Seen and Heard in Norwalk: A teary goodbye

NORWALK, Conn. – Here are some items of interest that were seen or heard recently in Norwalk:

‘The best eight years’ closes with hugs and cupcakes

City Hall employees were invited to a farewell get-together Friday for Mayor Richard Moccia. The outgoing politician said he was finally having a little trouble “holding it together” after failing to win re-election, as he stood on the steps of the community room to say that he would miss everyone present.

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Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia shares a laugh with Norwalk’s new auditor, Simona Maddox, Friday at his City Hall send-off.

Some excerpts:

• “I’ve had the best eight years of my life here with you guys and ladies. I’ve been holding it together pretty good since last week but …”

• “I never walked into this building one time and never worried about all of you and what you do and how you handle the public, which is not often easy. I tried to be fair to everybody and I tried to respect everybody. The respect and the cooperation that you gave me, I don’t think you will know how much I appreciate that. … When I was marshal and a sheriff I went into a lot of city halls in this state. I’ll stand by this – I’ve never seen a more friendly group of employees than work for the city of Norwalk. ”

• “All I tried to do in my eight years was try to help some people. If I did a little bit of that I guess it was a successful administration.”

• “I hope you will all give Mayor-elect Rilling the same cooperation (you gave me). Give him a chance to settle in and to appreciate what he’s going to be facing over the next two years. The pride that I had in this campaign was that on my part, and on my campaign’s part – I can’t speak for all the blogs – it was not on a personal level. We parted friends and we stayed friends.”

• “Norwalk, wherever I might go, will always be in my heart.”

About 40 people were in the room at about 2:20 p.m. Among them were Barbara Moccia, Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord, Corporation Counsel Bob Maslan, who is also departing, and Personnel Director James Haselkamp, who is expected to be replaced. Town Clerk Rick McQuaid and others gave Moccia a hug. Another 10 to 15 employees came in after the speech.

Who’s in charge?

The inauguration for Mayor-elect Harry Rilling and McQuaid is at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, a little later than usual to accommodate the schedule of Gov. Dannel Malloy, who will swear in Rilling.

Seen in Norwalk: Eva Erlich of Trinity Financial sports a look Star Trek fans will recognize Thursday at the Plan Review Committee meeting.

This gave McQuaid reason to wonder on Friday who is in charge? That’s because, legally speaking, Moccia’s term expires at midnight on Monday. Then he figured Rilling could, technically speaking, be considered to be in control at 8:30 a.m. even if he hasn’t been sworn in.

“I guess there’s no mayor until 8:30,” he said. “No council president either. We are ungoverned from midnight until 8:30!”

Hey, wait a minute, he said, there’s no town clerk either.

Then he remembered Assistant Town Clerk Jill Champaigne.

“We’ll be in safe hands. We have Jill,” he said. “The town clerk’s office will continue to serve.”

It’s goodbye week

Richard McGregor bade goodbye Tuesday to the Common Council, retiring 37 years after he began videotaping council meetings. He’s been around longer than that, he said, as he worked for the Department of Parks and Recreation.

First he cautioned Moccia against trying to keep him to the three-minute limit for public speakers.

“During my time I figured out roughly that I recorded 672 council meetings in my lifetime and if I was allowed to speak for three minutes at each meeting it would come out to about 2,016 minutes, divided by 60 that makes 33.6 hours,” he said, drawing the first laughs of the evening. “I promise you that I’m not going to go on that long because I’d probably be talking to myself by the end of that time.”

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Norwalk cameraman Richard McGregor entertains the Common Council and audience members Tuesday.

He pointed out that he is leaving behind some things that might be considered valuable.

“Up in the recording room I still have the old equipment that I started with (former Mayor) Jennie Cave back on North Main Street in South Norwalk,” he said. “You might be able to get something from the Smithsonian Institute on it, maybe they would be interested in it. There are two suitcases up there that are full of every one of the council agendas from when this building opened up in ’88. You can all have them, I don’t need them anymore.”

McGregor said that he met Moccia way back then, in 1976, when he first came to the council chambers.

“The two RMs go out together,” he said.

