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Letter: For every action there is a consequence

By Chiquita Stephenson

To the Editor:

In October 2013, 521 children in Connecticut’s Lower Fairfield County had their educational opportunities interrupted with no notice and\or plan of action for their future learning.

Five Hundred plus (500+) families connected to the five hundred and twenty one children entire life and livelihood were abruptly interrupted and compromised when these families were not properly noticed about their child’s school being closed.

On Oct. 24, 2013 ACF had UPS deliver a package to NEON at 9:30 a.m., at noon NEON then received an email from Louise Eldridge and by 12:30 p.m., NEON received a phone call stating that Louise Eldridge of ACF and her staff would be arriving at NEON in less than 30 minutes and demanded a meeting with NEON management team. By 1:30 p.m, a meeting was underway with NEON, ACF and CDI and ACF was informing NEON that at 5 p.m. on Oct. 24, 2013, that NEON would no longer be the operator of the Head Start Program due to a 30 day Summary Suspension.

ACF and ex-Mayor Mayor Moccia had no regard for the Norwalk children or their families and, they did not seem to care about the ramification of their actions to the children and families within our communities.

Our remarkable hardworking families\ community members found themselves scrambling and stressed out trying to determine how they would continue to work, fulfill their educational opportunities and requirements, have their children in an educational environment that was of quality and safe, keep their employment, pay their rent, car note etc.

Under my leadership, my team found information that was and still is important to any Norwalk agency that may endeavor to operate head start and regardless whether or not I am leading NEON, as a public servant I am going to make sure that taxpayers are aware of the findings.

As for the Department of Corrections NEON filed a report about inmates that shared probation officers were allegedly intimidating them and abusing their power. We requested an investigation and instead, NEON had all three of its programs pulled. To date, there has been no response from the department of correction. Therefore, individuals re-entering the community lost their permanent employment, reunification with their children and families as well as confidence that they have rights. Regardless whether I am leading NEON or not as a public servant I am going to make sure that taxpayers are aware of the findings.

As it pertains to the Department of Social Services, my team and I dedicated a major part of our work schedule developing policies, procedures, budgets and action plans that were focused on direct service delivery. With this said, NEON was being transparent with its past lack of internal controls and, it was and, still is important that DSS admit to its lack of internal controls. My team and I discovered decades of improper management however, we were not pointing fingers, we were seeking an opportunity to collectively change past practices for future success. Individuals then made the relationship personal and the fact remains for taxpayers and the communities served, that if the findings are not addressed, social services cannot and will not be properly coordinated and delivered and, the state and taxpayers will continue to pay triple the actual cost to assist local residents in need. Therefore, as a public servant regardless of whether I am leading NEON or not I am going to make sure that taxpayers are aware of the findings.

Local, state and federal elected officials from day one have been aware of all of the findings through my leadership and past leadership and instead of assisting with the findings, I found that they were seeking to find an escape goat to cover past practices. At this time, I publicly say to Congressmen Jim Himes, State Senator Bob Duff and State Rep Bruce Morris as a citizen, I call for each of you to resign for failure to act on information in each of your possession for more than three years. I contacted and communicated with each of you not to mention, I filled your email boxes with detailed supportive documentation yet, each of you allowed my name to be defamed and slandered. At no time, did you correct misinformation but, you all continued to engage in the misinformation. I will not be bullied by political figures abusing their power and as a public servant, I am going to make sure that the taxpayers are aware of all of the findings that each of you were informed about.

As for past NEON board members, the Hour newspaper, Nancy on Norwalk, news 12 Connecticut, current NEON administration and agencies and individuals mentioned above I am utilizing every legal remedy available and afforded to me for the defamation, slander, libel etc…

In my career, I have successfully worked hard to build community. The way in which I have been characterized have affected my family and community. All mentioned did not consider my safety, health or livelihood and therefore, today marks the end of false information being disbursed in community.

My heart and soul go out to the families that lost their jobs, homes, childcare and the ability to provide their families with a holiday celebration.

