To the Editor: 

As a cofounder of Belleville United Coalition, a growing grassroots organization comprised of concerned citizens, employees and business owners of Belleville, I am insulted and ashamed of the deceptive actions of some of our local political figures.

These actions have occured despite our multiple requests that the Burke/ Longo/Freda campaign cease and desist from using our untainted, trademarked name to deceive the community into thinking that we support their campaign—and by extension, their purported values.

Belleville United has a focused mission to evolve the district’s educational standards and create a stable, positive school climate in pursuit of social and academic excellence for all children within Belleville. It is ironic then that this coalition was founded because of the alleged role some of these candidates play in degrading our once forward-moving educational system.

These candidates chose to waste taxpayer money on a $2 million surveillance system that does not make our students and faculty any safer while at the same time diverting the necessary funds for the tools our students need to succeed and measure up to their surrounding districts. Our school funds are depleted, and our teachers are financing basic school supplies so that their students can continue their education.

Additionally, our schools’ technology is outdated, insufficient, and flat-out broken with no immediate relief in sight—even though these candidates pushed for and… approved a five-year, million-dollar technology support contract with the same company who installed the security system.

At a time when the educational staff reports being bullied, intimidated and harassed by this current board of education and administration, it is astonishing to find these candidates using our name to further their political careers. Even more disconcerting is the accusation of this same alleged behavior being displayed at the township level by their running mate to gain political support of municipal workers.

So I’d like to set the record straight: the real Belleville United will never support any political figure that chooses to use harassment, intimidation and bullying methods to govern. The real Belleville United will never support anyone who considers themselves before our children. The real Belleville United has not and will not endorse the Burke/Longo/ Freda campaign and publicly asks them to refrain from associating themselves with us.

Michael Mignone

President, Belleville Education Association

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