Brennan Nominated For Board Of Ed; Won’t Run For Mayor

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp has one less potential opponent in this year’s campaign — after finding him another way to spend his civic time.

That potential opponent was Liam Brennan, a former federal prosecutor who helped send ex-Gov. John Rowland to jail (a second time) for corruption.

Brennan had been making rounds in recent months seeking support for a challenge to Harp in this year’s Democratic mayoral primary.

On Wednesday, Harp informed the Board of Alders that she is nominating Brennan for a vacant seat on the board.

Brennan told the Independent Wednesday that he has decided not to pursue the mayoral run.

“I love this city,” he said, but after speaking with his family and others around town, he decided that “at this time of my life, this is just something I did not want to pursue.”

Brennan, who lives in Westville, has two children at Edgewood School; he expects to enroll a third child there next year. He has been outspoken and actively involved in education issues as a parent.

“Attorney Brennan is a former federal prosecutor who currently affirms his commitment to the city and its residents through his work on behalf of the New Haven Legal Assistance Association and its clients. He’s been a part-time law professor and he’s a parent of school-aged children; I have every confidence about Attorney Brennan’s desire to work on behalf of a sound education system to the benefit of its students throughout New Haven,” Mayor Harp said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Brennan’s nomination now goes before the Board of Alders for a confirmation vote.

So does the nomination of Yesina Rivera, whom Harp also tapped this week. (Read about that here.) Brennan and Rivera would fill the seats left vacant by former board members Jamell Cotto and Frank Redente, respectively. Harp had nominated Cotto for another term on the board, but the Board of Alders voted down his reappointment after a stormy public hearing.

Harp, who has said she intends to run for a fourth two-year term this year, still faces a challenge from Justin Elicker in a Democratic primary. Activist Wendy Hamilton said she also plans to run for mayor this year.

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 13, 2019  11:39pm

On Wednesday, Harp informed the Board of Alders that she is nominating Brennan for a vacant seat on the board.

Brennan told the Independent Wednesday that he has decided not to pursue the mayoral run.

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posted by: Paul Wessel on February 14, 2019  4:56am

Go Elmwood Road!

posted by: BevHills730 on February 14, 2019  7:33am

Shoot. I was looking forward to Liam’s bid for mayor. I really appreciate the work he has been doing on affordable housing.  Both of Harp’s appointments to the School Board are promising.  We don’t have a lot of good options with our schools and the budget but I’m sure both of these folks will bring important insight along with Joyner.  Now just to get Darnell voted out!!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 14, 2019  7:47am

The Back room deal was cut.This guy was going to Run for mayor.He would have pull votes from Mayor Harp.I think if mayor Harp wins again.She will hook him up with a Better postion.

posted by: wendy1 on February 14, 2019  8:10am

Finally a voice of reason on the BOE.  Election wise Toni should do the honorable thing and DROP OUT.
I am running, have been running, and am the ONLY candidate who promises not to raise your taxes.

posted by: wendy1 on February 14, 2019  8:29am

If he wants Birk’s job I will give it to him.

posted by: newhavenlives on February 14, 2019  8:35am

Two good choices by Mayor Harp. It is commendable that she would appoint someone who is expected to challenge her positions variois BOE matters.

Now, Goldson? He is dreadful as a leader. So much for what the charter change brought us.

posted by: Patricia Kane on February 14, 2019  11:39am

Brennan has a good record as a prosecutor, but trying to round up support months before an election is just too late.
  There is also the question as to how his work relates to managing a troubled city with disastrous finances. We should be looking for managerial experience, in addition to a good record of achievement.
  Clearly there is a crisis in the NHPD and the Board of Ed, so all the candidates should be prepared to do more than salute the flag. This year specifics will count for a lot.
  What is the action plan? I’m listening.

posted by: Dennis Serf on February 14, 2019  2:15pm

Frankly I never saw why Liam Brennan could be considered a viable or attractive candidate for Mayor. In addition to the reasons cited by Patricia Kane, he appears to be an insider (as witnessed by his sudden appointment to the BOE), an outsider (as in someone who is relatively new to new haven), and a temporary New Havener with more grand political ambitions (that’s what people who appear on national talk shows usually do). Sounds like a really nice person and clearly he is very bright and dedicated. I just didn’t think he is what New Haven wants or needs. 

Patricia Kane: This year specifics will count for a lot.

I agree and Our New Haven is going to make sure everyone gets very specific and gets on the record.

Dennis Serfilippi
https://www.ournewhaven.org/

posted by: darnell on February 14, 2019  2:29pm

Newhavenlives

Cate to explain?

posted by: darnell on February 14, 2019  2:58pm

Care to explain? How about being more specific? And, maybe you should stop hiding being a fake name, could make your comments more trustworthy and relevant.

posted by: BevHills730 on February 14, 2019  3:30pm

To a certain extent I agree with Darnell.  The problem is not elected seats, and as long as Darnell wins another election he has a mandate to be there. 

