Once Around the City: Some shocking news… about Watts, BJ’s & more

NORWALK, Conn. – There’s been some buzz about defibrillators in the schools.

A week ago, it was suggested at the Mayor’s Night Out that Norwalk Public Schools should all be equipped with defibrillators. The next day, Mayor Harry Rilling said he had spoken with a possible corporate sponsor who might provide the life-saving equipment. Then Board of Education Chairman Mike Lyons said the shocking machinery was already in the 2014-15 school budget.

That piece of news sent some readers scrambling to try to find the budget line item.

Well, turns out Mike Lyons was wrong – automated external defibrillators (AED’s) are not in the 2014-15 proposed budget. They have been put on the shopping list for, well, now.

According to Lyons, the funding for the equipment has become available in this year’s budget. The misinformation was the result of a “communications hiccup” between Lyons and Superintendent Manny Rivera.

And there’s more. Lyons said the price is coming down.

“Manny said we got a new proposal in today that would let us do the AEDs for about $49,000 (rather than the original estimate of $80,000),” he said.

Rivera “made plans to reallocate savings into the AED’s after receiving a proposal from the head of our nursing group, Grace Vetter, to place them in all of our schools,” Lyons wrote Tuesday in an email. “There are considerable savings in the 2013-2014 superintendents’ budget because the start date of the HR chief will not begin until March 1 at the earliest. In addition, we will not hire a chief business officer until July 1 (which will be covered in the 2014/15 operating budget).”

Lyons said the mayor might get corporate funding for some or all of the AED expense in meetings scheduled later this week.

“If that is the case, then we will not need to make a transfer of our own operating budget funds to cover this cost,” Lyons said.

Meet the developer

A would-be commenter who tried to find a new way to use the language to get a sex organ reference onto the site – are we really in middle school here? – managed to call our attention to something of interest recently. So, with a nod to Mr. Shun…

The developer who wants to put a BJ’s Wholesale Club on Main Avenue – and who suggested that, should he be denied, perhaps he would opt for a strip club – apparently has quite a history in New York, both as a developer and an attorney. We spent a few minutes searching the Internet and came up with the following links:




Gurevich Appellate Opinion NY Attorney Suspension

The BJ’s proposal may be on its way back to the Zoning Commission. Fasten your seat belts, it could be a bumpy ride.

So, just what DOES he do?

There has been much angst on the part of some people over the source of David Watts’s income. This seems odd to Watts, who says he has not heard similar questions about any of the other Common Council members, all of whom are basically volunteers (they get a $50 monthly stipend, which Watts says he dos not take).

Watts said he derives his income from his work as a freelance political campaign consultant for out-of-town campaigns. His most recent gig was helping to get Toni Harp elected mayor of New Haven, he said. Harp is the city’s first female mayor, and is an African-American. He said he does not charge Norwalk Democrats when he works on their campaigns, because he feels it could be a conflict of interest.

Watts has called himself “the poorest member of the Common Council.” His wife is a teacher at Porter & Chester Institute in Stratford.

In the interest of full disclosure, we researched the rest of the council online:

Doug Hempstead, VP Stew Leonard’s

Glen Iannacone, retired fire marshal

Bruce Kimmel, retired NYC teacher, NCC teacher

Sharon Stewart, social worker

Richard Bonenfant, professional photographer

John Igneri, former president of Dreyfus Investment Advisors

David McCarthy, worked for GE Capital and IBM

Faye Bowman, data analyst, Horizons National Student Enrichment Program

Michelle Maggio, owner, Mike’s Deli

John Kydes, construction and building management

Jerry Petrini, owner, My Three Sons

Shannon O’Toole Giandurco, executive assistant, Tengram Capital

Travis Simms, retired two-time World Boxing Association junior middleweight champion

Eloisa Melendez, student, NCC

He said it in The Times

A story about Farm Creek in Tuesday’s New York Times Real Estate section brought up The Great Divide between Rowayton and The Rest of Norwalk, a situation acknowledged in the story by Mike Barbis.

“There are many people that would love for us to secede from the city of Norwalk,” said Michael Barbis, a taxing district commissioner and real estate agent. “There’s this perception that the city is taking advantage of us. But under the state constitution, secession is really not an option.”

Barbis did throw a bouquet of sorts to Rowayton’s Norwalk connection, touting diversity in the schools, especially at Rowayton Elementary, which draws some children from South Norwalk. “Your kids go to school in Darien and it’s all kids of upper-class, white-collar professionals,” said Mr. Barbis, who is also on the Board of Education. “In Rowayton, you get the best of both worlds.”

