Last week, Jason Milligan sent to the Common Council the attached settlement offer. On Thursday, I sent the attached resolution to the City Clerks and a request to have it included in Tuesday’s agenda. This request was denied, not in writing but by evidence of agenda that has now been published.
While the ability of the minority party to have resolutions be part of the agenda is not expressly stated in the Rules governing the Council as recently adopted, Norwalk has a rich history going back decades of this practice. Alex Knopp and Mike Lyons, to name a few, used this power of the minority party frequently as members of past Councils. This is one of the pillars of Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure (“Mason’s Rules”) which the Council adopted with certain exceptions, which make no mention of resolutions.
I’m told my request to have this resolution on the agenda was rejected under the guise of it impacting current matters of litigation. I expected my request to be honored under our governing rules of conduct (Mason’s) and published as part of the agenda for transparency. I was not expecting a majority to agree to discuss this openly and simply to table this from Council debate, but it didn’t even get that far.
What I was expecting was simply having the public offer on the agenda that would allow for citizens to weigh in on it. Being it is not on the agenda, shuts off all public debate of the matter and prevents citizens from raising it in public comments. I fail to see how preventing citizens from commenting on a public offer preserves the integrity of some other secret proceedings on the matter.
While the property may be the subject of other ongoing matters, the offer itself appears to be independent of any of any other consideration and only mentions the history that has already been made public. I’m calling it a fresh start. The position that any talk about the project can’t happen in public is precisely why there is still a hole in the ground there going on eight years now.
Admittedly, I am not privy to the existing litigation at this time having onboarded recently (nothing has been mentioned or discussed in the last 12 weeks), but again the need to keep a brand new offer made public to the Council off limits to discussion from our citizens escapes me.
It is my opinion that members of the public should be able to know and weigh in on this. The failure to reach any conclusion in four-plus years on a more than 15-year-old endeavor suggests that the status quo is not working and new approaches need to be explored.
Personally, I am sick and tired of the cloak of secrecy about the whole matter and wanted to bring this forth for public debate in an effort to get this eyesore of a project brought to the most rapid conclusion possible.
I’m not interested in the blame being thrown around, right or wrong, but the entire mess is a monument to the failure of government and the matter needs to be put to rest and serve as a painful lesson to Norwalk of what to never do again.
I don’t expect to file an ethics complaint on having been denied access and transparency under Council Rules given the conflicting interests on the Ethics Board, but I’m not pleased about it. However, I will be seeking a legal opinion on the matter, which for now I’m still entitled to receive. But moreover, I am disappointed at the continued efforts to shut the public out of important conversations.
Norwalk deserves better transparency.
Republican Common Council member representing District D
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