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.
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.
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.”
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.”