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Zoners Advance MLK-Amistad Sale

by Thomas MacMillan | Dec 12, 2012 8:13 am

(57) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Schools, Newhallville

Thomas MacMillan Photo By a unanimous vote Tuesday night, city zoners approved a controversial plan to tear down a vacant Newhallville school and put up a new three-story building in its place.

The approval—by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA)—came just a few hours after a rally and counter-rally outside the Dixwell Avenue school, which has become ground zero in a Newhallville power struggle between competing coalitions.

Charter school organization Achievement First (AF) is looking to buy the vacant Martin Luther King school from the city for $1.5 million, tear it down, and build a new charter high school in its place. The deal needs the approval of the Board of Aldermen.

Tuesday night’s vote clears the second-to-last hurdle for the plan. All that remains is Board of Aldermen approval of the deal; the next step in that process is a City Hall hearing this coming Monday night.

Newhallville Alderwomen Brenda Foskey-Cyrus and Delphine Clyburn have been working for months on the deal with AF as part of the still-unfinished approval process. They’ve held public meetings and are in the midst of final negotiations on a community benefits agreement dealing with local hiring, accepting local students, and opening the school to neighborhood use.

Meanwhile, the Greater New Haven Clergy Association has mounted a campaign of criticism. The group—whose founder, Rev. Boise Kimber, has bristled at not being included in the talks—claims its members were not informed about the negotiations. After initially praising Foskey-Cyrus and Clyburn for their handling of the process, the ministers are now attacking them and claiming the whole process has been conducted behind closed doors by unions and union-backed aldermen.

Kimber and others showed up last month at the BZA to ask for a delay in requested approvals for the construction project. AF submitted requests for special zoning exceptions allowing for a high school that’s taller, has fewer parking spaces, and more signage than otherwise allowed.

Kimber and his compatriots did not return Tuesday night, when the BZA voted unanimously to approve two of those three requests. The question of signs was denied without prejudice, which means AF may re-submit the request after including additional information sought by zoners.

Before the vote, BZA member Regina Winters noted with concern that a number of neighbors had said at the previous month’s meeting that they had been unaware of the school construction plans.

“I second that feeling,” said the BZA’s Victor Fasano. “They really could work harder to achieve rapport with the community.”

Fasano suggested that AF create a policy prohibiting its students from driving themselves to school, since neither the parking lot nor the neighborhood can accommodate the cars. That suggestion became a condition of approval, along with requirements that AF create parking and communication plans.

As for the denial of the signs request, zoners agreed that AF’s submission lacked sufficient detail on signage planned for the site.

Targets Crash Clergy Rally

Earlier Tuesday, after Kimber and other ministers decried a lack of “transparency” in the sale the school, one of their targets stepped in and took their podium to speak out against ministers trying to “hijack this process.”

Those competing messages were delivered as the sun set Tuesday on the vacant Martin Luther King Schol at 580 Dixwell Ave.

On Tuesday, the clergy association convened a rally outside the school to announce their discovery of a number of of “potential conflicts” among aldermen. Click here to read a press release the group put out at the rally. Click here and here to read two accompanying fact sheets.

Aldermen were ready. Several showed up, joined by neighbors, wearing stickers that read “We are Newhallville.”

First the ministers spoke, as scheduled.

“We are not opposed to a school being built,” said James Newman, president of the clergy association. The problem is that people are “coming in and telling us what to do.”

Unions are looking to make decisions for the neighborhood, and the clergy are “not at the table,” he said.

In a press release distributed at the rally, Newman said, “The mystery behind all of the clandestine closed-to-the-public meetings is that the union funded Connecticut Center for a New Economy [CCNE] has been running the show since the summer.” In the release, Newman argued the aldermen, in conjunction with CCNE, are engaged in “a good old-fashioned stick up,” trying to shake down Amistad for $250,000 for “youth enrichment.” That money would be controlled by CCNE and other union-affiliated organizations, Newman states. CCNE negotiators also seek union representation for the new high school’s custodians and cafeteria workers.

Frank Jackson (pictured), a former local Community Management Team chair, said he is “concerned” by the lack of transparency and openness in the process.

“This is not about education. This is about economics now,” said Boise Kimber (pictured). “There must be transparency. ... There are people that don’t even know a school is going to be built here.”

After Kimber finished speaking, he stepped back from the podium. The scheduled portion of the rally had finished.

But the event wasn’t over.

Seizing the opportunity, Clyburn stepped over from where she had been standing just a few feet away. She began to speak, putting the ministers in the awkward position of standing behind the woman they had been criticizing.

“Our community is excited about having a new school instead of a rundown building that nobody uses,” Clyburn said. “We are negotiating to make sure this development benefits the whole community.”

“All right, we can go,” Kimber announced, after a few moments of Clyburn’s remarks. At Kimber’s cue, the clergy association and supporters walked away as Clyburn continued speaking.

Her colleagues and neighbors moved in to stand behind her, along with members of CCNE, the not-for-profit labor-affiliated think tank and advocacy group that has been involved in negotiations on the school deal. Foskey-Cyrus was there, along with fellow Alderwomen Tyisha Walker, Jacqueline James, and Angela Russell. Like Clyburn, they were all elected to the board last fall with the help of CCNE-affiliated union activists; they brought a new team to power that uprooted Rev. Kimber’s political dominance of the neighborhood.

Clyburn went on to criticize the ministers for putting their “egos” before the good of the neighborhood.

Clyburn said the neighborhood has five demands of AF: spaces for local students, access to the building, diversification of teaching staff, a financial contribution to youth enrichment, good jobs in construction, food service, and custodial services.

Those demands came out of hours of public discussion involving hundreds of residents starting last summer, Clyburn said. Negotiations are now ongoing between “the people who put the most work” into the process, she said.

“Compared to past projects, this process has been very open and inclusive,” she said. “I am disappointed that some clergy are coming forward now to try to hijack this process. Shame on them for putting their political egos ahead of our community.”

“We will win for the people!” she concluded to applause.

