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Norwalk Council looks to advance Wall Street design

Norwalk Director of Transportation, Mobility, and Parking James Travers speaks to the Common Council Planning Committee last week on Zoom.

NORWALK, Conn. – Director of Transportation, Mobility, and Parking James Travers has elaborated on the recently unveiled concepts for the Wall Street area.

“This is really, I think, an opportunity to transform a neighborhood, to do something that we know are best practices today and really make it someplace unique and special,” Travers said to Common Council members last week. Continue reading Norwalk Council looks to advance Wall Street design

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Dias legal settlement with City, Norwalk Redevelopment Agency: $375,000

An old photo of 20-26 Isaacs Street, shown on the City’s website, predating the construction of Wall Street Place.

NORWALK, Conn. — NancyOnNorwalk has obtained the settlement in the lawsuit filed by John Dias against the City and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency.

Dias was paid $375,000, the settlement agreement states. Continue reading Dias legal settlement with City, Norwalk Redevelopment Agency: $375,000

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NPS showcases choices for middle and high school students

Bob Killacky speaks to a family at the first NPS districtwide School Choice Fair for middle school and high school families, Wednesday at the Carver Center.

NORWALK, Conn. – Cayden Benitez walked into the first Norwalk Public Schools Choice Fair thinking he’d like to enroll in ROTC when he gets to high school. The eighth grader walked out thinking maybe he’d prefer marine sciences.

The free School Choice Fair provided middle and high school families an opportunity to learn about the choices available to students in the next school year, Rachael Chappa, NPS Communications Manager, said. Continue reading NPS showcases choices for middle and high school students

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What Big Oil knew about climate change, in its own words

The oil industry was aware of the risks of climate change decades ago. (Barry Lewis/InPictures via Getty Images)

Four years ago, I traveled around America, visiting historical archives. I was looking for documents that might reveal the hidden history of climate change – and in particular, when the major coal, oil and gas companies became aware of the problem, and what they knew about it.

I pored over boxes of papers, thousands of pages. I began to recognize typewriter fonts from the 1960s and ‘70s and marveled at the legibility of past penmanship, and got used to squinting when it wasn’t so clear. Continue reading What Big Oil knew about climate change, in its own words

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Connecticut legislators tout infrastructure package

Sen. Chris Murphy talking to reporters in March. (Mark Pazniokas, CTMirror.org)

The House of Representatives passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package late Friday.

A statement from U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich) explained:

“Today, the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will provide approximately $550 billion in new funding. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will provide almost $5.4 billion to the state of Connecticut and will create more than $100 billion in competitive grant programs for which organizations across the state will be eligible to apply. Continue reading Connecticut legislators tout infrastructure package

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Why taxing US billionaires’ wealth – as Biden tried to do – will never work

Elon Musk is currently the world’s richest person. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The speed with which a tax on billionaires came and went as a means to pay for President Joe Biden’s economic agenda shows why it’s so hard to tax wealth in the U.S.

Democrats unveiled their proposal on Oct. 27, 2021, and it was nixed that same day, replaced with a surcharge on millionaire incomes. Continue reading Why taxing US billionaires’ wealth – as Biden tried to do – will never work

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Norwalk election roundup: New girls club; Brinton’s blanks

Victorious Norwalk Democrats enjoy a photo op Tuesday in the Norwalk Inn.

The 2021 Election was today, Tuesday, Nov. 2.

NORWALK, Conn. — Some notes about the election:

  • Nine women on the Common Council – wow!
  • Brinton vows to continue
  • Comparing vote counts in city-wide races
  • WFP calls results a mandate

 

Firsts

National news stories tout breakthroughs for women in Tuesday’s election, such as Michelle Wu becoming the first woman and person of color elected to be Boston’s Mayor.

Well, Norwalk has its own breakthrough – a Common Council that is majority female. Out of 15 Council members, nine will be female when the winners are sworn in.

Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Eloisa Melendez took note of this Wednesday in a Facebook post, quoting the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as saying there would be “enough” women on the Supreme Court “When there are nine.” Meaning, if all of the justices were female, that would be “enough.”

“Norwalk’s NINE women are now the majority on the Norwalk Common Council!!!! These amazing women and the great men who were honored to be on such a historic slate with them are ready to get to work (some back to work) for our beautiful CITY,” Melendez wrote.

It didn’t have to be, as the Republican slate for Council was entirely male. But after the Democratic near-sweep Tuesday, incumbent Democratic female Council members Barbara Smyth, Dominique Johnson, Darlene Young, Diana Révolus and Lisa Shanahan are set to be joined by Nora Niedzielski-Eichner, Nicol Ayers, Jenn McMurrer and Heidi Alterman.

