By John J. O’Dea
To the Editor:
NORWALK — I am writing in response to Mayor Moccia’s incorrect and misleading comments aimed at me in your Sept. 12, 2013 “NancyOnNorwalk” column.
First let me inform Mr. Moccia that I don’t smoke anything, nor am I easily misled or intimidated by those speaking out both sides of their mouths. Mr. Moccia, in his comments regarding NEON, states that he simply returned a call to Ms. Stephenson that she made to him Sept. 4, at 7:29 p.m., and that he then returned her call on Sept. 5 at 8:14 p.m. Well, apparently Mr. Moccia seems to have selective memory or conveniently seems to have forgotten an email that he sent to Ms. Stephenson on Aug. 23, 2013, at 10:50 a.m., in which he states that he is “in South Carolina. Will meet on my return.” Mayor Moccia then goes on to write that, “I set up a meeting with DSS (Department of Social Services) and NEON to discuss a peaceful resolution.” Mr. Moccia would seem to suggest at that time that he was willing to help NEON.
Mr. Moccia further goes on to state, “that if the agency (NEON) got money now, just before the election, the funding would look political.” Well, what is really strange to me is that politics didn’t seem to get in the way of helping another local non-profit group from getting a $100,000.00 grant from the city of Norwalk. As to politics, it also seems rather strange and unusual that not only did this other local non-profit group receive a $100,000 grant with the help of the local politicos, but also that they were granted the most unusual step of waiving or forgiving the usual required “matching funds” for this grant. Of course, I’m sure that Mayor Moccia would claim that there was no attempt to politically influence anybody with this most unusual and generous $100,000 gift or the waiving of the usually required matching $100,000 funds.
The truth be known, the city of Norwalk, I’m sure with the help and or the approval under the direction and watchful eye of Mayor Moccia, has also withheld for each of the past two fiscal years, $1,300,000, or a total of $2,600,000 from NEON. Politics or good management, I ask, Mr. Moccia. While it is clear that there have been problem, with the past management team of NEON, and that they seemingly misspent $400,000, I have also asked several times and wonder, why no legal action has been taken by the local officials against those guilty of having misspent this $400,000. In fact, in my opinion, there is much more to this story that Mr. Moccia and others would seemingly like to sweep this under the rug. NEON has received and counted on this money from the city of Norwalk for the past 30 years and clearly those who have done wrong should be punished. Innocent children and needy elderly citizens of Norwalk who are dependent on the NEON programs and assistance should not become the political pawns or victims of anybody’s politics.
Again, I ask Mayor Moccia, good management or simply more political games by another name? I suggest pursuing this matter legally by going after the guilty and hopefully recouping this misspent $400,000 from the past NEON staff members who did the deed and who were then rightfully replaced many months ago, as was the entire previous NEON Board. It occurs to me that this situation clearly calls for people of good conscience and good will to step up to the plate to help the current NEON staff and program recipients who clearly had nothing to do with the misdeeds of the previous NEON staff and or board.
In closing it’s not about politics, Mr. Moccia, it’s simply about doing the right thing. Let’s move on.
John J. O’Dea