NORWALK, Conn. – Here’s what we have for you in political notes this Monday:
- An opponent for Wilms?
- Bowman plans exit
- Duff SGC move
- Barron slams King’s ‘silly’ comment
- Barron admires Norwalk
Ben Page-Fort versus Wilms?
Ben Page-Fort is interested in running against State Rep. Fred Wilms (R-142) this year, according to minutes of the Feb. 20 Democratic Town Committee meeting.
Neither DTC Chairman Ed Camacho nor DTC Vice Chairwoman Galen Wells returned an email asking for Page-Fort’s contact information.
Page-Fort is the senior business development manager at Stat-Pro, the “leading provider of cloud solutions for risk, performance, attribution, GIPS composites management and reporting,” according to his LinkedIn page. He’s held that position for nearly a year; before that he was a senior account executive at IBM, from July 2015 to March 2017.
His IBM career goes back to December 2013, beginning with the Blue Spark Strategy Program for a year and four months, then as a risk analytics sales specialist for nearly three years.
Page-Fort holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from The University of Connecticut School of Business. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and business technology.
City tax records show he moved to Silvermine in 2016.
Wilms is seeking his third term, after succeeding Larry Cafero in 2014.
Bowman plans to leave Norwalk
“I will probably be moving out of Norwalk pretty soon, because I can own a home someplace else,” Common Council member Phaedrel “Faye” Bowman (D-District B) said on Feb. 21, during a discussion about the cost of housing in Norwalk.
Council member Doug Hempstead (R-District D) had asked Human Relations & Fair Rent Department Director Adam Bovilsky and Director of Personnel and Labor Relations Ray Burney about the low percentage of city employees who live in Norwalk.
“I will tell you I hear over and over and over again, the people who say it’s too expensive to live in Norwalk,” Bovilsky said. “We have folks that work for the city full time and are in public housing. They still qualify for public housing and the rents are too high.”
Higher level employees may have applied as professionals but don’t want to move their families, he said.
Bowman said she lives in St. Paul’s Flax Hill Co-op, described by the Simon Konover Company as “subsidy, affordable.”
Three Norwalk Police officers live in St. Paul’s, along with Council member Travis Simms (D-District B), Bowman said, explaining that she used to think police officers should live in Norwalk but “when you start looking, it’s almost like common sense.”
Bowman said in a follow-up email that the date of her exodus and final destinations are “still to be determined.”
Duff seeks state protection for elected officials
There’s no authorship listed for Connecticut General Assembly Raised Bill 319, but it appears connect to State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25).
An Act Concerning Parent Members Of School Governance Councils would protect the right of public officials to serve on School Governance Councils.
The Norwalk Board of Education is considering a policy change to prohibit certain elected and appointed officials from serving on SGCs. Duff is on the Norwalk High School SGC.
This is a topic on the Facebook page Norwalk Parents for Education, where BoE Finance Committee Chairman Bryan Meek posted a letter and said, “Senator Bob Duff, standing up for himself.”
The Feb. 6 letter is from Duff to the three Committee on Children leaders asking that the Committee raise An Act Concerning Parent Members Of School Governance Councils.
The bill wouldn’t affect Duff, a parent told Meek on the Facebook page, saying, “Actually He is not standing up for himself at all. This is his last year on the council and he would be grandfathered anyway. He is standing up for others.”
Meek replied, “That’s a fair assessment. Where are the letters pleading the Governor or others to stop cutting our grants?”
Policy Committee Chairwoman Heidi Keyes said, “Our SGC is still up for discussion as a policy committee. We will be discussing this and other issues relating to SGC.”
Barron: King’s comment ‘inflammatory’
Finance Director Bob Barron at a recent Planning Commission meeting responded to a comment left by Commissioner Nora King on NancyOnNorwalk.
“That’s silly,” he said of King’s comment alleging that fees go into the Rainy Day Fund, “which Bob Barron won’t let us spend on items that our important to the tax base.”
“I don’t let anybody spend anything,” he said. “I make recommendations. Appropriate bodies appropriate and you can spend up to that appropriation. The Common Council makes the appropriations for capital and the BET (Board of Estimate and Taxation) makes the appropriation for operating budget. The idea that you would write this inflammatory language, ‘that Bob Barron won’t let us spend on items that are important to the tax base’ is just silly and it’s untrue.”
Regarding her description of an “ugly cycle… controlled by the Finance men that don’t even live in the city,” he said, “I’ll tell ya, I think there’s advantages for having people that live in the city, that know the city, inside and out. But I think there’s disadvantages, too. Do you want me voting on something that impacts the teacher that has my son in the classroom? Do you want me voting on a Parks program that other members of my family are in? I think that there’s a level of objectivity that you can maintain and it makes it easier. I think any professional will maintain their objectivity whether they live in or out of the city but I think living out of the city allows me to maintain a level of objectivity that maybe someone that lived in the city didn’t.”
“So those three items are completely wrong, completely inflammatory and frankly, I don’t appreciate it,” he said.
Planning Commissioner Michael Ferguson said he hadn’t seen King’s comment. Barron handed out copies.
Barron admires Norwalk
The city’s Triple A rating is a big topic as budget discussion continue; Barron told the Planning Commission that he used to be finance director for West Haven, which was rated Triple B minus.
“They had their problems,” Barron said. “It was a family run town. they have a lot of difficulties. I am so impressed with Norwalk. I am impressed with the volunteers in each of these agencies, the amount of time you have to spend to prepare for these decisions. I make my recommendations based on the financial impact. You guys live here, you know what your vision for the city of Norwalk is and I encourage you to make your recommendation based on what you want to accomplish. I am just doing the financial analysis to give you the impact of whatever level of funding you choose.”
Later, he said, “I am so impressed with all the Commissions and Committees that I come before. It is a real privilege to work in Norwalk. It is a very, very well-run town and I can say that from having an outside perspective.”