Rilling deflecting blame for POKO ‘disaster’

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How typical that Harry Rilling takes no blame.  We were supposed to be reading Harry’s “explanatory statement” about the POKO disaster, instead we get a opinion letter deflecting any and all responsibility.  “Jason Milligan is entirely to blame and all his actions are entirely to benefit himself,” Rilling wrote.  The people in the area that have seen me donate my time and money to causes that benefit the area would disagree.

Harry: “We do not play favorites, negotiate back-door deals, or bend the rules for anyone.” That is exactly opposite of true.

Harry’s “transparent” administration took the unheard of step to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Citibank and a potential developer so they could keep their discussions secret. Secret because if public the plans would be rejected!

Laughably, it took Super Mario (Corporation Council Mario Coppola) four months to negotiate the NDA that only lasted 90 days. All the while, area businesses continued to struggle because their parking was stolen by the rotting “Tyvek Temple.”

Yes, I bought some properties that had sat abandoned and blighted for years. I have done nothing but improve the properties and make the area better.

Citibank and the City of Norwalk had the opportunity to match my offer for the properties prior to my closing.  Neither stepped up!  After closing, I spent almost three weeks giving Citibank a chance to purchase parking, or any parcels they might need.  They had no plans.  No ideas.  All they had was a vague concept to try to double the size of POKO I.  They would need to get more tax credits, more money from the city, and to try to weasel out of giving the city back the 100 public parking spaces.  The city should thank me for smoking them out as not serious.

I want nothing from the city except for them to get out of the way and to make the rules easier and better for everyone.

Harry says my purchase was illegal.  However, the Land Disposition Agreement for POKO (LDA) specifically accounts for the purchase of property exactly as it happened.  The LDA calls it an unauthorized transfer. Section 13.2D protects the city.  It states that regardless of how someone comes to own any of the properties in the redevelopment area they are still bound by the LDA.  I recognize that I am bound by the LDA.

A meeting to explore solutions would be a good idea, but Mario has demanded unrealistic documentation prior to even an initial meeting.  He basically wants me to create a new master plan for the area, and give an in-depth audit of several of my companies.  At the proper time there would be a vetting of the company and players that would ultimately re-develop any project.  Right now, we need a broad, open and high level discussion.  Nobody is sure what company if any will move forward on anything because there is no viable project!  One solution might be to scrap POKO and the LDAs entirely.

Harry: “We need this information to ensure there is no conflict of interest with its members and the city. This is standard and what is asked of any developer before a project moves forward.”

I agree that before any “project” moves forward that a thorough vetting of the company is in order. We are very far from that stage.

Instead of quality leadership, Norwalk gets an OP-ED from its mayor blaming others and taking no personal responsibility.

Harry why not put forward your vision for Wall Street along with your “Explanatory Statement” that we are all waiting for?


Jason Milligan

Milligan is a Norwalk real estate broker.



Dave McCarthy November 17, 2018 at 6:21 am

Couldn’t agree more. As Peter Berman calls him, Norwalk’s first “political mayor” is worried only about channeling taxpayer money to developer cronies so they can build unneeded apartments and make million$. That this causes large numbers of $1000 donations back to the mayor has been well documented on this blog.

Is Mr. Milligan colorful? Proudly so, it seems. He is also honest and smart enough that he’s taken Harry and Norwalk’s second worst mayor to the cleaners….twice.

Piberman November 17, 2018 at 10:09 am

Sadly Norwalk has a “challenged reputation” and our Downtown remains shabby for decades and decades and decades. Long past time for our City Hall to appoint a Development Specialist with major league experience able to encourage positive relations with Developers seeking opportunities to create an attractive Downtown. It’s been a problem for many, many years.

carol November 17, 2018 at 12:06 pm

harry and mario get out of the way and lets get wall street viable again. with the two of you,nothing will ever get done except more excuses. citizens unite behind jason.

Hugh Sling November 17, 2018 at 7:26 pm

Just look at the place, it’s been a dump for generations and now this {…} daddy big bucks wyning about protocol when Millgan steps up with a plan. We can get more Tyvek when the cheesey apartment buildings start to crumble. Gotta make sure he’s dumped come next November.

Edited to remove an insult. https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/comment-guidelines/

Ed November 17, 2018 at 8:51 pm

POKO is/was a waste of money. The Wall Street area has been improving over the years thanks not to anything city hall did. Now there’s a big eye sore inhibiting the growth of the area. Thankfully places like Banc House, Pontos Taverna, Fat Cat, Peaches continue to operate there.

Jason Milligan November 19, 2018 at 8:29 am


You don’t support me?

What have I done that you take issue with? I see you engage with pretty much everyone on here that you disagree with, but you have never said 1 word in opposition of my ideas or comments.

I interpreted that as approval & support…

Matt November 19, 2018 at 5:29 pm

Through common friends I understand Private Mike to be a understanding, hard working and compassionate man as opposed to Public Mike who likes to rabble rouse his political foes. I ask Mike to meet with Jason, see what he has to say, his plans, visions, challenges etc. Who knows? Maybe something can come from this meeting..perhaps a bi-partisan template for issues to come. No lawyers, secret recordings, politics nor backroom deals etc, just two people who share a vision for a better Norwalk. Coffee isnt that expensive yet, sit down and have a couple cups together.

Sid Welker November 19, 2018 at 11:55 pm

David McCarthy. According to an article on NON you were defamating fellow council members by placing flyers on citizens windshields. Care to explain? Was that the cause of your firing from your post and now the such harsh feeling towards our current administration? Let it go red. Sit back on your beach chair, get lobster red and disappear.

Jason Milligan November 20, 2018 at 12:52 am


Happy to meet or have coffee with Mike.

Or any other serious person in Norwalk. I am positive Mike and I could find a lot to talk about and a lot to agree upon.

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