Duff: Brinton and Meek’s comments are ‘hateful, anti-immigrant’

From left, Republican-endorsed Mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton, at her Thursday forum, State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) in September and Republican Board of Education member Bryan Meek at Thursday’s BoE Committee meeting in City Hall.

The election is Nov. 5.

NORWALK, Conn. — State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) issued a press release Friday condemning “recent hateful, anti-immigrant comments” by Lisa Brinton and Bryan Meek.

Duff blasted Brinton, an unaffiliated Mayoral candidate endorsed by the Norwalk Republican Town Committee, and Meek, her campaign treasurer, for comments they’ve been quoted on by NancyOnNorwalk.

“Yesterday’s hateful comments from {Republican} Board of Education member Bryan Meek coupled with other recent anti-immigrant tirades from Republican Mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton prove that the takeover of the Norwalk Republican Party by Donald Trump is complete,” Duff is quoted as saying. “Mr. Meek and Ms. Brinton will publicly avoid mentioning President Trump but they are using the same kind of fear and racist policies to appeal to certain groups. Ms. Brinton is taking the Republican banner and understanding her only path to City Hall is to scare voters and conjure up fear. Mr. Meek’s question and implication that these children are violent gang members is baseless, irresponsible, and xenophobic. Using these anti-immigrant tactics to incite their extremist base to vote is shameful. The people of Norwalk are seeing Trump’s rhetoric and policies coming to the local level here in Norwalk. Norwalk has a long and proud history of welcoming immigrant communities and this fear-based politics has no place here.”

Again, Brinton is not a Republican.

Duff’s press release quoted Brinton’s comment on a Sept. 23 NancyOnNorwalk story regarding the influx of immigrant children, highlighting parts by bolding passages:

“Even the politics are complicated, especially when a former police chief mayor has been bragging about Norwalk ‘growing’ and his challenger, myself, a retired corporate executive and former 15 year school fundraiser, PTA President, educational activist and seven year member of the District Data Mgmt. Team claims, ‘we need a time out!’

“However, these sorts of enrollment numbers are unsustainable. The state’s sanctuary policy is out of step with its education cost share funding to aid municipalities like Norwalk.”


“It’s unfortunate that Senator Duff and Mayor Rilling are engaging in these divisive and diversionary character assassinations.  None of my comments were anti-immigrant.  Senator Duff’s press release is intended to scare and stifle courageous conversation on serious humanitarian and economic issues impacting our city.  Norwalk has always been a welcoming and diverse community.  I’m proud of my education efforts these past 15 years in our schools to help close the achievement gap and make us the best urban school district in the state.  Spiked student enrollment is having very real consequences in the classrooms and our city budget.  New and current students, residents and taxpayers deserve leaders, who are more interested in solving problems than fanning partisan flames.  I wish Senator Duff focused his energies on securing appropriate state funds for Norwalk.  When elected mayor, I will address these issues.”

Brinton did not reply to an email asking how Rilling is engaging in “divisive and diversionary character assassinations.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Rilling wrote in an email. “I have no idea what she is talking about.”

Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski on Thursday briefed Board of Education members on the surprise arrival of children from Honduras and Guatemala, many of whom were recently released from federal detention centers.

Meek asked, “Are we mindful that any of these children could still actively be part of those gangs or recruited locally?”

Meek did not reply to an email asking for a response to Duff. He did leave a comment on the article, stating, “I’m mindful of the 30 children in Brentwood Long Island who were murdered for not joining gangs after arriving here and I don’t want the kind of violence here in our schools or city. The reporter left out my comments ‘Thank God’ after the Superintendent said there wasn’t an issue.”

Adamowski replied to Meek’s question by saying, “We don’t see evidence of that.” Meek said “Thank God,” as Adamowski continued, “These are these are folks who are trying to escape that situation. They have not been part of it.”

Meek’s question followed explanations from NPS Instructional Specialist for English Language Learners Helene Becker that the children have been through a “terrible situation,” including threats from gangs that their families would be murdered if they did not join the gang.

