September 27, 2013

Hintz: Wilson is a leader who doesn't play politics

Board of Education member Karen Hintz just sent me her thoughts on Republican mayoral candidate Ken Cockayne's letter about the cafeteria workers' contract. Here's what she sent:

I would like to respond to Mr. Cockayne’s letter regarding contract negotiations with Bristol’s cafeteria workers.  He begins: “As you may be witnessing the Republican members of the Bristol Board of Education have been taking a beating publicly for your recent vote on the contract for the Cafeteria workers.” In my experience, beatings have been plentiful and bipartisan.  
Mr. Cockayne continues by asserting “It is also my understanding that there was information regarding this contract withheld from you prior to the vote that you received while in Executive Session. I also understand were [sic] unaware of this information prior to the vote.”  My fellow commissioners and I had ample information and time to question and discuss this information prior to voting.  I do not serve on the Personnel Committee but I felt fully informed at all times. The Personnel Committee, which conducts negotiations, is composed of both Democrat and Republican members.  Who is Mr. Cockayne suggesting withheld information?
 Union negotiations are a sensitive and private issue.  Chris Wilson understands that and has refrained from commenting on them publicly in any material way.  He could be making political hay of this process but instead chooses to honor his agreement with the bargaining unit.  That’s what makes Chris a leader; he makes the right decision rather than the personally or politically expedient one.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

O'Brien concerned about Cockayne's leadership style

Another Board of Education member, Tom O'Brien, has addressed Republican mayoral candidate Ken Cockayne's letter about the school cafeteria workers' contract:

I appreciate Ken’s support of the personnel committee’s recommendation to approve the negotiated settlement between the Board of Education and Local 2267 and hope his letter will influence his Republican colleagues to reconsider their decision. I assume he became familiar with the cost of arbitration when he voted against the Police Contract.
The current contract which expired on June 30, 2013 prohibited the “subcontracting or outsourcing of food service operations.” Ken is correct that in preparation for negotiations, the Board authorized a committee of B of E and City Officials to “look into” the option of contracting with a third party to run the cafeteria. The Board voted unanimously to select the recommended vendor IF we were unable to reach an agreement with 2267. Ken is also correct that the union agreed to significant concessions in order to reduce the deficit. The Board was well aware of the increasing costs of the cafeteria during 20112-22013 fiscal year as the estimated deficit was reported in monthly financial statements sent to all members of the Board and discussed at the Finance Committee.
Prior to the vote, all aspects of the tentative agreement and the third party contract were reviewed with the members of the Board during the two hour Executive Session. Unfortunately Ken appears to have been misinformed that “information” was withheld or that individual members were not made aware of every detail of the proposals.  
The decline in revenue and the resulting deficit are not due to a lack of leadership or mismanagement. It is a result of more restrictive nutrition regulations and an increasing number of students receiving free and reduced lunch.
As one of the “folks” who is a commissioner, I am concerned that this letter is a reflection of Ken’s style of leadership.

You can see Board of Education Chairman Chris Wilson's response here, along with one from another board member, Democrat Karen Vibert.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

September 26, 2013

Wilson: Glad Cockayne "agrees with me" on cafeteria workers

Democratic mayoral contender Chris Wilson issued this response to GOP mayoral standard bearer Ken Cockayne's letter to Board of Education members:
I am glad Councilman Cockayne agrees with me..   It is a well known fact by the BOE , BOF  and city council  that the cafeteria budget has not balanced except 2 or 3 times in the last 20 plus years.  The Bargaining unit of the Bristol Board of Education and Bargaining Unit 2267  did hammer out a very good  tentative agreement!.  I appreciate his support.  I think we must acknowledge both sides negotiated very hard and a well  crafted agreement was  achieved  with significant concessions.  Going to arbitration at this point is a risky proposition with little upside for the BOE.
The Bristol BOE has consistently been apprised of the shortfall in the Cafeteria budget.  In fact, other than making up the shortfall, which happens almost every year, the BOE  and the BOF do not provide any $ to the cafeteria budget.  It is alarming that the shortfall has grown to $280,000!  However that loss cannot be laid solely at feet   the cafeteria workers.  Their leadership tried very hard to bridge the gap.  Unfortunately new healthy food standards have been introduced by CT and the Federal Government which have driven revenues down almost $330,000 in the past year. 
As far as the process is concerned, The BOE negotiations was handled by a sub committee of the personnel committee.  Over 20 hours of negotiations were conducted and culminated in a mediated settlement with a state mediator.  Both sides agreed to the tentative agreement pending the approval of both governing bodies.  The BOE met twice in executive session and I spoke with board members who were not part of the negotiating committee( other than Mr. Dolan who was apprised by Mr. Amara who also was on the negotiating committee of the BOE).  I outlined the positives and negatives of the agreement.  Never at any time was any information withheld from any board member.  Once the tentative agreement was reached all board members were informed of the terms of the agreement. 
During executive session we discussed all the pros and cons of accepting or rejecting the tentative  agreement.  Board members knew full well the ramifications of their votes.  They knew these concessions would be benchmarks for further negotiations with this union and others , they knew the costs and they also knew accepting this tentative agreement  would provide a basis for further discussion of privatization if the concessions did not bridge the gap in subsequent years.  They also were read a letter by me from the board attorney advising the costs and the likelihood of success.
Everyone had full and complete opportunity to ask questions, share comments and make a well informed decision.  While I did not agree with the majority I respect their decision and viewpoint.
I believe leadership is providing people with the information to make informed decisions.  That was done in this decision.  I did not bully anyone or try to convince anyone how to vote.  That is how a democracy works.   I find it interesting councilman Cockayne can assail my leadership when he took no opportunity to discuss this with me.  I certainly would have provided him that courtesy regardless of us running for Mayor.  That is leadership and good public policy.  Making claims and character assassinations is not good leadership.  It never accomplishes anything and does not solve problems which is what we are charged to do. 
Another Democratic member of the school board also weighed in. Here is Karen Vibert's commentary on Cockayne's letter:

