Norwalk council says ‘no’ just to make a point

Health, Welfare and Public Safety Committee Chairwoman Michelle Maggio (R-District C) and Councilman David McCarthy (R-District E)
Health, Welfare and Public Safety Committee Chairwoman Michelle Maggio (R-District C), left, talk about a Norwalk Public Heath Department item up for a vote Tuesday as Councilman David McCarthy (R-District E) listens.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Common Council members unanimously rejected a proposed Department of Public Health fee schedule on Tuesday evening for one reason only — to send a message to Norwalk department heads.

The fee schedule had been the topic of a Department of Public Health public hearing but had not been vetted by the Health, Welfare and Public Safety Committee due to scheduling problems, Committee Chairwoman Michelle Maggio (R-District C) said. No one from the Health Department was present at the council meeting to answer questions. Council members said that was disrespectful.

“All legislative bodies rely on their committees to do the nitty-gritty work,” Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large) said. “Whatever the circumstances are something as important as a set of fees for a health department has to be vetted thoroughly. I can understand scheduling problems sometimes but … But I can’t remember an instance where there were scheduling problems where something did not go to committee yet there was no one here at the council meeting to answer questions.”

Mayor Harry Rilling said Director of Health Tim Callahan is out of town but agreed the department could have sent someone else.

The fee schedule would go into effect without a council vote, Maggio said. Therefore, simply withdrawing the motion to approve the fees would have no effect, Council President Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) said. Although there is a deadline for the fee schedule, Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola said the clock would halt with the vote to reject the schedule and resume when it is resubmitted.

If it’s voted on in the next council meeting on June 25 it will still make the deadline, Maggio said.

“We all had a lot of questions,” Majority Leader Jerry Petrini (R-District D) said. “… Out of respect for us they should have been here. We could have asked our questions. That’s the reason we’re all feeling we need to reject this tonight.”

“As legislators, we can never be taken for granted. Ever,” Kimmel said. “… I think we ought to make a statement. We will eventually get things straight, but I think it’s very important to let the folks who work in this building know you got to come to us, we’re the ones voting on it.”


9 responses to “Norwalk council says ‘no’ just to make a point”

  1. Norewalk Lifer

    This is news? they should have rescheduled the vote, what’s this? kiss my ring time at Common Council?

    Anything is news these days in this town, reschedule the review! that’s what others who “do this for a living” do!

    Norwalk Lifer

  2. John Hamlin

    I guess it’s an indication of how little they do that the Common Council warrants a news story for this historic vote. Perhaps time to amend the charter to make Norwalk’s government functional? But that would require the Council to lead!

  3. Don’t Panic

    Actually, this is a good sign that the council is “leading” instead of being led by department heads. My only concern is that apparently only one Cayucos seems willing to state so publicly.
    Mr. Alvord, are you taking notes?

  4. Suzanne

    “As legislators, we can never be taken for granted. Ever,” Kimmel said. “… I think we ought to make a statement. We will eventually get things straight, but I think it’s very important to let the folks who work in this building know you got to come to us, we’re the ones voting on it.”
    Without showing any disrespect, I find this statement rather funny. This is the same Council who thinks cutting people off mid-statement is o.k. Whose members adjourn meetings abruptly when they don’t like what is being said. Who consistently “kick the can down the road” as Mr. Watts put it the other day and put off decision making for – ever. If the Council wants respect, show a little to the constituency for whom they serve, make public record in adequate time frames with participant consent the times of meetings for crying out loud.
    Mr. Hamlin made the comment in another thread that this Council is worse than Congress. Now, that is saying something considering Congressional dysfunction!
    Like everyone else and everything else, respect is earned. If the Council wants it, start working for the taxpayers of this City. Make some decisions about, say, Mr. Alvord, DPW performance and its improvement, say, or development deals that leave the Town in limbo for untold number of years or Town employee compensation vs. performance, instead of blowhard statements about “respect.”

  5. Joanne Romano

    For those who have never served on the council…sometimes you need an inside view of what it’s like to have a committee meeting where you are asked to pass something on to the full council and not a single person from that department shows up to explain the whys and why nots…I applaud Michelle and others who are taking a stand in committee before it heads to full council and turns into a dog and pony show! Committee work should be done in committee with all parties present for questions and explanations for requested items. Council meetings should be for the finished project to be presented and voted on and the constituents will then have all pertaining information in front of them instead of having to scratch their heads wondering “where did this come from”

  6. One and Done.

    Kudos to the councilwoman. A true daughter of Norwalk we can be proud of. Succinctly to the point and on the money.
    As for the rest. Please stop with the grandstanding. Your need to be heard on the record on every subject before voting yes across the board isn’t fooling anyone. And btw, hardly anyone is paying attention to you blowing hot air anyway. Efficiency in government is more desirable than you boring us to death with your self aggrandizements. So far this council is barely more than a big dog and pony show.
    One and Done.

  7. peter parker

    The council made the right decision. The Public Health should have been there to represent their case. Maybe they will learn from this.

  8. spanner

    public safety is in trouble.”We could have asked our questions”Why not give them to us and see if we are all on the same page Jerry.

  9. John Hamlin

    The Council did the right thing. It’s just astonishing that this is a story about their action — what have they done? What have they accomplished that’s worth writing about? Time to amend the charter and make Norwalk’s government structured so it’s capable of accomplishing something.

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