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Norwalk progressing toward economic action plan, zoning modifications

Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, left, and
Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, left, and Zoning Commissioner Adam Blank announce last month the formation of two groups, a Zoning Task Force and a group to form an economic action plan.

NORWALK, Conn. – Progress is being made on two initiatives announced by Mayor Harry Rilling last month with the intention of transforming Norwalk.

Rilling announced Oct. 7 that he was forming a Zoning Task Force to be led by Zoning Commissioner Adam Blank and that, simultaneously, a group would be working to form an economic action plan. The Zoning Task Force is shaping up, Blank said, and a workshop held Oct. 21-22 was attended by 28 to 30 people, Rilling said.
The workshop was scheduled to be led by Brian Baxendale of the Business Advisory Council and S.C.O.R.E.

“I think it was well attended, a lot of information was passed around,” Rilling said Tuesday. “We are making some good progress in determining what we want Norwalk to be five years from now and a road map as to how we get there.”

“Little groups” were formed and given assignments to work on before the next meeting, on Nov. 20, Rilling said.

“We’re going to come back and report in and come up with the overall economic development action plan. I am optimistic that it is going to be something that will help us determine, as I said, what Norwalk should be and where we want it to go and how we are going to get there,” Rilling said.

On Monday, members of the Coalition of Norwalk Neighborhood Associations (CNNA) said they wanted to know who is on the Zoning Task Force.

“The task force is shaping up and I should have a meaningful update for you in next week or so. I’m waiting on a few things that are outside of my control,” Blank said Tuesday. “I can assure you that the task force will have representation from one or more people who could be said to represent ‘developers’ interests” and one or more people who could be said to represent ‘community’ interests – to the extent that these interests differ.”

The two efforts are linked. Blank explained last month that while everyone is talking about the need to reform zoning regulations, that can’t happen in a bubble.

Sidewalks are a topic but, “Just looking at that issue, is it a zoning issue, is it Common Council, or is it a DPW issue? Is it Redevelopment? Are we all on the same page?” Blank asked.

That needs to be ironed out, he said.

Another example would be that many people say zoning requires too much parking, he said.

“On the Zoning Commission, sure, I can write a regulation that says you don’t need any parking, but that creates problems, doesn’t really solve them unless the Parking Authority and the Common Council are on board for funding and where these lots are going to be located,” Blank said in October. “Or if the Council looks at it and says we’re going to buy this piece of property and we’re going to hold it as the need arises so we’re good with you really ratcheting down the parking requirements, but limit it to this geographic area… Almost every issue that’s considered zoning maybe can be gone through the Zoning Commission but is probably better solved through an agreement through whichever player might have a stake in that issue, agreeing on a strategy and then you change the zoning regs. So I am still adamant about getting the zoning regulations modified as needed, but I want to do it in a way that makes sense and I think that has to involve Redevelopment, Planning, the Common Council and Zoning.”

Comments

35 responses to “Norwalk progressing toward economic action plan, zoning modifications”

  1. THE TRUTH

    Two more useless task forces, much like the Rilling administration. Rilling has been in office a full year and has accomplished a big fat ZERO.
    Now lets all wait for the sheep to post with the excuses.

  2. John Hamlin

    The Zoning Task force is a great start, and it will be interesting to see where it goes and whether the entrenched interests will allow its constructive recommendations to be implemented. To the extent that it has good ideas, it will be important to ensure that the Commission and the Council don’t water down the proposals to make them meaningless. It’s truly unfortunate that the City does not employ any experts in zoning regulation or city planning who could assist the citizen volunteers who have neither the training nor the experience to bring expertise to the actual process of planning and zoning. Perhaps the City should hire a planning and zoning expert to advise the Zoning Task Force. While knowledge of the history is helpful, we need to move beyond where we have been and figure out where we need to go. This is an important initiative — let’s hold our elected officials accountable for what happens or doesn’t happen.

