Peña: Time for Norwalk’s Latino community to step to the fore

Former Norwalk councilman Warren Peña makes an appearance at Tuesday’s council meeting.

NORWALK, Conn. – A Latino community forum, “Latinos Unidos de Connecticut,” urging the community to “stand united for a cause,” is planned for 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 16, at the South Norwalk Community Center (SoNoCC) at 98 South Main St.

A flyer for the event states, “Let’s stand united for a cause, the Latino cause! Come and be a part of this historical event. Come make your presence known, your presence is extremely important!”

Former Norwalk councilman Warren Peña, president of LULAC Council 703, League of United Latin American Citizens, and president and chairman of the board of SoNoCC, said it is time for the Latino community to step forward and take its place in the city’s leadership.

“The biggest barrier facing the Latinos in Norwalk is our disproportionate under-representation in city government and social service agencies,” Peña said in an email. “Up until now, Latinos have been too passive and have lacked civic involvement. Latinos are the majority of the minority in Norwalk by almost a two-to-one margin and the time has come to join together among ourselves as one to project a strong voice in issues affecting the lives of our people.”

He identified those issues and including the educational achievement gap, job training and job opportunities, better housing, and immigration challenges “that place our strong family structure and values at risk and impede our ability and our desire to elevate ourselves to the standards of the dominant culture.”

Peña has been a vocal advocate for the Latino community, and has the Latino community is not getting its fair share of city resources.

“It is no longer acceptable that we allow others to abuse their positions of power at the expense of our children and our families,” he said. “It is time for those in positions of power and authority to be held responsible and accountable for their actions.”


33 responses to “Peña: Time for Norwalk’s Latino community to step to the fore”

  1. John Hamlin

    We need good government — and good government serves the entire community.

  2. the donut hole

    The biggest barrier facing the Latinos in Norwalk is the identity politics that Mr. Pena plays. In spite of him, many understand the concepts of working hard and playing by the rules and have enjoyed great success without the likes of a charlatan like Pena promising them everything because of their ethnicity.

  3. TLaw

    @John Hamlin Agreed!

    We need to have one for the Whites!! and then one for the Blacks!! and we shouldn’t for the Asian population too!

    Each getting it’s own. Each having a separatist elitist day.

    Warren can you help us promote these special days too???

  4. Loveforthecity

    Agreed, and do you not believe Mr. Pena will serve the entire community? If NON asks him specifically about the Hispanic community to shed light on the issues within that community, why does it have to turn into something else? I would think that if you asked Mr. Pena to help serve other communities outside of his own, he would and he has a track record of doing so.

  5. John Hamlin

    Good government should be inclusive and should not exclude any part of the community. And every citizen of Norwalk should care about and be in engaged in local issues. Mr. Pena is attempting to get a part of the community engaged, and that’s a good thing.

  6. Outsider

    Mr.Pena should be working for all Norwalk not just one community.

  7. Loveforthecity

    @Outsider if you have followed Mr. Pena’s career, you would not make those types of statements. He was elected as an at-large Councilman. The “at-large” being the key word!

  8. Cantwejustgetalong

    Why are so many people outraged by this? Is it so wrong for the Latino Community to organize? No one complains about the NAACP or any religious groups. Fear of the unknown is causing so much xenophobia. While I truly believe anyone in a position of power should ALWAYS look out for the ENTIRE community, it is also understandable for a community to organize. Let’s look at the picture overall, Mr. Pena is the only latino truly involved in Norwalk and the idea or possibility of maybe a couple more scares you all? Sounds like the opposite problem people. Again, can’t we just all get along? This is a wonderful opportunity to educate a large group of Norwalk residents on our city and it’s services and HOW THEY CAN GIVE BACK. Don’t turn something that’s intended to be positive into something negative.

  9. Bill

    As long as Mr. Pena’s goals are for the benefit of the entire community, and not his own pocket, I say more power to him.

  10. TLaw

    @Cantwejustgetalong Did you read some of his passive aggressive statements such as “Our People” as if we aren’t all tax payers? As if we don’t all rely on the same city services? or perhaps you could explain what this divisive little man means by “It is time for those in positions of power and authority to be held responsible and accountable for their actions.” Who? Who has wronged his people?

    It was always expressed that people like this don’t even deserve a platform. Never truer.

  11. WOW!

    When twelve old guard minority “leaders” of the community, including four elected officials, attempt to obstruct the positive efforts being made by a non-profit organization with historical ties to the Latino community, it IS time to hold those in positions of power and authority accountable for their actions. Thank you, Mr. Pena, for your leadership and willingness to rise above these “old guard” obstructionists for the good of the community as a whole.

