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Opinion: Bird flies in face of Norwalk plea for civility

NORWALK, Conn. – Oak Hills Park Authority Chairman Bob Virgulak gleefully gave this reporter The Finger between the closing doors of a City Hall elevator last Tuesday.

It was a beautiful sight: a sliver of visual information, with the extended digit at about waist level, Virgulak’s grin and his mane of white hair above it, glowing in the downward light. I wish I had a photo for you.

I can’t give you that but I’ve got a video taken a week and a half earlier. By chance, I encountered Virgulak, the chairman of the Oak Hills Park Authority, as I attempted to give just a sliver of positive publicity to the new Mac It Cheese on Main Street, just off Wall Street. Virgulak is the landlord of the new restaurant, but he didn’t let me get the photos I needed. Instead, he called me over so he could speak his mind.

Some highlights:

“I have two words to say to you and they’re not ‘You’re OK.’” (It really is quite clever. Think about the extended digit, you’ll get it.)

“I’m not giving you (insert well known scatalogical reference here) and you can quote me.”

“I’m not letting the authority members give you anything either.”

“You’re a miserable person with a big mouth.”

Then I misphrased a reference to something from his past.. His eyes lit up, and there was the evil grin. “I can sue you,” he said.

Not quite, I said. The only person who heard it was you, I said.

His face fell.

Oak Hills Park Authority Chairman Bob Virgulak has a particular type of Norwalk charm.

I won’t tell you what I said. I might get sued, but here’s a helpful hint for any future conversations you might have about Virgulak: never say he has a criminal record. That would be a mistake.

Say, “On Oct. 9, 1982, Virgulak was sentenced to a suspended one-year prison term and two years of probation after pleading guilty to a first degree larceny charge, according to stories from newspapers that can be found online,” one of which you can find here.

So anyway, Virgulak kept repeating insults and telling me I could quote him. I finally said, “OK, let’s get it on video.”

The result is above.

The chance encounter at City Hall Tuesday was fun. I was in the elevator with Diane Cece, who had introduced me to a Republican Third Taxing District commissioner the week before. I said, “Did you hear him say, ‘Oh, you’re Damn Nancy’?”

That was great, she said, adding that the name would stick. We could combine it with her nickname, she said: “That b—ch.”

We were laughing as the elevator doors opened. There was Virgulak, with the ever-dignified, professional Board of Education Chairman Mike Lyons.

You can’t make this stuff up.

I tried to ask Lyons a question, but Virgulak diverted my attention.

“I’m not giving you anything,” he said.

“I don’t care,” I said.

“Yes, you do,” he said.

“No, I don’t,” I said.

Bingo! There’s the finger!

To my surprise, Cece decided to confront Virgulak. She took the next elevator up and followed him down the hall to the mayor’s office. They were having a verbal altercation, I guess, which the mayor broke up.

That led to a conversation with Moccia at the council meeting that evening, after the Republican Party had put on a show about civility in government.

The mayor, who has indefinitely extended Virgulak’s expired term on OHPA, said he had told Virgulak he shouldn’t have done that thing with his hand. He went on to criticize me for providing information to the public.

“It happened 40 years ago,” he said.

Well, no, 1982.

I tried to explain why we here at NancyOnNorwalk think it reasonable to share things we know about people who are in charge of governmental bodies that are struggling financially. It’s not about handling currency. It’s about hiring companies to do work for the city. There’s an idea out there that governmental officials doing that kind of thing should absolutely be above reproach. What a concept!

Comments

47 responses to “Opinion: Bird flies in face of Norwalk plea for civility”

  1. Norwalk Lifer

    What a stupid person really, self control is the first step towards intelligence.

    Regards
    Norwalk Lifer

  2. Don’t Panic

    What classy leadership. OHPA deserves someone who understands that it is a government entity, not a private business.

  3. Rod Lopez-Fabrega

    GO Nancy…GO.

    Keep on removing the fig leafs from our public officials.