I rarely comment on blogs or the on-line Press articles, but I feel compelled to correct some inaccuracies in Councilman Cockayne's letter.
He states that information was withheld from the BOE members.  That is incorrect.  There were two sessions where the tentative agreement (TA) was discussed at length.  Any and all questions were answered by the members of the Personnel Committee -- Tom O'Brien, Larry Amara, myself, and Chris Wilson as Board chair. 
In Mr. Cockayne's post he lists several of the details of the TA.  This a bit disconcerting as both the BOE and the union had agreed to private negotiations.  It is obvious that some have "leaked" this information, but I do not believe City officials should be posting it.
One of the questions he asks is if the BOE commissioners are kept aware of the cafeteria deficit or is this a "news flash."  As chairwoman of the finance committee, I can assure you that the Board of Ed finance records are very transparent and all BOE commissioners are kept up to date on at least a monthly basis.  In addition, all Bristol Board of Finance members and City Councilpersons are invited to the monthly BOE finance committee meeting, though Councilman Cockayne has never attended.
Mr. Cockayne infers there is mismanagement in the cafeteria.  Again, incorrect.  Public school cafeterias have to follow strict state and federal policies governing what we are able to serve, which tends to decrease participation.  In addition, Bristol has over 40 percent free and reduced lunch.  Many districts are experiencing the same situation.
Councilman Cockayne asks several questions, such as:  Can you win the arbitration?   What will the arbitration cost?  Those questions as well as his others were all answered and discussed, not just amongst the BOE, but with counsel present for a professional legal opinion.
Mr. Cockayne also refers to what he feels is a lack of leadership on the BOE.  This is also inaccurate. Chairman Wilson is a very strong leader who is extremely knowledgeable about local, state and federal education policies and issues.  Bristol is very fortunate to have him as an education leader.
I would like to add one personal comment.  I am in my sixth year on the BOE.  Councilman Cockayne has consistently stated, on the record, that he would never support the BOE.  I find it interesting that he is backtracking now that he is a mayoral candidate.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Cockayne: School board should reconsider contract rejection

Republican mayoral candidate Ken Cockayne just released a copy of a letter he wrote to each of the school board members:

As you may be witnessing the Republican members of the Bristol Board of Education have been taking a beating publically for your recent vote on the contract for the Cafeteria workers. It is my understanding that the whole board voted months ago to look into the privatization of your cafeteria program, including your current Chairman.
It is also my understanding that there was information regarding this contract withheld from you prior to the vote that you received while in Executive Session. I also understand were unaware of this information prior to the vote.
I have just been informed of the details regarding the contract negotiated between the cafeteria workers union and the BOE.  Under the agreement the workers have made some serious concessions, such as doubling their co-pays for cost sharing premiums that could help benefit your overall budget and reduce the annual deficit regarding food service.
The questions that need to be asked by the members of the Board of Education regarding the food service program are simple. Is it the cafeteria worker who has mismanaged this program or is it the administrators? Have you folks as Commissioners been regularly notified about the deficits or are they news flashes when issues like the contract arise?
The other questions that you seriously need to consider are: Can you win the arbitration? How much is the arbitration going to cost you? Does it outweigh the benefits of passing the union contract, and finally, are you as a Board able to privatize at the end of the day?
My humble suggestion to you as a Commissioner is to find out the answers to these questions before your next Board meeting in October.  If you cannot get concrete answers before then, I would make a motion to reconsider the contract and pass it.  This will afford you the opportunity to find the answers that you need and make an informed decision.
It is my opinion that this issue has arisen to this level due to a colossal lack of leadership with within the Board of Education Commissioners. You are being hung out to dry due to this vacuum in leadership, and it is my belief that you and your fellow Commissioners need to take charge of this situation and put the issue to bed.
We are all fully aware that your Chairman supported privatizing prior to his party affiliation changing and becoming my opponent. However, you should use this issue to demand future accountability by your board leadership and nothing less than full transparency regarding any issue that involves the Board for which you were duly elected to serve.
As for this issue should the cafeteria workers, food service program, and the Board of Education as a whole suffer for another year while in arbitration, due to this questionable display of leadership? 
I think not, and I would hope not.
As you well know, the Mayor, City Council and Board of Finance have absolutely no jurisdiction over the Board of Education as design by state statute.  This letter only serves as my suggestions to resolving the matter without incurring thousands of dollars in legal fees only to have the contract as written implemented.
Again, the solution would be find out the answers quickly, and if they are not available to you, than I would reconsider your decision and pass the contract as it stands.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Ken Cockayne
City Council – 2nd District

