Norwalk political notes: A train station study, ‘what Mushak said’, and Mayor Maddafari?

Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, left, and Mike McGuire chat Tuesday outside City Hall.

Updated, 8:43 a.m.: Copy edits, new headline

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

  • Rilling pushes for Wall Street train station
  • ‘Give the plan a chance’ and ‘what Mushak said’
  • Maddafari for Mayor?


Enthusiasm for train station

Wall Street businessman Mike McGuire looked startled Tuesday evening when Mayor Harry Rilling walked by him outside City Hall and casually remarked that he’d spoken to Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) Commissioner Joseph Giulietti and asked him to pursue a Wall Street train station.

Rilling said he met with Giulietti a few weeks ago, told him there had been $250,000 earmarked for a study on the potential station, and asked him to see if he could move the study forward.

Rilling added that he’d always supported the concept of the Wall Street Station.

The pair shook hands.


Rilling: Mushak said it well

Rilling and McGuire had both just left the Common Council meeting, where McGuire had helped lead opposition to the Wall Street-West Avenue Neighborhood Plan, drawing on his commercial real estate expertise to criticize the area’s blight determination.

On Wednesday, NancyOnNorwalk asked Rilling what he would do to address the concerns of Wall Street property owners, specifically that the plan gives the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency authority over the Wall/West area and, some owners believe, will prevent progress.

“Let’s give the plan a chance,” Rilling replied. “It was made clear last night that any concerns voiced in the future would be dealt with.  I think Mr. Mushak’s comments, if you have them, address a lot of what is going on here.”

Mike Mushak on Tuesday said that ironically the opponents had been crying out for planning for years, calling that “very strange indeed.”  All you have to do to see that the area is blighted is drive around Wall Street, Mushak said.

The “loud opponents… have some self-serving reason for opposing this plan, including, plain old-fashioned politics and of course, greed,” he added.  See below for video of Mushak speaking.



Maddafari for Mayor?  He’s ‘thinking about it’

NancyOnNorwalk heard recently that Norwalk Republicans have been considering Brien McMahon High School Athletic Director Joe Maddafari as a Mayoral candidate.

“I’m really not too sure about that,” Maddafari said to NancyOnNorwalk on Wednesday, explaining that he’s applied for the open Director of Recreation and Parks position.  “I really think I could help the town,” at Recreation and Parks, Maddafari said.

He’s waiting on that, and a potential mayoral candidacy is “out in the clouds right now,” he said.

Rilling declined to comment. Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Mark Suda did not respond to an email asking about Maddafari.

Norwalk Republicans have been considering a cross-endorsement of independent Mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton, sources say.

Maddafari is set to retire from Brien McMahon in June after 23 years on the job. He’s a lifelong Norwalker. The Norwalk Hour quotes Maddafari as saying in December that he has no plans following retirement, but, “I want to be in the community in some way.”

NancyOnNorwalk asked Maddafari again Wednesday about running for Mayor.  “I don’t know,” he replied.  “We’re always thinking about it.”





Piberman March 15, 2019 at 7:30 am

Athletic Director for Norwalk Mayor ? What are the Republicans drinking ? That’s the skills set they think appropriate to oversee nearly 2,000 employees and a $345 million budget ?
Norwalk GOP please go back to sleep.

Pros & Cons March 15, 2019 at 8:23 am

Mazda fair is a great guy but no way, no how should City let current director get away. – highly qualified.

Michael McGuire March 15, 2019 at 9:17 am

I’m all for a train station! Good to know the mayor is working toward some action on that front. A train station at Wall Street would be the most potent of all economic development policies the City could bring to the area. Sadly, with Redevelopment ruling the roost down here now I don’t think that will happen.

Piberman March 15, 2019 at 9:27 am

Norwalk desperately needs good jobs. How does a train station serving more renters bring good well paying corporate jobs to Norwalk ? Does Norwalk have a better future as a “renters City” ? Or one with a major business corporate downtown adding to our decade long stagnant Grand List ? Where retired folks can actually afford to live here. A City where our City employees choose to live. Not avoid because of its punitive property taxes.

