Norwalk political notes: Rilling, Barbis, answer critics

Mayor Harry Rilling is an unfamiliar face at Norwalk Board of Education meetings, having attended only five in 2019. Is that why he had two nameplates, Tuesday in City Hall?

The election is Nov. 5.

Updated, 1:37 p.m.: More information.

NORWALK, Conn. – Some Norwalk political notes for you:

  • Rilling: ‘I saw the press release when it came out’
  • Barbis: ‘Sorry, I’m eating’
  • Republicans win website war, hands down
  • Come and get your absentee ballots


Rilling: ‘Duff is his own person’

Mayor Harry Rilling denies asking Bob Duff to put out a press release condemning Lisa Brinton and her treasurer, Board of Education member Bryan Meek, although some assume it was sent on his behalf.

Rilling on Tuesday said he’d met with Duff six or seven times in the previous week at various community events and never asked him to released anything on Brinton, his Republican-endorsed opponent.

“I can look you straight in the eye and tell you that,” Rilling said. “Bob is his own person. We mostly agree on a lot of things. Sometimes we have a disagreement, but Bob is his own person, and I’ve never asked him to do anything of that nature.”

Duff accused Brinton and Meek of “racist, anti-immigrant” comments. Rilling said he didn’t know the press release was coming out.

Brinton called the denial “downright funny.”

“I am running against what I believe is Harry’s ‘bully culture’ as much as his failure to grasp the financial impact his land use/real estate policies have cost the tax payers of this city. Win or lose, residents are becoming much more financially literate on what’s really going on in the city. The question remains- is it too late?” she wrote, in a comment to NancyOnNorwalk.

NancyOnNorwalk met with Rilling on Tuesday for a video interview. NoN hopes to do the same with Brinton next week, and then release both videos.


Barbis: I work for free

Norwalk Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis replies to Stephen Bartek, Tuesday in City Hall.

Children are taught to look at their teachers, Thomas Bartek said Tuesday, chiding Board of Education Chairman Mike Barbis for not looking the public in the eye as they expressed opinions about the plan to change the high school start times.

“I’ve sat over here and listened to about 12 or 14 people speak and we’re eating potato chips, staring at our computer screen, doing anything but looking at the people who are speaking to you,” Bartek said.

Mike Lyons, in his last meeting as a BoE member, held up a sheaf of papers and said he was taking notes.

Barbis said he was also taking notes, and, “I came here straight from work, so sorry, I’m eating. And I’m here for free.”

“Okay. Great. I’m here for free as well,” Bartek said, going on to express concerns about the possible impacts of pushing back the high school start time to 8:30 a.m.

Board member Heidi Keyes later thanked the public for coming to speak. “If any of you were to come back here, you will see lots of notes. You will see some members looking on their iPad, that Norwalk public schools gave us to look at any of our agenda items,” she said. “Somebody might be eating an energy bar, you need to keep up your energy. Somebody might have soda. I mean, there might be reasons for that. But if you look here, we’re all dedicated. We’re engaged. And we anticipate and welcome your comments every time that you’re here.”


Mosby still on the BoE?

The Norwalk Republican Town Committee website is looking pretty spiffy. The Democratic Town Committee website looks good, but leaves some things to be desired – if the website is to be believed, Bruce Morris is still a State Representative, Shirley Mosby and Yvel Crevecoeur are on the Board of Education and Steve Serasis and Michael DePalma are on the Common Council. (Hint: they’re not.)

The RTC website advertises its candidates with headshots, most of which link to further information. The DTC website doesn’t mention its candidates but does offer news articles from 2018.

While you’re waiting to see how all of this works out – the election is 19 days away – maybe you could entertain yourself by looking at the cool flyover imagery on the RTC homepage.


Come get your absentee ballots – please

Last week, Town Clerk Rick McQuaid complained of “no election noise” this year, including few people looking for absentee ballots.

On Wednesday, McQuaid issued a press release to remind everyone that they’re available. So if you’re not going to be able to make it to the polls on Nov. 5, maybe you could go say hi to the town clerk’s office staff?

The press release said:

“Applications for absentee ballots may be requested by mail, phone, in person at the Town Clerk’s office or online from the Connecticut Secretary of State. Applications are available in English and Spanish. In an effort to accommodate residents, the Town Clerk’s office will be open special hours the Saturday before the election on November 2, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Sample ballots can be viewed online.