McGregor lives in Washington Depot, but said his great grandfather built the original railroad station in South Norwalk and his mother-in-law lives here, so a piece of his heart will remain in Norwalk and he will be down to visit.

Moccia said he would have thought McGregor would have been somewhere else by now instead of sitting through 672 council meetings.

“There is a difference between me recording the meetings and you council people working the agenda,” McGregor said. “I can go home at night …  if it didn’t come out that well I don’t have to worry about it. You, on the other hand, have to think about your strategy and ‘what am I going to do next week?’”

One more Moccia comment

“I have had an honor for eight years,” the mayor said Tuesday. “May not have done everything right but I tried to do everything I thought was right.”

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Richard McGregor receives a standing ovation at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.


25 responses to “Seen and Heard in Norwalk: A teary goodbye”

  1. The Norwalker

    This man should dedicate the rest of his life to filling all the potholes and busted sidewalks that he ignored during his time in office!

  2. Don’t Panic

    When does he turn over the keys to the Mocciamobile? Can Mr. Rilling trade it in for something more fuel efficient?

  3. Break the Unions

    The mentality of the Rilling supporters… Spend 30 or 40 thousand dollars to save maybe a mile per gallon.

  4. Oldtimer

    The Rilling supporters would probably have kept the Ford Escape hybrid for a few more years. The MPGs were excellent, it had four wheel drive, and a warranty that would keep it going for years, even on the hybrid battery. All that talk about a big concern for the cost of replacing that battery was not fact based. There are plenty of that model working as taxies in NY city with excellent service records.
    I own a similar Ford model, never get less than 40 mpg, and won’t start worrying about that battery until it is ten yrs old.

  5. Oldtimer

    It is all about cost benefit calculations, based on facts, not rumors.

  6. Joe Espo

    And what about those big fat gas-sucking 8 cylinder Ford Crown Victorias that Harry the newbie-enviro-weenie was driving around on the city’s gas card dime before and during his double-dipping pension grubbing years as Norwalk’s cop consultant? And what about Alex Ka-nopp’s big ass Oldsmobile that took up both his parking space and Sal Corda’s at City Hall? I can’t wait to see little Harry in a little Smart Car. Unlike Moccia’s 6’2′ stature, Fiorello La Rilling’s mini-frame wouldn’t be a problem fitting into one of those weenie go-carts.

  7. Norwalk Lifer

    This was a very nice tribute to Moccia’s friends and staff at City Hall,

    Norwalk Lifer

  8. Alice

    Disreagrding the neglected infrastructure, which in all fairness does have budget contraints. Besides neglected infrastructure and besides some really bad decisions/deals with slick developers and profiteers, besides putting party agenda ahead of everything but self worth, the man states his “best time serving, was with the children, at the schools.” Really, he said that. This from a man that robbed every student every which way he could discover or trip over. Would be great if he actually showed he did care with actions rather thean empty words and that usual, peculiar smirk, in class, once a year, on reading day and graduations. Be something if Moccia, came on down to RC or MG or WV or CV and grabbed a bunch a kids and took them up to Oak Hills and taught the kids how to play golf? In reality as it is now, this guy is going down in the history books as being the grinch of all grinches, turning out the largest protests city hall has ever seen. Oh and hey he got us on international news, globally, in couple dozen languages. Put Norwalk on the world map for imprisoning a homeless, supportless mother alone trying to do right by her child. Anti family, anti education and continued privatization, (for profit), of critical government services. Yep that’s a legacy to be proud of. Oh, but it isnt in the mayors job description to look out for the students, thats the job of BOE in which the mayor’s only charterd duty is to break a tied vote and to control the purse strings of the BOE. Oh wait thats BET’s job. Anyone but the mayor. Almost anything is possible. It’s possible, all though improbable, to envision Moccia piloting a bus and driving into RC and taking a bunch of kids with nothing to do and giving them something to do and maybe just maybe inspiration, self respect, resonsibilty and citizenship and maybe just maybe a chance. Dream? Or reality? Only Mr. Moccia has that answer. He can make a difference if he chooses. The party ribbons have been cut. But can Moccia learn, and adjust, and transition from cutting with all the cameras and lights blaring back together what he partially is responsible for shredding? Can he, will he learn to knit with no cameras around? Help sew Norwalks fabric together? Smart money is on that he will just try and seek something to maintain his image of himself as someone important that has something to say. If Levine at NCC hires him, question is who is going to PAY, to take a Moccia class? What would it be called? How to be the meanist grinch 101? Or, “how to ignore your constiuents,” as you smirk for the camera? And of course “how to properly handle scissors using folded paper and double speak, 102.” The guy looks like the guy standing in the rain that misssed his train and the next one aint coming no time soon, if at all. Took the trainsmans job and his watch away and gave it to the profiteers and they only run the trains for profit not for has beens, coulda beens, standing alone, waiting in the rain for the train that already left the station.

