Moccia responds to Dem criticism

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia said Thursday night that he isn’t going to “talk to an empty chair,” but minutes later he was, indeed, responding to claims made by his various Democratic challengers.

Moccia asked for “unity” in his off-the-cuff speech at the Republican Town Committee monthly meeting, promising to support all of the candidates who are nominated, whether he votes for them or not. He seemed to seek to reassure the membership that things were fine with the most important race in town – the one concerning his incumbency.

“Some people on the other side of the aisle have had a couple of debates,” he said. “They have four people who are interested, fine people and I’m not going to say anything other than I think until they fill that chair with one person, and I know who that candidate is, I’ll be prepared to handle that. In the meantime I’m not going to pull a Clint Eastwood and talk to an empty chair.”

Moccia is enduring Democratic criticisms with four times the bandwith as he approaches the end of his fourth term in office, with four Democrats vying to get their party’s nomination to run against him. Although there are Deomcratic fears of a circular firing squad, so far most of the candidates’ shots are at the mayor.

Their claims are erroneous, Moccia said.

“The city they see obviously is not the city I see and I think most of the residents see,” he said. “I’m proud of what we have accomplished together over the last few years. I intend to support each and every candidate that is nominated by this party. If that is the candidate, whoever he or she may be, I might vote for someone else but I will support them. I know in the past every candidate that has run on the ticket with me has supported me.”

Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia 062013 041
Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia shares a new story: a fifth grader asked who does his hair. First time in 7 1/2 years he heard that one, he said.

In this, pizza party season, he has gotten a feel for the mood out there as he has visited all the schools to dine with the children, he said. People are “more comfortable” with the Board of Education, he said, as the city moves to restore positions.

“I think that candidates who run for office, who are not in office, try to  be all things to all people,” he said. “There are times you have to make hard choices. I also tell the kids when I go to the schools that one of the hardest things I have to do as a mayor is, sometimes I have to say no. Because just financially or other reasons we can’t do it.”

He is taking some heat over City Carting and the switch to single stream recycling on July 1.

“You have to take into account that there are some people in this city that just don’t like change,” he said. “They want progress but no change. They want new businesses coming in but they want their kind of businesses. They want us to improve our garbage pickup but they don’t like the change in garbage, or, ‘The recycling bins are too big. I can’t push the recycling bin out. I’d rather lift the old bin.’ It’s hard sometimes but you have to make tough decisions.”

Then he moved on to his Democratic challengers, all with an even tone of voice.

“I could walk out there and say I’m going to put 30 cops out on the street,” he said. “I could walk out there and I could say, ‘I’ve got a better plan, after 10 years on the council.’ Or I could walk out there and say, ‘I’m going to build a trade school for kids that don’t go to college.’ I could walk out there and say that I shouldn’t pave roads on election night, and make it sound like it was intentional. The point is, if you want to be a candidate, then tell us what you want to do in realistic terms, what it’s going to cost, how you’re going to get it done. I’ve had to do that for seven and a half years through the worst economic recession we’ve had since the great depression.”

The unemployment rate in Norwalk was 6.7 percent in April, he said.

The Connecticut Department of Labor confirms that. CDOL reports that Norwalk’s unemployment rate in May was 6.8 percent. In January it was 7.6 percent; in February 7.4 percent, in March, 7.2 percent.

In April 2011, before the last municipal nominating conventions, it was 7.4 percent. In November 2011, it was 6.5 percent.

BJ’s Wholesale Club, Lowe’s and other businesses coming in will bring “hundreds of jobs,” Moccia said.

“Some people say it’s not the right kind of job,” he said. “Go tell the people that will line up for the jobs, and get those jobs, that it’s not the right kind of job. A job is a job is a job. If they want to work we’re going to try bring those businesses in to get those jobs, which will also help stabilize our tax base.”

Moccia said things on the council have improved since he announced his intention to run for reelection with the words, “This year has been a tough row to hoe.”

“It appears that people on the other side of the aisle have tempered in the last year, we work well together and I appreciate that, I really do,” he said.

Then he responded to a statement made repeatedly by Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Amanda Brown.

“The chairman of the Democratic Party said the most important thing in this election is not to have Dick Moccia as mayor,” he said. “My answer to that is the most important thing in this election is to elect the right person to run this city, not just to not have somebody in. That’s the most important thing. For the people to choose who is going to be the best candidate.”

