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Norwalk political notes: TTD, POCD, bag ban, and new council members

From left, Common Council members Darlene Young (D-District B) and Colin Hosten (D-At Large) at their first Council meeting Tuesday in City Hall.

Updated, 4:15 p.m.: Attribution changed, more explanation added;  2:07 p.m.: Correction, Pam Parkington nominated Johnnie Mae Weldon to serve as Chair.  9:14 a.m.: Copy edits, information added.

NORWALK, Conn. – Some Norwalk political notes for you:

  • Third Taxing District ‘historic moment’ – it’s all-female
  • Drafted city-wide master plan (POCD) topic of upcoming meetings
  • Livingston: No worries
  • New Council members assigned to committees

David Brown departs, Johnnie Mae Weldon elected new TTD chairman

“This is a historic moment for the Third Taxing District, for the first time since 1910, three woman sit as Commissioners on this board. We broke a second glass ceiling by voting to install a woman of color as Chair,” TTD Commissioner Pam Parkington wrote in a Monday Facebook post.

Longtime TTD Commissioner and Chairman David Brown retired in December, minutes of the December TTD meeting show. Commissioners Pam Parkington and Debora Goldstein appointed Johnnie Mae Weldon, who has been TTD treasurer, to take Brown’s seat. Then Parkington nominated Weldon to take Brown’s role as chairman, Weldon seconded the nomination, and Weldon and Parkington voted in favor.  Goldstein voted against, and the nomination was approved by a vote of 2-1.  (See video below.)

Goldstein has been on the Commission for more than three years and is up for reelection this fall. Parkington won a spot in 2017. Both Weldon and Parkington are Democrats, as was Brown; Goldstein switched from Democrat to unaffiliated in 2017.

Brown was a TTD Commissioner for 21 years, minutes for the December TTD meeting state. He has retired and moved to Delaware, Parkington said Wednesday.

She explained:

“Due to the fact that the TTD charter does not specify the course of action once one of it’s Commissioners step down, we revert to the City Charter on how we go about replacing Dave Brown. The steps, (short version), per the City Charter, 1.)  the Commissioner that is the replacement must be of the same political party in good standing, 2.) the remaining TTD Commissioners vote on the replacement.

“Both Deb and I agreed that it would be best that Johnny Mae move into the Dave’s seat, since she has attended 99% of the meetings, (she was sick one meeting, LOL) and is up to date on everything on both the running of the Electric Company and it’s projects and District side of things.”

 

“{W}e have now, I think, made history with all three seats being held by women, and possibly the first female Chair and first Chair who is a person of color,” Goldstein wrote.

 

POCD hearings set for Jan. 15 and Jan. 22

The long-awaited draft of the new Norwalk master plan, a.k.a. Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) to many, has been made public.

The Planning and Zoning Department is holding two public hearings on the draft, one next Tuesday (Jan. 15) and the other on Jan. 22. Both hearings are at 7 p.m. in the City Hall community room.

The state mandates a new city-wide plan every 10 years. Norwalk has been assisted in this plan by Stantec.

“The plan guides decision making about the physical, economic, and social development in the City,” the draft plan reads.  “…The Citywide plan includes a twn-year implementation matrix setting out the What, How, Who, and When for policies and actions to achieve the goals of the plan.”

You can review the plan here.

“Please attend (the hearings) and help guide Norwalk for the next decade,” a Norwalk Tomorrow flier states.

 

Council not worried about blowback from plastic bag ban, Livingston says

The Common Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to ban plastic carry-out shopping bans, with the implementation delayed to July.

That means Norwalk citizens who aren’t following the news may be surprised to learn they need to start carrying reusable bags or pay 10 cents for paper bags – three or four months before Council members and the Mayor are up for reelection.

“The timing of the election never entered our discussions nor, in my opinion, should it have,” Council President Tom Livingston (D-District E) said in a Wednesday email. “People can always find a reason to delay or not do something. We all, including Doug H., felt this was important and needed to be done now.”

Livingston was referring to Doug Hempstead, the lone Republican on the 15-member Council.