For each meeting held in confidence about NEON did anyone around the table count the cost of the lives that your decisions would and have affected? It would have been more productive to have all parties at the table especially NEON instead of a select few.

As for Chiquita Stephenson embezzling funds absolutely not however, I will share all findings. As for Chiquita Stephenson giving herself a raise, absolutely not, I was hired at NEON in 2007 at $65,000 as Director of Development & Public Relations, in 2009 I received an increase to $67,000, in 2012, I was appointed to a new position of Chief of Staff and, I also continued as Director of Development & Public Relations and my role expanded to NEON\CTE my new salary was $135,000, I received a new position in 2013 Chief Operating Officer\Chief of Staff salary 135,000 in 2013, I was appointed CEO\President and my new salary is $160,000 however, due to our financial disposition, I have continued at $135,000. State agencies have purposely misrepresented me and my salary as a way to deflect our findings. Whether leading NEON or not, as a public servant, I am going to disclose all findings to the taxpayers.

I will not apologize for not being a part of the old boys network or the agency’s past practices. Mayor Riling, I advise you to look at the facts before you continue to align your administration with past practices. There is much documentation to support my leadership and action plan. You must also be aware that NEON is responsible for Wilton, Weston, Westport, New Canaan, Norwalk, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich your focus should be a round table for shared funding, cost and expenses around program and service delivery.

I will be vocal on the local, state and federal level and all of the underhanded actions being taken against my family and I, I will be vocal publicly as well.

You can’t do the same thing and expect a different outcome. You will not use me as an escape goat for communicating the truth while implementing positive solution.

Together we can make a difference our communities are our future.

Comments

55 responses to “Letter: For every action there is a consequence”

  1. Which Goat?

    Scape Goat

  2. Bamboozled

    Give it up already! Cut it out..you should of let sleeping dogs lie…no wait you lie!! Now you want to speak out. No one really cares. Same ole point the finger act except responsibility Chiquita!! The agency is still trying to get out of the mess you and your administration caused. You were dead wrong!! The community entrusted their livelihoods to the programs that you spearheaded. No one could tell you nothing!! You had your own agenda everyone else be damned!! What you should be is ashamed. Leave sell enough alone and keep it moving!! It seems strange that you slander NON when it doesn’t benefit you! For the record next time you want to do a press release….use proper grammar!! You sound insane SIT IT DOWN!!!

  3. Client

    So instead of taking $3,000,(three thousand,) a week in salary Ms. Stepehenson voluntarily took a pay cut to $2,500. a week. How thoughtfull. “My team found information.. Officials from day one have been aware of all of the findings. I am going to make sure that the taxpayers are aware of all of the findings”. OK. Taxppayer here. What findings? Where’s the beef? Mam? Ms. Stepehenson mentions slander and libel by others yet, does exactly that herself. “Decades of mismanagement.” Really? No, really? $3 grand a week? No. Really?

  4. WOW!

    Wow! Delusional and disgruntled Chiquita. The title of this letter, “For every action there is a consequence”, hits it on the head. You were fired because you were incompetent. Plain and simple. Issuing checks knowing they would bounce is beyond incompetent, it’s criminal. With a purported degree in Political Science from NCC, you surely have heard the famous words of Abraham Lincoln, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Chiquita, you have blood on your hands. Until you admit to yourself all of your wrongdoings, you will not be cleansed. In the meanwhile, do us all a favor and disappear. You’re not fooling anyone, anymore.

  5. Neoscam

    Her criminal defense attorney obviously didn’t suggest she write this.

  6. anonymous

    How much truth were in her comments about Bob Duff and Bruce Morris knowing about all the problems for 3 years?

  7. ScopeonNorwalk

    Wow, in the middle of a snow storm so all these readers can critique every single line…
    First of all Chaquita, no one tied your arms behind your back and made you take the position. In fact several people, including DSS told you NOT to take the position. In order for you to actually be a scapegoat, in my opinion, someone would have had to beg you to take the position.

    On proper notice: I would think the several warning letters should have been an indication. What was irresponsible was Chaquita and Bruce Morris blatantly lying to the families and others organizations seeking to help.