Former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling has said in his mayoral campaign that he would bring civility to municipal government. Moccia responded to that as well.

“You know, I stomp my feet occasionally, and then Michelle Maggio tells me to smile more,” he said. “Then she brings me some cookies or something, I don’t know. Michelle is getting us all heavy in the caucus… but it’s worked well.”

He finished with another comment about the Democratic mayoral presentations.

“Let’s stay united,” he said. “Again, the four people on the other side, God bless them, I respect their wanting to be mayor of this city, and for them to put themselves forward. We look forward to only having one of them. As I said, if they had invited me to the debate the other night I would have taken them all on. I wouldn’t have any problem with it.”

130620_002 Moccia at RTC_02


26 responses to “Moccia responds to Dem criticism”

  1. Tim T

    What is the deal with Moccis’s hair color in that pic..He looks ridiculous.

  2. Oldtimer

    I suspect it is heavily influenced by a light over his head. Even he wouldn’t be dumb enough to start coloring his hair now.

  3. Suzanne

    He finally speaks and I guess what we are to feel is sympathy for his plight, his very hard job. And says absolutely nothing of substance to address the many issues, particularly hay-wired development (except for that beloved tax base.) It is a focus on the other guy instead of on the incompetency and incivility he has brought to the office of Mayor for a town with a 300 million plus budget. I almost feel sorry for him.

  4. Oldtimer

    Now he shows us his most pleasant side as part of his campaign. He has nothing of substance to say. We will have to wait until an opposition candidate is selected and debates are arranged. There a number of issues he is vulnerable on and will not have good answers for. He will claim he has done a great job holding tax rate INCREASES down and maintaining a good credit rating through a difficult time. He will try to avoid questions about his pension from the City if he loses.

  5. Lifelong Teacher

    I know last year, many of my family and friends contacted him during budget season. He was downright nasty in his responses. And in case you are asking, they all made reasonable, courteous inquiries.

  6. Vincent Grillo

    Lifelong teacher at least you got a response I made numerous inquires to meet with him also only to be told ” leave him alone he does not want to meet with you” and that was through a third party, our family served the town for 40 plus years. One would think he would want to hear what I had to say.

  7. Joe Espo

    Let’s see:
    Rilling – I need three Norwalk pensions.
    Garfunkel -Larceny? I didn’t know her hand was in the till!
    Miklave – I tried 10 years to kill 95/7 and I almost won!
    Vinny – Sunstance? (cough)

    If the worst thing you can say about the Mayor is that he’s a little brusque, well I’ll take that and lower taxes any day. The other four guys are just itching to grab your wallet and tax seniors out of their houses.

  8. piberman

    One would think that a Party with 4 candidates running for Mayor would by this time have some effective ammunition other than they can do better. The lack of a more pointed campaign is discouraging. Maybe the candidates do not think its important to discuss the particulars of the City’s budget and how it operates. Or bring up taxes, municipal employee compensation, benefits and all the nitty gritty details of running a sizable City. So far the campaign’s theme seems to be “lets change because change is good”. That doesn’t look like a winning formula. After all its not supposed to be just a personality contest. Details do matter.

  9. Oldtimer

    Rilling is collecting ONE pension from the City after 41 years of service and it is based on a rate fixed for him 17 yrs ago. We know that fact has been repeated here many times, but you choose to ignore it, because you think the LIE about multiple pensions will cost him votes. We all know Moccia really does not want Rilling to run, and his minions (you included) are doing their best to hurt him in the primary.

  10. Bill Dunne

    Any one of these four, if elected, would do to Norwalk what Gov. Malloy has done to Connecticut: Public employee unions calling all the shots, steep tax hikes, sharper declines in property values, businesses and residents fleeing, a shrinking economy. Regarding the latter, for example, Malloy’s Connecticut was the only state in the union — the only one out of 50 — that saw its GDP shrink last year. I’ll translate that for our leftist readership: The pie got smaller.

  11. Oldtimer

    “The more things change, the more they stay the same” I don’t know who said that first, but Moccia still has a sharp eye for a good looking woman, especially one who brings him cookies.

