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.
• “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.
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.”
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.”