My hope is that the NHI’s excellent coverage of the contracts awarded by the BOE to people connected to Darnell will provide good reason for a successful challenge.  https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/darnell_goldson_school_contracts/

But I’m sure Darnell will defend himself if he runs again, and the voters can decide.

posted by: darnell on February 14, 2019  3:57pm

BevHills,

My boss was never awarded a BOE or City contract, I challenge you to provide evidence to back up your claim.

The fact is that he loaned money to contractors who had outstanding invoices with the city, and contacted the city to collect on those loans.

posted by: Bill Saunders on February 14, 2019  5:31pm

Ah, the ole ‘Political Dog-Bone’ routine!

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on February 14, 2019  8:29pm

3/5ths, if there was a back room deal, it was a dumb one from Mayor Harp’s perspective. Elicker and Brennan would have likely attracted the same type of voter. Had Brennan run, they would have split this vote giving Harp a solid plurality. With Brennan deciding not to run, there is a respectable chance that Elicker will beat Harp in the primary.

Harp is doing Brennan no favor in nominating him to the BOE. I’ve been on the boards of a couple of small non-profits; even they were a fair bit work. Serving on the BOE is a far greater and more stressful commitment. Even if the BOE is able to reduce the $30 million deficit it is facing, it will still need to cut programs and lay off staff.

posted by: justice4all on February 14, 2019  9:19pm

Great choice…Liam is smart, cares deeply about our city and does not bring the political baggage that quite frankly many are pretty fed up with.  To Dennis Serf not sure what being an insider or outsider or political hack qualifies or not qualifies someone to be a good mayor.

posted by: Bill Saunders on February 15, 2019  12:54am

Liam seems like a knowledgeable and able addition to any ‘public’ endeavor.

What just happened was he has risen from the ‘Elected Class’ to the ‘Appointed’.

posted by: BevHills730 on February 15, 2019  7:20am

Darnell,

I think the NHI coverage stands for itself. Though your explanation makes me want to support you even less.  I look forward to more discussion if there is a campaign!!

posted by: BevHills730 on February 15, 2019  7:25am

Dennis

I don’t think the insider/outsider analogy is right. Liam has been trying to solve problems for all New Haveners in our city. Meanwhile you have been throwing rocks without many solutions aside from suggestions like attacking ideas like making it easier to vote for low-income earners.

posted by: darnell on February 15, 2019  8:46am

Bevhills

I test my case. Not sure why I spend time “debating” with people wearing hoods, making general unsubstantiated accusations.

posted by: Dennis Serf on February 15, 2019  10:16am

Bevhills - Funny how when the average taxpayer builds a website, tries to organizes the community and hold our elected officials accountable, and begins to challenge the political class it’s referred to as ‘throwing rocks’, but when people stand on the steps of city hall with a megaphone, and block ambulances on route 34 they are called activists. Frankly, I can do without the pie-in-the-sky white papers, 10 year plans, and other idealistic and unrealistic grandiose distractions that serve as false hope. I prefer to roll up my sleeves and worry about the problems of today. That’s why I have repeatedly called on the City to determine exactly how many fire personnel we need, and how many police we need (so we can pay the new officers more than $44K/YR). I also applied for the BOE CFO role so I could participate in trying to solve the $9.0 million BOE deficit, but the BOE never responded. And that’s why I drove in from NYC yesterday morning to attend the COMPSTAT mtg and follow-up with Chief Reyes and his Lt’s to get an update on the City’s plan to address the dirt bikes.  So, your claims are without merit - AGAIN! 

Dennis Serfilippi
https://www.ournewhaven.org/

posted by: Dennis Serf on February 15, 2019  10:39am

Bevhills - By the way, when I expressed an interest in the BOE CFO role, Darnell was the first person who responded, thanked me for looking to get involved, and forwarded my email to Dr. Birks and the BOE hiring manager. He and I have never met.

posted by: BevHills730 on February 15, 2019  11:16am

Dennis,

Given your animosity towards the rights of low-income residents, thank goodness you didn’t get the BOE CFO role.  Where are the policy solutions on your website? The NHI has offered to publish any solutions that would address our budgetary issues.  If you don’t want to offer “pie-in-the-sky” white papers, then where are your workable whitepapers?

I’m not sure Darnell pushing for your appoint to the BOE CFO role is a mark in his favor.

posted by: Progressive Reform on February 15, 2019  12:30pm

Quid pro quo Clarice…quid pro quo… yes or no?

posted by: darnell on February 15, 2019  4:13pm

Bevhills,

You must belong to that little group which goes around presenting petitions with a 1000 signatures, 80-90% from out of town, in such remote locations as China and Brazil. Stretching the facts, or outright lying is something I despise, and they do well.

What Serf actually wrote - “By the way, when I expressed an interest in the BOE CFO role, Darnell was the first person who responded, thanked me for looking to get involved, and forwarded my email to Dr. Birks and the BOE hiring manager. He and I have never met.”

What you repeated - “I’m not sure Darnell pushing for your appoint to the BOE CFO role is a mark in his favor.”