  3. Lisa Thomson

    So far, only Bruce Kimmel has gone on record and stated that the P&Z processes and rules need to be updated. The rest of the Common Council has remained painfully silent. P&Z reform will be a local election issue in 2015. It’s time for the rest of the council to get off the fence and stop the circus like atmosphere of late and deal with real issues. Voters will remember in November which side they were on in the P&Z reform versus Norwalk status quo debate or whether they said absolutely nothing.

  4. John Hamlin

    @lisa — If there is insufficient zoning reform, we will need a new council. This is something that the council should be able to do something about. Or we need to change Norwalk’s form of government through charter control because, in essence, no one is accountable and nothing can get accomplished (which is actually fine if you are wedded to the dysfunction of the status quo).

  5. You all talk about reforming antiquated zioning regulations. Can you give us a hint at what you would suggest?

  6. Bruce Kimmel

    I applaud the recognition that Zoning does not exist in a void; that what happens in Zoning must somehow be consistent with what happens in the Planning Commission, the Common Council, and the Redevelopment Agency. The city will never move forward unless its government is working together with the same goals and following the same rules.

    Also, both of the task forces need to be involved the creation of the city’s next Master Plan. It would be absurd if the task forces agreed to a set of proposals and goals, which were also endorsed by other city agencies, and then we updated our Master Plan and ignored the work of the task forces.

    And finally, I believe we need to hire a City Planner to coordinate the work of a variety of city agencies and departments. We need a single vision in Norwalk that we agree on, and we need our approvals to reflect that vision.

  7. John Hamlin

    Here’s a hint: FAR (floor area ratio). Norwalk has no such requirement.

  8. Rod Lopez-Fabrega

    A “task force” sounds ominous when we learn that it will consist of “…representation from one or more people who could be said to represent ‘developers’ interests” and one or more people who could be said to represent ‘community’ interests – to the extent that these interests differ.”

    So often–particularly here in Norwalk–those interests appear to differ markedly, and so often the controlling bridge between those interests seems to consist of politicians with the best intentions but with no special expertise in community planning.

    To see us beginning the design of a “new Norwalk” with yet another planning task force of indeterminate and potentially unbalanced composition points toward more helter-skelter planning.

    Can it be any clearer that we need a professional city planner?

  9. Roger Ludlow

    More useless task forces. The Mayor better wake up and realize the only way to change things is via real charter revision. The recent spectacles of a council debating meaningless bullying resolutions is exhibit A for the uselessness of our local government in its current form. Some of the lifers on the council will need to find a new hobby. But most citizens should be able to agree this government needs some modernizing.

  10. Piberman

    Lets be positive. Better governance requires discussions in organized and informal forums. Unless we hire a City Manager with all the answers. Or elect a City Council where everyone is a certified City Planner. Neither is likely. Nor is “stay as you are” much help. Of course, the Council can always be improved. But that’s long odds unfortunately.

  11. Mike Mushak

    Excellent comments by everyone. John Hamlin, and Lisa, right on. Despite a lot of apathy in Norwalk, recent controversial applications indicate the public is fed up, and the shortcomings of our broken zoning code and are now well-known.

    EDR, you ask what specific reforms might be. Oh, where to start! This could take pages and millions of words which I will refrain from, considering its All Saints Day and brevity is next to Godliness around here, or so I hear frequently. Oh, the temptation however! All kidding aside, both P and Z commissions can start by listening to the people, and reading the Master Plan and implementing many of its recommendations that have been ignored. BJ’s, the mosque, and Farm Creek would have all been avoided with an updated code and adherance to state environmental protection laws.