CCNE’s Role

Renae Reese, director of CCNE, emailed this statement Wednesday morning:

“During the summer, the organizing committee members from Newhallville (called Newhallville Rising) approached the CT Center for a New Economy (CCNE) to be their partner in the process of negotiating a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with Achievement First. The reach out came because Achievement First indicated to Newhallville Rising that since they were an unincorporated group, Achievement First would not be able to sign a CBA with them but only with an incorporated organization. We have been at the table ever since. CCNE is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

“Some of the leaders of Newhallville Rising are also engaged in the launching of New Haven Rising, a citywide membership group focused on improving the quality of life for New Haven residents with regards to jobs, education, youth, housing, healthcare, immigrant and civil rights. New Haven Rising is still in its organizational phase and is not a part of this effort with Achievement First. 

“Finally, since we expect millions of dollars of taxpayer money to be committed to the construction of the new high school, there is a question about whether that money would be part of the Community Benefits Agreement. The answer is no. The public money is only for the construction of the school.”

 

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posted by: Threefifths on December 11, 2012  7:19pm

Clyburn said the neighborhood has five demands of AF: spaces for local students, access to the building, diversification of teaching staff, a financial contribution to youth enrichment, good jobs in construction, food service, and custodial services.

My question is if AF gets the Building and the above does not happen then what.Also what happen to the issue of the building being sold under the value of what the building is worth?People wake up.Again both sides are selling the comunity snake-Oil.


http://youtu.be/Ww2JEQXezhA

posted by: HhE on December 11, 2012  7:21pm

I never thought I would cheer on Delphine Clyburn, but I am now.  “Go Alderwoman Clyburn, go!”

Typically Rev. Kimber, feds his ego at the podium, and leaves when it is other people’s turn to be heard.  Most unChristian.

posted by: Noteworthy on December 11, 2012  8:21pm

Negotiations include a demand to Achievement First that it fund the union’s organizing group Newhallville Rising, a 501c4, in the amount of $250K. That’s some community benefits agreement.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on December 11, 2012  9:30pm

I commend Alderwoman Clyburn and her supporters for standing up to the ministers and confronting them at their own rally. Instead of staying to hear what the alderwoman had to say and having some kind of dialogue with her supporters, the ministers and their followers left at the command of their leader, the former self-styled or media-styled Newhallville power broker, Rev. Boise Kimber.
It seems that the Newhallville alderwomen have done most of the planning, organizing, and negotiating to get this school built in their neighborhood. They held community meetings to discuss the proposal to sell the property to Achievement First. After the bulk of the work was done, here come the black ministers trying to take charge and block the school because they are not in charge and will not be in charge.
Why are these black men trying to bully and intimidate these black women who are duly elected representatives of the community? No one elected any of these ministers. Kimber is not and never was the boss of Newhallville. Are there any women in this Greater New Haven Clergy Association? We haven’t heard from them in the media. It appears that a male dominated group is trying to subvert all the efforts these women and their supporters have put into this project.
Delphine Clyburn seems determined not to let this happen.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on December 11, 2012  10:56pm

This article is a prime example of how the media controlled by the dominate culture pits two groups of minorities against one another and picks the group it supports by the disparate way it presents the
two groups.

The journalistic bias in this story could not be more obvious. Consider the writing:  “Clyburn TAKES the podium from Kimber”.  And “Put the ministers in an AWKWARD position”. While the ministers and supporters “SHUFFLED OFF” on Kimber’s “cue”. Who, by the way, is a “FORMER Newhallville powerbroker.” 

According to the NHI: The Alders definitely “held public meetings”.  While the Ministers “claimed” to have not been informed, and “mounted a campaign of criticism”.
 
While the Alders were “joined by NEIGHBORS”. The Clergy Association could only muster up “supporters”, from where? God only knows.  (all emphasis are mine)

Not to mention the factually inaccurate statement claiming that the Clergy Association was “initially praising Foskey-Cyrus and Clyburn for their handling of the process, the ministers are now attacking them and claiming the whole process has been conducted behind closed doors by unions and union-backed aldermen.” 

According to your own reporting, the Clergy Association’s INITIAL position was against this project.  They only praised the Alders when Foskey-Cyrus held up the process, however briefly, to read and further understand the community benefits, as she claimed. The Clergy’s present disagreement with the project is quite consistent with their initial stance.  Of course, the “Independent” makes it appear as if they are simply flip-flopping.

Why don’t you guys at the NHI stop trying to hide behind the pretense of journalistic objectivity and just come right out with it?  You are more objective when you admit your biases, anyway.

One last question: While you report on and publish pictures of this public debate among the African-American leadership in Newhallville, where are the pictures and perspectives of the White Folk like Dacia Toll and others high up in the AF hierarchy who will reap most of the personal benefit from the public funds that will be given to them when the dust settles? 

Rev. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: Brutus2011 on December 11, 2012  11:33pm

I would like all in our community to take heed of the Rev. Samuel T. Ross-Lee’s comment.

In particular, take heed of the last paragraph.

Why?

No matter how you slice it, dice it, or nice it, these AF folks are in this for the money.

Go home privateers, we don’t need you to save us.

And New Haven Alderwomen, WAKE UP!

posted by: Threefifths on December 11, 2012  11:40pm

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on December 11, 2012 10:56pm

where are the pictures and perspectives of the White Folk like Dacia Toll and others high up in the AF hierarchy who will reap most of the personal benefit from the public funds that will be given to them when the dust settles?

Rev. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

Rev ross is on point with this.Some teacher friends of mine just send me this report.You need to read This.

The Profit Myth Understanding the Structure of New York Charter Schools
September 2011

Check out what they say about Achievement First.46% receive centralized services through a non-profit management network.
 The network provides educational and management services. As with any other vendor, the charter school’s board pays a fee for these services, and may terminate the contract at any time.
 Charter school board members are forbidden from having a financial interest in any group that contracts with the school, including management groups.
 The largest non-profit charter school managers in New York are Achievement First, Success Charter Network, and Uncommon Schools.