    On Corrections: the halfway house had a shortage of food and supplies way before head start. Also, I know for a fact that the CT Department of Corrections has multiple individuals on file stating they would rather stay in jail then be sent to the NEON halfway house. So she might want to read up on NEON’s evaluations before she attacks the Corrections department.

    On Social Services: This is the Board’s fault. They told you not to hire Chaquita. If you couldn’t make it without their funds, you should’ve done what they asked.

    She is right about Bruce Morris and Bob Duff. I can’t say she’s correct about Jim Himes although the transition plan should have been thought through. But at the end of the day with a 3.5 million dollar debt and bouncing checks would NEON have been able to provide Head Start during those months? Probably not; she should actually be happy someone finally rescued her from her self.

  8. The only truth I agree with her is about Himes, Duff and Morrison –
    all three should resign in complete disgrace

  9. LWitherspoon

    Same old song. Proof and documentation, presumably along with those audited financials that NEON couldn’t or wouldn’t provide for more than two years, are right around the corner and will exonerate Ms. Stephenson. I believed her the first time, but have lost count of the number of times we have heard this only to not have it come true. I’ve also lost count of the lies to the public and lies to her Board of Directors, and suspect that much of this letter is more of the same.
    .
    The real message here is a public threat to elected officials that Ms. Stephenson will expose their culpability for not catching the problems at NEON sooner. Whoever dropped the ball does in fact need to be exposed, but one gets the impression that Ms. Stephenson isn’t motivated here by public concern. She’s more interested in “respect,” and the “respect” she seeks is the same sort of “respect” that our municipal employee unions will soon be demanding from Mayor Rilling.
    .
    I think at this point Ms. Stephenson would be best served by saddling up her “escape goat” and leaving town, pronto.

  10. Ryan

    Escape Goat !!!!!! LOL !!!!!!!!!!!

  11. cc-rider

    I can’t believe someone would submit this hot mess to be read by the public.

    What’s the point of making all the veiled references and leaving the reader in the dark as to specifically what you are talking about?

  12. SHOCK AND AWE

    Ms. Stephenson, perhaps you should utilize “every legal remedy available and afforded” for your criminal defense. Why, why do we offer a public forum for (some people) to be heard? … Frightening. Hopefully that escape goat has magical powers and can disappear.

    Editor’s note: This comment has been edited to conform to our policy. Also, Ms. Stephenson has been the subject of many stories and comments and deserves a forum to make her voice heard in response.

  13. WHAT?

    Would so much prefer to say nothing, but cannot let this pass for the sake of any reader out there who might not be certain this is a load of crap. If you were a part of the events that unfolded in the last six months, then you would realize not only the falsity of this, but also the brazenness that comes only with her rare mix of ignorance and aggression. As for actual points in the letter, the dramatic opening that depicts the cruel shutdown of HEADSTART is simply ridiculous and mentions nothing of the repeated written warnings, and in-person visits wherein the ACF office warned of this over and over again and the lengths NEON staff went to to conceal it from the board.

  14. hersheyteach101

    Am I hearing if your white your right? If people followed Chiquita they will see how she builds. Its time for norwalk to be shaken up. Chiquita keep on. We the people are with you 100%. As for the past NEON board members or your friends making comments up here we encourage her to sue yall too. Whitecollar crime you people crack me up…..lol!

