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RTC Chairman Questions Candidate's Emails

Ron Gambardella questions BOE chairman Michael D'Agostino's emails to educators soliciting support for his campaign for the state House of Representatives.

 

The chairman of the Hamden Republican Town Committee is questioning the use of emails to Hamden school administrators and teachers by a candidate for the 91st state House of Representatives seat who also is the chairman of the Board of Education.

Michael D'Agostino will face Democratic Town Committee-endorsed candidate John Flannagan in a primary on Aug. 14. The winner of that contest will take on Republican Joe Bertini in November.

Recently, D'Agostino and a Hamden Education Association member sent emails to staff at each school and to administrators soliciting donations, which RTC chairman Ron Gambardella said illustrates the "cozy" relationship between Democrats and the teacher's union.

D'Agostino wrote to school staff:

"All -- I write because I need your help in my campaign to be the next state representative for Hamden. As chair of the Board of Education, I have always been responsive to your needs and concerns; that will not change if you help me reach the state legislature. In order to get there, I need to collect a number of small contributions from Hamden residents. A $5 contribution per person – absolutely no more than that– will help a great deal. I hope you will help by hitting the link below. [Link]  Thank you so much! For more information on the campaign, and to volunteer, please visit us at MikeForThe91st.com."

And from Sharon Drumm, Political Action Chair of the Hamden Education Association:

"As many of you know, our Board Of Education Chairman, Michael D’Agostino, is seeking a run for State Representative in the November elections. Michael has always been a source of support for Hamden teachers and has dealt fairly with us in all matters. He has always been open, honest and forthcoming in matters that impact all of us. When other Boards of Education were afraid to stand up in opposition to critical issues in Governor Malloy’s Education Reform Bill, it was our Board Chairman that contacted key legislators and wrote personal letters.

"Michael D’Agostino now wants to be a voice in Hartford where he has promised he will continue to listen to and support educators. The years ahead will be very challenging for our profession. We must be alert and vigilant in the shaping of education reform. We will need legislators who will listen! Michael has earned the support of Hamden teachers and he deserves the support of Hamden teachers. Please demonstrate your support with a small contribution (between 5 and 10 dollars), to his campaign website (MikeForThe91st.com). As Michael will represent residents of Hamden, it is most crucial for you to recognize the opportunity you have to send the right person to Hartford. I am sure Michael will appreciate your support."

The email address of administrators and staff are publicly available on the school district's website.

"I believe, after reading the above, we can agree the taxpayer has no chance whatsoever when you realize how things work at the local level in Hamden," Gambardella said.

"There has always been a cozy relationship between the Democrats and the teacher’s union. Now, Mr. D’Agostino would like to parlay this relationship into a tax and spend frenzy at the state level," Gambardella said. "In Hamden, Mr. D’Agostino help drive up the cost of education so that it will soon be in excess of $100 million when including benefits. This email exchange is the smoking gun tying special interests to political ambitions. The taxpayer always comes out with the short end with this kind of arrangement.

"I strongly suggest [voters] consider a Republican alternative this November," he said.

"I want to thank Mr. Gambardella for pointing out that the people who have worked with me for the past 12 years – from our parents, to our clerks, to our teachers -- think that I am doing a terrific job and think that I would make a very good state representative," D'Agostino said.  "I am proud to have earned their trust. 

Frankly, I am not upset to have earned the scorn of Mr. Gambardella and the Republican party," D'Agostino said.  "His platform on the Legislative Council and in his two failed mayoral campaigns was unwavering in its hostility to public education, public libraries (voting to close the Whiteyville library in the 91st), and importantly, free arts and cultural programming. 

"I believe these things are the very fabric of our community and will continue to advocate as such for Hamden on the state level," he said.

Ron Gambardella June 04, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Listed below is another email sent out by Mr. D'Agotino using his position as the Chairman of the BOE. Pay close attention to his use of the words "NOT FORGET" all in capital letters. It seems this can be interpreted as a stick or carrot. For example, by supporting the BOE Chair I will take care of you next budget cycle, or, if you don't support me, I will take care of you next budget cycle. of course, the reader will have to decide how to interpret this subtle message. From: Michael Dagostino [mikedagostino2012@gmail.com] Sent: Monday, May 28, 2012 8:28 PM To: Bauer, Meghan; Debenedet, Andrew; Desroches, Kristine; Earley, Brian; Elkin, Jessica; Ferrucci, Anna; Hice, Virginia; Juliano, Nancy; Kopjanski, Romie; Koskoff, Elizabeth; Mauro, Donna; Nolan, Judith; Stohler, Doreen Cc: Marinaro, Diane Subject: Five Minutes and Five Dollars Hi everyone -- I spoke with or left messages for most of you tonight. I know you are incredibly busy gearing up for the end of the school year. I hope, however, you might take five minutes to make a five dollar contribution using the link below, perhaps by the end of the day tomorrow. We are so close to our goal and I would NOT FORGET if Shepherd Glen put us over the top! Thank you so much. For more information on the campaign, and to volunteer, please visit us at MikeForThe91st.com.
Charles Baltayan June 04, 2012 at 08:32 PM
The use of the Hamden Education email system is closed to the public. You are correct in assuming that sending the emails using Hamden School email addresses is a likely violation of election law rules, let alone an ethical breach in asking for donations from your employees and underlings who might fear reprisal if they did not donate.
Sean Grace June 04, 2012 at 09:11 PM
For Ron to try to twist a friendly Email between supporters of education into something ominous is disingenuous. If Ron hopes to attract support for a Republican candidate in November, he's going to have to do better that this. The reason Mike will win is because of his commitment to improving education pure and simple.
AG June 04, 2012 at 09:31 PM
It saddens me greatly that as a lifelong Democrat we have such a bunch of unethical leaders in charge. And it starts at the top….it was only last September we heard this: “Hamden Superintendent of Schools Fran Rabinowitz announced today that she intends to retire effective Jan. 1, 2012. "This is obviously a difficult decision," said Rabinowitz, "but one that I had to take due to family commitments." The superintendent said that she intends to submit the necessary paperwork to the state immediately so that her retirement can be processed by the end of the year.” “D'Agostino said that he anticipates that after Jan. 1, Rabinowitz will work on a per diem rate to be negotiated by the board. According to state law, retired superintendents can continue to work on an interim basis due to the shortage in the area, but can earn no more than the equivalent of 45 percent of the superintendent's salary on the date of retirement. Rabinowitz currently earns $165,000 a year.” Now we know that the negotiated rate is $800/day. If that strikes you as a tiny bit exorbitant its only because it has to be so that our super can get the full 45% of her current salary. Nothing less would do. Now this may be legal but it certainly is not ethical. What’s the point in even having an ethics committee? And ironically the so called shortage of supers is due to keeping “retired” supers working so no one else can move up.
Tony June 04, 2012 at 09:31 PM
It all depends on what account Mike D used to send e-mail. Was it his personal e-mail or was it a municipal e-mail?
john magulius August 20, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Please don't lump all teachers in with the union leadership. Everyone in the district understands that these dealings were unethical. The problem is that none of us can stop it. Teachers cannot because we would have to face the wrath of our union leaders. District leaders cannot stop it because D'Agostino is the boss. We all knew that we had to give him money--teachers and administrators alike--or we would face the consequences. Someone needs to stand up for what's right. And we all know it won't be the politicians.

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