Norwalk: At least let me nominate someone else first

Norwalk Common Council member Anna Duleep (D, At Large) speaks at a recent meeting of the Coalition of Norwalk Neighborhood Associations.

By Common Council Member Anna Duleep (D, At-Large), former minority leader

I am dismayed at my colleague Joanne Romano’s surprising decision to step down from the Norwalk Common Council. While I cannot question anybody’s stated feelings, I am startled by a few lines of (former) Councilwoman Romano’s resignation letter. Ms. Romano wrote, “It is pointless to me to continue down a path where there is no light at the end of a partisan tunnel. Where my contributions are no longer looked at as meaningful and my voice is no longer acknowledged.” [see attachment below]

I remember accomplishing a recent, bipartisan victory with valuable input from Ms. Romano. On Nov. 13, the Common Council unanimously passed a resolution “to solicit advice and feedback concerning how the city of Norwalk can minimize inconvenience to voters following redistricting of state legislative districts.” As Councilwoman Romano stated, “The redistricting put everybody in confusion … We have to find ways of making it easier for everybody to vote, because it is their right and it is their privilege.” [Council calls for forum to improve future voting at polls, The Hour, November 13, 2012]

As I explained to my caucus, Joanne was my one – and only – choice to co-sponsor this resolution. She and I were the only two council members (to my knowledge) who had worked as moderators at a polling site. I felt listing one name with a (D) and one name with an (R) would sufficiently reflect my intent to cooperate in a bipartisan fashion to solve a seemingly small – but for some, highly vexing – issue on Election Day.

Joanne suggested that I ask the entire Common Council whether they wanted to join us as co-sponsors. I balked, primarily because I wrote the resolution less than 24 hours before our deadline to include items on the council agenda; I did not want my invitation to appear disingenuous. Joanne made a good case for inclusion of council members of all party affiliations, and I agreed. I’m glad I did.

By Tuesday night, I amended the item to add our eighth co-sponsor, Councilman Nick Kydes. I jokingly explained to my counterpart, Majority Leader Doug Hempstead, that I was listing Joanne ahead of him as a co-sponsor, despite his outranking both Joanne and me, the author of that resolution!

Since Nov. 13, we have had a great response to the idea of hosting this forum. The League of Women Voters wants to be included; so, too, does state Sen. Bob Duff. I am exploring the idea of making the forum a “virtual town hall” format, so Norwalkers don’t have to get a babysitter or expend valuable gas racing to City Hall just to be heard. I plan to announce a date as soon as I can confirm the availability of the highest-ranking member of the Secretary of the State’s office who wants to: 1) find out what Norwalkers think he or she can do to improve the quality of our voting experience; and 2) ease the burden on our hardworking registrars, Karen Doyle Lyons (R) and Stuart W. Wells, III (D).

For this and many other reasons, during my last meeting as minority leader, I asked Doug Hempstead why he wasn’t giving me the option of voting for – or against – one of the qualified women in his caucus to become majority leader. Or one of the talented Republican men waiting for a chance to assume a leadership position. I took the liberty of expressing my hopes to Councilwoman Michelle Maggio (a newcomer I’d hoped would succeed Doug as majority leader) and to Councilwoman Joanne Romano. At the time, I wondered why Joanne seemed less than excited when I told her I hoped she would be the Republican’s nominee for council president. I wondered why Mayor Moccia seemed even more agitated than usual. Later that night, I sat stunned while one of the three women currently serving on the Common Council resigned her post.

I realize the majority caucus makes choices that vary significantly from the decisions made in my caucus. Back in November 2011, when the Democrats were the elected majority, each member of my caucus pledged to the others that he (or she) would serve NO MORE THAN one year in a leadership position. I know my colleagues elected me majority leader in reliance on my pledge. I considered it a gentlemen’s agreement, and I still consider Council President Carvin Hilliard bound to that pledge – not as a council member, but as a gentleman. Had I known Mayor Moccia would push so hard for Mr. Hilliard to serve a second year in a row as council president – and worse, that Republicans might vote for Carvin rather than a loyal member of their own party – I never would have switched my vote (from Matt Miklave to Carvin) for the sake of caucus unity.