  15. Casey Smith

    “On Oct. 24, 2013 ACF had UPS deliver a package to NEON at 9:30 a.m., at noon NEON then received an email from Louise Eldridge and by 12:30 p.m., NEON received a phone call stating that Louise Eldridge of ACF and her staff would be arriving at NEON in less than 30 minutes and demanded a meeting with NEON management team. By 1:30 p.m, a meeting was underway with NEON, ACF and CDI and ACF was informing NEON that at 5 p.m. on Oct. 24, 2013, that NEON would no longer be the operator of the Head Start Program due to a 30 day Summary Suspension.
    .
    ACF and ex-Mayor Mayor Moccia had no regard for the Norwalk children or their families and, they did not seem to care about the ramification of their actions to the children and families within our communities.”
    .
    Uh, Chiquita, what kind of evidence do you have that the City was involved in the appointment of ACF to take over the Head Start program by the State and Federal authorities? Based on your statements, I don’t see it, I don’t see it at all.
    .
    Strange that Norwalk has a well established Early Childhood Education Council, which apparently is leagues ahead of other communities, but you claim the City – and particularly the ex-Mayor doesn’t care about children. Yet the coordinator for that council is a City employee. For a city that doesn’t care about young children, it’s passing strange that many Norwalk day care facilities are working hard qualify as School Readiness providers. This may come as a shock to some people, but NEON is not the only early childhood educational provider within the City limits.
    .
    I’m sure we’re all going to be watching the next exciting episodes as this unfolds in court, which is where it is surely headed.

  16. WOW!

    @hershey…
    There is no place here for pulling the race card. Chiquita’s actions were despicable, and were damaging to all those in need on NEON’s services … white, black, latino, or others. And what is this with, “We the people”. We’re all people. And we certainly are not with Chiquita 100%. White collar crime refers to the traditional white shirt wore by (male) executives, not to the color of their skin. Whatever Chiquita tried to build collapsed because of a weak foundation. That foundation, hersheyteach101, begins with sound educational qualifications and being truthful. Give it up!

  17. Please stop

    This entire statement is nothing but a plea to get her job back with NEON. You’ll know whether or not NEON is in fact on the straight and narrow soon enough. If they take her back then you’ll know the Board is still corrupt. Especially since they all are still “buddy buddy” with her.

  18. Bamboozled

    Hersheyteach101 you are certainly entitled to your opinion…speak for yourself because I agree with WOW..the people are not with her 100%. When the people wanted answers she hid. Now she is resurfacing for what reason? What is her motive now? Neon would be foolish and committing suicide to take her back. Efforts have been made to salvage the mess she helped create. I think she should quit while she appears to be ahead…before she lands in jail. To put a letter on this site was a BAD idea!!!

  19. Lifelong Teacher

    Blah blah blah. She is up to some kind of damage control.

    Chiquita shouldn’t have taken the position. She lied about even having a two year degree from NCC, and cannot even write a grammatically correct, coherent letter. What an embarrassment, and I’m not even going to touch the escape goat. Good grief.

    Nepotism, taking obscene salary increases, non compliance with grant requirements, blatant refusal to supply financials, arrogance, writing bad checks, disappearing when things got hot, what else? Oh yes. Misappropriation of funds. Almost forgot that one, and she was part of it for years.

    Worst of all, NEON HeadStart has never done right by our children. NEVER. They do not get kids ready for school. Ask any of us in Norwalk who work with kindergarten students.

    There might be some culpability on the part of Morris et al., but Chickie babie most of it rests with you and your crew.

  20. Objective Perspective

    From an objective perspective, a failure to pursue and hold accountable any and all former CEOs and leadership as well external constituencies of NEON who are responsible for the unresolved issues that ultimately were inherited by Ms. Stephenson upon her acceptance of the CEO position would be unfair and unjustified. Therefore, the term scapegoat is applicable based on Ms. Stephenson being singled out as the sole person to blame for the unfavorable organizational outcomes during her very brief, approximately 1-month, tenure as CEO and despite NEON having pre-existing and unresolved issues prior to her becoming NEON’s CEO. Why should one individual, Ms. Stephenson, be solely held accountable for the unfavorable leadership and managerial decisions of prior administrators of NEON?

  21. Jlightfield

    If only this was a Wes Anderson film and then the escape goat would make perfect sense.

