Candidates Peña, Watts offer response to NFT head’s comments


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:

Gentlemen –

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


10 responses to “Candidates Peña, Watts offer response to NFT head’s comments”

  1. Bill

    No one is dumb enough to vote for Watts over Perone…I hate Perone but he is light years ahead of Watts.

  2. Bill

    Pena is a stand up guy. Mellion […] is out for himself and his paycheck. I will vote for Pena, can’t vote for Watts but even if I could, I wouldn’t.

    This comment has been edited to comply with our policy.

  3. WOW!

    WOW! Even Travis Simms would have to agree: That was a great counter punch Pena just threw at Mellion, Morris, Duff and company! All these buffoons out there trying to re-write history for their own agenda. Pena’s email from 2012 called them all out, big time! TKO tomorrow, guys. Pena and Watts will kick (and not kiss) butt in Hartford. Time for a change.

  4. minimum wage worker

    Mellion, Morris, Duff and Perone need to be fired. This was nothing more than a swift boat attack filled with lies and personal attacks. Mr. Mellion should be ashamed!

    Check out Bruce Morris trashing gay people. Norwalk should have fired this guy a long time ago.


  5. Bruce Kimmel

    I agree with Warren Pena’s overall description of events regarding the $4 million BOE shortfall. I also realize that he did in fact take the side of teachers during the rather heated debates over what to do, despite Mr. Mellion’s view. However, there are a few important details that need to be mentioned.
    Before the shortfall was discovered, Mr. Pena and eleven other Council members approved a budget cap that left the BOE with roughly a $5.5 million reconciliation. The board was thus in a bad place before the deficit was discovered. I, too, voted for that cap, which would have increased property taxes 1.8%.
    At the first big meeting in the concert hall after the $4 million was uncovered — which meant the board now would have to find about $10 million in savings to balance its budget — Mr. Pena argued strongly that the entire amount of the shortfall should be taken from the fund balance. This view was rejected for several reasons, which I have discussed in a post under the story about Mr. Mellion.
    At that very same meeting, I was asked by the leadership of the city’s Democratic party (Ms. Brown and Mr. Mangiacopra) to come up with a compromise that would ameliorate the board’s burden. I agreed and proposed a $1.8 million draw down from the fund balance.
    I was perplexed, to put it mildly, when Mr. Miklave, a member of the Democratic caucus along with Mr. Pena, asked for a recess. After the recess, the Democratic caucus, along with the Republicans, voted against my resolution.
    A couple of weeks later, the full Council approved the same resolution I had introduced earlier. However, as I stated in the already mentioned post, the BET came up with a more responsible way to solve the problem.
    Despite Mr. Mellion’s assertions, it is fair to say that Mr. Pena worked hard to prevent the layoffs of teachers, administrators and school aides.

  6. Mr. Ludlow

    To call Mr. Mellion a “paper tiger” would be to suggest that he actually has stripes of some sort […]

    The Norwalk Federation of Teachers has never gotten a single politician elected. The group does not endorse candidates. They do not have a PAC. Mr. Mellion gives to a very small group of candidates (all Dems). The NFT does not man phone banks or supply poll workers.

    An endorsement from a union president whose union does nothing to help candidates carries only the burden of that president’s combativeness. The fact that it has delivered free press to Messrs. Pena and Watts should have been gift enough. But the two common councilors will reap the benefits of the anti-Mellion backlash.

    This comment has been edited to comply with our comment policy.

  7. LWitherspoon

    @minimum wage worker
    I find it interesting that the reply by Mr. Pena did not contain any response to the statement by Bruce Mellion that Mr. Watts does not have a job. Why was that? Was it because it’s true?

  8. LWitherspoon

    Sad state of affairs if Mellion, other union leaders, and Rep. Bruce Morris were all in the Democratic caucus conference room lobbying for their own personal interests. Who is representing the taxpayer while all of this is going on? Do we need to form a Taxpayers Union to get attention from the elected officials in that room?

  9. @WOW!
    Your post is way overboard on the cheerleading… get a grip – those two didn’t do anything noteworthy…

  10. yankeeclipper

    Let’s set the record straight …Pena is right on the money. I was there. The existing guys in Hartford were too busy keeping their upstate Dems happy

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