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Hilliard removed from ‘illegal’ post; Hempstead again Norwalk Council president

At left, Anna Duleep (D-At Large), announces her choice for president of Norwalk’s Common Council. At center, Nick Kydes (R-District C) reacts as she says it’s him. At right, Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) switches seats with Carvin Hilliard (D-District B) after being elected president.

By Nancy Guenther Chapman

NORWALK, Conn. – A veteran Norwalk Republican took the helm of the Common Council Tuesday evening, but only because a Norwalk Democrat forced the hand of his party.

“I’m very confused: why there is no item here listing for election for president?” Anna Duleep (D-At Large) said shortly after the public speaking portion of the meeting, after interrupting the seemingly routine transfer of the right to speak from Mayor Richard Moccia to Council President Carvin Hilliard (D-District B). Duleep went on to ask Corporation Counsel Robert Maslan if indeed the council had a legal president at that point – the city charter says a president serves the post for one municipal year and Hilliard has been in the post since Nov. 22, 2011.

Maslan said he would have to study the charter, and did not have an answer.

“I am ready to go tonight with a nomination,” Duleep said. “I believe I have five votes for this individual, I’m hoping to at least get six. Do I need to suspend the rules in order to be able to add to the agenda for election for council president? Because I think that’s a very important item.”

Matt Miklave (D-District A), a lawyer, said it was an interesting problem. “Since we take office in the second meeting of November, it would seem to me that is the logical beginning of the municipal year,” he said.

Moccia said he didn’t know, either. The challenge at that point was to get nine votes to suspend the rules, but it didn’t come to that – instead, Michelle Maggio (R-District C) asked for a recess.

Motion granted. Republicans headed into their caucus chambers, while Democrats treated the meeting as the holiday celebration it was, in part – kibitzing with the few people who had come for the show. Then:

  • Moccia exited the caucus chamber a few minutes later, shaking his head at Hilliard, who seemed to want to know what was going on.
  • The mayor sent Maslan into the caucus chamber about seven minutes after his party had gone in there, to try to hustle the process along. Maslan returned without the council members.
  • After another eight minutes, Moccia went in himself. He returned shortly, saying “Whatever you guys want to do,” as he left the caucus chamber.
  • Finally, after 17 minutes of discussion, the Republicans returned.

Moccia informed Duleep that, to suspend the rules, she actually needed 10 votes (a 2/3 majority of the 14 members present – Republican Joanne Romano resigned at the last meeting and has not yet been replaced by her party). She got them and more: Hilliard was the only one who voted no.

Duleep then spent nearly six minutes nominating the surprised Nick Kydes (R-District C) to be the next council president, beginning with the comment that she was surprised herself when she concluded that Kydes “best embodied the principals of diversity.”

Moccia tried to hurry her after five minutes; Duleep sharply retorted, “Let me finish,” adding that she was lobbying for votes for her candidate. She went on to say she was grateful that Kydes had not been “Dickish” in dealing with her, then apologized for using the language of her sixth-grade students.

The Democratic party values “Sharing opportunity, sharing power and sharing responsibility,” Duleep said, so “To look over at the other caucus and see people who have been serving their party loyally for years, who have been, I’m sure, waiting for their opportunity to serve in a leadership position and prove to the voters and everybody what they can do with that title and with that power, to see them shut out, so that – no offense – a fine man like Doug Hempstead, can have the title that he has had a zillion times before? That was painful to see.”

Shortly after her nomination, Fred Bondi (R-At Large) nominated Hempstead.

Maggio asked if Kydes or Hempstead had to accept the nomination. Moccia said they had been nominated and not declined.

That prompted Kydes to speak up. He thanked Duleep and said he was “very flabbergasted.”

“As am I,” Duleep replied.

“I was going to nominate Mr. Hempstead this evening, so what I would like to do is nominate Mr. Hempstead,” Kydes said.

“You have to withdraw,” Moccia said.

“Then I withdraw,” Kydes said.

Hempstead was elected 9 to 5. Voting yes were Hempstead, Hilliard, Bondi, Michael Geake (U-District B), Kydes, Maggio, Jerry Petrini (R-District D), David McCarthy (R-District E) and Bruce Kimmel (D-District D). Voting no were Duleep, Warren Peña (D-At Large), David Watts (D-District A) and John Igneri (D-District E).

