Letter: Rilling is the smart choice for mayor

By Mike Mushak

To the Editor:

NORWALK, Conn. — The smart choice for all Norwalk residents on Nov. 5 is easy. It is time for real change. No matter your party registration, unaffiliated or independent, vote Democratic Row “B” (which stands for a “Better Norwalk”), starting with the organized and experienced (and life-long Norwalk native) Harry Rilling for mayor, and including the strong slate of Democratic candidates for Common Council and the Board of Education.

Skip over the Republican Row ”A” (which stands for “Abysmal Failure”), based on the failed record of Mayor Moccia and the Republican-controlled Common Council to manage the city and control costs. Republicans also support protecting the current dysfunctional Planning and Zoning Department that has lost the public’s trust.

Democrats support a much-needed and long-overdue professional overhaul of City Hall to restore integrity through better accountability and transparency, proper performance reviews of staff, and the reduction of waste of precious taxpayer dollars.

The tired old cliché “tax and spend Democrats” does not apply anymore. On the contrary, “tax and spend” more accurately describes Norwalk Republicans led by Mayor Moccia, who have wasted millions of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars on badly managed programs and poor planning decisions. This includes paving roads that get dug up and ruined almost immediately, and supporting the rogue Planning and Zoning Department’s corruption of process, obsolete zoning codes, and bad planning decisions that ignore expert studies and our own Master Plan, costing taxpayers millions to fix.

Two recent zoning applications, the mosque and BJ’s, were both allowed under existing obsolete zoning codes with potential large impacts on surrounding neighborhoods. Democratic zoning commissioners, including me, want to fix the broken codes, but Republicans including Emily Wilson (running for Common Council) resist these efforts.

Remember, the smart choice this year for all Norwalkers is Row “B,” for a “Better Norwalk.” Please vote!

Thank you,

Mike Mushak


21 responses to “Letter: Rilling is the smart choice for mayor”

  1. EDR

    You are an angry man aren’t you? So much potential for good completely rendered useless by vitriol. What a shame. Regardless of what happens in the election I doubt that any of your fellow zoning commission members will want to work with you or even trust you. You just do not understand that do you? I really feel bad for you.

  2. bsmith

    You’re anger is smothering your judgement so it makes it hard to determine truth from passion. All your pages of arguments and research on this blog come down to vote row B?

  3. Mike Mushak

    EDR (Mr. DesRoches), former Zoning Chair who abuses the public in meetings and acts like a thug pushing through a misguided and ultimately abandoned driving range proposal in pristine woods and wetlands at Oak Hills Park, a proposal designed by an interior decorator who designs golf course clubhouses and which mnever had a feasibility study before you wated everyone’s time for months trying to push it through, is lecturing me on how to behave? LOL!
    Theh P and Z Department is corrupt. Plain and simple. By-laws are ignored, there are no performance reviews, there are no financial statements, and teh cprofessional credentials of staff are a secret from the public according to Moccia and Maslan. Everyone knows that department is rogue and badly managed in City Hall, except of course the GOP Moccia cheerleaders like you who love having the power even though you have no clue how to use it to make Norwalk better.
    Why don’t you address my points instead of attacking me? Harry Rilling and Democrats will restore integrity to City Hall, and boy does that frighten the old guard around here and on this site!

  4. Better Norwalk

    And once again shows no originality by using my screen name both here and on The Hour.

    For someone who should evoke new ideas and thoughts coming from a licensed landscape architect, you simply have none. Its the same tirade and bloviating on how great Harry is and how “corrupt” you claim Moccia is.

    I feel sorry for all of the P&Z council members who have to endure this constant level of disgust with other party affiliations. No wonder its at a standstill. You’re worse than Congress!

    I’m glad you feel that by electing Harry you agree on his ability to Double Dip from taxpayers. All this for a candidate who will be compensated to the tune of $200K all on taxpayer money. It’s good to be Harry huh?

    Wonder how the rest of the P&Z feel about your airing of all this anger and frustration.

    Maybe a “beer summit” may be in order. You need to learn to play nice in the sandbox of life since you have no idea what your statements may do later or who will sit across the table one day.

  5. Daisy

    Yes, Harry is definitely the smart choice – for dumb voters. He’s only the smart choice if you collect a paycheck from Norwalk but live elsewhere. And lord knows that’s true of many of his supporters.