  22. Unbelieveable

    Mrs. Stephenson there’s a saying, “When you point your finger, there’s three more pointing back at you.” You had to have known the trouble NEON was in when Joe Mann left. You worked with the woman that DCF sent down to “correct” the mess that he had started. You stepped right out of the frying pan into the fire when you took that position. You can not say that you didn’t know that CTE was in financial trouble and that Joe Mann, bailed them out under the condition that NEON would take over. Joe used money that belonged to NEON and used it to save an agency that could give two craps about NEON. Now there are two agencies that are suffering, hundreds of people out of work, and many communities that are looking for help and can’t get it. While you are pointing the finger at other’s, don’t forgot to point it at Joe Mann too.

  23. WHAT?

    @Objective Perspective
    /
    This is where you are mistaken. She was part of it all from back in the Joe Mann era, and she had a chance at a tremendous reprieve when she weathered it all to be elevated under Pat Phineaous, but instead she saw a chance for a power grab and lied to the new board about, well, EVERYTHING, thinking she would just smooth her way into it all slick as snot. It’s not one month, its the shot for the moon that fell short when she didn’t do a damn thing for the community she exploited with a lot of supposed community action catch phrases.

  24. Lifelong Teacher

    Maybe the goat will escape.

  25. WHAT?

    you can do better than that

  26. Bill

    The fact that this … person made $135k, almost $160k, encapsulates what is wrong with America

    (This comment has been edited to comply with our policy.)

  27. The community

    What about the community? Is anyone going to step up and help us out? There is no church, other organizations or people that is stepping up to help in a time like this. To us as the youth of Norwalk CT, it seems to be more political and personal at the same time. You guys are hating on her but when my little cousin needed school supplies for kindergarden and my mom was short who was there Mrs. Chiquita and her staff. And now in Norwalk since they put her out, Neon close at 5:00 pm and there is no other place to go. Now what, can someone help us meaning my little bothers and sisters, cousins, mothers, and grandmothers. Just know she did teach families a lot and you will be in our prayers.

  28. @The Community,
    Your mother (mothers – ???!!!) and grandmothers are grown women who should be able to handle taking care of you – NOT other people. Also, why not include your father and uncles – don’t the men have a responsibility in raising you, too?????
    *
    Or are they absentees……..

  29. Objective Perspective

    In response to WHAT?:
    How does one person, such as Ms. Stephenson, become the sole individual to take the blame for matters that were brewing prior to her taking the CEO position? Even the ENRON case had multiple person’s within leadership brought to the public’s attention. Prior decision making was upon the shoulders of multiple individuals in leadership regarding many of the issues that have caused the controversial circumstances surrounding NEON to date. Any accusations of wrong doing must be directed to the true sources of the matter prior to Ms. Stephenson becoming CEO. If you were to have become NEON’s CEO based on the same circumstances, would you be justifiably and solely to blame for all that has occurred? What logical explanation would there be to have one individual shoulder the entire blame for the downfall of any organization? May true justice prevail in this case.

  30. A community member

    @irishgirl it seems clear to me that you are just up here to talk and don’t no what is really going on, your just going by what others that you may know (up here) and you don’t know wha t NEON WAS all about they were about helping the community at large hinst the words community action agency. The community is my mother, grandmother and so forth. And as for my father heck in a lot of us youths eyes Mrs. Chiquita stepped up and helped us like our fathers should have but our fathers are not around. If it were not for Mrs. Chiquita and the other people that worked with her encourging us and pushing us to do better we dont know where we would be but i do know we would not be in school working to make something out of our lives. Everyone is so focused on BS that you all seem to forget what NEON was all about. Who is gonna step up and give a hoot about the youth and the elderly right now from what I see its no one that’s a NEON.

  31. The community

    @irishgirl

    Are you from or live in Norwalk? NEON is a community action agency that works with everyone. Again are you going to step up and help us? And I forgot my friends in all 8 other towns that NEON has with them.

  32. @A Community Member….
    “Who is gonna (going to) give a hoot about the youth and the elderly” — ???
    Seriously, if the parents of the youth don’t give a hoot about their youth or teach them to care about the elderly, why should a public agency do it? If these parents can’t be bothered about basic human responsibilities, then they shouldn’t have had kids.
    *
    And yes, I do “KNOW” what NEON is all about, but you don’t want to hear the harsh truth about life because you’ve been living off other people’s taxes.