In addition, Johnson is an incumbent but she was appointed to the Council in early 2019, after Colin Hosten was appointed to fill Bruce Kimmel’s seat on the Board of Education. Her success Tuesday marks the first time an open female LGBTQ candidate won election, Melendez said.

The female wave has also hit the Board of Education, which has gone from having five female members to having six. That was a foregone conclusion, though, as all the BoE candidates were women.

 

 

Brinton releases statement, cites ‘polarization’

Some people would rather not vote for anyone than vote for an independent, Lisa Brinton said, vowing to continue trying.

Brinton founded Independents for Norwalk in June, promising an “array of independent-minded candidates focused on Norwalk—not the current more hard-lined, two party system—for the expressed purpose of focusing on Norwalk residents, its neighborhoods and city services.”

All but one of Brinton’s candidates failed to win elected office Tuesday. The sole winner, Andy Meyerson, will serve as a Sixth Taxing District Commissioner. Brinton herself fell well short of becoming a Common Council member, coming in last among a field of nine.

What does Brinton say? She wrote:

“Norwalk remains a 24/25 city for major offices.  Turnout much lower than 2019, when I ran for mayor on the R line (~14,000 vs 16,000 votes.) Loyalty to party remains more important than Norwalk.

Good news/bad news.  First, thank you to our supporters!!! We secured enough votes to establish the Independent Party in Norwalk & Andy Meyerson is our Independent 6TD Commissioner!

“The bad news: our 14 candidates, including myself came up short.  There’s been another Dem sweep, with data suggesting Dems & Republicans stayed with their own. Despite not having a full slate of candidates, or any BOE candidates, Republicans did NOT vote Independent. We lost to BLANK ballots. 🤣 That’s right. Rs preferred to NOT VOTE & let the Rilling Administration win down ticket than vote Independent.

“My failure to move Rs to the center, as Dems move further left, highlights the growing polarization of our city & country.  Compromise may just be a 4-letter word.

“Still, Rome wasn’t built in a day. We may have to chip away at Blue dog Dems, if Rs would rather lose than compromise. Expect more fortress apartments, tax credits & overcrowded streets & classrooms.

“I’ll analyze the voter data & report back, but after 9 months of paperwork & campaigning, I’m headed for a break!  However, Congrats Andrew Meyerson & thank you Rowayton for ‘getting’ what we’re trying to do.  “We have 2 years to figure it out!!”

 

There were 15,000 blanks in yesterday’s Council at Large race, according to Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells. NancyOnNorwalk’s records don’t show blank info for 2019 or 2017, but in 2015, out of 13,449 ballots cast there were 7,739 blanks in the Council at Large tally.

The Board of Education race saw 13,712 blanks Tuesday, Wells’ spreadsheet shows.

Adding up the figures in the spreadsheet provided by Wells shows 14,686 total ballots were cast Tuesday. If you’re thinking there were more blanks than ballots, remember, voters could mark off slots for up to five Council at large candidates, of which there were nine.

Wells explained Friday, “A ‘blank’ represents an unused vote. If you vote for four candidates in a race, like Common Council At Large, where you can vote for up to five candidates, the unused vote is counted by the tabulator as one ‘blank.’”

He said, “So, assume approximately 8,000 Dem votes all used all their CC at large votes. – no blanks so far. Then assume 5,000 Rep votes all voted for the 3 Rep CC at large candidates, leaving 2 votes each unused. That would be 10,000 blanks. And assume that the remaining 1,000 Independent voters only voted for Ms Brinton, leaving 4 votes each unused. That would be 4,000 more blanks.”

It’s the same issue with the Board of Education candidates and in addition, they were on the other side of the ballot.

Wells hasn’t confirmed the 14,686 total ballots nor said how many ballots were cast in 2019.

NancyOnNorwalk’s records show 15,829 votes cast in the 2019 Mayor’s race. Tuesday’s Mayoral race had 14,629 votes cast.

Brinton said, “We effectively lost to the ‘Blank Party.’”

 

Let’s look at numbers

Common Council member Greg Burnett (D-At Large) reacts to Tuesday’s election results, shortly after walking into the Hilton Garden Inn.

There may have been less ballots cast Tuesday than in 2019, but one Council member got more votes this year than he did in the previous municipal election.

  • Greg Burnett in 2019: 7,921
  • Greg Burnett in 2021: 8,217

 

The only other Council member to run city-wide again was Barbara Smyth.

