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Rilling, Moccia disagree on availability of programs to help Latinos

NORWALK, Conn. – There is a sharp difference of opinion between Norwalk’s two mayoral candidates – one says the city already has many programs to help Latino residents, while the other says more can be done.

Democratic mayoral candidate Harry Rilling and Republican incumbent Mayor Richard Moccia fielded two questions about the South Norwalk Community Center last week at the mayoral debate at the center. The first was:

Under new leadership, the South Norwalk Community Center is re-inventing itself as a pivotal resource center for the Latino community and the greater South Norwalk Community at large. Our motto is “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Our programming focuses on providing our community members with the tools they need to achieve their dream, with pride and dignity and self-sufficiency. What specific tools, in addition to the much-needed restoration of funding, can the city of Norwalk provide to the South Norwalk Community Center as a steadfast, collaborating partner in our vision?

“We can not sit idly by and watch a social service agency fail as recently has happened,” Rilling said. “We have to make sure that we’re actively engaged doing the things necessary to keep you viable and to give you the resources to do the job you need to do. I can commit to you as mayor that I will be at the table and we will do that.”

“It all comes down to time and money,” Moccia said. “The entire budget in the state of Connecticut for the Latino commission is only about $340,000. You got $100,000, the rest of the state is only 340, and that’s chopped up, kind of hard to get to the cities.”

He was referring to the $100,000 in United States Department of Housing and Development money the center is receiving through the city’s award of a Community Development Block Grant. The grant is specificly intended for renovations to the building. Moccia did not mention the $12,000 in annual funding to the center that has been eliminated by his administration.

Moccia said there are 40 agencies providing services under his leadership. “I’ve been doing it for eight years,” Moccia said. “I don’t need any on the job training. I’ve been doing it.”

“Yes, there are programs but are the right people coming to the programs?” Rilling asked.  “We can’t be doing the same things over and over again and expect different results.”

The second question about the center was written by El Sol News and La Voz Hispana:

The South Norwalk Community Center is planning to provide programming, such as English as a Second Language, computer training, after-school tutoring, pathway to citizenship courses and a dual language early childhood development center for our Latino community. What specific programs will your administration be providing directly or supporting indirectly for our Latino community?

“We’re doing that through all of the agencies,” Moccia said, going on to mention again the $100,000 in CDBG funding.

All of the non-profits have come together to collaborate instead of having turf battles, he said.

“We are doing this,” he said. “This picture that is being painted that we are not is not accurate. Go to our website, you’ll see what I’m talking about.”

Rilling said the city needs to work with the center at the state level, championing its cause to get money.

“Yes there are programs,” Rilling said. “Are the right people coming to the programs? …. I think you would probably agree with me that we could be doing more.”

Moccia came back: “There again is the disagreement,” he said. “…I will guarantee you if you go to any group in town, especially parents in Rowayton, they will all say there is not enough for the kids to do.”

Comments

2 responses to “Rilling, Moccia disagree on availability of programs to help Latinos”

  1. Joe Espo

    ““We can not sit idly by and watch a social service agency fail as recently has happened,” Rilling said. “We have to make sure that we’re actively engaged doing the things necessary to keep you viable and to give you the resources to do the job you need to do. I can commit to you as mayor that I will be at the table and we will do that.”
    .
    So that means what? And what do you propose to do when you’re “at the table”, Mr. Rilling?
    .

    “Yes, there are programs but are the right people coming to the programs?” Rilling asked. “We can’t be doing the same things over and over again and expect different results.”
    .
    So that means what? And what do you propose to do that’s different, Mr. Rilling?
    .
    “Yes there are programs,” Rilling said. “Are the right people coming to the programs? …. I think you would probably agree with me that we could be doing more.”
    .

    So that means what? And what do you propose to do that’s more and different, Mr. Rilling?
    .
    When you don’t have a clue, platitudes are what you can only utter to mask the lack of knowledge or lack of competence.

  2. SoNoCC

    Nancy, thank you for providing clear and precise reporting on the mayoral debate held at South Norwalk Community Center (SoNoCC). There was no subjectivity involved at all in this piece, only objective factual information. A special thanks for clarifying that the $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding that SoNoCC received for badly needed renovations ( and, that one of the candidate’s repeatedly referred to) actually came from Federal funding, not state funding. We have not received a penny in local municipal funding during the current administration’s reign and we currently do not receive a penny in state funding. Our soon to be launched (after completion of renovations) “Renaissance Project” is a collaborative effort among several of the finest public educational, public service and non-profit sector entities that will create a community outreach with SoNoCC as its hub. We invite our city officials to visit us here at SoNoCC and see for themselves the good work that is currently taking place and the gratitude of the people we are serving. There is a tremendous need and we are dedicated to filling the gap for the programming that is needed right here in South Norwalk. Our strategic partners are ready, willing and extremely capable of assisting us with our vision. We are encouraged by some of the words spoken at the debate. More announcements will be coming forward very soon.

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