  33. the community

    @irishgirl that proves u really don’t care for the people. So like we the community is saying is there anyone wanting to step upand help us the community.

  34. a community member

    @ irishgirl I work every day and take care of myself. and your clueless about the community that neon works with so on that note im done talking to you bye bye!!!!!!!!!!

  35. @the community,
    I apologize, I can’t understand the rambling sentence you, like, uh, “wrote”. But I will try to interpret. “You, the community” ARE being helped because there is a taxpayer program at NEON that exists. Don’t worry your little head that some of the programs aren’t in place right now, they will be.
    *
    As for not caring for “the people”, you are wrong. I care for many people, just not people who live off government funding. If you need for a TEMPORARY (limited time, maybe one year) time, that is fine – but MANY, if not MOST, people make this a generational learning tool to siphon the public.
    *
    @a community member,
    You are not taking care of yourself if you are relying on government programs to take care of “your children”; you are living off the government.

  36. the community

    Thank you irishgirl. But again is there anyone that’s going to help the community? What are the steps other organizations church’s or even people that’s willing to step in and help the community?

  37. hersheyteach101

    @ Wow, I will not give anything up I have a right to speak my mind just like you on here and to me it sounds like this hits personal for you…lol, are you one of the former board members, anyway believe I would not want to speak for half of you horrible people on any day. I just speak on the truth that I know and what I have seen with my own eyes. As for @irishgirl who money or rich relatives are you living of off, I hope you all find a way to enjoy your holiday, you bunch of Grinches!

  38. Lifelong Teacher

    I went to college nights, and got my degrees at 32 and 42. I work hard every day, and give 150%. We raised our three children, and didn’t expect any government handouts.

    My oldest child is in her 30s, married, works full time and would love to start a family. But she hasn’t. Do you know why? It’s expensive and she can’t afford private daycare. She and her husband don’t expect anyone to give them a handout. To tell you the truth, I’m sick to death of all your whining.

    I don’t want to hear about your mothers, sisters, aunts and grandmothers. Where are the fathers, and why does this go on and on? And I am a little tired of paying for it.

  39. The Community

    See Neon, the Carver and housing authority was a place to go while our parents grandparents and all was doing what you were doing Lifelong teacher. As you were showing your kids to press forward your kids had places to go? Or where they in classes with you. All we asking is a place to go that is warm, a place to get work done, and learn the life. We already know that life is not a handout and we are teens but it feels good to have a place to. And all we are asking who will be doing that for the community? It takes a village to raise a child. I am paying taxes to because i work as well. Along with a lot of people i know. Do you work in the school system Lifetime teacher?

  40. @the community,
    What, your savior Oflubama is not helping you??! There are SOOOO many social programs out there to “help da people” that it’s sickening – but I guess you want the directors of those organizations/churches, etc… to come knocking on your door so you don’t have to move your butt off the couch. Get up and get going.
    And NO, it doesn’t take a village to raise a child – that is just liberal talk for rationalizing welfare & parental neglect.
    *
    As for all these programs, I hope they teach grammar and writing skills. From what has been posted on these sites by people who are part of these programs, all I can see is wasted money for fun activities and toys and not educational support. These kids will be ready to join the assembly line if these postings are any example of what we can expect from this generation.
    *
    @hersheyteach101,
    Are you a teacher? I hope not…. “WHOSE” (not “who”) money” am I living off?? Ummmm, my OWN, that I worked many years and very hard to earn AND SAVE. BTW, yes, I will enjoy the holidays…thank you! And you, the same.

  41. Just Wondering

    Everyone should be held accountable for their own actions and responsibilities. But there are times in life when troubling situations occur and help is needed. There is absolutely nothing wrong in seeking government assistance to live life according to your means. Yes others continue to live off the government for many years….call me crazy but in order to receive financial help you have to stay in the system and could be difficult for those to finally break free from it and relay solely on their own income.

