HARTFORD, CT — House Minority Themis Klarides and Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano are unwilling to approve a list of items the Partnership for Connecticut says it needs to get organized before meeting in person.
“I do not believe that it is responsible corporate governance to address such important matters outside of a full board meeting,” Klarides, a Republican from Derby, said in a letter to the 11 other board members.
The Board of Directors for the Partnership for Connecticut is expected to meet for the first time later this fall. It will be in charge of distributing the $100 million donated to the state of Connecticut by Dalio Philanthropies. It will also be in charge of the initial $20 million in state funds that will be used for the same purpose.
Fasano said he’s worried the money has already been spent.
“A recruiting firm has already drafted a job description and therefore appears to be employed by the Partnership for Connecticut already. A website is up and running leading me to question if a web developer and/or graphic designer have already been employed as well, without any meetings or discussion regarding the budget,” Fasano said in a letter to Sheena Graham, interim secretary of the board of directors.
The 30-page document asked the board of directors to approve seven actions by unanimous written consent, including the election of officers and a board chair, the creation of an executive committee, appointment of a pro bono advisor until the hiring of a president and CEO, approval of expenses and a budget, and adoption of a “transparency commitment.”
Klarides and Fasano scoffed at doing any of those things without a full meeting of the board.
“The items I have been asked to consent to represent significant actions which will have consequences and implications for the citizens of Connecticut,” Klarides said. “It is my duty as a state representative and board member to do my due diligence before consenting to these items. I must have the opportunity to ask questions and fully debate these actions in order to make informed decisions.”
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, who received the same package as Klarides, proposed that the four legislative leaders meet with Andrew Ferguson, a senior staff member at Dalio Philanthropies, to talk through the document as quickly as possible.
“I would like to see us iron out any potential issues, and work together to shape the Partnership, so that it can begin the process of working with school districts, students, teachers and other parties to provide additional opportunities throughout our state,” Aresimowicz suggested.
Ferguson can help “stand up” the organization before a president and CEO is chosen, according to documents that also said he would not be paid for his help.
The Dalio Family Fund, according to the documents, has already approved $425,000 in initial grant funding for the Partnership and has issued the funds to the Partnership to support initial operations.
The Partnership was also looking for a commitment from its board members to approve a resolution that says the “board meetings, committees, and working sessions will operate in closed session, but the Partnership will communicate openly to the public about decisions that have been made and the logic behind them.”
In creating the Partnership, the General Assembly exempted the group from Freedom of Information and open meeting laws.
The documents also seek to elect Barbara Dalio as interim chair, Erik Clemons as interim treasurer, and Graham as interim secretary.
“We’re in receipt of Representative Klarides’ letter and we’ll be working with her to come to an accord,” Graham said. “It’s very important for the students of Connecticut that we work together to advance this initiative.”
Kevin Coughlin, a spokesman for Senate President Martin Looney, said Looney has accepted Aresimowicz’s invitation to meet before signing any related agreements, proposals, or resolutions.
“Senator Looney looks forward to discussing the value of the Partnership, the great educational possibilities it presents to the state of Connecticut, and our requirement for an open and transparent collaboration,” Coughlin said.