NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

October 28, 2013

Menin says he'll work to improve schools, open government

BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
STAFF WRITER

---- — NEWBURYPORT — As part of our coverage of the Nov. 5 election, The Daily News will provide profiles of residents running for City Council.

Today’s reporting focuses on Bruce Menin, who is seeking an at-large position. Nine are running for five at-large seats. Voters will also elect councilors to represent each of the city’s six wards.

BRUCE MENIN

Age: not available

Address: 83 Lime St.

Family: wife, Julie; 2 children

Occupation: executive director, Disability Policy Consortium, Inc. (consumer-run nonprofit advocating for civil rights for people with disabilities)

Education: M.S.; bachelor’s degree in special education, minor in elementary education, State University College at Buffalo

Reasons for running: “I ran for School Committee 12 years ago because city government needed greater transparency and needed to consider more creative solutions in our approach to issues,” Menin said. “After that time in public office, serving on the School Committee and the Charter Review Committee, I believe we are still critically in need of transparency and more community engagement in solving problems. Over the past few years, I have seen ‘the need’ for secrecy about governance grow and a disturbing increase in dissembling and misinforming by elected officials. The credibility of elected officials is suspect. Newburyport deserves better.”

He added, “I have sought opportunities to work toward finding solutions to difficult community issues — ranging from problems with youth on Inn Street to siting the skate park, from finding new approaches to revenue to reorganizing the schools.

“Finally, our schools comprise more than 40 percent of the city budget. I think it is critical for the City Council to have a member who fully understands the schools and their needs, and can also share their successes with the community,” Menin said.

Position on the central waterfront: I believe in a non-commercial, non-privatized waterfront. I am opposed to any plan where the city loses control of the land through sales or long-term leasing. I am for an expanded park. As a fundraising, nonprofit director for more than 20 years, I am convinced that there are potential funds to offset some of those costs without relying only on the taxpayer. Losing even part of the remaining waterfront in exchange for diminished access and the possibility of revenue does not serve the greater interests and desires of the community.”

What can be done to improve the city’s schools?: The School Committee must abide by the Mass. Association of School Committees Code of Ethics and our own operating principles and norms. We need to refrain from interference with school management and personnel issues.

“The School Committee and the mayor need to stay out of the day-to-day management of the schools and district, and let the superintendent, who is accountable to the community through the School Committee, to do the job,” he said. “We need to stop the revolving door in the superintendent’s office.”

Menin said city officials should “continue to identify budget-busters such as the losses in our school lunch program, transportation, and outside SPED placements, and find ways to provide cost-effective and compassionate alternatives. The schools have produced budgets that are without any fat for a number of years now. Further cuts, or even simple preservation budgets, will continue to put our district behind every year.”

Menin added that officials should “improve opportunities for Newburyport students to gain college credit while still going to the high school.”

What would be a special interest for you if you are elected as a city councilor?: Menin said he wants to work for improved schools, ensuring a more transparent, open, engaging, accountable and efficient city government, create healthy recreational opportunities for kids and all of the community.