Comments

20 responses to “Hilliard removed from ‘illegal’ post; Hempstead again Norwalk Council president”

  1. LWitherspoon

    Nancy,

    Thanks for the detailed reporting, which gives more information than any other local news source. Who was it that used the word ‘illegal’ to describe Hilliard’s post as Council President?

    I am flabbergasted by Ms. Duleep’s awful language, on the floor of Council no less, and am glad that she apologized.

    1. The term “illegal” is mine. Ms. Duleep questioned the legality of Mr. Hilliard continuing as president into the council’s second year without a vote. Mr. Maslan had no answer. The mayor agreed with Mr. Miklave that it was questionable, and said he didn’t know either.

  2. Anna Duleep

    Allow me to apologize again in public for my regrettable choice of language. I agree wholeheartedly, Lwitherspoon. I allowed my temper to flare after Mayor Moccia repeatedly interrupted me. I believe I could have clocked in at under five minutes without his repeated interruptions. As I recognized even at the time, it was a juvenile reaction on par with my middle-school students to use a term like “dickish” during a legislative meeting. I sincerely regret the choice of crude language and will endeavor to hold myself to a higher standard in the future!

    1. LWitherspoon

      Thank you Anna. Anyone can make a mistake, you have shown real class by apologizing. Some of your fellow Council members on both sides of the aisle could take a lesson from that.

    2. justMe

      Anna when you vote for something…you just do that! You don’t go into a sermon on the mount explaining what you are going to do 10 minutes later. No wonder no one will listen to you any more..1st year you never answered calls, emails, texts now you are on top of news articles all the time. You need to get a job & a life…remember how you would talk about others, now you can’t stop talking about nothing of value.

      1. Anna Duleep

        What a clever way of wishing me a happy 36th birthday this Dec. 13! Thank you for your feedback. Point of clarification: I am employed. I own a very small business. I am Director of Duleep Educational Coaching, LLC. Whether I have a “life” is an amusing question; the answer is none of your business.

        Let’s agree to disagree regarding my “sermons.” I like for my constituents to understand the reasons why I vote a particular way. To each her own, I suppose!

        BTW, I have no idea how I “would talk about others.” To what are you referring? Kindly refresh my memory so I may respond accordingly.

        1. LWitherspoon

          Happy Birthday Anna!

  3. Oldtimer

    What a shame, poor lwitherspoon was flabbergasted by some crude, immature, language. When I was reading that I thought she meant acting like somebody else in the room who is sometimes rude when others are speaking.

    It sounds like the great Oz does not have tight control of his caucus. Does that suggest he may not have enough party support to run again ?

    1. LWitherspoon

      Oldtimer,

      Way to stand up for Council Members using bad language on the Council floor! You sure are a class act. What other bad behaviors by Council members do you endorse, if they happen to be members of your party?

      Since you were not specific I’m not sure who you mean when you say “acting like somebody else in the room who is sometimes rude when others are speaking.” My best guess is that you meant David Watts.

      1. Oldtimer

        lwitherspoon
        Sometimes, without even trying, you are pretty funny.
        As easy as it would be, I am not going to try to respond. Merry Christmas

        1. LWitherspoon

          Woops, there you go again, making assumptions and missing the point entirely with your “non-response”. How do you know I wasn’t trying to be funny?

          In any event, Merry Christmas!

  4. Mike Mushak

    First, WHY was Hilliard’s 2nd year as President being allowed to continue by the ruling GOP caucus, in conflict with City Charter and so by definition ILLEGAL, as the headline states? Convenient oversight so they could continue to get Hilliards, votes by any chance? Thank you Anna for keeping your eye on the ball! Glad we still have some adults in the room! And your harmless reaction to the mayor’s constant and rude interruptions were justified under the circumstances. I have been insulted by this mayor in the ugliest terms imaginable, and been called every name in the book when I dared to be critical of him or his decisions, as have so many other folks in this city. And he never apologizes to anyone as you had the courtesy and maturity to do. I am proud of you.

    So, with that, I must say “Congratulations Mr. Hempstead!” I can’t wait to see what great ideas you have to move Norwalk forward, along with your caucus that controls the entire Council, even though the voters elected a Democratic majority in the last municipal election.