Although Republicans favored delaying the transfer of power, the Democratic caucus forged ahead the night of November 27. We even split the second year into two six-month terms as minority leader to symbolize our party’s deep commitment to sharing opportunity, power, and responsibility. Some of us cheer the peaceful transfer of government power, no matter how great or minor that power!

I was underwhelmed when the Republican caucus re-elected Doug Hempstead as majority leader rather than boost an up-and-comer as we head toward municipal elections in 2013. But I respect their right to make choices that reflect the values of their own caucus, even if they differ from mine. However, when their voting bloc impacts the selection of MY new council president, I must take a stand.

If Mayor Moccia insists on pushing Mr. Hilliard to break his word to his former caucus, I hope they will at least do me the courtesy of allowing me to nominate somebody else first. I have not yet decided whether to nominate a member of my caucus (only to watch a fine man lose) or choose the best candidate in the Republican caucus (thus acknowledging they have the votes to decide this race). I imagine my new minority leader will have an opinion! But rest assured, now that I have honored Carvin’s and my promise, I write this simply as one member of the Common Council who got some legislative business accomplished one night with the help of Joanne Romano.

Anna K. Duleep

Joanne Resignation

Correction made, 11:23 a.m.


29 responses to “Norwalk: At least let me nominate someone else first”

  1. David McCarthy

    Anna, While the meeting you arranged with Joanne is worthwhile if it is able to add clarity to the voting process in municipal and national elections, I don’t think it added a counterweight to the vicious and personal attacks that have been made over the last 12 months, so it didn’t play in the decision.

    When Mr. Watts was screaming at Joanne until she burst into tears, that may have played in her decision.

    When he continued ranting until one of the police lieutenants had to ask him to calm down, that may have played in her decision.

    When he continued dropping F-Bombs until Mr. MacGregor had to shame him into stopping (because he was in front of several women over the course of the tirade, until only the assistant city clerk remained when we got into the elevator) and Mr. Watts replied “it’s ok, she goes to my church” that may have played in her decision.

    You speak of supporting women for leadership roles and occupied a position of leadership this past year. Where are you now and where have you been for the last year in denouncing the tactics used? You’ve never resorted to them, for sure, but you have sat idly by and by doing so, in my mind, are just as guilty.

    I hope this adds to your knowledge of the circumstances. I am happy to shed light on anything else that you are having difficulty understanding.

  2. David Watts

    Councilman McCarthy,

    You are back on the blogs spreading your lies. I am sure you have other things to do with your time- like maybe driving to people homes with a video camera or mixing it up with a BOE member. It is Xmas season- enjoy and keep the peace.

    Can you drop the right wing agenda for a few weeks and rise above hate? I don’t think so.


    1. Joanne Romano

      David, you couldn’t let it go could you? You know the reason I left and you know what happened after the council meeting on October 9th, why are we rehashing this over and why must you make everything right wing and anti Republican. Do you honestly believe that only Democrats know what is best for the city? Do you honestly believe that being partisan is what the taxpayers want? Why couldn’t you just allow Anna her eloquent letter and David to make a lengthy but correct statement regarding the chain of events(though I don’t blame Anna for anyone’s rude behavior)? Perhaps you might want to take some lessons from Anna and other council persons and once in a while take a back seat to nastiness.. there is an old saying you know. “You can lure a bear with honey much faster than vinegar! You should be going into tonights meeting with a breath of fresh air since you’ll noyt have me there to watch your grandstanding approach to everything!

      1. Joanne Romano

        BTW, my response is to David Watts…because he seems to care nothing about real truth over his truth…Anna, Thank you for your letter and I wish I wasn’t forced to a decision such as I was.

