Colarossi: Scialabba move is hypocritical

Norwalk Democratic convention 071613 162
Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Art Scialabba reacts to some confusion at the Norwalk Democratic Party convention earlier this month.

Updated, 1:43 p.m., comment from Colarossi

NORWALK, Conn. – A renegade Republican Board of Education member up for re-election under a different flag says the actions of Norwalk Republican leadership show why Norwalk needs his new party, the Norwalk Community Values Party, and its candidates.

Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Art Scialabba announced Monday via The Hour newspaper that he may throw BOE member Steve Colarossi out of the Republican Party. Colarossi stressed in a Tuesday email that he feels Scialabba’s attempts to influence the Board of Education are wrong and show that Norwalk needs him and his running mate, Andres Roman.

Colarossi referred to the RTC’s endorsement of Democrat Bruce Kimmel for an at-large Common Council seat in his letter, which is printed in its entirety here.

“Let’s put aside the sheer hypocrisy that a political party that has just nominated an outspoken member of the opposing party wants a different rule applied to candidates who defect from their ranks,” he wrote. “And, let’s put aside the unmitigated chutzpah of a local party flack who is somehow so taken with the trappings of his post (by vote of less than 100 people) that he alone is to decide the political parties in which one might register in our otherwise open and free democracy. But, then again, this is the same political club that is refusing to allow its Board of Education candidates to run their own individual campaigns and is, instead, directing and controlling their four candidates’ campaigns.”

Scialabba indicated Tuesday that ousting Colarossi is only a possibility.

“We have several options, and nothing that has to be done right away,” he said in an email.

Scialabba provided a document outlining the procedure, a “Discretionary erasure or exclusion from enrollment list for lack of good-faith party affiliation; citation and hearing,” which requires the involvement of the registrar of voters. He said he had never done it before, but that Mayor Richard Moccia had done it when he was RTC chairman.

“I believe that anyone can join any political party,” Scialabba said. “But when you have formed a new political party, and are running candidates against our endorsed Republican slate, you either remove yourself from the Republican roles or we should have the option to do that for you. You can’t be a member of two political parties.”

To support his claim of Scialabba attempting to influence the BOE, Colarossi provided an email Scialabba sent to Republican BOE members last October.

“I wanted to pass along to you the unanimous and strong recommendation of the Mayor and the RTC Executive Committee that the leadership positions on the Board of Education remain unchanged for the upcoming year (i.e., Jack as Chair and Artie as Vice Chair),” Scialabba wrote, referring to Jack Chiaramonte and Artie Kassimis.  “As recent events on the Zoning Commission have shown, changes in key boards can have unforeseen consequences that can be potentially damaging to the interests of the City and of the Party.”

The RTC chairman went on to say that the board was at a “critical juncture,” with contracts to negotiate, a superintendent to find and finances to straighten out, not to mention the retreat that was planned to encourage teamwork with the board.

“With all this going on, a change of leadership is likely to looked at negativity by the general public, could lead to confusion among employees of the school system as well as parents, as on top of all the things I’ve already mentioned they would have to deal with new Board officers and leadership styles,” Scialabba wrote. “There is certainly no urgent reason to change your officers, and we feel strongly that some stability is required among all these other changes; re-electing the current leadership would strongly signal that continuity.”

Colarossi went public with that information before the board vote on the topic. On Nov. 20, BOE Republicans defied Scialabba and Moccia, voting to make Mike Lyons the new chairman.

Lyons said he didn’t expect any personal payback for that.

“I don’t foresee any problem for me with the RTC,” he said in an email. “Both parties’ leaders periodically make recommendations to members of all boards; sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t.  The DTC chair contacted the Democratic members of the BoE at the time of the last chairmanship election with her own recommendations, too, for instance.”

Democratic BOE members Migdalia Rivas and Rosa Murray abstained from the vote.

Lyons said both parties have used the procedure to terminate someone’s affiliation in Connecticut, although he wasn’t aware of it happening in Norwalk before.