  6. EDR

    The thing that gets me about all of this is that he s correct in that things can always improve and he has pretty good ideas that can be considered in a calm environment. That is what a collaborative process yields. Unfortunately his actions are part of a larger issue that exists today. Brow beating people because they have a difference of opinion with you. I suspect that Sol Alinsky would be proud of Mr. Mushak because he advocated the very practices that he uses. Yell and scream at the opposition claim they are incompetent and tell them they are lying to you and all institutions are corrupt. That is the pattern of this entire Democrat campaign and it is far from the truth of what is really gong on. Has Mushak said anything about the four “village districts” that exist in Norwalk that were created by and passed by planning and zoning in Norwalk? One off which exists in his neighborhood. Did he tell you that we were the first city in the state to pass that? No he has not. They talk about failed commercial projects and yet the grand list will explode with new ratables next year because of the innumerable developments I highlighted in my letter. He says they would have happened anyway. Not true as he no concept of what a commercial development process is, the risks involved, and the costs it takes to do one in a capital starved market.

    Please stop the madness and do your job the right way.

  7. Don’t Panic

    Wow, breaking out Saul Alinsky! Someone’s shorts are in a twist.

  8. Mike Mushak

    EDR, you still haven’t addressed any points I make in my comments! Please tell me you what you think of the nasty inflammatory flyer your dear friend Emily Wilson (who is also a Zoning Commissioner and is running in District E for Council) is distributing all over Norwalk,along with your buddy Dave McCarthy, full of lies about me and other commissioners and city policy, and which insults a religious minority which jeopardizes the city’s position in federal lawsuit. Or, is that OK in your opinion becasuse Republcians are doing them, and Democrats like me should just sit back and ignore this nonsense?
    Mr. DesRochers, please show me the professional credentials of P and Z staff. Share them with the public who Moccia says are not entitled to know. What are they hiding Mr. DesRochers? I thought Republicans were fiscally conservative. Wouldn’t that include knowing what the professional credentials are of someone you are paying $150k a year to, with 6 weeks paid vacation? Why does the Norwalk GOP turn the other way when performance reviews are mentioned, or by-laws are asked to be followed? Why are by-laws not followed on teh ZC, or do you beleive like your buddy McCarthy does that “by-laws don’t matter” as he stated on the record?Please answer these questions, and you may restore some of your credibility.

  9. Flo 2

    We are still waiting for Mr Mushak, patron saint of transparency, to disclose if he has any relationship w/ a member of the board of directors of a property next to the proposed BJ’s location. Maybe it was done and we missed it? Maybe NON will investigate and let us know?

  10. Flo 2

    WOW! That question is like Mushak’s kryptonite! It stopped his yammering dead on two threads (or maybe he is out trick or treating). Perhaps NON should shine a light on the board of Laura Raymond Homes!

  11. Piberman

    Under the Democrat controlled BOE (1997 – 2009) the NFT became the highest paid teachers of any City in CT and 5th highest in the state. No wonder the NFT wants Democrats back in the saddle after their Arbitration loss. In return for union support Gov Malloy gave us the highest tax hike ever. Democrats, unions and high taxes love each other. Voters seeking a good example of unions controlling Democrats need only visit once proud Bridgeport. When the unions support candidates high taxes aren’t far behind. It’s the American way – more always more said Sam Gompers.

  12. EDR

    Mr Mushak – I have to tell you debating with you on a blog is quaint to say the least. Their flyer represents how they as candidates feel about the matter and people will consider that when they vote. I agree with the decision on several points and would have voted against it based on the application as filed. The fact remains if the application was presented properly and in accordance with zoning requirements by the applicant and all of the questions answered it is an allowed use in the zone and denial of it would have been wrong. From my take the applicant over reached and was turned down for the reasons that are well known.

  13. EDR

    With respect to the qualifications of the P&Z staff what exactly is your point? I do not understand your anger towards them. Senior Staff has well over 100 years in collective experience that is in far excess to what you bring to the commission. It was they who first proposed the Village District Zoning for both East Avenue and Rowayton and I am proud to say that is one of the great accomplishments that happened under my tenure as chairman. What have you done? You make yourself out to be Mr. Transparency but your actions on BJ’s would have been the basis of a lawsuit if the project were denied. Your application of case law was all wrong and your Warren Harding impression probably would have gotten a denial over turned by a superior court judge. Though you consider yourself an expert on zoning matters I can see that your working knowledge is limited at best. Complain is what you do best from what I can see.

    With respect to how much money they make whatever it is putting up with what they have to put up with is battle pay as far as I am concerned.