Meek, who is seeking reelection, in his Friday comment suggested that “The people who need to resign their offices are the one’s who helped to create this humanitarian crisis, who will not fund it, and will then try to politicize it as they are doing now. Attacking the only people trying to do something about it by taking statements taken out of context for their own personal political gain on the backs of these poor children is a new low for some.”

Although Brinton has been referring to herself as “cross-endorsed,” she is endorsed by Republicans and no other party. She will be on the Republican line of the ballot.


Al Bore October 12, 2019 at 4:59 am

This is what you have to resort to when your worried about loosing an election, you spin things. This is all they have right now but people are much smarter and see trough it.

Lisa Brinton October 12, 2019 at 6:04 am

This is why we need term limits at all three levels of government! In what is becoming a ‘tight mayoral race’ the senator engages in ‘fear mongering’ instead of courageous conversations focused on resolving spiked enrollment and funding issues. My original comments in their entirety:

Lisa Brinton
September 23, 2019 at 7:01 am

I read the 70 comments on the first story about the increased enrollment. It’s a complicated issue, with even more complicated solutions. Even the politics are complicated, especially when a former police chief mayor has been bragging about Norwalk ‘growing’ and his challenger, myself, a retired corporate executive and former 15 year school fundraiser, PTA President, educational activist and seven year member of the District Data Mgmt. Team claims, ‘we need a time out!’

I spent over a decade working directly with staff and administration to help close the achievement gap in a variety of capacities so NPS could become the #1 urban school district in the state. However, these sorts of enrollment numbers are unsustainable.

The state’s sanctuary policy is out of step with its education cost share funding to aid municipalities like Norwalk. It also doesn’t factor in that Norwalk was shortchanged tens of millions of dollars for over a decade!
Other education policies like mainstreaming for some classes versus ELL for others, creates instructional issues for students and teachers in NPS.

Exacerbating the financial issue is the fact that our own P&Z and ordinance enforcement has been broken for over a decade, allowing landlords to charge cash to the most vulnerable, over crowd in firetrap houses and shortchange the city’s tax coffers.

It’s also hard to fund social justice when private sector jobs are declining in the state or when nearly half of city hall makes more than the median family salary in Norwalk or when government defined ‘affordable housing’ costs double to construct than the median price of a family home.

We have serious structural and financial issues that have been festering for over a decade. Adding thousands of fortress like apartment units, while also doling out tax credits does not help.

This won’t be an easy fix, requiring trade offs in the budget, stronger advocacy for Norwalk and honest brokers at city hall. To date, that has been lacking and not expected to improve without change!

Sue Haynie October 12, 2019 at 6:32 am

Love this quote from Lisa for Mayor!

“New and current students, residents and taxpayers deserve leaders, who are more interested in solving problems than fanning partisan flames.”

Mayor Rilling has articulated no plan and has shown no leadership on this issue. Articles like Duff’s exist to stifle honest conversation.

Lisa for Mayor!

Ernie DesRochers October 12, 2019 at 6:39 am

It’s amazing how far some politicians will go to assasinate the character of a rival. I know both of these folks and racist they are not. I would hope the Mayor would repudiate these vile comments by Senator Duff. If not I guess it shows that he and his associates will stoop to any means to get reelected. I may diasagree with them but I thought Senator Duff had more class than this. Leadership is not about playing the race card when it’s convenient.

Jason Milligan October 12, 2019 at 7:18 am


How ridiculous!!

Where is the hateful / anti immigrant quotes?

This is how Duff tries to help?

If this is the best they can do then Harry is in trouble…

DrewT October 12, 2019 at 7:38 am

Maybe Clueless Bob should worry about what a horrible place the State is in that he and his Democratic Friends created. Maybe he should be more concerned about how Norwalk has gotten and continues to be screwed by him and Hartford. Maybe Clueless Bob should actually do something for Norwalk instead of giving out Ice Cream and taking pictures. Maybe Clueless Bob should open his mouth in Hartford more then he does here. But in the end it’s an old political joke. When you know you’re going to loose say anything call your opponent names or have a moron help you try and discredit your opponent. And that’s what we have here from our do nothing Senator. Once again Bob you are showing your true low class colors. You should be ashamed!