Read the rest and smell the mackreal with this deal.

http://www.dfer.org/The Charter School Profit Myth.pdf

posted by: robn on December 12, 2012  7:39am

At every public meeting I’ve been to, people who speak up are required to state their name and address and its recorded in meeting notes. Why doesn’t the NHI examine the list of those who attended the Alderpersons’ school meetings so we can put to rest whether or not this was some sort of secretive union cabal.

posted by: HhE on December 12, 2012  7:47am

There is NO Great White Conspiracy.  (If there is, then why do all my invitations go missing, and where is my secret decoder ring?) 

This is two groups, one negotiating a very attractive deal in trade for building a school where a former school is, and the other doing everything they can to block it because that school offends their egos.  The two groups happen to be of color.

Honest reporting is just that, reporting things honestly.

posted by: Wildwest on December 12, 2012  8:15am

Seems to me like the ministers aren’t buttering up Mayor Johns toast quite enough and the unions are.

Were the local Alderwomen elected with union money? I specifically ask because mine was and from what I have gathered many of them were.

posted by: southwest on December 12, 2012  9:39am

Here we go again the bully pulpit for some churches. If these ministers are so against a school being built in there so call
neighborhood in which most don’t actually live in but only minster a church there. My suggestion to them is pool all there church funds together and build it themselves,then they can dictate what should or should not be at the school,but until then let the alder-person do there job.These after the fact-ministers need to revitalize there neighborhoods that there churches are in and just maybe they can get some respect from others beside there church members that they sometimes bully for funds…

posted by: Kevin on December 12, 2012  9:47am

Could Rev. Newman (or anyone else) explain how the project represents people “coming in and telling us what to do”?

posted by: Curious on December 12, 2012  9:54am

Good for Delphine Clyburn and shame on Boise Kimber!

Other churches have a phrase from the Bible on their signs that changes every week.

Kimber has his name on his.

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/images/sized/archives/upload/2011/10/mb/firstcalvary3-550x365.jpg

Maybe if they named the school after him he’d settle down?

posted by: darnell on December 12, 2012  10:25am

@Kevin,

How about a group of folks coming into the community, changing zoning rules to their benefit, making a whole lot of money off of the indigenous population, and then, after the experiment fails (and it will), moving on to the next “great” and “profitable” cause.

It is funny how all you folks ignore the ethical issues. If it were Newman’s clergy group making the sort of back room deals being done here, you guys would be calling for their heads.

posted by: SteveOnAnderson on December 12, 2012  10:31am

I’m definitely not pro-charter schools, but if this sale is going to go through, good for Alderwomen Clyburn & Foskey-Cyrus for standing up for the community and making sure that this economic development engage the concerns and desires of people who live in the community surrounding it. I applaud CCNE & other organizations that have stood with the community to make sure that this is not simply some back-room property sale with lucrative benefits for the developer, but rather an extensive dialogue with community members to ensure that the development is in deep conversation with our neighbors in Newhallville.
Like Threefifths, I would like to know what the ramifications are if AF does not make good on whatever agreements/promises have been made. My understanding is that Smilow has not been consistent in following their end of the CBA, but there is not an apparatus in place to penalize them and make them comply. I’m not in the conspiracy theory wing of the NHI commentocracy, but I do think there are real institutional incentives for developers to cut corners in making good on their promises to communities without some kind of formal apparatus in place.

posted by: Curious on December 12, 2012  10:41am

Kevin, the problem is that the developers are white and will make money off this.

Seems Boise and Sam would have no problem if rich black people were the ones making money off this, which seems pretty racist to me.

posted by: Curious on December 12, 2012  10:56am

@ support the neighbors,

Is a school a bad thing?  Is changing the zoning rules to build a school for kids in Newhallville somehow a bad thing?

Where were Boise and friends before this happened?  If they’re so great because they’re from there, why didn’t they get this ball rolling?  What were their plans for this school?  How come, if they’re so good for Newhallville, they let this school sit around abandoned for years?

They’re not complaining that their plans for the site were thrown out.  They HAD NO plans.  It sure seems like they just piled on at the end to throw their weight around and try to get something out of someone else’s hard work, and claim responsibility for the good that comes of it.

posted by: Morgan Barth on December 12, 2012  10:56am

Build the school!  Hundreds of wonderful and hardworking kids and their parents are caught in the middle of this neighborhood power struggle. This feud is delaying a $35 million school construction project remains idle.  While I’m very frustrated with both sides for delaying the common good there are two good points to acknowledge:

1)  The Alderwomen are right to assert themselves as the community’s elected representatives who already held several open and public meetings…they are correct to suggest that the GNHCA is being obstructionist.  (My point: The protesters could have and should have participated in the process sooner.)
2)  Rev. Kimber and the GNHCA are correct in asserting that the CCNE/union proposed Community Benefits Agreement is unreasonable. In Kimber’s words “a stick up.” (My point: Where else does a school need to pay community groups for the privilege of building a SCHOOL – AF is paying the city $1.5 for an abandoned lot, is building a $35m at no cost the city…and the school serves Newhallville and city-wide kids and will share facilities with the neighborhood.)

There is also a claim that has been made in some comments which is patently false: Achievement First is a not-for-profit network of Public-Charter schools.  AF-Amistad teachers, principals and network leaders, such as Dacia Toll, are paid salaries that are commensurate with pay scales in the district. As an Achievement First principal (formerly of Elm City College Prep) I was paid within the pay scale of New Haven Public School principals. Dacia Toll is paid less that Dr. Mayo and on par with Superintendents / CEOs of similar sized districts and not-for-profits.  These “profit motive” arguments are a red herring.  Like other public-charter schools, social service agencies, health clinics, community organizations AF does receive government money in order to perform a public service – it serves PUBLIC school families who want and need a new high school building – a win-win-win for Newhallville, New Haven and the education system!

posted by: streever on December 12, 2012  11:13am

My read on this is very different than what others are taking, in some cases in tone, in others, in content.

I see two opposing groups, which oppose each other not because one has the best solution, but because both want to be in power.

If these two groups want to do the right things, they will work together, to benefit all.

I think that what may have awakened some of the opponents is the realization that as part of this deal, $250,000 is changing hands.

It doesn’t matter if that money is going to pay a Union affiliates salary, or if it is going to Feed the Children, or if it is going to be burned and trashed.