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Rydingsward blasts Democratic leaders on social media

From Democratic Registrar Mary Rydingsward's Facebook page earlier this week (sent by a Democrat who was not impressed with her):

A blow for Democracy in Bristol. Last night the Democratic Town Committee's Executive Committee took the stance that any proposed by-law change had to be approved by the Executive Committee and could not come directly from the floor of the membership. Town Committee Chairman Attorney Dean Kilbourne declared member Bob ...Stone's proposal could not be read to the body without approval of the Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee then voted whether or not to allow Stone's proposal to be read to the body-at-large. 8 voted against allowing the reading and 2 in favor. Kate Matthews, Sandy Stafford, Bruce Suchinski, Mike Petosa, Ellen Zoppo, Rich Harlow, Josh Flores, and Joella Bouchard Mudry voted against allowing a reading of the proposed by-law change. Mike Benevento and Wayne Johnson voted in favor.

Is this the proper way to treat an elected town committee member? Is it legal to not have a means for a town committee member to propose a by-law change directly to the committee at-large? It certainly isn't democratic and I hope to learn it is not Democratic either. Stay tuned.See More
  • Seen by 23
  • Tina Taylor is this really what elected officials should be spreading around social media at this time? We should be banding together and helping our D candidates win in 41 days. Let's fight against the Rs and gain our seats, not fight amongst ourselves. Social media is no place to speak of the goings-on at a DTC meeting. Focus is key here.
  • Mary Rydingsward BS, what was the motion that Executive Committee voted on? Did they not vote "'to reject the reading of a proposed by-law change?"
  • Mary Rydingsward Tina, It is most unfortunate that our executive commitee and chair behave in such an undemocratic manner. Bob Stone's motion for a reading was made and seconded last month - and the chair did not allow a vote. How difficlut would it have been to allow a vote? to show respect for an elected member of the town commitee? The majority of the town commitee may hold a different view - that doesn't make it the right one.
  • Tina Taylor Mary, my issue right now is with this information being posted on a public page. I firmly believe in keeping dirty laundry within the family especially during a critical point of the election season. The interest right now is in winning seats and I'm scratching my head as to how the original post will help with our goal.
    15 hours ago via mobile · Unlike · 2
  • Mary Rydingsward I wish the Chair and Executive Committee would allow for fair treatment of our elected democratic town committee members. This situation was not the first occassion. Dean and the executive committee have had opportunities to address the issue - and at least give the laundry a rinse cycle, if not a washing.
  • Katherine Lupa Matthews No executive committee member voted to disallow anything at the general meeting. We voted to recommend rejection of Mary's proposed motion if it came up. That being said, anyone could have made that motion Monday night during old business, as Mary was expressly informed at executive board. I personally made sure that Mary understood this before the DTC meeting commenced. Then, at the DTC meeting, no one rose to make the motion. Not Mary, not Bob, and not anyone else involved in creating the motion. Mary said, prior to the DTC meeting, that she decided not to proceed with the issue, because the executive board didn't think it was a good idea, based largely on timing issues. That was Mary's choice. Bob wasn't even there to raise the motion - that was Bob's choice. There was no vote on the motion because no one moved it, not because anyone was prohibited from bringing it up. Mary did eventually bring it up, and Dean was gracious enough to revisit old business, out of order, so that it could be discussed by Mary. It was extensively discussed by Mary and others. Following this discussion, no DTC member made the proposed motion.
    11 hours ago · Unlike · 2
  • Mary Rydingsward Not exactly the facts as I recall them. The vote was to disallow the reading. No motion is necessary for a reading of a proposed by-law.
Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

September 25, 2013

Cockayne slashes Wilson on budget claims

Republican mayoral hopeful Ken Cockayne just put out this press release:
Cockayne: My Opponent Can’t Get It Done.

