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Disaffected Norwalk Democrats weigh in on altercation

From left, Common Councilman Bruce Kimmel, Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Amanda Brown, an injured Norwalk District E Chairman Bill Krummel and Norwalk Common Councilman Michael Geake.

NORWALK, Conn. – A pair of Common Council members who were elected as Democrats in 2011, then abandoned the party caucus with a hail of harsh words about members’ behavior, have weighed in on the latest dust-up involving party officials.

Michael Geake (D-District B) and Bruce Kimmel (D-District D) made their feelings known about the potential effect the fisticuffs between Regina and Bill Krummel and Amanda Brown could have on the Democratic Party. Brown is the chairwoman of the Democratic Town Committee, and Bill Krummel is chairman of District E. Regina Krummel is seeking nomination as a Board of Education candidate.

NancyOnNorwalk sent emails or called 10 Democratic Town Committee members Thursday and Friday, with no response. The Connecticut Democratic Party did not return two phone calls. Mayor Richard Moccia, a Republican, declined to comment.

Geake and Kimmel responded promptly.

Norwalk Common Council 021613 008

Regina Krummel, chats with friends Bill and Betsy Wrenn in February. Bill Krummel is at left.

“Since I didn’t see the actual incident, I’ll hold my opinions about that to myself,” Geake said of the incident, in an email. “As a political matter, a campaign volunteer or party official must never allow themselves to become the issue in an election.”

Geake was elected to the council as a Democrat but became unaffiliated shortly after the election in a disagreement with the party over his wife’s role in the district. He recently re-registered as a Democrat, saying he needed to do that to vote in a primary.

Kimmel didn’t mince words.

“I believe the current leadership of the Norwalk Democratic Party is an embarrassment to the city,” he said in an email.

The widely-reported incident took place Monday night, July 1, in the City Hall parking lot prior to a Democratic District E meeting. There are three versions of what happened, including a police report that provided only sketchy details and suggested Brown and the Krummels told similar stories when separately interviewed.

However, the involved parties gave differing accounts to the media. The Krummels responded to an interview request from NancyOnNorwalk on Tuesday and said that Brown aggressively approached Regina Krummel as she got out of her car. Krummel said Brown was shouting and waving a piece of paper in her face. She felt Brown was too close, so she pushed her away. Brown, 38, then pushed her, and Krummel, 82, wound up falling and cutting her elbow.

Moments later, Bill Krummel said, he slapped Brown, who then punched the 84-year-old Krummel, cutting him and leaving him with a black eye and a trip to an eye doctor.

Brown declined comment Tuesday, but released a statement Wednesday afternoon after the Krummels’ version was published, accusing Bill Krummel of hurling racial invective and portraying her approach to Regina Krummel as restrained and reasonable before she was shoved.

Reaction in the city was swift and divided. Two Democratic mayoral hopefuls, former Police Chief Harry Rilling and District D Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra, said judgment should be withheld until the details become clear. Common Councilman Matt Miklave (D-District A) and former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel said both Brown and Bill Krummel should resign their party positions.

Both Geake and Kimmel said Friday that both party officials should step down.

“Just as Dick Morris stepped away from Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996 for the good of the campaign, so too must Amanda step away from the DTC for the good of the party,” Geake said. “Dick Morris came back after the dust settled; I have no doubt that Amanda will, too.”

Morris was involved in a scandal during Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign. Morris was running the campaign, but left two months prior to the election when it was reported he allowed a prostitute to listen to conversations he had with the president. Morris re-emerged as a Republican political commentator with a column in the New York Post and regular appearances on Fox News. During the 2012 election, Morris, with Karl Rove, famously continued to predict a Mitt Romney victory even as exit polling showed Obama was headed for the win.

Kimmel, who has said he is a lifelong Democrat, again blasted the party he was elected to represent before announcing he would remain a Democrat but caucus with the Republicans.

Party leadership is incompetent, he said.

“During the past two years, (the Democratic leadership has) shown little understanding on how our operating budget is crafted, the impact of the AAA rating on our long-term goals, the purpose of our fund balance (rainy day fund), the relationship of cutting costs in various departments in order to fund our schools, and the proper role of the Common Council in relation to other city agencies. They seem more concerned with partisan gain than the welfare of the city.”

As for the Krummels and Brown, Kimmel said, “I think the proper thing to do, in light of all that has happened, is for Amanda Brown to step down from the chair of the DTC, and for William Krummel to step down from the chair of the District E. This entire episode is both sad and embarrassing for the city.”