  9. Alice in Wonderland

    Move on already.

  10. M Allen

    Yeah Alice, potholes have budget constraints. But apparently your little issues have no constraints. Good argument you make there. Money grown on trees in Oak Hills Park for all your top issues. But god rant nonetheless. Feel better?

  11. Norwalk Lifer

    Dear Alice, I hear your message, and you bring a good one, What you are saying is, engage the youth of Norwalk, you are right, Oak Hills could use some of our finest athletes!, yes of course, we know the retirees in this town use it the most, as well as the boy scouts clubs some of our older residents have created.

    But imagine!, that would be great, wouldn’t it? I too, am a product of a proud neighbor, Ely Avenue, loved that street in the sixties and the early seventies when I grew up there.

    I know what you mean by community spirit, but Moccia has said goodbye, time to look to the future, I could see a few kids chatting with this mayor as he has his coffee and pastry at New York Bakery on a Saturday morning.

    What do you think? I think it’s an investment worth making

    Norwalk Lifer

  12. Norwalk Lifer

    Sure M Allen, don’t respond to the EPA experts on this thread, just Alice,

    Isn’t the dissertation on cars, gasoline, and other delights in your radar?

    Why Alice? because in her message is a real message,

    Norwalk Lifer

  13. Hey Alice,
    You must be one of the criminal mothers who steal from the system, too!!!
    THAT “mother” didn’t get as much as she deserved.
    The child did not deserve to be in Norwalk schools.

  14. Norwalk Lifer

    And you Irish girl, are a little too young to be talking to adults

  15. Lifelong Teacher

    Go Alice!

    You were right on with everything except that mother. Don’t make her out to be some poor selfless saint, trying to do what’s best for her child. During the midst of this whole fiasco, she was arrested for selling crack on the front porch while her son’s birthday party was in full swing. For decades, I’ve had to watch firsthand as Bridgeport and Stratford kids are educated here and I for one am sick of paying for it. Every citizen should be. Teachers sit on I95 during their commute and look into the next lane and see their students in the car. These are the same ones who show up late every time there’s weather or a traffic problem.

    Moccia claimed he will miss the students – hypocritical. He did everything he could to shortchange them. The minute parents were successful in getting a small increase in ECS funding, he directed the city to snatch it away. No librarians, bigger class sizes, cut assistant principals, eliminate reading teachers and math coaches – that’s Moccia. Forgive loans to Oak Hills and Maritime – that’s Moccia. Cut per pupil allocation – that’s Moccia. How about running a school on $75 per student, per year? It doesn’t much in the way of books, crayons, paper or professional development. To say the BOE budget was fully funded is misleading.

    Giving developers the free reign in Norwalk – that’s Moccia. Maybe he will teach a class in how to be nasty to constituents who have the temerity to email him or ask for his help. That’s what he did to my friends and neighbors.

    I don’t know if Rilling will be better, we all hope so. It couldn’t be much worse.

  16. @Lifer,
    Really, is that your “retort”…

  17. M Allen

    Life – Alice’s text was a rant. And one in which she wanted to bring up the drug dealing, city service stealing mom as someone we should defend. Sorry. That gets a snarky rebuttal. And I couldn’t care less which cars people choose to drive. I try and stay away from the comments that are meaningless. But when Alice decides Mommy Dearest is the one worth talking about, well, then its just good fun to retort. If that is where her perspective begins, then pretty much anything that comes after that is just blah, blah, blah more of the same “money doesn’t matter” philosophy of fixing everyone’s little aches and pains.