        1. David Watts


          It is the holiday season- just let it go! If it makes you feel any better go ahead and vent. Do not join Councilman McCarthy’s slime campaign. You are a class act and he is a class clown.
          I know you were the voice of reason in your caucus and I am proud of service to our troops. Let’s just enjoy the holidays.

          God Bless.


          1. LWitherspoon

            So Joanne Romano confirms Mr. McCarthy’s statement that David Watts screamed at her, dropped F-bombs, and ranted until a Police Lieutenant had to ask him to calm down.

            The response from Mr. Watts is to claim that this is all a lie, and that in any event, Ms. Romano should “let it go”. The classy thing to do would be to apologize, but we’re well aware that we should never expect Mr. Watts to do the classy thing.

    2. LWitherspoon

      Mr. Watts,

      Mr. McCarthy was certainly out of line with the videotaping. Having said that, it’s downright puzzling to see you admonishing someone to rise above hate after all your nasty comments in numerous articles on this blog. Are we supposed to do as you say but not as you do?

      1. David McCarthy

        I video taped the person using a taxpayer funded truck, because that person has a long history of bending the truth and without concrete evidence, they would merely have denied it. If anyone finds that doing so was incorrect, I can live with that.

        1. David Watts

          It was not the behavior of a councilman and you should be ashamed. What happened when the person confronted you about this issue? We Know!

          Take your right wing slime campaign and put it on the shelf for the holidays.

          1. David McCarthy

            He assaulted me from behind in a drunken rage since you bring it up. The report is available at the police station.

        2. LWitherspoon

          None of us is perfect and anyone can make a mistake. I can forgive that. What I can’t forgive is the deliberate ongoing campaign of nastiness and political posturing orchestrated by David Watts. It would be one thing if he could articulate a reasonable argument for giving municipal employee unions whatever they want, but he never can. It’s mostly personal attacks, unfounded accusations of racism, and logically bankrupt statements aimed at covering up his positions that almost always run counter to the best interests of Norwalk taxpayers as a group.

          He continues this nastiness yet thinks that by wishing everyone Happy Holiday, he’s somehow demonstrating statesmanship. Who does he think he’s kidding? The Democrats need a more effective spokesperson, David Watts is NOT getting it done.

        1. LWitherspoon

          Fair enough. What would you call it?

      2. David Watts

        L witherspoon,

        I never dropped F-Bombs towards anyone. Why do not come from behind the curtain and tell the people your real name? We Know! 🙂

        1. LWitherspoon

          Dave McCarthy and Joanne Romano say that you DID repeatedly drop F-bombs. Are they lying?

          1. David Watts

            L witherspoon

            I disagree with their assessment of the situation. Let’s just keep the discussion on politics- not on rumors.

            Joanne is a class act and a highly respected member of our community. She is a moderate republican and really cares about people.

  3. Joanne Romano

    Anna, don’t count me out on this, I still plan on being there!… 🙂

    Re: Since Nov. 13, we have had a great response to the idea of hosting this forum. The League of Women Voters wants to be included; so, too, does state Sen. Bob Duff. I am exploring the idea of making the forum a “virtual town hall” format, so Norwalkers don’t have to get a babysitter or expend valuable gas racing to City Hall just to be heard. I plan to announce a date as soon as I can confirm the availability of the highest-ranking member of the Secretary of the State’s office who wants to: 1) find out what Norwalkers think he or she can do to improve the quality of our voting experience; and 2) ease the burden on our hardworking registrars, Karen Doyle Lyons (R) and Stuart W. Wells, III (D).

    1. Anna Duleep

      Excellent! I’ll be sending the official letter to SOTS (with a copy of the signed resolution) after the holidays. We’ll touch base then too. And BTW I would have loved to have voted for you for Council President as well.

  4. David Watts

    L witherspoon,

    Councilman McCarthy, driving to peoples homes with a video camera and filming is strange behavior. What was he thinking? His video was very creepy and he should have respect for personal space. This dude is so jump the shark!

    Let it go! Have a Happy Holiday Season.

