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Political round-up: Back to the Twilight Zoning, primary notes, a little bonding, a lot of fun

Norwalk Zoning Commission 071614 040-001
Norwalk Zoning Commission Chairman Joe Santo (left) and Commissioner Nora King (right) flank Commissioner Linda Kruk at a recent meeting.

NORWALK, Conn. – Mike Mushak is no longer on the Zoning Commission, but his torch is being carried by Nora King, the former Common Councilwoman appointed to the panel by Mayor Harry Rilling to fill his former slot.

King is picking up where Mushak left off, challenging leadership over the handling of projects and commission business and calling out staff for its fealty to Chairman Joe Santo.

King said she’s paying the price for crossing Santo.

“I watched them do it to Mike Mushak,” she said “I was very appalled at several of the meetings at how they treated him, and now it’s literally, that attention has moved from him to me.”

King fired off some pointed emails to Planning and Zoning chief Mike Greene and indicated frustration with his lack of response and his tendency to take direction only from Santo.  Santo, she said, left her a “threatening” voice mail message regarding a parking situation she is trying to get changed with the support of Sixth Taxing District commissioners and merchants. Kings says Santo is holding up the process in retribution for her fight to get athletic field lights approved at the Nathan Hale School.

File this under “Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Zoning meetings…”
Races coming down to the wire

We’re a week out from the Aug. 12 primary election, and one thing is apparent: There will be some close races with, perhaps, some photo finishes.

The two Republican contests look to be close. In the 142nd District match-up, two familiar faces face off, each with some heavyweight backing and each bringing a different skill set to the table.

Emily Wilson, an attorney and Zoning Commission vice chairwoman, is the Republican Party-backed candidate to replace the retiring 11-term rep, Larry Cafero. Wilson won the endorsement at a district caucus, 4-2, topping Fred Wilms.

Wilms, a banker, has a long political resume, albeit most as an appointed official, including eight years at the helm of the Board of Estimate and Taxation during the Richard Moccia administration. And, while Wilms did not win the party backing, he does have the support of the four-term former mayor.

“Nothing against Emily,” Moccia told NancyOnNorwalk via email Monday. “I appointed her to Zoning. As you know, Fred was on the BET and I worked with him for eight years. There are times you have to make tough choices.”

The Republican registrar of voters race has been unpleasant, in marked contrast to the low-key approach taken by the 142nd district candidates. Karen Doyle Lyons, who has held the office for 13½ years, has been savaged in the media by the Republican Town Committee leadership, which mounted a campaign to replace her with John Federici, who won party backing by what we are told was three votes at the Republican caucus. Since then, there have been accusations and pointed Letters to the Editor from both sides, with Federici himself remaining mostly silent.

On the Democratic side, the races in the 140th and 137th districts have some similarities, each pitting long-term incumbents against “change” candidates. In the 137th, Common Councilman David Watts won a close caucus vote to get the party nod over five-term incumbent Chris Perone, while, in the 140th, four-term incumbent Bruce Morris won a solid endorsement over challenger and former Councilman Warren Peña. In both cases, the challengers – political allies who supported Vinny Mangiacopra in last fall’s mayor’s race – have tried to paint the incumbents as insiders, part of the Democratic establishment that has failed to bring home more school funding, and who go along to get along. As for the incumbents, they are quietly running on their records.

The irony: Watts and Peña have been lambasted by NoN commenters for caring more about unions than the taxpayers, but it’s the incumbents that have picked up the most union endorsements. And while both Watts and Peña had Working Families Party endorsements in the past, the WFP has chosen to endorse Morris and Perone for re-election.

 

Tom Hamilton explains it all

Norwalk Finance Director Tom Hamilton can always be counted on to clear up what seems to non-money people to be confusing budget questions. Our most recent involved the city’s plan to sell $15 million worth of bonds when actual capital budget calls for nearly $20 million worth of projects. His answer:

“The projects we are financing with this $15.0 million is a combination of years, but the largest portion relates to the financing of the FY 2014-15 capital budget. We are not bonding everything from the FY 2014-15 year, because our objective is to bond only for those projects where our cash flow projection indicates that the funds will actually be spent within the next 12 months.”

Hamilton said the department heads prioritize their projects according to cash flow. “The actual projects that are being bonded with this $15 million are itemized in the Official Statement which is on the City website, pages 31-35. http://www.norwalkct.org/DocumentCenter/View/7328

 

On tap tonight: the golden tones of Elsa Obuchowski

The Freese Park Open Mic Nights have been a big success, and tonight – Tuesday, Aug. 5 – will be even more special. Oak Hills Park Authority member Elsa Peterson Obuchowski will be taking a turn at the mic for what she called her “first (and probably only) performance.”

The events are held from 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays at Freese Park, at the foot of Main Street (Route 7) by the Wall Street bridge.

 

Wanted: South Norwalk families for fun in the park

The Norwalk Police Department invites the community to SoNo Day Out from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, at Ryan Park on Raymond St. There will be fun for the whole family – lots of kids’ activities – free food and other giveaways.

The highlight, according to the event flyer, will be a tug-of-war between the Norwalk Police and Fire departments.

The event is sponsored by Norwalk P.A. L., Norwalk Fire Department, GE, SoNo Alliance, Peace Works, Costco, Stew Leonard’s, Human Services Council, Day Street Community Health Center, 95.9 The Fox, Domestic Violence Center of Connecticut, South Norwalk Community Center and the Norwalk Public Library.

 

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