    For instance, you don’t want another mosque-scale project in a residential neighborhood? Copy Stamford’s Special Permit requirements for residential zones in 3.2.e: 1) must be on lots double the minimum size for the zone (the mosque was on a 1.5-acre lot in a one-acre zone. Under Stamford’s rules, that lot would have needed to be 2 acres), 2) establish minimum FAR for special permits in various zones, from .10 to .25 depending on zone. In Stamford’s one-acre zone, the FAR would have been a maximum of 1.5. The mosque was at 2.3 I believe. Oops. Oh, and what about establishing parking requirements for accessory uses? Oops. Norwalk has none.

    Don’t want a BJ’s or similar overscale regional traffic generator on the dangerous and crowded Main Avenue with the highest and injury accident rate in the city, and that would adversely affect 140 existing small businesses and have huge impacts on the back roads and quiet neighborhoods of Silvermine and Cranbury with regional traffic seeking shortcuts? Oops. We forgot to implement the zoning recommendations from a 2006 study and that were on our 2008 Master Plan! And the GOP controlled Zoning Commission killed the attempt I made to change that zoning to what the experts recommended, because they said “property rights” of owners to build anything they want at any size along Main Ave is more important that protecting public safety, the 140 small businesses and neighborhoods from adverse impacts. Thats the truth, and thats what happened. Classic GOP obstructionism to smart change that experts recommended.

    How about incorporating the recommendations of the excellent and powerful document called Norwalk Harbor Management Plan in our waterfront zoning decisions around Norwalk Harbor? Now they are just ignored. And why not try implement teh recommendatiuons of teh Norwalk Parking Master Plan that said in 2012 that by 2014 we should have reduced our citywide parking requirements by 25%? No progress there at all, under the Santo-Wilson-Greene-GOP lazy do-nothing approach to planning and zoning.

    Oh. lets not forget the TOD Zoning overlay for SoNo that will clean up the mess that 30 years of bad zoning decisions have left there, with 13 different zones hobbled together in a piecemeal fashion and none of them matching, and numerous professional planning studies for SoNo going back decades ignored or defied by P and Z staff for dubious reasons (they don’t want more work is all I can gather.)

    So, EDR, I will stop writing soon out of compassion. But when you ask what needs to be changed in the Zoning Code, I just gave you 6 months of work in 3 paragraphs that the ZC and the PC can jump into right away. I would be happy to share with you more ideas privately, as I am now seeing the GOP finally come around to the idea that Greene is not effective and fights smart change, and that we need zoning reform, decades late but better late than never.

    Last, John Hamlin’s idea of hiring a professional planning and zoning consultant to help is smart, and necessary. Expecting our under-qualified staff to know what they are doing is useless, as they have already proven that they will make up data and lie to the public just to keep zone changes from happening, which is exactly what they did when the Main Ave zone change was discussed. I caught them at their game, went to them privately, and they pleaded with me not to go public with it at the time as it was so scandalous. I agreed at the time nice guy that I am. And yet we expect this Keystone Kops crowd to effectively reform our zoning code? What a waste of time and effort, and playing pretend.

    Although, I do not give up hope completely as I have heard many GOP insiders say they are ready for change too. Cue the trumpets, but as Mr. Hamlin says, we need to hire real planning professionals to help, as we have no certified planners in our P and Z Department, absurd as that is and despite millions of dollars of salaries and benefits in that department being paid out by Norwalk taxpayers every year. The department has been run into the ground by decades of incompetent leadership, just like the Norwalk Museum was, and it must change, and will change, just like the expensive Museum mess was cleaned up. To Moccia’s credit, he made that museum reform happen finally, after years of gross mismanagement that wasted millions in taxpayer dollars with little to show for it, which is exactly what we see happening right now in our P and Z Department.

  12. John Hamlin

    @RL-F: Totally agree that Norwalk needs a city planner.

  13. Norwalk Sage

    Oh great. Create more commissions and municipal jobs. We need a city planner! We need a task force! More bureaucracy will just slow development even further. No thanks Mr. Rilling. If the Mayor can’t show true leadership and teamwork working with the existing council and commissions, then why is he in office?