(Bristol) City Councilman Ken Cockayne (R-2) the Republican nominee for Mayor of Bristol, today assailed his Democrat opponent for not being able to deliver on the promises he has made in the campaign.  Cockayne took issue with comments made regarding the budgetary process and the candidate’s claims that he could save 1% by turning to Performance Based Budgeting in Bristol.
“I find this suggestion comical due to the fact that my opponent was a member of the Mayor’s Budget and Efficiency Task Force created in 2011 by Mayor Ward, “Cockayne continued, “During that entire process my opponent never offered this proposal to the Task Force and as a matter of fact offered no new suggestions on how to save money in the budget and enhance efficiencies between the city and board of education.”
The Task Force was created at the suggestion of the newly elected Republican members of the City Council in an effort to develop strategies to help reduce spending and save the taxpayers of Bristol some hard earned tax dollars.
“I cannot stress enough that my opponent made ZERO RECCOMENDATIONS during this process,” Cockayne asked, “In addition, the Task Force did not find 1% in savings, and if it could have found this savings where was my opponent during this process?”
The results of Performance Based Budgeting are very subjective and it is a tool used by the State of Connecticut to determine which school districts are failing and which get more aid in the form of ECS money. “This proposal cannot work in an environment where administrations could change every two years along with the priorities of a new administration,” Cockayne said.
“What my opponent should have done is advocated for the Republican City Council proposal to survey the public and find out which services and programs were most utilized and which were less utilized,” Cockayne continue, “This way we could have enhanced the programs and services most utilized and scaled back on those that were underutilized.”
“My opponent’s Johnny-come-lately-approach to our budgetary problems is almost tragic since he boasts that he was the Chairman and Member of the Board of Education Finance Committee and his budget since taking office on the BOE has risen over 31%.” Cockayne said.
“I have stated many times that there are duplicate functions being performed by the City and Board of Education and that those functions can be consolidated in order to be more cost effective and I plan to implement these efficiencies as your next Mayor,” Cockayne concluded.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Wilson touts record of public service

Press release from Democratic mayoral candidate Chris Wilson:

Putting Public Service Above Politics

Democratic Mayoral candidate Chris Wilson believes in leading by example, particularly when it comes to public service.  

“I served my country in the United States Army and was honorably discharged. That experience set the tone for the next 35 years of my life.”  Wilson explained.  “Like a lot of young men and women in Bristol today, the military was a good option for me at that point in my life. It taught me about discipline, character, honor and integrity. My time in the Army also gave me a great sense of accomplishment.” 

And Wilson clearly practices what he preaches. In the 33 years he’s lived in Bristol, Wilson has volunteered for the Jaycees, the Rotary, served as President of the McCabe Waters Little League, as Director of the Bristol Day Care Center and Director of the Family Center or Girls. Wilson has also volunteered for the United Way, the West Cemetery Association, the Capitol Region Education Council, and the Mayor’s Task Force on Fiscal Efficiency. Chris is active in the United Methodist Church.

“I’m particular proud of the work we've done on the Bristol Board of Education. On the BOE, we have returned $4,800,000.00 in surplus dollars to Bristol taxpayers, we received Zero school budget increases from the city in four of the last five years. The BOE recovered $4,000,000.00 dollars from school renovation projects,” Wilson said. “Recently, my opponent has taken shots at the good work done by the Board of Education. That fact is, we’ve kept Bristol’s education system solid while our budgets have remained flat year after year. The return of surplus and the recovery from school renovation projects has returned nearly $9,000,000.00 to Bristol taxpayers. I’m not sure how Mr. Cockayne turns that into a bad thing, but he’s trying.”  Wilson continued.

Wilson went on to say that he regrets that some politicians don't seem to understand the difference between volunteering and doing political work.  “I hear it all the time. Politicians, like my opponent, say they care about Bristol because they sit on this board or that committee. Most of those boards and committees are assigned to politicians who win city council seats. It’s part of the job. Volunteering is different. Volunteering isn’t about politics, it’s about public service.” 

As Mayor, Chris Wilson wants to jump start volunteerism by connecting local civic and charitable organizations with Bristol’s schools.  