  42. Oldtimer

    NEON was apparently mismanaged for years, at least to the extent that nobody was keeping track of how money was being spent and grant money for one service was mixed with money for other service in a general fund with bills paid as they came due. An audit a couple of years ago found something over $400,000 spent improperly and demanded a refund. Moccia saw a major money problem developing, insisted Joe Mann be removed, and stopped the City grant of 1.3 million a year. It has been all downhill since. The state appointed an interim director who accomplished nothing while campaigning for the city grant to be restored and spending continued as if that check was in the mail. Finally, the interim director left and Ms Stephenson took the job, and a big boost in pay. No matter how good her intentions, NEON finances were a mess by then and she was unable to understand the downhill slide was inevitable, or fix anything. The agency is now bankrupt after several years of spending a lot more than was coming in and she is only a small frustrated part of the problem, looking for others to share the blame. The new CEO seems to have a better understanding of economics and bookkeeping, we wish him well. It will take support from all the communities NEON serves to salvage NEON’s operations. Ms Stephenson’s letter is no help for NEON’s cause or for her personally. There may someday be investigations that will pin down who was at fault and maybe even find criminal behavior. She will not likely ever be accused of anything more than taking on an impossible job she was clearly not qualified for.

  43. jlightfield

    @oldtimer, you are incorrect is stating that NEON was asked to refund $400k. The audit/review merely stated that $400k was allocated as indirect expenses instead of as direct expenses as required by the grant. NEON only needed to request that they be allowed to allocate the amount as indirect, and was supposed to do this prior to filing the financial report to Headstart.

  44. TG

    Irishgirl, please stop. I am begging you, please stop. And yes, you can do the whole “skip my posts” thing that you did last time, except it’s nearly impossible what with every other post being a back and forth argument between you and a teenager, during which you berate and stereotype him (her?) and his family just because he (she?) gave a different perspective. I happen to agree with you regarding Chiquita, but this child does not- nor should the blame and responsibility for ANY of this fall on the shoulders of the kids. You make a lot of assumptions and judgements you have no business making.

    I am assuming you have heard this quote and can identify?

    “I wish to be left alone, sir! That is what I wish! I don’t make myself merry at Christmas and I cannot afford to make idle people merry. I have been forced to support the establishments I have mentioned through taxation and God knows they cost more than they’re worth. Those who are badly off must go there.” You should know that as cherubic as those lovely Dickensian characters were, they were regarded as vermin by the society that Charles Dickens critiqued with his work. We look on such characters in a story with compassion, yet when they stand before us today?? Would you be a modern day Scrooge, Irishgirl? So bitter at the enormous chunk such people are stealing from your coffers that you would take it out on a kid? Honestly, go read the book, watch the movie, see what Dickenss understood about what happens to a society with no desire to care for its disadvantaged. Have mercy, Irishgirl, and may God have mercy on you.

  45. Wow, TG, watch tv much?! You wasted your time with trying to associate me with Scrooge because no, I don’t “identify” with the character. I care for society and people, I just don’t care much for freeloaders or for people who don’t get up and make themselves independent. Sorry, I am too busy working to watch a movie or sit and read a book (that I’ve already read). Have mercy on you, too, TG and may God instill some wisdom on you.
    *
    I have the same rights to give my perspective, just like the “teenager” who keeps posting. I do not judge – I just merely state the facts. I am sorry if this isn’t to your liking.

  46. TG

    Nancy/Mark have Irishgirl’s comments not crossed the line here? I saw nothing but a respectful tone coming from The Community, and Irishgirl’s responses were degrading, presumptuous, and IMO, abusive. Is this not a teenager she is going back and forth with? I would rather have a conversation, print or otherwise, with someone with poor grammar and respectful tone than properly written and nasty any day.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @TG

      We do not know who anonymous posters are unless they are using a real email address, which most are not. Whether the commenter is a teenager — my first reaction — or a 50-year-old man, we do not know. It really shouldn’t matter. We are in the process of attempting to civilize the comment section and will continue to do so as warranted.