Kimmel, in a comment on a NancyOnNorwalk story detailing the four mayoral candidates’ stance on the 10-year City Carting contract that outsourced Fourth Taxing District trash and recycling pickup, said he believes none of four is qualified to be mayor.

“Going by the answers provided by all four candidates on this issue — especially their refusal to say whether they would opt out of the contract — I would say none of them have what it takes to be mayor,” he wrote.

NancyOnNorwalk sought a response from all four candidates Friday via email. Only Rilling responded, saying, “Mr. Kimmel is entitled to his opinion, however I stand by my prior comments on this issue.”

Kimmel, whose Council term is up this year, said he plans to run again, but the Democrats can keep their endorsement.

“I plan to run for re-election to the Common Council this fall,” he said in an email. “I am still not sure how I will do that. I am keeping all of my options open, including the possibility of forcing a primary in District D, which I currently represent on the Council. However, one thing is certain: As I have said repeatedly over the last year, I would not accept a formal nomination from the Norwalk Democratic Party organization.”

Nancy Guenther Chapman contributed to this report.

18 comments

LWitherspoon July 6, 2013 at 9:20 am

Nancy / Mark
“Common Councilman Matt Miklave (D-District A) and former Town Clerk Andy Garfunkel said both Brown and Bill Krummel should resign their party positions.”
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Are you sure this statement is accurate? The only comments I have seen from Miklave and Garfunkel were that Amanda Brown should step down. Neither said anything about Bill Krummel stepping down.
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It seems odd to me to call for the resignation of one but not the other – both did plenty of wrong in this incident.

Bruce Kimmel July 6, 2013 at 9:30 am

Just a few points on why I believe the four Democratic mayoral candidates did not discuss the outsourcing issue in a competent manner:
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They said it was a “no bid” contract, when the Council went through a lengthy bidding process and extensively interviewed two vendors.
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They said the city had lost “control” of garbage collection by outsourcing when the city can opt out of the contract easily and virtually at any time.
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They said service has deteriorated because of outsourcing when, apart from the scheduling error around Memorial Day, complaints are way down.
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They said ten year contracts were “unheard of,” which is incorrect, plus they did not seem to realize the length of the contract saved Norwalk taxpayers lots of money.
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None of them mentioned that the total projected savings, as determined by the city’s finance department, from both the outsourcing and single stream recycling for the next ten years is roughly $17 million.

Don't Panic July 6, 2013 at 10:25 am

Bruce, nobody is going to come out and say they’re going to cancel that contract now that staff have been reassigned and the city is invested heavily in purchasing equipment city carting is going to use on our behalf. It would be ridiculous to cancel the contract. The fact that you are calling on mayoral candidates to do that is disingenuous.

LWitherspoon July 6, 2013 at 10:42 am

@Panic
What equipment has the City purchased for City Carting to use on our behalf? As far as I know, City Carting has purchased all of its own equipment.
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It is entirely reasonable to ask the mayoral candidates to tell us publicly whether or not they would cancel the contract.
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As a voter I am keenly interested in whether or not each candidate will cancel $1.7 million per year in savings for taxpayers so that eight guys can have their Union jobs back.

Suzanne July 6, 2013 at 10:58 am

LWitherspoon, you are making assumptions that may or may not be true. Do your homework, find out what the candidates really think, then get back to us.

LWitherspoon July 6, 2013 at 11:41 am

Suzanne, there are no assumptions in my comment. During the debate over outsourcing, I attended a public meeting where Hal Alvord stated that the ten-year contract length was necessary for the vendor – not the City – to purchase trucks. “Don’t Panic” claims to have knowledge to the contrary, so he is welcome to substantiate his claim.

0ldtimer July 6, 2013 at 11:55 am

Both Kimmel and Geake are hardly representative of the democratic party, calling themselves democrats when it serves their own purposes, but caucusing with the other side since shortly after being elected under the democratic banner. Neither should get a democratic nomination this time, under any circumstance. Their rush to call for Amanda to step down is probably self-serving. Isn’t she opposed to either of them running as democrats ?

