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Norwalk newbies ‘shocked’ by behavior at Zoning Commission

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.

McCarthy Wilson
A “Protecting Norwalk’s Future” campaign flier and a David McCarthy-Emily Wilson brochure sits on a West Norwalk step recently. (Contributed photo.)

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.”

Protecting Norwalk’s future flier, with Mushak notes

Comments

60 responses to “Norwalk newbies ‘shocked’ by behavior at Zoning Commission”

  1. Angie Stein

    Thank god this issue was brought to light. The mosque application was denied by Zoning and now the wild antics of Harry Rilling’s number one supporter confirm absolutely that he has struck a deal with the mosque members to drop this lawsuit.

    I saw the flier and every word on it was reported here and in the Hour. To say it will help the applicants is the most ridiculous thing ever said.

    Trying to make Emily Wilson look like she is the bad guy? You’re kidding. If Harry wants to clear this up, a one sentence press release will do the trick. Where are you Harry? West Norwalk is waiting.

  2. Suzanne

    Yes, folks, and that’s the way they roll. They walked out because they are or should be embarrassed and ashamed for using Zoning matters currently under court appeal as campaign tools, there by possibly jeopardizing an important court case to the future of neighborhoods in the City of Norwalk. It’s a “can dish it out but can’t take it” scenario and they walk away like school children with their hands caught in the cookie jar. Is everyone supposed to continue to ignore these antics that adversely and materially affect our Town? When real grown ups see this kind of behavior and business as usual, they are shocked. Perhaps this will get a few more to the voting booths. The power lies with us: get rid of these people who feel they have a right to abuse their position and their power for their own agendas NOT in service to the people. If they are not disgusted with them selves, I am with them: they wouldn’t know service to the constituency if it bit them in the face. I ask them all who walked out of this meeting: what the heck are you there for????????

  3. EveT

    It is a zoning issue. Even if it wasn’t, the rudeness and violation of normal rules of order displayed by these members of the commission are a real embarrassment to the city of Norwalk.

  4. LWitherspoon

    Here’s what happens when Zoning Commissioners engage in partisan politics. We have ardent Democratic activist/Zoning Commissioner Mike Mushak leading opposition to BJs and repeatedly accusing Moccia and Republicans of being ‘corrupt thugs’ or some variant thereof. On the other side of the aisle, we have Emily Wilson running for Common Council and Norwalk Republicans putting out a flier that politicizes the mosque issue for electoral gain. Whatever your view happens to be on BJs or the Mosque, none of this partisan gamesmanship serves Norwalk’s interests, creating conditions that expose Norwalk to lawsuits by dissatisfied applicants.
    .
    Zoning Commissioners owe Norwalk nothing more than their honest, objective judgement about what zoning regulations are best for Norwalk and what they feel complies with existing zoning regulations. It’s impossible to ever know if we’re getting that because Mr. Mushak is a staunch Rilling supporter who regularly launches partisan broadsides on these pages, and Ms. Wilson is trying to win a seat on the Common Council by touting her opposition to the mosque.
    .
    I hope that whichever Mayoral candidate wins in November will seek to remove partisan politics from Zoning matters.

  5. D(ysfunctional)TC

    The only real question voters want to know is why did Rilling take money from the Mosque and does that mean he will roll over to their desires if he wins. The residents of the city and immediate area have a right to know this simple question. Everything else here is subterfuge.
    .
    On the matter of Mike and Mike. Respect is a two way street. Maybe the Mike who shows up to Zoning meetings isn’t aware, but the other Mike on this blog who routinely disparages anyone that he has political disagreement with far outstrips anything stated in the flier.
    .
    The third or fourth Mike (I lose track of the personalities) would do better to articulate his chosen mayoral candidates position than raising issues having nothing to do with the commission’s agenda. An agenda, that he has no say in setting. His antics have an unnerving effect on anyone considering developing in Norwalk.

  6. R(obot) TC

    I could not imagine this Wilson character chairing a common council committee this is nasty dismissive,reprehensible and no doubt about it… dirty politics.

    This flyer is repugnant and runs counter to any sort of religious freedom.The 1960’s are calling and they want their politics back.

  7. Bill Dunne

    I hope NoN manages to gain a wider readership because Norwalkers surely benefit from a more robust source of information about local public affairs, but reporting like this is not the way to do it. It only solidifies NoN’s reputation as essentially the communications arm of the Democratic Town Committee. How about reporting the perspectives of people on both sides of an issue once in a while? In this instance you would have found there are people who have the best interests of Norwalk in mind and who don’t think that never-ending whining, filibustering, and pointless pettifogging are all that great for productive commission meetings.

  8. D(ysfunctional)TC


    .
    Dr. Who, however, might be an appropriate term for a would be mayor who has accepted campaign contributions from the Mosque.
    .
    Who is this that would lead our city and what are his plans for the Mosque. This isn’t a difficult question, but amidst all this petty crap is the most important one.

    (This comment was been edited to delete a reference to a previously published comment that has been taken down because it violated our newly enhanced comment policy.)

  9. Dennis DiManis

    I’ll vote against anyone who favors settling the suit, who favors knuckling under to slanderous accusations,and who favors destroying a small-scale residential neighborhood with an oversized regional facility.

