Letter: What was the mayor thinking?

By Peter I. Berman

To the Editor

Mayor Rilling’s recent appointment of the former Chairman of the Board of NEON to the BET (Board of Estimate and Taxation) is the most puzzling and objectionable appointment in recent decades.

Why an incoming mayor would appoint an individual under whose command NEON self destructed and caused great embarrassment to the city of Norwalk, violating both federal and state statutes along with undisguised nepotism and demonstrable lack of elementary financial and management oversight let alone severe hardship to its clients is puzzling to be charitable. It makes a mockery of the idea that anyone was responsible for the implosion and failed management of NEON. If the Chairman of the Board of NEON is not held responsible then who is — the tooth fairy?

Aren’t there any other capable individuals who actually have financial backgrounds that are available to serve on the BET? Mayor Rilling’s appointment is especially an insult to our minority citizens. Why appoint someone to a major post who failed so utterly to oversee a community organization performing essential services to hundreds of residents. Is there no one else with a record of commendable public service available to serve and has financial credentials?

Will Mr Burnett be an effective contributing member to the BET? Reportedly absent a financial background and demonstrably failing the most elemental oversight of NEON will his counsel be respected? Will the Republican majority in the Common Council take Mr Burnett’s views to heart? Will even Democrat members respect his views? Will his presence enhance the abilities of the BET to oversee financial decisions affecting our city. Are there any citizens who see the appointment positively enhancing city governance ?

It’s not surprising that Common Council members have not objected to Mr Burnett’s appointment. Democrats are hardly willing to embarrass their champion for a New Norwalk. And Republicans are willing to let the mayor truly embarrass himself. Such is our “Amen Chorus” Common Council.

Mayor Rilling certainly owes the community an explanation of why Mr Burnett’s failures on NEON made him worthy to a BET appointment. Silence here will only encourage support that the New Norwalk campaign pledge was nothing more than the seedy politics that all too often accompanies Norwalk’s election. If this appointment is the best Mayor Rilling can do all Norwalk voters will have a powerful incentive that he doesn’t serve a second term. So why was the appointment made ? We deserve an answer. Even from Democrats.

Peter I Berman


6 responses to “Letter: What was the mayor thinking?”

  1. anon

    You got it right Mr. Berman, poor judgement or payback, either way a lousy decision.

  2. The Deal

    Pete, this sounds like what Tricky Dick was doing for the past eight years that you were so happy with.

  3. More of the Same

    Wasn’t Burnett also on the finance committee of the BOE when the 4 million went missing?

  4. Diane C2

    Peter, I have asked myself that same question almost daily for over 40 years….must be something in the water fountains at Connecticut town and city halls.. oh, and at the guv’s mansion, apparently 🙂

  5. ScopeonNorwalk

    One part is incorrect. NEON self-destructed under the leadership of the new Board that voted in Chaquita Stephenson in spite of all of the warnings from the community and DSS.

  6. More of the Same

    The NEON unraveling didn’t happen over night. There are a lot to blame there.
    But let’s look at Mr. Burnett’s past experience on the BET.
    Under the last two budget years when Mr. Burnett was on a majority with Alex Knopp as Mayor FY05 and FY06, the city’s general obligations debt increased $45 million.
    In comparison under 8 years of Moccia it went up $49 million.
    page 108 of the latest annual report.

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