M Murray October 12, 2019 at 8:16 am

An interesting backstory would be to interview some of these families to find out how they all learned of Norwalk.

Jeff October 12, 2019 at 8:46 am

Hey Bob, we need money to help educate our students. Since you care so much about Norwalk all of a sudden, how about you find us what we need.

Ex Norwalkian October 12, 2019 at 8:51 am

News to all the lies spewed by most of the Democrats in Norwalk. Play time is over. It’s time for Norwalk to move in to the twentieth century. And Donald Trump has nothing to do with this. It’s the Democrats who put him in office anyway. Plus his tower is in Stamford not Norwalk for a reason.

TRS October 12, 2019 at 11:34 am

Ladies and gentlemen, your modern day Democratic Party at its finest. (worst?)
Attack a person’s character and try to smear them until their careers are ruined.
They must be so proud of themselves.
Oh, and always bring Trump into it…despite him winning the electoral college in a landslide and winning over 60 million votes.
Don’t like somebody? Attack!

Paul Lanning October 12, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Rather than speak for himself, Mayor Rilling stands back and watches Adam Wood, Mike Mushak, and now Senator Duff pile on Lisa.

The hollowness of Duff’s false accusation will further cripple Rilling’s struggling re-election bid.

carol October 12, 2019 at 5:54 pm

Duff should pay attention to what the citizens of norwalk need. smearing your opponents is really getting low.
let duff and rilling use the $$$ in there war chest for the influx of immigrant children,they wanted a santuary city and expect us to pay for it.
VOTE LISA !!!!!!

Scott October 12, 2019 at 6:35 pm

Shame on you Senator Duff for your political grandstanding!

Reading her quotes from Sept 23rd that you highlighted in your press release and are mentioned above; they are NOT hate filled or part of a larger scare tactic. They speak to an issue that needs to be addressed because the influx is putting a strain on educational resources. She and many others in Norwalk are for legal immigration so we can prepare, plan accordingly and have appropriate resources in place. Mayor Rilling declaring Norwalk a sanctuary city has exacerbated this situation and is the one doing a disservice to us all, including the immigrants.

I have two sisters-in-law who immigrated to this country, one from Spain and the other from Venezuela so our family is very familiar with the trials and tribulations of legal vs illegal immigration. To be compassionate, let’s do it in the legal and organized manner.

Lisa Henderson October 12, 2019 at 8:04 pm

Bob Duff, You should be ashamed of your press release. Lisa Brinton and Bryan Meek have, and continue to work tirelessly for our Norwalk community, and especially the children. Bryan Meek, the one with the financial expertise on the BOE, has the most difficult job of making sense of the pittance they we receive back from the state to educate all of the children, in Norwalk. We need more money, Bob. Where are their racist policies that provoke fear in the residents of Norwalk? If speaking out and wanting to discuss the serious issues that we are currently facing is racist, then you might as well label many of the residents of Norwalk the same. We care about each other, we especially care about ALL the children, we care about how we can continue to fund the public school system and the city on the backs of the taxes paid for by property owners, we ALL care about our city. Your press release is shameful.

Karen October 12, 2019 at 8:04 pm

All these comments….just spinning wheels. Nothing’s perfect. Rilling’s work is not perfect, but nothing is. What does Brinton know about the workings of city hall? Nothing. Norwalk is moving forward, every da#n bump at a time. It’s changing, trying to find its way. I’m staying.

Bryan Meek October 12, 2019 at 9:09 pm

Duff came up with $5 million to continue the POKO fiasco the first time Mayor Rilling was up for re-election. 5 years later, POKO is a rat infested tear down and their response was to tax local businesses with a draconian parking plan to kill the rest of the businesses down there..

