Norwalk Dems debate job growth

NORWALK, Conn. – It didn’t take long for an unprecedented back and forth to develop in Tuesday’s mayoral forum at the South Norwalk Community Center, the type of discussion that hasn’t happened in previous public forums with Norwalk Democratic mayoral candidates.

The second question posed by the Rev. Oscar Destruge asked about job growth. After Harry Rilling talked about trade unions providing a “job funnel” — a job funnel program is being touted by Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now to begin in 2014 — Vinny Mangiacopra responded, citing his status as the only candidate with eight labor union endorsements. Matt Miklave took the chance to speak again, saying that job training is great, but it doesn’t help if there are no jobs.

“The unemployment rate is higher in the African American and Latino communities,” Destruge said. “How will you bridge the gap to bring more jobs to the community?”

Mangiacopra went first.

“We have to make sure we’re pursuing economic opportunities, and we all know that’s not happening,” he said. “That’s why we get stuck with these lackluster projects. That’s why we continue to settle for everyone else’s leftovers. That’s the mentality that’s gone on here in Norwalk for a long period of time. We acknowledge the fact that we’re not Stamford, but at least we can hang our hat on the fact that at least we’re not Bridgeport. I have news for you, those things are going to change pretty quickly because there’s a lot of investment going on in both of those cities. Norwalk is being left behind quickly… You need a mayor that is going to go out there and aggressively pursue every opportunity that can possibly be had for Norwalk. That’s the kind of mayor I plan on being.”

Miklave continued to pound his drum for technology incubators and an economic accelerator team. “The issues facing our city are pretty substantial,” he said. “One of them is the fact that we haven’t had an economic plan in the 22 years that my wife and I have lived here. … Historically, 80 percent of the jobs come from employers who hire less than 10 people. Since 2008, 100 percent of net job growth, that’s all net job growth in America, comes from employers of less than 10 people. Yet we have no plan in Norwalk to grow local entrepreneurs.”

Rilling said unemployment starts after high school.

“We need to take advantage of organizations, like the South Norwalk Community Center and other civic organizations, to provide job training,” he said.

He went on the mention another campaign promise, a life skills training class, and he pointed to his record of making the police department reflect the diversity of the community.

Mangiacopra said labor unions are “not just looking for the have nots that can’t make it though high school and maybe college isn’t an option for them. … Those folks don’t want the leftovers, they want the folks that are willing to go into that and realize that that’s a good line of work still in this day and age.”

Miklave said his colleagues did not have answers to the problems.

“I think what my colleagues overlook is job training is great but it’s pretty unsuccessful if there are no jobs,” he said. “I don’t know if anyone has paid attention lately but I was up in Bridgeport today negotiating with the teamsters unions for construction contractors. There aren’t any construction jobs out there right now. Those are good paying jobs but they’re not to be found.”

Jobs need to be grown in the private sector, he said, pounding the drum.

Rilling then retook the microphone to throw a shot at incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Moccia, recalling the theatrics in the final two months of the last mayoral campaign in which the mayor eked out a narrow win over then-candidate Andy Garfunkel. Garfunkel is running again this year, but did not attend this event .

“I was one of the first candidates to point out that in 2011, in September and October, just before the election, I went to four groundbreakings. For two years nothing happened,” Rilling said.

Indeed, there were four groundbreakings just before the last municipal election, which Moccia won with 52.9 percent of the vote.

• On Sept. 9, 2011, Moccia, state Sen. Bob Duff and Emil Albanese, then chairman of the Redevelopment Authority, joined POKO Partners CEO Ken Olsen to celebrate the application for demolition of buildings on Wall Street, swinging shiny shovels over the concrete sidewalk. “This is the end of the beginning,” Moccia said. Nothing has happened on the property.

• On Sept. 12, 2011, there was a groundbreaking for the Pepperidge Farm Innovation Center on Westport Avenue. Construction began soon thereafter, and the center is now complete.

Construction continues on the Waypointe project on West Avenue in Norwalk.

• On Sept. 21, 2011, there was a groundbreaking for the Waypointe project on West Avenue. Demolition of the existing buildings began in January 2012. After lengthy delays, the project is now under construction.

• On Oct. 13, 2011, there was a groundbreaking for 95/7, also on West Avenue. The Hour announced on Aug. 19 – this year, nearly two years later – that Spinnaker Partners had gotten a permit to build a foundation on the property. No start date for that work has been announced.

Rilling said Norwalk needs to bring developers to the table to hash out the reasons for the delays.

“That’s the way we’re going to provide jobs to people,” he said.


16 responses to “Norwalk Dems debate job growth”

  1. Suzanne

    What’s with the vaguely derogatory references to Matt Miklave’s campaign? This is it – today, he is “pounding the drum” for his ideas. Was there a drum? Was he so offensive that he was pounding it in talking about his platform? No such references have been consistently made to the other candidates. If you are endorsing Rilling, why not just say so NON?

