NORWALK, Conn. – An attempt to get an apology from a Norwalk Common Council candidate over an “inflammatory” campaign flier about a federal appeal filed by supporters of a proposed mosque has resulted only in two Norwalk citizens expressing disgust.
Lyn Detroy (shown above) and Sally Dodd both asked, “Who picks these people for this committee?” last week as five zoning commissioners left a City Hall room after Commissioner Mike Mushak attempted to bring up what those exiting called “a campaign issue.” Mushak and Commissioner Nate Sumpter said it was a zoning issue, as it involved allegations made about both of them by Zoning Chairwoman Emily Wilson.
Wilson, a Republican, is running to represent District E on the Common Council.
Democrats Mushak and Sumpter say they are upset about a campaign flier distributed in West Norwalk, near the proposed site of a mosque at 127 Fillow St. The Al Madany Islamic Center has filed an appeal of the case in federal court, alleging religious discrimination. The flier bolsters the center’s position, Mushak said.
Not only that, but many claims made in what he called the “sleazy politics” flier are factually incorrect, he said.
Detroy and Dodd were among those watching last week’s combined meetings of the Plan Review Committee and the Zoning Committee. As a prolonged discussion listed at the end of the agenda came to a close, Mushak produced the flier and said he wanted to talk about it.
“Let’s not talk about that,” Wilson said. “Motion to adjourn?”
Anyone who has attended these committee meetings regularly over the last few months is familiar with this scenario.
Mushak protested that the flier was a zoning matter. Wilson and Republican Commissioner Joe Santo said it was not.
“My name is on it,” Mushak said. “Nate’s name is on it. (Former Commissioner) Adam Blank’s name is on it.”
“Oh boy,” Santo said.
Mushak asked Wilson if she would apologize. She said she would not.
Wilson, Santo, Democrat Jill Jacobson and Republicans James White and Linda Kruk walked out.
“Who picked these people for this committee? I’m shocked by this rudeness,” said Detroy, an unaffiliated voter.
Mushak continued to ventilate at those who were left – Detroy, Dodd and other members of the audience.
“I have had people come up to me in the supermarket and say why did you vote for the mosque? Recently, since this went out. She is inflaming the public,” he said.
His complaints about the flier include the passage that says the city must win the lawsuit, or else it would “threaten the sovereignty of the city” and mean that “any special interest group could come in and impose their wants and needs above the safety of the people of Norwalk.”
“The applicant was from Norwalk,” Mushak said. “They’re not a special interest from outside the city.”
An audience member suggested the flier rose to the level of an ethics violation. She suggested Mushak file a complaint.
Mushak said there was another misrepresentation in the flier.
“The Zoning Commission never voted to challenge the U.S. Constitution,” he said, in reference to a story in The Hour quoting Corporation Counsel Robert Maslan.
Detroy said she has not attended many city government meetings. She became involved because of the application to put a BJ’s Wholesale club at 272 and 280 Main Ave.
She said she was shocked by the exodus.
“I think it’s horrible,” she said. “It misrepresents our city.”
Dodd, an independent voter, said on Monday that she never went to meetings before BJ’s applied to build a store next to her home in Rolling Ridge Condominiums. After attending multiple Plan Review Committee meetings, she said she is unhappy about the way other commissioners put Mushak down.
“The way the commissioners treated Mike Mushak’s presentation of facts shows a real lack of respect,” she said. “It’s truly an embarrassment, the way it ended. We all want the best for our city and that is not the way to go about it. … I just don’t like the way they get along. It’s not productive.”
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