Norwalk political notes: A loss, a surprise and busy Norwalk legislators

Rep. Rick Hayes (R-51) and his colleagues during the opening day of the 2019 legislative session in Hartford. (Connecticut House Republicans)

NORWALK, Conn. – Here’s a roundup of political news:

  • Two pols remember Grace Lichtenstein
  • Roger Stone was born in Norwalk
  • Legislators still proposing bills


Grace Lichtenstein, 1922-2019

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of Grace W. Lichtenstein, a political force in Rowayton for over half a century. Flags in Rowayton are flying at half mast in her honor,” Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis, a Sixth Taxing District Commissioner, wrote on Next Door Rowayton on Friday.

“An amazing force of kindness, perseverance and graciousness died today. Friends and foes alike should take a moment and remember her. A beacon of civility in the name of progress in an ever changing world,” Piet Marks wrote to NancyOnNorwalk on Thursday.

Barbis, in the Next Door post, explained that Lichtenstein “arrived in Rowayton in 1946 from North Carolina. She was a powerful Democrat in Norwalk — getting people registered, organizing absentee voters, cultivating candidates, She was a Sixth Taxing District (6TD) Commissioner from 1983 to 1995. She also served in various roles at City Hall including on the Common Council.”

Grace Lichtenstein. (Contributed)

“Grace Lichtenstein caught Norwalk politics off guard,” former Mayor Bill Collins wrote to NancyOnNorwalk on Tuesday. “She operated from a base of moral imperative in a land of deep partisanship. Many in Norwalk weren’t ready. The welfare of the city suddenly became the issue rather than who won or lost and who could be tagged with credit or blame. Her influence crossed party lines, especially in Rowayton where her good sense on 6th District affairs had little to do with who proposed what, Democrat or Republican. Then when SoNo came along her vision, along with that of Valle Fay, of protecting Norwalk’s physical heritage and parlaying it into an attraction created excitement where little existed before. With her in the lead, Rowaytonites led the surge of customers to South Norwalk restaurants and shopping and to the Aquarium. This experience expanded her horizons and she soon became a leader in persuading residents to think more broadly about preservation in general and about protecting our environment from depredation. Grace’s charm, beauty, wit, and winsome Southern manner took Norwalk by storm and led to social and physical improvements that would have been impossible for anyone else to achieve.”

“A memorial service is planned for later this year,” Barbis wrote on Next Door. “She is survived by her grandson, Ian Devlin, known by many in Rowayton and Darien.”

Barbis on Monday wrote to NancyOnNorwalk, “she was a remarkable woman … a real dynamo … and she never stopped … well into her 80s she was working, building, crafting, organizing, cultivating … she had this very gentle, genteel way about her but she was a force to be reckoned with.”

He continued, “One of the last battles we worked on was to keep Gault from building an oil terminal on MLK Boulevard … she organized leaders from South Norwalk (Ernie Dumas was one of the leaders) with some old school blue bloods from Wilson Point and me from Rowayton … it was quite a combination of people making up that team … you would never have thought we could work together and win  … and that is where SoNo Field House currently stands.  She had a very strong track record at winning!”


Stone, indicted Trump fixer, creates Norwalk ripple

“Yikes, Did you know Roger Stone…” read the subject line of an email sent to NancyOnNorwalk on Friday. The email said, “yes ‘the’ Roger Stone, was born in Norwalk!! Mother was a Corbo.”

“Stone, who was born in Norwalk, was arrested Friday and charged with lying to Congress, obstructing an official proceeding and witness tampering for his role during the 2016 presidential campaign when he allegedly tried to obtain stolen Wikileaks emails damaging to Hillary Clinton,” the Hartford Courant reported Monday, in a story about a Saturday Night Live skit.

“FBI agents arrested former Trump adviser Roger J. Stone Jr. before dawn Friday at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after an indictment was unsealed in the Trump-Russia probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller,” the Boston Globe reported Friday.

“The tattoo of former U.S. President Richard Nixon Roger Stone has on his back is a good indicator of who the political strategist’s heroes are,” Newsweek reports. “He worked on Nixon’s re-election committee in 1972 and remained a key adviser to the disgraced president after he was forced from office. Ever since, he has been a figure at both the center and periphery of the Republican party.”