  14. Bill

    Yes,let’s hire someone else to put on the local government payroll.. Seriously, let the market work, quit trying to control supply and demand.

  15. Michael McGuire

    Norwalk definitely needs a planner for long-range continuity of all that is and can happen in Norwalk. The following are the comments I made to the CC planning commission in early October.

    (Begin CC Comments) Therefore, I am here to encourage the Common Council to hire a highly qualified, non-politically appointed Economic Development/City Planning professional with oversight of P&Z, RDA, DPW and Economic Development. This needs to be a long-term staff position with absolutely no political affiliations associated with it. The purpose of this position would be to:

    1. Oversee the guidance by the City Wide Plan of Conservation and Development as it pertains the each department.

    2. Ensure each department noted above is appropriately staffed, and is aware of and accountable to the Plan of Conservation and Development.

    3. Be responsible for clearly articulating the complex issues dealt with by each department in a way that all commissioners, staff, and the public at large would understand.

    4. Finally. Be a sounding board to fast tract good policy, or seriously question unsound policy regardless of the source of the policy.

    In conclusion, all City’s will have their problems and issue but tonight I want to suggest to you that ours stems from a planning and management format that creates problems that are often not seen for up to a decade or more. The primary culprit is the lack of real, organized, long-term coherent planning that takes into account the possible impact of each commission’s decisions relative to the whole. Sound business practices would suggest we hire an advisor to keep us out of these problems. (END CC comments).

    We have the need, the public is supportive, so lets hear from the rest of the CC members on this.

  16. Lisa Thomson

    @Norwalk Sage – Please don’t try to change the P&Z topic by making this a partisan attack against Rilling. Our issues are endemic Norwalk political issues that are institutionalized via our Common Council who seem to be unable to focus. Harry will have an opportunity to demonstrate leadership on this matter when he makes appointments on the P&Z commission next summer. If the Common Council shoots him down, then voters will know what to do in November. In the meanwhile, I look to Harry’s appointment of Adam Blank and the task force to parse out the issues and present them to the public.

  17. Adam Blank

    Rick Redniss, a certified planner, will be on the Zoning Task Force.

    I’ll be the first to admit that lots of work still needs to be done but let me just give an update of regulation changes that have occurred, or are in the process of occurring, over the past four months since I came back onto the Zoning Commission.

    The Commission has changed regulations to increase height and density in portions of South Norwalk, decrease parking requirements in our urban areas and moved toward a more uniform application of our workforce housing regulations. We have a proposed regulation that will make it easier for contractors to operate in smaller indoor facilities that will come up for a full Commission vote this month. We also have proposed regulations that will come to the committee this month for recommended approval by the Commission: (1) to make workforce housing 10% in all districts; (2) to require the workforce units to be located on-site (or developer may pay fee-in-lieu); and (3) to require notice be provided to neighbors when a residential CAM application is filed.

  18. Norwalk Sage

    Lisa and Adam – This is not about being partisan. If the Zoning commission can get things done, as Adam says it is, then why add more positions? If the Council “cannot focus”, what good is adding yet more bureaucracy? McGuire – If a professional is needed, then the city can hire a consultant and agree to stick to the recommendations. A long-term hire has no more hope of getting anything accomplished, other than to build his/her own fiefdom in the government.

  19. Michael McGuire

    Norwalk Sage – disagree, the hiring of consultants is why we are here in this mess in the first place. Checking in with a consultant every decade is no way to plan. P&Z is the location for this pro so lets hire one with the talent we’ve been missing all these years. Time to put in some new players who know the game.

  20. John Hamlin

    Why wouldn’t a city want people trained and experienced in city planning to serve as employees in the city Planning and Zoning department. Clearly we need to have qualified, credentialed, experienced leadership and staff in city departments.

  21. Norwalk Sage

    Another permanent employee is another pension burden for the city. A permanent employee has no incentive other than to keep his job. Hire a contractor.

