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Norwalk: The next time, it might be your opinion that is ignored

By Beatriz Ruiz, Latino community organizer

NORWALK, Conn. – In a recent Common Council meeting, members debated – or more accurately, chose not to debate – the issue of whether to eliminate the position of captain from the Norwalk Police Department. The resolution was introduced, but only the public was truly allowed to comment, as council debate was cut-off by a motion to table.

The majority of speakers seemed to think that the Common Council had no right to even discuss this issue as the police department is subject to the Norwalk Police Commission, not the council. Others suggested that members of the public “didn’t know enough” about running a police department to have an opinion on the subject, only those who actually run a department. Others opined that captains never solved a single crime, so they are unnecessary.

What we failed to learn from that failed debate is why Warren Peña (D, At-Large), David Watts (D, District A), Matt Miklave (D, District A), John Igneri (D, District E), Anna Duleep (D, At-Large) chose to introduce this measure. Why did they feel it important enough to raise the issue (which is of concern to the whole city), despite it being under the jurisdiction of the Police Commission?

More importantly, with a deadline fast approaching in which those affected by this decision (the list of those currently eligible to receive promotion to captain expired on or around Nov. 17), other members of the council were so sure that they would not hear any information that they did not already know about this issue, much less something that might change their minds. They were so sure of this that they would not even deign to hear from their colleagues on the council.

I remind every citizen of Norwalk, that next time, the issue might be one that YOU care about – not just a handful of people whose careers are being affected. Do you really want these decisions made without YOUR reasons being heard via your elected representative?

Beatriz Ruiz

Comments

14 responses to “Norwalk: The next time, it might be your opinion that is ignored”

  1. OLd Timer

    Ms Ruiz raises an excellent point. This time a motion to table prevented any discussion or vote on a proposed resolution and it is easy to assume that only the applicants who took the tests for promotion in the police dept are affected. While that is arguable and some of us think there is a bigger effect on the police, it is still a mistake to allow any of our elected representatives to be silenced, for any reason..
    Next time there is a real danger the same tactic will be used to silence them when the issue is vitally important to a lot more of us. We elected these people, but they can not speak for us when they are not allowed to speak.
    What is it the mayor is so anxious to keep from us.? What is the great OZ hiding behind that curtain ? The council representatives that proposed that resolution are to be commended for trying to shine some light on the back room deals made when we aren’t looking. If the mayor and the police commissioners are so sure they are doing the right thing, they should welcome public discussion. What are they hiding ?

    1. Tim T

      Excellent points Old Timer. This is not only about this issue but the state of affairs in general in Norwalk under the current administration. How anyone can not see this is beyond me..

  2. LWitherspoon

    More of the usual unfounded conspiracy theories from Old Timer about the evil City administration.

    “What we failed to learn from that failed debate is why Warren Peña (D, At-Large), David Watts (D, District A), Matt Miklave (D, District A), John Igneri (D, District E), Anna Duleep (D, At-Large) chose to introduce this measure.”

    If Ms. Ruiz really believes this, it can only be that she doesn’t read the papers. Pena, Watts, Miklave and friends clearly explained their rationale for the motion in all of the local publications. The Police Chief himself made a compelling case AGAINST the motion during the public comment portion of a recent Council meeting.

    If all the energy dedicated to political gamesmanship (Ms. Ruiz, Old Timer, Miklave, Watts, et al) were instead dedicated to explaining why it’s a good idea to create more high-paid desk jobs in the Norwalk PD, perhaps someone might actually be convinced. The fact that the focus here is entirely on process and partisan finger-pointing rather than substance tells me that there isn’t much substance.

    1. Tim T

      “The Police Chief himself made a compelling case AGAINST the motion during the public comment portion of a recent Council meeting. ” Of course this is the same police chief that was shoved down our throats by Moccia and the police commission without any search whatsoever for the best candidate. With that said what would you expect the chief to do but to support the old boys club. If the chief is so concerned with Norwalk one would think that he would live in Norwalk.

