight to discuss the actions of Republican Board of Education member Peter Sherr, who cast that deposed Republican board chairman Steve Anderson with the election of Democrat Leslie Moriarty as chairman of the eight-member board.

The board, equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, needed a majority vote to elect Moriarty. Immediately after that Dec. 1 vote, Sherr abruptly left the meeting - missing key votes on electing the board vice chair and secretary, and other business on the board agenda.

According to witnesses, there was a heated exchange between Republican Town Committee Chairman Jim Campbell and former RTC chair Ed Dadakis who tried to convince Sherr to return to the meeting despite his crossing party lines.

"We didn’t have a discussion. I was surprised to see him abruptly leave after the vote," Campbell said Tuesday. "He failed to vote for board vice chairman and secretary and rest of agenda. I voiced my disappointment … and he did not respond."

Campbell added, "I think his behavior is odd."

And several Republicans say that Sherr has been not been heard from since the meeting. Sherr did not respond to an e-mail request for comment for this story.

"Greenwich voters voted overwhelmingly Republican. The Republican candidates  received thousands of more votes than their Democratic counterparts," Campbell said. "I am disappointed in that he went against those voter wishes and voted for a Democratic (chairman)."

First Selectman Peter Tesei described Sherr's behavior as "bizarre and unstable. To leave a meeting and the business before the board defies any basic decorum. his behavior throughout the campaign is consistent with the behavior people voted out."

The political drama within the board reached a crescendo during the summer when Dr. Sidney Freund abruptly resigned as the board considered extending his contract. Freund cited continued criticism and dissension from then board member Marianna Ponns Cohen and Sherr. And instead of nominating two candidates for the seats available in the November election - including Ponns Cohen's, the RTC nominated four candidates. Two newcomers - retired teacher Barbara O'Neill and businessman Peter von Braun - .

At the , Sherr abstained from voting for Anderson to another term as chairman, setting up the drama that evolved at the Dec. 1 meeting.

Some Republicans have said privately that they wonder whether Sherr will serve the remaining two years of his four-year term - whether he will resign or be pressured to resign by his fellow Republicans.

Campbell declined to comment on the executive committee's meeting tonight or what recourse it could take. But Republicans have said Campbell issued the call for the special meeting on Sunday. Typically, the RTC executive committee does not meet in December.

The executive committee is comprised of the RTC's five elected officers, including Campbell, and a representative from each of the 12 voting districts. Ex-officio members include Tesei, Town Clerk Carmella Budkins, Tax Collector Tod Laudonia and the town's three state representatives and senator.

If Sherr were to step down, his replacement would be selected by the remaining seven members of the Board of Education, not the RTC.

Suzze December 07, 2011 at 01:12 PM
Peter Sherr voted his conscience and it must have been difficult for him to cross party lines; he should return with his head held high. The political drama within this Board has got to stop and partisan affiliations should be checked at the door while these elected officials make the best decisions on behalf of the children of Greenwich. I no longer have children in the Greenwich school system, but this hyper-partisanism is unnecessary and has no place within the Board of Education.
Lisa McLoughlin December 07, 2011 at 01:19 PM
The Republican party has only itself to blame for not standing behind Marianna Ponns-Cohen. Bravo Mr. Scherr for voting against a corrupt Republican like Anderson.
dd December 07, 2011 at 02:19 PM
I agree with Susan. Blind loyalty to your political party does not belong on the BOE. Sherr was right to vote against an inefffective colleague for Chairman and he should return with his head held high. I hope the new Republican members won't feel they have to do everything the RTC tells them.
Sandy Waters December 07, 2011 at 03:13 PM
I object to your description of Steve Anderson as "corrupt". It is certainly reasonable to question his effectiveness as BOE Chairman, but where is the evidence that he is corrupt? This is far from the case. You diminish your point of view by the imprecision and inaccuracy of your language.
Ed Krumeich December 07, 2011 at 04:37 PM
There are few votes on town boards and commissions that can truly be thought of as partisan. The Republicans' perennial efforts to upset the balance on the Board of Estimate and Taxation to enact "majority rules" representation is one example that comes to mind. The vote for chairman of a board or commission is not supposed to be a partisan vote, but one based on who the members think would be in best position to lead. There are many instances where Republican members have voted for Democratic chairmen because the members thought their Democratic colleague was the best choice. It is a fiction that the voters thought they were voting for partisan control of the BOE. If anything, you could argue the votes reflect a feeling that the divisions and infighting on the bipartisan board should cease and the BOE should work together for the benefit of our students and community. It would be a pity if the RTC should take revenge on Peter Sherr for voting his conscience as to who he thought would do a better job leading the BOE--Leslie Moriarty or Steve Anderson. That sort of lock-step partisan loyalty test has no place in Greenwich government. The RTC should back-off and let Mr. Sherr serve out the term for which he was duly elected. Remember, no one voted for the RTC to dictate educational policy to a duly elected public official.
Sandy Waters December 07, 2011 at 04:42 PM
I completely agree, and I am a Republican.
Lisa McLoughlin December 07, 2011 at 07:12 PM
Sandy, I apologize if you find my usage of the word "corrupt" to describe Mr. Anderson's former actions as the Board President objectionable, however I happen to believe that when a Board President worked in secretive collaboration with the former Superintendent to expand a program without the IBO REQUIRED approval and financial commitment of the entire "governing body" of the Greenwich School District, he operated in a corrupt and mistrustful manner. You could say he was ineffective at implementing IB in a stealth and subversive manner, but only because Marianna Ponns-Cohen and Mr. Scherr called him out on it.
Bernard Schneider December 07, 2011 at 10:11 PM
Since the Republican Party has such direct influence on Greenwich governance, does any one have a list of the members of the Republican Town Committee or the Executive Committee? I am not asking for identifying details such as addresses and phone numbers; just a list of names. My efforts to get the information from the Party have not been successful. The Democrats did provide me with such information.
Ed Krumeich December 07, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Bernie: I believe the Town Clerk has that information since members of the RTC and DTC are elected at public caucuses and the members' identity is public information. Jim Campbell is the Chair of the RTC. Never mind: the members' names are on the RTC website. http://www.greenwichrtc.com/members/
Sandy Waters December 08, 2011 at 01:36 AM
The Town Attorney does not support your allegation.
Lisa McLoughlin December 08, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Sandy, The Town Attorney correctly interpreted that the document which Anderson and Freund signed was "not a contract". Contracts are legally binding for BOTH parties. IBO, very cleverly, is not obligated to provide anything under the terms of the "application", the onus of responsibility to commit to fees and staff development rests solely with the applying district and the application can be abandoned at any time. However, within the application, one of the boxes checked off as a YES stated the application had the approval of the "governing body". This was not true. The Town Attorney made the statement at the very controversial BoE meeting which Mr. Scherr was unable to attend and for which he submitted a written request to delay the vote - which was disregarded.
Historian December 08, 2011 at 06:47 PM
Why does Ms. McLoughlin, a resident of Long Island, continue to feel compelled to comment on local politics and slander elected officials? Her ally and friend was not re-elected. Time to move on. Her obsession with Greenwich is unhealthy and unneeded. I respect free speech but why not let the residents of Greenwich deal with its issues? Is her anti-IB website not keeping her busy enough?


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