Moccia honored at Gini’s House ribbon-cutting

Mayor Harry Rilling, left, offers affection to former Mayor Richard Moccia Tuesday at Gini’s House.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s current mayor shared the spotlight – and a quick hug – with his vanquished predecessor Tuesday in a moment described as “magnanimous” by the Rev. Lindsay Curtis.

The occasion was the ribbon cutting for Gini’s House, an affordable housing project with supportive services for mothers recovering from substance abuse.

The community room is named after former Mayor Richard Moccia.

In turning attention to Moccia, Mayor Harry Rilling told a story about a conversation he had with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

“He said to me, ‘Mayor, you know there’s going to be a lot of things that happen that you had nothing to do with and you’re going to get blamed for them,’” Rilling said. “He said that ‘on the other side, there’s going to be lots of good things that happen that had nothing to do with you, and you’re going to get the credit.’ My good friend Richard Moccia certainly knew that in his term.”

Indeed, Moccia smiled knowingly, his head bowed.

Rilling said Moccia had been on board from the beginning of the effort seven years ago to renovate 4 Elmcrest Terrace into a place where struggling young families could get the opportunity to rebuild lives.

“His time, his energy really helped move this project forward,” Rilling said. “This is not a time when I want to say, ‘I had nothing to do with this, but where is the camera?’”

That would have been difficult, as honoring Moccia was part of the planned program.

Moccia stepped up with quips: He had taken time off from the hard work he is doing on the beach to attend the ribbon cutting, he said, and referred to an old joke about ABC sportscaster Howard Cosell, “Couldn’t they find a human being to honor?”

Gini's House 072914 156
Mayor Harry Rilling shoots a friendly look at former Mayor Richard Moccia before the ribbon is cut at Gini’s House Tuesday.

Bringing Gini’s House to fruition wasn’t too hard, Moccia said. “Other than problems with vouchers, tax credits, bureaucracy, zoning, architects, parking, it was easy,” he said.

Moccia’s wife, Barbara, is on the Liberation Programs board of directors. The former mayor said she didn’t vote on this issue.

“Not sure how she would have voted,” Moccia said.

Three weeks ago, Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Pete Torrano criticized City Clerk Donna King for not inviting Moccia and Norwalk Republicans to the ground breaking for The Pearl in SoNo and to the announcement of a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant for Washington Village. The invitation for The Pearl had been sent by the developer and the Washington Village announcement was treated as hush-hush by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). No invitations were sent to the press, either.

This time, the former mayor was a featured player.

Moccia said many of the leaders present had experience in law enforcement – Rilling was Norwalk police chief for 17 years and Gov. Dannel Malloy had been a state’s attorney before becoming mayor of Stamford. “They all dealt with the results of the difficulties of addiction,” Moccia said.

Moccia highlighted Malloy’s pledge to fix the broken mental health system. He gestured toward the plaque announcing that the community room is named in his honor and said, “The most important word on that plaque is ‘community.’”


3 responses to “Moccia honored at Gini’s House ribbon-cutting”

  1. Been there done that

    If memory serves me correct Moccia didn’t even show up for Mayor Rilling’s swearing in. So once again who showed more class.

  2. Casey Smith

    Just curious, Been There, did Knopp show up for Moccia’s swearing in ceremony?

  3. potaxpayer

    Malloys going to need a job in january

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