Letter: Mayor’s personnel director, Rilling’s leadership make ex-chief best choice

By M. Murray

To the Editor:

NORWALK — I have been a resident of Norwalk for the past 28 years. I am a retired Norwalk Police Detective and former school resource officer. I am also a lifelong Republican. The Norwalk Police Union membership voted overwhelming to endorse their former chief, Harry Rilling. This speaks volumes about Harry Rilling’s leadership and commitment. After 41 years as a police officer and 17 years as chief of Connecticut’s sixth largest city, he still has the faith of the department’s members.

The ongoing controversy with the current mayor’s personnel director deeply concerns me. This is the person who oversees my benefits and oversees a work force of several hundred. He has been the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit by a subordinate and most recently went after a DPW representative at a meeting and had to be restrained. The DPW representative was so concerned about the personnel director’s actions; he went to the police department to file a report. This so-called “heated exchange” led to a criminal investigation.

In a recent article I read this same personnel director had gone through a number of jobs before he was hired by the current mayor. He had worked for the cities of Bridgeport, Waterbury, Stamford, Council 15 and The Connecticut Construction Industries Association. What I find very telling about his position on unions is when he took a golf club to the Stamford Police Union sign and destroyed it at a charity golf tournament in 2000. If I held that many jobs and behaved in this manner I would have never been hired as a police officer. As of this date I have not read of any charges being brought against this personnel director or even the mayor taking any action against him.

As a Norwalk taxpayer I am concerned with how much the city spent on defending his sexual harassment law suit. I am concerned with this personnel director’s demeanor and his ability to perform his job. What has this cost the city in grievances, arbitrations, legal fees, delayed contracts and the good will of city workers?

The mayor is ultimately responsible for the actions of his personnel director. With this type of outrageous behavior and no action taken by the mayor, I am sure the workers of this city feel the mayor has turned his back on them. This probably accounts for why no city union has endorsed him.

I worked with and for Harry Rilling for over 26 years. I found him a caring and conscientious leader. It’s time for Norwalk to move from the status quo. Harry has the ability to be a consensus builder and will be able to reach across the political aisle. It’s time for positive change and that’s why I am voting for Harry Rilling for Mayor on Nov. 5.

M. Murray


45 responses to “Letter: Mayor’s personnel director, Rilling’s leadership make ex-chief best choice”

  1. Norwalk Lifer

    Thank you! My point exactly after reading the deposition on this lawsuit.

    Too many are making excuses for this kind of behavior, and that enables it, when it is directed at them, like this mayor’s illustrious city counsel did to me, then maybe the tune will be a little different.

    Thank you again!

    Norwalk Lifer

  2. Oldtimer

    M Murray’s endorsement, as a life long republican, speaks volumes. Moccia and Hasselkamp need to go.

  3. Daisy

    The endorsement by the police union speaks volumes, but not about what M Murray says – it speaks volumes about the fact that they love collecting Norwalk paychecks while not having to pay Norwalk taxes (the taxes that are required to meet that payroll). Moccia didn’t commit the sexual advances, let the courts handle THAT issue. Did he even hire the guy or did he inherit him from Knopp.

  4. M. Murray’s

    I like many other current and former officers reside in Norwalk and have lived and paid taxes in Norwalk since I was initially hired. I believe Mr. Moccia hired this personnel director upon recommendation from another City Administrator. I like Dick and consider him a personal friend, and strongly supported him in previous elections. I just find this to be a rare opportunity to have someone with Harry’s qualifications and ability to work with both parties to move the city forward. It’s time both parties work together to solve issues in the city and Harry has always shown the ability to work together with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done.

  5. Oldtimer

    He hired the guy. He inherited a gal by the name of Letourneau. Apparently, he had very little to do with the hire. Tom Hamilton told him we are hiring this guy and he said OK. I don’t think he had even met Hasselkamp.

  6. M Allen

    Letourneau yeah. I recall that name but now I’m trying to remember what she was thought of by the workers and retirees back then. I’ll bet there probably hasn’t been a peronnel director down there that the workers have felt real warm and fuzzy about. I’m not defending Hasselkamp, just making an observation. This position isn’t usually one that is the bringer of warm feelings to the employees.

