Seen and Heard in Norwalk: Things that go ‘ka-boom’ in the Rowayton night

Rowayton Farm Creek 070914 009-001
No room at the “in”: Rowayton residents attend Wednesday’s meeting by standing just outside the door.

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


Thunderboomers trump fire regulations

The Rowayton community center proved to be not quite up to the task Monday as a meeting advertised as an opportunity to show support for a proposed nature preserve drew more people than it could legally hold.

At least, that’s according to Sixth Taxing District Commissioner Tammy Langalis, who began the meeting by saying that the capacity of the room was 125 people, and that some people might have to stand in the courtyard, outside of the double door.

Indeed, they did, until shortly after Walter Schroeder elected not to speak.

There was a loud clap of thunder.

“No way I’m speaking after that,” Schroeder said, after his name was called.

Minutes later it began to rain. Langalis beckoned everyone in, fire regulations be damned.

And Rowayton Volunteer Fire Chief Ed Carlson was in the room.


Nothing if not consistent

John Mosby makes appearances at almost every Board of Education meeting to speak out about what he sees as racial discrimination. He’s also spoken up at one recent Common Council meeting and at Mayor’s Night Outs; the first time around, Mayor Harry Rilling suggested he’d put Mosby on a board, and, the second time, Rilling asked him to “wrap it up,” echoing the usual response of BoE Vice Chairman Artie Kassimis.

On Monday night, The Mosby Show was at the District B Democrats’ meeting with the General Growth Properties (GGP) team, one of the latest community discussions about GGP’s hoped-for mall.

This time, it was District B Chairman Bruce Morris’ turn to try to shut Mosby down.

In response to a comment about the diverse businesses expected by GGP, Mosby said he has lived here more than 50 years. “When I came I loved it because it was what you call a diversity town. … But I have a problem, I think we are being overlooked. I am going to speak out because I am always speaking out.”

Such a serious topic, and yet there were knowing smiles sprinkled around the room.

In the past, local leaders only went to certain people in the community, not everyone, Mosby said.

“I am going on the record with you. If we keep on going the way we are going we might not have any diversity and I’m going to tell you why. … It seems like now all the businesses — I have been noticing and I am not going to sugarcoat it — they get grants to help them, but the poor blacks don’t get nothing.”

There was a ringtone. “Let me get the phone,” Mosby said, although it wasn’t his.

That gave Morris his opportunity.

“Thank you and remember, if we keep the conversation here tonight, keep in mind it’s to hear from the developer and provide critical input to help with them with the development,” Morris said. “Can we stay focused on that? Mr. Mosby, I know you are an advocate, you do fantastic work fighting for us. But I want to stay within that context tonight.”

“Let me finish, Mr. Morris,” Mosby said. “Let me tell you I’m in the content. Don’t tell me, you cut me off. I’m dead serious.”

“Mr. Mosby, I’m the chairman of the meeting,” Morris said. “I am respecting you so I am asking you to do likewise, stay in the context. Finish your question please.”

“I am doing just fine,” Mosby said. “Let me finish what I have to say. What I am saying here tonight, and this ain’t sugarcoating, when any business come in here you never see the blacks on nothing. They can sweep the floor up, get the cash register, but they don’t own the business in the community. They can’t get no money to help them. … The blacks don’t have nothing. You’re going to call that diversity? I’ve got a right to speak up for my people.”

“Thank you, Mr. Mosby, there wasn’t a question in there, let’s move on,” Morris said, before state Rep. Larry Cafero asked him to let him respond to Mosby. Cafero said GGP is going to the community, and would be as many times as the community would have them.

About 11 minutes later, Morris expanded on comments about local businesses going into the mall with recollections about a targeted approach in New Haven, with spots predetermined for a minority-owned business. Mosby spontaneously joined the conversation, as he often does, with comments about grants.

“Let’s keep order,” Morris said. “Mr. Mosby, I need to keep order.”
Mosby got up and left.


Santo joshes Mushak

Mike Mushak’s not on the Zoning Commission anymore, but he was there anyway Thursday, sitting through the entire combined meeting of the Plan Review Committee and the Zoning Committee.

Just for fun?

After six years on the commission, Mushak sat silently as a member of the audience. When the meeting ended, Zoning Commission Chairman Joe Santo walked up for some friendly bantering, referring to Mushak’s recent zoning violation, now dubbed the “Flowerpot Scandal.”

“Did that pot move in your driveway yet?” Santo asked.

“I have a concrete ball there,” Mushak said, smiling back.

“I drove by. I’ve got it measured. If it moves one inch …” Santo said.

