Norwalk Mayor’s assistant lists positions open during hiring freeze

Mike Mocciae’s former position as Norwalk Recreation and Parks Department Director will remain open indefinitely as Norwalk has instituted a hiring freeze.



Correction, 2 a.m., Sept. 2: According to Mayor Harry Rilling, Laoise King’s title is still assistant to the mayor. NancyOnNorwalk checked the city’s website Thursday and found that King was called Chief of Staff, and used it in the story and headline. With Rilling’s Friday email the headline and story have been changed. Rilling said he would contact the webmaster about King’s title. 

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Assistant to the Mayor Laoise King on Thursday provided NancyOnNorwalk with a list of positions that are open as Mayor Harry Rilling has instituted a hiring freeze.

Rilling’s hiring freeze, done in expectation of a budget shortfall as Connecticut shifts its funding to its cities, was announced Wednesday.

“While the city will honor all current contracts, non-essential spending has been curtailed and any new contractual arrangements or costs impacting spending is being carefully reviewed,” Rilling was quoted as saying in the press release, which explained that no open positions for the current fiscal year will be filled unless an offer letter has already been extended. The city is not laying off any employees, and all current staff will continue to be paid.

It’s a hard freeze but exceptions will be considered if sufficient justifications are made, Finance Director Bob Barron said in the release.

King promised on Wednesday to get a list of affected positions for NancyOnNorwalk. On Thursday, she delivered, providing this list of “open full time positions for which no final candidate has been selected:”

  • Fire Chief
  • Director of Health
  • Director of Recreation and Parks
  • Grants Administrator
  • Compliance Assistant (2)
  • Desktop Support Technician
  • Assistant Coordinator –Youth
  • Reference Librarian
  • Library Assistant
  • Maintainer 1

There are also part time positions that are in various stages of recruitment, she said:

  • Event Coordinator( permanent)
  • Gymnastics Instructor ( seasonal)
  • Fire Inspector ( temporary)
  • Librarian (two) (permanent)
  • School Crossing Guard (seasonal)


“Many of the above positions are essential to health, safety and quality of life for our residents, as such we will ensure that essential duties will be covered on an interim basis by capable current employees,” King said. “For essential positions for which an interim appointment is not possible, a determination will be made on a case by case basis on whether to proceed with hiring.”

The state is being run under an executive order issued by Gov. Dannel Malloy, which would be vacated if the legislature approves a budget.

Rilling was quoted Wednesday as saying, “I’m confident that my department heads can continue to deliver all essential city services by temporarily covering vacancies with current personnel because we cannot afford to hire any more people until we know where we stand with the state.”


Donna August 31, 2017 at 11:12 pm

Is assistant to the major an essential position? That position was vacant until Rilling filled it in November of 2016 so he’d have someone to go to the WestCOG meetings. I have nothing against Laoise King except for the fact that she’s on the payroll and she’s doing the job the mayor is supposed to be doing himself. What kinds of austerity measures is the major willing to impose on himself to cope with the budget crisis?

Sue Haynie September 1, 2017 at 6:54 am

@Donna. Agree. Nothing against Ms King, but it is ironic that in our little city of Norwalk, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff put out the press release regarding a hiring freeze. Frugality and responsibility should start at the top.

Ernie DesRochers September 1, 2017 at 8:53 am

A hiring freeze? It’s going to take a lot more than that to balance a budget. Interesting that there a three senior management positions open. Not sure how wise that is to not fill these but then again this is an election year where pandering becomes an art form.

Seaworthy September 1, 2017 at 10:36 am

Westport, Fairfield, Danbury, Stratford and many other communities have Chiefs of Staff. Norwalk had similar positions in the Esposito, Knopp and Moccia administrations.

Mr. DesRochers: all vacant senior management positions are being staffed at lower salaries by highly professional assistants whose positions remain unfilled. Moreover, the city will realize significant savings by not having to provide medical and other benefits.

Donna September 1, 2017 at 3:00 pm

@Seaworthy, when Ms. King was hired, former mayor Moccia commented on NoN that his assistant was an unpaid volunteer. Another assistant was paid for out of the RDA. He did not employ a chief of staff for the duration of his tenure. I cannot speak for Knopp. No disrespect to Ms.King, but if the Mayor is going to freeze spending, he might start with his own office.

Rick September 1, 2017 at 3:44 pm

lets have an audit of the departments and and figure out what the city needs.When seeking dept heads use that info to find quality people not another run with hand picked hacks for a city of 100,000 .

Right now there is very little work getting the city ready to run lean for the next couple of years ,about what a term is if you want to compare.

Hidden expenses are building up,the grants that have been given for nonsense should be pulled first ,salt marsh restoration and the power plant grants are right up there with the art on west ave .Those are votes not progress the city should be working towards.

Parking and rec should be put together then parking auth wouldn’t be renting equipment or hiring outside the box ensuring the rec of no layoffs.

Joe September 1, 2017 at 11:01 pm

So, it looks like Norwalk may need some extra millions of dollars?

Remember what John Dillinger said.

It’s in the schools.