Chris Wilson and his wife Jill have lived in Bristol for 33 years. They have three children and five grandchildren.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

September 23, 2013

Cockayne says he is "baffled" by Wilson's words

Press release from Republican mayoral candidate Ken Cockayne:
Cockayne: What?
(Bristol)  City Councilman Ken Cockayne (R-2) the Republican nominee for Mayor of Bristol today stated that he is “baffled” by recent comments made by his opponent in the November 5th General Election. Cockayne is running against the current Chairman of the Bristol Board of Education.
“Last week, my opponent criticized me for the city budget going up over the past six years,” Cockayne continued, “And yet over the past six years, I have only supported one budget.” The Republican nominee has repeatedly said during his tenure on the City Council that he couldn’t support a budget that contained increased spending and increased taxes.
His opponent's quote is below:
“The fact is, under the current City Council’s watch, including my opponent Mr. Cockayne; the city budget went up by more than 20% over the past five years. Now that Mr. Cockayne is running for mayor, he wants us to believe he’s going to initiate consolidation and find savings.  If he’s such a fiscal watchdog, why has he waited so long to announce efforts to create efficiencies?  He’s had six years.  The fact is, while I’ve been on the Board of Education and Chairman, the city’s share of the budget decreased, we gave $4,800,000.00 back to taxpayers. My opponent may not like these facts, but facts they remain.” Wilson stated.
“Under the current City Council’s watch…the city budget went up by more than 20% over the past five years?” Cockayne questioned. “Does my opponent understand that the current City Council was elected at the same time that he was elected Chairman of the Board of Education, which was 22 months ago?,” Cockayne asked.
“In that time period the budget has not risen by 20% and my opponent is once again misleading the public with his outrageous statements,” Cockayne said.
The Republican nominee added, “My opponent lacks the basic depth of municipal government finance as well as the provisions of our City Charter.”
“If he did, he would understand that the Mayor and City Council do not craft a budget, that duty is left to the Board of Finance after a series of public hearings with department heads,” Cockayne added, “In addition, once the budget has been crafted the Finance Board outweighs the City Council on the Joint Board and therefore the final decision is out of the City Council’s hands.”
The Board of Finance was created back in the 1930’s as part of a deal from generous Bristol Businessmen who help bail the city out of debt. Cockayne believes that the Board of Finance has served the City well over the years.
“My opponent brags about a surplus from the Board of Education, and then complains that his funding remained stagnant,” Cockayne questioned, “If his funding remained stagnant and he returned a surplus every year than why does he need more money?”
“What my opponent doesn’t say in his press releases, campaign material or campaign website is that while his funding may have remained stagnant, he has been allowed to use the surplus each year from the previous year therefore giving him more monies annually,” Cockayne said.
“My opponent needs to be truthful with the voters and taxpayers of this city and my record over the past six years on the City Council demonstrates that I have stood up for the taxpayers of our community, “ Cockayne concluded.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Chris Murphy campaigned with Democrats Sunday

Want some photographic proof that the Democrats were busy this weekend? Here's U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy knocking on doors with Mary Fortier, right, and Ellen Zoppo-Sassu:

Fortier and Zoppo-Sassu are running for City Council seats in the 3rd District.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Mum Festival highlights political differences

1st District City Council rivals Eric Carlson, an incumbent Republican, and Calvin Brown, a Democratic challenger.
The Mum Festival showed off the differing strategies of the city's Republicans and Democrats this year.
At the festival on Saturday, only one Democrat, City Council hopeful Calvin Brown, had a serious showing. He had a booth along the boulevard, just up the way from my own beloved Youth Journalism International's little outpost.
The Republicans, on the other hand, were busy serving up corn chowder and gladhanding with anyone who'd come near them. All of them were around and many of them volunteered for a stint in a dunking booth that raised more than $400 for a soup kitchen in town. A few of those dollars were mine, I admit, because it was kind of fun to see incumbents Councilors Henri Martin, Derek Czenczelewski and Ken Cockayne get plunged into the water over and over. (The only Democrat to get wet was former city Chairman Elliot Nelson, who was there in his capacity as a top organizer of the festival.)
So the GOP was quite visible all day on Saturday.
Aside from Brown, I only spotted one other Democratic candidate, mayoral hopeful Chris Wilson made a quick visit to check things out and say hey.
The Democrats weighed what to do Saturday and decided their time was better spent knocking on the doors of known voters in their own districts instead of making a splash at the festival, where most of the people wandering around were unlikely to cast a vote in November. They figured making connections with a smaller number of people with a greater likelihood of showing up at the polls made more sense.
At the Mum Parade on Sunday, the same dynamics were clear, but the Democrats were there, walking with the multitudes. It wasn't quite a last second decision, but they were clearly not as into the whole thing nearly as deeply as the GOP, as Cockayne's mum float and orange balloons showed.
Who made the right call? Who knows? The Democrats are running a quieter campaign in general, aimed quite specifically at picking up votes one by one until they reach the numbers they need to win. It's pretty sophisticated, from what I hear, and has the possible advantage of catching the GOP by surprise.
Republicans are also knocking on doors, of course, and making calls and such. But they're running a more traditional style campaign, as the growing number of orange Cockayne signs on lawns across town makes clear.
GOP council hopeful Jim Albert and Republican city Councilor Derek Czenczelewski at the Mum Festival. They make up hte GOP's 3rd District slate.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

September 20, 2013

Want to know what cafeteria workers make? Here it is.