IMF to host 2-day MLK celebration

The Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship of Norwalk and Vicinity (IMF) will host its annual two-day Celebration of the life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday and Monday, Jan. 19-20, with a citywide memorial program. The events are free and open to the public. All are welcome to attend.

Sunday’s kick-off service will be held at 7 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church, 21 Concord St., with the Rev. Carl McCluster from Shiloh Baptist Church in Bridgeport as guest speaker. Music will be provided by Basic featuring Hughie Askew. Offerings collected during the service will go toward supporting the IMF Scholarship Fund.

Monday’s program will be held at 7 p.m. in City Hall’s Concert Hall, 125 East Ave., with guest speaker the Rev. Dr. Robert W. Perry from Union Baptist Church in Stamford. Music will be provided by the IMF/MLK Concert Choir.

The Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship of Norwalk and Vicinity is a network of religious leaders seeking to provide not only spiritual benefits but also social and educational benefits to the community.

And speaking of MLK Day…

There will be regular garbage and recycling pick-up in the Monday collection areas of the 4th Taxing District on Jan. 20.

The transfer station at 61 Crescent St. will be open for regular business hours, as will the yard waste site at 15 S. Smith St.



29 responses to “Once Around the City: Some shocking news… about Watts, BJ’s & more”

  1. “Toni Harp elected mayor of New Haven, he said. Harp is the city’s first female mayor, and is an African-American.”
    This is the new mayor of New Haven that will cost her constituents much money because she is demanding to be driven around in a private car with police escort…
    These democrats know how to spend…just on the wrong things.
    Wonder what will be up Watts sleeve if he is ever elected into something higher.

  2. EveT

    Being the “poorest member of the Common Council” is nothing to be proud of. Especially when you have a child to support. What is the rationale for Watts renouncing his $50 a month payment as a Common Council member?

  3. we the people!

    @Eve T,

    Your comment about Watts’family is nasty and repugnant.

  4. Shocking news that Watts doesn’t have a job…nope, not shocking at all.
    How EveT’s comment is read (to me, at least); it is not directed at Watt’s family, but at Watt himself.

  5. LongTimeDem

    It is sadly ironic that while the rest of City government has a holiday for Martin Luther King Day, the (privatized) sanitation employees will be working. Remember that at the time of his assassination, Martin Luther King was in Memphis supporting the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ strike.

  6. Suzanne

    Ummm, Irishgirl, you asked incessantly about what Mr. Watt’s does when he is not involved in Norwalk activities and you got your answer. Surprise! It is not good enough for you. How does it feel to be so completely negative? How does it feel to constantly write what you think and always be critical? You asked, you got your answer. Too bad. Never good enough for you. But, remember, NON answered your question and, with all of the diatribe, all you had to do was ASK.

  7. jlightfield

    @LongTimeDem, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. thx for posting.

  8. we the people!


    Inmates,possibly make more money than Common Council members. Their pay is around 30 cents per hour.

    Bloggers have trashed his wife and now speaking about his “child” is disgusting too.

    Families are out of bounds.

  9. LWitherspoon

    Thank you NoN for looking into the question of Mr. Watts’s employment, or lack thereof. The suggestion by Mr. Watts that it’s odd to want to know what our elected officials do for a living shows a lack of understanding on his part of what’s important. A person’s work experience – or lack of work experience – is entirely relevant to whether or not that person would make good decisions on the public’s behalf as a public servant. The careers of long-term council members are generally common knowledge, and those of new council members came out during the campaign. Only Mr. Watts’s career has been hazy, and it’s great that NoN asked the question.
    The results of NoN’s investigation reveal that Mr. Watts is a man of many contradictions. He frequently reminds everyone that he is a member of the “working poor”, yet he appears to have had no recent gainful employment apart from a very short-lived political campaign in New Haven. That’s a perversion of the term “working poor”, which more appropriately describes people who work multiple low-wage jobs to make ends meet. And in spite of being one of the “working poor”, Mr. Watts turns down the Common Council stipend of $600 per year, missing no opportunity to remind us of this. As EveT points out, it’s worth asking Mr. Watts’s rationale for turning down that stipend. Most would agree that truly poor people don’t turn down $600 per year, not if they have a child depending on them for support.

  10. Don’t Panic

    Gurevich is quite the gem. It would behoove Norwalk to pay attention to the ratio of his projects that had financing failures in his history as well as his disciplinary record.

  11. the donut hole

    unpaid property taxes and tax liens are a matter of public record, which can be viewed on the city website. foregoing income when you need it to pay bills is fiscally irresponsible and is a larger problem considering you have say in how millions are spent.