 

Hosten, Young begin work

Council members Colin Hosten and Darlene Young, who were appointed to their seats in December, attended their first Council meetings Tuesday, and sat next to recent appointee Ernie Dumas.

Their Committee assignments are:

Dumas

  • Finance/Claims
  • Health Welfare and Public Safety
  • Personnel

 

Hosten

  • Health Welfare and Public Safety
  • Ordinance
  • Personnel

 

Young

  • Finance/Claims
  • Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs
  • Public Works

4 comments

Patrick Cooper January 10, 2019 at 12:29 pm

Nuts never fall far from the tree. Nice to see party politic’s alive and well in the TTD. No doubt the only negative to the master of nuts & bolt’s – Deb Goldstein – was the U. No offense to Ms. Weldon – but Deb got screwed here by a party loyalist. Once again – Norwalk votes party over competency. At least Ms. Parkington shows her BLUE colors trump every other consideration.

Victor Cavallo January 11, 2019 at 3:39 pm

Now here’s the kicker with the bag ban. Now you’ll have to pay Shop Rite a ten-cent per paper bag carry-out fee for the privilege of taking with you what you’ve already paid for. And if you refuse to pay the bag fee? No groceries for you and a trip to the NPD holding cell.

Plus, paper bags can be a nice profit center: they’ll buy smaller paper bags that hold only half as much as a plastic bag. More bags; more revenue. But smaller paper bags necessarily do make sense -as well as cents- because it’s more difficult to cradle in your arm a paper bag that holds as much as a plastic bag that hangs from your hand.

What? Ten cents for a paper bag that only holds one jumbo toilet paper pack? Better to take the sage advice that environmentalist and singer Sheryl Crow dished out a while ago to help save the planet: use just one sheet of toilet paper per potty visit; this so you don’t have to buy jumbo toilet paper packs anymore, and also to avert any Norwalk council member’s bright idea to attempt to ban single-use toilet paper as part of this city’s planet-saving program.

As for you elderly folks who can’t cradle heavy grocery-laden bags in your arms or if you rely on public transportation to bring your food home: bring your reusables. Hopefully you will have washed off the salmonella-infested chicken and pork blood spilled into them from the last few uses. If you don’t own a washing machine, $10 will wash and dry you a load of around 10 large reusable bags at the local laundry. Curiously, now your per-bag carry-out cost has gone from 10 cents to one dollar. For cost-effectiveness you would probably wash them only after every third use. Still, that’s a 33 cents per-bag carry out fee.
And if you revert to plastic reusables thinking you can just wipe them clean with Lysol? Well that means you’ll still be using environmentally destructive plastic to carry home groceries, rendering the spirit of the Council’s plastic grocery ban virtually pointless.

Of course, there are other solutions. You can buy and bring your own prohibited plastic bags to the store; a box of 1000 bags goes for 2 cents apiece on Amazon. You can buy and bring Amazon Basics 13-gallon tall kitchen garbage bags with draw strings you can use as handles; 300 hundred per pack at 10 cents apiece. They’ll hold three to four times as much as a store-provided paper bag, so the effective cost is only 2-3 cents.

I suppose people will be really creative with other as yet unknown solutions. For sure, grocery shopping will not be the mundane task it used to be.

Now if only we can prohibit council members and all city officials from using single-use plastic water bottles in public buildings and at all public meetings. Following the first-step bag ban, this second step will certainly demonstrate the Council’s resolve to save the planet. Perrier and Pellegrino water are available in glass bottles with metal caps.

backwardation January 11, 2019 at 8:14 pm

Why was the issue of banning plastic bags not voted on rather than the Common Council unilaterally acting? This is not good governance. Also, when you add all the ancillary costs of substituting the bags, it far outweighs any benefit. The common council appears out of touch with the public to say the least.

Mitch Adis January 12, 2019 at 8:27 am

I just came back from shopping at Stop & Shop. They don’t charge for bags in Westport. So what this amounts to is another hidden tax.

Who decided on the $0.10 bag tax?

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