Norwalk council member: Maslan lied about resignation

Norwalk Common Council member Warren Peña says skepticism is necessary when dealing with Corporation Counsel Robert Maslan.

By Nancy Guenther Chapman

NORWALK, Conn. – A lawyer ending her tenure in Norwalk’s legal department will be missed, one of her supervisors says. A Norwalk pol agrees she was helpful, but wonders why Corporation Counsel Robert Maslan lied to the public over the issue.

The Common Council was expected to confirm Linda Guliuzza’s reappointment as Norwalk assistant corporation counsel last Tuesday, but instead, Maslan announced that she had resigned. Although he said her reasons were “strictly personal in nature,” Guliuzza sent an email to the council two days later saying that the only reason she had resigned was “gross salary inequities.”

Reached by phone, Guliuzza, an ordinance employee, declined to elaborate.

“I’m disappointed to find out that Corporation Counsel essentially lied to the public and council that she resigned for personal reasons,” said Council member Warren Peña (D-At Large) in an email. “This is the sixth incident where corporation counsel has lied to me in the past year, so I’m not surprised that the truth came out a day later. At this point, you have to take what he says with a grain of salt or assume he might not be telling the truth.”

Peña declined to detail the other incidents he felt Maslan had been dishonest about. “It seems like a reoccurring theme with this administration,” he said. “I don’t get why corporation counsel could not just tell us the truth up front, or perhaps even privately. It’s one of those things, the less the council knows the better – in this administration’s eyes.”

Maslan did not respond to a request for comment.

Guilizza has been an asset to the city, Deputy Corporation Counsel Jeffry Spahr said in an email.

“I was surprised to hear that she wished to leave,” he said. “She has been a very effective and dedicated attorney in our office. Certainly she has saved the city a great deal of money with her thoroughness and willingness to engage the opposing side in the courtroom when she believed that such a course of action was warranted.”

Peña said, “I understand Linda was an asset to the law department and was very helpful to me when I had questions.”

Guilizza said in her email that she has been with Norwalk for more than five years.

Spahr said, “We all wish her well and unite in the feeling that we will miss her and her hard work.”


6 responses to “Norwalk council member: Maslan lied about resignation”

  1. Tim T

    If this is the case he should be fired.

  2. Oldtimer

    There is no “if”. What she said and what Maslan said are different.. If pressed, Maslan will claim no intent to decieve, only an intent to be “diplomatic” and avoid provoking a discussion. This administration is strongly opposed to public discussion on the council floor. Maslan was just being a good soldier and following orders. You know, the Nuremberg defense.

  3. Mike Mushak

    The Corporation Counsel has “misled” the public and other city officials many times, often to further the mayor’s own personal agenda (Maslan’s politically appointed job depends on pleasing his boss over anyone else, which is supported by much evidence). Taxpayers are paying Mr. Maslan to give unbiased advice supported by the law, but the record shows he seems to have violated that requirement on many occasions.

    Several months ago I asked in a public hearing, why The Norwalk Planning and Zoning Director, Mike Greene, has not had a performance review in the 6 years of Mayor Moccia’s administration. Mr. Greene makes $141, 647 a year, gets 6 weeks paid vacation, and continues to gets raises every year without any oversight from anyone in City Hall, with absolutely no accountability to taxpayers who pay his salary, which is beyond comprehension and well beyond what is considered good governance and standard management practices.

    Questions have been raised about Mr. Greene’s performance by the public and other city officials, concerning important issues that effect the future of the city and how millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent, and yet Mayor Moccia and Mr. Maslan, along with certain members of the ZC including long-term members recently re-appointed, refuse to allow a performance review of Mr. Greene. It is a corruption of process that will need to be addressed by responsible members of our city government, if they have the courage to stand up to this entrenched corruption.

    The City Charter clearly gives the supervisory responsibility of P and Z staff to the Zoning Commission, which I serve on. This includes the ability to hire or replace the staff as necessary. These decisions are established using standard procedures of performance reviews as any organization should.