Donald September 2, 2017 at 12:24 am

Where did you get the information that Westport, Fairfield, Danbury, and Stratford all have a chief of staff as the website for these towns do not list such a position. Please provide the names of these individuals with a link . Thank You

Ernie DesRochers September 2, 2017 at 8:45 am

The city of norwalk annual budget is currently $337.3 million with $176 million going to education. We received $20.7 million in intergovernmental grants. So the question is how much do we lose from the state and what tax and f increase gets passed on to residents. A hiring freeze certainly makes nice copy but not hiring department heads is a strange strategy given they are senior management. The salary and benefits savings are small on a relative basis to the overall budget and departmental budgets. Good government and good business is about leadership. Have we not heard over the past 4 years that each department should be led by the best hired through national searches?Perhaps what the city really needs to do is an overall department and management restructure. I am sure there are efficiencies tha can be found eliminating positions that are just not needed. Where to start?

Non Partisan September 2, 2017 at 8:51 am

Start by an aggressive campaign to eliminate the number of illegal apartments

Then- end our sanctuary city policies that are driving out spending thru the roof.

Follow that up with o based budgeting.

Donna September 2, 2017 at 9:57 am

The ed budget is always the tail that wags the dog. Is this budget top heavy? Too many central office staff? Too much sped and ELL spending? Too many new kids to educate? Tenured teachers we’re obligated to pay in spite of their mediocrity? How about the rest of the budget? It’s not just senior mgt. driving up the budget. The City awards lucrative contracts to companies like Grasso. The City approves new land use deals and creates tax favorable enterprise zones. There’s no easy fix. What we need is a complete overhaul. Charter needs to be updated to foster governmental systems with real accountability and continual oversight and review.

Finally, CT should follow the lead of CO and fully legalize–and tax–marijuana. It’s no worse than what we can buy legally from the liquor stores or what we can get via prescription at the drug store.

Isabelle Hargrove September 2, 2017 at 12:30 pm

This is just reactive “leadership” to generate headlines and campaign talking points.

Mr. Rilling is on the second year of his second term and all he has to show for is status quo. No zoning/planning reforms, no meaningful charter reform (actually, not even meaningless and self-serving ones), no re-organization of an inefficient / silo-prone administration, no defending us against unfair State funding or monstruous plans from DOT that will destroy us, no vision for growth that expands our grand list, brings good paying job, and transforms Norwalk into a 21st century striving small metropolis.

As a result, all we get are expensive lawsuits, ah doc developments that line developers pockets (or worst, remain unfinished) while burdening our infrastructure and generating no significant revenues, and ever increasing taxes matched by shrinking services.

For Norwalk’s sake, we should be able to do better and we deserve it!

Rick September 2, 2017 at 5:06 pm

lets all hear about School Crossing Guards,and how the police dept covers most of the crossings?

Let us in on what is involved for an officer to take a crossing,does it involve union rules or is it just asking the officer if he will do it?

Who pays crossing the school or the police dept?

Does a police officer get more for a crossing or is that fiction.

We know the oyster fest and other events pays cash as in years past for officers how does that work now? How is that recorded as in taxes and what the city is on the hook for?

Maybe some digging will turn up some great answers be nice before the election ,of course this just didn’t start happening with the crossing guards did it?

Transparency is fatal when the right questions are asked

Rick September 2, 2017 at 5:57 pm

update —now the police dept lists under case numbers school crossings in the police log maybe pointing this out will get answers from our chief for the day . Why the times were not filled in leaves more questions .

I find it unlikely any fact will surface from this little known situation when its the taxpayers footing the bill.

Why no one else is asking tells us all the city is good hiding facts.

That audit I keep suggesting would catch things like this.

Donna September 2, 2017 at 9:44 pm

@Rick, if anyone in Norwalk knows about police compensation for oyster fest and schools crossings, it’s Mayor Rilling. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Harry is uncharacteristicly bashful on this topic.

Sue Haynie September 2, 2017 at 9:50 pm

The position, whether you want to call it ‘Chief of Staff’ or ‘Assistant to the Mayor’ is irrelevant since it’s still a$100,000/year job, not including benefits. It’s unnecessary.

Donald September 4, 2017 at 4:58 pm

If I remember correctly from the time, I was associated with the Oyster Festival a few years back the police were ripping off the Oyster Festival for the tune of near $100,000.00 for the cops. What you would get for that is a bunch of cops hanging around in groups doing ZERO. The police at 65 plus an hour overtime are making the Oyster Festival unsustainable.
Also not sure, how many are aware but police also get overtime at 65 plus an hour at every hole in the ground, when assigned to patrol the beach, when working a school dance and when guarding a prisoner at the hospital. My understanding is they also get a perk when doing crossing guard duties for the kids.
Let us not forget we have Rilling, Kimmel and Mendez to blame for this as they pushed to line the police union’s pockets at dirt jobs. Norwalk had the opportunity to use flagmen at 25 bucks an hour, instead of cops doing ZERO for 65. However, our pro union anti-taxpayer hacks would have no part of it (Rilling, Kimmel and Mendez). People its election year and these pro union anti-taxpayer hacks must go.

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