  12. Tim T

    Bill Dunne
    The moment someone says “leftist ” you lose all credibility. It would be like a liberal calling you right wingers “right wing wackos”.

  13. KSully

    Piberman–“Maybe the candidates do not think its important to discuss the particulars of the City’s budget and how it operates.” Come on! Please pay attention. All Matt Miklave has been talking about is budget reform and keeping taxes and spending in check. Matt is the only candidate, including Mayor Moccia, who has proposed an in-depth plan to address the massive cuts in state aid that are sure to come.

  14. Suzanne

    Mr. Dunne, I don’t know: all I see in Stamford is smart development and progress while Norwalk languishes with huge fields and holes and, well, development appealing to the so-called “tax base” (really? After all of the tax breaks to entice these same developments to build here?) placed willy-nilly with no consideration for comprehensive urban planning. SoNo once again turns to a silent haven, Wall Street remains the same, dangerous choices for shared roadways out on Beach Road while Stamford develops its waterfront, integrating existing structures with new ones, revitalizing the community and becoming a much more desirable business and living destination than Norwalk. That is what Malloy started at the Mayoral level (perhaps where he should have stayed?) while Moccia whines about being misunderstood about all of the good he is doing. A good business manager with some skills, savvy (emotional teflon would be nice, as in Mr. Kimmel’s reviled “thick skin”) and financial nuts and bolts Norwalk could use: this equivocating and generalized whining is sad, sorry and Norwalk deserves better. I don’t care what “side of the aisle” the person comes from.

  15. LWitherspoon

    How ironic that you accuse the Mayor of having nothing of substance to say, yet in the same thread you note that:
    1) Even the Mayor is not dumb enough to start coloring his hair
    2) He has a sharp eye for good looking women who bring him cookies
    Pot, meet kettle!

  16. LWitherspoon

    I agree – it’s well past time for all the candidates to delve into the specifics. We know all five are in favor of low taxes, good schools, smart development, motherhood, and apple pie. Now it’s time for them to tell us exactly what they would have done differently in the most recent budget. For example, will you or will you not cancel the contract that outsourced garbage collection, saving the City millions? If you will, how will you replace the savings it created?
    Were you or were you not pleased with the decision by the BoE Negotiating Committee to go to arbitration and win a one year pay freeze for teachers?
    Voters deserve to know.

  17. Oldtimer

    Ironic ? Please go back and read carefully what the mayor said. I am not rooting for him, but you look foolish returning fire when there is no attack. Relax, life is too short to waste time that way.
    When I attack, he will know and, no doubt, tell you how to respond.

  18. LWitherspoon

    Pardon me – I seem to have struck a nerve, especially since pointing out a little irony constitutes “returning fire”, and drew out such ridiculous bravado as is contained in your reply. My, aren’t you tough, hunkered down in your little bunker and waiting to launch your “attacks”. Thanks for announcing your agenda here, so we can all know in advance that you’re more interested in “attacking” than having a thoughtful discussion about issues. I’m sure the Mayor and his team are hoping that your online efforts this year will be just as effective as they’ve been over the past four election cycles.
    As Peter Berman said above, it is well past time for the candidates to start talking about real issues. What would they have done differently in the most recent budget? Do they intend to cancel the contract which outsourced garbage collection? If so, how will they make up the savings which resulted? Were they pleased with the BoE’s decision to go to arbitration on the teacher’s contract, and the $2.6 million in savings which resulted from that?

  19. Don’t Panic

    Anybody accusing the candidates of not discussing the issues is not paying attention. Mr. Miklave in particular has been focused on fixing the budget process so that more savings can be wrung out of the existing tax dollars to get more services.

  20. Oldtimer

    The contract with City Carting is probably well written and hard to cancel, if that was a good idea. Even those of us who opposed privatizing a city service can’t deny the claimed apparent savings, even though we have not seen the real numbers. What’s next, schools ? Basically, the administration decided it was failing to manage trash collection and recycling effectively and abdicated that responsibility to a for-profit private company with better management. Failure masked as accomplishment.
    The binding arbitration law was carefully written to be an extreme last resort to avoid strikes when negotiations failed. It was anticipated neither side would ever be happy with an arbitration panel deciding terms of a contract. Either the law has been changed to favor employers, or the decision in this case was an anomaly and hardly something to brag about. More failure called accomplishment.

