NORWALK, Conn. – Some Norwalk political notes for you:
- NPS calendar shift inspires dueling petitions
- The ‘other’ POKO lawsuit
- Lavielle hits the 100% milestone, again
‘Decision makers do not take working families’ needs into consideration’
The Norwalk Board of Education’s recent vote to reschedule the 2021 spring break from April to March is being condemned by one online petition and supported by another.
The scheduling decision discriminates against working families, Leah Reeves states in her Change.org petition, posted on Aug. 27.
The change was well thought out and well communicated, Nora King states in her Change.org petition, posted Friday, three days later.
King is a Rowayton resident, a constituent of District E BoE rep. Mike Barbis, who spearheaded the shift.
As of early Sunday morning, the anti-change petition had 265 signatures and the pro-change petition had 47.
“Childcare and vacation camps are only offered when the majority of schools are not in session,” Reeves wrote in her petition. “Over the years, having a vastly different schedule than surrounding towns has created a tremendous hardship for my family as well as other families in Norwalk as affordable childcare, or any childcare for that matter is not available for Norwalk Working Families.”
The “critical change” was voted on “during one of the busiest vacation weeks of the year,” Reeves states, calling for a new vote now that school is in session. Reeves is also pushing for a new policy that would put an end to votes on critical changes when school is out.
King’s petition lists reasons why a March break is beneficial and states:
“Private schools have been having a March break for years. They do it because it works academically. Norwalk has been working hard to improve our schools and raise our test scores. The BOE worked hard to keep the February break, which most parents and children look forward to.
“Working families do support this because the breaks are well thought out and are staggered before the summer break. There are many affordable camps that are established in the area for working families during vacation week and these organizations will support the calendar.”
Dias lawsuit twiddles on
Along with the three lawsuits filed by and against real estate developer Jason Milligan regarding POKO, the stalled Wall Street Place project, there’s an additional suit that doesn’t get much attention. The lawsuit has been largely omitted from NancyOnNorwalk stories because the past year’s action on it is has been mostly limited to legal maneuvering.
The lawsuit, against the City and Norwalk Redevelopment Agency, claims the City in 2008 announced an intention to take Dias’s property at 20-26 Isaacs St. by eminent domain and replace it with a street adjacent to POKO.
POKO Partners signed a contract with Dias to buy his property for $2.5 million but never came up with the funds. In June 2015, Dias was deprived of parking and access to his property, the complaint states. Dias expected the City to buy the property if POKO did not complete the deal, it states.
According to the suit, the defendants have essentially warehoused his property without paying him. It accuses the Agency of unjust enrichment by allowing POKO partners to default on its contract with him. Dias is seeking compensation.
The defendants take issue with Dias’s interpretation of the Land Disposition Agreement for the POKO properties. They maintain it was Dias’s responsibility to hold POKO Partners to its contract, and they argue that Dias’s “years of silence and inaction” amount to tacit approval of the LDA and the associated redevelopment plan.
Points of contention include arguments over who would be required to testify. Then-Norwalk Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan eventually gave a two-day deposition but a demand from Dias that Sheehan be deposed again before leaving town was denied by the court. The defendants have sought access to correspondence between Milligan and Dias’ lawyer, Daniel Benjamin. Judge Alex Hernandez ruled in favor of the defendants and the emails were recently turned over, but with extensive passages redacted.
There has also been wrangling over whether Philip Dias would be required to testify.
A trial is scheduled for April.
Lavielle votes every time
State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) voted in every one of the 388 roll call votes called in the House during the 2019 regular legislative session, according to a press release.
The release, issued Friday, quotes Lavielle, an Assistant House Republican Leader, as saying, “I am pleased to have earned a 100% voting record for the 2019 regular legislative session. Every vote in the legislature is important, and my constituents expect me to be present for each one. Representing them in Hartford is a great responsibility and a distinct privilege, and I am grateful to them for placing their trust in me.”
She then slams the Democratic majority by saying, “Connecticut’s economy is lagging behind not only the rest of the country, but also the economies of its neighboring states. We can’t change that without growing our tax base by attracting and keeping businesses here. Unfortunately, during this session, the legislative majority seemed determined to do exactly the opposite. The state budget bill raised taxes on small business owners by $50 million; the increase in the minimum wage to $15 was approved with no analysis of the level that would be appropriate for Connecticut or of the ability of small businesses to sustain it; and the numerous expensive public-sector union contracts approved this year by the legislative majority will continue to put enormous pressure on state finances. Many of my constituents were concerned about the consequences of these anti-business initiatives, and I was proud to be on the floor for each vote and to speak on their behalf.”