  12. Mike Mushak

    It’s Women’s History Month, celebrated by a proclamation just last week by the Mayor and Council, and sponsored by Councilmember Michele Maggio. Less than a hundred years ago, in 1920, women finally got the right to vote. They had to organize and fight for it over much objection, including religious reasons (the bible says women are the property of their husbands and are here to serve men.) To this day, women make 70% of what men make doing the same identical job. For black and Latina women, it is even worse. That’s why women have to organize and fight for equality every day.
    Last month was Black History Month, celebrated all over town and across the country. The powerful movie 12 Years A Slave should be required for every American to watch. Our country has been enriched with contributions of black culture for our entire history, and the shame and horrors of slavery still haunt all of us and should never be forgotten or dismissed. Our Declaration of Independence states that “All men are created equal”, but black folks were shamefully not included in that statement and are still fighting for equality. The bible was used by white folks to justify slavery as it condones it in many passages. Just look at the racially-motivated voting rights struggle still going on across our country. That’s why black folks have to organize and fight for equality every day.
    June is LGBT Pride Month, with celebrations across the country. I have marched in every NYC gay Pride March since 1976 except for one year I missed. In my lifetime I have seen gay rights move from fringe to mainstream, with millions of lives and families benefitting. The contributions of gay folks to our culture and communities are undeniable, and yet it didn’t stop President Reagan from holding back funding for AIDS research for years in the 1980’s because many right wing conservatives thought it was “God’s plan” to let gay folks suffer and die. It was in the bible they said. Perhaps 500,000 Americans of all races and sexual orientation would still be alive today if Reagan had acted sooner (he didn’t even mention the word “AIDS” publicly until 1986, years into the epidemic.) That’s why LGBT have had to organize and fight for equality every day.
    The point is, the history of our amazing and beautiful experiment called America has been on the backs of a huge diversity of immigrants and cultures who have struggled and continue to struggle for the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Latinos and Hispanics are no different than any other struggling group, and need to organize and fight for equality every day. I say hooray to Warren Pena!

    This is from Wikipedia:

    “National Hispanic Heritage Month is the period from September 15 to October 15 in the United States, when people recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate the group’s heritage and culture.

    Hispanic Heritage Week was approved by president Lyndon Johnson and the length of it was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period (September 15 – October 15). It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988 on the approval of Public Law 100-402. September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. They all declared independence in 1821. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and September 21, respectively.”[1]

    Hispanic Heritage Month also celebrates the long and important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans in North America, starting with the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus on the morning of October 12, 1492. A map of late 18th-century North America shows this presence, from the small outpost of San Francisco founded in the desolate wilderness of Alta California in 1776, through the Spanish province of Texas with its vaqueros (cowboys), to the fortress of St. Augustine, Florida — the first continuous European settlement in North America, founded in 1565, decades before Jamestown, Virginia.”

  13. the donut hole

    April 15th, July 1st, and January 1st are the days when the majority of Americans get to transfer their hard earned wealth to those they never met who consider themselves members of a permanent victim class. Let’s all celebrate, categorize, and divide everyone along even more segments. It’s working wonderfully.

  14. TLaw

    @Mike Mushak two questions: why must you always try and completely hijack every blog post with rambling and often times nonsensical rebuttals?
    And Why aren’t you running your own blog where you can promote your ideas and yourself to the moon and back?

    There are many times that I agree with you but often times I can’t get through reading your posts.

  15. R.M.L

    Mike – Since you are into support these sorts of things wanna take a ride with me tomorrow to the http://whitemanmarch.com/ ? Maybe Warren can come with us?



  16. Open invite

    Tomorrow –



    Yo Warren, lets roll!!!

  17. Bill

    @Mike Mushak, this is the internet, keep it simple tonto. Although I might agree with you more often than not, you lose me after the first 5 paragraphs…seriously, learn to write and keep people’s attention in 2014!!!

  18. Mike Mushak

    I love folks complaining about the length of what I write while demonstrating they have read it! Lol! No one is forcing you to read it. It’s like whining about the length of a movie that you just watched and enjoyed. You could always walk out of a movie, or skip over anything I write. So easy a kid could do it.
    I had a point to make that Warren Pena is fighting for an issue of gaining political representation for a group that has long suffered discrimination, an approach that all Americans of all stripes should celebrate as it the true history of our country. There are some commenters here who may think the Tea Party is the one true and just cause. I say halleluia, and go for it. And good luck!
    The idea that the internet is only for hurling short easy to read insults from the safety of phony aliases, as is happening on this site as it sadly gets dumbed-down like every other site in town bullied by a few antagonists and trolls is hysterical!

    I see the internet as a venue for the free exchange of ideas. I know there are lots of folks who enjoy reading what I write, and for me it’s good therapy in a world full of continuing injustice and dysfunctional government. I don’t need to justify myself to anyone else or apologize for the length of my posts. Just skip over them if you have to and stop wasting your time complaining about it, as it only encourages me! Why not just offer your own thoughtful and respectful opinions on the subject at hand? (If you have any of course, lol!).
    Chill out Bill and have a lovely weekend around our great city of Norwalk.

  19. But if a white man runs on the platform to promote white ethnicity, he is prejudice, a bigot, a racist.
    Call Pena and Simms out for what they are truly promoting – Reverse Discrimination.

  20. Cantwejustgetalong

    @irishgirl it would be reverse discrimination if everyone was already equal. But we are still a long way from getting to that point. What Mr. Pena is trying to do is to level the playing field. Don’t misunderstand the message and the point.