It is more than the end goal, but the power represented in that money.

This is not the first deal brokered by our new Aldermen.

I agree with the intention—to force these wealthy parties to invest in their communities—I absolutely can not agree with the unintended consequences.

We are perpetuating a pay to play system, where the wealthy get benefits, which may not benefit neighborhoods.

The same tactic was employed in the Route 34 project.

Good on the alder for getting money, but shame on her for doing so at the neighborhood’s expense.

As Steve on Anderson points out, developers have a bad track record of fulfilling their commitments, as we’ve seen at YNH and will see again with 34 and MLK school.

What she—and CCNE—are ultimately doing is diverting cash to their own groups, which may or may not use that money responsibly for all, but they are absolutely selling out the city in the process.

The zoning rules are not meant to be arbitrary. They are not meant to be a pay-wall, where you simply pay your money, and get behind the wall.

However, that is the way that City Hall and CCNE views them, and the way they are exercising them.

What CCNE should be doing if they disagree with the zoning and the zoning rules is campaigning to have them re-written so that they can do the job they are meant to: protect neighborhoods from selfish interest.

I’m sure CCNE doesn’t realize how they are contributing to the problem of pay-to-play systems, but they are, and they need to realize this before they’ve gone too far.

posted by: streever on December 12, 2012  11:19am

@Curious
Building a school is not a bad thing. Letting only wealthy people circumvent zoning while lower income folks who own restaurants are held back because they can’t pay 250,000 to a pet concern IS bad, and that is precisely what is happening all over this city.

The Route 34 plan doesn’t have to have sidewalks on every block, because Winstanley did a big pay out to a pet project of the Chair of the Planning Committee, and a member of the CCNE backed alders.

That man doesn’t realize that what he did is corrupt, just as Renae Reese doesn’t realize that what she is doing here is corrupt as well.

Although they all have great intentions, the way they are accruing the money—by letting developers bypass rules which exist to serve the poorest members of our city—is WRONG.

posted by: vanguard on December 12, 2012  11:20am

Last time I checked which was this morning, an
alder is elected by a specific constituency in
a very defined geographic area with the express
purpose of representing that constituency on all
matters relevant to them. It appears to this
writer that the local alders in Newhallville are doing exactly that!If the opposition agrees
with the general proposal on the table,the"how,
who,what,and which” can always be furthur
negotiated. The two groups should try harder to
get together and negotiate a deal that all can
agree with before they all fall over the
“opportunity cliff”.

posted by: anonymous on December 12, 2012  11:22am

Morgan, good points.

The same question could be asked of the Cancer Center project.

The same so-called “think tank” (CCNE), which is actually just an advocate for suburban-based union members that takes the unique approach of using public policy stick-ups to get a better deal for their private members, held that up for years:

1) Crippling New Haven’s economy and ability to compete with other biomedical clusters
2) Preventing New Haven residents, particularly those from Dixwell, Dwight, and Newhallville who make up a huge share of workers at the hospital complex, from getting jobs,
3) Encouraging Yale to begin moving its operations to West Haven,
4) scaring off other developers who would have brought more jobs and tax base to New Haven, and
5) ultimately resulting in legendary corruption including hush money payments to local powerbrokers

History repeats itself, in this case on a much smaller scale that is unlikely to make waves but still serves as a warning of sorts.

posted by: Threefifths on December 12, 2012  11:23am

@Morgan
You left this out.

Achievement First Charter School Parents Speak Out: Why they removed their children

http://vimeo.com/30227766


http://vimeo.com/30238788


http://vimeo.com/30266020


Aaron Regunberg: The Case Against Achievement First

Friday, October 07, 2011


http://www.golocalprov.com/news/aaron-regunberg-the-case-against-achievement-first/

Community wake up read this.This is a land grap.

posted by: Threefifths on December 12, 2012  11:27am

How come we donot here from the great speech maker State Representative Gary Holder-Winfield on this?

posted by: Threefifths on December 12, 2012  11:36am

My bad here is the report my teacher friends send to me.

The Profit Myth Understanding the Structure of New York Charter Schools.

http://www.dfer.org/The Charter School Profit Myth.pdf

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on December 12, 2012  12:12pm

@Curious:

You wrote: “Seems Boise and Sam would have no problem if rich black people were the ones making money off this, which seems pretty racist to me.”

Having written the above, would you now PLEASE copy and paste the statement that I’ve written here or ANYWHERE else concerning this story that makes it “seem” as if I’m interested in ANYONE making money “off this”.

I oppose the building of this school - or any school controlled by AF - for reason that are, apparently, far more extensive and complex for your simplistic and racist analysis to encapsulate in your thin and limited comment.

Your unnecessarily ad hominem attack here is totally without merit and it simply speaks to the level to which you and others are willing to sink to obfuscate legitimate debate and discussion. 

Further, the fact that your statement was approved under the NHI’s new “comment policy” of selective censorship adds even more weight to one of my original points, i.e. that the “Independent” is not an objective observer and reporter of the news here, but a biased advocate for the powerful and the well-connected.

If you want to disagree with my point of view on this, do so with credible references to my actual statements and not some made-up assumptions that fit your fantasy argument. 

I await your apology.

The Rev. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: Kevin on December 12, 2012  12:23pm

@support the neighbors

Thanks for your response but it does not answer my question. What is AF, the alderwomen, or the unions doing to tell “us” [presumably Newhallville residents] what to do? I’m not expressing an opinion on the merits of the project, but I don’t see how any of the above are trying to force anyone to do anything.

posted by: darnell on December 12, 2012  1:11pm

@Curious,

it’s such a bad thing to have 500 teenagers, parents, and teachers exiting this school everyday and parking in front of a home when it s not YOUR home. The folks who are complaining now are doing so because they were not aware of this thing until they received a notice from the BZA a few weeks ago. They WERE NOT invited to join the union led (not neighbors) discussion started this past summer. They have repeatedly said that they do not necessarily oppose the school, they just want more input, since a one story elementary school with 138 parking spaces is now be converted into a 3 story, HIGH school with only 100 spaces. AND, just because AF is able to convince the legislature to give them $35 million in taxpayer money, as opposed to the folks in the community, doesn’t give them the right to impose their will on those neighbors.

posted by: SSSS on December 12, 2012  2:00pm

Rev. Kimber wants more transparency…now that is funny!