  3. old timer

    Once again, lwitherspoon misses the point. There is no UNFOUNDED consiracy theory. The facts are evident. For some unexplained reason a decision has been made to eliminate a rank in the police dept. Some of us would like to know why. If it is a good move, why not talk about it ?
    The issue troubling Ms Ruiz is not denying promotions, it is silencing our elected representatives. There was no debate, failed or otherwise, and that is her complaint. She seems to believe her elected representatives should be able to ask questions and get answers on her behalf. Moccia apparently does not agree. They have different concepts of democracy. You have to understand some real doubts on the part of Ms Ruiz and many others.

  4. LWitherspoon

    Once again, Old Timer cleverly twists the facts in an attempt to sling mud for purely political reasons. He will stop at nothing to demonize the opposition. What a shame – he and others have brought the dysfunction and gamesmanship of Washington DC to the City of Norwalk.

    Please refer to Bruce Kimmel’s thoughtful and reasonable explanation of his vote in the Hour. Link here:

    http://www.thehour.com/opinion/commentary/nastiness-has-become-a-substitute-for-reasoned-discussion-on-council/article_22c5fee9-9d30-55f7-a5db-40fcc15446f9.html

    Resolutions such as this can be introduced, studied, and debated in committee, which is standard practice in the Common Council. Perhaps Old Timer should explain why that wasn’t done here. If you want discussion so badly, what is wrong with following that standard protocol? Could it be that with this and your other comments you’re simply trying to paint people in the opposing party as tyrannical dictators so that your own party can gain more power? How ironic.

    1. Tim T

      “He and others have brought the dysfunction and gamesmanship of Washington DC to the City of Norwalk” You must be referring to the obstructionist of the Republican Party. Thanks for pointing that out.

    2. oldtimer

      Thanks for the undeserved “cleverly”. I am no expert on procedure, You may be right about the issue of eliminating a long standing rank in the dept should have been discussed at the committee level. We both know that the decision had already been made and I am not sure what we might expect to see accomplished by a committee, but I bow to your understanding of the legislative process. In this case, there is no legislation proposed. All the resolution proposed was discussion. All the mayor shut down was an opportunity for discussion, also known as free speech. It seems significant there was no attempt to shut down public speech, only speech by elected representatives.. If there is some other explanation than trying to hide something, I, and a lot of others, would love to hear it.and know it will not happen unless some higher authority, such as the EEOC, forces it.
      I personally do not believe a rank is actually being eliminated. I think it is being re-named in a thinly veiled attempt to get around the contract requirement for captain’s promotion and allow political appointment without examination to the newly named position(s).
      For all I know, you may be one of those already selected but not yet publicly named appointees.

      1. LWitherspoon

        If all the resolution proposed was discussion, the resolution was completely unnecessary, because the item could have been brought to the appropriate committee where it could have been discussed. Why didn’t it? Perhaps you could have considered the facts before rushing off on yet another condemnation of those who you seem to criticize on a regular basis simply because they aren’t in the same political party as you. Perhaps you relish politics as a team sport, but I don’t, I just want to see Norwalk thrive.

        The idea that elected representatives have somehow been denied the right of free speech is utterly absurd. We are hearing plenty from our elected representatives about this issue. I think it’s interesting that most of the commentary from Councilpersons Pena, Watts, Miklave, and you on this subject has been more concerned with lobbing partisan hand grenades than on discussing the issue which they and you claim urgently needs discussion. Could it be that they, and you, are simply trying to score political points?

        Diane C had an excellent question when she asked why the issue was not brought to committee for discussion. I haven’t seen any answer to it. She also suggested a public information forum where the issue could be discussed to everyone’s satisfaction. Will that question and her suggestion be addressed?

  5. oldtimer

    lwitherspoon
    I notice you very carefully ignored my suggestion that you could even be one of the already hand-picked, but not announced, appointees being made with some other title to replace the now extinct captains.
    Hardly anybody goes to committee meetings and I can only guess the proponents of this resolution wanted discussion out where it would be heard and reported by the media. I am also guessing that they have heard the same stories that I have and expect appointments will be made as soon as interest in this calms down. If you know that rumor is unfounded, let us know. I expect enough attention has been focused on this already to make the mayor and his commision a bit cautious. There is an election coming up next November and nobody wants to make a mistake that becomes a campaign issue.. Just as nobody wants to be distracted defending an EEOC complaint during a campaign.
    Is there any truth to the story that moccia is retiring to another state rather than run for re-election ?

