Updated, 5:55 a.m.: Copy edits
NORWALK, Conn. – Here’s some Norwalk news, some related to the upcoming election:
- City warns campaigns about signs on public property
- Penn-Williams’ accusations – continued
- Lavielle endorsed by small business association
- A meeting here, a meeting there:
- Walk Bridge high tower replacement presentation Tuesday
- Your input wanted by Parking Authority
- A public hearing on YMCA parking lot transfer
Norwalk ‘reminds’ campaigns about sign regulations
“With Election Day five weeks away, the City of Norwalk and Norwalk Department of Public Works is reminding candidates for election, residents, and business owners, that campaign signs cannot be placed on city property,” according to a Monday press release from Norwalk Communications Manager Joshua Morgan. “The prohibition includes rights-of-way along roadways, which can extend up to ten feet beyond the pavement, as well as State of Connecticut Department of Transportation highways throughout Norwalk.”
Assistant to the Mayor Laoise King said “nothing specifically” had prompted the announcement, just “we are just getting closer to election time so wanted to remind folks.”
There have been multiple Facebook conversations about signs placed in inappropriate places, with Republican John Flynn accusing the Travis Simms campaign of putting signs on public property, and Republican State Senate candidate Marc D’Amelio on the receiving end of similar complaints.
“Our country was founded on the great values of democracy, which allows all people to have a voice in the democratic process. It’s wonderful when the community gets involved and helps spread information on candidates through literature and signage,” Mayor Harry Rilling is quoted as saying in the release. “However, city property cannot be used to help promote any candidate, regardless of political affiliation. The city has been and always will be an impartial entity.”
“Campaign signs placed behind the sidewalk are permitted. If there is no sidewalk, signs must be placed at least ten feet from the curb,” according to the release, which also stated that the Department of Public Works collects improperly placed signs and takes them to the Department of Public Works Operations Center, located at 15 South Smith St.
During the 2017 election city officials denied accusations that DPW sign removal favored Mayor Harry Rilling.
The rest of Penn-Williams’ statement
Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams ran out of time last week in her attempt to confront the Norwalk Board of Education about Chief of School Operations Frank Costanzo’s employment here. Costanzo is the subject of sexual harassment accusations by a New Haven woman. BoE Chairman Mike Barbis enforced the customary three-minute time limit for members of the public, and Penn-Williams’ time had run out amid a confrontation with BoE Chairman Mike Barbis about the “all white” Board of Education.
Penn-Williams on Saturday emailed NancyOnNorwalk her entire statement. The statement had more to say about Costanzo, who has been accused of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed by Chanel Renee Rice in U.S. District Court.
Here’s the part she didn’t get to say:
“Mr. Costanzo has the responsibility over administering discipline and decisions involving harassment. Board members, have you even asked how he can do this successfully since he does not understand it himself? Can you guarantee this type of behavior will not be an issue in Norwalk? Dr. Adamowski, have you not addressed this because the woman he allegedly harassed is Black?
“We are asking that Frank Costanzo be removed immediately. Please hire a qualified and seasoned administrator who can model professionalism and fairness across the board. We keep hearing that you are training Mr. Costanzo as our next superintendent, Dr. Adamowski. The community will not accept that!
“It is very clear that since the School Board is now all white, there are many unfair practices against minorities. There is a white psychologist in the district who allegedly stabbed her husband and she is still employed. A white central office secretary who was arrested on a DUI, she is still employed, a black security guard who was in a music video was fired. Stop this now and do the right thing!”
Norwalk Public Schools Communications Director Brenda Wilcox Williams did not respond to a Monday email requesting comment. Neither did Board of Education members.
NFIB endorses Lavielle
State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) has been endorsed in her push for reelection by the National Federation of Independent Business, a press release said.
“The NFIB CT PAC believes that you will be committed to the needs of thousands of Main Street small businesses and their employees in Connecticut when you are elected to serve in Hartford. Thank you for standing with NFIB on the issues important to small business,” NFIB CT PAC Chairwoman Wendy Traub and NFIB CT Grassroots Manager Sharon Sykes are quoted as saying in a Friday endorsement letter.
Lavielle is opposed this fall by Stephanie Thomas, a Democrat.
“NFIB is Connecticut’s and the country’s leading small-business association with thousands of members in Connecticut representing a cross-section of the state’s economy,” according to the press release. “For 75 years, NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven organization, NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the rights of small and independent business owners to own, operate, and grow their businesses.”
“Over the past decade, Connecticut’s economy has shrunk by 8%, and it’s the only New England state that hasn’t recovered all the jobs it lost during the recession,” Lavielle said in response to the endorsement. “More than 75% of our state’s businesses have fewer than 20 employees, so small businesses are a key driver of our economy. It’s critical to make it easier for them to do business in Connecticut so that both young people and experienced professionals can have access to a vibrant job market with a full range of career opportunities. One of my highest priorities is helping small businesses reduce their structural costs and eliminating burdensome regulations that make it more difficult for them to operate. I am grateful for the NFIB’s endorsement and its recognition of my commitment to fighting for policies that will make our state friendlier to business.”
Lavielle, District 143’s State Rep since 2010, is Assistant Minority Leader and Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Education Committee, and a member of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee and the Transportation Committees, the release said. She also previously served as Ranking Member of the Commerce Committee.
Busy two days of public information
There are three meetings being held within 48 hours, that either provide information to the public and/or offer an opportunity to speak on an issue:
SoNo high tower line relocation
Eversource will present its plans to relocate SoNo’s high tower line, as part of the expected Walk Bridge reconstruction, in a joint meeting of the Common Council Public Works Committee and the Recreations, Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall room 231.
King said the proposed relocation will impact Veterans Park, hence the joint discussion.
Public input on parking
At 6 p.m. Wednesday in the City Hall community room, Norwalk Tomorrow is seeking public input on a parking capacity and strategic plan. Walker Consultants will provide an overview and status report, and then the public will be allowed to weigh in.
“In order to make sure that parking meets the need of those who work, live and do business in Norwalk, the Norwalk Parking Authority has commissioned an in-depth parking capacity study and strategic parking plan,” the Norwalk Tomorrow website states.
Hearing on ‘disposition’ of City-owned lot
At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Council Land Use and Building Management Committee is holding a public hearing on the “proposed disposition of City (owned) parking lot at the corner of West Avenue across from the entrance of Mathews Park (aka old YMCA parking lot).”
Note: that’s at Norwalk High School, in the library. The Committee is touring the school at 7 p.m.
Norwalk Hospital has planned a mixed-use development on the old YMCA property and is looking to acquire two City-owned West Avenue properties. Building and Facilities Manager Alan Lo explained recently that the .44 acres owned by the City, at the intersection of West and Route 1, are appraised at $950,000 and that’s what the hospital will pay, if Council members approve.