  21. LWitherspoon

    According to Bruce Kimmel, the contract with City Carting has a “termination for convenience” clause. Under this clause, the contract can be terminated simply because the City wants to. So where do the Mayoral candidates stand on this issue? Will they exercise the “termination for convenience” clause?
    It is puzzling but not surprising given your past comments that you view two contracts which saved taxpayers many millions of dollars as “failures.” I suppose they are failures for the unions that exist to get as much as they can from taxpayers, and failures for the politicians who prioritize unions over taxpayers. From the standpoint of ordinary taxpayers, however, those savings are unqualified victories.

  22. Oldtimer

    Is that “many million saved” the reason taxes went down this year ?

  23. LWitherspoon

    Woops, you forgot to answer my question of whether or not the Mayoral candidates will exercise the “termination for convenience” clause. If you don’t know, what’s your personal opinion? Do you support exercising the clause?
    I’m glad you brought up taxes. $2.6 million + $1.0 million = $3.6 million in savings which you claim are a “failure.” That’s about $110 per Norwalk household. So you’re arguing from the position that taxes today should be $110 higher per household than they are. Good luck with that.
    Alternately, you could propose your specific, superior solution for saving those $110 per household. Even better, how about some specific explanation for how you would have avoided a tax increase all together? What spending reductions would you make? I heartily agree that this is a substantive and worthwhile subject to discuss. I will happily vote for your candidate if you can demonstrate that he has a specific plan to achieve no tax increase. Hint: a plan without hard numbers is not a specific plan.

  24. Oldtimer

    Are you saying the average household tax bill should have gone down $110 ?

    I have no idea what candidates, if any, will try to exercise the “termination for convenience” clause, if there is such a clause. A lot of people said a lot about the City Carting contract without reading it. I would expect the next mayor would have somebody examine that contract, and the folks running City Carting, and the City’s options before making any such decision.

    My personal opinion, based on limited information, is the City made a mistake getting involved with City Carting. I am not sure, given the nature of that business and the people involved, that there was much choice, once the decision was made to eliminate certain City jobs.

    There is no question organized crime is heavily involved in that industry.
    At the time the deal with City Carting was being considered a lot of people were being sentenced in federal court and 24 trash companies were being seized by the department of justice. Moccia got highly indignant and refused to answer what steps were taken to assure the City was not doing business with organized crime, during one of the hearings before the contract was signed.

  25. LWitherspoon

    What I’m saying is that every household’s tax bill would be $110 higher without the savings that you condemned as “failures”. Are you in favor of everyone’s tax bill being $110 higher so that eight union guys can continue to be paid very generously to work five-hour days? I’m disappointed but not surprised that you haven’t proposed any specific alternate ways to save money.
    Organized crime and corruption finds its way into a lot of places. Unions, for example. I would be curious to know how we can be certain that the Unions with which the City deals have no connection to organized crime. Bruce Mellion certainly behaves like a Mafia don at times. Without a doubt it’s odd how fervently some elected officials advocate for the wishes of Unions over the best interests of ordinary taxpayers. One has to wonder if they’re receiving something more than votes.

  26. Suzanne

    L. Witherspoon, all I can think of is you must not be feeling well. Your usual approach sticks with asking questions on the issues and not attacking others. I have seen you in particular ask about a variety of issues that have yet to be answered by the Dem’s running for mayor: they all have WEB Sites where some of these questions have been fielded. Some of what you are interested in, like how they would either negotiate contracts already in place or, in the instance of City Carting, whether they would terminate that contract, seems like a long look back or anticipating an issue that has yet to be raised. My suggestion would be this: ask them. Everyone of them has a WEB opportunity to ask them personally a question about what they would do in case of or because of or due to…. Who is supposed to be asking them but the constituency? The newspapers? With all of the issues presented, are they supposed to be volunteering specifics on contractual matters? It is like asking a presidential candidate how they would anticipate the Supreme Court’s decision on such and such when the budget, infrastructure, education and defense is the highest thing on their list. I don’t think candidates can be all things to everyone but I do think these Dem’s could at least be asked by you because you are so interested and legitimately so, the questions you have regarding these specific issues (which may or may not be high on the radar of bullet points they are already addressing.)

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