  4. LWitherspoon

    If Mr. Virgulak doesn’t want to talk to NoN, that’s his right. But this childish behavior towards Nancy renders him unfit to serve as head of the OHPA, and reflects badly on Mayor Moccia who appointed him. The best thing Mr. Virgulak can do for the OHPA at this moment is resign.
    .
    Nancy: Why no mention of this encounter in Thursday’s article titled “Oak Hills Golf Course ‘doing much better’”?

  5. Suzanne

    When I had my encounter with Mr. Virgulak, the entire OHPA present in a public statement, I thought, 1) He is going to have a heart attack, 2) He suffers from dementia 3) He needs therapy as it is clear he has not progressed beyond childish tantrums 4)This onslaught is very unpleasant, when is he going to stop? The gentleman sitting next to him pulled the mike from Mr. Virgulak, then, behind his upraised arm tried to settle Mr.Virgulak down with “soothing” words. The man seems ill in some way and I am not kidding. Having spoken publicly many times, including at councils on the West and East coasts, I have never run into reactions quite like his. I finally left the podium and walked over and kept repeating, quietly, “What you want to hear is in these next three lines right here”, pointing to my printed out statement. His eyes were truly wild and he was pounding the table, getting the rest of his allied peanut gallery going. I was then told I was out of my three minutes: I replied that “This gentleman interrupted me. I am going to speak until I am finished.” (I had timed my statement ahead of time – it went to two minutes and 47 seconds) and I did. But, I will never be among him or his kind again – it was truly nuts and hostile and this is the behavior so often repeated that others expect it. The only thing I can think of is that Moccia keeps Mr. Virgulak in place as head of the OHPA to manipulate like he manipulates everything else to his liking. I have written in the past and believe so now that there are plenty of ways in which Mr. Virgulak could “serve the citizens of Norwalk as a taxpayer”, his reason for heading up the OHPA in a more civil exchange with me. He should take the opportunity to serve elsewhere. Clearly he does not know how to lead and have a basic conversation without rancor. How could that be effective in service to the OHPA? As to his criminal record, I think it is particularly cruel that Moccia would put Mr. Virgulak back into a situation that is so tempting and so like the criminal situation he so clearly needs to leave behind him.

  6. Joe Espo

    I’m fairly certain that if Mr. Virgulak were an African American democrat sporting a similar personality and record, we (not including me) would be describing him as a quirky business genius who deserves a second chance after a youthful offense and is afflicted with a mild case of Tourette Syndrome manifested in an uncontrollable urge to flip people off.
    .
    But he’s not one. He’s a white European American republican, so he deserves no benefits of any plausible doubts.
    .
    But NON shouldn’t be averse to the occasional finger. After all, the existence of NON is one big finger to the Moccia administration as retribution for Tapegate.
    .
    Maybe if NON’s news slant were just a tad more neutral, and its affinity for Moccia haters were more tempered, fewer readers’ fingers would be flipping around town and more kumbaya would be sung.

  7. Diane C2

    @Joe Espo – you need help. Seriously. I hope you get it. In the meantime, perhaps the brains and energy you are wasting on being so hateful and intolerant and toxic would be best spent helping to improve Norwalk – maybe you’d feel better about yourself and others if you did some volunteer work?

  8. Oldtimer

    Virgulak’s record is a matter of public record and is, by law, sufficient reason for him to loose his real estate broker’s license. The mystery is, did he ever make the restitution ($5,645) that was part of his sentence when he was convicted in the 2nd district commission case, and why does Moccia keep him in place at Oak Hills ?
    The restitution, or the lack of, is also a matter of public record and would take some research. The connection with Moccia is a little harder to fathom, especially during a re-election campaign. The 2nd district arrest and conviction is not Virgulak’s only brush with the law. Surely, Moccia is smart enough to see Virgulak as a political liability, and reason to order a forensic audit at Oak Hills. If there is nothing to hide, there is no risk and it puts Moccia on the side of protecting the public interest.
    His childish behavior to a reporter, in front of a witness, suggests it may be time for him to resign, as a favor to his friend, the mayor.

