NEON CEO denies Mangiacopra was not told of forum

NORWALK, Conn. – Leaders of South Norwalk’s embattled anti-poverty agency say they reached out three times to a Norwalk Democratic mayoral candidate who harshly criticized them Wednesday for what he said was a lack of communication.

Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) interim CEO and President Pat Wilson Pheanious used the term “hot air” as she waited for Wednesday evening’s NEON Community Town Hall to begin, in response to a comments made by District D Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra, calling for leadership to be replaced.

Mangiacopra had released a statement Wednesday afternoon regarding the forum:

“We received no invitation or information from NEON about tonight’s forum,” he said. “Once we learned about the forum Monday afternoon from a reporter call, we immediately called NEON to ask for information as we were eager to participate and discuss the pressing issues facing South Norwalk including affordable housing, police relations with the community, and the achievement gap. Unfortunately, our multiple calls and messages have not been returned.”

Wilson said Mangiacopra, who arrived an hour late, had been sent three emails about the event.

“If he heard about it, why isn’t he here?” she asked. “To use it as an opportunity to spout off a bunch of hot air about something that is not even related to the issue,” she said. “The issue is coming here to talk to the public.”

After he arrived, Mangiacopra said the possibility of not making it was the reason his campaign had released the statement.

“It definitely caught us off guard,” Mangiacopra said after the event. “We would have this on our calendar. We would have prepared for it. We take these things very seriously. That’s why we felt the need to make sure we put that statement out, because I knew that my calendar was going to be packed up to a certain time, and I wasn’t going to be sure that I was going to make it. But I was glad that I did.”

What about the three emails?

“I’ve checked the NEON website,” he said. “I’ve checked the social media. I’ve talked to our Better South Norwalk team, I talked to our town chairwoman. Nobody was aware of it.”

Pheanious said she knew of no phone calls to NEON from the Mangiacopra camp.

“No message was left,” Pheanious said.

NEON Communications Director Scott Harris said invitations were sent to all mayoral candidates on May 31, and again to those who hadn’t responded on July 3rd.

“We received responses from all candidates with the exception of Andy Garfunkel and Vinny Mangiacopra,” he said in an email. “Specifically, two email invitations were sent to Mr. Mangiacopra via the communications portal on his official campaign website.”

He provided the content of those emails, but said he could not provide a time stamp because they had been left on a website.

“I can assure you we did not deliberately attempt to exclude candidate Mangiacopra, or anyone else from NEON’s Community Town Hall meeting,” he said. “We’re sorry that emails were lost, but were gratified that Chairman Mangiacopra was able to attend tonight’s community gathering.”


10 responses to “NEON CEO denies Mangiacopra was not told of forum”

  1. Norwalk Lifer

    This young man should check his emails before opening his mouth, and furthermore, there another invention, fun fact, it’s called a phone, pick one up and call someone next time, instead of making this story a “Seinfeld” episode, a show about nothing

    Norwalk Lifer

  2. Don’t Panic

    One wonders how Mr. Mangiacopra will handle unexpected changes to his calendar as Mayor. Will he denounce developers publicly by press release if they ask for a meeting on short notice for which he does not have time to prepare?

    I seem to recall Mr. Miklave has, as a member of our common council offering to meet with any citizen “anytime, anywhere”.

    It would seem that Mr. Miklave is confident because he is already knowledgeable about the issues and is already thinking deeply about what it takes to run this city.

    This is not about who will deliver the best sound bite at a forum, it is our future.

  3. ScopeonNorwalk

    So, why didn’t NEON put a call into Mangiacopra? How did they notify the other candidates? Was it through a message board on their campaign page or was it directly through a call or through a direct email?

  4. rburnett

    Funny how the other three candidates all got notified and responded. Mangiacopra denies he was notified. It seems to me there should be a paper trail of the notifications. I wonder if NEON would share that with the press and thereby show who is telling the truth and who is trying to hide. If it turns out Mangiacopra DID receive notification and is not being truthful about such a minor issue, how can we trust him to be truthful in the Mayor’s office? I don’t think we can. It also might be a good time to ask about the e-mail from Warren Pena telling the candidates not attend the forum. What was that all about???

  5. Bruce Kimmel

    The forum was advertized in the media. Most people who follow Norwalk politics knew about it. How could a campaign not know about it? Perhaps the squabble between NEON and the South Norwalk Community Center has something to do with the inexplicable statement that a campaign did not know about the forum.

  6. NorwalkDinosaur

    If emails were sent, let NEON send the time-stamped originals to @NancyChapman. It is very easy to get to the bottom of this. No time stamped email, no invitation. And frankly, trusting an organization that squandered, embezzled, lost, or misused nearly $400K in public funds is not the word of truth that I would rely on. You gotta’ love @Bruce Kimmel being the very “troll” he dislikes so much, how perfect.

  7. @NorwalkDinosaur
    NEON Communications Director Scott Harris said he doesn’t have time-stamped originals of the emails sent to Vinny Mangiacopra because they were input into Mr. Mangiacopra’s website, Norwalk’s Future Now.
    On Thursday afternoon Andy Garfunkel said he also had not gotten an invitation. Mr. Harris forwarded me a time-stamped email sent to Mr. Garfunkel on May 31. It was sent to [email protected]

  8. D(ysfunctional)TC

    Vinny’s campaign looks petty and childish here. Scapegoating NEON doesn’t solve anything and only demonstrates a campaign starting to unravel. But, at least it shows us what Vinny is made of generally. Blaming others for your inability to stay informed doesn’t bode well for wanting and expecting to be mayor.

  9. NorwalkDinosaur

    @Nancy Chapman, thank you for the clarification. This seems like a non-issue and a simple miscommunication, but Scott Harris may have benefited from contacting Rep. Morris (his moderator for the event and longtime elected official and member of the DTC) to ask for all the candidates’ personal email addresses & mailing addresses to avoid any confusion. There was miscommunication with two of the four candidates, something got screwed up here.

  10. Norwalk Lifer

    This is much ado about nothing

    Norwalk Lifer

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