Let’s see if Duff can come up with the $1.2 million we need NOW for the families he invited here with legislation HE signed. He can sink to the bottom all he wants and drag my name through the gutter taking statements out of context, I could care less what he thinks gets him re-elected. He has to live with himself. All I care about here is getting the schools funded and keeping kids safe and helping this city. All he seems to care about is politics.

John Miller October 12, 2019 at 10:14 pm

To be perfectly honest, when I read Mr. Duff’s press release this morning I was so annoyed at how vicious, partisan and disrespectful it was that responding immediately might not be prudent. I have no intention of doing any finger pointing but the fact is that we have a serious problem that needs to be addressed and Mr. Duff’s press release did not offer any solutions.
Where are the funds going to come from to educate these kids? Your hometown school system needs some help Bob! Connecticut already holds the distinction of having the eighth highest per capita tax burden of any state in the union and the Legislature just passed a whole laundry list of new taxes. We are also number eight of the ten most expensive states to live in and are when it comes to the business tax climate, we are 47th of 50. The frosting on the cake is the scale of our unfunded pension liability. Ours stands at $9,333 for every individual in the state. Only New Jersey and Illinois are in worse shape.

So, what do you say. I know things are tough in Hartford but how about diverting some of that newly approved tax money our way. After all, your colleague from Sprague recently revealed that the state wasn’t actually raiding the Special Transportation Fund but was meerly diverting fuel taxes to cover other expenses.

We’re not looking at diverting cash to build a wall. The BOE would just like to educate some kids.

Lisa Brinton October 13, 2019 at 6:53 am

Karen, As it turns out – I know quite a bit. I know 90% of our revenue comes from property taxes – so we shouldn’t make repeated crony or poor land use decisions that cost us millions. I also know 60% of our budget expense comes from the schools, where I’ve spent the last 15 years. Focus on those two pieces and we might just get somewhere. Pure partisan politics, ridiculous press releases, misguided loyalty or our historical ‘friends and family’ approach will not solve the challenges Norwalk now faces. Whether I win or lose, lots of SOS calls coming my way from employees at city hall. Sounds like they need new leadership. Who knows if they’ll get it.

Jo October 13, 2019 at 7:28 am

I’m a lifelong Democrat. Detest Trump. And I can see through this vile spin that Bob Duff (whom I have voted for in the past) has the temerity to submit for publication.

Lisa Brinton’s comments were clearly not racist. You don’t even need the full backstory to glean that.

When I first read Brian Meek’s comments, I was surprised at what sounded like racist stereotyping… but then I read the context, the comments that Meek was actually responding to …Duff should be ashamed of himself for cherry picking comments and then daring to publish them as a smear statement.

Isn’t that slander? Is this how our Senate Majority Leader chooses to invest his time?

I will not forget this when he’s up for office again. No way.

Mitch Adis October 13, 2019 at 9:23 am

Sanctuary City status just got a price tag folks! $1,200,000 per year and counting. Ask our neighbors in Darien and Westport how much it’s cost them. The answer is ZERO. How you ask? Darien, Westport and others have set themselves up so it is not possible for these Illegal immigrants to get into their schools. Norwalk is their dumpster. Rilling is allowing it to happen. He needs to make them pay their fair share.

Time for a change!

Mitch Adis October 13, 2019 at 9:37 am

Whatever happened to the paid position Norwalk had to investigate a students eligibility to attend Norwalk Public schools?

Isabelle Hargrove October 13, 2019 at 10:23 am

Duff must be sweating bullets right now. Could he get a new mayor in Norwalk who will actually demand he does his job? Someone who will offer ideas, someone who will make bringing $$$ to Norwalk and our schools their #1 priority, someone who will offer to come to meetings with Mr. Duff as he discusses bringing funding to Norwalk (or more accurately, someone who will force him to schedule such meetings…).

Some Norwalkers have drunk the Cool-ade that more help is impossible. Aren’t the new and currents kids in NPS and the taxpayers worth testing whether that is indeed true. I say they are and why I will vote for action and not fake outrage rhetoric.