Wikipedia quotes an Hour obituary to explain that Stone was born to Gloria (Corbo) Stone and Roger J. Stone.

The Corbos are a big Norwalk clan, the email writer said, explaining, “Brothers Tom & Bob, both deceased, known in sports circles, Old Timers, etc. plus Bob was active in Democratic politics.”

NancyOnNorwalk also received an email from an out-of-towner, saying, “Roger Stone was born in Norwalk. Maybe there’s something in the water?”



More bills proposed

Norwalk legislators are still at it, filing proposed bills in Hartford. This includes a joint effort by State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) and State Rep. Terri Wood (R-141), “An act concerning the merger or closure of institutions within the Connecticut state colleges and universities.”

The list of additions:

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25)

  • SB00689         An act concerning the tolling of temporary restraining orders
  • SB00691         An act concerning the expungement of criminal records (introduced by 14)
  • SB00696         An act concerning the solvency of the unemployment trust fund
  • SB00697         An act concerning nondisclosure agreements in the workplace
  • SB00750         An act concerning the prevention and treatment of mental illness at institutions of higher education
  • SB00764         An act prohibiting on-call shift scheduling
  • SB00765         An act ensuring fair and equal pay for equal work
  • SB00769         An act concerning the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorder
  • SB00770         An act concerning mental health prevention and treatment for children
  • SB00792         An act creating a task force to study discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression that occurs in state workplaces and schools


State Rep. Lucy Dathan (D-142)

  • HB06404     An act prohibiting the sale of flavored electronic cigarette liquid and tobacco products
  • HB06450     An act prohibiting the retail distribution of plastic, single-use plastic bags
  • HB06464     An act imposing a tax on liquid vaping products
  • HB06466     An act concerning the labeling of electronic nicotine delivery systems and vapor products
  • HB06506     An act concerning the use of firearms by convicted stalkers
  • HB06696    An act concerning ghost guns
  • HB06843    An act phasing out the estate and gift taxes
  • HB06890    An act requiring best practices by institutions of higher education in response to reports of sexual assault or intimate partner violence
  • HB06894    An act concerning the implementation of a Medicaid public option


State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143)

  • HB06474        An act concerning the merger or closure of institutions within the Connecticut state colleges and universities
  • HB06973        An act concerning the display of number plates at the front of certain motor vehicles


State Rep. Travis Simms (D-140)

  • HB06536        An act concerning notification regarding nursery schools containing lead paint
  • HB06648        An act concerning urban park and open space used for school construction purposes
  • HB06674        An act concerning candidates’ proof of citizenship
  • HB06751        An act concerning the provision of social service programs by municipalities
  • HB06909        An act concerning child support and the office of child support services
  • HB06952        An act prohibiting polygraph examinations as a condition of employment as a law enforcement officer


State Rep. Terri Wood (R-141)

  • HB06474        An act concerning the merger or closure of institutions within the Connecticut state colleges and universities
  • HB06475        An act concerning moratorium credits for elderly affordable housing
  • HB06661        An act creating a cheese shop wine and beer permit
  • HJ00040          Resolution petitioning Congress to convene an Article V convention to establish term limits
  • SB00195         An act establishing a Dyslexia Advisory Council


jo bennett January 30, 2019 at 7:46 am

Wait. Phase out the estate and gift taxes? And pay for it with…what, the proposed grocery and medication taxes?

alan January 30, 2019 at 8:54 am

Is the “expungement of criminal records” for the Malloy clan?
In theory, it is a good idea but a criminal record is just that…a bit of history that is sometimes important.

Piberman January 30, 2019 at 10:11 am

Bills, bills, bills, ad infinitim.

But none seriously addressed the State’s persistant billion dollar budget deficits and decade long faltering economy. So we know our future. More of the same. Continued Exodus of jobs, firms and residents. Our part time Legislature doth overwhelm itself.