“A resident can request an absentee ballot for any of the following reasons: active service in the U.S. armed forces; absence from town during all the hours of voting; illness; physical disability; religious beliefs prevent secular activity on that day; and/or required performance of duties as an election official at a polling place other than your own during all the hours of that day. Residents are advised that voting by absentee ballot if they are not eligible to do so for one of these six reasons can subject them to civil and criminal penalties.

“If an elector has incurred an illness or physical disability within six days of the election, they may apply for an Emergency Absentee Ballot. They will be able to designate someone to deliver the ballot to them and return it to the Town Clerk. If someone has a permanent disability, they may be eligible to apply for a permanent absentee ballot.

“The Norwalk Town Clerk’s office is located at Norwalk City Hall, Room 102, 125 East Ave., Norwalk, Conn. 06851. The office is open Monday-Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.; and Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

“For more information, call the Town Clerk’s office at (203) 854-7747 or visit norwalkct.org.”


Lisa Brinton October 17, 2019 at 6:30 am

The mayor denies having anything to do with Senator Duff’s attacks? That’s downright funny. Does he care to also comment on Norwalk DTC Chair and BET Finance Chair, Ed Camacho’s oped – which has not yet appeared in NON, but featured prominently in the Sunday paper and on-line?

I am running against what I believe is Harry’s ‘bully culture‘ as much as his failure to grasp the financial impact his land use/real estate policies have cost the tax payers of this city. Win or lose, residents are becoming much more financially literate on what’s really going on in the city. The question remains- is it too late?

Stuart Wells October 17, 2019 at 6:31 am

Concerning Absentee Ballots — The Registrar of Voters office was recently relocated to be right across the hall from the Town Clerk, so if you need to register to vote, or update your voter registration, as well as get an Absentee Ballot our new location makes that more convenient for you.
We have a larger entry area with a counter were registration forms can be filled out and a computer screen at the counter where we can check your current information.

David Mapley October 17, 2019 at 7:57 am

I note so many out-of-towners contributing to the Rilling campaign – something smells fishy here!!! Why don’t we limit political contributions to only Norwalk-based donors?

Al Bore October 17, 2019 at 6:02 pm

David if you do that pay to play goes away and we can’t have that. Please stop using common scene thinking we don’t like that here. Thank you.

Mitch Adis October 17, 2019 at 6:14 pm

Will Mayer Rilling condemn Senator Duff’s comments? If not, I suppose he supports what Center Duff has written

Helen Demeris October 17, 2019 at 7:07 pm

Norwalk residents deserve leaders who will listen courteously and attentively when they show up to share their views to the Board of Education. “Working for free” is a choice and Mike Barbis sounds resentful that he’s on the BOE. He has a choice and can step down so that someone who really wants to be there can take his place.

Bryan Meek October 17, 2019 at 11:36 pm

Go for it Helen D. I can remember you from exactly…..how many meetings…..zero maybe? Step up to match your rhetoric please.

Ron Morris October 18, 2019 at 12:20 am

Will Lisa Brinton condemn President Trumps behavior? If not, I suppose she supports what President Trump done

Pros & Cons October 18, 2019 at 7:48 am

I applaud and thank @Bryan Meek for his public service but why does he have to be so consistently smarmy in his comments???

Matt October 18, 2019 at 11:14 am

Lisa, I think you should thank Harry for coming fwd and saying he had nothing to do with that ridiculous claim. It will go a long way to show that this election doesnt have to be a cankerous one.

Cosmo Morabito October 18, 2019 at 4:17 pm

Today no one is allowed to disagree with certain politicians. If you do, you will be called a name like “racist”!. I think Himes owes Lisa an apology and the people of have Norwalk. Our Mayor should have already asked for an apology??

Isabelle Hargrove October 18, 2019 at 4:58 pm

I am still inclined to believe that Mayor Rilling asked for help. But even if I am wrong, is he really expecting us to believe that both Mr. Camacho and Senator Duff woke up one day and were moved to write an attack piece on his opponent without first calling him and getting a green light?

Please stop insulting voters’ intelligence, it would go a long way towards getting re-elected…

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