    Mr. Mushak I like your enthusiasm to do what is right. What I do not like is your inability to work with your fellow commission members and the staff. Some of your ideas are interesting but you are just not a collaborative person. Take a lesson from Bill Wrenn. He and I have nothing in common and we certainly don’t agree on much. But he and his wife Betsy never made the driving range at Oak Hills personal. I respect them for beliefs and they are the reason why we worked hard to consider alternative locations for the range. That and the economics of the designated developer proposal made the decision easy. They have intellectual honesty and a lot of class. I can work with that. How about you?

  14. Mike Mushak

    FLO, what is your point? My partner is on the board of the Laura Raymond Homes, which had taken no position or action towards BJ’s. There was no secret conspiracy here as much as you would seem to like to make it one, from a safe hiding place behind an anonymous tag!
    The elderly residents of that wonderful facility were concerned as all neighbors were to the impacts. Several residents had been hit by cars over the years trying to cross the street, yet a couple of residents were quoted in the Hour as saying they wanted the BJ’s because it would mean a new light and crosswalk next door for them to use.
    So, the residents were of mixed opinions, the board had no official opinion, and there was no cooperation between me and anyone else including my partner to affect my position, which I said all along quite clearly was not for or against this project, but that it was up to the applicant to prove it would work.
    I just wanted better due diligence by the city which I felt the public deserved on such a huge project on such a dangerous busy road, with 140 existing businesses that could have been seriously affected as well as the thousands of residents in surrounding neighborhoods including several schools. AND I had the expensive taxpayer-funded studies to back me up on that, so it was’t even just my common sense and “opinion” here, but the opinion of accomplished national experts the city hired but to do plans which city officials and other Commissioners like Emily Wilson chose to ignore during this whole process until I reminded them they existed! There’s nothing more to it than that.
    Call me crazy, but a large majority of folks who live in these affected areas including local businessmen happened to agree with me. It was only my GOP critics who were so angry at me for having the nerve to bring up common sense and respect for our Master Plan and expert studies, qualities I thought Zoning Commissioners (and highly paid staff who are paid by the public to protect them) were SUPPOSED to have! Silly me, I live in Norwalk, and I guess I just forgot that a fact-based professional approach to important planning decisions that may affect generations after us is just not the way we are supposed to conduct ourselves, not when Mayor Moccia wants a project that badly.

    EDR (Mr. DesRochers) to answer your question about staff credentials, we have no APA Certified Planners in the top 3 positions of the P and Z Department, at least according to the APA. I would hope you would think a PLANNING and Zoning Department would be headed up be at least one PROFESSIONAL PLANNER, wouldn’t you? If not, perhaps you think we don’t need licensed ENGINEERS in DPW, or lawyers in the LAW Department,or licensed ACCOUNTANTS in our Finance Department! In fact, P and Z staff REFUSE to provide their professional credentials to anyone, even to the Personnel Department who don’t have a clue, except their resumes when they were hired back in the 70’s and 80’s. Have they kept up on continuing education? Have they become certified professionals in some other related area, such as architecture or landscape architecture? Why is this a secret? Do you think public employees have a right to keep their qualifications a secret from taxpayers who pay their salary? If you do, you must be crazy, just as as crazy as Moccia and Maslan and the P and Z staff who think this all a big joke or something, and credentials don’t matter. I happen to think like the rest of the civilized world and think they do. But hey, in Norwalk under Moccia, it just doesn’t matter at all! How sad for all of us.