  7. M. Murray’s

    Sara LeTorneau. She also went by Sara Oley. Personnel Directors are often in a difficult position acting as both coordinator of benefits, but also involved in contract negotiations. Sara was looked at as being a pretty fair director. She could be tough but usually kept to her word both in dealing with employees and during contract negotiations. Under Jim, it is amazing how many times there are errors in the contracts where items not agreed to are slipped into the final contract presented for signing. Surprisingly, all these mistakes and verbiage seem to be to the City’s benefit, and not the unions. It is this kind of activity that causes a lot of the current animosity. Don’t try to slip things in and don’t try to interpret the language differently than the intent was during negotiation.

  8. Break the Unions

    The endorsement of a fellow current or past union member sould ring loud and clear to the taxpayer.. DO NOT VOTE FOR RILLING. The municipal unions are NOT the taxpayers friend. The only purpose they service is to take more and more and more and more from the taxpayers pocket.
    Has anyone noticed Rilling s base of support are the ones that take from the taxpayers as in the unions and the welfare recipients.

  9. Break the Unions

    M Murray
    Pleade tell us with facts to back it up how many current officers live in Norwalk. I bet it’s unde 25 percent.

  10. M. Murray’s

    I don’t know the numbers. I can only speak for myself. I assume it would probably consistent with the percentages of all employees that work and live in Norwalk

  11. Tim K

    Enough of the banter about employees not paying taxes in Norwalk. Those people are paying taxes somewhere, so what does that argument matter? (They could say the same about their town staff too, I guess.)

    I would rather have a competent town employee that resides elsewhere than an incompetent old “townie” doing the job any day. Leadership is about getting the best out of staff. If the leadership team is draconian in its approach, employees are not inclined to put their best foot forward. For my tax dollars, I want employees to do their best job and anything short of treating staff with respect is a loss for all.

  12. D(ysfunctional)TC

    Must be nice to retire before 50.
    Not saying its an easy job, but there do seem to be some positive rewards for having to put up with low pay, a very dangerous job, and cheap ass taxpayers who don’t want to fork over more money for above market raises and cushy pensions.

  13. M. Murray’s

    Yes. Their are both benefits and drawbacks in numerous careers. Some have early retirement and pensions. Some have 401k and stock options. Some have summer vacations. Some have corporate travel and per dime credits. Some get annual bonuses and profit sharing. Some have job security, others have higher pay. Some have overtime, some get company retreats or team vacations. Some get tips and flex time. Some get to work from home. Some get company cars, and some even have drivers. Some get to write off expenses. I guess everyone seeks employment that best fits them and their needs. And the grass is always greener….

  14. D(ysfunctinoal)TC

    Ok Murray. And its the greedy taxpayers fault for not wanting to give above market raises year after year after year. Correct?
    I mean after all if you decide to take a low paying job from cheap ass taxpayers, you should be able to try and rig the system and complain for eternity about how underpaid you are. Correct?
    Thanks for helping to explain the Chief’s contempt for taxpayers.

  15. D(ysfunctinoal)TC

    Just to be clear, I believe in civil service and I believe it is what makes societies great. Those who chose to do it for profit and personal gain are crushing society little by little. If you work for this city and you think you are underpaid, I welcome you to find another job. That’s how it works for us in the private sector. And I have news for you. There are many who would do your jobs just as well for less money. So stop the bellyaching.
    Look at it from our side. Private industry workers are a separate class of citizens without the same rights. We could collectively bargain with our employers, but then they’d probably just leave the state if we did. We don’t have the luxury of involuntary revenue streams like property taxes to pilfer from. We need customers and our customers pay for goods and services that they want. We can’t force them to pay for our labor unlike public servants who can. So we effectively work to make money and pay our taxes and you get to take the fruits of our labor without our consent by legal decree. They had a word for that a few hundred years ago and we had a civil war for it.

  16. M. Murray’s

    Not sure I said any of that. I merely pointed out that each type of job has it’s benefits and it’s drawbacks. We all work for our pay, whether in the public or private sector. We all provide goods and services, and we all get paid. You just have to compare the good parts, the bad parts, and choose for yourself which type of industry you want to work in, and all expect to get paid a fair amount for the type of work performed.