  10. Dennis DiManis

    Also, the RTC efforts should go towards bringing Rilling out of the closet on this issue, not towards clumsy missteps like this flyer.

  11. R(obot) TC

    @Dtc,

    Dr No and cronies been running this city into the ground.You’re the ultimate spin doctor making excuses for a failed administration.

    This flyer is nothing more but inflammatory piece of garbage and should be rejected by smarter voters at the polls.

    The people responsible for this flyer have no compassion for religious freedom and should be not shouldn’t be allowed to represent anyone.

    THIS is America and people should be allowed to practice whatever religion they feel free and not be dictated to by a group of political opportunists.

    Whatever happened to the party of Lincoln?

  12. Suzanne

    As much as I would like to think that Zoning Commissioners owe us nothing but their perspective and honest judgement about regulations that govern Zoning in Norwalk, I do not trust this group to do that. Look, this Commission was politicized a long time before the group walked out last night. They CREATED the subject matter and, by extension, may have jeopardized a community’s future. Now, then, what is their perspective and honest judgement about THAT? Mr. Dunne, I would love to hear what Ms. Wilson and friends think about their behavior: just because you don’t like what is being discussed, doesn’t mean you take all your toys (or fliers) and go home. A process is a process and it takes everyone who has been appointed to that Commission to participate. Why didn’t they? If the excuse was “It is too political”, well they created the politics. “If you make your bed, lie in it.”

  13. Ark

    But this item was not on the agenda. The rude and improper actor here was Mr. Mushak who violates our state FOIA law by trying to have a meeting discussion on an item not on the agenda. And the article suggests that a motion to adjourn was made. Once the meeting is adjourned it is against FOIA to keep going. Finally why does Mr. Mushak get to set the terms of discussion? If a majority of the Commission does not want to discuss his political position on the Mosque then as the majority they have the right not to discuss it.

    And in all his comments and filibusters on this site, has Mr. Mushak told the taxpayers and voters whether he supports the Mosque at Fillow Street or not? How about Harry Rilling does he or does he not support the Mosque at Fillow Street? These are easy questions, either you support the neighbors’ efforts to defeat the Mosque at this location or you don’t.

    Instead we get nonsense about the flyer.

  14. Jlightfield

    Half truths about zoning perpetuated by those with political axes to grind is a disservice to Norwalk. Let’s go back to the Mosque application when it first appeared in the spring of 2010. It was strongly advised to rethink its fundamental premise due to an inadequate traffic study, proposed uses and building mass which went well beyond the intent of the zoning code that permits religious and educational uses in a residential zone.
    .
    The commission began to take up the issue of what was the intent of allowing neighborhood religious and educational uses and began to use the case history of NCC and the Greek Orthodox church on Bayne st as examples. Further the town of Fairfield created case law on an intended mega church on black rock turnpike.
    .
    The goal of this review was to update Norwalk’s zoning code to address the definition of what constituted religious uses in addition to educational uses and what minimum requirements would have to met and what infrastructure would have to be in place.
    .
    Needless to point out that none of this work was carried out. Zoning exists to keep bad things from being built in. We all understand that it would be bad to build an oil refinery in West Norwalk. We forget that an industrial zone in East Norwalk would allow such an oil refinery to be built.
    .
    Zoning code based in 1960s definitions of business types and their impacts are not serving Norwalk well. Yet instead of having a catalyzing debate about updating our zoning codes, we still pursue reactive and emotional responses to applications instead of providing guidance about what we as a city want to see developed.

  15. D(ysfunctional)TC

    Watts up R(obot)TC? You last post reveals your identity all to clearly. I’m surprised. You railed on for almost two hours in a council meeting about freedom of speech and now you are opposed to it.
    .
    Putting a 100 space garage and 30,000 foot building and 80 foot tower where this little tiny old farm house on this tiny corner lot with multiple fatal accidents over its history would do more to help run this city into the ground than any politician could ever hope to by his own actions.
    .
    Then again, re-electing a councilman who skips most of his meetings and never reads the packet materials would be a clear endorsement by the electorate that they don’t care who runs the city into the ground.
    .
    Bottom line is the neighbors must be sick regardless of any flier. I can’t even imagine. Since Rilling has accepted money from the Mosque and is silent on the subject, we can only conclude that he supports its location there.

  16. RU4REAL

    All you Repub supporters are crazy for making ANY attempt to say Mushak is the problem, he is the messenger.
    The message has been received by all but Repub supporters,
    you are truly embarrassing yourselves and the city.
    Why not instead of defending this lunacy, tell your buddies to cut the crap and do the right thing for the residents of Norwalk.
    Mushak has facts as well as documentation to prove what he says, only people with something to hide would run away like they did, if Mushak is lying why would you run away?
    I think by your actions you only prove Mushak is right, thank goodness we have him or we would really be sold out by these folks.
    The worst part is, these knuckleheads might win and end up on the council, if that happens heaven help us.

