Common Council, District D: Bryan Meek

Bryan Meek. (Contributed)

District D, Republican, Independent

  • Describe how your occupation will assist you in serving Norwalk and give three brief but specific examples, including what committees on which you hope to serve.

1. A. Being a CPA has prepared me well with the ability to comprehend balance sheets, fund positions, the implications of long term debt, and their operational impact.  Our debt service is climbing to $45 million next year and will skyrocket in the years to come due to this administration’s spend thrift lack of concern for taxpayers money.  It means we will be paving fewer streets, fixing fewer schools, and always behind the eight ball on making the sewer system sound.  While WPCA is a separate legal entity, the city still has to underwrite their bonding for projects.

1. B. The ability to compare and analyze departmental expenses of highly functioning and poorly performing areas of governments similar in size and scope to ours has prepared me well to make the kinds of sweeping changes long overdue.  It doesn’t take a dozen people to run the Mayor’s office.  More like 3.  And Ordinance enforcement and Assessment are grossly understaffed with inferior technology.  We have a non existent auditing function of property that is leaving $10s of millions uncollected each year, while people upstairs are busy hiring assistants for assistants and throwing parties.

  • The Norwalk Charter is on the ballot for its first major revision in about 100 years. Assuming it passes, would you support forming a new Charter Revision Commission in the coming term to address unfinished business? What would be your top three priorities for change? Can you explain why?

2.A  There have been major revisions to the Charter from time to time, for example the school board on four year staggered terms back in 2000 was pretty significant.  So, the first thing to do is to stop making mountains out of molehills and act like this is some amazing deliverance.  While significant and fairly comprehensive this time around, charter revision should be on-going and smaller in scope as to not abuse the volunteers needed to make these changes and so that citizens can focus on the changes proposed.

2.B.  Limit the Scope and have the council, one person from each of the five voting districts, pick the committee NOT the mayor.  One executive should not have the power to propose rules that effect everyone.  It should be spread out.

2.C. Every 5th year after the 10 year federal census, Norwalk shall rebalance its political districts as per the census data.  Currently 50% of the population lives in Districts E&D, while the other half lives in A,B,&C.  This would be the job of the Charter revision commission in place at the time and not subject to general election.  The party old timers love this imbalance and talk a good game about equity but do not practice it.

2.D.  Change the makeup of the Council.  Every 4 years, One council member shall be elected from each district.  2 years after which, 3 at large council members and a Mayor shall be elected for 4 year terms.  The Mayor’s primary job is to hire a City Manager and a Corporation Counsel if the positions are vacant subject to the Council’s approval.  The City Manager assumes all other prior duties of the mayor.  Council and Mayor shall be paid a modest stipend that shall be adjusted every 12 months to CPI.   Research shows that board effectiveness is reduced by 10% for every member over 9.  In other words our Council is 30% effective.  The days of horse and buggy that required back up representation from each district are just a little archaic now and the current powers of the Mayor have brought us to a place where government keeps growing faster than the private sector and it is simply not sustainable.  A city manager, on the payroll, needs to be held to account on operations, not someone who can manage to get 10% of the population to come out and vote for his or herself.

  • Do you believe Norwalk should have a Civilian Police Review Board and why or why not?

No.  I do not believe tribunals run by individuals with no policing experience have any business policing law enforcement.  There are laws on top of laws to ensure police accountability.  If those are broken then fix those.  The war on police needs to stop.  It is not making anyone safer.

  • There is a constant public battle between city government, the school board, and concerned citizens. It seems that all are “dug in” with their positions, eager to “defeat” the other to win their own agenda. What would you specifically propose to bring all groups to the table to solve issues rather than fight about them? Policy changes and revisions can certainly be part of your answer.             

4.  The constant battle between the BOE and CC is never going away and some might actually call this checks and balances that other areas of government do not have.  It’s codified at the state level to work like this, but our state leaders could care less about our operational struggles.  We get to pay for Bridgeport and Hartford’s $200 million ECS grants while we get crumbs.  Our state leadership is more focused on feeding the public construction industrial complex with school buildings we won’t be able to afford to staff or take care of, like our current situation.  All of this breeds distrust, but some clearly like it this way.  It allows them to point fingers.  We need a local government that demands more out of Hartford, not one that fosters ice cream socials and ribbon cuttings for sidewalks that should have been fixed 30 years ago.

  • “Housing affordability” means different things to many people. The current standard is based on the median income of Fairfield County, which is $84,233 per household. A job that pays $30 per hour misses that standard by approximately $22,000. What is your definition of Housing affordability, and do you think the standard should be made more equitable?

5.  Affordable housing means living somewhere that you can afford.  It is no one’s birthright to live in lower Fairfield county.  It used to be that meant living up the line and commuting down here to make a living.  Today some seem to think that free apartments should be made available to anyone who simply wants to lay roots here.  It’s a fantasy that will never happen and as long as government continues to subsidize housing, it will become even less affordable.  The same folks who argue for this are some of the same people that have sat by and watched excessive building codes pile to the ceiling doubling and tripling construction costs.  This council is currently busy setting up an affordable housing slush fund that can be doled out to political favorites.  A perfect example of government overreach.  We already have a fair rent commission and a housing authority.  All these types of funds promise to do is make housing even more unaffordable for the general population while picking out a few winners here and there.  A lottery system is no way to solve this.  The free markets and reduced regulations are the solutions to this government made “crisis”.

  • What would you propose to move Norwalk’s government agencies, businesses, organizations, and private citizens toward a zero-carbon footprint?

6. It is not the job of local government to dictate how private businesses, organizations, or people how to live their lives.  The fact that some are intent on this really sends a chill up my spine.  However, our government could lead by example.  For one how about a real goal of zero sewage spills into the sound?  Why wait for the Feds and DEEP to file actions against us every time before we address it?  How about picking up the trash that accumulates under almost every single school bleacher?  How about giving people a paperless option for their tax bills?  How about having interdepartmental mail and workflow setup so citizens don’t have to come down to the permit office and walk their paperwork over to the health department and then back once they are done?  How about stop running empty busses all over town spewing out black clouds every time they step on the pedal?  I could go on forever here, but people in glass houses……..


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