Hartford's Infighting Ms. Kirkley-Bey closes "peace conference" with threats
The Hartford Courant
March 09, 2011
State Rep. Marie Kirkley-Bey, a longtime legislator from Hartford's North End, invited city school officials to a meeting at the Capitol last week to talk and maybe work on the "antagonism" between the board of education and other city politicians.
What could have been a fruitful session turned ugly, however, as too often happens in Hartford. The bad feelings may have intensified when Ms. Kirkley-Bey unleashed a tirade of threats against the few school people present at the meeting. No school board members other than Robert Cotto Jr. attended.
Perhaps that's what ignited the veteran lawmaker's fuse — that and a statement by Victor De La Paz, deputy chief financial officer of the school system. Mr. De La Paz had the temerity to recite figures that are evidence of improvement in the schools' performance in recent years.
Ms. Kirkley-Bey was having none of it. She said she was "embarrassed" by "so many people" telling her that what is going on in Hartford is "terrible." As for the school board and district employees, she said, "I can make sure that none of you ever get appointed again. I can make sure they take away ECS money … transportation money. And do it just to Hartford. So just remember that."
"Put it in your pipe and smoke it," Ms. Kirkley-Bey said, and then left the room.
We understand state legislators are upset at bonuses given last year to teachers, principals and administrators and that they thought the recent superintendent search lacked transparency.
But Ms. Kirkley-Bey's threats were inappropriate and guaranteed not to soothe simmering antagonisms, but to inflame them — and to besmirch Hartford's image. It's embarrassing.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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