  22. anon

    Although moving in the right direction, the lack of transparency by Adam Blank and Rilling is concerning. Why so secret about something so important? 28 or 30 people show up and it’s all hush hush?

    The Coalition for Norwalk Neighborhoods asks Blank who was on the Zoning Task Force and Blank says “The task force is shaping up and I should have a meaningful update for you in next week or so. I’m waiting on a few things that are outside of my control,” Blank said

    The names of the participants are ‘out of your control’? You owe the public more forthrightness than that.

  23. Mike Mushak

    Thank you Adam. A step in the right direction. Redniss is good to have on the Task Force, as he is a smart growth advocate. http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/business/article/Q-A-with-Rick-Redniss-president-of-Redniss-Mead-5660193.php But also be aware that he might be less likely to give honest advice about our P and Z Department when he still has to come before them when he represents clients in applications. Greene’s reputation among developers for nasty and petty retaliation when challenged is well-known. He has held up zone changes for years because of his many personal animosities with specific developers. With this history, will Redniss give the honest advice we really need?

    The craziest thing I am hearing is that we need a professional planner now to plan the city! With all due respect, that is exactly Mike Greene’s job, that we are paying him $165k a year with 2 full months of paid vacation to do. Greene has no professional planning credentials, and was promoted to Director by none other than Joe Santo over 20 years ago when the former Director died suddenly. Santo has admitted he never checked Greene’s qualifications before he promoted him. Oops.

    When you put people into positions of responsibility who don’t have the proper skills and knowledge for that job in a climate of cronyism and corruption, then don’t be surprised when you get big box sprawl, struggling downtowns with empty storefronts, monumental traffic jams that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions to fix ( see current Ct Ave widening long after the big box developers who created the traffic jams made their profits and moved on) , overscale projects like BJ’s and the mosque, houses in the middle of pristine salt marshes, and an angry public that fills concert halls screaming for reform. The Republicans in this town have now reaped what they have sown, laying blame everywhere except where it belongs, squarely on the P and Z Director’s decades of poor decisions and lack of any real planning for Norwalk. The latest AMEC application on Crescent Street is a great example of how inept Greene is: he didn’t bother to tell the applicant or the Zoning Commission about the million or so dollars worth of professional plans done by teh Redevlopment Agency and other organizations that say Crescent Street will be reopened to become a major car/bike/pedestrian corridor, and instead the Commission is going to act on the application with a bogus traffic study based on the erroneous belief that the road will stay closed permanently.

    It will be yet another of so many major zoning decision that will be made in a planning vacuum, thanks to Greene’s laziness in actually advising applicants and the ZC about how projects fit in with future plans. And now we want to throw a real planner into this mix? It will devolve into Green’s slamming the door in the planner’s face, the same thing he does to our Redevelopment Director and anyone else in City Hall who challenges him. Replace Green sooner than later with an actual qualified professional planner, and that’s when real change will happen. Who ever promised municipal employees lifetime employment? That’s not in their contracts, and not what any city should be doing in 2014.

  24. anon

    @Mushak, understood that all Democrats can do no wrong in your book. Too bad Adam Blank and Rilling aren’t Republicans, then you too would be asking the obvious—28 or 30 people invited to a zoning task force to discuss Norwalk’s future and taxpayers are told nothing?

    Zoning is not an inside job. Zoning affects everyone, This should not be political. Mr. Blank is beginning to look more like a hired gun than a honest broker.

  25. M murray

    What the city really needs is an economic growth director.

  26. EastNorwalkChick

    What the City really needs is charter revision and a City Manager, because we have, have had in the past, a council that can’t seem to find their way out of a paper bag and everything becomes political, which keeps us stuck. Until we do this, take away some of the running of the city and some of their power, we are just spitting in the wind and we will continue to stay stuck, griping about the same things 20 yrs. from now.