Here's a job description for school cafeteria workers, online now here:

Position Type: Email To A Friend
Print Version 
Closing Date:
  Cafeteria/Cashier Prep
Date Posted:
  Northeast Middle School
Date Available:

PLEASE POST                                                                                                           PLEASE POST


POSITION:  Cashier/Prep             WORK HOURS: 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

LOCATION:  Northeast Middle School
SUMMARY:  To assist in the preparation and service of quality food to students in a quick and pleasant manner.

Responsible for assisting in preparation of all food items.
Responsible for sanitation of specific work areas and cleanup of those areas.
Responsible for collection of cash, checks and proper recording and balancing of daily sales using the current method in place to perform such functions.
Maintaining of A La Carte line during lunch periods.
Performs any other duties requested by supervisor.



EDUCATION AND/OR EXPERIENCE:  High School Diploma or General Education Degree (GED) preferred. Previous experience with large-scale cooking and food preparation/serving.

LANGUAGE SKILLS: Ability to read and comprehend simple instructions, short correspondence and memos.  Ability to write simple correspondence.  Ability to effectively present information in one-on-one and small group situations to customers and other employees of the organization.

MATHEMATICAL SKILLS:  Ability to add and subtract two digit numbers and to multiply and divide with 10s and 100s.  Ability to perform these operations using units of American currency and weight measurements, volume and distance.

COMPUTER SKILLS:  Basic knowledge and experience with job related computer hardware and software applications.

REASONING ABILITY:  Ability to apply common sense understanding to carry out detailed but basic written or oral instructions.  Ability to deal with problems involving a few concrete variables in standardized situations.

OTHER SKILLS AND ABILITIES:  Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with students, staff and the community. Ability to perform duties with awareness of district requirements and Board of Education Policies.

PHYSICAL DEMANDS:  The physical demands described herein are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
While performing the duties of this position, the employee is frequently required to walk and continuously required to stand.  The employee will frequently bend or twist at the neck and trunk while performing the duties of the position.  The employee is occasionally required to reach with hands and arms and repeat the same hand/arm/finger motion many times.  The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to fifty (50) pounds, such as milk crates, frozen foods, canned food, etc.  Specific vision abilities required by this position include close vision, depth perception, peripheral vision and color vision.

WORK ENVIRONMENT: The work environment characteristics described herein are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this position.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
While performing the duties of this position, the employee occasionally works in temperatures above 100° and occasionally will walk on slippery surfaces.   The employee must be able to meet deadlines with severe time constraints and interact with public and other workers.  The noise level in the work environment is frequently loud to where you have to raise your voice to be heard.  The employee has a greater than average risk of getting a minor injury, such as a cut or burn, while performing the duties of this position.

SALARY:  $13.81 per hour    APPLICATION:  If presently employed by the Bristol Board of Education, do an internal application online or submit a letter of interest by 4 p.m. September 19, 2013 to: Mr. Dennis Bieu, Director of Human Resources, Bristol Board of Education, P. O. Box 450BristolCT  06011-0450

If not currently employed by the Bristol Board of Education, complete an online application at – click on District Departments - Human Resources – Online Application.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

September 19, 2013

Mayoral, council debates on tap

The Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce are sponsoring separate mayoral and City Council debates next month.
The mayoral debate is slated for 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 14 at St. Paul Catholic High School.
The council debates are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16 in the council chambers on the first floor of City Hall.
If anyone knows of other debates or forums, please let me know!
Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

September 17, 2013

Wilson touts 'regular, rigorous review' of city budget

Press release from Democratic mayoral candidate Chris Wilson:

Wilson Stresses Importance of Regular, Rigorous, Review of City Budget.

Bristol mayoral candidate Chris Wilson believes it’s time for a “regular, rigorous, review” of Bristol’s city budget.  Wilson believes Bristol can unlock wasted resources by adopting real budget reform that reflects the fiscal practice known as Performance Based Budgeting.  PBB practitioners, a. establish priorities that differentiate between what the city council wants and what Bristol taxpayers can afford; b. set performance standards for every city department and c. conduct regular reviews of performance.  

“As a businessman, if my company is spending money on something and we aren’t getting a reasonable return on that investment, I need to think long and hard about whether or not we continue that spending? I want to apply that same mentality to city tax dollars.”  Wilson stated.