  17. D(ysfunctinoal)TC

    We agree, the grass is always greener…..
    Are you ready for a Mayor Rilling who will either raise your taxes or raid your pension fund to pay for all his promises? All because you think the HR director should be a little nicer and roll over for every single union demand? Do you even know if Harry will make the changes you think he might? Are you prepared to have Watts and Pena run this city to give Harry what he wants? I really find this hard to believe from you.

  18. You may want to check your facts

    Do you have any knowledge of what you are speaking about Dysfunctinolal? What “demands” are you talking about exactly? What data do you have to support these claims?

  19. The Deal

    It’s mind boggling how many angry, unhappy people there are in town and who they are pointing their fingers at. Perhaps the answers are found looking inward rather than out.

  20. D(ysfunctinoal)TC

    Ok factchecker you have me. The unions don’t want anything more than they already have. They never do and always give the taxpayers a fair shake. In fact, we should just let them manage the checkbook.
    The choice next Tuesday can’t be more clear now. You can vote for the interests of the unions or you can vote for the interest of the taxpayers. Totally up to you.

  21. Tim T

    @You may want to check your facts
    Please tell us what union are you a member of?

  22. Tim T

    M. Murray
    I see that want to hold Moccia accountable for the behavior of “one” of his employee. Will you also hold Rilling accountable the “many many” that were dirty at the NPD when he was police consultant including the ones that were arrested?

  23. M Allen

    @DysTC – Are we really going to bash the choice to become a police officer? Do you really believe it to be all that glamorous and overly compensated for the job they are asked to do? Let’s not drop to the Tim T level. We can all find fault with a number of things related to the unions, but let’s try and at least be a bit careful with where we tread when it comes to denigrating a particular profession. I’ll be the first to call foul in how public-sector unions carry unreasonable weight, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call into question the motivations of civil servants based on them choosing to do it for “profit and personal gain.” That’s just foolish talk. Even if you want to make some case on OT (blah, blah, blah) they work real hours, amid real stress, and top that off with life threatening situations. Try and find a bit of common sense when venting rage against the unions.

  24. Tim T

    M Allen
    Your comment “Let’s not drop to the Tim T level” is against the TOS.. Please STOP with the personnel attacks as they say more about you than me..

  25. D(ysfunctional)TC

    @Mallen. The profession is a noble one twisted by a sense of self entitlement founded in an unchallenged, unconstitutional premise. Collective bargaining rights that guarantee binding arbitration are rights not afforded to ordinary citizens. It is unjust and even FDR, the godfather of modern day liberalism, saw the perils of public sector unions. What I find completely incredible is the OP, retired before 50, still basically complaining for more and more by his endorsement.
    Norwalk has been fortunate enough to not be mismanaged to the point of no return like many other cities facing bankruptcy. But it is only a few generous labor contracts away from a similar fate unfolding in many cities across the country. Sad that some residents don’t seem to grasp this.
    The city is $250 million in debt and pays about $10 million a year in interest. Moccia has kept these numbers flat in 8 years after rapid growth during the Knopp years. Let’s try to keep this in check.

  26. M. Murray’s

    I guess maybe my point is lost in all this negativity. Over the years, many of my friends hav asked what they can do to help the city. People who have had families helped by police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other city employees. They have had good experiences and feel that these employees deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. There are families who appreciate their children going through the DARE program, had positive interactions with school resource officers. They have had teachers who positively impacted the lives and futures of their children. And these families have asked me in the past how they could help. All I am doing is to try and communicate to these families that if they still want to help the city and essential city workers, it is my opinion that the best thing they can do help is to vote for Harry Rilling. This is a favor I am asking of all those that want to help. There are those here who feel differently, and that is their prerogative. I am merely trying to reach out to those who know me and value my judgement.

  27. M. Murray’s

    And yes, although I retired before 50, I am enjoying my retirement by working another full time job so I can pay my fair share of taxes. And as a side note, certain unions have collective bargaining agreements subject to binding arbitration not for the sole benefit of the union. The right to strike was taken away from certain unions by law. These unions are the ones bound by binding arbitration.

