September 27, 2013

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.

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