    Why did the GOP grab all the committee chairs after Geake’s cowardly and childish defection last year, instead of leaving half to the Dems as they should have as an authentic show of bipartisanship? And out of respect for the voters of Norwalk who did NOT vote in a majority GOP Council? In this context, it is hilarious to hear GOP folks complain about partisanship on the Council. They are always “shocked, shocked!” as if no one noticed when they grabbed all the committee chairs like kids grabbing all the candy out of the bowl on Halloween. Cracks me up!

    (BTW, the Council President’s chair last year going to DEM Hilliard doesn’t really count as a bipartisan move, as it was an obvious and very effective bribe to get his vote, no matter what his voters in his district asked of him,. Good move for you, sleazy as it was, and lousy for those in his district like me who got no representation. Hopefully next time we will elect less easily manipulated politicians who won’t sell their votes to the highest bidder. We learned our lesson!)

    When you expound about civility and bipartisanship, keep all that in mind. Many of us concerned citizens believe our votes, and our voices, were robbed by the GOP in this greedy power grab and sleazy back room maneuvering. Now we can’t even hear informed debate on the Council floor about issues that effect all of us, including public safety, because you blatantly silence it. Then you whine when Dems get publicly angry over such sleazy moves, as if you are all so innocent!
    It would be funny if it wasn’t also so tragic, when we watch as issue after issue, you ignore the will of the majority of voters.

    Anyway, best of luck. Overall, you are a community-minded citizen of good character, I consider you a friend even though we often differ on the issues, and I just hope whatever tricks you have up your sleeve in the next year as Council President, that you have the best interest of EVERY voter in mind, and remember the voices of the majority of us in Norwalk who originally voted for a Democratic-controlled Council, not a GOP-controlled Council. We all have long memories despite what you may think!

  5. Off Da Hook

    Maybe it’s not a conspiracy to silence our voices. But the GOP is doing on the Council what they had Angry Jack doing on the Board of Education. Support the Mayor and silence anyone who disagrees with him. It makes you wonder if it’s not time to change the city charter so that political parties don’t have as much power.

  6. Tim T

    I can’t wait until all these has beens leave Norwalk politics. It seems we have seen the same names that have destroyed Norwalk for my whole lifetime. It’s time for term limits in local politics

    1. Paige

      “for my whole lifetime.”

      I KNEW IT!!!!

      Tim T is only 8 years old!!!! Moccia has only been in office since 2005. The first time Moccia ran against Knopp, he lost because no one knew who he was. Fred Bondi is probably the longest serving member in this particular Council, followed by Doug Hempstead. However, during Knopp’s first term, it was an all Democratic Council, so Hempstead couldn’t have been on the Council at that particular time.

      Well, Timmy, run off and do your homework. It’s a school night.

      1. Tim T

        Paige
        I realize that you are not very bright but I was not referring to Moccia.. I was referring to the same names that have been in Norwalk politics as a whole. Please tell me where you see me mention Moccia in my post. It seems you have brought your style of putting words in others mouths to this site. Maybe you should have someone read my post to you.

  7. Oldtimer

    Term limits ?
    What a great idea. A lot of politicians start out with great intentions, but soon let the power get to them. It seems the higher the local office, the worse we see the effects. No mayor should serve more than two terms.
    Merry Christmas

  8. justMe

    Mike..we in South Norwalk vote for the person…not the party. You should be ashamed of yourself for thinking that you know us…because based on your comments against Hilliard & Geake you know nothing about politics. Kindly refrain from what you know nothing about! You do good things on the Zoning Commission but keep your comments to items that you KNOW about.

    1. Anna Duleep

      “justMe,” please remember Mr. Mushak also lives in South Norwalk. You have every right to disagree with anybody you wish. But using the phrase “we in South Norwalk” to differentiate yourself from Mr. Mushak is insulting, given his status as a proud Ward B citizen.

      Mike, thank you for your kind words. Thank you also, Mike, for giving “justMe” and me an opportunity to agree; you have indeed done “good things” on our Zoning Commission!