Ken P Jr July 6, 2013 at 11:57 am

I think its great that two of the Democratic Mayoral candidates wont comment. Shows exactly who they really are, they care about perception not substance. So if the community condemns Brown they can say they agree & if the community is ok with it they can go that route. This LACK of moral fortitude is very important to us as voters. I mean who the heck wants a Mayor who refuses to call a spade a spade because it may not be popular? One of these candidates was our chief of police for many years. While chief ANYBODY who assaulted another, even if BOTH parties assaulted each other, would be summarilly arrested regardless of the he said/she said stuff to let the courts deal with it. Now, while I whole heartedly dissagree with that approach, I think inconsistency is even worse. If this man directed his officers to arrest 99% of the time when he was Chief how can he now say its ok & he needs to hear more to make a decision? As Chief we were guilty until proven innocent but now we are innocent until proven guilty? Says alot about a man when he can shape shift like that and they arent good things. Vinny is a younger guy and likely playing things safe, but thats not what we need either. I dont think we will ever get what we need from somebody willing to run as a Democrat, but I KNOW we cannot fix this city with another weak kneed Mayor who cares about how things look more than how they are. We may well get stuck with a Liberal Democrat to drag the city down deeper into the pit we have been wallowing in for years, but it wont be my fault. CT & Norwalk BOTH NEED true Conservative leadership if we dont want the whole City to end up one big homeless shelter.

Bruce Kimmel July 6, 2013 at 11:59 am

City Carting purchased the equipment at their own expense; the length of the contract enables the company to pay down their investment at a much lower interest rate, which in turn lowered costs for the city and taxpayers.
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If I remember correctly, none of the candidates took issue with the wording of the question they were answering. The question seemed to say that the taxpayers were paying for the equipment.
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The real question that we had to address on the Council, which never came up during the debate, was what to do with our old, run-down garbage trucks.
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And finally, what the candidates really think I would hope is reflected in what they said.

0ldtimer July 6, 2013 at 11:59 am

Bruce:
When and where did the council interview both bidders ? I followed that process pretty close and this is the first I heard that story. Did you even satisfy yourself Phinnochio and City Carting are real competitors ? There was a lot of phinnochio dumpsters stored at City carting.

Bruce Kimmel July 6, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Dave McCarthy and I represented the Common Council in all the discussions, which also included Bob Barron, the city’s budget director, Hal Alford and others from DPW. We met with both companies several times in early July 2012. We went over everything in detail. Bob Barron continually reworked all of the numbers and we were in constant contact with our law department. If I remember correctly, someone from the law department sat in on some of the meetings.
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Prior to the actual interviews, we all reviewed the RFPs carefully, grading them, etc. Bottom line, this was, in my opinion, a carefully conducted process. And to be honest, I went in ready to oppose outsourcing, but after constantly reviewing the numbers and the savings for the city, I could not in good conscience vote against it.

Bruce Kimmel July 6, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Are they real competitors? We reviewed the two RFPs, which included tons of information about their finances, various audits, insurance policies, etc., as well as their contracts with residential and public entities. It was clear to me and others that they are separate companies. This question never came up.

0ldtimer July 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Bruce
Question never came up ? While the federal court was dismantling the Galante empire, based in Danbury, and the local papers were reporting sentences, while you were looking at bids, it never occured to you to consider the possibility of bid rigging between two Stamford companies who were the only bidders ? Galante owned a couple of dozen companies. You had some assurance the owners of City Carting had no interest in Phinnochio ?

EveT July 6, 2013 at 4:45 pm

@KenPJr, I disagree with your statement that the fact that “…two of the Democratic Mayoral candidates wont comment. Shows exactly who they really are, they care about perception not substance.” Leadership involves restraint. Just because someone is a candidate for office does not mean they should pass judgment on an incident that they did not witness.
As for your claims that Harry Rilling is somehow being inconsistent: he had one set of responsibilities as Chief of Police. His responsibilities are different now that he is a regular citizen like the rest of us.

0ldtimer July 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Kimmel & Geake’s comments might just as well have been signed by Sciallaba. Do the really expect the DTC to take them seriously ?

M. Murray's July 7, 2013 at 12:21 am

Ken, not sure where you got your facts. I worked for Harry and we did not normally arrest both parties if neither wanted to pursue and witnesses couldn’t give a good account of the incident. It is an instant way to lose credibility with the prosecutors who would routinely throw out such a case.

YourDaddy July 7, 2013 at 8:14 am

Geake and Kimmel have more credibility as Democrats than Johnny-Come-Lately Rilling. He only registered as a Democrat last year because he knew some Democrats would embrace him as a candidate for mayor to advance their personal agendas. If this is the way it’s going to be, can we just make Mayor a 6 year term like US Senate? Moccia’s getting reelected either way, and watching the Democrat “leadership” in Norwalk just makes me cringe.

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