  17. D(ysfunctional)TC

    @Suzanne, it is Mike Mushak who is putting the city at risk by trying to inject discussion about an item that is in a legal proceeding. Emily Wilson made a wise choice to conclude the meeting without taking his bait. Raving lunacy aside, it wasn’t the time or place to discuss the matter.
    .
    @JLightfield. Seems you think the case law from Fairfield is relevant. Sheer curiosity, what was this case about?

  18. Suzanne

    DTC, Emily Wilson has the reputation for not including on the agenda anything she does not want to discuss, to the disservice of this community. There was no FOIA infraction here: rather, there was the fleeing of an entire group representing Zoning on behalf of the citizens of Norwalk not wanting to discuss the implications of, yes, a flier that concerned a Zoning issue. The very least they could have done was say, “Oops! My bad. It won’t happen again.” Instead, a hasty retreat with barely an adjournment and Mr. Mushak there trying to salvage the truth Emily Wilson CREATED the ruckus when she used and distributed information about the mosque and THAT was what the content of the discussion was to be about. Like, hey, it’s not a good idea to post this information nor leave it at people’s doors while an appeal is in process. There needed to be a “come to Jesus meeting” about this: the Zoning Commission is so far gone as far as analyzing, improving and implementing Zoning regulations, someone needed to say SOMETHING. When will they ever get back on track? Not while Emily Wilson is at the helm distributing such ridiculous non-facts to support her political cause. When do you suggest a better time or place? That kind of denial is what is leading this Commission and the Administration down a very rocky road. When? Behind closed doors out of the public’s view? Sorry, but there has been too much of that kind of subterfuge already. Whatever “raving lunacy” you believe was going on there, he had data, information, read from what was printed that Emily Wilson created and left with her Sharpie signature on door steps. No better time, in my view, to discuss the wayward intentions of her view of the facts that, once again, could affect the appeals process on a very important neighborhood matter.

  19. Mike Mushak

    We used to have comments of commissioners at the end of the meetings, when we could discuss random items of importance. This flyer WAS a Zoning issue that needed addressing as it misrepresented official policies, positions, and described an established religious institution in Norwalk as a “special interest posing its wants and needs on the city”. Imagine a local church or synagogue being described that way on a flyer and being distributed by the sitting Zoning Chair.
    .
    Also, Emily Wilson is the lawyer who went to Hartford to negotiate the terms of the settlement that she then voted on along with 5 other commissioners in a 6-1 vote, based on legal advice we received. Harry Rilling was NOT on the ZC during the mosque application, he didn’t vote on it, so the flyer’s statement that he supports it is just wrong. Also, during the settlement vote which he did vote for along with Wilson and most of the Commission, Harry said he was not comfortable voting on it as he was just recently appointed. Joe Santo jumped in and said he HAD to vote, and Maslan also told him he had to. He could have abstained but the legal advice was to vote for it. Santo passed on his vote and then voted no after e erroneous else voted yes. Little did Harry or the rest of us know that even then the GOP had a devious plan to make the mosque a political issue in the current campaign.
    .
    Last, my position was clear on the mosque which is all on the record. I did NOT approve it as I was concerned with the same issues as Adam Blank was which again is all on the record, in terms of the large size of the accessory building and its impact on parking, among other issues, but I voted against the “resolution to deny” which was NOT the one we approved in committee, but was rewritten by Maslan and handed to us minutes before the meeting with no time to study it or discuss it. That was an interference with proper process and the sovereignty of the ZC to use the word the flyer had in it. The other issues I will not discuss, but again it is all on the record. The flyer misrepresented my vote, as well as Adam Blank’s, and as far as I know Harry Rilling has only said the legal case needs to work itself out, which this flyer full of lies obviously jeopardizes.
    .

  20. Suzanne

    Why wasn’t Emily Wilson’s vote invalidated if she was the lawyer representing? Why didn’t she have to recuse herself due to a conflict of interest? (I still don’t get this. The attorney for the Town seems very selective about this.)

  21. D(ysfunctional)TC

    So according to those accusing everyone else of playing politics, the residents of the city and the area really aren’t owed any explanation as to why Rilling has accepted campaign money from the Mosque. Instead they are going to deflect to their objections of others political speech. We’ll see how that holds up.

  22. jlightfield

    @D(ysfunctional)TC If I remember correctly without the aide of Googling, the issue was the size of the church 70k sq ft or something really large, 1000 parishioners, lots of traffic, residential neighborhood and 24/7 programming. More importantly this issue is not unique to Norwalk, or Connecticut but an issue throughout the country. The religious exceptions are constitutional rights, and I don’t think the ZC should have veered into any discussion of religion, or worship standards, when the clear land use discussion is over what the scale and business operations should be, and more importantly defined more clearly.
    .
    It’s not like the ZC hasn’t had to wrestle with day care, home schools and so on on residential areas and was able in the past to work with the applicant to ensure that the impact on the neighborhood was minimal. Cranbury, East Norwalk, and South Norwalk all provided challenging applications and issues to resolve.
    .
    It’s apparent that certain political factions decided to curtail these discussions despite a record of the ZC being able to mitigate previous applications to the degree that lawsuits, front page news and so on were never in evidence.

