Norwalk political notes: BoE Committees, reactions to Capitol riot, an achievement and a quiet contract

Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Colin Hosten has announced Committee assignments. (File photo)

NORWALK, Conn. — A political roundup for you:

  • BoE Committees shift; Barbis frozen out again
  • DTC plans vigil
  • Moccia laments Trump; Dickens emphasizes ‘big picture’
  • Lawmakers sworn in, including Thomas
  • Council set to award City Carting a $275,000 contract that’s not available in public agendas


BoE Committees set

Board of Education Chairman Colin Hosten has released his Committee assignments, after being elected to the post in November.

Notably, Hosten has made himself Finance Committee Chairman, shifting Barbara Meyer-Mitchell to Facilities and Planning Committee Chairwoman. Diana Carpio is leading a newly formed Ad Hoc ELL (English Language Learner) Committee and Godfrey Azima is chair of an Ad Hoc Ad-Hoc Inclusion & Educational Justice Committee.

And, Mike Barbis isn’t on any Committee, for the second year in a row.

Barbis, former BoE Chairman, was left off the Committee list last year by then-Chairwoman Sarah LeMieux, after a series of his emails became public just before he won reelection in November 2019, prompting the Norwalk NAACP to demand his resignation.

NancyOnNorwalk asked Hosten if he had any comment as to why Barbis was excluded from a role that would give him power beyond being able to vote in full Board meetings.

“Nothing to add to the rationale articulated by my two immediate predecessors,” Hosten replied.

LeMieux said last year that the public perception that the board is doing nothing to address Barbis’s behavior is false, that Barbis had gotten an earful internally.

2021 BoE Committees


A vigil

Norwalk Democrats plan a “Vigil for Truth, Justice & Unity to talk about last week’s events at the US Capitol,” from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday on Zoom.

It “is clearly needed,” the Democratic Town Committee said in an email. The Rev. Elizabeth Abel of the Cornerstone Community Church in Norwalk will join State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) and Mayor Harry Rilling for the event.

You can register here.



Republican thoughts

On Friday, Republican Town Committee Chairman Carl Dickens responded to Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Eloisa Melendez’s comment that “Republicans will have to answer” for the rioting in the Capitol, incited by President Donald Trump.

“My thoughts are that both parties have to answer for this,” Dickens said in an email. “The rhetoric has to be turned down, by all. We are where we are because of that.  The mere fact that those who call for him to be removed from office when he has 2 weeks left under the 25th amendment is to me evidence that the big picture is not being looked at.  Time heals all, so the next two weeks should not be about does he stay does he go. It should be about the transition of power and what is going to take place moving forward.  Trump got 70 million votes and we all saw what happened this week, to add more agenda items to fuel the fire again in my opinion is not a good thing.”

“It is always sad when anyone resorts to violence for any reason I believe strongly in law and order and rule of law,” Common Council member Thomas Keegan (R-District D) said in a Friday email.

“Trump makes it hard to be Republican.  He cost us the seats in Georgia and it will take a long time for the party to recover,” former Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia said in an email.



Thomas takes oath

Overlooked in last week’s hubbub was a milestone for Norwalk Democrats: Stephanie Thomas was sworn into the State Representative seat long-held by Republicans.

Thomas will represent parts of Norwalk, Wilton and Westport as holder of the 143rd House District seat.

“I am honored to represent my community and eager to get to work in Hartford,” Thomas said in a statement. “Right now, our state and its residents face a number of challenges – I have listened to what my community needs and am ready to hit the ground running to face these obstacles head on.”

Thomas was appointed Vice Chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, a press release said.

“Her legislative priorities include making it easier for people to exercise their right to vote by streamlining the registration process and providing opportunities to vote early, as well as working to make quality health care plans more affordable for small businesses and nonprofit organizations,” the release said.

She will also serve as a member on the Commerce and Transportation Committees.

Lawmakers were sworn in Wednesday morning, ahead of the Capitol riot inspired by the ceremonial certification of the Electoral College vote.