Only in the mind of Trump(and you) can Serf WRITE what he did and you translate it the way you did.

posted by: BevHills730 on February 15, 2019  7:37pm

Sorry Darnell.  It was a bad choice of words.  Still, I’m convinced Dennis would not be a good choice for BOE CFO.  I hope you agree.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on February 16, 2019  1:04pm

Optics are everything. How a politician’s actions and decisions are perceived by the public are extremely important. Perception speaks louder than intent.
Toni Harp is not good at optics. This is one of many examples.
There is a vacant seat on the Board of Education. Several residents have submitted applications expressing an interest to serve on the Board. It appears that none were given serious consideration.
In this article, the public reads that a potential candidate for mayor poised to challenge Harp decides to drop out of the race and is simultaneously appointed by the mayor to be her next appointee to the Board of Education.
When I told someone this story, he burst out in loud laughter!
Liam Brennan appears to be an outstanding candidate. He is an attorney, a former federal prosecutor, and a parent with children in the New Haven public schools. He may prove to be a great asset to the Board.
But the optics of the appointment and its timing appear suspiciously politically motivated.
Was any type of bargain made between the mayor and Brennan for political support? Will Brennan be an independent voice on the Board or will he be a Harp puppet? These are questions being asked by residents.
Until he proves otherwise, if approved by the Board of Aldermen, a cloud of suspicion will hover over Liam Brennan when he sits on the Board.
The public wants Board members who are independent thinkers, people who will represent the best interests of the schools, the students and parents, and the teachers. We want people who will place KID’S FIRST, and politics last.
As Liam Brennan awaits confirmation to serve on the Board, he would be advised to remember Frank Redente’s revelations and warnings to the public about the politicization of the Board of Education under Harp’s leadership and direction.

posted by: Dennis Serf on February 16, 2019  5:13pm

Thomas Alfred Payne - “Several residents have submitted applications expressing an interest to serve on the Board.”

Really? If that is indeed the case then the public deserves to know who else applied and how the Mayor settled on her choices. Absent full disclosure, the public will presume this was a political appointment. We need honest open government.

Dennis Serfilippi
https://www.ournewhaven.org

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on February 17, 2019  4:44pm

@ Dennis Serf
At a recent community meeting of the New Haven Public School Advocates to provide the public with information about the appointment process and the electoral process to be on the Board of Education, mayoral representative Esther Armmand informed those in attendance that all New Haven residents interested in being appointed to any City Board must submit their applications to the Mayor’s Office. Ms. Armmand said she reviews the applications and passes them on to the mayor. It was not clear whether or not Armmand personally evaluates and recommends applicants to the mayor from the pool of applicants seeking board appointments. It was stated that ALL mayoral appointees to boards are selected from the pool of applicants of New haven residents.
It was not made clear whether or not that is a provision of the City Charter.
There were at least two women at this meeting, one of whom worked for the State Department of Education and the other who had similar professional experience with public education, who informed Ms. Ammand that they previously had submitted applications to the mayor seeking appointment to the Board of Education. They both said they never received any acknowledgement or follow up from the Mayor’s Office.
Since that meeting it was announced that Mayor Harp has appointed two people to fill the two vacancies on the Board of Education. Neither appointee was one of the women at the meeting who said they had submitted applications to the mayor.
Why would someone seriously considering running for mayor also submit an application to the Mayor’s Office to seek an appointment to the Board of Education around the same time?
Inquiring minds would like to know the answer to this question. So should members of the Board of Alders!

posted by: Dennis Serf on February 18, 2019  12:17pm

TAP: Why would someone seriously considering running for mayor also submit an application to the Mayor’s Office to seek an appointment to the Board of Education around the same time?Inquiring minds would like to know the answer to this question. So should members of the Board of Alders!

Indeed. I will FOIA to find out more about the other applicants. We can then review to see if the most qualified applicant was selected. It may be that the Mayor selected the most qualified, but we should at least take a look.

Dennis Serfilippi
https://www.ournewhaven.org/

posted by: BevHills730 on February 18, 2019  1:13pm

Dennis,

Instead of shouting corruption in the comments section about someone who is doing work to help our city, why don’t you get to work on the practical and workable white papers that layout your vision for the New Haven?

posted by: darnell on February 18, 2019  2:34pm

With all due respect to Dennis or anyone else posting here, how do you determine who is the most qualified to sit on a Board and commission.

Firs, let’s discuss the process. The city websites says that “You can download and print an application and then mail it to our office, or simply call Esther Armmand at (203) 946-7670 to discuss the opportunity to serve more fully.” As someone who has been involved in community service for many years, and worked as John DeStefano’s legislative Assistant for 5 years,  I know that oftentimes the mayor one from his staff would approached people we know had certain talents or interests to sit on boards. Completing an “application” is just a small part of the decision making process, it is not an end all to the process.

The city charter - C. Minimum Qualification for Membership. No person may serve on a Board or Commission unless such person is an Elector of the City. If any such person who is a member of a Board or Commission shall move from the City, such person’s membership on such Board or Commission shall be immediately terminated.

A big deal has been lately made regarding educators vs. non educators on the board. I would make three comments. First, the board was completely populated by educators for nearly 20+ years, look where that got us. Second, being an educator doesn’t make you a good manager. The BOE needs managers, we hire educators. Third, look at the top five, even the top ten districts. They are almost totally populated by non educators.

having one or two educators on the BOE is fine. Let’s try something different.