NORWALK, Conn. – It might have been better for Norwalk’s taxpayers if, when former Mayor Richard Moccia packed up his desk, partied with City Hall staff and headed out the door on Friday, Nov. 15, he didn’t come back.
Or maybe he didn’t. Maybe he simply post-dated the union agreement that extended special protection to Norwalk’s assistant corporation councils before he left. Or maybe he signed it at a remote location. The agreement was dated Nov. 18, the day before new Mayor Harry Rilling was to take office.
The tentative agreement, which needed approval of the Common Council before it became official – and was supposed to go through the council’s personnel committee before moving to the full council – gave the assistant counsels, who voted to join the Norwalk Assistants and Supervisors Association (NASA), terms and conditions of employment that included exempting them from being subject to review and reappointment at the end of each two-year term for which they are hired.
According to Rilling, no other NASA group has that protection. All are hired for a specific term, and must be reappointed.
The council unanimously rejected the terms of the deal, meaning it will need to be renegotiated. If the sides cannot agree, it could go to arbitration.
Here’s the rub: If the assistant corporation counsels get the protection, the rest of the NASA employees could decide to seek the same – exemption from Article 10, Section 4 of the contract. That would make it extremely difficult for the city to consolidate or reduce positions, or make other personnel moves aimed at reducing payroll. The only way they could be removed is for “just cause.”
With so much talk about the city payroll being too high, it was a curious move by the former mayor.
It was also a tad ironic, with Moccia attempting to give a sweetheart deal to union members, a deal that is opposed by Rilling – the guy Moccia and his backers said would be “in bed” with the unions.
Key passages: Pertinent city document passages
Someone pointed out to us that a photo of Stamford’s new mayor was posted on that city’s website pretty much before the ink was dry on the Advocate’s headline proclaiming him the winner. Harry Rilling has been mayor of Norwalk for nearly a month, yet his visage is strangely absent. Camera shy, perhaps? Maybe he should speak with fellow Dem Bob Duff about the value of staying in front of the lens.
And speaking of elections…
We suspect David McCarthy (R-District E) is already revving up his engine for his next campaign. His Nov. 18 opinion piece in The Hour referring to the “Knopp/Rilling administration” and rapping a longtime environmental activist’s alleged lack of credentials to question the sewage treatment plant looked like the first shot in his 2015 mayoral campaign. Now we are hearing he may be looking at a challenge to state Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). Now there’s a race that would be a study in contrasts.
Agendas, and hidden agendas
When the Board of Education meets Tuesday night, the main topic of discussion will be the superintendent’s budget proposal. Manny Rivera’s spending plan for 2014-15 – and projections for the two years to follow – will likely look a bit different from what he put forward as a first pass last week to the BOE’s Finance Committee. And what is presented Tuesday will not be the same as what eventually makes its way to the Board of Estimate and Taxation.
And then, Thursday night, there’s the Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now meeting. NEON has plenty to discuss, but it’s what goes on behind closed doors that’s always most interesting. Thursday night, the agenda says, there will be a “Closed Session to discuss status of matters that are confidential pursuant to General Statutes 1-82a and 1-93a.”
The codes refer to statutes under the Code of Ethics for Public Officials and the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists.