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Moccia vs. Moccia: Feb. 12 – ‘Raise not for me’; June – Raise meant for next mayor; Sept. – I could have had it

Norwalk Rilling Moccia debate 102913 229
Mayor Richard Moccia speaks Tuesday at a debate sponsored by The Hour and the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce at the Norwalk Inn.

NORWALK, Conn. – An assertion repeated by Mayor Richard Moccia in his drive for re-election is a little short from the truth he was telling in February.

Moccia has said at at least two public forums that he turned down the 21 percent raise for the mayor that was approved at the Feb. 12, 2013, Common Council meeting. At that council meeting, he said he wasn’t eligible for that raise.

“As a mayor I want to make it clear that this pay raise is not for the sitting mayor,” he said. “It is for the next person that is elected in November.”

The issue came up Tuesday at the mayoral debate sponsored by The Hour and the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce at the Norwalk Inn. Moccia’s challenger, former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling, was asked what policy change he might make if he becomes mayor. Rilling said it wasn’t exactly a policy but he would immediately ask the council to repeal the raise.

“I think it’s obscene in a time when people are struggling to find work,” he said. “The mayor talks about the 6.5 percent unemployment rate but I don’t think that factors in the people who have just given up and have not tried looking for work anymore. I would say to the mayor, if you’re re-elected would you try to take the 21 percent tax hike off the books? Not just say you won’t accept it.”

The council voted to boost the salary 21.5 percent, from $113,963 as of Jan. 1, 2012, to $138,465 as of Jan. 1, 2014 — a raise of $24,502.

“That pay raise could have gone into effect last year,” Moccia said. “I turned it down. You’re wrong again. … It was eligible for the last budget. Again, you are wrong with your facts. I could have taken it last year. I haven’t taken it. To imply I have is incorrect.”

He then took another shot at Rilling.

“Should you be elected, even with the current salary and your pension, you will be receiving over $200,000,” he said. “You will be, in effect, receiving a pension and a salary and you’re in that position, too. You have some choices you can make. I turned the pay raise down.”

Rilling will get his pension earned during his 41 years on the Norwalk Police Department no matter who wins the election, and Norwalk will have to pay either Moccia or Rilling to be mayor, so there is no net salary effect for the taxpayer unless someone takes the raise. Rilling also has insurance as part of his retirement package, he said recently, so the city would not have to pay for the mayor’s insurance if he is elected.

Asked in June if he would take the raise if elected, Moccia was less than transparent.

“In November, whoever the mayor is can make the decision whether they want to ask for the money to fund the pay raise,” he said.

Multiple Internet searches show no public statements saying he will not take the raise.

“You can’t get a raise while you’re in office,” Moccia said in June. “I got a raise that went into effect in January, after I was elected (2012). You can’t get two raises while you’re in office, so it was the new salary set for whoever was elected. I happen to have been elected; in January I got the raise. But I didn’t get another raise in the second year.”

In September, at the East Norwalk candidates forum, Moccia smiled and shook his head when Rilling brought up the matter of the mayoral raise.

“I didn’t take the pay raise. I turned it down,” he said.

Moccia’s statement about his non-eligibility for the raise at can be heard in a video of the February council meeting on the city’s website. You can find it here. Move the arrow to the 1:56:59 into the meeting.

At the 1:59:02 mark Moccia repeats the statement.

“I do not get a raise. This is not a raise for me.” he said.

Moccia’s latest assertion that he could have taken the raise but he didn’t can be heard at the 54:50 mark in the Hour’s video of its debate, which you can see here.

He has not responded to an email asking for an explanation.

Comments

8 responses to “Moccia vs. Moccia: Feb. 12 – ‘Raise not for me’; June – Raise meant for next mayor; Sept. – I could have had it”

  1. rburnett

    Of course he hasn’t responded to your e-mail. You have him dead to rights. Another fine example of investigative reporting by NoN. Others should take notice of how to report the truth.

    Moccia is a master of Double-Speak but the cat is out of the bag. How can anyone who lies in a debate, who lies to the public, who lies to himself, ever be elected Mayor? Hard to believe.