    1. Mark Chapman

      Not sure when “pounding the drum” became a derogatory reference. To us, it means consistently and forcefully promoting a message, but when you consistently say consistently and forcefully promoting, it gets boring. We are not promoting anyone. Please see the 1,500-plus word feature, Miklave wants to ‘think outside the box… and Miklave pitches intelligence… as examples of stories other candidates might consider to be “promoting” Matt. FYI, the only candidate or candidate’s backer who has not complained about a story or a phrase so far is Andy Garfunkel.

      P.S.: Both of us are actually intrigued by the economic accelerator idea, as we are intrigued by certain proposals from each of the four candidates. But we won’t be voting Sept. 10, as we are not party affiliated. Nor will we be endorsing anyone in the primary.

  2. Tim T

    Oh please with the constant running to the defense of Miklave. He is a big boy and I am sure he can defend himself. Also how do you figure anything derogatory was said as clearly it was not. Please sop making something out of nothing.

  3. D(ysfunctional)TC

    9 days before the polls open and still not one candidate has offered any specific action plan. Just where they want to be like it isn’t obvious we need more jobs. Sorry, just wanting it is not enough. It would seem like Harry is the best at getting things done, if we can judge by the number of lawn signs.

  4. Ace22

    @Mark, you said, “But we won’t be voting Sept. 10, as we are not party affiliated. Nor will we be endorsing anyone in the primary.” Out of curiosity, a few days ago I saw an advertisement for “Riling for Mayor” on this page. Was that a paid ad or are you indeed endorsing Riling?

    1. Mark Chapman

      Paid ad. And we encourage all the candidates to do the same. Without ads and donations, we are toast. You can find the donation button on the right side of every page, near the top. 🙂

      Thanks for asking. Never occurred to me that anyone would think it was NOT a paid ad. Good to clear that up.

  5. Tim T

    Oh my I just seen an ad for Ford on yahoo does that mean yahoo is endorsing Ford products?

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Tim, ACE22
      It might also be helpful to point out to our readers that we subscribe to an online ad service that targets individual users based on their browsing habits (we are not that sophisticated, so all our paid local ads go to everyone). We also are part of the Independent Media Group that occasionally places ads on our site. We make a little money from those ads, too, more when someone clicks on them. But, like with the local ads, they do not mean we endorse the advertisers.

      We do ask everyone who does support them or who has an interest in what they are selling to click on the ad. Also, if you happen to visit any of the places that advertise here, mention you saw their ad on NancyOnNorwalk.com. It will help keep us in business.

      Thanks to all.

  6. Otis

    Have you seen a MIklave mailer? He should sue his mailing firm for malpractice. Trashing democrats will cost him at the polls.

    Sounds like his supporters want a free lunch. NON endorsing Rilling? Give me a break.

    SUZANNE time would better spent making phone calls and knocking doors- Matt is running in 4th place.

  7. Asa H.M.

    @Otis. Have you seen the Rilling and Mangiacopra mailers? They don’t say anything about how or what they would do to move Norwalk in a forward direction. They can spout ideas all they want, at least Mr. Miklave tells us how he will do things, and how he will cover the costs. That’s a win-win in my voting column.

  8. Norwalk Spectator

    Rilling said Norwalk needs to bring developers to the table to hash out the reasons for the delays.
    Uh, Rilling should talk to either Tim Sheehan, the Redevelopment Agency Director, or anyone on the Norwalk Common Council Planning Committee.
    Redevelopment tracks the various projects because of contractual agreements the developer have with the City. The Planning Committee frequently interviews the developers on the state of their project. The two biggest hold up for development are financial arrangements and permits. Occasionally legal issues infer but most of the time it’s finances and permits.

  9. Otis

    @ asa hm

    Miklave mailers seem like they were written by the rtc. He is a smart councilman just think trashing local democrats cannot be a winning message.

  10. Piberman

    All mayoral candidates promise jobs growth, increased safety, school funding, redevelopment and so on. But without substantive managerial backgrounds actually developing jobs why should anyone take their bromides seriously ? So far none of the candidates ave promised to hold the line or reduce taxes. So independent of who is elected we can all be certain taxes will rise. Year after year. That’s a forecast you can take to the bank. The real and maybe only winners in this election are our municipal employees. That’s Norwalk politics in action ! As long as the electorate doesn’t complain our politicians will continue to raise taxes. After all no one has noticed our stagnant Grand List. Or 3 yrs of stagnant residential property values. Norwalk voters are an easy going group – no demands ever.

  11. Ace22

    @Tim, the question to Mark was a sincere question. I was not being sarcastic at all. Perhaps it would behoove you in the future to not make unnecessary comments that are NOT addressed to you.
    @Mark, Thank you for clearing that up. I will put the word out, as I have before about your website and the work you guys do! Thank you!

  12. Tim T

    What does Rilling know about creating jobs as he never worked in the real world. He has no idea how to even control a payroll budget as we can all see from the out of control overtime at the NPD.
    In the real world overtime is non-existent .

  13. Suzanne

    Otis, the only mailer I have received “trashing the Democrats” was in reference to reform of the DTC which clearly needs it. The rest I have received are fairly clear about plans Mr. Miklave has to reform City Hall and, in particular, ensure that these highly paid, highly touted to be highly paid bureaucrats are performing to a high standard. If not, budget cuts would be in the offing. If this proves to be effective, I would expect commensurate effects to our taxes.

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