NORWALK, Conn. – Former at-large Common Councilman and candidate for Assembly Warren Peña responded today to remarks made by Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Bruce Mellion.
Peña, who responded in an email statement, said his response was from both he and fellow candidate and current Councilman David Watts (D-District A). Peña and Watts are challenging incumbents Bruce Morris (D-140) and Chris Perone (D-137) for their seats in Hartford, and state aid to Norwalk’s schools is a major topic.
“We appreciate Bruce Mellion coming out and sharing his opinion,” Peña wrote. “In typical fashion, the ‘players’ on the inside come out to protect their own. The great thing about elections are that the voters get to go out and give a tangible evaluation. Do the voters feel our guys are doing all they can up in Hartford? We are giving voters another choice from our party, one hasn’t been done in a decade, and there is a growing number of people who feel it is long overdue. We look forward to talking about all of the issues over the next few months.”
Peña addressed comments by Mellion that, as Council members, Peña and Watts did little when Norwalk Public Schools discovered a $4 million budget shortfall in 2012.
“For the record, as councilmen we led the charge alongside our teachers and our students. We did our part in a hostile environment with a Republican Mayor and Republican controlled Council,” Peña wrote. “We introduced a resolution to restore the $4.0MM shortfall, that failed. We then again introduced a resolution that passed unanimously to restore up to $1.8MM of the shortfall.
“Mr. Mellion may recall that he was in our Democratic Caucus room with other Union leaders and BOE Human Relations Officer, Bruce Morris lobbying for their interests,” Peña continued. “The fact is Mr. Mellion was not interested in negotiating but standing firm and Mr. Morris was interested in one thing as his salary was cut by 50 percent from $100,000 down to $50,000. It was brought back up to $80,000 because of our proactive approach on the Council.
“As for sitting on the sidelines,” he wrote, Peña said he sent an email to Duff, Perone and Morris asking why they did not help the out-numbered Democratic Caucus on such an important issue. There was no response to Peña’s email.
Peña provided a copy of the 2012 email:
I’d like to express my disappointment or lack of endorsement or encouragement on the matters we are working on especially on the BOE shortfall.
Maybe you were all tied up, which I can appreciate but your opinions – more importantly, your presence and voice would have carried a lot of weight and meant something.
I hope that in the future, if there is something as HUGE as this issue that we are tackling – you would come and support us, the way you would want us or ME to support you (if you asked for it).
I realize you have separate issues you face in Hartford, but as you know there are some of us working extremely hard to carry our Democratic message in Norwalk. Moccia and his administration (and some Dems on their side) make our fight a hard one, nevertheless one that we are willing and able to fight.
There are also a lot of people blaming “you guys” for the lack of ECS funding out there, which we take the heat for.
There are five of us working really hard. We would appreciate your support as you would appreciate our support in your re-election bids or anything you were passionate about.
Warren A. Peña
Member, Norwalk Common Council