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Norwalk seen and heard: Is Moccia prescient?

Norwalk BOE Feb. 19 2013 070

Mayor Richard Moccia speaks at last week’s Norwalk Board of Education meeting.

Updated, 12:54 p.m. Tuesday

NORWALK, Conn. –  Here are some items of interest that were seen or heard recently in Norwalk:

When was that again?

Mayor Richard Moccia was on News12’s “Meet the Leaders” segment this week, covering topics that included gun control, the lawsuit over the mosque proposed for 127 Fillow St. and the work being done on I-95.

Toward the end of the half-hour program, the conversation turned to development in Norwalk.

“Things are breaking loose finally,” he said, going on to list Factset and Pepperidge Farm as businesses that are expanding, then talking about the jobs that would be created when Waypointe and POKO (which is rumored to be stalled due to money problems) get built. “Lowe’s application was approved,” he said. “There’s going to be a Lowe’s coming on Connecticut Avenue.”

Funny thing: the Lowe’s application was approved at the Wednesday night Zoning Commission meeting. That was Feb. 21.

The show was taped on Feb. 7,  Cablevision government affairs administrative assistant Camiellie Szulc said in an email.

So on Feb. 7 the mayor was talking in past tense about a decision made Feb. 21 …

“Meet the Leaders” is appearing on Optimum’s channel 84 through March 9, at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday and Thursday; 11:30 p.m. on Monday and Friday; 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Saturday and at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Why stay here?

Margaret Watt, a parent, educator and co-chairwoman of Norwalk SPED Partners, a parent-led group focused in special education student, implored the Common Council’s Finance Committee to find more money for the Board of Education budget.

 

Watt: “I understand that you guys have this impossible job year after year and the city does support education, but provide public services throughout the city. Everywhere you look in Norwalk everything is bare bones. At this point, I feel the best thing I can say about living here is it ain’t Bridgeport.”

No pay, 423 students

Two speakers at the Finance Committee meeting asked council members to find the money to fund an art teacher at Brien McMahon High School, where more than 25 percent of the student body has been turned away from taking an art class. Councilwoman Sarah Mann (R-At Large) thought she might have an idea.

Mann: “Would it be possible to collaborate with the Silvermine Arts Council or Darien Arts Center to get a volunteer?”

Interim Superintendent Tony Daddona: “We are a public school so we need certified teachers in order to give credit. Having someone who is not certified by the state of Connecticut, we will then not be able to give graduation credits.”

Mann: “Are the teachers not certified at Silvermine or Darien Arts?”

Daddona: “I have no understanding, but in order for them to teach at Norwalk Public Schools, for us to give them credits for graduation, it is a state requirement for us that all of our teachers be certified by the state of Connecticut in that particular academic area.”

BOE Finance Committee Chairman Mike Barbis: “You need a degree. It’s not certification, it’s a degree. It’s not like you just take a course and get a stamp. It’s quite difficult to get.”

Catcalls in two places

Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Bruce Mellion doesn’t seem to be happy these days. He was seen grumbling at two Norwalk meetings this week.

One observer referred to Mellion’s comments as “catcalls” at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting during a lengthy discussion about board member Sue Haynie’s actions regarding the minutes of a previous meeting. On Thursday he again could not keep quiet as a member of the audience at the Common Council Finance Committee meeting.

Mellion was upset when Councilwoman Michelle Maggio (R-District E) questioned the price of a science curriculum specialist and then moved on to another teacher issue:

Maggio: “I wish I could get a job that pays $169,000. I may be crazy thinking that’s not what that job is worth. My husband works for the fire department, going on 20 years. He gets six weeks a year of sick time. However, the chief has been really cutting down on the need for overtime, because he made a requirement for the guys to bring in a note from a doctor if they are going to miss than two tours. As a wife who depends on that paycheck, I understand that he has earned that sick time, but then there are people who abuse it.

“When we’re sitting here talking about Common Core curriculum and we need to put $400,000 in the budget but then we take a number, $800,000 (for substitute teachers), which is double what we need for Common Core, to budget for that – you could talk to me and explain that to me, Mr. Mellion, I see you shaking your head. But I don’t understand when we have a snow day, not because the roads are bad, but because we didn’t have enough substitutes, that that many people call out sick. I don’t understand … I wonder if there is anybody making people accountable for taking sick time in the school department?”

Oh, that modern technology

Board of Education Personnel Committee Chairwoman Sue Haynie, at Tuesday’s BOE meeting:

Haynie: “For our Jan. 31 meeting I brought in a very cool recording audio device that worked fabulously. I was able to record the audio – it was made in 2013 instead of 1960 – I was able to audio record the entire meeting. The sound is excellent. It got everybody in the room, including Elio, who can speak kind of low. I was able to download it onto a thing called Sound Platform. … It’s small. It weighs probably a couple of ounces. It costs probably $250, so I just think maybe we should look into that.”

A recorder commonly used at City Hall meetings. Note the tape cassette off the to left. That’s right — a tape cassette. Very 70s.

4 comments

Diane C2 February 25, 2013 at 3:59 pm

So let me get this straight –
The mayor tapes a segment on Feb 7th announcing that the Lowe’s application WAS approved (not “going to be approved” or “should be approved” or “likely to be approved”). The zoning committee didn’t even meet until February 14th to consider the application. It didn’t advance to the full commission until February 21st!

I’m sure he will claim some sort of senior moment, or unbridled optimism, or that he misspoke. I don’t think any explanation excuses the fact that a mayor announced the approval of a major application (one that was controversial even before city officials acknowledged its existence) prior to the Zoning Committee considering it and voting to move it on to the full Commission!

Hmmm, how many zoning commissioners tune in to Meet the Leaders…..

Original BARIN February 25, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Transparency folks.
Wow, he has some splainin to do, wait a minute has this happened with other decisions?

Original BARIN February 25, 2013 at 10:16 pm

@ Mike Barbis,
Thanks for explaining the obvious to most.
Remember there are no silly questions, how long are the council terms?

oldtimer February 26, 2013 at 10:13 am

When the change was made in the zoning rules to accomodate Lowe’s application, anybody could have predicted it was a done deal and everything after that was strictly pro-forma.

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