  18. Norwalkalways

    I don’t know, guys, I thought we were going to leave this petty bickering behind us on November 5th. Regardless of your politics, Dick Moccia was an outstanding leader for eight years. I wish him all the best, as I do for the new Mayor Rilling.

    Congrats to both men on their leadership.

  19. Suzanne

    Dick Moccia was a gift insofar as he outlined for us how many ways in which Norwalk could do better: in how we treat one another, in how business is conducted at City hall, in how budgetary matters and legal matters are conducted. Honestly, I find it hard to wish him the best when all he seemed to do at meetings was smirk and mock when he disagreed with a viewpoint. There was a time for his tenure and now it is over. I just hope this next mayor takes lessons from Mr. Moccia: see how he did it then do the opposite.

  20. Joe Espo

    Mike Mushak is now Alice: stream-of-consciousness gone wild! Cool.

  21. Esquire

    Just would like to point out that there is a new state law that prohibits districts from filing criminal complaints on out of district students. One would have to be heartless not to feel for the child. It’s also worthy to note that the poster, Alice, did state that Ms Hardig was on the street, homeless, with no services to help her, whether its an addiction and or mental health issues or just employment skills or hoplessness. Ms Harding had no help, no mentor. The only services Ms Harding was availed to was the police special services. Many believe and have evidence to support their beliefs that Ms. Harding, being vulnerable was set up to squelceh the blowback after Al Sharpton showed at Brookside. Spin it any cruel way you want but it is what it is. Ms Harding and her child needed help and instead the mother was locked up and a child seperated from his mother. How much does it cost for foster care per year? An Inmate? The argument about tax dollars doesn’t hold water when you look at what is spent, dollars and sense, dollars to douhnuts and the damage caused to yet another family/child, dosen’t make sense. For those unaware of the real world, there is an underworld and if you cant get employment for whatever reason in the overworld than the underworld quick cash often times is the only means at survival. Yeah its not cool to sell narcotics to feed and clothe your kid. But its cool for the elite hedge funder to ship in train loads of drugs to zombie out and control the masses. Go figure? Crazy upside down country and time we live in. Somone one needs help to be productive and instead of spending a few nickles to help them be productive and responsible we spend 40,000 a year to warehouse them in boxes and stomp on them harder, there take that, now lets see you get up and make it. Thats a policy that will surely work, not. Ms. Harding needed help and there was no where for her that she knew of to turn to. And for trying to protect and keep her son as stable as she could she was persecuted. Thats the facts, can spin them anyway that some want to view through a narrow lense of good and bad, black and white but the world is not just black and white, in fact more grey than anything. And some may think Ms Harding is the lowest of the low, those obvioulsy dont know how low the bar does go. Begining with who they see in that mirror. Judging others, having no idea what others endure, well, feels good to blame somebody else instead of our own apathy and lethargicness rather than to actually get off the computer with the biased and negative and prejudice rants and get out there and lend a helping hand, to so many that need help. For those so quick to judge others it is not wise to throw stones from glass houses. Not many families no matter the culture or socio ecnonomic status that have not and are not affected by some mental health, addiction or alcholisim suffering in thier families. Punishing someone when they are down does what? Its clear it has no postive individual or societal results. Individual is apt to recidisim and the taxcpayer pays over and over and over. Rather than investing in treatment and skills training to reenter them into employment and be productive in society. This is not rocket science, its human copassion of which we seem to have discarded for well, selfishness and intolerance. It is what it is. Can you, yes, you reading this, can you really judge others and excuse judging yourself.Look in that mirror, like wha yoy see lokking back? Whe Ms harding is realsed she will get a bus ticket and tweny bucks and a wave from the guard, “see ya when ya get back.” You try and rebuild a life with twenty bucks and no support or skills or confidence from anyone or anywhere. Round and round they go on the no where merry go round. The warehoused and the taxpayer bleed till they cant bleed no more. Until we seriously address mental health and its infrstructure and accessability to mental heatlth treatment and services, we wont make any progress and in fact caiuse more irepairable harm to so many that just need a little help a liitle confidnce, just an opportunity to sieze. No its easier to slam someone that cant defend themselves. What does that make us to judge others and through a narrow lense of our own prejudices and biasness.

