Norwalk has a problem with its representation up there in Hartford, where state laws are made. Apart from a few notable exceptions, it stinks.
State Sen. Bob Duff and State Reps Bruce Morris and Chris Perone are all elected to represent Norwalk’s interests. Our mayor, Harry Rilling, also is supposed to be a voice for Norwalk in Hartford, though he obviously has no vote on legislation.
And yet, in critical areas of taxing and spending, all four of these men regularly violate their supposed allegiance to their constituents and to their city. It seems their first loyalty is to Gov. Dannel Malloy, then to the majority of their fellow Democrats, and then to Norwalk — maybe, if anything is left.
We are in the middle of a stark example of their disloyalty to Norwalk. (To Darien, too, in the case of Duff, whose district covers both towns.) Look at their support for Malloy’s veto of the legislature’s bipartisan-passed budget. That budget contained no new tax increases while preserving the usual revenue sharing formulas with municipalities.
With Malloy’s veto comes a potentially devastating cut to funding for Norwalk’s public schools. Estimates of the cut range from $5 million to $10 million. If current programs in our schools are to be maintained, that money would have to be made up by steep hikes in already high Norwalk property taxes. Practically every Norwalk resident would feel the pain, especially our school kids, teachers, and their parents.
Yet Rilling, Duff, Morris, and Perone couldn’t wait to get into lock-step behind Malloy’s veto. Rilling later tried to backtrack – saying he didn’t really agree with it “per say” — after being called out on it by Republican mayoral candidate Andy Conroy. Guess it depends on what the meaning of “per se” is.
In the same slippery fashion, all four have been very good at keeping their constituents in the dark about their supporting roles for virtually all the governor’s tax and regulatory policies — policies that have snuffed out job growth in Connecticut.
If not for the Norwalk-area Republican representatives — Gail Lavielle, Fred Wilms, and Terrie Wood — Norwalk would have even weaker representation in Hartford. Lavielle, Wilms, Wood, and like-minded representatives have been gaining strength in the State Assembly in recent elections, but they need reinforcements.
Malloy and the legislature might eventually break the current stalemate and come up with some sort of makeshift budget agreement, but it will most likely feature yet another set of tax increases — the third in Malloy’s tenure as governor. But no one honestly believes that adding to the burdens of people and businesses will do anything but deepen the crisis in Connecticut’s finances.
While the allegiance of Rilling, Duff, Morris, and Perone is to Malloy rather than Norwalk, Malloy’s own allegiance is to the bosses of the state’s public employee unions. And therein lies the source of the stink, not to mention simple, slavish partisanship.