Helen Demeris October 13, 2019 at 12:29 pm

I commend Senator Duff for condemning the divisive language of Mr. Meek and Ms. Brinton. It is outrageous that we have a BOE member who floats the idea that our young people are gang members and criminally involved because they are Latinx and come from countries that are victimized by violence. Also, it is disheartening that we have a mayoral candidate that doesn’t recognize the value of Norwalk’s diversity. Norwalk is home to many different kinds of people. All of this socioeconomic diversity makes us stronger. That’s why I’m proud to live in Norwalk.

John ONeill October 13, 2019 at 1:37 pm

The public needs to know 2 things: 1) These immigrants are here to stay, so why not embrace them? 2)Our elected leaders have not bee transparent about the costs to Norwalk to educate thsee children. I calculate that educating ELL students have cost Norwalk over $225 MILLION dollars over the past 10 years..How come none of our current elected leaders seem to want us to know that? How come none of our current elected leaders has executed a plan to pay for this outside of increasing local property taxes? Please don’t paint people who ask these questions as Trump followers, because most are not. If elected leaders paid more attention to giving a damn about local issues, And less time to burgeois BS, we’d be in better shape.

Thomas Belmont October 13, 2019 at 2:23 pm

It’s obvious that Duff drinks the kool aide of the Radical Left Marxist Democrat Soviet style inquisition impeachers in Washington DC. Duff’s sound bites echo the Pelosi Party controlled by the AOC 4 Soviet assassins and they want control of the PEOPLE. They despise the Constitution, ridicule their own law, and spit on the Bill of Rights. Their hate is a stage 4 cancer throughout the Democrat Party and required to be carried down to the minutest member, (or else face retributions) hence Duff and all he rest below.
We can not continue this assault on the United States from within. Politics is local. Resist the Left, join the new Sons of Liberty.

Bryan Meek October 13, 2019 at 3:37 pm

@Helen….how embarrassing, you didn’t even read the article before mouthing off. I suggest reading the exact words that were exchanged at the BOE Finance meeting and apologize for continuing Bob’s flat out lie. Race baiting and division might be Bob’s solution for fixing the problems he helped to create, but the adults are trying to fix it and your insinuations here are bordering slander.

Mike O'Reilly October 13, 2019 at 3:43 pm

Wow. By now I thought I would see a sincere and genuine apology from Senator Duff not just to Bryan and Lisa but to all his consituents for his slanderous and hateful comments.
Rule of Holes. When your in a deep hole don’t dig deeper.

Bob, after you apologize invite Bryan and Lisa to a Icecream summit and open your mind to other view points

Gus C. October 13, 2019 at 7:26 pm

We can all talk as much as we want here but what really matters is that we vote our values on Election Day. Turnout is key. My vote’s for Rilling and dePalma.

John ONeill October 13, 2019 at 8:08 pm

@Mitch — the price tag is a heckuva lot more than that…Multiply 2,100 ELL students time $ 15,000+ …The numbers are more staggering than people think. In 2010 we had 970 ELL students, today 2,100…Are our elected officials doing any planning for future growth. Not if history has taught us anything…Again, I say let’s embrace these people, but someone needs to pay this bill. Instead of calling questioners racist shouldn’t Bobby Duff be working on funding for this..Maybe he is, but hasn’t told anyone yet?…

niz October 13, 2019 at 8:33 pm

Duff is nice in person, yet the challenges with SpEd services (education) comes from lack of funding
Thats his que.

quaker October 14, 2019 at 12:03 pm

To Mr.Duff I myself being an immigrant. Please tell what have you done for the immigrants of Norwalk. I have not notice anything in my years living here. Not immigrants of Hartford, Bridgeport, or Danbury but of NORWALK where you live. Stand Up Bobby tell us what you have done.