    1. Mark Chapman

      Quick fact check: The woman who was arrested in this case was Tonya McDowell. She has somehow morphed into Tonya Harding, the infamous figure skater, wrestler and sex tape star who was involved in the notorious Nancy Kerrigan knee-capping incident.

  22. M Allen

    If only it were Tonya Harding. Less interest would have been taken.
    I’m sure Ms. McDowell was a fine woman just trying to do the right thing for her child. My apologies for insuating otherwise. As for the change to the law, it was changed because it was not being applied uniformally across the state. Equal protection and all that jazz. The issue is not Ms. McDowell or whether she was “set up” on drug dealing as retaliation for the right Reverend Sharpton bringing his circus to town. Perhaps we are a bit cruel when it comes to these issues. But maybe that is because some of us are just tired of hearing every last possible excuse for why we need to overlook it all. I’m quite certain we have more individuals who are illegally sending their children to Norwalk schools. But should we do anything about that? Nah. Just keep covering the costs. I’m tired of covering the costs when I have costs of my own to deal with so I can avoid slinging crack on the street corner. I’m tired of hearing every last excuse be used for how to get at my tax dollars. It is not sustainable to keep trying to support a growing population of people who don’t put back into the system. Who statistically speaking, will likely never put back into the system. Taxpayers can’t keep that up forever and they will move. As they move, house values will stagnate. While house values stagnate, the city’s expenses do not; they keep rising and so do the taxes. Higher taxes, worse property values, and so on. It is called a death spiral. I’m not saying we become Detroit, but who the hell wants to become Bridgeport or New Haven or Hartford? That is where we are headed if we continue down this path. And no amount of bike lanes or on-street parking or woodlands at Oak Hills is going to stop that. When taxpayers make the decision to give up and get out, it just won’t matter anymore. So again, I apologize for any comments I personally made regarding Ms. McDowell. I’m sorry that good ole anonymous Alice decided to bring her up at all amid a rant about Norwalk. In the end Ms. McDowell is not the problem. She is a symptom of a problem that has no cure. I’ll say it, she shouldn’t have been arrested for what she did in terms of the school. You know why? Because she didn’t do anything different than what so many others get away with in a codified and accepted way. Why should she be made to pay a criminal price for what so many expect is just a God-given right. That the rest of us are here to pay for it all. Good luck with that. It doen’t end well.

  23. Joe Espo

    Memories fade fast or perhaps are purposely corrupted- and how sweet it is that Ms. McDowell is being portrayed as Mother Teresa. Ms. McDowell was a drug dealer. She put her kid in Brookside so that she could be near her customers, news reports said. Between Bridgeport and Norwalk, she at one time before a plea deal had about 60 counts of drug related and larceny charges pending against her, including dealing on or near school grounds and while her child was in her presence. She even dealt drugs to undercovers during her kid’s birthday party at her home in Bridgeport while she claimed she was homeless in Norwalk.

    Thanks to our Rep. Morris, Norwalk parents can now send their kids to school in Wilton and Darien with little consequence. I’ll bet those school districts appreciate Mr. Morris’ legislative initiatives.

  24. Lifelong Teacher

    Espo, you are 100% correct. She sold drugs out of the front door of her Bridgeport home during the child’s birthday party . Let’s not make her into something she’s not.

    You want to enroll your child in New Canaan or Westport so that they can get a better education? Good luck with that. But there are many, many families doing just that here in Norwalk. It is very easy here for people to fill out an affidavit claiming that they live with someone else. They alleged ‘resident’ doesn’t even have to come into the school. There are dozens and dozens in some schools.

    Once upon a time here was an investigator to track these things down. Now, it isn’t worth pursuing it because no one will back the school up.

    And yes, when I look in the mirror I like what I see looking back at me. I work hard, pay my taxes, follow the law, volunteer on a regular basis, and have taught my children to do the same. Most people so, and we’re sick of this nonsense. It is enough to drive us out of the city.

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