  23. LWitherspoon

    @DTC
    Rilling did not accept money from the Mosque. He accepted money from the spokesman for the Mosque.
    .
    @jlightfield
    Are you suggesting that the ZC avoided constructive discussions with the Mosque proponents so that Republicans could have this as a campaign issue? If I remember correctly, there were settlement discussions but the concessions offered by the applicants did not satisfy the concerns raised by the Zoning Commissioners.

  24. R(obot) TC

    @Dtc,

    … (Editor’s note: Commenter disagrees with DTC’s post) This flyer is reprehensible, repugnant and the author need some sensitivity training.

    (This comment has been edited to conform with our enhanced comment policy. Please check it out.)

  25. Joe Espo

    Now that Mike Mushak has spoken here, I find it funny how he rallied the troops in opposition to putting a BJ’s store on a 5 acre commercial property but he approved putting a 27,000 square foot building with an 80 foot tower and 100 space garage on a tiny corner lot with a history of multiple fatal accidents. Can I build a 27,000 sq. ft. multi-story McMansion with a garage to store my Jay Leno-lite 100 car personal collection on that property? I don’t think so. But Mike Mushak thinks it’s ok. Just call it a mosque.
    .
    Mike railed against the BJ’s project because he says the master plan disallows a building larger than 10,000 sq. ft. on the Main Avenue commercial strip. Which means that if Al Madany were to choose to move the 30,000 sq. ft mosque to the BJ’s site, it wouldn’t qualify! Yet he approved the Al madany monstrosity on a postage stamp lot in a bucolic single family residential neighborhood .
    .
    Mike: you apparently have been blessed at birth with a great BS meter. Don’t think that you have a monopoly on BS detection. Saying that you didn’t approve the mosque but you voted against the “resolution to deny” pins my meter’s needle all the way over to 100% and sounds the overload alarm.

  26. D(ysfunctional)TC

    @LWitherspoon. 6 of 1. 1/2 dozen of the other. The central person in the claim against the city to put a megalith on a tiny lot on a dangerous corner gave him a contribution. Rilling was not obliged to take it. As long as his minions insist on making hay out of some stupid flier, others will continue to raise the question about where his support lies on the matter. I’m surprised he hasn’t begged of them to stop bringing light to the whole subject.
    .

    (This comment has been edited to conform with our policy, recently enhanced. Please be sure to read it. https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/comment-guidelines/)

  27. Osgood Schlater

    Ark is technically correct about the motion to adjourn, but that doesn’t alter Mr. Mushak’s logical ex-officio arguments. You can’t have attorney Emily Wilson slamming Harry Rilling for something she did herself. Their positions to settle were identical. The flyer is therefore a fraud.

    But Mr.Mannis and others can go ahead and vote against Emily Wilson and Harry Rilling. That is their clear prerogative. What would be egregious is to maintain that the flyer itself is something other than a very clumsy dirty trick for which its authors should rightfully be ashamed. That is the subject we are debating, not the merits of the legal case.

  28. Joe Espo

    Hypothetical, Osgood. If Mike Mushak were to run for common council, would you preclude him from extolling the virtues of his anti-BJ’s campaign in a political flyer? If it parroted the Hour’s headline: I killed BJ’s in Norwalk, so vote for me?”…. or… “I stopped a big box from taking over Main Avenue, so vote for me?… would you criticize him for failing to erect a Chinese wall between his Zoning Commission endeavors and his politics? No, I believe you wouldn’t, and neither would any Rilling supporters here that recognize and idolize zoning commissioner Mike Mushak as Harry’s pitbull.
    .
    So what’s different here between Mike Mushak’s hypothetical flier and the subject flier? Nothing, except that Emily is not a democrat or a Rilling supporter. So, she’s fair game for Harry- not directly, mind you, but through his proxies and surrogates. Wonder if he can look her in the eye and smile at the next zoning commission meeting?

  29. EveT

    Reading these comments, you’d think the article was about Harry Rilling. The article is about citizens who were shocked at the rude behavior of zoning commission members. Some troll comes along and everybody is feeding the troll, distracting readers from the real issue: we have a bunch of rude, unprofessional people on the zoning commission.

  30. Suzanne

    Mr. Espo, That would be an eye-to-eye meeting only if Mr. Rilling has not shown some fictitious/real conflict-of-interest that would disallow his attendance. This same standard does not seem to apply to Emily Wilson, especially concerning negotiation issues and the mosque.

    Mike Mushak did not approve the mosque application. There was a confusing process where there was an agreement to deny the denial of an application (or something) but there was not, as expressed by others, an “up or down” vote that was clear. In any event, Mr. Mushak did not approve – you can re-check some of his back comments as well as the record through meeting minutes, I believe, to verify.

    From Mike Mushak’s own comments on this thread:
    “Last, my position was clear on the mosque which is all on the record. I did NOT approve it as I was concerned with the same issues as Adam Blank was which again is all on the record, in terms of the large size of the accessory building and its impact on parking, among other issues…”

  31. Tim T

    If Rilling accept money from the Mosque or from the spokesman for the Mosque it show very bad judgment on his part. This is something we clearly don’t need in a mayor.

  32. jlightfield

    @LWitherspoon, No.

