Political Notes: SEIU endorses Perone, Morris; homicide reward, fare hike and more

The primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 12.
The primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 12.

NORWALK Conn. – Another day, another union endorsement.

Veteran State Representatives Chris Perone (D-137) and Bruce Morris (D-140) have been endorsed by SEIU Local 1199, with New England President David Pickus saying they “have worked tirelessly to save state jobs and helped Connecticut lead the nation in raising the minimum wage.”

The Service Employees International Union has 65,000 members in Connecticut, according to the joint press release from the campaigns.

Perone, a five-term legislator, is facing a challenge from two-term Common Councilman David Watts, who won a narrow victory for the party backing at the May district convention. Four-term incumbent Bruce Morris won the party backing over challenger Warren Peña by a comfortable margin in his district’s May convention.


Police offer $50K reward for double homicide info

There is a $50,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the murders of Iroquis Alston and Rickita Smalls.

August marks the three-year anniversary of the murders of Alston and Smalls, who were found shot to death Aug. 6, 2011 on Avenue B. The Norwalk Police Department is appealing to the public for additional information or leads.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Norwalk Detective Justin Bisceglie at 203-854-3181 or [email protected] or by utilizing any of these contacts:

  • Norwalk Police Tip Line: 203-854-3111
  • Anonymous Internet tips: Norwalk Police website
  • Anonymous text tips: Type “NPD” into the text field, followed by the message, and send to CRIMES (274637).


Rodgerson rips possible Metro North fare increase

Keith Rodgerson, a Democrat running against Gail Lavielle (R-143) for state representative, has condemned the possible 57 percent rate increase on Metro North consumers.

Keith Rodgerson
Keith Rodgerson

“Metro North has failed miserably over the past year to provide safe, reliable service, and this is no time to be asking Connecticut to pay more money,” Rodgerson said in a press release. “Our commuters already receive the lowest mass transit support in the nation. Connecticut has no representation on the MTA board or control over the operating costs of the railroad. The state pays 65 percent of costs yet we have no say in the decision-making process.”

The Stamford Advocate reported Tuesday that “If the state chooses not to increase its subsidy for the railroad’s operation, New Haven Line commuters will likely be on the hook for the additional costs. New Haven Line commuters pay about 75 percent of the railroad’s operating costs, accounting for one of the highest commuter burdens in the country.”

“While I acknowledge that the Malloy administration has increased transportation funding by $170 million a year over the last half decade, there still remains a need for the state to carry a larger share of fare subsidy in line with other communities in the region,” stated Rodgerson. “We have a right to a safe, reliable and cost effective transportation system.”


Bond rating agencies: Hamilton, adviser say 3 is better than 1

NancyOnNorwalk, responding to multiple reader queries, checked in with city finance guru Tom Hamilton to find out why Norwalk subscribes to three rating agencies, and how much it costs. Hamilton responded:

“The city had a very successful bond sale (Tuesday). We had 10 bidders competing to purchase the city’s bonds, with bids ranging from a low True Interest Cost (TIC) of 2.437208 percent and a high TIC of 2.751007 percent. The winning bidder was Fidelity Capital Markets.”

“Each of the rating agencies uses somewhat different criteria in establishing a rating, and they place different emphasis on the importance of each criteria. If the city were to drop down to two ratings, we would mostly likely use Moody’s and S & P, because Fitch is still viewed as the ‘newcomer’ in the market. However, Fitch was the first rating agency to rate Norwalk AAA, and I believe that having three AAA/Aaa ratings puts some pressure on the other agencies to maintain Norwalk’s superior rating.”

Hamilton then tossed our question to the city’s financial adviser, Bill Lindsay, C.I.P.F.A, director, Independent Bond & Investment Consultants, LLC.

Try fitting that on a T-shirt.

Lindsay explained: “The rationale for using three rating agencies is to increase the universe of potential investors on the city’s bonds.

“As a result of the financial crisis, many institutional investors have revised and strengthened their internal credit requirements. Some require a minimum of two ratings, others require one of either Moody’s or S&P and a then a second rating, while many others use a proprietary credit rating system that incorporate the ratings from the major agencies.

