Letter: Rilling wanted Norwalk zoning post as campaign platform

By Art Scialabba

Chairman, Norwalk Republican Town Committee

NORWALK, Conn. – Wow! Looks as though I ruffled some feathers on the other side of the aisle by bringing out facts concerning Harry Rilling’s mishandling of his duties as a zoning commissioner and the salary and retirement benefits he was paid during his last 11 years in office. What I did not see from some, like Peter Berman, is anything that actually dealt with the facts and not an attack on me in my capacity as chairman of the Norwalk Republican Party.

I guess in Mr. Berman’s world it is OK to print scathing letters against people like Bruce Kimmel and Mayor Moccia, but not okay to raise issues about Mr. Berman’s buddies. 

By Mr. Rilling publishing his bias against big box stores, he has, in fact, made it impossible for him to participate in any meeting without jeopardizing the city with possible law suits against us and our citizens. Really, if Mr. Rilling were not running for office and trying to cover every base he can (he’s on to saving South Norwalk in his most recent “I have ideas” published letter) would he have written that letter?

Does anyone believe that?

Seventeen years in a most powerful position and now he thinks he has the answers? A day late and a dollar short.

And, as for his constant reminder to the voters that he sits on zoning, it was Mayor Moccia who gave him that position over the advice of those of us who know Mr. Rilling and his intentions. Mr. Rilling only wanted the zoning seat so he could use it as a platform in his campaign.

As for his salary and the assertion by him that he was hired back as a “consultant” (his words, not mine), well that is just not true. His contract is public information, and nowhere does it say he was a “consultant.” He was hired back as the chief.

As to another assertion by one of his supporters that he was hired to save money and because there was nobody around who could take his place, also not true. We had a very capable and worthy deputy chief at the time who finally gave up waiting for Mr. Rilling to retire, and he left to head up another department. And even if we did not have a deputy chief available to become chief, we could have gone to the outside to find one.

That approach is one that the Democrats have championed, but apparently forgotten when it comes to Mr. Rilling. And, who wouldn’t like to be in a sweetheart position of being paid more than $1 million while receiving a retirement of $800,000 from the same agency that you are working for.

This was no ordinary “drop plan” in that the chief was a contract hire and it was he who continued to ask for extensions, as opposed to a real drop plan with a time limit of 3-5 years.

Art Scialabba


13 responses to “Letter: Rilling wanted Norwalk zoning post as campaign platform”

  1. Tim T

    Oh My my my my..I never once in my life thought I would say this about a republican but great post Art Scialabba. It seems the truth comes out about Rilling. I wondered about Rilling saying he was a consultant as if that was the case that would also mean we did not have a sworn police chief for the many many years Rilling claimed to be chief.

    Nancy would it be possible to post Rilling’s contract so we can all see the truth about the consultant nonsense and what Rilling actually made from retirement while he was still working . I have check the city website but had no luck finding it.
    If this is true “And, who wouldn’t like to be in a sweetheart position of being paid more than $1 million while receiving a retirement of $800,000 from the same agency that you are working for.
    It’s disgraceful to say the least.

  2. M. Murray

    Lets be fair about this. The DROP plan is used as a benefit to both the City and the police officers. It allows officers to continue working while technically retired and use pension money to build a savings. The City saves money buy locking in the officer’s pension amount 5 years earlier, this lowering the future pension payouts by up to 12 1/2%, depending on the years o service prior to entering the DROP. The city also charges the officers a fee of 15% of that money for “managing” the retirement money. On top of that, this “management” means that the City will pay the officers T-Bill interest rates on the money they “manage”. This rate is less than 1%. The City is allowed to invest this money any way they wish and keep any profits over the T-Bill rate for up to 5 years. The plan is designed so that the City also gets to avoid the full payout of retirement to the officer while also paying the cost of hiring, training, and equipping and providing benefits (ie medical, dental, vacation, etc.) for an additional officer to take their place. Make no mistake about it, if the DROP plan did not actually make the City money, there is no way that it would exist. Extensive research was done by both the City and the Unions to ensure that the plan was a benefit to both sides.

  3. Politricks

    The drop plan has not benefitted the city ..
    And Harry first got his contract when he thought esposito would lose the election and the new mayor might no be as “friendly ” to him as Frank had been .
    In typical Rilling fashion, Harry looked out for himself and had his staus changed from regulat city employee to a contractual employee .
    This allowed him to double dip and receive retiree benefits !!

  4. LWitherspoon

    If Art Scialabba is right and Rilling’s compensation was inappropriate, why did Mayor Moccia approve it? This line of attack is ridiculous. How about a comment on the issues instead.

  5. M. Murray

    Actually Politricks, it does. Do te research. I did as I elected to do the DROP plan for a little over a year before finding a better retirement opportunity. I thoroughly researched the plan before opting in and it is a financial win for both the employee and the City. And this was before contractual changes that benefited the City even more.

  6. NorwalkVoter

    Question: The Hour printed this politcal letter from Mr. Schialaba. Did he pay to have it published under their campaign season rules? If so, why doesn’t it say that in The Hour. If not, why not?

  7. LWitherspoon

    A commenter asked the same question on the Hour’s web site. An Hour staff member replied that they received Mr. Scialabba’s letter before the cutoff date for when political letters needed to pay the fee.

  8. NorwalkVoter

    @LW thanks.

  9. Tim T

    you are right on the money with your post.
    I still want to know if Harry was actually the sworn chief of police for those many years or just a consultant as he has stated. If we did not actually have a chief that may explain the dismal results from the NPD in regards to preventing or solving crime. Its seems to be a mystery in regards to Harry’s actual position as you cant be both at the same time .

  10. Rod Lopez-Fabrega

    Mr. Scialabba’s letters suggest the Republicans are getting nervous, and that the big knives are out–or perhaps one should say, “the Big Shovels”. Unconfirmed reports suggest that dirty tricks are not off bounds in this campaign and that some unnamed person or persons from the Moccia campaign have been doing some graveyard digging.

    For shame! Mr. Rilling is not running for President of the United States and should not be subjected to the same shameful treatment our current president had to endure.

    Can little Norwalk not conduct a rational, clean, gentlemanly campaign that deals with our civic issues in a civil manner?

  11. Don’t Panic

    “…That approach is one that the Democrats have championed, but apparently have forgotten when it comes to Mr. Rilling…”

    Not all Democrats have forgotten the push for a national search to be conducted for a new police chief. Mr. Rilling should remember best of all…as he was participating as an applicant of such a search during the very time it was being opposed here in Norwalk.

    Mr. Scialabba should avoid tarring all Dems with the same brush. There are currently four Dem candidates for Mayor, indicating that there are many approaches from the party of ideas.

  12. John Frank

    Dick Moccia, of all people, needs to put a stop to unreasonable digging for dirt on opposing candidates. That can very quickly become a two party game that he cannot win.

  13. Hobbes the Calvinist

    Art Schlubb, as the insiders know him and love him, has been a disgrace as a party chairman. He was a paid member of the failed Linda McMahon for Senate campaigns at the same time he was the local party leader “coordinating” the campaigns for the Norwalkers running for General Assembly. Wonder where his loyalties were? The insiders know he had nothing to do with Gail Lavielle’s big win but he was a close advisor to Jack Chiaramonte’s embarrassing state senate defeat. So, Art Schlubb the “loser extraordinaire” is now going to lecture Harry Rilling on how to run a campaign? That’s almost as laugh-out-loud funny as Schlubb lecturing Harry on ethics. Wait- he did that too.
    Time to add “sanctimonious” to the words that will be overused in the article announcing his defeat as party chairman.

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