Ron Morris March 15, 2019 at 10:42 am

“Norwalk Republicans have been considering a cross-endorsement of independent Mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton, sources say.”
This comes as no surprise as she was registered as a Republican right before she said she was running for Mayor again. This is clearly a lame attempt for a Republican to avoid the backlash of Trump. One thing worse than a Republican is one that is not man/women enough to admit it.
What happened to Lisa’s big thing from the last time she tried to run of Independence and a City Manager??? I guess she can’t even make up her mind about that. Lisa is what Norwalk does not need for mayor

Dave Davidson March 15, 2019 at 12:04 pm

To correct the record:
During Mr. Mushak’s remarks in the video recording, he stated that the Planning Commission approved the West Ave/Wall St Redevelopment Plan unanimously. That is incorrect. The vote was 7 in favor and one abstention. I was the abstaining member.

Mike Mushak March 15, 2019 at 1:04 pm

@Dave Davidson, the minutes on the city website stated a unanimous yes decision. I know you check minutes carefully so assumed since you had approved the minutes they were accurate. My apology. We should correct the record next meeting if indeed they were wrong, unless I misread them which is a possibility.

In Roberts Rules of Order, an abstention is not counted as a vote, so I guess technically it was a unanimous yes vote as you specifically chose to not vote even though you were present. If you were opposed to the plan shouldnt you have no, unless I’m missing something here?

This is good moment to bring up the subject of abstentions. I will note that in the land use law seminar we both attended few months ago, I asked the land use expert running the seminar why anyone should ever abstain from a vote instead of voting no if they were at all the meetings on any particular issue, as it was a common practice by a few P and Z commission members to abstain on votes that I was puzzled by for years.

If someone like yourself disapproves of a motion and had attended all meetings, a no vote would be more logical instead of choosing to abstain, which according to Robert’s is saying specifically you don’t want your vote counted.

The expert at the seminar stated that in his opinion an abstention was basically a cop-out for constituents, who deserve to have their land use commissioners on the record either supporting or opposing any particular issue.

I have always thought abstentions were only reserved for times when you are voting on minutes for meetings you didn’t attend, or on issues where you missed meetings. Maybe that was the case here, but I know you have almost perfect attendance.

In any case, the record should reflect your abstention!

Lisa Brinton March 15, 2019 at 1:46 pm

Nice try Ron I’ve also been registered as a Democrat a couple of times. Verify that with the registrar’s office. Connecticut’s closed party system for state and federal elections forces us independents to have to go in and out of the two major parties if we want to have a voice.

At a local level, there is no Republican or Democrat way to run a city. At the moment, I’m running against one person and not because he is a Democrat. Although, I believe even Harry has moved around the political parties, but you’d have to verify that. I don’t know who you are for you to be so opinionated about me 🙂 but would love to meet up for a cup of coffee and discuss Norwalk’s issues. Party tribalism and dog whistles are so boring.

Bobby Lamb March 15, 2019 at 3:10 pm

Endorsing Lisa would be a nail in the coffin for the GOP. You’re right Lisa – at the local level party politics is less important than at the state and federal level. That’s what makes this so sad. We are truly scraping the bottle of the barrel – keep endorsing candidates like John Flynn and Lisa Brinton and we’ll lose the few remaining supporters we have. Can’t we get a real candidate? Lisa complains about everything, doesn’t understand half the things she talks about, teams up with the craziest wakados in town and thinks she can get away with snide underhanded comments by putting an emoji after them. I’ve never voted for a Democrat in my life but with these choices I’ll be voting for Harry regardless of the fact he’s a democrat. I don’t agree with everything he does, but you have to admit he cares about the City and anyone who can’t see things are getting better in Norwalk just isn’t paying attention.

Paul Lanning March 15, 2019 at 7:46 pm

Bobby Lamb, you said “Lisa complains about everything, doesn’t understand half the things she talks about, teams up with the craziest wakados in town…”.

What doesn’t she understand?

Who specifically are the “wackados”, and what have they done to have you label them as such?

Tysen Canevari March 16, 2019 at 1:30 am

Madafari didnt get the job at Parks and Rec. Someone from Georgia has gotten the job. No double dipping for him.

Tysen Canevari March 17, 2019 at 9:53 pm

This city makes no sense. Apparently from what i understand the mayor’s assistant calls the shots around here. $36,000 raise allows you to call the shots. Lol

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