  9. Oldtimer

    Joe Espo
    For the record, Virgulak’s conviction was in 1982. He is now 70, so in 1982, stealing from the 2nd taxing district while serving as a commissioner was hardly a youthful indiscretion.

    Appointing him to another City commission, with his record, indicates poor judgement on the part of the mayor, similar to asking a recovering alcoholic to tend bar. Some of us deal with temptation better than others. I suppose you already knew that.

    “Retribution for tapegate” ? Are you that poorly informed, that you think NON started to focus on local politics, warts and all, only after tapegate ?

  10. Norwalk Lifer

    Dear Joe Espo:

    Being “fairly certain” can lead to a “certain failure”

    Regards
    Norwalk Lifer

  11. Lifelong Teacher

    Thanks, Nancy, for exposing another crooked buffoon in Norwalk. Another crook we are supporting….. He looks deranged.

    I get more news from you than from our city’s print media. You are quicker and more accurate.

    Thought about it for a while, but tonight I’ll make my first contribution. Someone has to shine a light on this stuff.

  12. Chad

    @ Joe Espo,

    You are a disgrace and you should be ashamed of yourself. Moccia shouldn’t have you speaking for his administration- you make every good republican look bad.

    Mr. Virgulak, should conduct himself in a professional manner and answer the questions.

  13. Suzanne

    Mr. Espo, While I know you are inclined to present contrary opinions, your example of an acceptable alternative to Mr. Virgulak is racist. Now, I am not surprised you would lean into this sort of diatribe, but I do believe, having experienced Mr. Virgulak in all of his deranged glory, you are wrong. No need for “the finger” and no need to be discourteous. You are simply wrong.

  14. LWitherspoon

    @JoeEspo
    Your answer did not reflect well on you. Injecting race into this discussion is not appropriate. You are stooping to the same tactics that are rightly deplored when employed by such race baiters as Nellie Mann and David Watts.
    .
    Bad behavior is bad behavior. Mr. Virgulak should resign. So should Amanda Brown and Bill Krummel. Perhaps they can all take an anger management class together.

  15. Shawn P

    LWitherspoon,

    You’re worse than Joe Espo! You should resign too, buddy!

  16. chad

    @LWitherspoon,

    I give your comments 2 thumbs down. You told a lie on Bill Dunne he never made any public statements regarding same sex couples. He should sue you for libel.

    Trashing Rev. Mann is over the top! Get Help.

  17. Suzanne

    L Witherspoon is correct in naming names to clean house. It is time that all of this banter that is so hurtful and useless to the service of the people of Norwalk stops. Who L Witherspoon has named and why seems appropriate to me: it is all a giant distraction from good governance and honoring the people whom they serve. Their collective behaviors IS deplorable and not recognizing that in its own right shows just how morally bankrupt these people are. They are not in service to us but merely showing their greed for notoriety and power. Norwalk does not need their like.

  18. D(ysfunctional)TC

    Watts up Chad? Your prose and style are almost as much a laughing stock as are your videos, alter egos, and ideas about moving to 142 and sacking your own party. Watts the matter? Bea Jones was unavailable?

  19. LWitherspoon

    @Chad aka Shawn P aka David Watts
    .
    You should, learn to punctuate properly buddy!
    .
    Once again it falls to me to inform you that you are wrong. One of the Bill Dunne tweets that you featured in your attack video asked “Why shouldn’t three people get married?” This was obviously a rhetorical question in the context of a debate over same-sex marriage, rather than Mr. Dunne stating his support of polygamy.
    .
    You either failed to understand the tweet’s meaning due to your ignorance of the debate, or even worse you did understand the real meaning but you pretended not to so that you could smear him anyway. I’m betting on the latter…

    (This comment has been edited to conform t our policy.)