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) has pinned a post to his Senate Facebook page, marking the swearing in. “It was very different being sworn in outside, six feet apart and with masks on,” he posted at 2:07 p.m. “…This was certainly a historic day and there are a lot of issues to tackle.

At 4:16 p.m., Duff posted a photo of the riot and wrote, “To the American people who are going about their lives as #Treason and #Sedition is happening at the U.S. Capitol. Stop what you are doing. Watch. Be disgusted, appalled and angry. We. Can. Never. Let. This. Happen. Again. Our Democracy is fragile and freedom is not guaranteed.”



City Carting

The Common Council is set to vote Tuesday on a $275,000 contract with City Carting, for yard waste removal, but you won’t find the contract in the Council agenda or in the agenda for last week’s Public Works Committee meeting.

Activist Diane Lauricella mentioned this absence at the Committee meeting, going on to say, “As the coordinator for the Norwalk Zero Waste coalition, we would be against the current process for taking yard waste, because we fully would expect to have a detailed discussion… about reducing the cost of hauling the yard waste.”

That hasn’t been possible, given the pandemic, she said.

Norwalk Chief of Operations and Public Works Anthony Robert Carr later explained that it’s a 3-year contract with two 1-year extensions, but actually totally 5.5 years because it’s beginning halfway through this fiscal year.

City Carting, which already handles Norwalk’s garbage and recycling output, will collect brush, leaves, logs and stumps, wood chips, and storm slash disaster debris, and richly deserves the work given its “extremely responsive” work following the Aug. 4 storm, Carr said.

“That’s when you really need a vendor to step up when you’re in a pinch like that,” Carr said.

The yard waste hauling has historically been combined with street sweepings and the catch basin collections in one contract, Carr said.

D.W. Transport & Leasing Inc. has had that contract but City Carting is clearly to lower bidder for the separated yard waste removal contract, Carr said.

With City Carting, “and at least we know we can pick up the phone or email or meet on site,” during an emergency caused by a storm, and “explain what we need and not have to worry about the disposal because we’re already dealing with enough during the storm events destroying the collection,” Carr said.

“Personally, I feel like they did a great job and they came through in a in a bind,” Public Works Committee Chairman George Tsiranides (D-District D) said. “It’s good to see them taking this contract, as far as I’m concerned.”


DrewT January 12, 2021 at 8:46 am

The BOE never ceases to amaze the residents of the city. How disgusting that Mike Barbis a DULY ELECTED MEMBER! As opposed to just hand picked replacement members is not on a committee again!!! So much for the BS unity and all the other garbage about it people like Sarah and BMM speak of. And now Colin we expected better from you. SHAMEFUL! And you set a horrible example!

stuart garrelick January 12, 2021 at 9:31 am

A couple of questions:
1-What is the rationale for the BoE denying duly elected Board member Mike Barbis committee membership. Chair Hosten said his predecessors covered this but I don’t see that. Seems to me they are denying his district their representation. No problem with rebuking Mr, Barbis if they feel it is warranted but they are refusing his electors their right to representation.
2-just tried to register for the DTC Vigil and my registration is “awaiting approval”. Approval by whom for what reasons? What would be the basis for denial?

Ct. V January 12, 2021 at 10:48 am

Carl Dickens’ response is disappointing but not surprising. One side is still saying through the more than 100 congresspeople who voted to not accept the results of the elections that we shouldn’t have a transition of power while the other side says that inciting a riot and claiming the election is tainted when it isn’t is not an acceptable a response and those in charge should be held accountable. These are not equivalent positions and casting them as if it’s politics as usual is what got us into this issue in the first place.