  12. WonderingOutLoud

    If we are debating the work record of Mr. Watts… did we forget to mention Ms. Melendez. At 19 what is her wwork experience made up of? Whatis her knowledge of how property tax is paid and generated?

  13. ryan

    @Longtime, maybe you should ask the crews if they’d rather work Monday or Saturday before you judge.

  14. @Suzanne,
    “How does it feel to be so completely negative? How does it feel to constantly write what you think and always be critical? You asked, you got your answer. Too bad. Never good enough for you. But, remember, NON answered your question and, with all of the diatribe, all you had to do was ASK.”
    Wow, you do need to focus on other things…
    First off, not completely negative at all. Just a statement that I was not surprised that Watts doesn’t have a job. I’ve made compliments on this website but you choose to ignore those posts.
    “Never good enough for you” – not even sure what that means. NoN has done their job and wrote their findings – why is this not good enough for me? I’m satisfied that they wrote about investigated findings. As for me having to “ASK”, it seems like I did and others did too, several times and NoN took up the task…
    As for “all this diatribe” – what diatribe? I’m questioning about what is going on. I don’t jump on the good Norwalk/Rilling bandwagon because you, Suzanne, say so. As for someone who should be accused of writing “all this diatribe” is you, Suzanne.

    Are you saying that it’s more profitable to be a criminal than a common council member? Maybe, but not a proud statement, not something I would want anyone to know.
    But, why the post to me? I didn’t say boo about his family and don’t really care to, either. What I posted is in response to how I interpreted the post about Watts turning down the CC stipend. Whether or not Watts makes enough to support his family on what he does, if he collects unemployment, gets welfare or has a rich uncle, is his business, I guess.
    It only shows that he doesn’t bring any real world experience to the table.

  15. Suzanne

    Irishgirl, what you write reflects you perfectly. ‘Nuff said.

  16. we the people!


    Council members make $12.50 per week and required to live in town. However, department heads make over $100,000 and can live where they want.

    Who would want to work at the same rate as an inmate washing dishes, at your local state prison? Inmates also get room and board. What do our council members get? A person like you posting nasty comments about their private lives.

    Thanks, Common Council members for your service.

  17. the donut hole

    you have to hand it to some people. if I owed $7k in back property taxes, i’d probably be working it off at a job that pays before I volunteered for the city. just sayin.

  18. marjoriem

    Thank you ,NON, for researching the defibrillator question. Mike Lyons doesn’t appear to assume any responsibility for mistakes or miscommunications.

  19. piberman

    Thanks Nancy for the career identifications of our esteemed Council members. Hope you could do the same for BOE, Zoning and especially the BET. As Council President Hempstead has said on several occasions “there are no qualificaitons to serve on city boards or commissions”. That’s one of Norwalk’s unique governance features. None of our surrounding towns or cities have adopted that esteemed feature of local governance.

    1. Mark Chapman


      We were planning on doing BOE. The appointed boards will take a little more time, but we will do our best to expedite. For the record, we asked the mayoral and council candidates about appointments last fall, and virtually all said they preferred a mix of people with experience in their subject along with interested and dedicated citizens…

  20. @WTtP,
    I don’t get why you really think I have any opinion in what the CC member makes vs the heads of departments. Don’t really care. If someone wants to start a petition to change all that – more power to them. I’m NOT posting anything negative about anyone’s family (private life vs what they do for a living is not the same thing).
    All I’m saying is that if Watts’ doesn’t have a job (and it seems like he doesn’t) how he supports his family is his business, whether it be unemployment, welfare or a rich uncle..
    All I’m saying is that he is NOT bringing any real world experience to the CC because it appears he does not work anymore, but that is just my own opinion.
    I’m wondering if you aren’t Watts himself – he is known to have several alias to write in.
    Now if want to direct any attacks, please make sure you aim carefully – there are many other posts who don’t think highly of Watts and have posted dubious writings.

