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Lamont announces new CT COO

Gov.-Elect Ned Lamont and his choice for chief operating officer, Paul Mounds. (CTMirror.org)

Gov-elect Ned Lamont shared his first plans for restructuring state government Friday, announcing a new post of chief operating officer — a position recommended and never implemented decades ago in Connecticut, while becoming increasingly common in governors’ offices across the U.S.

While some governors have looked to corporate executives and state agency heads for COOs, Lamont’s choice is Paul Mounds, who has held a number of policy and communications jobs in state and federal government, as well as special projects that put him in touch with a variety of state agencies. Continue reading Lamont announces new CT COO

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Norwalk budget cycle begins with consideration of whopping increase

Norwalk Finance Director Bob Barron issues financial projections Thursday City Hall.  The grand list is going up by nearly $1 billion, he said.

Updated, 10:43 a.m.: Copy edits, revised headline

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Common Council members on Thursday began considering the Norwalk Board of Education’s budgetary needs for 2019-20.

The BoE working draft budget calls for a $12.1 million increase, Norwalk Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Thomas Hamilton said at a joint meeting of the BoE and Council Finance Committees in City Hall.  $10.3 million of that amount is needed just to maintain current services, Hamilton said.

Video by Harold Cobin at end of story Continue reading Norwalk budget cycle begins with consideration of whopping increase

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Norwalk Redevelopment Agency tells its side of ‘POKO’-Milligan story

Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan. (File photo)

Updated, 9:02 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. – For months, city officials have had little to say about a case against developer Jason Milligan, who they claim improperly purchased properties that were part of a Wall Street-area revitalization initiative.  Now they’re making their arguments before a judge who has described the situation as “cloudy” and “very confusing”.

Monday through Wednesday, Redevelopment Agency attorney Joe Williams argued in Stamford Superior Court before Judge Charles Lee for a temporary injunction which would prevent Milligan from leasing or making changes to the properties while the plaintiffs make their case.  If the plaintiffs convince Lee that they have a probability of winning at trial, he may issue the injunction and allow the case to proceed. Continue reading Norwalk Redevelopment Agency tells its side of ‘POKO’-Milligan story

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Norwalk reval prompts ‘serious concerns’

Correction, 1:43 p.m.: Mayor Rilling co-owns a home. Updated, 7:09 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. – Mayor Harry Rilling said Wednesday that he has “serious concerns” about the latest Norwalk property revaluation, now in the process of being finalized.

His condo, and those of identical condos in his complex, was undervalued, while appraisals of other condos in the complex went up, Rilling said. In addition, there was a nonfunctional website link sent out to taxpayers, confusing their efforts to schedule hearings to challenge their preliminary assessments.

“This is totally unacceptable,” Rilling said. Continue reading Norwalk reval prompts ‘serious concerns’

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Promotional video draws flak for featuring Rilling, wife

Mayor Harry Rilling and his wife, Lucia Rilling, in a scene from a video released last week by Norwalk Now.

Updated, 6:08 a.m.: Revised headline, copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. – A Norwalk promotional video has tongues wagging, and has led to criticism of Mayor Harry Rilling.

The video, posted on Facebook by Norwalk Now, features overhead shots of Norwalk, views of Rilling’s wife doing yoga, and the couple dining in various restaurants, with a voiceover in which Rilling touts the city.

“From a melting pot of restaurants and gathering places, to an array of restaurants and fashionable locations, Norwalk continues to evolve while maintaining its historic New England charm,” Rilling states in the video. “So, discover our amazing coastal community by visiting NorwalkNow.org, where Norwalk business owners come together to bring you our city in real time.”

Norwalk Now is funded by the Norwalk Parking Authority.

Continue reading Promotional video draws flak for featuring Rilling, wife

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Norwalk hires new Economic, Community Development Chief

Jessica Casey, newly hired as Norwalk Chief of Economic and Community Development, speaks to the Common Council on Tuesday in City Hall.

Updated, 7:48 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. – Jessica Casey has been hired as Norwalk Chief of Economic and Community Development, the winner of what was reportedly a nationwide search.

Common Council members approved Casey’s hire Tuesday.  The move simultaneously filled a key position that has been vacant for a year and appointed the first “Chief” for the recently rejiggered Mayor’s cabinet who wasn’t hired from within.  Multiple council members praised Casey, but some criticized the process of selecting her. Continue reading Norwalk hires new Economic, Community Development Chief

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Norwalk Council news: Walk Bridge commentary, fee changes

Norwalk Chief of Staff Laoise King, left, and Walk Bridge Project program manager Susan Prosi Johnson speak to the Common Council, Tuesday in City Hall.