I’m not employed by nor do I have any financial or other stake in AF or any other charter school.  I happen to know several AF employees (including some upper management), all of whom are passionately dedicated to education, and could not be further from the “corporate tyrant” picture being painted by the anti-AF folks here.  Could AF serve children with special needs better? I think they could, and it seems like a valid and reasonable concern to me.  That being said, this is a school that the community is clamoring for, as they did in the Dwight neighborhood.  No one is forcing their kids into these schools, and it is an organic demand that is creating significant waiting lists.  I think it is great to offer parents a choice to where they can send their children for school.

And for all the anti-AF folks, please provide an alternate solution.  Simply killing this project and allowing a vacant building to exist isn’t going to accomplish anything.  And significant and meaningful public school reform isn’t going to either under this mayoral administration.

posted by: Webblog1 on December 12, 2012  3:32pm

Apparently, The Rev Kimber is no stranger to back room deals and shake-downs for city funds to rebuild the First Calvary church on Dixwell ave. Fact is Kimber has an ulterior motive in creating the controversy alive in order to buttress his own claim against the city.

Read more here: http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/kimber_files_notice_to_sue/

Rev. James W. Newman, III of New Freedom baptist 280 Starr St. May very well be harboring his own personal agenda, concerning his side hustle as owner of a maintenance and cleaning company, which needs work.

It appears all the players have a Polk in the fire, they need to just stop it, cut it out, the only issue here the approval of a sale, and kids first.

posted by: streever on December 12, 2012  4:06pm

@Webblog1
Amen!

Neither side is operating in the best interest of anyone.

One side is using the approval and exemption from rules that the rest of us must follow to secure $$$$ for their pet cause.

The other side is pushing for their own benefit as well.

Neither side is concerned with the practical needs of the city in having a consistent and well-enforced zoning code which treats all citizens fairly. Each is willing to bend or break rules if it supports a cause they believe in, and each believes that their cause is just and noble. Funny thing is, if your cause is just and noble, wouldn’t people just support it without shenanigans?

I’m glad to see another poster who “gets it”—I was feeling that my understanding of the matter was in the extreme minority of NHI comments.

posted by: Anders on December 12, 2012  4:53pm

This is nothing more than divide and rule politics by DeStefano. He’s got his friend Kimber to shake things up so the union backed alderwoman look bad. Never mind the citizens, it’s the votes next November that count.

posted by: Threefifths on December 12, 2012  5:29pm

posted by: SSSS on December 12, 2012 2:00pm

And for all the anti-AF folks, please provide an alternate solution.  Simply killing this project and allowing a vacant building to exist isn’t going to accomplish anything.  And significant and meaningful public school reform isn’t going to either under this mayoral administration

Public schools are the only agent that can create a sense of community among diverse communities from which students come. Charter schools have not done this. In fact, charter schools have further segregated children from each other, and we know that this is not a good idea.Also when this school was open,How come these Same Alderpersons were not around when this school was shut down.

posted by: Threefifths on December 12, 2012  5:47pm

Here is the problem of both groups.


How Ghetto Politics Has Outlived the Ghetto, and Still Holds All Of Us Back.

Wed, 10/17/2012 - 12:20 — Bruce A. Dixon


The class of cultural, business and political hacks who pass themselves off as “black leaders” never tire of celebrating the sixties. But they have nothing to say about the seventies, eighties or nineties when the prison state and drug war engulfed the black lower classes and the gains of the New Deal and Great Society rolled back, all during their watch. They’re ghetto politicians, and ghetto politics have failed.

http://blackagendareport.com/content/how-ghetto-politics-has-outlived-ghetto-and-holds-all-us-back

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on December 12, 2012  9:08pm

Who would have thought that a proposal to build a new high school in a black community of New Haven would have generated such a whirlwind of controversy and division?
In the midst of all of this bloviating, the question remains: what is in the best interests of the students?
The media did not create this division in the black community over the building of this school. Blacks are not a monolithic group. We all do not agree on all issues. This is simply an expression of a difference of opinion that is quite healthy. Why try to perpetuate a facade of black unity of thought and ideas? The politicians and the preachers don’t see eye to eye on this issue. So what? Are we supposed to blame white people when we don’t have unity in the community when it comes to thinking independently about controversial issues? Most black New Haveners have never thought of Rev. Kimber or his Clergy Association as their leaders or spokespersons. I commended Alderwoman Clyburn for coming forward and boldly and publicly expressing her opinions criticising the ministers for their obstructionary tactics. In a democracy, even within the black community, diversity of opinion is a good thing and should not be seen as the result of others trying to create a split within the group.
The Greater New Haven Clergy Association is not on record as opposing the school because they disagree with certain practices and policies of Achievement First charter schools. Kimber and his group would wholeheartedly support the school if they were in charge of controlling the patronage. As Kimber said its about “economics.” The transparency of the Kimber-Clergy Association is quite clear: they want to run the neighborhood as if they were the elected representatives and they want control over the financial arrangements that the politicans have negotiated for the community with Achievement First.
All this talk about the media creating or promoting division in the community and references to race and racism is nonsense. Teachers and administrators, both black and white, in public and charter schools, get paid for their work. We just need to make sure they do their work and do it welll for the benefit of our students.

posted by: SSSS on December 12, 2012  9:10pm

Quote: “Public schools are the only agent that can create a sense of community among diverse communities from which students come. Charter schools have not done this. In fact, charter schools have further segregated children from each other”

Please cite statistics or references for this claim.  AF is legally required to conduct a random lottery for incoming classes.  The only non-random factor is a community preference negotiated by the Dwight and Newhallville neighborhoods for their respective AF schools.  And the lottery has a significant waiting list due to large demand from within New Haven.  And again, you have not proposed a solution…I assume you are simply fine with the status quo at NHPS.

posted by: HhE on December 12, 2012  10:49pm

I think I ought to start by clarifying some things.  To start with, I am not for or against Achievement First.  I have heard good and bad, and I have not enough reliable information one way or the other.  Brutus2011’s comment has real weight with me. 

