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Norwalk discord inhibits work on serious challenges

Common Councilman David McCarthy (R-District E) argues with Common Councilman David Watts (D-District D) after a committee meeting last year at City Hall.

By Andy Garfunkel, former town clerk and Democratic mayoral hopeful

NORWALK, Conn. – While our national leaders may have barely avoided the fiscal cliff and are still embroiled in national debt and other critical issues, Norwalk is at a crossroads of its own.

At the start of last night’s Common Council meeting, speakers were encouraged to refrain from personal attacks during the public comment period. Unfortunately, those of us attending last night’s meeting witnessed anything but restraint.

In fact, the very first speaker mocked Councilman David Watts for his and Councilwoman Anna Duleep’s resolution to examine whether the corporation counsel violated the city code with regard to potential conflicts of interest in his relationship to the mayor. The speaker was reined in only after Councilman Warren Peña intervened.

Also, while reasonable people may disagree on the merits of many council resolutions, personally attacking council members offering resolutions is wrong. Likewise, when Norwalk’s elected officials stir up members of their political parties to attend meetings to give them a partisan cheering section, that’s wrong too.

Such discord only detracts attention from more important issues that require a thoughtful and thorough examination by our elected officials.

Norwalk deserves leadership that is transparent, respectful, courteous and encourages residents to attend city meetings for nonpartisan reasons – to voice their opinions, to learn more about issues facing our community and maybe even to want to serve as appointed or elected officials themselves.

Norwalk is facing serious challenges. Neighboring cities and towns are attracting businesses that should be locating here. Citywide development is stalled. Our YMCA has closed. Many residents are still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and Norwalk needs a new superintendent for its schools. Let’s start working together so Norwalk may achieve its full potential.

Andy Garfunkel

Comments

2 responses to “Norwalk discord inhibits work on serious challenges”

  1. Suzanne

    Mr. Garfunkel, These are exactly the points I have been continuously making for a few weeks. I feel like this Council, appointed Commissions, the City Counsel and others are all puppets with Mayor Moccia as the chaos driven, narcissistic puppeteer with little interest in governing a town that really needs his leadership.

    What if Norwalk were a corporation? What is Norwalk’s annual budget? Could you imagine the Board of a Corporation dealing with serious issues of governance and expenditures in this way?

    There were two articles in todays’ various papers indicating that Mayor Moccia “joked” about an “open chamber” where privacy was not to be expected. This “joke” is on the heals of his creating a wasteful and time-consuming uproar surrounding the freedom of the press.

    I believe each person appointed and/or elected to be responsible for their own set of values that serves the constituency which elected him/her. Those values should not include rearranging Council seating, mocking other Council members and being generally partisan rather than sensible about the issues in which their attention is so sorely needed.

    I would like to believe that the value-based article in which you describe government would be the norm for Norwalk. However, I’m not seeing it. All I can hope for is a thorough house-cleaning and complete turnover of every last elected official and every appointed commissioner with a re-vetting of existing public servants to see if they can even begin to measure up to what you describe.

    P.S. I had the opportunity to do a bit of research in Norwalk Public Records over the years and do appreciate the work you did to modernize the data.

  2. Oldtimer

    Moccia has, to put it kindly, a strange sense of humor, invariable aimed at women or democrats.

    For some unexplained reason, he fails to see the humor in an elected official seeking the arrest of a reporter, coincidentally a female, for a proposed, but never-published, story he claims is based on a criminal invasion of his privacy in the council chamber, during a meeting recess, while he was talking to two union leaders. Neither union leader has made any complaint about their privacy being invaded. Could it be Moccia did all the talking ?

    Even his most reliable supporters must be a little embarassed by his bizzare behavior.

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