  33. RU4REAL

    I just don’t understand the childish posting of some on this and other threads on NON, common sense to the wind we all know who they are.
    Like children, when they say something over and over thinking its true, trying to make you agree too, if I say it enough it must be true.
    Total disregard of the facts to the point of creating their own set of lies, they then call facts.
    The silly talk of Rilling taking money from the mosque, it was the mosque spokesman, simply a donator to a political campaign.
    One more thing, Moccia collected a donation from a local developer of several Norwalk properties, normal folks would think this type of donation could be misinterpreted in the same manner, why aren’t these silly posters not complaining about that?
    You had better change the subject before someone notices your candidate took money from a local developer, is that an impropriety on the part of Moccia, if not please explain why?
    If you cant explain the difference stop bringing it up, if its a problem I’m sure Rilling will give back the donation if Moccia does the same, ask them BOTH too or STOP bringing it up.
    That’ll do it!

  34. Don’t Panic

    @Espo,
    The difference is the lawsuit.

  35. Tim T

    I find it comical how the Rilling supporters seem to think his bad judgment in accepting donations from the Mosque or from the spokesman for the Mosque is no big deal. One would think that in all his years as police consultant he would know the difference between good and bad judgment However I guess if you look at the disaster the NPD is that says it all.

  36. Joe Espo

    @RU4REAL (really?):
    .
    “The silly talk of Rilling taking money from the mosque, it was the mosque spokesman, simply a donator to a political campaign.”
    .
    Here’s the definition of a spokesperson – “an advocate who represents someone else’s policy or purpose”
    .
    Just what might be the spokesperson’s policy or purpose here? Well, it is likely to be to get the mosque built and to recover money damages from Norwalk.
    .
    To whom was the contribution by the spokesperson given? Harry Rilling.
    .
    Does the contribution to Rilling advance the spokesperson’s policy or purpose? Well, yes, in the spokesperson’s realm of expectations…don’t you think? The spokesperson expects Rilling to help him achieve his policy and purpose. Why else would he contribute to Rilling’s campaign?
    .
    So one can conclude that Rilling, as mayor, is expected to assist the spokesperson in achieving the spokesperson’s policy and purpose: to get the mosque built and to settle the lawsuit with damages to be paid by Norwalk.
    .
    So a mayor Rilling- while not yet admitting as much- will fulfill the spokesperson’s quid pro quo expectations and will be wanting to have the mosque built and will be willing to pay damages… The money, no doubt, will be applied toward the mosque’s construction. So Harry will be subsidizing the construction of the mosque.
    .
    How will he achieve this? He will fire the current corporation counsel, hire a replacement, have the new corporation counsel withdraw Norwalk’s challenge to the Al Madany suit. Thus, if Harry is elected, West Norwalk will look forward to the construction of a multi-story 27,000 sq. ft. monstrosity on a postage stamp-sized lot, replete with a 100 car parking garage, BJ’s-level traffic, more accidents and fatalities, more noise, and a wholesale despoliation of a quiet, bucolic, single family home neighborhood and a plundering of its property values.
    .
    Bet you can’t wait until Harry is elected; can you?

  37. D(ysfunctional)TC

    Rilling could have returned the check and this would just be another NoN-story (pun intended).
    .
    His supporters can cry and flail all they want about Mushak’s tantrums at committee hearings no one really follows. But, Harry’s apparent siding with the Mosque supporters is the only story with legs here.
    .
    For Harry’s supporters, it is ok to swallow some pride and admit this huge mistake here.
    .
    This is just about up there with Andy using sick time to campaign last time around. Fatal error.
    .
    Accepting donations from Developers already here and building sizable, taxable properties that the city’s residents wants isn’t even a close comparison. Been done before and will be done again.
    .
    Accepting donations from those who would see to the destruction of West Norwalk doesn’t even come close.

  38. Mike Rotch

    Allahu Akbar! Please explain why is the Mosque is bad, but BJ’S is acceptable? Both have the same challenges,but you are okay with one, but not the other? Are you opposed to the Mosque because it is in YOUR back yard? Be consistent Joe! This is why there is a lawsuit.

  39. Don’t Panic

    @Espo,
    Did Mr. Rilling ever SAY he would do any of thise things?
    .
    This sounds like a fun game. Let me try it.
    .
    If Mr. Moccia wins, he is going to have Mr. Maslan issue an opinion forcing Mr. Mushak to recuse himself from future zoning issues in which a traffuc study is involved based upon public comments he made about the need to use the POCD as a basis for zoning decisiins, neutralizing his vote. BJs will come back with a $20, 000 contribution to some city prak or facility and will reapply and get approved, giving an oversized disaster to Norwalk with junk jobs, traffic, light pollution, water pollution and more.
    .
    See how easy this game is? Anybody can do it.
    .
    How about we stick to what the candidates have actually said and done instead of making stuff up?

  40. @Suzanne:
    “…just because you don’t like what is being discussed, doesn’t mean you take all your toys (or fliers) and go home.”
    *
    No, I guess the Democrats would rather put keys between their fingers and punch the lights out of the opposite team – or maybe that response is saved only for senior citizens.
    *
    Oh yeah, then have the former chief of police and the ENTIRE democrat team SUPPORT PHYSICAL violence.