Also, while I live in Newhallville, I live on the other side of de ‘Ville.  I doubt my children will go to an AF school.  I do pay taxes of course, and I dedicated most of my adult life to preparing to, and teaching in public schools.  (I am a 4th generation schoolteacher.)

What I do take issue with is how Rev. Kimber has conducted himself.

MikeM, good point.  My understanding is that both Alderwomen were union supported.

I like Southwest’s idea.  How about it, ministers?

Curious, as much as I would be repulsed by “The Rev Kimber School,” I think you are on to something.  Good question by Rev Kimber et al have done nothing before.  I think some people in Newhallville have too much vested in keeping the area down.

Support the neighbors, please, could you clarify the zoning change?  Thanks.  As I understand it, there is a school already in place, it just is empty.  Zoning changes were made for the new/larger Hooker school.  A number of people took issue with the school’s new site, but I cannot say I had a lot of sympathy.

Also, could you please explain what you mean by “after the experiment fails (and it will), moving on to the next “great” and “profitable” cause.”  My understanding is that Amistad Academy has been up and running for some time. 

SteveOnAnderson, I love your “commentocracy.”  I hope you don’t mind my using it, because I am sure I will. 

Good one on Morgan for disclosing she was an AF Administrator.  Likewise, Rev. Samuel T. Ross-Lee for separating himself from Rev Kimber.  In that spirit, I am Harold Ellis, former Secretary and Chair of the Newhallville CMT. 

end of part one

posted by: HhE on December 12, 2012  10:52pm

I do take issue with the tone of much of what Rev Ross-Lee has said.  While I wonder at times about NHI interpretation of its own rules (3/5ths can accuse Aldermen Houseing of corruption because he favors red light cameras to cut down on running red lights, and the company that makes those cameras would profit from their use, but I cannot point out the fallacy of that argument), I can only wonder at the tone of the posts that did not go through. 

I don’t think Curious owes you, or anyone else an apology, but I think you owe him/her one for “…more extensive and complex for your simplistic and racist analysis…”

Good insight, Anders.

3/5ths, the original school was closed long before these two Alderwomen were elected.  I guess that pointing this out about union back Alders proves I am a union hater. 

Well, I do think CCNE is evil.  When two of their members came to my house to stump, my response was to send them off soonest.  Good one on Weblog1 and streever for catching CCNE’s pay off.  While I typically take issue with anonmous’s method of argumentation, and many of his/her conclusions, this time I think anon is largely right. 

Another issue that 3/5ths and others have brought up is the exclusionary nature of charter schools.  School systems have a moral and legal obligation to provide an appropriate education to all students.  That does not mean that every school needs to be open to every student.  I went to a NYC school for three years that was for kids with learning disabilities (collocated with a Synagogue, so I also learned the meaning of kosher).  Then there is the three years at Eagle Hill (a private school) at public expense.  One size does not fit all.

posted by: Threefifths on December 13, 2012  12:03am

posted by: Morgan on December 12, 2012 10:56am

AF-Amistad teachers, principals and network leaders, such as Dacia Toll, are paid salaries that are commensurate with pay scales in the district. As an Achievement First principal (formerly of Elm City College Prep) I was paid within the pay scale of New Haven Public School principals. Dacia Toll is paid less that Dr. Mayo and on par with Superintendents / CEOs of similar sized districts and not-for-profits.  These “profit motive” arguments are a red herring. 

I did some research.Did you know that in 2008 Dacia toll was paid $510,713.Check it out right here.In fact look at the list of the other Charter School CEO.

Will Governor Cuomo Take On Outrageous Charter Superintendent Pay, Too

http://www.edwize.org/will-governor-cuomo-take-on-outrageous-charter-superintendent-pay-too

I wonder what she makes now in 2012.

posted by: SteveOnAnderson on December 13, 2012  7:22am

I’m simply astounded by the cynicism and judgment that I see in this comments section. The whole culture of polarization has been internalized by comments that dismissively announce that each “side” is only acting to maximize their benefits at the expense of everyone else. How do people know this? Have you been going to the meetings? Have you had extensive discussions with the alderwomen, AF, the clergy, Newhallville Rising or CCNE? Or did you just read a couple of NHI articles and proclaim yourself an expert on the matter?
More generally, it is really a shame that frequent commenters on here are so anti-social movement. There is a real movement happening in New Haven that is vibrant, diverse, contested, and working. We have bucked all of the national trends over this era of neoliberal austerity, not only electing Blumenthal, Malloy, and Murphy in the age of Scott Walker, Rick Snyder, and the Tea Party, but overwhelmingly organizing and backing working people at a time when collective bargaining rights and workers’ lives are under attack. A community organizing and working with allies to make sure that it has a say in the developments that occur in its neighborhood is not “corruption.” Nor, as is often suggested here, should people simply be thankful for the benevolent goodness of a school (or hospital) opening in their neighborhood. We need to get beyond simple cynicism and paternalism in order to listen to and empower one another collectively. Collective action works, and it’s not simply some conspiracy that is leaving you out or preventing developers from spreading their goodness wherever they deem worthy. Don’t hate, participate.

posted by: streever on December 13, 2012  8:36am

SOA
Maybe you should disclose your identity when saying the rest of us are cynics?

I see the rules being bent and changed for powerful, wealthy developers in 3 cases—Smilow, Route 34, and now this.

In each case, I see $$$$$ money being given to CCNE.

I am not claiming I am an expert, and I don’t think your ad hominem attack is a particularly effective response.

As I said: those of you participating do not realize the basic corrupt nature of your actions.

When you twist rules, even for good intentions, and collect $$$ (up to a quarter of a million dollars!), you have to really step back, and ask yourself if you are doing the right things.

