Opinion: Council leadership sending out positive signals

NORWALK, Conn. – It’s good to hear the new Common Council caucus leaders talking about working together with each other and the mayor to move Norwalk forward. Majority Leader Jerry Petrini (R-Dist. D) and Minority Leader John Igneri (D-Dist. D) both spoke Saturday about the need to work together in a calm rational manner and to put the rancor that marked much of Richard Moccia’s final term to rest. Both men said they have a good relationship with each other and with incoming Mayor Harry Rilling.

The first test – one that will set the tone for Rilling’s first year – will come with his first board and commission appointments. The new mayor will appoint three members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation – one of the city’s most visible and important boards – and two members each to the police and fire commissions. Rilling will be an ex-officio member of all three boards. The BET appointments require council approval; the fire and police commissions do not. Rilling will also need council approval to appoint his successor on the Zoning Commission.

Drawing a blank

Ah, so much speculation and a bit of hand-wringing over the deeper meaning of the blanks on so many ballots. An educated guess: A lot of people voted for the candidates they knew and liked, and did not vote just to “pick five” or “pick four.” I had trouble picking five at-large council candidates. There were a few districts I would have left blank. If you don’t vote blindly for a letter (R or D), that’s what happens. And a lot of Norwalk voters showed they truly are unaffiliated by voting the candidate, not the party. Want fewer blanks? Get better candidates.

Forecast: Storm clouds on the horizon

Mayor-elect Harry Rilling might find his election to be one of those “be careful what you wish for” things. He inherits a Board of Education that is saddled with a 4.23 percent teacher salary increase, an imploding social service agency that could leave hundreds of Norwalk citizens scrambling for help, and a mosque lawsuit that, if taken all the way and the city loses, could well cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Not a lot of great options there.

And speaking of NEON, it is troubling that the leaders of the embattled agency still believe that the city, state and feds “owe” them money despite the repeated contract violations and refusal to comply with conditions set to keep the money flowing. Frankly, it is surprising, at least, that it took so long to start pulling the plugs.

Not great, but not too shabby

And speaking of the election, this was passed along to us from Norwalk Voter Registrar Stuart Wells:

According to the Secretary of the State’s news release dated Nov. 13:

  • Turnout in Connecticut: 31.43 percent
  • Turnout in Norwalk: 37.79 percent
  • Norwalk’s turnout of 16,781 was the third highest turnout in the state, after Stamford (21,441) and New Haven (21,120)
  • Norwalk’s turnout percentage was the highest for cities and towns with more than 30,000 registered voters. Greenwich was second with 37.12 percent turnout. Stamford was fourth with 35.38 percent.
  • Norwalk had 81 Election Day Registration (EDR) voters, third highest on the list, behind two college towns, New Britain (164) and New Haven (202). (Not all towns reported their EDR numbers.)

Still, Norwalk’s turnout was only about a third of the number who voted in the 2012 presidential election.

About those polls…

I’m already on the edge of my seat waiting to see who will lead The Hour and The Daily Voice polls for next year’s state election. Both indicated a landslide victory for Moccia.

Home and office

Folks who complain about city and school employees living in other towns are only looking at a small piece of a much bigger picture. While there is something to be said for the idea of having the pride of ownership in your community, it isn’t always feasible. Lots of people need to live in less-expensive towns. Maybe their spouses work in yet another location and, say, Bridgeport or Fairfield is a mid-point. Many people who are in the public eye – such as teachers and police officers – prefer to live their private lives away from people who might otherwise accost them when they are out in public. We are a mobile society, and, especially in southwest Connecticut, a huge number of people do not live where they work. Limiting the applicant pool to people who live in Norwalk does not ensure the city will find people most qualified to do the jobs.



6 responses to “Opinion: Council leadership sending out positive signals”

  1. Norwalk Lifer

    Jackie Hennig tried to limit those who work in Westpor to those who live in Westport in the eighties I recall, I don’t recall that being such a success; matter of fact, it’s unconstitutional in a way.

    I Liked what you said about candidates, spot on, people are allowed NOT TO VOTE also when they do not care for either party’s offering.

    The BET, however, ends up on that board, has my deepest sympathy, this won’t be a good year for Norwalk, and that lawsuit in my opinion never should have been needed in the first place.

    The hope for the BOE is that the influence exerted by the toxic waste dumps in this town who believe themselves so influential, that they can appoint in a singular fashion, board members, is diluted by the fact that the BOE has serious work to do.

    Drop the “perception” tools and just do the job, I wish Rivera much success.

    Norwalk Lifer

  2. Oldtimer

    That mosgue suit will probably be settled before a trial. A settlement has already been recommended by lawyers for the City. looking to limit the City’s costs.
    Requiring local residence for City employees will be very difficult, probably impossible. Offering some incentive (bonus) might work for some and will keep enough payroll in Norwalk to more than pay for itself. If a police officer lives in Norwalk and pays taxes on a home and a couple of vehicles the City can easily afford a significant bonus to keep him in town.

  3. Joe Espo

    The rancor, Mark, was brought about by Pena, Duleep, Watts and Miklave with their overt unbridled hostility toward the Mayor. Calling the Mayor arrogant and publishing insulting videos about him are moves not designed to encourage cooperation. Several dems recognized that and began caucusing with the Mayor’s party.

  4. Norwalk Lifer

    Yeah, McCarthy’s a real sweetheart isn’t he?

  5. Don’t Panic

    The Mayor WAS arrogant. The way he treated members of the public who disagreed with him during public comment at Common Council meetings is exhibit A.

  6. kmokeefe

    I agree with Don’t Panic, the Republican Mayor was not only arrogant, he was sarcastic and demeaning, particularly to women. As for Mr. McCarthy, don’t think that he can exactly claim to have shown respect or consideration to either the public or any Democrat on the Council. He’s not exactly what one might call a “class act!”

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