  41. Suzanne

    Good argument, Mr. Espo. I would say the only solution to this perceived “quid pro quo” is to give the money back, that is unless Mr. Rilling is supporting the mosque in total as planned. He needs to come clean on this issue. I would not vote for any candidate for mayor at all – for me, the mosque in that location and of that size is a deal-breaker.

    Now, will Mr.Moccia return the sizable Seligson contribution which seems to guarantee destruction of what is left of wooded lots for cheap housing? Quality of neighborhoods matter. This developer builds to the lowest acceptable guidelines in naturally sensitive areas(he seems to like stressed rivers the best), takes the money and runs. Does Mr. Moccia support that?

  42. M Allen

    I fully recognize the politics associated with all of this, but let me ask a serious question to those who were so offended by the subject of the flier not being addressed at a Zoning Commission meeting:
    .
    Does the Zoning Commission have any oversight responsibilities for election campaigns?
    .
    Would a discussion of the flier be anything other than the further politicization of our commissions? What could the possible outcome have been? More “gotcha politics” on a public stage?
    .
    I recognize some people have issues with the flier. but there are appropriate forums where those issues should be addressed. I also recognize that some believe our commissions may already be mired in partisan politics as it realtes to the issues before them. But a ZC meeting is not the forum to discuss perceived campaign irregularities. Nothing could have come from this conversation in this venue that would be to the benefit of the citizens of this city. Well, not unless the gotcha was what they were looking for. And I’m sorry, but that isn’t what any of these commissioners, your favorites or not, should be engaged in on our behalf.

  43. Suzanne

    M Allen, I think the point of discussing the flier was the content and claims directly affecting the governance of the Zoning Commission and, especially, the ongoing subject of the appeals process which the flier covered. Because it was generated by Zoning Commission members who have a vote as to the legitimacy of a development project, it IS a zoning issue and, as such, needs to be discussed if only to say, “Don’t do this again while an appeal is ongoing.” No “Gotcha!” Just a discussion about a zoning issue, some clarification and a cease and desist to not jeopardize a court case caused by the Zoning Commissions’ vote. Given his eagerness to correct and direct the Commission process, I am surprised that the Corporate Counsel did not take a stand on this issue. And, this is not partisan although created by one particular party. It would be just as wrong, just as discussion worthy and just as worthy of a reprimand if it was any other party who distributed the flier.

  44. M Allen

    @Suzanne – It’s all partisan at this point. On both sides.
    .
    Let me remind you of where this article began: “An attempt to get an apology from a Norwalk Common Council candidate over an “inflammatory” campaign flier…”
    .
    Getting an apology is not Zoning Commission business. Nothing good can come from a discussion over “the flier” in a Zoning Commission meeting. It is just raw meat for partisan consumption. If it is not clear, some of these personalities, from both sides, truly detest one another. It is a bad situation and none of us should feel as though our side holds the higher ground. We should all be pretty embarrassed and discouraged over the public behavior and name calling. Novermber 6th can’t come soon enough so we can at least put the election rhetoric behind us. But no matter the outcome, these commissioners will still be in place. As far as I know, the election doesn’t change that. Good luck with that.

  45. Ark

    At least Mr. Mushak has clarified that he is against the Mosque application on the merits. Thank you.

    Ms Wilson although voting for the lawyer inspired settlement is also against the Mosque application on the merits and supports the City’s defense of the suit. Mayor Moccia obviously supports nad pushing the City’s defense in that litigation.

    So where is Harry Rilling? Hiding ?

  46. Suzanne

    M Allen, It’s hard to keep track, for me at least, what is an elected office and what is not. What I do know is that there have been several articles elucidating positions on this and that from Council members running for office. I have seen many Wilson/McCarthy signs as well as Igneri signs plastered about town. This leads me to believe that Council people are elected to office while lower-level commissioners are appointed by the Mayor for approval by the Council. Honestly,it couldn’t be more complicated. I plan on bringing a list to the polls…. This means that the composition of the Council could change dramatically….or not. The main thing is people need to vote. The low turn outs here in Norwalk are astonishing to me (and that is something I REALLY think the citizenry should be embarrassed about.) I am well aware of the history required in order for us to have this right and privilege. No excuses! People wait in long lines all over the world to exercise this right. Vote! Whatever your persuasion, vote! (Off my soapbox now…)

    1. Mark Chapman

      Suzanne,

      You are correct, it can be confusing. We will be running stories to let everyone know who is on the ballot. We are currently nearing the end of the BOE candidate profile Q&A’s in which we asked the same questions of everyone and reported the answers unfiltered and uncut. All BOE candidates participated.

      We have also started publishing the same type of profiles for the Common Council. Unfortunately, we have been informed by three well-placed Republican sources that we won’t be getting any Republican council responses because of pressure from above.

  47. M Allen

    Mark – why do you think that is? Could there be any reason why Republicans might not think this is the best venue for them? Perhaps it isn’t the reporting or you personally. Maybe they don’t feel the readership that frequents this site is a receptive target audience. I don’t know if the opinion is warranted or not. I’m sure there is some overreaction, but its not entirely false either. Is it? I mean, I read the site every day. I pretty much read all the comments and I’d have to say I’m probably a minority voice here on a number of issues. Granted, that doesn’t stop me from engaging, but I also kind of recognize where I stand at any given time(including this one).
    .
    And before anyone goes crazy defending the site for being completely unbiased, please consider that most people would never consider themselves biased. Hell, I think I’m fairly moderate on most issues, but that’s only because I know how far right some people can be. Then again, on this site, I probably come across as a raging Tea Bagger. I suppose its all about perspective.

