Brinton explains; Meek asks question, doesn’t like answer
NORWALK, Conn. — Some Norwalk political notes for you:
- Valadares to be Chief of Operations and Public Works
- Was Brinton ‘close’?
- Can the City use water records to find illegal apartments?
Valadares wins Chief job
Vanessa Valaderes, who has been with the Norwalk Department of Public Works for more than 12 years, is set to be appointed Chief of Operations and Public Works at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.
Valaderes’ title was Principal Engineer when she became Interim Chief of Operations and Public Works in September after Anthony Carr left the post.
Valadares began work here in 2010 as a junior engineer, according to her LinkedIn page. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at FAAP – Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado, and her first job was in 1996 as Director/Partner at LCP ENGENHARIA S/C LTDA. Within the next seven years she was assigned to work on a $100 million project at Fairfield University as an employee of Gilbane Building Company.
Her later employment included more than five years for the City of Stamford.
‘I’ve come closest’
Independent District 25 State Senate candidate Lisa Brinton recently told a crowd in the City Hall community room that she “came close” to beating Mayor Harry Rilling in 2019. It’s a claim she repeated in a recent letter to the editor.
Rilling won reelection in 2017 with about 56% of the vote, and again in 2019 with about 55%.
Brinton was one of four Mayoral candidates in 2017, then went head-to-head with Rilling in 2019 as a Republican-endorsed unaffiliated candidate.
“As a moderate independent, I believe I got closer than any other Rilling challenger to date,” Brinton said.
That’s true. In 2015, in his first reelection bid, Rilling prevailed over Republican Kelly Straniti with 62% of the vote. Then in 2021, he won 60% against Republican challenger Jonathan Riddle.
Brinton likened her current run against State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) to her petitioning onto the ballot in 2017, in that she has “no chance of winning.” She has said that she got into the race this year to keep the Independent Party’s slot on the ballot and to highlight election reform needs, and that the Independent Party didn’t want to endorse Republican candidate Daniel Miressi.
“I am fighting for the moderate middle and all my campaigns have focused on what I’ve seen as Norwalk’s two major issues: zoning/overdevelopment and school funding,” Brinton wrote. “Six years later… we have fortress apartments, a water shortage, a sewer treatment plant that can’t handle the volume and an overcrowded, underfunded, failing school system.”
Council Minority Leader Bryan Meek (R-District D) doesn’t think much of the latest legal opinion he received from the Corporation Counsel Office.
At October’s Public Safety & General Government Committee meeting, Meek asked if the City could subpoena water bills to determine, based on statistics, how many people were living at the a given location. Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin recently responded by forwarding Meek an opinion from Assistant Corporation Counsel Matthew Sapienza.
“The short answer is, no, we cannot subpoena water usage records,” Sapienza wrote. “Additionally, even if we could, which we can’t, we’d probably need an expert to opine on how much water is used by a regular person versus multiple people. It would get really complicated. But again, I can’t just serve a subpoena on the water company without an underlying court action. Even then, the water company will fight the subpoena because otherwise they would get subpoenaed all the time.”
Meek replied to Kleppin and other Council members.
“This seems like a flimsy response from legal on a serious matter, but then again my takeaway from the meeting the other night is that we aren’t really interested in fixing the issue other than a having meeting to give it lip service,” he wrote. “The IRS and DRS subpoena third party supplier records all the time. This position seems to indicate that our City has no authority in assessment or taxation matters even though they are granted by the state.”
The connection to taxing is a reference to the assessor’s office. Connecticut General Statutes 12-63c requires all owners of rental property to file a property income and expenses report, annually prior to revaluation. Meek brought this up Oct. 29, saying assessors “could drop the requirement to report revenues and expenses from 4+ to 3+ or 2+ non-owner occupied units on one tax parcel.”
“This is a real problem for the city as much as we want to ignore it and will worsen with the continued subsidies into workforce housing. It seems we have no resources or energy to tackle it with the same gusto as going after decks being installed on AA land. That’s disappointing.
“I don’t disagree with the position that some (who knows how many) of these are safety hazards and that something must be done, so why not start with our powers of taxation and assessment? Since safety concerns only seem to really materialize after the tragedies happen maybe its time to take a different approach?”