Correction, 10:15 p.m.: John Kydes, not John Igneri; headline edited. Updated, 7:33 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. – A roundup from Tuesday’s Common Council meeting:

  • Walk Bridge consultant given more duties as contract extended
  • Romano begs for consultant
  • Parks and Rec fees go up slightly
  • Health Department reclassifies restaurants

Continue reading Norwalk Council news: Walk Bridge commentary, fee changes

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Hearing on ‘POKO’ lawsuit begins in Stamford

Real estate broker Jason Milligan on Monday shows off an exhibit he has created for his hearing in Stamford Superior Court. The exhibit overlays plans for Wall Street Place onto the existing properties in the area. Wall Street Place phase I cannot get a certificate of occupancy without the City building “New Street,” through People’s Chicken and property owned by John Dias, he said, asserting that construction on Phase II cannot begin without phase I getting that CO. Phase II would also require a road, planned to go through property now being considered for a new apartment building, he said.

Updated, 11 a.m., photo removed; 8:09 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. – Legal arguments and preliminary explanations marked the first day of an expected days-long hearing on the Redevelopment Agency’s and the City’s attempt to stop real estate broker Jason Milligan from doing anything with the properties he bought from Richard Olson of POKO Partners.

Olson and his attorney did not attend the hearing, except by telephone; Milligan’s attorney, David Rubin, argued that Milligan’s rights had been subverted, while Attorney Joseph Williams at one point accused Rubin of “a precedent-setting attempt at having cake and eating it too.” Continue reading Hearing on ‘POKO’ lawsuit begins in Stamford

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SoNo Collection construction progress nets problem on nearby street

A construction worker returns to his vehicle, Wednesday on Butler Street.

Quincy Street on Wednesday.

Updated, 7:50 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. – Workers doing construction on The SoNo Collection are parking illegally in nearby areas, Common Council member Doug Hempstead (R-District D) said last week.

“Butler (Street) is dangerous,” Hempstead said at the close of the Public Works Committee meeting.

“I agree,” Department of Public Works Principal Engineer Lisa Burns replied. “…Butler is horrible.” Continue reading SoNo Collection construction progress nets problem on nearby street

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Norwalk’s consultant gives Walk Bridge work update

Susan Prosi Johnson speaks to Norwalk Common Council members last week in City Hall.

Updated, 7:58 a.m.: Copy edits, revised headline

NORWALK, Conn. – The Norwalk Common Council is considering extending Susan Prosi Johnson’s  contract as Norwalk program manager in the state’s massive effort to rebuild the Walk Bridge.

To that end, the Public Works Committee last week received an update from Prosi Johnson, with these highlights:

  • The Connecticut Department of Transportation has agreed to build a new City dock in North Water Street wharf area
  • There have been major improvements to traffic detour plans devised for the construction of the Walk Bridge
  • Efforts to coordinate business retention during the construction need to be stepped up

Continue reading Norwalk’s consultant gives Walk Bridge work update

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Norwalk rethinking Maritime Aquarium’s theater project

The planned location of the new Maritime Aquarium 4-D Theater. (File photo)

Updated, 7:44 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. – The Maritime Aquarium is struggling to meet its budget to replace the IMAX Theater, according to Norwalk Department of Public Works Principal Engineer Lisa Burns.

The Aquarium solicited bids for the construction of a new 4-D Theater, and other work at the Aquarium, and received more than 20 “trade packages,” but the project will need to be rebid, Burns told the Common Council Public Works Committee last week. Continue reading Norwalk rethinking Maritime Aquarium’s theater project

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Opinion: Why are rich suburban kids doing heroin?

Why are rich suburban kids doing heroin?

In the past two years, I’ve lost four friends to drug overdoses. I grew up with several people who are now heroin addicts, both recovering and using. My friends and I have watched our peers drop like flies over the past few years, and it’s only getting worse as the nation’s opioid crisis intensifies in a myriad of ways.

Guess where I’m from? Who my friends are? What their childhoods looked like? You might have imagined I’m from a rural area, or an urban neighborhood. You might have thought these friends of mine were poor and under-supervised. You might impose the well-known narrative of using drugs as an escape from the hardships of poverty, when life is bleak and it seems there are no other viable options. Most of all, you wouldn’t have guessed that these are the same kids that grew up rich in Fairfield. Continue reading Opinion: Why are rich suburban kids doing heroin?

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Spending too much time on your phone? Behavioral science has an app for that

Just sitting on a park bench, completely ignoring each other. (Vlad Teodor, shutterstock.com)

We’re squandering increasing amounts of time distracted by our phones. And that’s taking a serious toll on our mental and physical well-being.

In 2017, U.S. adults spent an average of three hours and 20 minutes a day using their smartphones and tablets. This is double the amount from just five years ago, according to an annual survey of internet trends. Another survey suggests most of that time is spent on arguably unproductive activities like Facebook, gaming and other types of social media. Continue reading Spending too much time on your phone? Behavioral science has an app for that

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