  48. Joe Espo

    Suzanne: you can’t bring any literature to the polls or distribute anything within 75 yards.
    .
    Mark: it’s too bad that you’ve been shunned. But that’s a consequence of your obvious and well- demonstrated journo bias, by choice. It doesn’t make sense to crawl into the belly of the beast for any republican candidate…does it? Next time, loosen-up and I might see a slew of ads crawling up my screen at the right. I don’t mean to be officious, but use this as a paradigm for re-examination of your ethos. Air America tanked; Rush Limbaugh makes more money than God. MSNBC draws a pittance of an audience compared to Fox News. The New York Times is selling off the Boston Globe and other assets to survive; the Wall Street Journal is swimming in cash. Approach the middle toward neutrality, and you can have your piece of the pie. Despite political predilections, we’re all pulling for you, your family and your success.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Joe Espo

      “Air America tanked; Rush Limbaugh makes more money than God. MSNBC draws a pittance of an audience compared to Fox News. The New York Times is selling off the Boston Globe and other assets to survive; the Wall Street Journal is swimming in cash. Approach the middle toward neutrality, and you can have your piece of the pie.”

      First of, thank you for your kind words that followed this passage. Second, I obviously think you are wrong with what preceded it.
      As for the middle…

      Please don’t tell me you think Rush, Fox the WSJ are in the center. While WSJ is simply conservative, Fox and Limbaugh are out there on the eastern edge. Yes, they make lots of money, and they do it by providing a point of view that plays to those who feel disenfranchised by facts. We feel the same is true here. Air America and MSNBC are the left’s version of Rush and Fox, although MSNBC doesn’t just make stuff up. I worked for the Boston Herald for 12 years. For much of that time, the Herald, the conservative paper owned by Murdoch and then by his former right hand man at the Post, Pat Purcell, kept the bias out of the news hole. When the newspaper crash began and revenue fell, they panicked and went full-Fox/Post/Limbaugh. A shame. The Globe, meanwhile, is quite liberal on the editorial page, but pretty much keeps it out of the news hole. But print papers are not dying because of partisanship, they are dying because of technology and evolution. Those that keep shrinking their content and eschewing journalism so as not to offend advertisers or politicians can count on becoming irrelevant faster than those that don’t.

      As for adapting our reportage to what sells, that is so NOT who we are. We would rather pack up and leave the business than sell out. And we might have to. It has been suggested we should change focus, be a general news site, cover pumpkin festivals and cops and the symphony. I have done that for decades. Nancy did it for years. Our Florida site did that. People loved it. Readership went through the roof. But advertisers could not afford it, they said, although the rates were way below print. And readers refused to pony up for subscriptions at $7 a month. Nothing political. No hint of left or right. Just readers who think the web should give stuff away and advertisers who are afraid of a medium that has not yet proved itself. If we went general here, and posted cute cat videos and stories about the Kardashians and Miley Cyrus, we would likely increase our page views and maybe get a few more ads. And we would not be able to look in the mirror.

      The local political powers are not used to being held to the light. They function in a bubble, surrounded by a team they have carefully crafted to run the city the way they want it to run. Currently, there is no check or balance, but this will be addressed later. Suffice to say that when one person, backed by what is pretty much a rubber stamp approving body, makes most of the city’s appointments, things can go very wrong. That is why Massachusetts has often elected Republican governors and mayors who counterbalance the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature.

      It might surprise you to know that I am currently leaning toward an evenly split ticket. If I lived in another district, I might even skew Republican. I despise naked partisanship. It is bad for the citizens, and for the taxpayers. I am torn over the BOE field. There are good people who won’t get elected and I hope they run again. There are council candidates I don’t know much about and, because I can’t trust other venues that do seem partisan, and because the Republican leaders don’t want their people to “support” us, I will, like our readers, continue to know little about them.

      So I hope this frank and open discussion has shed a bit of light on where I am coming from. Oh, yes, in the interest of full disclosure: We are currently registered Democrats. We were unaffiliated until we signed up to be able to vote in the primary. We plan to change back. Because of a chronic hip condition, I do not rush to wander through City Hall to do paperwork. And, should you ever want to reveal yourself to me, I would be happy to sit down over a beer, Jack Daniel’s or coffee (see, non-partisan beverage consumer, too) and discuss in person and off the record some issues that drive us. Our contact info is on this site. As are our real names.

  49. Tim T

    Mark
    I never got the same invitation for a beer.. I feel slighted. Why can’t you do all the above as in feel good stuff aka pumpkin festivals along with cops and robbers and political. That may draw more to the site as believe it or not its only a small minority of us that actually get into politics in Norwalk. I think that’s pretty obvious when looking at all the years some serve in the same position.
    Just an observation,

    1. Mark Chapman

      It’s all about the money, money, money.

