Seen and Heard in Norwalk: Timekeepers

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

Times up!

The rules were the rules at this week’s Oak Hills Park Authority meeting, where Chairman Bob Virgulak refused to allow Paul Cantor to finish his statement because his three minutes were up.

“Why don’t you listen to me?” Cantor asked, futilely.

His wife, Yvonne “Myska” Lopaur, tried to give Cantor 30 seconds of her time, but Virgulak held firm. Lopaur read the last paragraph of Cantor’s statement during her time.

Here are the last two paragraphs of Cantor’s statement:

“You should understand that even if taxpayers could obtain a significant amount of money from a private firm that operated a driving range in Oak Hills, it is highly unlikely a majority of them would opt to use that money to subsidize a money-losing golf course. Rather it is much more likely that, given the chance, they would vote to use it to enable libraries to remain open longer or to purchase computer software for schools or to lower property taxes.

“Finally, common sense should tell you that if driving ranges were as profitable as you imagine them to be they would be operated by private concerns on land purchased by those concerns and taxed by the city.  Therefore, you should be as skeptical as I am that any arrangement you make with a private firm will help solve your financial problems.”

Not on the agenda: Eastern Europe, failing bridges

The mayor was a little off his game Tuesday – he began the Common Council meeting with a comment that Bill Dunne’s appointment to the Planning Commission had been pulled off the agenda and began to proceed with his comments before remembering that public participation came first, the usual order of things, as laid out in that agenda.

He was rewarded with this really fine speech by Mary Theresa “Missy” Conrad:

“You know, I moved here in 1971. When I was in college in 1962 I was in this contest, I was asked by band members, what did I think about the Cuban Missile Crisis? I mean, that really floored me because I was concerned with how I looked that night, not with the Cuban Missile Crisis, although I was kind of worried about my husband to be, I mean the guy I was going to, Jeff Conrad, might be in trouble because of that. You know, Jackie Kennedy said John Kennedy tried to send her away. She said I don’t want to go away, I want to stay with you and the children.

“Every year in Norwalk we have the commemoration. The Hour on the faith page said ‘Remember Hiroshima.’ It’s not really to remember Hiroshima, it’s to say never again. It’s to say that we will honor the promise we made after World War II.

“I went to the senior center and heard Mark Albertson talk about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And you know, whatever happened then, people are so insane when they start acting that way. The time to stop war – I’m a Quaker you know – is before it starts. When it’s chaotic, and people. So tonight I brought the letter in person. My husband said ‘Mail it to Moccia, don’t take up his time.’”

That got a laugh from the mayor.

“I think over all the years – The Hour had an article – 50,000 in Hiroshima, Japan. How many in Norwalk do you think came? Eight. We get less and less every year.

“But just remember, Anne Frank got a bike for her birthday. She never got to ride it. War comes.

“I’m concerned particularly because the new budget of U.S. Congress wants to put in the missile defense system. I had my first job in 1980 as a U.S. census taker and I took the bus around town, rode my bike, so that our son could use our car. I was reading the whole thing about the Manhattan Project.

“It was sort of one of the smallest people of the great minds was Edward Teller who placed the little seed in Ronald Reagan’s mind to make a missile defense.

“Our responsibility in Syria right now is Russia is mad at us because we insist we want to put a missile defense in Eastern Europe. Meanwhile our bridges are falling down. There was a wonderful letter in The Hour about the guy who represented a fellow who died in the Mianus Bridge. I was working at SWERPA. I typed the letter to Gov. O’Neil — my initials were on the bottom, you know — about fixing our bridges. So, the people at the top, I’m actually, you know I’ve been in the League of Women Voters also, I’m actually not so angry at Congress. I’m more angry at the citizens. Democracy is not a spectator sport. I just want people at the bottom, and people to care again. I’m 70 this year. I don’t know when I will die. I don’t see young people coming into government as much and caring. But we’re a democracy.

“I’m giving the peace declaration in person to you, from the mayor of Hiroshima and mayors for peace. You know we have a sister city in Nicaragua. They have almost as many –”

At which point, Moccia finally interrupted her.

“Missy, I have given you almost four minutes out of courtesy,” he said.

Actually, he gave her more than four minutes.

Conrad thanked the mayor, turned in her letter and the next speaker came on. It was all very courteous.

And another thing the mayor let slide: Public comments are limited to items posted on the agenda. Hiroshima was not up for discussion that night.

Another thought for the mayor

Kate Tepper finished the public participation with a bit of a conversation with Moccia.

Tepper, a Democratic candidate for Common Council in District E, asked if it was correct that Dunne’s appointment had been tabled because there wouldn’t be enough council members there. Two Republican council members were missing.

Not tabled, Moccia said, pulled from the agenda.

Tepper asked if it would be voted on Sept. 10.

Moccia said yes.

Tepper had a request.

“I think you will not have a full council then because it’s primary day,” she said. “As you know, some of the people here will not be here because they will be working on the primary. I respectfully ask that you reconsider that date, or to table the motion for further in the month.”

There are only Democrats on the primary ballot.

Moccia did not return an email asking what he thought of postponing the vote again until after the primary.


5 responses to “Seen and Heard in Norwalk: Timekeepers”

  1. piberman

    Nancy’s reporting on the Oak Hills inbroglio again demonstrates the value and importance of an alternative local news source will to spend time and energies reporting on local City governance meetings. In contrast the Hour did not report the meeting but its editorial found the Oak Hills meeting satisfactory and again expressed support of the driving range.

  2. EveT

    Even in the US House of Representatives, one person is allowed to give X amount of his/her allotted time to another person. Why OHPA could not follow the same rules of order is beyond me.

  3. Norwalk Spectator

    @Eve –

    This type of situation has happened before, not only at Oak Hills Committee meetings, but other Council Committee meetings.By not respecting the limit, the speaker takes time from others who might wish to speak. I believe that when the speakers in the House run over, it’s another member of the House that cedes his/her time, not a member of the public. Also, I believe this was posted as a OHA Committee meeting rather than a public hearing.

    Back in January at an Oak Hills Committee Special meeting, Mr. Cantor got up and created a disturbance by stating he objected to the entire meeting. He then ignored the Chairman’s statement regarding the fact that the meeting was a working meeting and not a public hearing. Mr. Cantor continued to argue with the Board members. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to find out that was the basis for the chairman’s decision.

  4. spanner

    just wondering is there a profile on Chairman Bob Virgulak ? What was his education his background his exopertise?How long has he lived in Norwalk?

    Limits? I’d like a shooting a month to be a limit and the gangs respect the laws.

    As long as they are spending our money no meeting should be closed we never elected this guy to act like Moccia did we?

    Is this the golf course that keeps driving golf carts on public roads with children at the wheel?I heard at the round table at the NY bakery it was is this true?If it is true is Norwalk liable for injuries caused by under age drivers with no licence?

  5. Don’t Panic

    The public speaking period goes on as long as it takes, so having one speaker go over does NOT deny time to another. The limit prevents one person from filibustering and keeps the whole meeting from running too late to conduct its business. Ernie was appointed, not elected. If you don’t like Moccia’s commission sppointments, there are four Democrats to choose from.

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