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Rilling comes out against outsourcing, driving range plans

Norwalk Dem mayoral meet 050513 224-001
Norwalk Democratic mayoral candidate Harry Rilling pleads his case at a recent mayoral forum.

NORWALK, Conn. – Harry Rilling is not a fan of outsourcing city services, nor is he a proponent of the Oak Hills Park Authority’s plan to build a driving range at the golf course.

NancyOnNorwalk asked each of the candidates a series of questions on issues facing the city. Answers from candidates Matt Miklave and Vinny Mangiacopra have appeared in a series of three stories and may be found elsewhere on this site under City Beat. Candidate Andy Garfunkel did not respond.

This is the second in a series of three stories covering Rilling’s answers to the six questions. Click here to see the first story (the complete answers from Mangiacopra and Miklave are attached at the bottom of that story).

Question

Oak Hills: There are two proposals for a practice range. One involves putting it in the woods and cutting down trees, one involves making use of a different space. There is a fear that, based on one company’s past practice, the OHPA/city would front the money to build the range and hope to regain it and more through usage fees. The process, like the school superintendent search and the police chief “search;” is being kept secret. Should the OHPA be more transparent about the process? For that matter, should all of these searches and decisions be more transparent?

Answer

Rilling expressed concern about both the financial feasibility and the environmental implications of the proposed driving range.

“The issue of a driving range has been talked about for the past 15 to 20 years. To date, no one has submitted a plan that appears financially successful and environmentally friendly. Until someone does, I would not support a driving range at Oak Hills.

“I am also opposed to the proposed site behind the restaurant,” he said. “I have walked the site and it is not feasible.”

And, Rilling said, fronting the money to build the range would not be a wise idea.

I could never support a proposal that would require the City of Norwalk to front the money and increase user fees in order to get a return on their investment more quickly.”

Question

It was reported when the city signed on for 10 years with City Carting that there was a clause that allows the city to terminate “for convenience.” Some or all of you (the Dem candidates) have been critical of the contract.Would you be inclined to terminate the City Carting contract? If so, would you offset the reported savings by making cuts elsewhere? It has been reported the outsourcing save taxpayers $110 each off their tax bills.

Answer

“I have been an outspoken opponent of privatizing services in the city,” Rilling said. “While there may be short-term savings, in the long term you end up selling your soul. City workers become part of the larger community and take pride in their work. Many not only work in Norwalk, they live here. While no workers were laid off, they were placed in lower-paying positions, which is inherently unfair.”

Fairness is not Rilling’s only issue with privatization. He said he is concerned about the city losing control of its essential services.

“Privatizing services removes from the city the ability to properly vet employees who will be providing those services,” he said. “We also have no guarantee the employees are being properly evaluated to ensure that they are performing up to standard.”

As for whether he would terminate the 10-year contract with City Carting, Rilling said he needs to study the deal before answering.

“Having not yet seen the copy of the 10-year contract, I cannot determine if (the reported savings) is true. … Once I am able to examine that contract I will be in a better position to make a decision as to how to proceed.”

Tuesday: Rilling weighs in on NEON and transparency in government.

 

 

Comments

5 responses to “Rilling comes out against outsourcing, driving range plans”

  1. Don’t Panic

    Mr. Rilling apparently is not paying close attention to the Oak Hills issue. Nobody can say with certainty that “nobody has submitted a plan that appears financially successful and environmentally friendly.

    Nobody but the Oak Hills Park Authority has seen the current bids, so the public isunable to assess the financial viability or the environmental impact of either proposal.

    it is rumored that one of the proposals will be financed by the developer in exchange for future revenue. So opposing the driving range on the basis of the city fronting the money does not address that issue.

    Only transparency and full disclosure will allow anybody to evaluate the proposals. however it is clear that a proposal it requires taking out the remainder of the public Woodlands at Oak Hills Park is not a desirable outcome

    t

  2. Ken P Jr

    Of course Rilling is against outsourcing. He was a city employee during the time period when their compensation went from reasonable thru the roof & he benefitted from that tremendously. I wonder WHY its not considered outsourcing for the city to hire people who dont live here? Such as our current police chief, who I should add seems much better than Harry was.

    As far as the driving range I dont think it should even be a consideration when we cant afford to fix our own parks without begging for grant money. That golf course itself takes up a BIG chunk of peoperty for use by a very small chunk of residents. It should make ALOT of money for us or be turned into something WE ALL CAN USE.

    As much as I dissagree with Moccia I cant see any reason at all not to vote for him. In a field of self serveing political hacks he is the lesser evil. I truly wish we could get a truly fiscally conservative person running the show while people not making $200,000 a year can still live here, but thats not in the cards with politics as it is today. Maybe we should make the Mayor a volunteer position with a token payment like the city council gets. Then we MIGHT find a person interested in the City more than their career to run the show.

  3. Dennis DiManis

    Rilling states general opposition to outsourcing, but waffles on the CC contract. Moccia’s stand against the Islamic lawsuit was better than anything any of the others has promised to do, although come to think of it, none of the candidates has actually promised to do anything.

  4. Tim T

    In as much as I disagree with Ken on certain issues I find myself agreeing with many of his points. Rilling would be the biggest mistake Norwalk could make. He as chief did ZERO about the out of control overtime at the police department . He also as far as I am concerned did ZERO about crime. He and his buddy Moccia were in denial of the out of control Norwalk crime and gangs in Norwalk for years and all we heard was one excuse after the next in regards to the failures of the NPD.
    I agree with Ken about Rilling profiting from city employee during the time period when their compensation went from reasonable thru the roof & he benefitted from that tremendously. It is completely unacceptable that most if not all cops are making 6 figures on the backs of the taxpayers with many making 200,000 plus. It is unacceptable that cops get paid overtime when working at the beach or for a school event . It is unacceptable that Rilling never addressed this issue as chief and will not address it as mayor.
    Maybe its time we look at outsourcing the police as they have become to much of an expense with their insane union contract. Also considering how they have failed miserably to get the crime issue under control Norwalk what do we have to lose as it can only get better with outsourcing. this would be one way to cut the strangle hold the police union has on the taxpayers. The outsourcing of police has been done in other towns, cities and Moccia urban centers in this great country of ours.

  5. piberman

    Oak Hills begets two concerns – one obvious involving destroying woodlands, the second equally obvious, subsidizing the hobby of select residents who can’t or won’t pay the full cost of maintaining a golf course. Since Mayor Moccia reportedly favors the golf range (and presumably heavily influences/controls the Oak Hills voting) here is an opportunity to provide voters an alternative.

    By eschewing further outsourcing efforts Mr. Rilling makes it much more difficult to change Norwalk from the state’s highest cost provider of municipal services to a much lower one. That City workers are paid more than in the private sector is a reason for favoring outsourcing, not the reverse. Although data are annecdotal most City workers live elsewhere for obvious reasons – taxes are lower.

    So far Mr. Rilling has not committed himself to reducing Norwalk’s taxes so eschewing outsourcing is a disappointment.

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