Updated, 3:41 p.m.: Forum moved to community room.
NORWALK, Conn. – Some Norwalk political happenings:
- Duff sets up forum on ‘forever chemicals’ found in Norwalk drinking water
- Penn-Williams: ‘Haven’t heard anything’ about a meeting with Barbis
- All clear: No Norwalk primaries this year
Duff schedules forum
State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) plans to address the presence of potentially harmful chemicals in Norwalk’s public drinking water supply via a roundtable forum Friday morning in City Hall.
The Hour on July 24 reported that the First Taxing District found low levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) in its water.
Duff on July 24 released a statement:
“PFAS are called ‘forever chemicals’ because they do not break down in nature or in the human body. The worst and most recent example of PFAS pollution in Connecticut occurred several weeks ago after approximately 50,000 gallons of water and firefighting foam containing PFAS leaked from a private airport hangar at Bradley International Airport and into the Farmington River. The issue is so serious that Governor Lamont has formed a state working group to study PFAS and recommend ways to minimize environmental exposure, minimize future releases, and assess cleanup methods.
“I understand that the levels of PFAS found by the First Taxing District Water Department in December are below the current EPA drinking water health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion, that the First Taxing District Water Department took one well offline to flush it, and that it reportedly has been ‘partnering’ with the state Health Department to engage in public education.
“But I would strongly urge the First Taxing District Water Department and the state Health Department in the future to use an abundance of caution and to be more forthcoming with the public and with state and local officials when dealing with this particular chemical. It’s our duty to protect the public health at all costs, and that duty begins with the timely and candid sharing of important information. I believe the seven-month delay between detection and discussion of this chemical has done little to bolster public confidence in the First Taxing District Water Department. The lack of communication with me on this issue from both the First Taxing District Water Department and the state Health Department has also done little to strengthen my relationship with either entity. We can and must do better in the coming weeks and months, and I look forward to better communication going forward.”
Friday’s forum is open to the public, and is at 10:30 a.m. in City Hall’s community room. Expected are:
- Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff
- Mayor Harry Rilling
- Deanna D’Amore, Director, Norwalk Health Department
- Dominick DiGangi, General Manager & District Engineer, First Taxing District Water Department
- Michael Elliot, Manager of Water Supply and Treatment, First Taxing District Water Department
- Paul Yatcko, General Manager & CEO, South Norwalk Electric Works
- Alan Huth, Director of Water Operations, South Norwalk Electric Works
- Assistant Chief Chris King, Norwalk Fire Department
- Joe Schnierlein, the Mayor’s Water Quality Committee
- Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell, State Department of Public Health
- Lori Mathieu, Drinking Water Section Chief, State Department of Public Health
- Av Harris, Director of Communications and Government Relations, State Department of Public Health
- State Representative Gail Lavielle, 143rd District
- Ellen Graham, Office of United States Senator Richard Blumenthal
- Trayvonn Diaz, Office of United States Senator Christopher Murphy
Whatever happened to the NAACP/BoE issue?
This is a question NancyOnNorwalk has heard lately: what happened to the animosity inspired by the news that Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis had urged BoE members not to attend the annual Norwalk NAACP fundraiser in November?
We last visited this topic in April. Mayor Harry Rilling had reportedly been trying to arrange a meeting between Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams and Barbis, but Barbis in March took offense to comments made by Penn-Williams and the Rev. Lindsay Curtis.
The NAACP had demanded that Barbis resign. Curtis told NancyOnNorwalk that Barbis had failed to show a “basic element of respect” when Barbis hadn’t looked Penn-Williams or NAACP Board member Eric Fischman in the eye when they spoke at a Board meeting.
Rilling in April said “An unfortunate series of events created more of a problem in trying to arrange a meeting. I am hoping that with a little bit of a cooling off period that I would be able to, once again, encourage Brenda and Mike to sit down at the table and have a conversation about working together and moving forward in a cohesive manner.”
“I have not heard anything, I have not met with Mike Barbis,” Penn-Williams said Monday.
Yes, she’d like to.
“We’ve not had any further discussions on this issue,” Rilling said in a Wednesday email. “Things have seemingly been much better but I’m still open to meeting with Ms. Penn-Williams and Mr. Barbis.”
Barbis did not respond to a Wednesday evening email. He is unopposed in his drive for reelection this fall.
No primaries this year
The deadline to file petitions to force a primary passed at 4 p.m. Wednesday, with no petitions submitted, Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells said.
Darnell Crosland had promised to force a Republican Mayoral primary but announced that he would seek a Common Council seat instead. Jermaine Nash obtained the paperwork to collect signatures in District A, in pursuit of a Common Council seat, but never submitted petitions, Wells said.
“No one has filed any petition pages,” Wells wrote. “Since the deadline has now passed, there will be no primaries this fall.”