  21. Marjoriem, NON’s “researching the defibrillator question” consisted of asking me a question and getting an answer, after I looked into the budget issue and realized I had misinterpreted Dr. Rivera’s statement as indicating the funding was in next year’s budget when he had actually found it in this year’s budget. Not only did I respond to Mark after getting the facts straight, I also responded to you on the main article about the AEDs. On that article you had asked “Mike Lyons, could you kindly point out where the defibrillators are in the budget?” I responded at 10:14 am yesterday (about 23 hours ago) as follows: “Manny and I had a communication hiccup. The funding for the AEDs is in THIS year’s budget; Manny made plans to reallocate savings into the AEDs after receiving a proposal a couple of months back from the head of our nursing group, Grace Vetter, to place them in all of our schools. There are considerable savings in the 2013-2014 Superintendant’s budget because the start date of the HR chief will not begin until March 1, 2014 at the earliest. In addition, we will not hire a chief business officer until July 1, 2014 (which will be covered in the 2014/15 operating budget). Manny noted that there is a possibility that the Mayor might get corporate funding for some or all of this AED expense in meetings he has later this week. If that is the case, then we will not need to make a transfer of our own operating budget funds to cover this cost. When I had asked Manny if there was money in the budget for AEDs and he said yes, I assumed he meant the 2014-2015 budget (since that was the topic of the presentation). He thought I meant THIS year’s budget, which is where he actually intended to get the funding. The good thing about the mix-up is that it means we can get the AEDs faster, with current year budget money, instead of having to wait until after July 1 (to get 2014-2015 budget money). Also, as I told Mark, Manny says that we got a new proposal in yesterday that would let us do the AEDs for about $49,000 (rather than the original estimate of $80,000). Sorry about mixing up the budget years, but the AEDs will definitely been purchased and installed soon.”
    But as usual, there’s no satisfying Marjoriem.

  22. @Suzanne,
    If what I write reflects me “perfectly” then I know I am a perfect reflection of independent and intelligent thinking, not some mindless drone.
    “Nuff said”.
    That is correct, ENOUGH said.

  23. marjoriem

    Mike Lyons, it sure took you long enough to answer a simple question if you only answered it yesterday. Thanks for pointing out that there is no satisfying me. I call it a search for the truth. But then you seem to enjoy putting me down to make yourself look better.

  24. LWitherspoon

    I believe you are correct in suspecting that “we the people!” is David Watts himself. The writing style and over-the-top alias fit Watts’s modus operandi to a T. How embarrassing for Norwalk that we have a Common Council member who posts self-congratulatory comments on these pages under many different usernames. Bea Jones, L boogie, Rikki Bobbi, the names change but it’s always the same old song.
    Perhaps these latest comments by Mr. Watts offer a window into why he wants to be a state representative – he feels Common Council members are not paid enough, so he’s trying for a position with a full-time salary.
    Considering the blatantly pro-union, anti-taxpayer actions by Mr. Watts on Council, it is hard to see how Norwalk would derive any benefit by sending him to Hartford. In fact we may be better served to pay him a full-time salary to stay home and retire from public life.
    Let’s remember that it was Mr. Watts who was at the forefront of criticizing Personnel Director James Haselkamp because Union employees complained about him. Mr. Haselkamp’s years of Norwalk experience were flushed down the toilet by the new Mayor with no reason given, and Haselkamp immediately found a job elsewhere. If the alleged offenses by Mr. Haselkamp detailed in NoN were so bad, how is it that Mr. Haselkamp found a new job so quickly? We fired him because over the course of eight (?) years he raised his voice during a negotiating session and had two accusations lodged against him, with no official finding of improper behavior?
    Mayor Rilling was within his rights to replace Haselkamp but I hope that there will be a lot of attention paid by NoN and others to what Mr. Haselkamp’s replacement does differently in terms of policy, and what, if anything, those changes wind up costing the City.

  25. the donut hole

    @LWitherspoon. There’s a deal. Forgive the delinquent property taxes on the condition of never seeking public office again. Would save the city a lot of time and embarrassment. And we know what time is equivalent to.

  26. LWitherspoon

    @the donut hole
    Yes, time is equivalent to “respect”.
    How much does Councilman Watts owe in delinquent property taxes?

  27. the donut hole

    you can look up any property tax bill and payment history on the city website by name or address.
    people can and do fall on hard times and I would never want to guess why, only sympathize with them.
    that said. I do not trust someone who foregoes income for self aggrandizement when they can’t pay their own tax bills and when they get to decide how to spend the hard earned money that I pay in taxes on time to the city. In this instance it is shameful.
    I also feel bad for someone who wouldn’t put their family first and work a paying job, instead of volunteering your time away when you can’t pay your bills.
    You have to fix your own house before you can fix others.

  28. The one thing that comes to mind when people who are in a position of “power” but are insolvent, it leaves them vulnerable when it comes time to making deals, decisions, partnerships or contracts when others may sweeten the pot for something in their favor. You want to remain above reproach.
    When people are hired to handle money (be it bank teller, accountant or CFO) there is great attention to the person’s credit history and outstanding debt. The temptation is far too great for some, especially in a time of crises.
    And to “We the People”, before you start attacking me, this is just a thought in general…

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