    1. LWitherspoon

      Old Timer,

      Your conspiracy theories continue to make me laugh out loud. Unlike you, I am not, nor have I ever been on the City payroll. I am also not a member of the Democrat or Republican party.

      While it’s true that nobody goes to committee meetings, it’s also true that next to nobody goes to Council meetings. So the many editorials we have seen on this subject reached a far wider audience than any discussion at a Council meeting would. It’s telling that those editorials are now focused more on lobbing partisan hand grenades than on the actual merits of the issue. Why is that? And why has Diane C’s question gone unanswered? It sounds to me like you don’t know the answer to her question, so you simply made one up in a way that gives the people in your party the benefit of the doubt.

      Unlike you, I don’t think it’s possible to declare one party to be the party of the good guys, and another party to be the party of the bad guys. They both have their faults. I do believe, however, that ALL elected officials who are focused on scoring a “win” for their team via grandstanding and bloviating – rather than governing rationally and thoughtfully – are doing Norwalk a great disservice.

      I also think it’s rather clever that you claimed earlier to be ignorant of Council procedures. Didn’t you also claim in a past comment to have served on Council?

      1. oldtimer

        lwitherspoon
        What conspiracy ? The mayor and his appointed police commission have decided to eliminate the long-standing rank of police captain. On the face of that decision, a lot of people would like to know why and answers are not forthcoming. If you see a conspiracy there, then laugh all you want.
        The fact that you are not on the City payroll tells us nothing. If the commission has created a new job title, with responsibilities and authority similar to captains, what is to prevent naming you as one of the new officials ?
        You seem to have a facility for divining other people’s motives and are not shy about sharing the divined opinions as fact. You need to be very careful doing that. You, or anybody publishing reasons why people do things without supporting evidence can be a problem.
        You do not know what I think about political parties on the local level, or how I reach opinions on good guys or bad guys.
        You are quick to use derogatory terms about folks who express opinions differing from yours. You and I disagree frequently, but I respect your right to disagree and refrain from calling your opinions or how they are expressed by derogatory names.
        No, I never served or claimed to have served on the council.

        1. LWitherspoon

          “On the face of that decision, a lot of people would like to know why and answers are not forthcoming.”

          This is not a factual statement. The Police Chief and numerous others explained the reasons why they feel this was the right decision.

          ” If the commission has created a new job title, with responsibilities and authority similar to captains, what is to prevent naming you as one of the new officials ?”

          Well, there’s the fact that I’m not a member of the Norwalk PD. But don’t let that get in the way of your latest conspiracy theory.

          “You seem to have a facility for divining other people’s motives and are not shy about sharing the divined opinions as fact.”

          This is a downright hilarious statement by a person who himself is DIVINING that the reason for my post is that I’m going to be appointed to a high-ranking job in the Norwalk PD. Remember… you, or anybody publishing reasons why people do things without supporting evidence can be a problem!!!

          I’d love to hear your opinion on political parties at the local level. My own opinion is that we need more thoughtful, reasonable elected officials such as Bruce Kimmel, for example, and fewer partisan grenade-throwers such as David Watts and Matthew Miklave. Dissent is important for a healthy Democracy, but it should be thoughtful and reasonable dissent rather than clever gamesmanship and petty partisan politics.

          1. oldtimer

            lwitherspoon
            If the commission creates a new appointed position, they set the criteria and law enforcement experience is not always necessarily the skillset they are looking for. I never pretended to understand your reasons for posting. What I said, was: For all I know, you may be one of those already selected but not yet publicly named appointees.. You pointed out that you are not now a city employee, but did NOT deny that you may be one of the already selected..etc.
            As you have noticed, I tend to favor a democratic perspective in politics and, for reasons of my own, have a very low opinion of some, but only some, republicans locally.
            Your “partisan grenade throwers” get elected, so they have a following, without your support.
            I know these people, and, just like their republican counterparts, they are charming, courteous people, until challenged disrepectfully. Sometimes a little aggresive partisan action is necessary. Of course, I would never accuse anybody on the other side of doing the same thing in a slightly different style, but they do the exact same thing, in their own way. And then they find others to defend them, not well, but ernestly..
            ,

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