  28. Suzanne

    “The profession is a noble one twisted by a sense of self entitlement founded in an unchallenged, unconstitutional premise.” Unconstitutional? Really? How is that? And how does “the profession” twist itself into “self entitlement” by simply requesting fair pay for fair labor? M Allen gets a deferral on this one: he knows from experience. DTC, you sound misguided unless you can come up with some real numbers and data to support your “unconstitutional” claim.

  29. D(ysfunctional)TC

    Suzanne. 14th Amendment to the constitution guaranteeing equal protection under the law. States have maintained public sector unions are exempt from this with respect to binding arbitration. It has never been challenged in federal court to my knowledge, but if you read the letter of the law it says we are all equal with respect to laws. So why aren’t private citizens afforded binding arbitration rights with their employers? I’m not filing a federal case here. I’m just making a point that some of us are more equal than others. And remember these laws didn’t prevent teachers from walking out on our students years ago before you throw that can’t strike nonsense around like others.

  30. Suzanne

    DTC: I love constitutional interpretations that come from a generalized understanding of what a particular amendment means. What makes you an expert? Are you a lawyer? A Supreme Court Justice perhaps? Do you know, in actual fact for every person that “private citizens (are not)afforded binding arbitration rights with their employers?” Really? “Some of us are more equal than others” and that will always be true not because of the constitution but because of income and class. That would be the “top 1%” who represent the vast majority of income as opposed to the rest of us. What that has to do with the constitution I have no idea. It seems that your reading of an amendment has you confused with capitalism.

  31. D(ysfunctional)TC

    Respect would be showing gratitude to taxpayers who continue to pay above market wages to civil servants who could be had for a dime a dozen save their protections afforded to them by law that ordinary citizens do not enjoy. When you get 1000s of applicants for a single position requiring no college education or formal training it means you can pay far, far less then what we are paying. We pay this because we already do respect our hard working civil servants. Respect is a two way street. Complaining that you get no respect is disrespectful to those of us who don’t have the luxuries and protections and guarantees in our jobs who pay the bills so some can have theirs. Still everyone is entitled to their opinions and we’ll see who wins. It seems to me the reason why Republicans can consistently win while outnumbered is because taxpayers understand who respects them more.

  32. D(ysfunctional)TC

    I don’t know Suzanne. Can you read? The 14th is in plain English and so is its application. Is binding arbitration a law only afforded to civil servants or isn’t it. WTF does that have to do with capitalism? FYI… Your liberal bent policies of deficit spending and massive sovereign debt are making the 1% richer than their wildest dreams. How do you like that for irony?

  33. M Allen

    DysTC – Are you referring to binding arbitration in general, or only with regard to public-employee pensions? I ask because I am seeing the argument being made with regard to pension protections, just not the broader element of binding arbitration.
    In the case of binding arbitration, what makes private and public any different in terms of the 14th? Both groups of employees are treated differently than non-union workers. But I would assume by now that equal protection has been argued on the private-sector union front, so how exactly does it apply to publics?
    While on the subject: has the case in WI gone further than the circuit level? I’ve lost touch with what was happening out there.

  34. Norwalk Lifer

    Moccia’s is an administration of arrogance, that’s clear, and it’s time to make a change.

    Norwalk Lifer

  35. M. Murray’s

    Actually I would argue the opposite. The 14th amendment protects the rights of the individuals. By denying individuals the right to strike, they are taking away the right of a citizen.

  36. Suzanne

    DTC, I read just fine. If you notice the following threads to your 14th amendment comment, you will note different interpretations of the claims you are making. I find it generally unwise to interpret the constitution in such detail unless the precedent setting court opinions are cited. Even these are open to interpretation and challenged all of the time. The constitution is a fluid document. Your perception of what the 14th Amendment means could probably be refuted by as many “expert opinions” as agreed with by “expert opinions.” It is not a supported argument, in other words, nor is what “respect” is when it comes to civil service and non civil service employees. I have been both: the economies of entire towns can depend upon a robust civil service even when the work it does seems fairly useless. But, what the employees make then give back in the form of personal needs and services to the community could be debatable as to benefits to that community. I always find it entertaining when I disagree with a person of a conservative bent who then, because I disagree, I am labeled a “liberal.” Just what does that exactly mean, that label, and what did I write that you can label me as such? Better to stick with the concepts and less the name-ascribing to support your argument. Otherwise, it is the proverbial “toss off” without substance.