Diana Paladino Christopher January 12, 2021 at 1:26 pm

It was a tragic day in America on January 6, 2021 and our President was a part of it, he played a role and incited what took place. I saw and heard our President call these assailants from January 6 “Very Special” and he told them “we love you”. That does not sit well with me as a human and as a mom. We MUST come together as a party and not look to blame or deflect this situation by spewing out other examples of violence because in the end two wrongs, do not justify or make anything right. His policies were good, our economy thrived but his actions and his behaviors and his obsessions over powered what was best for Americans. There is no question, our country needs some serious healing on both sides. We must denounce the lies and stop defending the behaviors of a man we trusted to represent us as a party and as a country. Enough is enough. This act, this horrible day was the result of a President…an American leader?-seems unthinkable, unimaginable. American democracy is strong and will remain strong. I see this as a moment for Republicans to decide, what side of history they choose to be on? Asking to not proceed with impeachment so our country can heal, is absurd in my opinion. Silence speaks volumes. Insurrections do not heal nor do they want to. The Republican Party should stand for justice. That is law and order. Trump had an opportunity to strongly be a leader once again on January 6. He could have made a mistake and strongly denounce the actions, accept the facts and the truths and speak to his Country but he chose differently. We need to defend democracy and the ideals and principles this country is based on. These are dark times. A leader is to be an example, a positive force no matter what the situation. If our President is not the example, then who is? In my opinion, He can not run again and should not run again. Impeachment will allow us to possibly ensure that factor. Our future depends on it. He needs to be held accountable. If what has taken place in the past week by a President the representative of America, is not impeachable, then I have to ask… what is?

Ron Morris January 12, 2021 at 4:41 pm

Did you forget the disgusting comments that came out of Republican Mike Barbis mouth? He really should not even be on the BOE.

Ron Morris January 12, 2021 at 4:43 pm

So Carl Dickens are you saying that we should just ignore Trump inciting a riot where 5 were killed? I think not.

David T McCarthy January 12, 2021 at 4:56 pm

Can you imagine if I had ever tried to put a City Carting contract through to the council without vetting it through committee? There would have been people lighting themselves on fire…at least Diane L is consistent.

BOB GIOLITTO January 12, 2021 at 5:20 pm

Mr. Dickens says “Time heals all wounds.” No, Mr. Dickens, it doesn’t. For 402 years now black people in the US have experienced not healing, but constant, systemic racism, the consistent message being, “You are not equal, your life does not have the same value as white people.” We know the answer to the question: “What if the people who showed up at the capitol had been peaceful Black Lives Matter LEGAL protestors?” The answer is painfully clear when reviewing what happened at Lafayette Square this past June 1st: Tear gas, horses, beatings, and illegal forced clearing of the square by police and military. And it has happened for centuries, and will continue to happen. Time heals all wounds? How much time Mr. Dickens?

John ONeill January 12, 2021 at 8:27 pm

@Bob — Please name a country on Earth that is greater than the United States? In fact I’ll let you pick from the entire universe if that helps. My ancestors were starved to death for goodness sakes. Your hatred for this great country is misguided.

Marilyn Marino January 12, 2021 at 9:11 pm

Carl Dickens, when history looks back on the seditious acts of Donald Trump – and this will go down in history as one of our country’s darkest moments – the Democrats will be on the right side of history for having defended our Constitution, living up to the oath they have taken, and impeaching Donald Trump for a second time. Donald Trump is a dangerous man who cannot be allowed to control this country one more day. Did you watch the news tonight? We now have a home-grown domestic terrorist organization that Donald Trump has been growing for the last four years. You voted QAnon supporters into our Congress! Read the Wiki on what those brain-washed people believe. We are Venezuela. There is no going back. Americans laid pipe bombs at our RNC and DNC offices. We are Warsaw during WWII. Every person who voted for Donald Trump after watching him dog whistle to his Proud Boy supporters is complicit in this attack on Democracy. You let this psychopath turn America into the hateful place it is. Watch the faces on that mob! They are Nazis. Let Donald Trump remain in office? I think not. Donald Trump needs to be impeached and tried in the Senate so he can no longer hold Federal office, and no longer rake in millions of dollars in campaign donations to pay back his $420 million debt, which is one huge reason he wants to stay in power and run again. On January 21st those debts become due, and the SDNY will be nipping at his heals. And I will reach out to my Senators to demand that every identifiable face in those videos is arrested and serves prison time. And THEN, after justice is served, we can talk about time healing all.