    2. Mike Mushak

      Thank you for your comment, justMe. It happen to know quite a bit about politics in SoNo, as a 10 year resident, business owner, and neighborhood activist in the Golden Hill area.

      I have been committed to improving our community through more affordable housing, safer streets, more street trees, and improving SoNo on many levels to improve our quality of life to attract more business and residents.

      I have donated years of beautification efforts and the design and installation of major “gateways” to SoNo, including most recently the wildflowers on the abandoned medians that the city failed to coordinate plantings for as soon as they were constructed (see Nancy’s generous publication of my essay on that subject from 2 weeks ago if you scroll down under “news”.)

      I have had to push hard at the often difficult but sometimes very helpful city bureaucracy (there are still some very good folks left in City Hall despite years of bad morale and bad management) to give us more attention. I continually fight for better enforcement of quality of life regulations that are rarely enforced here in SoNo, including zoning, health, and trash and sidewalk regulations that are often violated with impunity adding to the general decline in our city and bring down property values.

      I have donated at my own expense the plantings for many years of the planters on Washington, North and South Main, and Cedar St., helped plant over 75 street trees that were bought by the city but located and supervised by me along many of our streets to restore tree canopy in this urban area, restored and maintain the park at MLK and Washington where the Civil War Statue is, designed and maintain the gateways to Sono at exit 14 northbound, at Reed and Stuart, and at Cedar and CT Ave (currently dismantled by the highway work), restored the plaza at 50 Wash. Plaza (a city park) after decades of neglect by removing, with my own crew and the help of Rec and Parks crews, years of accumulated crap and broken amenities, organizing new lighting, and lobbying for a major overhaul which will happen in a couple of years, and lobbied for years and continue to lobby for a blight ordiance to help stabilize our declining neighborhoods and protect us from predatory slumlords who contribute to sub-standard housing mostly for low income folks who deserve decent and safe housing.

      I have known both gentlemen, Geake and Hilliard, most of that time (Geake moved here in 03, and lives down the street from me.) I worked with Geake for years on the Golden Hill Association on improving the city, and we shared many accomplishments together, and I always supported him and his wife Mary. Call me naive, but I believe when folks are elected, they should represent their voters in their district. Then Geake won an election to the Common Council with my support, but then defected from the Dem party because his wife lost an election to a DTC position and he was bitter that some other Dem folks ran against her and won, so they decided to take their marbles and run home rather than just accept it and ask themselves why that happened, and perhaps could have worked on improving their deficiencies as most mature politicans would do after losing an election, and not punish the entire city in the process with a radical and clearly self-serving tactic. Mr. Geake basically stole the votes of every person in his district who voted for him, including me, and more shockingly, stole the vote of every voter in the city who voted for the Democratic majority on the Council. Celebration turned to despair as we realized the GOP would take every committee chair just weeks after the election, and the public would lose support for all of the good ideas we had to make the city better and which we had worked so hard for during the election season.

      Geake calls himself independent but votes almost 100% of the time with the GOP, and justifies this by saying he is preserving his political capital. Really? Political capital for what we all wonder? He hasn’t done anything for his community that voted for him, except vote against their interests.

      Hilliard has done the same thing, and consistently votes with the mayor because as he put it, ” you have to understand I vote for whoever offers me the best deal” after admitting the mayor offered him something to switch a crucial vote on an issue that affected our SoNo community in a negative way. Whatever that “something” was, it wasn’t anything for SoNo. Having been further lectured by Hilliard on how corrupt politics is and that that’s the way things are done, and that it is perfectly OK to “sell” your vote to the highest bidder instead of voting your conscience and for your constituents, was a sobering reality for me that this man is out solely for himself and certainly not representing me, who voted for him. Not cool. Hilliard has traded his votes to the GOP for personal gain way too long, and for anyone in SoNo to defend that kind of behavior is as guilty as he is.

      We deserve better than this, and trust me, I will work hard in the next year to restore integrity, transparency, and accountability to our broken system of politics. If my idealism seems naive to you, so be it, but to insist I know nothing about politics is not accurate. I know way more than I care to even think about at this point in Norwalk, and honestly it turns my stomach to see the lost potential of our once great city squandered by do-nothings and know-nothings who are running it into the ground through bad management, incompetence, and self-serving politicians. Now that’s a reply!

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