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Norwalk election notes: Riddle seeks transparency; IMF holds forum and League offers much info

A screenshot taken Tuesday of a link used by Norwalk Public Schools to broadcast a meeting last week. The meeting is online now, at the same link.

The 2021 Election is Nov. 2.

NORWALK, Conn. — Some information related to the Nov. 2 election:

  • Riddle files FOI request on NPS
  • IMF offers candidate forum Thursday via Zoom
  • League provides voter information via Vote411

Riddle asks: Where’s the video?

Republican Mayoral candidate Jonathan Riddle on Saturday filed a Freedom of Information Act request on Norwalk Public Schools seeking “the full, unredacted video from the BOE Meeting at Marvin Elementary School live-streamed to YouTube via this link” and an “explanation why the video was made private.”

He also asked for all Board of Education emails related to the meeting held Thursday, the NPS x Temple University Equity Literacy Kickoff Session, a hybrid event held in person at Marvin Elementary School but also available virtually.

Riddle said he’d watched the event live but when he went to review the video, it had been made private.

“This was a public BOE meeting workshop and is subject to public access rights. A similar BOE workshop was held by live stream on Oct. 5th, NPS posted the replay the same day, and is currently available on YouTube,” Riddle wrote.

When the request was filed, the link led to an unmarked YouTube page with a black screen that simply said, “Video available” and “This video is private.”

NPS posted the equity forum Wednesday, after Riddle’s request and an inquiry from NancyOnNorwalk. It’s accessible via the link that said the video was unavailable.

“Although this wasn’t a Board of Ed meeting, as you know, videos are typically processed and posted a business day or two after a meeting concludes,” NPS Chief of Staff and Communications Brenda Wilcox Williams said in an email.

Riddle received no acknowledgement of his request Monday, he said. The Freedom of Information Act gives public bodies four days to acknowledge a request.

Riddle received a reply Tuesday, Wilcox Williams said. “Our FOI lead was out of the office on Monday.”

It’s not uncommon for it to take a day or more for meeting videos to be posted to YouTube. This is particularly the case on the City-side, where some meeting are held only on Zoom and not simultaneously broadcast on YouTube.  NPS usually gets its Board of Education meetings online right away, but not always.

The equity forum was not a BoE “meeting.” It was an interactive session with the public, rather than a discussion among Board members.

FOIA allows you to ask for existing documents. A public body cannot be compelled to create a document under FOIA.

 

IMF to query candidates

At left, Democratic Mayor Harry Rilling, as shown in a campaign photo; at left, Republican Mayoral hopeful Jonathan Riddle, as shown on his LinkedIn page. Rilling has also been endorsed by the Working Families Party.

The Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship (IMF) is hosting a political candidates forum from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday. Up first will be Democratic incumbent Mayor Harry Rilling and his Republican challenger, Jonathan Riddle, from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Common Council at Large candidates will follow, from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Then Board of Education candidates will be interviewed, from 7:15 to 8 p.m.

  • Use this link
  • Phone:  1 646 558 8656
  • Meeting ID: 808 512 0989
  • Passcode: 991386

 

IMF is “a coalition primarily composed of African-American, Christian pastors from 15 churches in Norwalk,” the Rev. Roosevelt Ewell said in an email. “The pastors collaborate on service projects, religious holidays and holy day ceremonies. The purpose of the Candidates Forum is to give the pastors an opportunity to ask questions relating to the concerns of the 15 congregations and other community members, and to hear candidates discuss the issues of importance to them.”

 

 

Vote411

Click for election information. (League of Women Voters)

“The non-partisan and non-profit League of Women Voters of Connecticut has taken a major step forward with the 2021 local elections by rolling out the award winning Vote411.org project across Connecticut,” a news release said.

It’s available in all Connecticut towns that have a League chapter, the release said. “Voters in these towns, including Norwalk, are already starting to see which candidates are running for every municipal office, and their candidates are responding to invitations to participate in their respective Vote411 Voters Guide by providing photos and answers to questions provided by those Leagues.”

Vote411 provides nonpartisan information, as “part of an ambitious effort to build enthusiasm around local municipal elections across the state ahead of Tuesday, November 2,” the release said.

You’ll find:

  • Absentee ballot information
  • Ballot measure information (where applicable)
  • Early voting options (where applicable)
  • Election dates
  • Factual data on candidates in various federal, state and local races
  • General information on such topics as how to watch debates with a critical eye
  • ID requirements
  • Polling place locations (one of 411’s most popular features)
  • Registration deadlines
  • Voter qualifications
  • Voter registration forms
  • Online Voter Guides

 

“Candidates for Mayor, Common Council and Board of Education in Norwalk have provided bios, photos and answers to local questions in the Vote411 Voters Guide,” the news release states.

Vote411.org was originally launched by the national League in 2006, according to the release. Next year Vote411 will provide the same information “for all State and Congressional races, as well as the Connecticut gubernatorial race.  The plan is to gradually implement Vote411 state-wide for all races, even in portions of the state which do not currently have local Leagues.”

“Here in Connecticut we are so proud of our local LWVCT chapters and all the effort they have put in to provide us with their candidate information this Fall,” said Liz Donovan, LWVCT Vice President of Voter Services, in the release. “Vote411.org helps us to reach current and first time voters—getting all voters registered, helping them learn about their candidates and their views on the important issues, even finding their polling places—everything we can do to help all Nutmeggers get to the polls with the information they need and know they can trust.”

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