Robert Kruse October 14, 2019 at 2:20 pm

Having lived in Norwalk for only 37 years I can only surmise that this is not about where people are from or what languages they speak. It is about math and numbers. Completely unsustainable without huge tax increases and not fair at all to Norwalk while all surrounding towns have decreasing enrollments. I cannot go two or three blocks without seeing for sale signs on properties. This is Rillings and Duffs new Norwalk. A tale of two cities, one percenters and Avalon and Waypointe renters. Thanks for helping to drive the middle class out.

Lisa Brinton October 15, 2019 at 2:50 pm

Babar – Time out was in reference to building the fortress apartments. If you want to know more about my platform or me go to LisaforNorwalk.org. It’s all there.

Helen Demeris October 15, 2019 at 6:49 pm

Being able to afford to buy a home should not be the cost of admission to our city. Socioeconomic diversity is what makes cities healthy and places where people want to live and work. Norwalk is attracting new residents because of its energy and all of the businesses and things to do and quality of life. Diversity improves all of that, it helps our city. We need leaders who get that.

Mimi Chang October 15, 2019 at 10:42 pm

@Jo… Yes, what Senator Duff put out in that press release is gasp-worthy character slander. I don’t know how anyone could consider his comments otherwise. There were no hate-filled or anti-immigrant/racist undertones whatsoever in Unaffiliated (not Republican as Senator Duff disingenuously spins!) mayoral candidate Ms. Brinton’s written content. How low can our senator possibly go? Shame! Is he so above the law that he can get away with smearing two individuals who have given so much of themselves as volunteers, advocating with far more sense of urgency than he does to mitigate the very serious education funding shortfall which he and Mayor Rilling have exacerbated to crisis mode?

Taking Mr. Meek’s comments out of context to portray him as a racist doesn’t bode well for Senator Duff, considering that Mr. Meek was asking a pertinent and informed question about gang activity out of concern for the safety of these more recent immigrant children. As was discussed at that meeting, immigrant children in Long Island were murdered by gang members. How Duff managed to manufacture what was an act of concern by Mr. Meek into an act of racism to his Facebook friends is unfortunate and disappointing behavior coming from a senate majority leader.

Bob Duff is the proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing“. He abused his power on Friday to partake in smear tactics and character slander, which is not to be taken lightly. He manufactured spin, playing the very immigrant children to whom he inequitably shortchanges fair education funding as political pawns. His most gullible sheep bought the spin, while his more astute sheep caught a glimpse of the wolf‘s fangs and are fleeing.

Nancy Chapman October 16, 2019 at 1:49 am

Mimi, Long Island was not mentioned at last week’s BoE Finance Committee meeting. The conversation concerned the motivation of the children and families to come here. The threats of violence were in their homeland.

Mimi Chang October 16, 2019 at 9:47 am

Thanks, Nancy. The point I was making is that Mr. Meek’s question about possible gang association linked to these children in their homeland was pertinent and out of concern for the safety of them and others. How Senator Duff can spin this into something otherwise for his own political agenda is lower than low. Meek’s question, “Are we mindful that any of these children could still be part of those gangs or recruited locally?”, is not racist.

Here is The Hour’s take:

“Meek was called out by Duff after asking Superintendent of Schools Steven J. Adamowski at a school board Finance Committee meeting whether there was cause for concern that these students might be recruited into gangs, like Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, an international gang formed of Salvadoran immigrants which has had a large impact on parts of Long Island in recent years.”

I know families who were subjected to the trauma of fleeing gang violence in their country, and live here in Norwalk. Their land was stolen by gangs and their family members murdered. Of course they are always concerned for their safety being compromised by gang activity, even now in their new home country after being violently forced out of their homeland. Can Mr. Meek be concerned for their safety and educational wellbeing too without being called a racist?

For Senator Duff to cherry pick Mr. Meek’s comments and slander him, rather than recognize his dedication and concern about a humanitarian topic, while not urgently hustling in any proactive way to financially plan for our new residents, is ironically, quite unhumanitarian. Duff’s slander deflects from the serious issue at hand, which is, how will he and the Rilling Administration pay for our new students? Maybe Duff can take a break from his smear tactics and answer this question here on NoN? I look forward to hearing from him.

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