NORWALK, Conn. – Mayor Richard Moccia’s years in the council chamber came home to roost Tuesday with a series of chicken and egg jokes and a reference to an unlikely bromance.
The accolades came from all sides — from almost all sides — in Moccia’s last council meeting. Moccia was thanked for his years of service, as were outgoing Common Council members Carvin Hilliard, Matt Miklave and Fred Bondi. Sarah Mann was also thrown a bouquet of respect. This amongst laughter inspired by an ordinance to ban roosters from Norwalk.
Moccia lost his re-election bid last week to former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling.
“I now will have an opportunity to move on and do some other things that I’d like to do in life,” he said. “Maybe actually teach a little bit and, I don’t know, impart some of my wisdom, for whatever that’s worth, to the people who really count the most to me.”
The best part of being mayor, other than working with City Hall staff, was all the time he spent in Norwalk Public Schools, making an impression on children, he said. Then he made reference to Councilman David Watts (D-District A), who, in his first council meeting two years ago, called Moccia “arrogant.” Watts went on to criticize the city’s purchase of a new vehicle for the mayor with a rap video that got under the mayor’s skin.
“The students in the city knew they had a mayor that cared about them,” Moccia said. “That will be my lasting memory, other than a few interesting meetings here and a few rap videos – we since have gotten by that, we’ve had a great second year. Maybe David and I will do a rap video asking everybody to come together one of these days.”
Watts, who has formed an exploratory committee to run for state representative, took the opportunity to compliment Moccia.
“When I first got on the council we didn’t agree,” he said of his initially contentious relationship with Moccia. “He was able to settle down a little bit by being a gentleman. Called us into his office and he reached out. I would like to thank Mayor Moccia because I honestly believe he did the best job that he could with lack of funding coming from the state.”
Watts also thanked Hilliard, Miklave and Bondi for mentoring him.
Councilman Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) lauded Moccia.
“I truly want to thank you for the job that you’ve done,” he said. “I think you have put the city in a good financial state. I don’t think people realize sometimes how tough that these times were. A lot of us were trying to deal with the facts and figures that were there. You did not make any easy decisions but you made hard decisions.”
Hempstead complimented Bondi and predicted that some of the younger outgoing council members would be back. He said he thought that only he and Hilliard had served the entire eight years with Moccia. There was an awkward pause when Councilman Nick Kydes (R-District C) mentioned that he, too, had served all eight years with Moccia.
Kydes endorsed Rilling in the election with a series of pointed criticisms of Moccia. No one thanked Kydes for his service, though the atmosphere remained convivial.
Hilliard was the first to call Moccia a “gentleman.”
“Oftentimes, we didn’t always agree,” he said. “In fact, there were a few times we didn’t agree. He was never disagreeable. … I would just like to say thanks because he was never overly critical of me, at least not publicly. So I’d just like to give him props while he’s here. He’s been a gentleman.”
Bondi, who has been on the council on and off for 28 years, and Moccia went to high school in Stamford together, though Bondi is older. Bondi said he didn’t know Moccia well then, but occasionally gave him a ride to school.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen but I’m going out with my friend Dick Moccia,” he said. “We go back at least 50 years, with school. It’s just something that we’re going out together. It’s really a tough thing to finish up after all these years on the council.”
Bruce Kimmel said he had enjoyed sitting next to Mann, who did not win election as a District C representative. Mann was appointed to replace Joanne Romano last January, after Romano resigned.
“I have never seen anyone learn the ropes so quickly,” he said. “We’re going to miss her. I enjoyed having somebody I could joke around with when I was kind of losing my focus at some of these meetings. She was very nice.”
So the biggest thing on the agenda, discussion wise, was the chicken ordinance.
Michael Geake, who was also in his last council meeting, said a resident complained about a neighbor’s chickens. It boiled down to a problem with the noise roosters make.
The ordinance passed with one nay vote, by Miklave (Anna Duleep was not present).
If you have roosters now, no problem. If you want to get roosters in the future, you’re out of luck.
The issue opened the barn door for some shell-cracking quips from Moccia in his final meeting as mayor.
“My final thing, I’m doing roosters,” Moccia said, shaking his head and laughing.
Kimmel said raising chickens has become popular but there was nothing on the books to address that situation.
“The issue with roosters was very funny,” he said. “Some of the things you deal with on the council – you don’t really expect to get into them but the last two years for me, I’ve learned a lot about beekeeping and raising chickens. I’m really not that interested in budgets and stuff anymore because I want to focus on things that are living.”
“I did get emails from the chickens complaining there wouldn’t be roosters anymore,” Moccia said. “But other than that I haven’t had a great outpouring of opposition to that.”