Post-Election Wish List

As the numbers began to trickle in late Tuesday night, it became more and more clear that, for the most part, change is overrated. In Fairfield County – indeed, in the nation as a whole – what Tuesday’s elections told us is, apparently, people like things pretty much the way they are. Gridlock, it seems, is king.

Apart from the newcomer in the vacant District 41 seat in the State House, Fairfield County’s local delegation will remain virtually the same, proving, perhaps, that no amount of money or endorsements can paint a smiley face on an ugly campaign. County Council will remain entirely intact, with the Councilman from District 4 surviving a recount to hold a four-vote edge over his challenger.

The greatest amount of turnover will be on the Fairfield County School Board, with two new faces taking their oaths of office in the coming week. Yet, it is the seat that did not flip this election cycle that may offer the most compelling insight – that of District 4.

Although nearly 58 percent of voters in District 4 voted against her, the incumbent managed to benefit from a three-person race and retain her seat with just over 42 percent of the votes. Having lost the support of the majority of her constituents, the incumbent may now have to reconsider the way she does business. It was clear from her words on election night that already she is reevaluating her tactics, and will indeed continue to fight the good fight, although perhaps “on a lighter note.”

With the addition of new Board members in District 2 and District 6, we say farewell to Miss Danielle Miller and Mrs. Marchella Pauling. Serving the public is often a thankless task, with one fielding far more complaints than compliments. That comes with the territory, we understand, but it is also too bad, and maybe one more reason why more good people don’t sully themselves with the chore.

We haven’t always agreed with how these outgoing Board members have executed their duties, but bygones being what they are, we thank them for their service, for their time and for doing what they felt was best for the students of Fairfield County. We wish them well in their future endeavors.

For the incoming members, and for the Board as a whole, following is a short list of some of the changes we would like to see:

• An end to meetings that take place in a different location every month (invariably, locations without microphones). Meetings should be held at the District Office, and only at the District Office. Forever and ever. Amen.

• A cap on in-district travel. Board members have gobbled up considerable money in mileage claims, darting from school to school every day, every week. And for what? Please, set the policies and let the superintendent run the schools.

• A cap on out-of-district travel. Sometimes one has to fly to San Francisco to earn accreditation points, but most of the time not. If we learned anything from last summer’s trip to Atlanta, it is that there are more ways for things like that to go wrong than there are for them to go right.

• An end to executive sessions just because the Board ‘feels like’ having one. For example, to discuss a trip to Atlanta that went horribly wrong. The law is quite clear on what can and cannot be discussed behind closed doors. Read the law. Learn the law. Follow the law. It’s not rocket science.

• An end to frivolous legal battles, particularly over the Mitford issue, which has sucked an obscene amount of money out of this school district.

• An end to the willy-nilly distribution of electronic equipment and gadgets to Board members. An iPad, a cell phone and maybe a printer are all you need. And one of each should do.

• No more Board members voting on stipends or bonuses for family members. It’s not even funny any more.

• No more takeout orders at Board meetings. Yes, sometimes these meetings last long into the night. Yes, you should be afforded a meal. But food from three or four different restaurants is just silly. Have one of the District’s fine cafeterias whip something up for you. On the other hand, you could: A) eat before the meeting; or B) have shorter meetings.

• Have shorter meetings. Any public body that meets for more than two hours is probably up to no good. The School Board is a policy making body. Two hours ought to do the trick.

While it is unlikely the entirety of this wish list will be fulfilled and placed underneath our tree by Christmas morning, any combination of, say, four or five of these would make a great stocking stuffer.