“I fully appreciate the desire for party loyalty,” he said. “We’ve seen a big push for that in the local Democratic Party, with its ‘loyalty oath’ and Warren Peña’s openly stated support for denying renomination to insufficiently ‘loyal’ Democratic office-holders (e.g., Carvin Hilliard). Scialabba’s comment shows a similar belief in enforcing party discipline. Like most things in politics, you probably should look for a middle ground. Kicking Steve off the Republican registration list would probably be going too far, but I would agree that if Steve is running himself and another candidate against his own party that it is inappropriate for him to remain a member of that party’s own Town Committee.”

Colarossi confirmed Wednesday that he in on the RTC.

He said, “However, out of respect for my friends on the RTC, I haven’t been to any meetings since working on Norwalk Community Values.”

Party Removal

Scialabba emails to Steve Colarossi


14 responses to “Colarossi: Scialabba move is hypocritical”

  1. Norwalk Lifer

    Throwing Mr. Colarossi out of the Republican party would be the best compliment Art Scialabba could pay him.

    Such arrogance!

    Norwalk Lifer

  2. Norwalk Lifer

    Mike Lyons should shut his mouth, I’ve read Mike Lyon’s letter to the Norwalk Hour over the years and I find him to be an extremist; the mere fact that he would be rewarded in this way, while our children’s futures hang in the balance is stomach churning.

    So, all that’s needed is a few pithy quips in a local newspaper? Why didn’t they nominate Jim Balistos?

    Norwalk Lifer

  3. Don’t Panic

    Mr. Scialabba should refrain from disenfranchising Mr. Colarossi’s participation in any Republican primary vote, should there be one.

    The more interesting question is whether the Democratic party would act to remove Mr. Kimmel under the same statute.

  4. M Allen

    Bunch of whiney little schoolgirls. OK, schoolboys, just to be politically correct. It’s really no wonder we’re in the state we’re in given the petty crap almost all of these people participate in. They are no better than those they condemn.

  5. jill st. john

    Let Mr.Scialabba presides over his “mean girls” club,and let him try to kick out those who have figured out who he really serves, (himself) and his imaginary power base. He will tell you that “unity” is more important than the good of the city and a true Republican philosopy of wise, prudent, careful spending, small government growth,and remembering why politicians are there, to SERVE the public, not rule over them. Say all you want about me, but no one will ever say I do not love Norwalk, not even Sclub.

  6. Joe Espo

    You have to admit, this shows a contrast of styles between the Dems and the Republicans. Now if it were DTC chair Amanda Brown trying throw out Colarossi, KA-POW!!! He’d be down for the count in 5 seconds.

  7. NorwalkVoter

    Political parties have no power to disenfranchise a voter so stop the madness Art.

  8. Mr. Ludlow

    Did anybody read the email from Scialaba to Colarossi? He says that parents would have gotten confused if Chiaramonte wasn’t elected to a third term as BoE Chairman. Good to see that the GOP respects us parents.

  9. M Allen

    I guess you read into it what you want to hear. And so what? One day you folks are going to wake up to the fact that politics are not the domain of only one party.

  10. The Deal

    Is there any wonder why Norwalk is in the toilet?

  11. Norwalk Lifer

    Mr. Chiaramonte, while good intentioned, is not the right person to run the BOE; there is a disenfranchisement that has come with this leadership, and the most important sector of this city is at stake; the kids.

    There was a time where adults acted like adults, this is not a football game ladies and gents, this is a litmus test which will indicate the success or failure of supposed town fathers in their quest to create a better educational system in Norwalk. The teachers are not listened to, rather they are pillorized for salaries, yes, that’s very satisfying, of course it is, it means those who preach “reach higher” they themselves set the bar comfortably low so they can appear tall.

    Norwalk Lifer

  12. nwkprobate

    Norwalk Lifer — you need to get a life!! You have your facts so wrong … you obviously are … not a taxpayer or an owner of real estate in Norwalk.

    (This comment has been edited to conform with our comment policy)

  13. Mike Mushak

    No comment. (Cue the church bells.)

  14. Norwalk Lifer

    Dear nwkprobate

    You’re wrong

    Norwalk lifer

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