  21. the donut hole

    What happens after we level the playing field? What then? Orwell suggested that the productive in society be forced to wear ankle weights to slow them down. Is that what you have in mind to level the playing field?

  22. WOW!

    Pena’s vision of Latinos elevating themselves to the standards of the dominant culture should not be misinterpreted. These standards are looked upon as a model of success, the American Dream. He indicates a need of closing the achievement gap, job training and job opportunities. He’s not asking for hand-outs. He’s asking for the tools necessary for success. Dr. Rivera understands the need of closing the achievement gap and is taking measures to remove some of the barriers that are impeding this goal. Likewise, job training and business initiatives are needed. With proper business skills training and access to economic initiatives, Latinos will not only look for jobs but will create jobs that will improve this city’s economic outlook. @donuthole, Pena is not looking to place ankle weights on the dominant culture. He envisions our Latino community as a major contributor to the future success of our city. It’s wanting to be a part of the American Dream through education and hard work.

  23. the donut hole

    Dominant culture? I’m not sure what that means in the same context as discussing the unfairness in our society to the descendants of conquistadors. Perhaps the lack of achievement comes from constantly identifying as this or that group which are forever portrayed as victims instead of capable individuals? Perhaps some have bought into a sense of hopelessness brought upon by leaders incessantly telling them they are inferior and not treated fairly. Using these as excuses to underachieve instead of embracing the concept that they are free individuals living in the greatest society mankind has devised with limitless opportunities to excel. The choice is yours. You can be a victim or you can chose to be your own person.

  24. @CWJGA,
    Nice try to distract what you want to do – it is reverse discrimination no matter what you say.

  25. @CWJGA,
    thinking about it- this is exactly what lazy and/or greedy liberal socialists want – have the people who “have” give their earnings/possessions, ect. to those who “have not” then the “playing field” will be even. Sorry – but this is America and probably EVERY ethnic group before the latinos have also suffered and endured discrimination but unlike the latinos, they worked hard to overcome this inequaility by playing the game. Sorry if the latinos want the easy out but reverse discrimination is and always will be wrong, wrong, wrong no matter how much you justify it in your head.

  26. Cantwejustgetalong

    @irishgirl No one is asking for a handout. The point of this organization is to unite the Latino community, educate them and get them involved. In JFK’s words, “not ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” There are plenty of Latinos that can contribute to our city if only we let them. What I get from this is that in fact no one is asking for a HANDOUT, instead they are helping each other out first and then expanding it to the rest of norwalk. Don’t misjudge something because you are feeling xenophobic. Let us embrace all cultures and ethnicities. Matter of fact, someone should look up statistics on who receives the most state aid. I bet you it’s not the Latinos.

  27. if you say the latinos are not asking for handouts -then what do you call all the monies given to organizations like SoNoCC?? And is Pena organizing for all not just latinos? call it like it is – reverse discrimination.

  28. WOW!

    You asked, “What do you call all the monies given to organizations like SoNoCC??”
    I call it, “An investment in the future of Norwalk! SoNoCC is creating a Learning Center that will help to provide the tools needed for the future success of those it serves and for the future well-being of Norwalk.” Other than $17,500 in anticipated local funding just announced, the only other government funding it has received in recent years has been federal funds.

  29. the donut hole

    Investments in social programs and identity politics are not going to right the ship for anyone or society. 50 years of poor legislation and trillions of dollars later and things are worse off. No one treats with respect money that is just given to them like one who earns it. It is just human nature that knows no bounds of race or ethnicity. Those who earn their money spend it wisely.

  30. Dorothy Mobilia

    Warren, stand tall and stand your ground.

  31. John Hamlin

    Thank you, Mr. Pena, for doing something basic and sensible in the face of so much fear and ignorance.

  32. Chris Bazan

    Latinos United of Connecticut (LUC) put on a great event today. They discussed the need to include all races and languages in their movement. It wasn’t about identity politics or race, it was about Latinos coming together for the benefit of the entire community. They spoke about the movement not being beholden to a politician nor tied to any particular party. There were republicans who spoke and democrats. They spoke about being model citizens and taking care of the community that we live in so that others will never be able to say a bad word about Latinos. They spoke about embracing this great nation we live in and how to become an even greater part of it. They also spoke proudly of the work Latinos do to clean houses, cut yards, build construction, and numerous other necessary hard labor jobs for this country. The only negative was that they mostly spoke about all of these subjects in Spanish and it would have been better for the NoN community had there been more English spoken, and thus more reporting in English. Overall it was a great event to build unity, and it had nothing to do with what they “need” or “handouts” as some above stated, however, it had everything to do with what they as a group can do to better the lives of their children. Latinos care about family, community, and children, and if those above took time to get to know their Latino neighbors, they would be less inclined to make such xenophobic statements.

  33. Yankee Clipper

    Hear hear.
    Now, could we put Irish Girl on a plane to Crimea? She has a very bad attitude and we don’t need people like her around

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