  20. R(obot) tc

    DTC,

    You are another nasty blogger and should stop hating on the councilman. Having a drink and be happy.

  21. @LWitherspoon
    Thursday’s story was about the authority, its finances and its progress with the park.
    This story is about Mr. Virgulak and his rude behavior, which extends throughout his dealing with people from what I see and hear. it also speaks to the quality of the mayor’s appointments and the behavior the mayor is tolerating. Mr. Virgulak is being kept on the OHPA even though his term has expired.

    It’s also a personal story. I didn’t think I belonged in the Thursday story, which was a report on the work of the Authority as a whole. There are several good people there. It was about them, not me. This is about a chance encounter initiated by Mr. Virgulak.

  22. Chad

    @LWitherspoon aka DTC,

    … L Witherspoon is lying on Mr. Dunne and should prove me wrong! Mr. Dunne has never made any public statements on same sex couples.

    My real name is Chad. What is your real name Lwitherspoon? You are against marriage equality and this is apart your nasty little game.

    (This comment has been edited to conform with our policy)

  23. Chad

    @ Lwitherspoon,

    You claim?

    “Once again it falls to me to inform you that you are wrong. One of the Bill Dunne tweets that you featured in your attack video asked “Why shouldn’t three people get married?” This was obviously a rhetorical question in the context of a debate over same-sex marriage, rather than Mr. Dunne stating his support of polygamy.”

    You are totally lying! Here is the story that Mr. Dunne tweeted. I just searched three people getting married. You are not being honest!

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/30/three-people-get-married-thruple

    You are using gay marriage to advance your twisted agenda.

  24. Tim T

    Its all well and good that we are focusing on Moccia and his poor appointments. However I have yet to see any articles on NON of the many many scandals at the NPD when Rilling was police consultant????? People should be informed of both Moccia and Rillings screw ups to make an informed decision of which screw up to vote for come Nov.

    1. Mark Chapman

      But Tim, you are doing such a good job of posting the links over and over. And over. And over. There’s still five weeks to go. Plenty of time for all sorts of stories to break, and to be rehashed.

  25. Diane C2

    Nancy and Mark, perhaps solicit entries from your readers to compile a Letterman-like Top Ten List of Moccia/Rilling screw ups…..and to be fair, a Top Ten list of Moccia/Rilling accomplishments….(perhaps some entries will appear on both lists??)

  26. Tim T

    Well Thank You Mark.. Maybe you may want to put me on staff..LOL

  27. LWitherspoon

    @Chad aka David Watts
    .
    Your attack video against Bill Dunne took tweets out of context to smear him. Then you had the audacity to wonder why anyone would feel compelled to speak in favor of Mr. Dunne’s appointment at a council meeting. Shortly thereafter, you accidentally admitted on the record in a Council Meeting to creating the attack video. In my opinion it wasn’t one of your better nights on Council.
    .
    Since you are either ignorant of the facts, or pretending to be ignorant, I will attempt once again to explain them to you. I hope you can understand this explanation and respond civilly, rather than with the childish and unsubstantiated personal attacks you employed above.
    .
    During the debate over same-sex marriage, many opponents of marriage equality claimed that if society permitted one non-traditional form of marriage, it would have to allow all versions of marriage, including polygamy, bestiality, etc. Obviously Mr. Dunne’s tweet followed this line of attack, asking “Why shouldn’t three people get married? Why indeed?”
    .
    You either failed to understand, or pretended you didn’t understand, and instead accused Mr. Dunne of favoring polygamy in your attack video. I think you thought the attack video would embarrass Mr. Dunne, which in your mind was a worthwhile goal since you didn’t like things that Mr. Dunne had said about your behavior on council. Unfortunately the video only succeeded at displaying your own ignorance and pettiness and thus it embarrassed you instead.
    .
    As I’ve posted before, I support marriage equality. I know people who don’t – many for religious reasons – and we can respectfully agree to disagree. Again I ask – what does Mr. Dunne’s opinion on same sex marriage have to do with whether or not he can serve as a volunteer on the Planning Commission? Perhaps you can explain, although I’m not holding my breath since you’ve been asked many times for an explanation and have yet to provide one.

