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Opinion: Moccia’s last act could cost taxpayers

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

Where’s Harry?

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.

Comments

7 responses to “Opinion: Moccia’s last act could cost taxpayers”

  1. anonymous

    @Chapman, Can’t agree with you more, really bad decision by Moccia.

    But Moccia’s really bad decision has nothing to do with all the Union endorsements that Rilling recieved. Rilling made his own bad decisions cozying up with the Unions that want to bleed this city dry and then take their paychecks home to the cities they live in.

    Let’s see where Rilling’s bad decisions and his truckload of Union endorsements take us first before we let Rilling off the hook.

  2. Don’t Panic

    One has to wonder why Mr. Moccia, who worked so very hard to privatize sanitation at the expense of Union workers, made this unprecedented deal to protect the jobs of a few lawyers, which is a group that is NOT typically unionized. Can it be that these people are the ones who know where the bodies are buried for the last eight years? Mr. Moccia should be assumed to be protecting Mr. Moccia, nor a convert to unionized labor.

  3. Joe Espo

    “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.”

    Another shining example of excellence in responsible journalism, Mark. As they say, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled your own facts. You’re also not entitled to defame. You’re implying that the former Mayor perpetrated a fraud or forgery.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @ Joe Espo

      Ah, more attempts to deflect from The Boss by trying to defame the messenger.

      No one said fraud or forgery except you. The facts are that the mayor cleaned out his office on the 15th. No one we know has placed him in City Hall on the 18th. We do not doubt his signature (so much for THAT claim), nor do we believe post-dating something is fraudulent (as opposed to back-dating). As for a remote location? That is possible. Not illegal.

      Funny how you ignore the implications for the taxpayers of the action by the man rejected by a 9 percent margin of the voters taken the day before his official term was over, and, from behind your online moniker and phoney email address, accuse use of defaming the former mayor. You defame people every time you post. You imply intended actions and motives that have little or no basis in fact. And you do it all from the shadows, unbound by worries of what others think and by concerns of things like ethics and integrity. And you accuse us of bias. Sweet.

  4. LWitherspoon

    @Mark
    What is the protocol that the City must follow once employees vote to join a Union? Why did Councilman Bruce Kimmel say that if the Council rejected the agreement, it would go to binding arbitration, and the City would probably lose?
    .
    There appear to be a lot of unanswered questions surrounding this issue.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @LWitherspoon

      As we understand it, the city’s personnel department would draw up the agreement after negotiating terms, such as pay steps, benefits, etc., according to the city charter. The city’s legal department would likely vet it. That agreement would go to the Common Council Personnel Committee. They would then either send it back or send it to the full Council for a vote to authorize the mayor to sign it. In this instance, the council did not know the agreement existed until after it was signed by the then-mayor on Nov. 18.

  5. Oldtimer

    There is a process for the recognition of the union as bargaining agent. That happened a long time ago and the union already represents a lot of city hall employees. Now that some of the lawyers have voted to join that union, the City has no control over their decision. The process Kimmell refers to is the terms of the contract covering them. That is subject to negotiations. The ex-mayor apparently agreed to certain terms which the council voted down. Now, the union needs to negotiate a contract addendum that covers them and that will go to the council. If that is voted down, the union can take it to arbitration and Mr Kimmell thinks they would win. How he arrived at that opinion before seeing the terms of a negotiated agreement remains a mystery.

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