The money that CCNE collects while using political jobs to allow wealthy developers to circumvent rules is NOT PUBLIC MONEY, so when you say I’m “anti social good”, I think you are far from any objective truth.

posted by: SSSS on December 13, 2012  8:47am

Who cares what Dacia Toll makes?  If anyone wants to get into a comparison between the operational and financial efficiency of AF administration vs. NHPS administration, I’m quite sure AF supporters would be happy to go there.

posted by: Threefifths on December 13, 2012  9:01am

posted by: SSSS on December 13, 2012 8:47am

Who cares what Dacia Toll makes?  If anyone wants to get into a comparison between the operational and financial efficiency of AF administration vs. NHPS administration, I’m quite sure AF supporters would be happy to go there.

Af supporters should bring it.As a Taxpayer I care and othe taxpayers should care.So what is your point.

posted by: Threefifths on December 13, 2012  9:39am

@SteveOnAnderson.Were was these Alderperson when this school was first closed.Second did you know that this school was take over by Domus.Domus did not like the area and moved out of the building with the help of Downtown.How come these same Alderperson did nothing or said nothing about this move.The agreement was Domus would take the Buliding over.Read it.This week marked the beginning of a new partnership between the New Haven Public Schools and a not-for-profit called Domus, which runs two charter schools in Stamford. On Monday, the Board of Education gave the school district the OK to contract with Domus to take over management of Urban Youth.Now read the rest.

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/domus_middle_school/

You say We have bucked all of the national trends over this era of neoliberal austerity, not only electing Blumenthal, Malloy, and Murphy in the age of Scott Walker, Rick Snyder, and the Tea Party, but overwhelmingly organizing and backing working people at a time when collective bargaining rights and workers’ lives are under attack.Dan Malloy is a scott walker.Ask the Teachers about what he did to them.Ask the state workers what he did to them.Dan malloy is a union hater.Across this country the public school system and teachers are under attack by privateers.You say it’s not simply some conspiracy that is leaving you out or preventing developers from spreading their goodness wherever they deem worthy.This is for real Look at the players.

The Faces of School Reform.

http://www.indypendent.org/2010/01/29/faces-school-reform

Don’t hate, participate.I agree with that.In fact I do participate by fighting to get rid of the crooked two party system and bring in Term limits.

posted by: SSSS on December 13, 2012  10:07am

posted by: Threefifths on December 13, 2012 9:01am

Af supporters should bring it.As a Taxpayer I care and othe taxpayers should care.So what is your point.

The NHPS administrative system is so incredibly bloated, and stocked with Mayo cronies that it’s hard to believe you want to make this argument.  Ok, so Dacia Toll makes more than Reggie Mayo.  This is much more than offset by having fewer redundant assistant principals and political hacks, not to mention all the other adminstrative flotsam and jetsam which remains immune to “accountability” measures (these are all unfairly targeted solely at NHPS teachers with no accountability focused on NHPS administrators).  AF receives significantly less on a per-student basis than NHPS from state and local government, which is why AF relies on private fundraising to supplement these funds.  So as a supposedly concerned taxpayer, you should welcome AF’s efficiency rather than demonize the person at the top who creates it.

posted by: anonymous on December 13, 2012  10:07am

SteveOnAnderson:

Bending the rules of New Haven’s public policy and institutions, in order to serve a private interest based almost entirely in the suburbs, is not a “social movement.”

It’s corruption, and is just as bad as the corruption that other developers and machine politicians bring to New Haven.

The true needs of our communities are passed over in order to funnel more money to the well-connected—whether they be middle-aged union leaders in Westbrook or East Rock, the unknown entities who manage Yale’s real estate fund, or the construction companies in Rhode Island.

All that said, I agree with you that people need to get more involved in advocating for their neighborhoods.  They should just be wary of who is doing that and to what ends.

Publishing newsletters that talk about irrelevant trends such as 5 fewer murders last month (out of hundreds in the past few years) or “youth centers” (that will never be built because we can’t even come close to affording to maintain our existing schools) may make some people happy—but actions speak louder than words.

posted by: Threefifths on December 13, 2012  10:43am

posted by: SSSS on December 13, 2012 10:07am
So as a supposedly concerned taxpayer, you should welcomeSo as a supposedly concerned taxpayer, you should welcome AF’s efficiency rather than demonize the person at the top who creates it.

AF’s efficiency.Give me a break.The question you should ask is why do AF and Charter School across this country push out low-performing students who then go back to the public schools.How Many ELl Students does AF have. Also AF and Charter School across thi country have high teacher turnover rate then public school teachers.

Quote: “Public schools are the only agent that can create a sense of community among diverse communities from which students come. Charter schools have not done this. In fact, charter schools have further segregated children from each other”

Please cite statistics or references for this claim.

Enjoy.

Choice Without Equity:
 Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards

http://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/k-12-education/integration-and-diversity/choice-without-equity-2009-report


http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123771190

posted by: Threefifths on December 13, 2012  10:58am

posted by: HhE on December 12, 2012 10:52pm

While I wonder at times about NHI interpretation of its own rules (3/5ths can accuse Aldermen Houseing of corruption because he favors red light cameras to cut down on running red lights, and the company that makes those cameras would profit from their use, but I cannot point out the fallacy of that argument), I can only wonder at the tone of the posts that did not go through.

I said the two party system that he belongs to is load with corruption.As far as the company that makes those cameras would profit from their use.It is true look up the states who had them and got rid of them.

3/5ths, the original school was closed long before these two Alderwomen were elected.  I guess that pointing this out about union back Alders proves I am a union hater.

I did not say these two Alderwomen.I said Alderpersons.In fact I was in the crowd and I saw Alderpersons there in the crowd who were in office when Domus took the building over and then moved out.

posted by: Eddie on December 13, 2012  11:19am

I am also dismayed by the cynicism and wild allegations displayed by many of those commenting.  If this school is approved with a community benefits agreement then it will provide guaranteed space for New Haven students, resources for the community, and good jobs.  Would the detractors prefer not to see these benefits? 

I see elected officials acting within their role and using their institutional power to negotiate the best deal for their neighborhoods.  I see a group of elected officials banding together to get the best deal for the city.  If there are any laws that are being broken, then courts can adjudicate that. 

For those of you who claim that this deal is being forced upon a neighborhood against their interest, I would ask for evidence.  Is it unelected ministers claiming a mandate? Or perhaps, you can share some polling data?