  47. TG

    @mark, thanks for your response. Of course, I agree that it should not matter who it is, a respectful tone is required. Still a little shocking to see the gross lack of civility some would display. I tend to believe the poster is a youth myself, and as an adult can’t actually sit back and watch a grown woman go off on him/ in a most myopic,not to mention insulting, way.

    @irish, I have said my piece. I will now go back to allowing you toast my case for me through your responses.

    @the Community- I happen to believe you are a young person. I have no idea what your circumstances are- I haven’t walked a mile in your shoes not those of your family. I can only encourage you to persevere to make a life that proves negative people wrong, and elevates you to a place of dignity that is a God given right for all of us. Hold your head up and push forward no matter what.

  48. the community

    @TG

    We are youth along with adults. And all we want to know who is going to help us. Meaning there is a lot of people hurting right now. Norwalk has nothing to do and even though Neon is going through what they are going through but we had a place to go. This has been going on for years it did not just happen. Mrs. chiquita is the person they are using to run. This is from the youth TG.

  49. TG

    @community- I get that you are speaking for a larger group of people, but how old are you specifically? Specifically which programs are you talking about when you talk about needing help? I ask that because we are just a bunch of posters giving our opinions, just like you; most are not representatives of any particular agency or organization in a position to answer your question – who will help? NEON- or another agency in its place- will eventually be operational again, providing much needed services. To you, Mrs. Chiquita is the face of the help you were receiving. To other people she is the face of all that went wrong with NEON. The fact is that it is the agency and the programs it provided that were the help. And the money to continue to provide those programs was managed unwisely, by a lot of people, including Mrs. Chiquita, we don’t know the whole story, and now the mess has to be cleaned up. Hopefully that is happening with Rev. Jackson as we speak. There are a few programs through NEON that are not easily assumed by another agency- child care and preschool, for example. Believe me, there were people on this site trying to step in and try to help with that, and it turns out to be a big challenge because of legal requirements. The other programs can only become operational when there is a certainty that they can be funded and that those funds will be well managed. As much as I can understand that being part of broken system is better than having no system at all, it just can’t continue- NEON didnt even have the funds to keep its lights on or pat it’s employees.

    But the one area that can be filled more easily is for the youth. NEON was never the only game in town. All schools have an abundance of after school programs as well as guidance counselor a and social workers who have knowledge of outside programs and agencies for youth. One thing Irishgirl was very right about is that agencies and churches are not going to come and find you- as a young person, you have the opportunity to speak up and even partner with these groups yourself to help your own community as well.

  50. Don’t Panic

    It is sad that the its a thread of pettiness running through some people in this town.
    .
    Before casting stones at the”idle”among us, remember the notion of charity and forgiveness. And repeat to yourself the following “there but for the grace of God go I”.

  51. Chris

    The very beginning of this story is premised on a lie that they were shut down out of the blue one day. They had months and months notice that this was coming.

    Yet they continue to blame the town of Norwalk, which saw the writing on the wall two years ago and pulled their funding, for a budget shortfall like the taxpayers of this city OWE them 2.4 million.

    No, sorry, that’s not how accounting works… That’s one of many reasons why the findings on the finances were not GAAP – “Generally Accepted Accounting Principles”.

    Add in some commingling of funds, and millions of dollars being managed by people who don’t even know what that means, and you have NEON and their “Escape Goat”.

    Ms. Stephenson handed out checks made of rubber to all these people and family she cared so much about. I hear her complaining about wanting her old job back and how she was wronged. I don’t hear one ounce of “sorry I screwed your family over at Christmas”.

    You deserve to be arrested, not promoted.

  52. @TG,

    This comment has been deleted for violating our guidelines.

    “Do not insult, bully, threaten or harass the writers or your fellow commenters. Comments referring to other commenters as “idiots,” “retards,” or the like will be edited or not published. Keep the back-and-forth with commenters on topic (this phrase was added 10/14/13).”

  53. hersheyteach101

    @TG thank you for responding to our youth they need the support from people and not just the personal negative attacks that they have been posting. @irishgirl I pray that people with your negativity stay in hiding because it is not welcomed here!

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