“Since there is a large universe of investors in municipal bonds, all with potentially differing internal policies, the three ratings allow the city to cover the widest range of possibilities. The more investors who can approve the credit typically leads to more competition which ultimately drives the down the city’s borrowing cost. In Fairfield County, this is not an uncommon practice. Both the towns of Greenwich and Fairfield and the city of Danbury typically use three ratings on their new money bond issues.”

And the cost?

Lindsay said Moody’s, S&P and Fitch charge the city a credit rating fee based on the type of security supporting the bonds (in this case the city’s general obligation pledge) and the face value of the issue. For the city’s $15 million issue, the combined rating fees were $45,000.


Marching Bears lawyer up

The Norwalk High School Marching Band and their parent association, Marching Bears Incorporated, announced this week that Deputy Corporation Counsel Jeffry Spahr is the group’s new director of media relations.

We envision the press releases could look something like this:

“Whereas, the Third Chair Trombone (herein referred to as ‘3rd ‘Bone’) will, henceforth and until noticed by the Band Director, perform music designated for Baritone Horn.”

Or not.

We look forward to being kept informed of the Marching Bears’ accomplishments (especially because this writer is a former band geek and ‘bone player…).

Spahr’s wife and two children are all involved in the band program, the release said.


P2P $35K grant to help stock Norwalk food pantry

Person-to-Person (P2P) got a $35,000 boost Thursday via a grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA). The funds will be used to provide thousands of free meals and other assistance to local families in need.

Local pols gathered at the Norwalk headquarters to help present the grant (or to get their pictures taken, depending on your point of view).

“Person-to-Person embodies our community at its best – one person reaching out to help another in need,” state Sen. Bob Duff said in a press release sent by his office. “By providing hundreds of thousands of free meals each year, P2P plays an essential role in the lives of our city and its families. I am very grateful to CHEFA for awarding them this grant.”

The grant funds will support Emergency Assistance, a core program at P2P, which provides basic necessities, such as food and clothing, to low-income residents of Lower Fairfield County. The program also offers financial assistance for security deposits, utility bills, prescriptions and skills training, according to the release.

Duff was joined for the photo op by Mayor Harry Rilling and state reps Gail Lavielle (R-143) and Bruce Morris (D-140).

State Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) presents Norwalk’s Person-to-Person with a $35,000 grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA). From left: Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140), Duff, P2P Executive Director Ceci Maher, CHEFA Executive Director Jeffrey Asher, Mayor Harry Rilling, and Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143).
State Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) presents Norwalk’s Person-to-Person with a $35,000 grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA). From left: Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140), Duff, P2P Executive Director Ceci Maher, CHEFA Executive Director Jeffrey Asher, Mayor Harry Rilling, and Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143).


5 responses to “Political Notes: SEIU endorses Perone, Morris; homicide reward, fare hike and more”

  1. Don’t Panic

    Thank you NON for getting the answer to the question about the costs and benefits of getting three rating agencies. It is disappointing that Mr. Hamilton (who is otherwise a very capable individual) had to throw this to the adviser to get at a possible value to getting all three ratings. His belief that one agency “pressures” another into a higher rating suggests that these ratings can be manipulated, which is a very bizarre thing to suggest. His desire to keep the least valuable rating because it was the “first” to rate us triple-A again smacks of political considerations.
    The desire to widen the pool of bidders makes sense, however it appears that the savings between the highest interest rate and the lowest interest rate barely justify the extra cost on the City’s 15mm bonds. Taking into consideration that the districts and other authorities also borrow based upon the city’s bond rating, it makes sense.

  2. EastNorwalkChick

    Come on Mark, everyone likes their picture in the papers…snicker, snicker…
    Love the “Marching Bears Lawyer Up”…still giggling over that piece.
    Thanks for starting my day with a smile!

  3. Donald Jones

    Good for Mr. Rodgerson. The last thing Norwalk needs is any more of Lavielle’s fringe legislation like her proposed 2-year ban on all rail, school and infrastructure spending. Norwalk would be sliding into the sea if she got her right-wing ways.

  4. Milton

    Donald – Can you please provide more detail on the proposal you mentioned coming from Gail Lavielle? Do you have a bill number, article or press release maybe that you could provide a link to. I cannot find anything.

    I was able to find the below awards including Gail being named the “Children’s Champion” by the CT Early Childhood Alliance.



  5. Donald Jones

    I thought she was looked over this year for the Children’s Champion Award on account of her not being a Children’s Champion.

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