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Norwalk political notes: Still waiting for the POKO settlement

City website instruction

Real estate broker Jason Milligan, Oct. 17 in City Hall.

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

  • POKO settlement deadline pushed back – again
  • Meek slams City website function, misses mark
  • Rilling responds to Nashville shooting

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the POKO settlement

You may recall, in January real estate broker Jason Milligan agreed to a settlement in the lawsuit filed against him by the Redevelopment Agency and the City in 2018, after he purchased five “POKO properties.”

Details are apparently sticky as Judge Sheila Ozalis has moved back the deadline for withdrawal twice. Meanwhile, as negotiations continue both sides are simultaneously preparing for a trial.

The settlement, in principle, came after an all-day mediation Jan. 30 with Judge Elain Gordon, the second lengthy mediation session in the complicated dispute.

Attempts to define the settlement in detail prompted a third mediation session March 13, Attorneys Brian Candela, Joseph Williams and Daniel Elliot wrote to Ozalis last week.

Not only does the settlement involve “significant and complicated terms related to ongoing obligations regarding real property,” but both sides need to consult with title counsel and the public parties will have to submit the agreement to the Common Council and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency for approval in “a duly noticed public meeting,” and the soonest that could happen is April 11, they said.

Ozalis set a new schedule:

  • Joint trial management reports are expected by April 28
  • May 5 is the deadline for a withdrawal of the remaining claims
  • May 9 would be the beginning of jury selection
  • June 13 would mark the beginning of evidence presentation

 

On March 10, Milligan withdrew counterclaims dating to December 2020. He had sought to invalidate the LDA (Land Disposition Agreement) for the various POKO properties but that’s been dropped.

Screenshot of the City’s tax bill record lookup, showing a search result.

Meek alleges ‘donuts;’ turns out you need to follow instructions

Word to the wise: if you’re trying to use the City’s new tax bill lookup interface, put in your first initial in addition to your last name.

Lone Council Republican Bryan Meek responded to last week’s NancyOnNorwalk’s story about the City website shifting to a “.gov” domain name by writing two comments:

“…..except for the new property tax lookup system, which doesn’t work. Recall this replaced a system that worked just fine on a no bid contract for $500k or $5 million (we still don’t know the price tag) by a vendor that donates to the party in charge.

https://www.mytaxbill.org/inet/bill/home.do?town=norwalk

 

And:

“type in Rilling or Meek. Donuts.

“I dare anyone to find the tax abated mall. It doesn’t exist.”

 

Screenshot of the City’s tax bill record lookup, showing a search result.

It’s true that if you type in “Rilling,” you’ll get no results. Type in “Rilling H” and you get plenty.

The instructions below the name field state “Enter Last Name then space then 1st Initial (example SMITH J) or Business Name (No comma).”

Remember, no comma.

Meek highlighted the “no bid contract” in August. The Council on July 26 approved a $125,000 agreement with Quality Data Service (QDS) to provide tax assessment software, on a 11-1-0 vote.

The City’s procurement guidelines allow for noncompetitive contracts when it’s determined to be in the best interest of the City.

QDS is associated with $500 in donations to Mayor Harry Rilling’s 2021 campaign for reelection and $250 in his 2019 campaign. Rilling raised more than $155,000 in 2021 and more than $138,000 in 2019.

Rilling wasn’t involved in selecting the vendor, according to Norwalk Director of Communications Michelle Woods Matthews. In August, she said it’s “foolish” to suggest otherwise.

It’s always been a challenge to find The SoNo Collection in online property records, as the address is funky and the combined parcels are not listed under Brookfield Properties. Instead, the official owner is Norwalk Land Development LLC.

No comma needed, that turns up plenty of results in the tax bill lookup.

Another comments section

A shooting Monday at a Christian school in Nashville, killing three children and three adults, prompted Mayor Harry Rilling to release a statement:

“My heart mourns for the six Covenant School victims and their families in Nashville, TN. Three were adults and three were nine-year-old elementary school students. Guns are now the leading cause of death for children in America. This is unacceptable. These deaths are preventable. Action is required at every level of government to protect our children from the scourge of gun violence. America’s children deserve better.”

 

In reply, some people commenting on the City’s Facebook page criticized Rilling for School Resource Officer staffing. Jessica Garnett went after the City’s operating budget.

“Yet the city is once again going to underfund our public schools,” Garnett wrote. “The only place where some of our kids receive counseling and support services. We should be investing in our youth and preventing them from becoming broken adults with unlimited access to guns.”

William Birks III said if that’s the case, “allow property taxes to rise and allow denser development to build a more sustainable tax base. Single family houses over the majority of norwalk ain’t cutting it. They don’t raise enough taxes for the room and infrastructure they take so our schools suffer for it.”

A commenter claiming to be “Evad Xocliw” said, “How about that stabbing in Norwalk High?”

Connie Cooke replied, “too many macho dudes with anger management issues – who unfortunately grab a knife or gun when they’re in a foul mood.”

To which “Xocliw” said, “look no further than the White House for divisive rhetoric.”

She eventually told him to perhaps “choose a red state” for his next residence.

Comments

5 responses to “Norwalk political notes: Still waiting for the POKO settlement”

  1. Bryan Meek

    Funny how dozens of other municipalities with this crappy software downgrade have managed to implement search parameters that aren’t as stringent. Our old system was more forgiving on the search parameters as well.

  2. Bryan Meek

    And it is still on .org. NOT. .gov. But let’s make this about me I guess.

  3. Michael McGuire

    Hi Nancy,

    Meek aside, other misleading information in this article should be cleared up as well.

    Fact check – Guns are not the leading cause of death among children, or any age group for that matter.

    CDC reported (219-2020 data, most current) that ‘Unintentional Injury’ is the leading cause in all age groups under 45 years old, followed by ‘Suicide’ in the 10-14 and 15-24 age bracket and ‘Malignant Neoplasms’ in the 5-9 age group.

    Then come ‘Homicides’ (guns) in third place, but only in the 15-24 age bracket. Notably, this reflects 17.1% of all deaths in this age bracket.

    For children (ages sub 15 years old) ‘Homicides’ come in at a distant 4th place and reflect 7.1% of all deaths in the sub-15-year-old age group.

    Interestingly, the ‘Homicides’ issues for the 15-24 age bracket is driven by inner-city gang related shootings. The predominate weapon of choice – hand guns by a huge margin.

    Out of interest I looked at the 1999 data – roughly the same as 2022 so not much has changed over the last two decades. If we want to reduce gun violence among our youth, I think we need to look at who we vote for, particularly in the inner cities.

  4. Steve Balazs

    The information supplied by Mr. McGuire is extremely poorly collated. Mr. McGuire may not realize it but many gun deaths are unintentional accidents and most gun deaths are suicide, t. As per the New England firearms are the leading cause of death among minors https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmc2201761. In fact, we are alone among developed nations in this regard. I suspect that if you ask gun proponents if they know anyone killed by a gun- my guess is that virtually everyone they know who’s died by a firearm was a suicide. More than 1/2 the firearm deaths in the US are suicide. I’ve known at least a dozen people who’ve killed themselves with a gun, only one person I know was outside of that group and she was killed by her husband, who then killed himself. Ironically, he bought the gun to protect his business- which died with the two of them. I hope that anyone who’s reading this column and suffers from any kind of mental health issue gets rid of their firearm as quickly as possible. Chances are overwhelming that the only person who’s ever killed with that gun- is themselves:(. This is not an area where I want to brag about American Exceptionalism

  5. Johnny cardamone

    OK when is POKO going to be finished?

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