Updated 10:30 p.m.: Comment from Mayor Harry Rilling; 5:35 a.m.: Copy edits, information added
NORWALK, Conn. — There’s a feeling that in Norwalk, you have to “pay to play,” Republican Town Committee Chairman Mark Suda said Monday at a public hearing in City Hall.
Suda, a Norwalk Police officer, made the allegation when speaking to Common Council members at the Ordinance Committee’s public hearing on the proposed Innovation District in the Council chambers, with about 50 people in attendance.
“Perception on street right now, I am not scared to say it, I am going to look you all in the eye,” Suda said. “This is the perception among contractors in this City that are not being used by all of you guys, by City Hall: there’s a perception that to play here, you have to pay. That’s just what the word on the street is.”
NancyOnNorwalk emailed Ordinance Committee members Thursday evening for comment on Suda’s remark.
“I was disturbed by that comment,” Council member Tom Livingston (D-District E) replied. “It’s easy to throw around statements like that. But these are serious allegations and if he has any real facts, he should bring them forward, particularly as a police officer.”
Suda has not replied to a Wednesday email from NancyOnNorwalk or a Thursday evening phone call and email, asking about the comments.
Mayor Harry Rilling, a Democrat, on Thursday promised to look into the remark. Rilling did not attend the hearing because he had just returned from a week’s vacation, he said Monday.
On Thursday, he said, “No comment on that right now. I want to know exactly what was said and if there is, obviously, even a hint of an impropriety on anybody in my staff, that will be totally unacceptable and we will be looking into this.”
NancyOnNorwalk also asked Common Council President John Kydes (D-District C), who was not at the hearing, for a response. Kydes wrote back, “I’m proud to be serving with council members who make their decisions based on the facts.”
A duty roster contained in the Norwalk Police Department’s 2016 Annual Report lists Suda as a member of the Special Services Unit. According to the document he was appointed to the Norwalk Police Department in 1993.
On Friday afternoon, Rilling said he’d spoken to Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik about the matter, explaining, “He’s going to look at it and together we will determine what the facts are and whether or not there should be a criminal investigation into these allegations.”