    1. LWitherspoon

      Quoting from your earlier comment:

      “It is Xmas season- enjoy and keep the peace.

      Can you drop the agenda for a few weeks and rise above hate?”

      I guess you can’t. Bummer.

    2. Andy Nelson

      The misuse of the expression “jump the shark” where have I seen that before?

      Ah, so David Watts was “Hawkeye” as well as “RickyBobbi”


      1. LWitherspoon


        Very astute observation. That misuse of the term “jump the shark” as well as many other giveaways revealed to everyone that David Watts was posting truly despicable comments under those usernames. He attacked anyone who dared disagree with him, including members of his own party.

        We can be thankful that Mr. Watts is no longer posting under those accounts, even if his posts haven’t improved very much since then.

  5. Diane C2

    @ Joanne Romano: Mr. McCarthy may accuse me of tip-toeing around allegations, but your comment “Where my contributions are no longer looked at as meaningful and my voice is no longer acknowledged” continues to trouble me. Your republican colleagues hold the majority on the council, and others are so closely aligned with it that they routinely caucus with and/or vote with you. Still others across the aisle disagree, but with great respect for you. So if the majority of your peers considered your contributions as meaningful and indeed acknowledged your voice, why resign over the actions of a few who were apparently rude and dismissive? If you truly feel as you stated above, then surely some of the problem must have stemmed from even your own party – shame on them for either their contribution to, or their silence on, the events that led to your decision. You should still be on the council.
    Martin Luther King said “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”.

    1. LWitherspoon


      This seems like a really tortured attempt to blame Joanne or Joanne’s party for her resignation, and to refuse to accept her word about why she resigned. Joanne does not deserve that. We know her character and we know enough about her to be certain that we can take her at her word when she tells us that she resigned due to the nastiness and gamesmanship originating from Watts, Pena, Miklave, and friends.

      1. Joanne Romano

        I can assure yo, it had nothing to do with Mr. MikLave(while we do differ in opinion at times) Mr. Miklave for all the years I have known him in and out of politics has always been a gemtleman…He gets a little crazy sometimes (come on Matt, you know you do ) but mean, nasty, rude aor disrespectful to me personally? Absolutely not… I truly hope this blog stops here because it is senseless and it isn’t doing anything other than allow the likes of Tim T(Mr. T as I like to call him because he is truly a bully who is so negative its sad) to go off on his rediculous rants as he does in every newspaper..please, if he knew so much he would have been elected Mayor! But you know what? If he gets kicks from senseless nonsense then by all means let him rant…one day he will realize he is ranting to a party of one!

        1. Joanne Romano

          sorry, need a new puter..keys stick and write what they want! 🙂

          1. LWitherspoon


            Thank you for clarifying that Miklave was never rude or disrespectful the way that Watts and Pena were. I tend to lump Miklave in with the others because even though Miklave is a more polished speaker, he engages in exactly the same gamesmanship as the other two, looking to score political points rather than simply voting for what he objectively thinks would be best for Norwalk.

            Common Council should be a body of our friends and neighbors acting in our common interest, instead it seems to have devolved into a bunch of squabbling middle school children. Perhaps Anna Duleep’s comment that she appreciates Nick Kydes not being “dickish” is a reflection of that.

  6. Mike Barbis

    McCarthy…at least get your facts right … that truck is NOT taxpayer funded. How many times do you need to be told that? That truck belongs to the Hose Company which is a private organization. All members of the Hose Company — of which I am one — are free to use it.

    1. David McCarthy

      I didn’t use your name, Mike, I tried to leave you out of it, but you brought this on your self. The Rowayton Fire Department receives funding from the 6th Taxing District, which raises its funds through taxation. You split the hair then and carefully said the RFD doesn’t receive “city” money.

      I will also point out that you had no valid license at the time you used the truck, nor any insurance, placing the 6th Taxing District and the RFD at great liability. Are my facts straight?

Leave a Reply

Recent Comments