  27. Mike Mushak

    Anon, I have always been an equal opportunity critic of both parties. I have also praised members of both parties when they make smart decisions. In my first comment above I give credit to GOP Mayor Moccia for helping clean up the Norwalk Museum mess, and what a mess that was. I respect the Democrat Mayor Knopp before him, but with all due respect he ignored that big problem for his two terms. But he did a lot of other great things for the city as well.

    Adam Blank lists the recent zoning changes in his comment above that have occurred or are in the works. He has the unenviable job of steering a rudderless ship (P and Z) that has been adrift for years back onto course, and was recently made Vice Chair. Santo is still Chair as a result of that vote, since we have a phony D who is a reliable R vote on the ZC, appointed by Moccia, a sleazy political trick that ensured GOP control of the ZC even though on paper the D’s have a majority. This lingering stench of former corruption is what we are left with to deal with, but we have to start somewhere in cleaning up the huge mess.

    I was not at the meeting you refer to so can’t comment on it, but I can say Adam Blank is a thoughtful and organized Zoning Commissioner and is working hard to make things happen. My big gripe is that the inept and arrogant Greene wasn’t asked to resign , as that is a big part of this mess and the obvious solution to many concerned folks all over Norwalk, not just me. I respect the ideas of Michael McGuire in his posts, but with all due respect I think it is a crazy idea that we should hire another management level position in the form of a city planner which is exactly what Greene’s job is if he was qualified and passionate about helping Norwalk (he is neither, as 30 years of the unfinished Harbor Loop Trail attests to, as well as our broken zoning code and dysfunctional planning process that results in no vision at all for where the city should be going). In the reality of this economic and political climate we will not be hiring a city planner anytime soon, so replacing Greene with a professional planner who knows how to manage a department t and play well with others and has a passion to help Norwalk is the solution that I have been and will continue to press for. It will happen, and must happen, no matter how much that requires ruffling feathers of members of both parties.

    M Murray, we have a new Economic Development Director, named Elizabeth Stocker. Her profile is here on NON, just do a site search in the box on this page. She is highly qualified and is working hard behind the scenes along with Mayor Rilling to make things happen, and I applaud her efforts. Again, I use the metaphor of the obvious need now to steer the huge rudderless ship that Norwalk is, back onto course with a bipartisan effort. Those who don’t want to help will reveal themselves over time and will be weeded out through election, appointment, or resignation. In fact, we already know who many of those are.

  28. John Hamlin

    Who is Rick Redniss and what is his experience? What cities has he assisted in planning?

  29. Piberman

    We’ll do much better as a City by not criticizing City employees publicly.. That’s both bad manners and counterproductive. Let’s save the criticism if warranted for our elected officials who oversee our City employees. And, then accompany criticism with specific suggestions for improvement. Nothing precludes City officials from hiring well qualified consultants with professional standing to advise on complex issues such as the proposed mall, Oak Hills range, revising zoning and planing regulations, etc. Our NPSS hires consultants. City Hall and the Council can do so too. Especially a Council without well qualified financial expertise.

  30. Michael McGuire

    Rick Redniss is a partner in the firm Redniss & Mead.

    http://rednissmead.com/

    They are located in Stamford and are considered a top tier provider of land use planning and engineering in our region. Knowing they are part of the process is a huge win for all in Norwalk who are looking for comprehensive zoning reform.

  31. Mike Mushak

    Piberman, seriously? You of all people saying we shouldn’t criticize public employees publicly? LOL! You who rant ad nauseum for years against overpaid city employees! Bad manners? Counterproductive? You either have a great sense of sarcastic humor or are really self-delusional. I’ll assume the former for now.

