To the Editor:
This letter is a response to misleading statements regarding the nomination of Chrissy Fensore Martinez. Chrissy Fensore Martinez was nominated by the Democratic Town Committee to fill a vacancy on the Monroe Board of Education.
Mrs. Fensore Martinez holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in special education. She has worked as a special education teacher, supervisor, and Director of Special Education in Connecticut for more than 25 years. She is also an adjunct professor in the department of special education at the University of Saint Joseph.
Mrs. Fensore Martinez has recently completed a two-year term as secretary for the Monroe Special Education PTA (SEPTA) and was on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Reading League (formerly The Dyslexia Society of Connecticut).
Two hours before the Town Council was tasked with voting on the nomination for Mrs. Fensore Martinez, she received an email from the First Selectman’s office for a “super casual discussion” with a subcommittee of the Town Council.
This “casual discussion” quickly escalated into an angry cross-examination by Town Council Chairman Jonathan Formichella. The behavior exhibited by Jonathan Formichella was unprecedented and deeply concerning.
Mrs. Fensore Martinez was not made aware that Mr. Formichella was an attorney, and that he would be questioning her about “exhibits” and Facebook posts that he had collected before the meeting.
Mr. Formichella questioned Mrs. Fensore Martinez’s work for an agency that supports children with special needs and claimed that would disqualify her from serving on the BOE.
However, the Monroe Town Charter is very explicit that the only conflict is if the candidate works for the Monroe School system. Mrs. Fensore Martinez does not work for Monroe Public Schools. Her agency supports towns and cities across Connecticut and Vermont. Monroe is not assigned to her.
Mrs. Fensore Martinez was also informed she would be held to a new standard that has never been used before. This standard involved not only her employment but the employment of her spouse, Jim Martinez, as well.
However, Mr. Martinez’s employment as a school administrator in another district had no bearing on his ability to serve when the Town Council voted unanimously on his approval to fill a vacancy a few years ago for the same position on the Board of Education.
Chrissy Fensore Martinez would bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Board of Education. It is not the role of a few Republican Town council members to decide which Democrats they want to serve in seats owned by the Monroe Democratic party.
If elected officials continue to use intimidation tactics this will only function to chase away qualified individuals from serving.
Editor’s Note: Alan Vaglivelo is a Democrat currently serving on the Monroe Board of Education.
Potential conflict of interest? Yes. Good policing by R’s? Yes. Now they need to apply the same standard and actions to retired Monroe teachers on the Town Council who vote on the teacher’s contract. They’re voting on items that impact them personally. Demand they recuse themelves.
What is the conflict? The Board does not vote on the individual companies that provide special Ed services. Neither Mr. Martinez nor Mrs Martinez work for the Monroe BOE. The conflict seems to be that the R’s want to appoint both R’s and D’s when a vacancy occurs on the Board.
It seems the Republicans in power in this town now feel that they can also pick and choose the Democratic appointments. The voters spoke. It is their choice that should be honored. When Mr Kapoor stepped down from the Board of Ed, the next highest Democratic vote getter was Chrissy Martinez. She is our candidate to fill the empty seat!
This is deeply disappointing. I am growing increasingly concerned about the recklessness and poor decision making in this town, especially driving and pushing away qualified and decent people. The fact that our school board and our own selectman would allow a highly respected, talented and honorable candidate and volunteer in our town to be interrogated and attacked is unconscionable.
Monroe: Is this really who you want to be?
Sounds like it’s more about holding the power and less about what is good for students.
People, please, lets all take a deep breath and let reason prevail. First, it is the Town Council’s job to review and appoint people to all elected boards when vacancies occur, regardless of party. Second, it is rare that the Town Council rejects any candidate put up by any party, to the point I cannot recall the last time. I believe it is accurate to say that the Democrats on T C may vote against candidates more often then the Rebublicans do, although also very rarely. Let’s not yell foul when the Dems vote against a candidate, nor when a majority of TC (not all R’s) do so. Perhaps consideration must be given to all members of the TC and give them the benefit of the doubt, that they are all voting as their conscience leads them, in the best interst of our schools, our children, and our town as they see it.
After all isn’t that what we elected them for? Do we want a ‘do nothing’ T. C. unwilling to take the tough decisions which are exactly within the scope of their authority? After all the ‘voters spoke’ and elected these people, which would seem far more relevant then the votes garnered by this candidate when she ran and lost overwhelmingly.
Bob, you use quite an interesting word here “policing by Rs” to rationalize the actions of Attorney Formichella. Surprised but not surprised. The bottom-line is that the inappropriate and unethical manner in which he handled it doesn’t add up. Most especially when a highly qualified candidate like her gets misidentified
as being a candidate with “conflicts of interest,” when she had already agreed to recuse herself from anything that would indeed be a conflict of interest performing her duties as a member of the BOE. Politics gives some people a false sense of power where they feel they can intimidate and marginalize others. Sadly, in the midst of all this, children’s educational programs will suffer as a result. There no room for self-serving political agendas and intimidation tactics when it comes to doing right by our kids. Kids here are the real bottomline. Double standards and dirty politics don’t fit into this equation. It’s all very disappointing. When will this community see the damage it’s doing when unilateral and targeted decisions like this are executed?