If you don’t know, Mushak and his partner, David Westmoreland, were recently issued a cease-and-desist order on their home relating to the front setback. It turned out that they were expected to have a flowerpot sitting in front of their house to keep people from parking on a stone driveway that had been grandfathered in. That hadn’t been made clear to them, they said. The flowerpot kept falling over and finally got damaged, so it had been moved, Westmoreland said.


9 responses to “Seen and Heard in Norwalk: Things that go ‘ka-boom’ in the Rowayton night”

  1. Casey Smith

    “They can sweep the floor up, get the cash register, but they don’t own the business in the community. They can’t get no money to help them.” – John Mosby.
    I find it hard to believe that there are NO black owned businesses in Norwalk. I think it’s important to disprove comments like this because otherwise there are those who take it as gospel. Since I don’t shop based on the race of the business owner, it’s not something I tend to notice. Anyone happen to know of black owned businesses?

  2. Casey Smith

    ““I am going on the record with you. If we keep on going the way we are going we might not have any diversity and I’m going to tell you why. … It seems like now all the businesses — I have been noticing and I am not going to sugarcoat it — they get grants to help them, but the poor blacks don’t get nothing.” – John Mosby.
    State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) and Democratic Party-endorsed state rep. candidate David Watts (137th District) have officially been notified they have qualified for a $27,850 grant from the Citizens’ Elections Program (CEP) for the 2014 campaign.
    If this wasn’t actually so sad, it’s be funny. Apparently Mosby doesn’t think either State Rep. Morris or Mr. Watts are black, or the award amount of $27,850 doesn’t count.

  3. Tobias

    Ever been to Soccer With Aldwin in East Norwalk? He looks pretty black to me. Is it because he’s not African American but rather from the Carribean or England?

    The broad sweeping brush of generalism sweeps up everything in it’s path.

  4. Mike Lyons

    John has a tendency to exaggerate. At one BoE meeting he stated that we ‘only hire blacks to be secretaries.’ He apparently forgot that 3 of our 4 middle school principals, and 2 of our 3 high school principals, are African-American.

  5. Suzanne

    This Mr. Mosby gets more press. Why is he not limited to the three minutes like everyone else for public comment? He may have some good points but he certainly never learned the basics of social justice: you are firm, you are accurate, you speak up but your are courteous. It is the old adage: “You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Why can’t the press and these councils just turn him off at his limit? It will be doing him a favor: he will have to organize his thoughts, provide factual information and be respectful. Otherwise, leave him out of the headlines.

  6. Casey Smith

    @ Tobias – Thank you. I was sure there were business, but couldn’t bring any to mind. I’m sure there are a ton more and I hope that people will post them.

    @ Mike Lyons – Oh, I am well aware that Mr. Mosby “exaggerates” (in our house, statements like these were referred to as “lying”) and quite frankly, I was furious when I read his BOE comments about “secretaries”. What a colossal insult to Mr. Roberts, and Dr. Allen, who are the only two principals that I am acquainted with, but I have no trouble believing 3 of the four middle school principals are also African American. The problem with wildly “inaccurate” statements like Mr. Mosby’s is that if they are repeated often enough without people pointing out the facts, they become “true”.

    @Suzanne – Mr. Mosby currently has a lawsuit filed against the BOE because he feels he is not treated the same as others. Filing grievances and lawsuits are his hobby, so any attempt at limiting his rants will just result in yet another waste of your taxpayer dollars tied up in legal costs. Personally, I would LOVE to see people get up and walk out of the meeting when he grandstands, but that’s just me.

  7. Mike Mushak

    Joe Santo made it clear I did not deserve to serve on the Zoning Commission with a violation of not having a flower pot in my driveway, as reported right here in NON. In fact, he wanted me to resign, in a press release he made before I even knew I had the cease and desist agaisnt me. Th truth was I had already decided months ago to step down, so all of this trouble Joe went through to stalk my property and work with staff to issue the Cease and Desist was unnecessary, and just made him look silly and foolish. How can anyone take him seriously anymore?