Wilson went on to say, “On the Board of Education, we returned $4,800,000.00 in surplus dollars to Bristol taxpayers, we received Zero school budget increases and test score have improved.  Additionally, the BOE recovered $4,000,000.00 dollars from school renovation projects.  That’s accountability to taxpayers.  That’s doing more with less. Taxpayers are tired of lip service.  They want results,” Wilson stated.

Wilson contends that in 2013-14; Bristol will spend about $185 million dollars.  He says the problem is that the City Council spends almost the entire budget process focusing on the 5 percent they cut rather than the 95 percent we keep.  The overwhelming majority of Bristol’s nearly one-fifth of a billion dollar budget will be spent without asking what we are trying to achieve by this spending, whether we are producing the results we expect to achieve, whether we can achieve better results through other means, or even whether we should be spending this money in the first place.  

“The fact is, under the current City Council’s watch, including my opponent Mr. Cockayne; the city budget went up by more than 20% over the past five years. Now that Mr. Cockayne is running for mayor, he wants us to believe he’s going to initiate consolidation and find savings.  If he’s such a fiscal watchdog, why has he waited so long to announce efforts to create efficiencies?  He’s had six years.  The fact is, while I’ve been on the Board of Education and Chairman, the city’s share of the budget decreased, we gave $4,800,000.00 back to taxpayers. My opponent may not like these facts, but facts they remain.” Wilson stated.

“Wilson concluded with, “A 1% savings from PBB could mean $1,850,000.00 for public safety, economic development and education.  All without raising taxes one dime.”

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Privatizing school cafeteria workers

A reader complained, with some justification, that it's hard to make out just what the Board of Education did in its quest to shave costs and perhaps hand over cafeteria services to a private firm. (See today's news story here.
So let me try again to lay out the sequence.
Last year, the board agreed it should try to do something to stem the red ink that has flowed for a long time in its food services program. For many years, the lunch program has run deficits of $200,000 or more. Its members said the time had come to stop pouring extra money in annually because they needed to spend it on education, not food.
So the board agreed to seek proposals from private companies that run cafeterias. It looked over the responses it got and in April, the board voted unanimously to authorize the school superintenent "to negotiate and execute a contract with Whitsons Culinary Group to assume responsibility for cafeteria food service operation for the Bristol Public Schools commencing with the 2013‐2014 school year."
That was a public vote.
On another track, though, school officials were negotating with union that represents 55 cafeteria workers whose jobs would have been lost if Whitsons took over.
According to Chris Wilson, the board chairman, officials spent 20 hours negotiating with the union and couldn't come up with a deal both sides liked. So they declared an impasse and brought in a mediator.
The mediator helped them work out a new contract that would take effect if the union and the school board endorsed it.
Obviously, if the board backed it, then Whitsons would be out of luck. They're not going to keep the cafeteria workers and hire a private company to do the same thing.
The union approved the tentative deal. The school board was asked to do the same at a special meeting earlier this month.
On that vote, the five Republicans voted against it and the four Democrats, including Wilson, backed the negotiated deal.
So it failed on a 5-4 vote (or a 4-5 vote , if that's more clear, though it's not newspaper style).
Now the union will appeal the rejection to a state arbitration panel that will, if past history means anything, impose the negotiated terms on both sides regardless of the board's opposition. That'll probably take a year.
In the meantime, the board will likely keep talking to Whitsons and may be able to move ahead with privatization. I don't really know. It's certainly something to keep an eye on.
The bottom line is that the union workers are still on the job and may remain there for a long while, but privatization of the food service is a proposal a majority of the school board continues to seek.
How all of this plays out in the mayoral election, who knows? Wilson voted in April to move forward with privatization but voted in favor of a deal with the union in September, but so did the other three Democrats.
The five Republicans haven't deviated from their desire to privatize. And they are, ultimately, in the majority.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

September 15, 2013

Colapietro urges everybody to vote

Note from former state Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat:

People in general have a tendency to vote politicians in office and then bash and complain about them.
It is your civic duty to look at the candidates and consider all of their qualifications, temperament, etc.
The shame is the very minority of taxpayers who vote rule the roost. The voter turnout is horrendous. When all is said and done it is a small group of voters that answer for  all of us. So we have no one to blame but ourselves.
When voting someone into an  important position one should indeed look at the candidate's education, concern for the community and temperament among other qualifications. By  temperament I mean someone who can weigh the issues and not evoke a "knee jerk" reaction. In voting, these are only some of the considered things to look for in a candidate.
One should weigh carefully who they vote for, especially for any position that can affect our everyday quality of life.
Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

September 14, 2013

Jeffries praises response to Somerset Circle fire

A note I got last night from Democratic City Council hopeful Steve Jeffries:

Not sure if you know this but I actually live in the Glenwood Condominiums, literally less than 100 yards away from 36 Somerset Circle where the horrific fire on Tuesday broke out causing serious damage to the Condo along with serious injuries to two of my neighbors.   I learned from my neighbors the response time for both fire fighters and police to my neighbors on Tuesday was just under 7 minutes!  Had the response time been longer  I think it is safe to say that there would have been a fatality or two instead of everyone being saved including their pet cat.  With my campaign in full swing and going door to door meeting with voters, one concern that I have pledged is to ensure that the fire and police department will always be there for each and everyone should a crisis ever occur. 