  • Barbara Smyth in 2019: 9,578
  • Barbara Smyth in 2021: 7,725

 

Republican Council candidate Rich Bonenfant ran city-wide in 2019 and again Tuesday.

  • Rich Bonenfant in 2019: 6,874
  • Rich Bonenfant in 2021: 5,970

 

Brinton’s Independent BoE candidates got more votes in city-wide races than she did.

  • Jody Sattler 4,212
  • Alex Kemeny 4,190
  • Katherine (Price) Snedaker 3,982
  • Shirley Mosby 3,815
  • Lisa Brinton 3,698

 

As a Republican-endorsed Mayoral candidate in 2019, Brinton got 7,031 votes, 1,879 more than Republican Mayoral candidate Jonathan Riddle did Tuesday. In 2017, as an unaffiliated Mayoral candidate in a four-way race, Brinton got 3,238 votes.

 

Working Families Party toots horn

Sarah Ganong, Campaigns Director for the Connecticut Working Families Party (WFP), released this statement regarding Norwalk’s municipal election results:

“For the past few years, Norwalk has made a commitment to inclusive growth and expanded opportunity. They have made investments in education, worked to expand access to affordable housing, and smart growth, focused on racial equity.

“Today voters resoundingly supported these commitments.  With their election victory today, WFP-endorsed candidates Sheri McCready Brown, Josh Goldstein, Greg Burnett, Sr, Tom Livingston, Dominique E. Johnson, Lisa Shanahan, David B. Heuvelman, Barbara Smyth, Nora Niedzielski-Eichner, Janine W. Randolph, Colin Hosten, Diana Révolus, Kara Baekey, Darlene Young, Heidi Alterman, Jenn McMurrer, and Mayor Harry Rilling have a clear mandate to continue pursuing policies that make inclusive growth and shared opportunity their main priority.

“WFP wants to congratulate all the winners. We look forward to working together in the coming years for a better Norwalk.”

Updated 12:40 p.m.: More information.

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Rilling lifts mask mandate; advisory in place

Masks still required in City Hall

Mayor Harry Rilling on Election Night, Tuesday in the Hilton Garden Inn.

NORWALK, Conn. — Mayor Harry Rilling has lifted the Norwalk mask mandate, except on City properties.

The decision was made “in close consultation with the Norwalk Health Department,” with a view of “improved COVID-19 metrics and ongoing vaccination efforts,” Thursday’s City announcement said. Continue reading Rilling lifts mask mandate; advisory in place

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Norwalk Historic Society opens exhibit

NORWALK, Conn. — A Norwalk announcement for you:

“Norwalk’s Changing Communities from 13,000 BC to 1835” is a new family friendly interactive exhibition opening Sunday Nov. 7 1-4 p.m. at Mill Hill Park Town House, 2 East Wall Street, Norwalk, according to a news release from sponsor Norwalk Historical Society. Attendees can engage in activities and games while learning about Norwalk’s original inhabitants, European settlers’ subsequent arrival, the area’s development during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the dawn of the industrial age. Continue reading Norwalk Historic Society opens exhibit

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Norwalk photos: Election Day/Night

Common Council member-elect Jenn McMurrer and Board of Education member-elect Kara Baekey share a warm embrace shortly after learning they were victors, Tuesday in the Hilton Garden Inn. McMurrer made her way onto the ballot by forcing, then winning, a primary in District C.

NORWALK — Here’s an assortment of photos from Election Day.

Common Council member-elect Josh Goldstein, center, reacts shortly after learning from Council member Lisa Shahahan, left, that he’d won election.

Continue reading Norwalk photos: Election Day/Night

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CT election results: Caroline Simmons beats Bobby Valentine for Stamford mayor; GOP holds top offices in many cities

Caroline Simmons, left, chats at Westover Magnet Elementary School in Stamford. Simmons stood at the voting site with Gov. Ned Lamont and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff to greet voters. (Yehyun Kim, CTMirror.org)

Stamford voters chose a Democratic state lawmaker over a retired baseball player as its next mayor Tuesday, but Republicans claimed significant wins in municipal elections by retaining top offices in Danbury, Darien, New Britain and Westport and flipping seats in Bristol, Colchester and Windsor Locks.

In Stamford, hometown sports celebrity Bobby Valentine waged an unconventional race against Democrat Caroline Simmons, declining the Republican line to run unaffiliated in Connecticut’s second-largest and fastest-growing city. The winner wasn’t clear until after midnight, when absentee votes were counted and Valentine conceded. Continue reading CT election results: Caroline Simmons beats Bobby Valentine for Stamford mayor; GOP holds top offices in many cities

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