    Funniest thing happened though. I went on Google Earth late on night out of curiosity, and Googled Joe’s address to see what would pop up. Lo and behold, on street view, is a picture of Joe Santo’s house at 14 Eugene Drive (listed on the city website) with bags of trash sitting out on his curb for pickup that are not in a can, as required by Norwalk Ordinance 94-5 :”Garbage shall not be placed out for collection in plastic bags”. They are required to be in containers. The fine of this is $250/day, under Ordinance 94-17. There is no question it is trash as his neighbors who follow the city law all have proper receptacles are all clearly shown waiting for pickup in the background. Poor Joe, he breaks the law every time he puts out his trash, and is the only one in his neighborhood who dares to do that, and is Chair of the Zoning Commission no less! How can this be? Imagine how much money Joe Santo owes Norwalk taxpayers in past fines for doing this over many years. If collected, which we know it never will since this is Norwalk, but for argument’s sake lets say it would be, it might actually pay for more help at DPW to clean out streets, which we know often comes from trash bags that are ripped into by animals or folks looking for bottles, since he obviously isn’t recycling either by the lack of any recycling bin with his trash bags. Perhaps recycling is a socialist plot in Joe Santo’s worldview? Or perhaps he uses absolutely no cans, bottles, plastic, or newspaper, hence the lack of a recycling bin. Now that would be the sign of an enlightened human being and I would be the first to applaud Joe for that!

    So, does this mean Joe Santo should resign from the Zoning Commission, for intentionally and flagrantly breaking the law? I’ll let you decide. But certainly by Joe’s own standards he applied towards me (and even made a press release announcing it, calling me not fit to serve), he also should resign immediately. That is only fair I think. Perhaps NON could get a quote on this subject from the flagrant lawbreaker himself. And I wonder if he would feel the same way about demanding resignations of members of his own party if they were found to have zoning violations while serving on the Commission?

  8. Suzanne

    So, by intimidation and fear of reprisal, Mr. Mosby gets to waste everyone’s time at will. I thought that these meetings were 1.) Recorded. 2.) Everyone was told their allotted time frame to speak and 3.) Whomever the arbiter of these parameters would stop whomever was speaking at the time limit’s conclusion. This would mean everyone would be treated equally. If this is recorded, then why would Mr. Mosby’s law suits have any effect? The facts could be sent over to anyone casting aspersions on a DVD by Corporate Counsel.
    I think it wastes something more precious to allow Mr. Mosby preferential treatment: time, discussion of the issues at hand (and not whatever moves Mr. Mosby to think up as racist and/or discriminatory at the time), and a process that allows Norwalk City business to move forward.
    If it were true that everyone who brought a suit against the Town of Norwalk could not be controlled at public meetings for fear of reprisals and thus afforded the privilege of speaking at length and at will, well then that would encourage bringing suits, I would imagine, to no other effect that to deny change and due process for whatever counsel or commission at which these people attend.

  9. Casey Smith

    @Suzanne –
    You bring up several solid points and I can’t disagree with you. I believe the Common Council meetings are video recorded. I know the BOE meetings have audio tapes, but I’ve not been in a while, so I don’t know if they are still video recording them.
    However, Mr. Mosby’s entire goal is to force a confrontation and he’s willing to sacrifice the achievements of anyone who gets in his way, just like he did by sidetracking the congratulations that should be due to Mr. Morris and Mr. Watts upon the awarding of the grant funding. He has belittled the achievements of at least five Norwalk School principals by claiming that the highest level that an African-American could reach in the the Norwalk School District was secretary and he blithely dismissed any and all black business owners in Norwalk as non-existant. That seems awfully strange for someone who claims to be a “community activist”. If I was one of any of those groups of people I just mentioned, I’d be really angry.
    Unfortunately, Mr. Mosby’s been at this a LONG time. Someone has posted a link to Google newspapers for the issue of the Norwalk Hour where Ralph Sloan, who was, Superintendent of Schools at the time, wrote a letter to the editors about Mr. Mosby’s numerous lawsuits against the City. We’re not talking years here, we’re talking decades.
    Yes, he’s abusing parliamentary procedure; yes, he’s wasting everyone’s time. Bottom line, he’s a litigious trouble-maker looking to stir up strife at everyone’s expense. Confrontation is fuel to his fire. Hopefully just ignoring him will reduce the collateral damage somewhat. I’ve actually seen a few individuals in other towns (Yeah, every town has at least one…) and if you just wait it out, they eventually go away. One particular individual in another town would read these three page long technical speeches, and if the moderator interrupted, he’d “lose his place” and start all over again. Another individual in a different town would come up to the podium and say the first three or four sentences in English and then switch to Spanish. She’d scream and yell at the members of the committee and accuse them of who knows what. Those antics abruptly stopped when the town started video taping the meetings. Eventually, these individuals drifted off to other pursuits.
    However, the most important part of this whole issue is that the “exaggerated” claims MUST be refuted. Otherwise it is a gross dis-service to Norwalk’s African-American teachers, principals, business owners and political candidates. I may not agree with Mr. Watts politically, but with God as my Judge (and He will be…), I’m not going to let Mr. Mosby’s snarky remarks stand unchallenged.

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