    Further, Mr. DesRoches, you are completely wrong about BJ’s. You are just guessing at what happened, and expect no one will notice. Staff worked with the applicant for almost a year on a traffic study, without the public or Commission knowing anything about it, that didn’t follow a taxpayer-funded $500k Transportation Plan that was in force the entire time. Even if he study wasn’t “regulation” yet as Wilson claimed (and why wasn’t it if taxpayers paid half a million for it, and her friend Councilman and Public Works Chair Dave McCarthy said it WAS in force since September 2012 when it was completed?) the Commission still has EVERY right to set the parameters of a traffic study for an application, but we were told in June when we first saw it that it was too late to change! I also asked for an independent peer review of the traffic study, as the $500k study recommends, and as STATE LAW allows, but I was told by Emily Wilson it was NOT allowed, in defiance of state law and our own regulations that did NOT prevent an independent peer review, ever.
    The applicant’s attorney, Mr. Zullo, even confirmed there was no reason we couldn’t ask for a peer review, but Wilson denied my request to put it on an agenda to discuss, as seen here on NON in video and is on the record. She just made up reasons we couldn’t do it, saying it was “in the regulations” without ever being able to show me the reg’s she was referring to. She nastily told me it was “in the minutes” and I should just look it up, but it wasn’t there and she knew that. She just lied, or to be gentler, “made it up”, to prevent a much-needed review of a traffic study on a giant project with huge impacts on a about a third of the city, including Silvermine and Cranbury. Why? For some reason I can only guess at(Moccia wanted BJ’s, perhaps).
    And I was supposed to remain silent in the face of all this, as you and others claim, and just “get along” and sing kumbaya as the city was about to make what I saw as the largest planning mistake in recent decades, just because Moccia wanted it, despite our Master Plan and so many expensive studies recommending against it whether they were regulations or not.
    When I asked why our zoning code didn’t follow the Master Plan recommendation, I was told by staff it would cost too much money to change our code (it costs nothing), and “we had too much to do” already! I immediately called for the zone change to happen after BJ’s was withdrawn, based on the expert $75,000 study taxpayers paid for even though staff and GOP leadership conveniently or just out of pure inepteness forgot even existed,and was PART of our Master Plan! The incompetnce on display here was astounding, and the public took notice this time, thanks to excellent reporting by NON. The Hour wasn’t even around in any of the meetings. Interesting.

    It gets worse. Corporation Counsel Maslan told us we didn’t have to follow the Master Plan on this application, which was WRONG information as our own Special permit regulation requires us to determine if the project FOLLOWS the Master Plan as well as zoning codes. The 2006 study which was part of our 2008 Master Plan stated a recommendation for a 10,000 square foot maximum retail on this site (BJ’s was 109,908),no one in City Hall seemed to know existed, including even one of our own Moccia-appointed Planning Commissioners, Victor Cavallo, who I had to send a link to on the city website and the passages in the Master Plan referring to the 2006 study, and he still didn’t acknowledge it existed even now! I guess climate change and a national healthcare crisis also don’t exist, if you just pretend the evidence isn’t there!
    I could go on, but Mr. DesRochers, I never said you didn’t make any good contributions when you were Zoning Chair, and I suppose you did get along with staff since you never challenged them like I do, when faced with such bad planning decisions and incompetence as I have seen and continue to see. BJ’s is just one example of many. Luckily it was withdrawn.

  15. M Allen

    No Mike. You weren’t supposed to remain silent. Do any of us sound like the silent types or the types to tell you to remain silent? But you don’t need to use terms like “thugs” and claim bribery or use other inflammatory language in order to make your case if your case is based on the merits, which I think quite often it is. Remain silent? No. Remain civil, yeah I guess I would expect that. Its neither warranted against you nor should it be tolerated from you. The “he hit me first” routine is for schoolyards. Actually, it isn’t even tolerated there anymore.

  16. M Allen

    No Mike. You weren’t supposed to remain silent. Do any of us sound like the silent types or the types to tell you to remain silent? But you don’t need to dramatically and publicly use terms like “thugs” and claim bribery or use other inflammatory language in order to make your case if your case is based on the merits, which I think quite often it is. Remain silent? No. Remain civil, yeah I guess I would expect that. Its neither warranted against you nor should it be tolerated from you. The “he hit me first” routine is for schoolyards. Actually, it isn’t even tolerated there anymore. But what’s done is done. It’s a dead horse well beaten.

  17. Suzanne

    M Allen, while I agree with you completely about appropriate deportment in meetings at City Hall including the Zoning Commission, I invite you to attend one of these meetings and see how people who do not agree with the majority are treated. It is a terrible experience, especially for a member of the public when giving public testimony. I don’t know how it must feel for Council or Commission members. I have witnessed abrupt adjournments in the middle of statements because they were not within the scope of what the majority wanted to hear. I have seen catcalls, interruptions, my favorite, texting, talking among other members while another Commission member or Council person is speaking, etc., etc., etc. Now how does one go about counteracting that if the point is well-researched and well-founded yet there does not exist the will to give it a hearing? Mr. Desrochers claims respect for one couple for their integrity in “working together” to find a solution at Oak Hills. This was a very personal decision on his part: there were many non-confrontational people with very cogent statements to make along with a good deal of data and reasoning power that protested the taking of those woods. Yet, Mr. Desrochers eliminates these people because of a personal comfort level? This is a disservice to all those who worked so hard to be active members of the constituency, to do what they could as good citizens. So, Mr. Mushak uses the word “thugs” once in a while. I will use the words “thuggish behavior” because that is exactly what it is. A steam roller could not do a better job to crush and silence people as these government “servants” in this administration. That Mr. Mushak has to speak up and perhaps use harsher language than you would like, I honestly don’t know how his message would have gotten across otherwise given the dismissiveness of this organization. While I don’t like it and wish everyone was a bit kinder and more respectful to each other, I see the blood sport that these meetings have become and I find it not just distasteful but needless, a poor example to the community and something that should be corrected from the top, that is, by Mayor Moccia. EXCEPT he is one of the more vociferous participants. Norwalk deserves so much better.