      Nancy, Eric and I have been working a combined 120 to 150 hours a week for the past year. Our total combined income, before taxes and expenses, for this effort and occasional abuse, has been less than $10,000. Now, how do we cover the broad spectrum of Norwalk news and activities? It is harder, too, to get foundation money for hayrides than for government watchdog news. I would love to do it all, but it means having a staff. Look at what has happened to Patch, with minimal news and lots of community submissions. Look at The Daily Voice. Norwalk needs and deserves much better.

      PS Tim: My email address is [email protected]. You want to meet for a beer — anyone wants to — I am available. Gotta be Dutch treat, though.

  50. piberman

    One of the major contributions of NON has been illuminating the outspoken partisanship of an outspoken member of the P&Z and of also the BOE. An essential component of good governance is that members of elected or appointed civic bodies stick to their knitting and work within the bodies they were appointed or elected to. When they “take to public politics” they demean the value of the bodies they serve upon. And do us great harm. Mr. Mushak would be well advised to resign from the P&Z and run for political office and/or campaign publicly for his favorite candidates. But to do so while a member of the P&Z demeans his appointment and the P&Z.No member of the P&Z who takes such a public role outside his appointment can earn the respect of his community.

  51. RU4REAL

    The bottom line here is that some of the zoning commissioners acted like children, so what happens now? They get away with it, that simple.
    So Espo, chew on this.
    Your theory is that taking a donation from a currently ACTIVE developer in the city is okay, but taking a donation from someone that has yet to build anything (see lawsuit) but will be allowed to build whatever he wants because he donated to someone who may or may not win the election.
    Hmm, curious.
    Take another bite, the local developer who donated to the Moccia campaign always seems to come out the preferred developer for sites around the city.
    Question, is there a possible connection between the donation(s)to Moccia and the preferred status of this developer, over the course of several years, while Moccia was mayor?
    … YES, it is possible.
    Did Moccia do anything wrong by accepting the donation(s)from the developer?
    … You cant crucify one candidate with your blinders on while your guy does the same thing, but he is the sitting mayor.

    (This comment was edited to conform to our policy.)

  52. Mike Mushak

    Piberman, I have spoken out against by-laws not being followed, state laws not being followed, the Master Plan not being followed, and teh Zoning Commission rubber stamping projects just because Moccia wanted them. Is that partisan, or is that just following my oath to uphold the law that we all take as commissioners to protect public health, safety, and welfare?
    .
    Apparently in your world, someone who cares passionately about Norwalk like me should remain silent in the face of such corruption of process.
    Tell this to the former board of NEON who may have acted politely when the process all around them was so corrupted. And we all know how that turned out.
    .
    I respect much or your writing, but I am disappointed you think my efforts are just partisan to restore public trust in the Zoning Commission after so much evidence on the record of the current corruption of process under GOP leadership, which often does NOT have the best interests of Norwalk residents in mind.
    .
    It is clear you have not been paying attention, or attended any Zoning meetings. Just ask anyone in Silvermine or Cranbury how they feel about the skimpy traffic study and lack of peer review, (positions supported by GOP Chair Emily Wilson running in District E for Council), on a project that was being pushed through by the GOP and Mayor Moccia despite it being over ten times the size our Master Plan recommended, and which could have affected their property values and quality of life forever (same as we saw in the once-quiet West Norwalk and Flax Hill neighborhoods after the big box explosion pushed by the Moccia-esque Esposito Administration).
    .
    Mayor Rilling will restore integrity and trust to the currently broken planning and zoning system in Norwalk, WITHOUT sacrificing the smart development we deserve.

  53. Joe Espo

    @ Mark Chapman: K. let’s have a beer summit and figure out how you can survive and make money. Yes, money, money, money. Makes the world go round. Who’s in?

    (From Nancy and Mark: At last two of us are in (haven’t spoken with Eric yet).

  54. Suzanne

    Mr. Espo, Really? Even if it is a list that I have created for myself for my own use and guidance? This would not be political literature nor campaign information. It would simply be my selections for whom I would vote in an ordered fashion so no mistakes are made on my part due to the vast number of offices that require election here.

    Mark Chapman, I see your struggles as a microcosm of the whole print industry. This makes me sad for you and, also, feeling like everyone who wishes to contribute here needs to pay a fee. I mean, less than $10,000/year? If advertising revenues do not pick up, then something has to be monetized. Maybe there is a way for limited comments, similar to Twitter, that could be free while longer missives would require a subscription? (Like the NYT where there is limited access or full access if you pay for it.)

    I disagree that Republicans should avoid this venue. This is exactly where they should let their views be known. If they perceive an extensive bias well, then, set us all straight or not but at least contribute to the community with your views. The “pressure from above” nonsense: what is the “above”going to do? Take the person off the ballot? Disavow a relationship with them? (Which would probably be an advantage at this point.) Heavens! These artificial means of controlling the minions means individuals cannot vote their conscious either, kind of like with a loyalty oath.

  55. Joe Espo

    Suzanne: will you join us for the beer summit?

  56. Suzanne

    Privileged. And yes.

  57. Mike Rotch

    Can I come too? I like beer.

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