(Updated 6:20 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, to remove unrelated story from the end of the file. And thank you to the anonymous person who alerted us to its presence.)
NORWALK – Sometimes I think it would be fun to do a Jon Stewart-like weekly video wrap-up of Norwalk politics.
For those you not familiar with “The Daily Show” host, Stewart’s signature bits involve recapping the news and setting up video clips by asserting something that the clip will totally disprove, or a clip that will lay bare blatant hypocrisy or flip-flopping.
And so it went in the story we posted Wednesday morning of Republican and almost Republican Common Council members defending the appointment of Bill Dunne by Mayor Richard Moccia to the Planning Commission.
Speaker after speaker defended Dunne from what some called personal attacks by Democrats — made in the past, not Tuesday night — trying to undermine the appointment. It was suggested that Dunne — an accomplished professional writer given to wielding a pen like a scalpel while performing political evisceration via letters to the editor or Facebook posts — should not be judged on his writings.
Gentlemen, ready for your close-up?
First, the attacks. Democratic Councilman David Watts was the creative force behind a video that showed photos of Dunne and screen shots of his Facebook postings. Watts gave a “heartfelt” speech about how Dunne and other Republicans have mounted personal attacks against members of the Democratic caucus, and how wrong that was. Watts did not mention his supporters’ and family members’ highly personal attacks on Moccia and even on political opponents of Vinny Mangiacopra, who Watts supported for the Democratic nomination for mayor. He also didn’t talk about his “Brand New Car” video rapping the mayor for purchasing, right after his 2011 re-election, a new SUV on the city’s dime to replace his city-owned hybrid. That could be chalked up to an issue-oriented, rather than personal, attack, though.
Then we have David McCarthy, who has made very public, highly personal comments about fellow elected officials and others, with particular vitriol aimed at Board of Education member Mike Barbis. His attacks include a video he made showing Barbis using a Rowayton Hose Company pickup truck for personal reasons, accusing Barbis of misusing taxpayer-funded equipment. Turns out the truck was not taxpayer funded and Barbis’s use of it was not a problem, according to a Hose Company official. The video has since been taken offline. Other personal attacks have included publicly calling people criminals or saying they were guilty of crimes (Barbis and our own Nancy Chapman) and frequently calling other public servants liars in comments on this site.
We might also point out these two pithy gems from Dunne himself, directed at Matt Miklave as posted on a Norwalk Patch story from Nov. 15:
• Bill Dunne November 15, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Can an insufferable, tedious, pompous windbag be elected mayor of Norwalk? I guess we’ll find out.
• Bill Dunne November 15, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Some people think they’re Napoleon. Matt Miklave thinks he’s Cicero.
Personal attacks indeed. And why is there so much talk about the need for civility?
As for not judging a nominee by his or her writings — EXCUSE ME? How many federal nominees have been hung up in Senate confirmation hearings, especially over the past five years, because of something they wrote decades ago, maybe even while they were in college?
We all put our opinions into print and those opinions give people a window into who we are. In Dunne’s case, his Facebook postings (no longer available to the public) were highly partisan and stridently anti-Obama, but that does not have anything to do with whether he would make a good Planning Commission member.
However, Dunne’s many postings that reflected a disdain for environmentalists and environmental issues, including climate change, may give one pause. Planning means more than economic survival. It means sustainability in the environment. It means making sure decisions made today are going to be good decisions 10, 25, 50 years from now. And no matter how good one’s intentions may be, even basic, letter-of-the-law decisions can be interpreted differently depending on one’s personal perspective. Don’t think so? Look at the Supreme Court, which is supposed to interpret the Constitution and uphold the laws of the land, but invariably winds up making 5-4 partisan decisions based on ideology.