  2. Oldtimer

    You don’t really expect a response, do you ?
    Harry Rilling took a tough job, stuck with it for 41 years and earned every nickel of his pension.
    Dick Moccia, on the other hand, probably made more over that same period, but was largely self-employed and, unless he built up his own pension fund in an IRA or similar plan, may not have much to look forward to beyond a City pension.

  3. piberman

    The real issue here is that as the City’s top elected official the Mayor should earn more than any appointed official excluding the BOE Supt. That holds whether the Mayor’s job is viewed as CEO or Chief Politician or whatever. Keeping the Mayor’s salary above other City officials is a good way to restrain Norwalk’s salary escalation. The City has the highest paid municipal salaries of any City in CT yet ranks only 19th in CT income ranking.

    Unlike City Dept. Heads who work 9 to 4 with long vacations and ample personal days the Mayor’s job tends to be 24/7. No one should begrudge any Mayor from receiving a top salary. Its not a job for the faint of heart. Traditionally our elected Mayor’s have spent long years apprenticing in City politics often without recompense as elected officials. Nor should anyone begrudge Chief Rilling for receiving the full salary if he becomes Mayor. It comes with the job as it should.

    By the way the sheer ineptness (incompetence) of NEON’s Board of Directors is readily visible by the reported $160k salary given to the interim-CEO. Helping the disadvantaged pays big bucks to those charged with dispensing the funds. So far not much hue and cry that the NEON CEO is dramatically overpaid by any reasonable sandard. It’s only “public funds” !

    1. Mark Chapman

      @ PiBerman

      While we do not disagree with your NEON sentiments, the $135,000 figure we have been reporting as Ms. Stephenson’s salary is correct. We believe the $160,000 figure was for the previous interim president and CEO, although we have not seen that paperwork. We have seen the current paperwork.

  4. Don’t Panic

    That the Mayor should earn more than any appointed official in the City is a ridiculous position to take. Some officials have (or should have) highly specialized training, and/or degrees. The Mayor’s position requires nothing more than the ability to get elected.
    .
    To the extent the Mayor is getting raises at all, they should not exceed either the rate of inflation or the rate at which Norwalk’s tax cap is increased. I would argue that there should be a performance component to it as well, but I’m not sure how that would work if we remain with two year terms.
    .
    On the other hand, the Common Council members are underpaid, and are long overdue for a small increase.

  5. @ PiBerman
    If the department heads’ jobs are as cushy as you describe the mayor would be guilty of serious mismanagement. I can report that from my observations the department heads do not work “9 to 4.” I often see them at night meetings and their jobs by necessity include working odd hours. If there’s an emergency they are involved. Department of Parks and Recreation Director Mike Mocciae is not in his office after noon on Fridays, but is regularly spotted at the parks on weekends.

  6. Piberman

    Mr Chapman

    Those of us having had senior corporate positions are not impressed with the demands of municipal department heads heading up a unionized workplace with astonishing security. Can’t think of any examples of City department heads taking up senior corporate positions based on their experience. Having known each of Norwalk’s Mayors over over the past 4 decades I’ve never questioned whether they earn their salary. They sure do in an unusually demanding job that requires unusual people skills. It looks easy on the outside but a political leader’s life is far more demanding than most can imagine. It’s not surprising that department heads have not been elevated to mayors in any CT city to date. The skill sets are quite different.
    Political leadership skills have long been learned in an apprenticeship. Can’t imagine any business with a 300 million dollar budget hiring a municipal department head as CEO. Nor a finance head making the transition to CFO of a corporation. But it is not unknown for business executives to successively make the reverse transfers successfully. Having said that we undervalue political leadership skills to our disadvantage. As a community we’ve been fortunate to have had Mayors with strong political and people skills. The apprenticeship system has worked well in Norwalk.

    Thank you for the salary correction. Based on the public resume the salary us preposterous. Based on the reported performance its excessive by any reasonable standard and demeans our municipal employees who must be astonished that Directors and political leaders misuse public funds so grievously. I can think of no other Norwalk civic event in the past 4 decades that has filled me with such despair. The silence of those claiming leadership roles in our minority communities is utterly heartbreaking. Guess our state legislators are too busy with weighty manners. The real measure of a city is how it cares for the less fortunate. We are failing.

  7. RU4REAL

    Berman that is NOT the real issue, the real issue is he lied!!
    So stop covering for him, you lose credibility when you do!

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