    Mr. Maslan stated on the record that Mr. Greene’s NASA contract prevents him from receiving any performance review at all, because “state law supercedes local law”, despite no actual wording anyone could find in the contract to support his “opinion”. This issue came up in a Common Council meeting when I made the difficult but I felt absolutely necessary decision to publicly opposed the re-appointment of Zoning Chairman Joe Santo, Mayor Moccia’s long-time friend, based on the evidence that he had already served 18 non-consecutive years on the ZC , had become increasingly belligerent to the public and other commissioners, interfered with new policies, applications and information gathering, and last but not least, as chair refused to allow long-overdue performance reviews of Mr. Greene and Mr. Wrinn to be conducted after I had requested it.

    In order to defend Mayor Moccia’s appointment of Joe Santo, despite much opposition on the Council, Mr. Maslan needed to defend Mr. Santo’s refusal to properly supervise the P and Z staff. Later in a follow up email, Mr. Maslan refused to indicate where exactly the NASA contract prevented a performance review of Mr. Greene, and then concluded that I had no right to ask the question of him. I still have not received the answer, and Mr. Greene, one of the highest paid city officials, still has not had a performance review in 6 years.

    On another occasion soon after that incident, involving another one of the Mayor’s appointments to the ZC, Mr. Maslan “interpreted” the City Charter to allow less than 2/3 vote for a 3rd term Zoning Appointment, based on the dubious claim that the appointment as an “alternate” on the ZC was a “new” position, therefore the intent of the Charter to avoid cronyism by encouraging turnover on important commissions did not apply here.

    As a result, Mayor Moccia, with Maslan’s dubious and clearly biased legal advice, was able to avoid the clear intent of the City Charter and the Common Council, and reappoint another one of his long serving and well-known friends onto the ZC, who by the way, is also opposed to accountability and transparency in the Planning and Zoning Department, by opposing performance reviews of staff.

    All I can say is, imagine the potential of Norwalk to grow and prosper if folks like me didn’t have to waste most of our time dealing with the distractions of fighting these forces of cronyism and the “old boys” club. In a way, it’s heartbreaking.

  4. Larry Vinokur

    Isn’t wanting more money a personal reason?

  5. M. Jeffry Spahr

    Attorney Guliuzza’s appointment was on the Agenda for the Common Council meeting. She indicated that she wished to leave the Department. Bob Maslan informed the Mayor of this and it was felt that her name should be withdrawn from the Agenda since she was leaving. When pressed for a reason, Bob Maslan apparently indicated that she was leaving for personal reasons. I believe he indicated that not to be inaccurate, but to make sure that no one felt that her removal from the Agenda had anything to do with her performance. Look at it this way, if nothing was said and if a person is not reappointed, wouldn’t the speculation be that they were not performing?Of course it would be.

    To avoid such erroneous speculation I think that Bob said what he said. I think it was a personal decision. Apparently Linda Guliuzza wished to make it known that her personal reason for leaving had nothing to do with family matters or more traditional ‘personal reasons’. She wished to have it known that she was upset with the salary. She has that right and no one has said anything negative about her expressing that feeling.

    She has been a very hard worker for our Department. We will miss her work ethic and her roll up your sleeves attitude.

    I think that this has been all blown up out of proportion.

  6. LWitherspoon

    Employers have to be very careful about revealing information about employees that could be viewed as personal. It’s ok for Ms. Guliuzza to say that she resigned because she felt she deserved more money, but it might not be ok for Mr. Maslan to publicly reveal that information. I agree that “personal reasons” may not have been the best way to describe Ms. Guliuzza’s reason for resigning, it might have been better to simply not state a reason and leave it at that. In any event, this is being blown out of proportion by avowed opponents of the City administration. Heartbreaking is certainly the right word to describe it.

Leave a Reply

Recent Comments