In contrast, the elected alders do have a mandate.  Since this coalition of alderwomen and aldermen began their campaigns, there has been unprecedented participation in city politics.  These campaigns continue to have effects.  In the most recent election, Newhallville had one of the highest voting rates of any neighborhood in the city.  This coalition won these elections and upended an entrenched and powerful interests through hundreds of community meetings and thousands of conversations. 

As a volunteer on a campaign, I went door-to-door having these conversations, asking about individuals concerns, and encouraging others to participate.  I worked with dozens of other volunteers who contributed many afternoons and evenings not for personal empowerment or to get a job. Instead we volunteered out of a civic duty to democratic politics.  It’s ironic that some clamor for greater public deliberation, but then cry foul when it is organized in a way that actually spans the city.       

Undoubtedly some will deny the legitimacy of these campaigns with allegations of patronage and conspiracy.  Of course, evidence won’t be forthcoming.  Instead the veracity of these claims rest upon the same cynicism that motivate this whole line of criticism in the first place.  Worse still, if previous comments are any indication, those commenting may suggest that people are being manipulated.  Realize though that such allegations strip from voting adults their agency, power, and integrity.

posted by: anonymous on December 13, 2012  11:55am

Eddie, more engagement is great. But the past is not the present. Whether or not voters were “manipulated” is the point of most public debates - it’s called “accountability.”

Voters may have voted one way in the past, and with more information available, they often change their votes.

posted by: Eddie on December 13, 2012  2:16pm

Certainly individuals can change their mind in light of more information.  Obviously elections are a means to hold the elected accountable.  My problem is with those who suggest that elections are not meaningful or voters in New Haven cannot hold the elected accountable.  There is a notion among some here that voters are and will continue to be either complicit in or victims of a conspiracy propagated by CCNE, the unions, or folks in the suburbs.  Aside from being a crazy allegation, it is extremely disrespectful to all of the voters who engaged in deliberation and made a decision through voting.  If others think they have a better vision for the city, then it would be great to see them persuading individuals with that vision, rather than calling individuals victims or complicit in corruption. 

Also the view that elections are only about accountability is narrow.  Certainly voters vote in retrospect, but elections are also about choosing between competing visions for the future.  I would contend that more inspiring campaigns offer a vision of the future rather than just campaigning on a referendum for incumbents.  In the most recent aldermanic campaigns this was the case, and it elicited massive participation.  Instead of just kicking the bums out of office, voters were able to elect individuals who promised to grapple with challenging problems that the city faced.  I’m pleased with their efforts to fulfill this mandate and believe that negotiating CBAs, such as this one, is something that could be anticipated by their campaigns.  Of course, if many disagree, they will have the opportunity to voice the disagreement in the next election.

posted by: darnell on December 13, 2012  2:32pm

Did anyone else read the article on this site about the BZA turning down the laundromat.

Wow! If you have $250,000 to throw around, you can get your local alderman and management team to support variances ( a triple sized building, a third less parking). I guess this laundromat company doesn’t know how the game is played in New Haven. Probably said no to a community benefits agreement, so now they get blamed for a murder OUTSIDE of their establishment.

posted by: streever on December 13, 2012  3:10pm

@support the neighbors

PRECISELY!

THAT is the problem here. Laundromats play by the rules, and if they don’t like it, they negotiate IN A PUBLIC MEETING.

What this Alder—and CCNE—is doing is taking that negotiation OUT of a public meeting if the people at question PAY A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS.

Folks, that is the problem here, and all the good intentions in the world do not change this.

I don’t care what your intentions are or what end goal you think you are getting. If you take a PUBLIC negotiation and move it to a PRIVATE location and ACCEPT CASH MONEY in exchange for letting a PRIVATE institution side-step PUBLIC laws, you are doing wrong.

Why?

Because you are removing the oversight, transparency, and public attention from your actions. Operating in secrecy with bundles of money is only going to lead to corruption.

I have been told that these are “good questions” to ask. Personally, I think it is the job of the elected official to do the outreach, NOT the citizen. Not every citizen pays attention nor do they even ask questions.

I’ve asked questions, and they have all gone unanswered: I asked questions of Route 34, and Marchand/CCNE deigned to answer them.

Now that I see the THIRD such deal for public land conducted, I’m done asking questions.

It is time for these elected officials to step up and start explaining what they are doing in public forums, instead of putting the burden on us citizens.

posted by: SSSS on December 13, 2012  3:47pm

Just because it is so easy to look up, I will put some data on segregation claims.  In 2009-2010, latest strategic school profiles available on CT SDE website, Amistad student racial breakdown was 63% Black, 35% Hispanic, 2% White while NHPS overall breakdown was 48% Black, 37% Hispanic, 13% White.  So slightly more Black students for Amistad and slightly less White students, same percentage of Hispanic students.  I don’t see a major difference there, and it’s certainly more integrated than Lincoln-Bassett which was 92% Black, 6% Hispanic, 1% White.  Also 13% of NHPS students were not fluent in English compared with 12% at Amistad.

I’m not seeing the segregation you speak of.  This will be my last post on the subject.  I appreciate the healthy debate.  As I’ve posted earlier, I think charters in general can do a better job serving children with special needs but I still disagree with the picture of AF as corporate raiders and still support the parents of New Haven who wish to send their children to Amistad.

posted by: darnell on December 13, 2012  4:40pm

Streever, what is the 3rd case?

posted by: Threefifths on December 13, 2012  4:49pm

How about this.How come when domus move out. They could have moved Hyde School in.Also why was the price of this building sold for less then it is worth.

posted by: Noteworthy on December 13, 2012  9:31pm

What Streever has laid out in excellent terms, is precisely what bothers me about this deal. First, it’s out of the public purview and second, it will largely benefit, not the community but a private union special interest - CCNE and its affiliates. They are using the CBA and ones before this one, to fund its organization.

Meanwhile, Gary Holder Winfield is giving us exploratory mayoral foreplay. He will be the CCNE - union backed candidate. Are we to believe this reversal has nothing to do with it?

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