    Here’s the problem. We have an arrogant and vindictive PLANNING and Zoning Director who is NOT A PLANNER, chronically lies to the public and the land use commissions which is on the record, has no professional qualifications to hold his job, ignores millions of dollars worth of plans and studies including our Master Plan, and yet still gets paid $165k a year with 2 months paid vacation with guaranteed annual raises with no performance reviews. He even threatened the one entity in the city that can supervise him, the Zoning Commission, with a lawsuit if they even mention a performance review of him. Wow. And you think it is bad manners to reveal all this corruption and waste of millions of dollars publicly? What would you do, write an email to yourself? I doubt that very much! Thanks for the good laugh!

    Do we really believe that you, the biggest critic of municipal financial abuse, would now suddenly just accept this bad municipal employee who has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars in unimplemented plans and studies, ignored thousands of under-performing properties resulting in a deteriorated tax base, left inexcusable commercial blight unchecked all over the city including at the major gateways into the city at Exits 14 and 16 (go look for yourself), angered countless business owners and developers with his nasty attitude and petty retaliations, and has run the once well-respected P and Z Department into the ground over decades of bad management and poor planning decisions? Gee, I wonder what happened?

  32. Suzanne

    “Let’s save the criticism if warranted for our elected officials who oversee our City employees.” Piberman, you stated on another thread that it would not be proper to criticize the Mayor, an elected official who oversees some aspects of City Employees. You cannot have it both ways.

  33. piberman

    Suzzanne and Mike

    Thank you. Presumably Mayor Rilling will review Mr. Greene’s performance in the annual review at which time it will be useful to have some informed inputs from those appointed officials who work with Department Heads and from “informed citizens”. It’s doubtful whether words like “arrogant and vindictive” are helpful at this stage. The larger issue is that City Department Heads and senior employees reportedly have been given “pass through” evaluations year after year without any apparent effort upon our previous mayors to undertake a careful evaluation of performance. Hopefully Mayor Rilling will be different from prior Mayors and take an active professional interest. And hopefully the outcomes of those performnce reviews will improve City governance. This should be the focus of our attention – encouraging the Mayor to undertake a careful and comprehensive evaluation of the senior administrators in City Hall. It could be a “Revolution”. Or it could be “just as you were”. Castigating senior department heads in public may not be the best way to get the Mayor’s attention. Maybe private communications bringing unsatisfatory performnce to the Mayor’s attention will have more “force”. We’ll have to see. But at day’s end I don’t think that public cricticsm of senior officials performance by itself will produce desired changes in City governance. It takes a Mayor willing to undertake careful peformance reviews. Hopefully there will be subsantial comments explaining why Department Heads and Senior officials are given their “annual raises for superior performance’. Over the last 4 decades at least that information has been withheld by both the Mayor and Common Council. And I think we know the consequences of “top secret” employee evaluations.

  34. Oyster

    @PBerman:

    We’ll do much better as a City by not criticizing City employees publicly.. That’s both bad manners and counterproductive.

    Quid pro quo Clarice. If City employees stop going after civic-minded citizens in the press and through petty ordinance violations (and withholding City services), then said Citizens should stop criticizing said employees.

    Presumably Mayor Rilling will review Mr. Greene’s performance in the annual review at which time it will be useful to have some informed inputs from those appointed officials who work with Department Heads and from “informed citizens”.

    You “presume” incorrectly. Mr. Greene’s position is not reviewable by the Mayor. This is the point that commenters here have been trying to hammer home since Mr. Greene threatened the Zoning Commission (the only body that CAN review him) with litigation if they even brought it up.

  35. Piberman

    Oyster:
    I can’t recall any senior City official terminated for just cause over the last 4 decades. Nor do I recall any presentation to the public why City officials merit annual raises for unspecified job performance. And I can recall only one instance in which a senior City official was hired away.
    The Norwalk practice is to give de facto tenure to City officials. So a job performance for Mr Greene may take some doing. Or any other senior employee. Maybe a citizens petition might get the attention of the ever sleepy Council or even the Mayor. Since City finances were not discussed last election performance evaluations seem an uphill battle. Maybe we just hire and reward the very best. All the time. So performance assessment isn’t required.

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