EnoPride January 30, 2019 at 11:25 am

Grace Lichtenstein is an inspiration and a dynamic role model. I had never known about her, but wish I could have had the privilege of meeting her after reading this article. She sounds like she was a force to be reckoned with, in the best possible sense of the word. Thank you for enlightening us as to her life in public service and her accomplishments in shaping Norwalk. Prayers for her family and loved ones.

A Better Norwalk January 30, 2019 at 12:27 pm

Here we go again with more restrictions and financial penalties

Elections have consequences. With the 2019 legislative session now underway, we are getting a first look at some of the tax proposals Democrat lawmakers are pursuing here in Connecticut. So far, we’ve seen the following Democrat proposals:

Increase the sales tax: Democrats have filed a bill to increase the sales tax rate to 6.85%. (Senate Bill No. 475)

Create a new statewide property tax: One Democrat proposal includes a new statewide tax on real estate, on top of local property taxes. (Senate Bill No. 431)

Increase property taxes in cities and towns: A bill marketed as a way to change the state’s car tax structure would result in higher property taxes for many. The bill includes provisions to reduce certain assessed property values in towns and cities, thereby forcing municipalities to increase mill rates leading to higher property taxes on everyone. (Senate Bill No. 431)

Install tolls: A Democrat-sponsored bill to install tolls has been proposed that would require all drivers to pay. While details are still up in the air, the bill’s introducer estimates a cost of $600 per year for the average Connecticut resident. Since Connecticut cannot install border tolls, we know these tolls will have to be on roadways throughout our state. Early estimates from state officials last year suggested 60% of toll revenue would be paid by state residents and tolls would be placed on major roadways, with a DOT study pricing out 82 tolling locations across CT. (Senate Bill No. 102)

I have serious concerns about the combined impact of these proposals on growing Connecticut’s economy, creating jobs, and providing an opportunity for people to thrive in our state.

There will be opportunities to testify on these proposals to make your voice heard. Keep an eye out for emails from me with information about public hearings and opportunities to share your opinions.

Have thoughts on these proposals now? Share your thoughts with Democrat legislative leaders:
Senate Democrat Office 800-842-1420
House Democrat Office 800-842-1902

Diane Lauricella January 30, 2019 at 2:49 pm

Grace Lichtenstein will be missed and was a force to be sure! Years ago, she and I used to speak about how difficult it was to advocate for good governance due to Norwalk’s unique political culture, which still reigns supreme today. She was a member of the Norwalk LWV and the Land Trust, and offered advice when pesky politics got in the way of doing good. She will be missed!

Point of historic clarification: The effort to stop the Gault Tank Farm Zoning Permit was a beautiful thing that involved many people, black, white, rich poor, middle class, South Norwalk, Rowayton, religious officials and environmentalists. Some of us went to the Committee meetings, held South Norwalk homeowner teach-ins, held prayer vigils, raised funds. It was not easy and it took many months of effort.

I know this because I played a lead role and organized the first phase.

The second phase, where Grace may have played more of a lead role, had to do with supporting approval of the SoNo Field House Zoning permit.

The Grace Lichtenstein that I knew would want to make sure historic accounts are accurate.

James Cahn January 30, 2019 at 4:27 pm

Roger Stone born in Norwalk? I’m surprised he moved away to get involved in national politics. Nobody must have told him that being born in Norwalk is quite the feather in one’s political cap here.

EnoPride January 30, 2019 at 7:10 pm

Thank you for the historic clarification of your role in the organization of the first phase, Diane. And thank you for fighting for Norwalk. Your efforts are much appreciated by many of us out here who listen and follow. You sound like you are cut from the same cloth as Grace Lichtenstein. We need more from that cloth in Norwalk, now more than ever. Let’s all keep on keepin’ on in Grace’s spirit!

EnoPride January 30, 2019 at 8:35 pm

HB06674 – An act concerning candidates’ proof of citizenship

Really? No… Really? Hey, Mr. Simms… How about an act concerning Norwalk residents’ proof of citizenship? Surely, you cannot pass one without passing the other… Double standard?

EnoPride January 30, 2019 at 8:59 pm

Correction: CT, not Norwalk, residents’ proof of citizenship. Many of these bills are just tone deaf and nonsensical! Surely we have better issues to advocate for?

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