  28. Suzanne

    What? What does L Witherspoon’s entry about an “attack video” by David Watts have to do with Mr. Virgulak’s poor behavior? Why does this argument continue on this thread?????

  29. LWitherspoon

    @Nancy
    Thanks for the explanation. Is Mr. Virgulak at this point serving at the pleasure of the Mayor? What about the other members of the authority?
    .
    @Suzanne
    I compared Joe Espo’s comment to the race-baiting antics of David Watts, which I knew would be meaningful to Mr. Espo. Unfortunately this drew a response from Mr. Watts, who inadvertently reminded us that neither party in Norwalk has a monopoly on bad behavior.
    .
    I’m sorry if the subsequent back and forth offended you, but I’m glad we agree that the Mayor should encourage Mr. Virgulak to find a way to serve the community that doesn’t anger him into giving NoN the finger.

  30. R(obot) tc

    LWitherspoon,

    You are simply obsessed with the councilman. What does this have to do with the article?

    This person is completely off the reservation.

  31. LWitherspoon

    @Chad aka Shawn P aka R(obot)TC aka David Watts:
    .
    My first comment on this thread stated that Mr. Virgulak should resign. Please see above – you are the one who changed the subject to Bill Dunne and same-sex marriage. When I provided factual information that proved you wrong, you didn’t like that but couldn’t dispute it, so you accused me of going off-topic. Hilarious!

  32. Oldtimer

    What possible good reason could Mocccia have for keeping Bob Virgulak on the Oak Hills Commission indefinitely after his appointment expired? … Every time a forensic audit is suggested, the idea is ruled out as prohibitively expensive. Ruled out very quickly by a commission whose chairman has been caught once already by inexpensive forensic audits, resulting in his arrest and conviction. For some reason, Moccia doesn’t overrule their position on forensic audits.

    (This comment has been edited to conform with our policy)

  33. “… L Witherspoon is lying on Mr. Dunne ”
    *
    @Chad:
    Oh my! If L. Witherspoon is “lying on Mr. Dunne” then tell L. Witherspoon to get up off him!! I’m sure Mr. Dunne would appreciate someone telling LW to get off him, he might not be able to breath!!
    *

  34. Suzanne

    Oldtimer, Mention “forensic audit” to any of the powers that be and their eyes glaze over. Defensiveness ensues: “Forensic Audits are only used when criminal activity is suspected!” Then there are the long explanations about why this is not warranted in Virgulak’s case and heaven forbid you should mention the lack of information about OHPA financing or the lack of accountability regarding how the many loans they have secured from the City of Norwalk is spent. Whether from incompetence or criminality, the OHPA always, always gleefully announces how well they are doing in the Fall, then comes to the Norwalk begging bowl for support in the Winter months. Why? Why is it that loans granted for path improvements resulted in so little improvement (I walked all of them to see exactly how much was accomplished last Spring), just as an example. And why shouldn’t it be expected that such an audit be performed with Virgulak at the helm? His past is just not discussed and considered too low a form of inquiry to be regarded as anything but rude and without sense. However, I say if his past is in the past then a forensic audit should not be precluded from this OHPA’s accounts while they are borrowing so much from our town for golf. And, as I believe you wrote previously, they do not have to be prohibitively expensive if done by a separate entity in-house. If the OHPA has nothing to hide, I would think they would welcome the exoneration.

  35. M Allen

    If you are just now beginning to read this story and subsequent thread, grab the popcorn, sit back and enjoy. Ahhhh, anonymity. Such a positive force in modern discourse.