Curious Voter January 12, 2021 at 9:14 pm

After what everyone witnessed, support for trump is support for white supremacy and domestic terror. Trump has been getting them worked up for a long time.

Ron Morris January 12, 2021 at 9:50 pm

John ONeill

I dont see where BOB GIOLITTO says anything negative about this country. What he states are the dirty facts that some can’t handle.

Bryan Meek January 12, 2021 at 10:36 pm

@John ONeill. Tasmania is starting to look better and better. Like Biden promised, dark days are ahead. Buy crypto, it will have more value than our dollar once he’s done.

Bryan Meek January 12, 2021 at 10:38 pm

Diana, how about the former executive who started the war on police? Any justice for the 5 officers in Dallas gunned down on a belief?

Mike Barbis January 13, 2021 at 7:52 am

Ron Morris, truth hurts. Let’s review some facts as you seem to live in a dream world
1. The students in South Norwalk still don’t have their own school and this is the result of actions by District B and their representatives. I spoke the truth
2. I’m a registered Democrat, not a Republican

Bob Giolitto January 13, 2021 at 12:09 pm

Mr. O’Neill, you’re assuming what I’m thinking? That’s arrogant. I don’t hate this country, I’m just pointing out that we’re not always right. Perhaps if people didn’t blindly assume how great we are it could be a better place … for all.
Mr. Meek, it’s interesting how you consistently cite “how about …” My parents taught me that two wrongs never make a right.

John O'Neill January 13, 2021 at 2:22 pm

@Bob – You and my ex-wife have more in common than one may think. Glad to read you don’t hate what I consider the greatest country in the Milky Way. Your posts seem to infer otherwise, at least to me.

Curious Voter January 13, 2021 at 3:32 pm

Good point on the “how about,” fact is if anyone defends or ignores the actions of these domestic terrorists aren’t they traitors too? Projection, deflection and gaslighting has been a constant with the same people the past 4 years.

Bryan Meek January 13, 2021 at 4:34 pm

Correct two wrongs don’t make a right. But when violence is accepted and even celebrated in some cases, it paves the way for it to become normal behavior. It is not and there are two sides to every story no matter how badly some want to stifle conversation and dialog.

Alan Beck January 17, 2021 at 1:52 pm

Ladies and Gentlemen: Words matter. Words are what we live by. We as a people live by the “rule of law”. Words, words that are placed on paper and and used to rule, not just any nation, OUR NATION. We elect our politicans and require them to state an oath (more words) promising to follow and enforce those words, those laws, that oath to uphold the “rule-of-law”. To protect our nation from “threats both foreign and domestic”. Four years ago, we elected a self-centered, egotistical, narcissistic racist who only cares about those rules when they benefit HIM. This last sentence is a fact. Several prominent psychologists, one being his own niece, have said this. Read her book “Too Much and Never Enough”. This man, the highest ranking politician in the land, said words that directly caused people of “this country” to attack the very building that represents “the rule of law” that we all are supposed to live by. This man broke the oath that he spoke when he took office. This man not only ripped to shreds the paper that holds the oath, he tried to throw that paper into the fire that he created over the last four years. What amazes me more than anything else over the last four years is how and why, people who have taken the same oath to uphold the rule of law, actually come to his defense. The oath they took, the rule of law itself, the words on the torn paper that he tried to throw in the fire, they ALL say he should be punished not protected. Yet some still come to his aid. WHY? He has proven, time and time again by his own actions, by his own words that he IS a threat to our democracy. Why aid a “threat, foriegn or domestic”? Why? The man and All those that helped him in ANY WAY should be punished to the fullest extent of “the laws we live by”. If not, the laws mean “nothing” and that fire he created will consume us all. Words have consequences.!

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