  37. D(ysfunctinoal)TC

    M. Allen. WI is going to take years, but could set some precedent. Fire and Police are really the only necessary items when you get down to it.

    MMurray. Taking away your right to strike is just another law that isn’t enforced. Re: Chicago. The perception, maybe reality, is it has been a vehicle for guaranteeing protections and raises for public sector unions above market that private sector employees don’t get.

    Suzanne. You are right. We live in a world today where now you have to question what the word “is” means. Silly me, reading the plain English text of the constitution and thinking that it is literal in its intent.

  38. Suzanne

    DTC, what is “literal in its intent” is certainly not clear in its meaning and how a particular amendment will be enforced. You do not have to know the meaning of “is” at all: what you do have to realize is that your interpretation is not necessarily how the actual amendment is interpreted or made actual in the community. This is just common sense. Silly you.

  39. M Allen

    Yeah how crazy of you DysTC. 😛

    Who would have thought that one the of the Reconstruction Amendments designed to give rights to former slaves would later be used to allow a child born on US soil to automagically become a US citizen, regardless of the nationality or legality of his/her parents at the time of birth.

  40. RU4REAL

    Hypocrites all I say.
    Wait a minute, you want to hold Rilling responsible for fight night at city hall, but won’t hold Moccia accountable for a department heads behavior.
    Moccia IS responsible, so why not call him out instead of defending the mayor, he’s enabling bad behavior. At the very least pull the guy aside and tell him to cut the crap, your making me look bad.
    This is NOT leadership!
    Thanks M Murray for your service and honesty, never you mind what a few knuckleheads think, you nailed it brother.

  41. RU4REAL

    DTC is very adept at changing the subject, Murrays letter is about the election.

  42. D(ysfunctional)TC

    Hmmm…. shoving a table or shoving two elderly people to the pavement. Yep. Nothing different there.
    I’ll say it again….it all depends on what the word “is” means. See how easy that is. Words and actions don’t really mean what you think they mean as long as someone means differently. Even if they act differently.

  43. Better Norwalk


    What happened at the “Brawl at City Hall” was the Democratic chairperson performing what is in the State of Connecticut a FELONY. You do physical harm to an elderly person in this state it is a FELONY. ADD TO THAT: The use of keys in a closed hand/fist is also considered a weapon and can be argued in a court of law as use to inflict grave bodily harm.

    Now, if I was a candidate for a high office in the city I live in, first thing after such an event would be to demand a meeting with the party and demand removal of this person.If this fails, I would say find yourself another candidate.

    Shoving a table, touching anyone in an inappropriate way is NOT TOLERATED and in my opinion a person would be relieved of their duty pending further review by senior executives, which after review make the determination of termination or last warning leading to termination. I agree this could have been dealt with in a better way by our Mayor. However, that’s why their are subordinates to take charge of this and if they fail, the mayor MUST step in to avoid this kind of calamity.

    There is the difference in leadership. Did Rilling decline to run? No, the compensation level as mayor is too tempting even for him.

    If Rilling followed what I just laid out, by demanding the resignation of the party leader AND filing charges or find another candidate he would win my support and possibly many more others. But when your house is not in order, who would want to trust this former Chief of Police? I sure as hell DO NOT.

  44. Suzanne

    I don’t know why someone would go through what it takes to run an election, raise money, go through a zillion stump speeches and debates just for the compensation this mayoral office allows. But, I do agree that there should have been some comeuppance on both sides in both incidents you cited, Better Norwalk. I would say both houses are not in order and no one has the exclusive corner on civility or professionalism. The fact, though, that Mayor Moccia failed to review the HR candidate and, revealed in NON, the HRD long and bouncy career shows an equal amount of lack of due diligence, a corner stone of doing good business and good governance. His oversight has left a major negotiation in a quandary that is undermining the taxpayer. I would think THAT would make you re-consider unbridled support for this irresponsible, combative mayor.

  45. Norwalk Lifer

    @Suzanne, yes and when you read the stories fully, and then state your opinion, the “know it all” here come and attack people who are responding to the stories.

    Really, how much is Moccia paying these people to post on this webpage?

    Norwalk Lifer

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