  36. rburnett

    Joe Espo: Aka Bill Dunne: Your continued defense of the Moccia administration is incredible. You received your appointment to the Planning Commission because of it. Your frequent and inane diatribes are an embarrassment to Moccia. His appointment of Virgulak to the OHPA even though his term limits are up is an embarrassment to Moccia. Continuing to sweep the Town Clerk investigation under the rug until after the election is an embarrassment to Moccia. Continuing to hide the results of the investigation into the misappropriation of funds by an employee of the Norwalk Public School System is an embarrassment to Moccia. When will the public finally stand up and shout loud and clear “ENOUGH”. Time for Change people.

  37. Suzanne

    Sorry, M Allen, but you are busted. You have written plenty about other issues with some vitriol and a lot of facts. But, do not pretend you are not a participant in the popcorn and anonymity.

  38. M Allen

    @Suzanne, sorry for wanting popcorn. As I read this thread, the drama amid the comments was simply fascinating so I wanted other to be able to properly enjoy it.
    .
    As to your comment, I don’t hide behind the cloak of anonymity. M Allen is my abbreviated name, which I use for web-based communications here and on The Hour. However, it’s not too difficult to know what the M stands for given I freely use my full name for letters to the editor. Further, I’m not really known for using vitriol, that I am aware of anyway. Vitriol is something I don’t find all that useful in maiing a relevant point. But if you’d like, I could give it a go. Just to fit in and all. If I used the terms evil Mayor or bad commissioner or terrible “know nothings” more often would that help elevate the conversation?

  39. Don’t Panic

    If the city “lends” or assists OHPA using city resources, it is required to charge OHPA.

  40. Oldtimer

    Suzanne
    If Moccia and people on the council don’t suspect any criminal activity in the handling of the money at Oak Hills with Virgulak’s history and present financial problems with JP Morgan Chase trying to foreclose his house, then I am wasting time talking about forensic audits.

    In a more orderly world, every dime coming in would be recorded, and every dime going out would be too. Regular financial reports would be generated and made public. Somebody would review patterns of earnings and spending for anamolies and call the process performance auditing rather than the dreaded forensic audit. Some effort to keep handling of public money honest would be routine.

    If there is really nothing to hide, Moccia should insist on a forensic, or performance, audit, and then brag about his dedication to keeping OHPA finances honest and transparent. Anything less will not help him get re-elected.

  41. Herb Eaversmels

    Wow! Interesting history here. If we’ve learned anything overtime it’s history repeats itself… Rather than open our eyes, let’s abolish history and learn from our future mistakes!

  42. Suzanne

    Oldtimer, What you write makes sense to me. Unfortunately, this administration is not fueled by good or common sense.

  43. Holy Crap! After reading Virgulaks numerous arrests records makes me wonder what the HELL Moccia is doing putting him anywhere near a position like the one he has with OHPA!!! And for OHPA not providing detailed accounting records is just red flags everywhere…
    *
    RBurnett – exactly – nice summarization.
    *
    Absolutely no money for OHPA until they pay back what they owe (thousands of dollars) AND get rid of Virgulak – maybe even clean city hall in November….

  44. Oldtimer

    Irish girl
    In fairness, arrests are not convictions. The only conviction reported here is based on stealing from the 2nd district when he was a 2nd district commissioner. He was one of several (11 ? ) convicted. There have been other arrests, but no convictions seem to have been reported. None of us has done a manual search of records, but my guess is there would have been a story about a conviction, if there had been one. One of his arrests involved a $13,000 check issued by a company he was a partner in. In such cases, if the check is made good before there is a criminal trial, it is not unusual for the charges to be dropped. I understand he did make restitution to the 2nd district, a condition of his sentence.
    In my opinion, he was a poor choice for the Oak Hills authority, and his recent personal financial problems clearly suggest he should not now have been indefinitely extended in that position.
    His childish personal behavior, all by itself, is reason enough to replace him as a lame duck commissioner before he does something stupid enough to get the City sued.

  45. Oldtimer

    Getting rid of Virgulak, and a few others, in November, is an excellent idea. First, Moccia, and then a few of his minnions,

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