As a candidate for City Council here in the 1st District I have pledged my support to work with all union workers if elected in November, including the fire and police.  These unsung hero's have always had my deep respect and admiration for the jobs they do, literally putting their lives on the line each and everyday in order to provide protection and security for all Bristol residents.  Reflecting on the tragedy of 911 and the sacrifices that were made on that day, especially by NYFD and NYPD, it gives me even more appreciation for our fire and police departments knowing that we are in good hands!  Thank you!

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

September 11, 2013

Renaissance issues update on downtown project

Bristol Rising Charging Ahead
Developer and Community Meet Key Milestones 
By Ryan Porter, VP of Renaissance Downtowns

The past couple of years have seen a tremendous amount of positive activity in regard to the redevelopment of Depot Square and Bristol’s downtown. Led by Master Developer Renaissance Downtowns and the Bristol Rising community, key approvals and rezoning efforts are complete, positioning Bristol’s downtown for transformative development. 

With financing efforts at the forefront and the more publicized visibility of the approval process mostly behind us, we felt it was the right time to create a column to better inform the masses on our current and future efforts on the development.   

On a personal note, it’s been gratifying working with such a great community and a municipality that gets it. The Bristol Rising community’s response has been overwhelming in what has been one of the most transparent redevelopment efforts in this country’s history, a tradition we will work to continue with this column. This three-way collaborative was highlighted during the approval processes, which has led to the implementation phase of the project, and brings us to today.

Currently, Renaissance has been working diligently to put the final pieces together in anticipation of the upcoming groundbreaking by finalizing financing for the initial phase of the development. The thing most people aren’t aware of is the complexity required to finance and develop new construction in this day and age. It takes creative partnerships, creative financing, and long negotiations to pull it all together. We’re inching closer each day, requiring our utmost attention and inherently less spotlight. 

It’s important to note that when Renaissance Downtowns was designated by the City of Bristol as Master Developer, numerous milestones were established for this public/private partnership. Due to our excellent working relationship with our municipal partner and the Bristol Rising community, the initial concept planning and zoning milestones were achieved at an extraordinary pace. This accelerated process led to the approval of an engineered Site Plan for Phase 1 in February of 2013, along with the recent completion of the new McDonald’s in a manner that is consistent with the overall goals and objectives of the public/private partnership. I have never before seen a municipality move the ball forward as has been done here, and as a result of the City’s desire to see progress occur, revitalization efforts are 6-8 months ahead of schedule.

Regarding McDonalds, it’s important to emphasize that moving the old franchise was necessary for new development to occur, and had particular implications on financing the project. We’re now nearing completion of this stage with McDonald’s now open in their new building on North Main Street, and with several weeks to go before the old McDonald’s will be demolished to make way for our development. 
Now that things are where they are, financing efforts have been ratcheted up significantly the past 3-5 months, when it was known the McDonald’s move was a certainty. We continue to work with a number of interested parties on hammering out a deal, doing our best to keep you better informed on our efforts moving forward. 
To that end, we are presently in discussions with multiple regional/national development firms as well as foreign and domestic private equity financing sources to demonstrate to them, the economic viability of downtown Bristol in regard to innovative, mixed-use development. The overwhelming number of signed letters of interest from both local and regional residents expressing a desire to move into the new development downtown continues to assist us in our efforts.   

On the community side, Bristol Rising has been programming and conducting innovative events and initiatives which have already added vibrancy to and awareness of downtown. They are currently working to improve the existing downtown business landscape by offering the power of crowd to businesses like Mike’s Tortoise & Hare CafĂ©. In June, Bristol Rising helped launch a Shared Retail initiative where for three weekends small business vendors occupied a vacant storefront to help add life to a previously empty downtown location. Every little bit is helping the overall cause in showing Bristol as a place that desires a walkable, vibrant center of commerce and social activity. This is proven by new entrepreneurs stepping forward each month expressing interest in opening businesses downtown.

I know that we are all anxious to see more shovels in the ground but our success thus far has not come with compromising on quality and we continue to ensure that our partnerships share that requirement. That said, as we reflect and celebrate our significant victories and accomplishments to date we will continue our relentless pursuit of greatness for Bristol while keeping everyone informed along the way.
Ryan Porter

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at