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Brinton against the Bloat

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Is a little change in Norwalk’s governance too much to ask? Yes, according to the editorialists at The Norwalk Hour, it is too much to ask.

 Instead we should have a fourth term for Mayor Harry Rilling.  For six years already, Norwalkers have watched a city government that seems almost bored with the idea of doing anything about anything.  But the Hour says we need two more.

 A prime example is the controversy over replacing the Walk Bridge, the vital North-South commuter rail link.  On this, the mayor has been typically mum, content to let the state bureaucracy in Hartford call the shots, while ignoring the clamor for someone (the mayor, maybe?) to assert Norwalk’s interests.

What Hartford came up with is a plan to foist an overly-expensive monstrosity on Norwalk, construction of which, unless it is re-thought, will take forever and wreck the commerce and attractions of our historic waterfront area. Unfortunately the mayor has turned ducking challenges into an art form.

 Actually then, we need something more than a little change. We need real adjustments in the way Norwalk governs itself — changes that offers a better vision for what Norwalk can be in the years ahead.  We need a certain vigor and energy in pushing toward a quality of life that matches the rich assets of its people and location.  With The Hour’s choice, we get none of that.

 Anyone who has chatted even briefly with Lisa Brinton about her bid for the mayor’s job knows she is able and determined to bring that change. There’s one statistic in particular that Brinton keeps emphasizing, which captures everything that threatens Norwalk’s future. It is that the value of the “grand list” – the sum of all the taxable property in Norwalk – has grown 12 percent since the revaluation in 2013, but this growth comes at a high price for taxpayers since Rilling’s operating budget in that same period has grown 24 percent.

For Norwalkers interested in reigning in that great growing useless bloat at City Hall, the next opportunity comes at the ballot box on Tuesday.

Bill Dunne

Norwalk

3 comments

Bruce Kimmel November 2, 2019 at 3:41 pm

Interesting take on the Walk Bridge. Here’s what really happened.

Early on, the Mayor and various city departments publicly presented documentation demanding that the DOT and the Feds not issue a Finding of No Significant Impact. I presented on behalf of the Common Council. The city, under the Mayor’s direction, presented compelling evidence, focusing on costs, environmental impact, and economic disruption. All of this material, besides being presented at public hearings, was compiled and submitted together. Unfortunately, the
FONZI was issued and the project was not slowed down.

The city also began to work with the state, the Aquarium and local businesses, especially those near Liberty Square, to mitigate any negative consequences due to the construction. We even facilitated the move of one long-time local business away from Goldstein Place. Plus, we worked with groups who use the river for boating and other activities.

And finally, the Mayor recommended and the Council approved hiring a consultant to coordinate our efforts to slow down or stop the project and to work with local businesses and environmental groups.

Sue Haynie November 3, 2019 at 6:35 am

A Norwalk Chamber of Commerce question during last week’s debate asked why Norwalk lost 500+/- jobs since 2015 despite a construction boom? Why? Perhaps because of bloated and lackluster leadership.

Why does Norwalk pay for two Mayors, Rilling and a full-time assistant mayor, both paid @$160,000/year++? Rilling has his own Communication Director too. Rilling made his job easy but what do Norwalkers get for this bloat?

Norwalk’s grand list grew by 12% but the operating budget, fueled by bloat, grew by 24%.

Rilling came in office after the Great Recession inheriting Norwalk’s AAA Credit rating and large fund balance from the previous administration. If this is the best Rilling can do with the winds of a strong economy at his back, imagine what would happen if the economy tanked. Bloat bites.

Lisa is a fiscal conservative who doesn’t like bloat. Vote Lisa for Mayor.

Adolph Neaderland November 5, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Bruce, all to naught!

Lack of follow thru on behalf of the city, hopefully an existing flaw in governance to be rectified.

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