  18. M Allen

    He says “thugs” once in a while? Has he ever written a public letter or public comment where he doesn’t denigrate his fellow commission members, the Mayor or this Administration in total? I guess we can all find a reason for condoning bad behavior by our elected or appointed officials if we agree with their content and motivations. If we don’t agree with it then that is when we should call foul? I’m not saying the public should stand for it and is free to use whatever language they so wish to describe it. But when you are a member you should carry yourself better. Whether elected or appointed. Because you have an official responsibility on our behalf and part of that responsibility if respecting the institution even if those around you are not. That’s all I’ll say on it because I recognize it falls on deaf ears. Like I said, it can obviously be excused by the “they made me this way” defense.

  19. Suzanne

    M Allen, The point is, as I have written in earlier statements, there is absolutely no one in this government who seems to know how to be civil or engage in civil discourse when it concerns a controversial issue. As a result, I do believe that, in order to be heard, you sometimes have to speak the language the others understand. It is a politics I don’t like and can’t wait to see gone. I am sure you have interacted in your life with people who cannot hear you unless you co-opt some of the qualities with which they communicate. It is a strategy and nothing more. I do not like it, as I say (and guess must repeat) but at least Mr. Mushak was heard however obnoxiously asking questions about traffic planning and Master Plans can be, and protected some significant areas of our community from a damaging development. What do the others do with their thuggish behavior? What do they accomplish for us?

  20. Norwalk Lifer

    Thank you Mr. Mushak, it would appear that when the word “Thug” is on the other foot, these people whine and cry like little kids,

    Didn’t David McCarthy introduce Bruce Kimmel and refer to the Democrats as “Thugs”? seems their outrage is convenient and quite hypocritical.

    When they silence the like of David McCarthy, and Bill Dunne, maybe then they can place themselves on the pillar of virtuousity.

    For the moment, as the saying goes, ‘you get what you get”

    I had quite a few exchanges with Jack Chiaramonte during his hysterical episodes while calling Bruce Mellion a “liar”. And then finding himself unable to defend his position.

    The BOE is showing a shortfall AGAIN,

    They did under Chiaramonte, with Ms. Haynie also negotiating with the union, however, Sue and Jack tried to take their case directly to the teachers, so dismissive they were on of the teachers union.

    When I see reports about the head of Personnel who changed jobs faster than a cat can catch a mouse, when I see 4,000 dollar donated to the Moccia campaign by a family who doesn’t even LIVE in this town having a vested interest in commercial property, when I see that Vets Park is now a “pay park” when it was created for ALL in Norwalk, When I see a 50K repair to a fire station BALLOON into a 5mil adventure, when I see the land that lies fallow and un-used on West Avenue, and Maritime Motors, whose been there forever, shoved out by the excellent machinations of Moccia’s lawyers.

    When I, myself, had to wait for the town clerk to response to my request for a sewer line grievance, and when I elevated my grievance to Moccia’s counsel, Jeff Spahr, only to be YELLED at by this man, and who, when he found out that the town clerk indeed did not respond as recorded on the City Hall website, called me to apologize, and she called to apologize, I see the incompetence, arrogance, and untrustworthiness that you observe and write about, and to those who find the words “offensive”, like Ben Franklin said “Don’t point that finger at me, it has a dirty nail on the end of it”

    Norwalk Lifer

  21. Norwalk Lifer

    @EDR. On the contrary, I think Mr. Mushak should feel bad for you, he is speaking the truth, nothing routes out the vermin like the light of truth.

    And insofar as “vitriol” is concerned, please harken back to the wonderful days of the Chiaramonte/Mellion Fight, get your tickets here.


    Apparently, calling someone a “liar” is good sauce for the goose, but not for the gander eh?

    Clean up your own front steps before you start pointing at someone else’s

    Norwalk Lifer

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