Simms reaches out to Norwalk PAL – one day later

Minority Leader Travis Simms (D-District B).

Updated 9:30 p.m.: Simms voted on the motions regarding his boxing program, Council members Doug Hempstead and Bruce Kimmel say.

Updated 3:50 p.m. Thursday, April 3, with comment from the Rev. Tommie Jackson of Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now denying he has spoken with Simms about the Ben Franklin School gym.

NORWALK, Conn. – Statements made by Travis Simms Monday in pursuit of federal grant money to support a proposed boxing program for Norwalk youth have been examined by NancyOnNorwalk.

Simms, a District B Democrat who recently became minority leader on the council, pitched the program Monday to fellow members of the Planning Committee, who were drafting an action plan for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Block Development Grant (CDBG) funds. Council members – including Simms – voted to draft a plan that is $43,000 higher than what they can spend. This was done to continue the process through the 30-day comment period, they said.

Councilman Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) said that in theory, the committee could add and subtract things to the draft plan at will, as nothing is final until the full council votes on it.

Simms’ comments to the committee came at the request of Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large); Simms originally declined to comment, but Kimmel pressed the point. Simms said he would recuse himself but voted on both motions made by Kimmel in regard strictly to the boxing program, council members say. He also voted on the resolution for the entire package.

Director of Community Development Planning Tami Strauss asked Simms if he had a location lined up to operate the program.

Simms said he was working with the Norwalk Police Athletic League (PAL).

“I am also working with the Norwalk PAL and I am also working with Rev. (Tommie) Jackson, who is the chair of NEON,” he said. “Right now we are looking at the program inside the Ben Franklin building there. I actually wanted Faye Bowman and Russell Williams to actually speak on that at a later point regarding that segment of it but, more than likely, it looks like we are going to be in the Ben Franklin building.”

Norwalk Deputy Police Chief Susan Zecca is the president of Norwalk PAL.

“I received a call from Travis Simms today,” she said in a Tuesday email. “I currently do not have details of the program he is proposing, but our board has agreed to discuss it with him. We have asked that he put a proposal together to present to our full board. We are always interested in potential programs that could benefit the youth of Norwalk.”

Jackson responded to NoN’s inquiry Thursday afternoon and denied having spoken with Simms about the boxing program.

“Councilman Simms has not mentioned anything to me about the Ben Franklin School/Center possible use for a Youth Boxing Program,” he said.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Mike Mocciae said it would be tough to use the Ben Franklin building.

“Ben Franklin Gym is the only facility within the building that is controlled by Recreation and Parks in which we run programs for youth and adults seven days a week,” he said in an email. “The Auditorium and the classroom space below is leased to Crystal Theater for their use. I am not sure where Travis is referring to within Ben Franklin School for his intended use. It must be in a portion of the building that NEON controls, if they still have a lease.”

Simms’ application to the Redevelopment Agency for CDBG funding states that the Travis Simms Foundation is a 501(c)(3), federally recognized non-profit. The application includes an IRS form 990 dated June 27, 2011.

There is no record of a 501(c)(3) for the Travis Simms Foundation online. Paperwork filed with the application states that the foundation was inactive from 2009 to 2012. “The foundation was reactivated in 2013 in an attempt to start a youth boxing program,” the application states. “No funding has been raised or expenses accrued over the last few years.”

Simms did not return an email and a phone call asking for clarification.

The application includes paperwork listing the Travis Simms Foundation as a non-stock business registered in Connecticut on Feb. 22, 2013. While the mailing address listed is on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, the business address is 98 South Main St., 1st floor community room – the South Norwalk Community Center.


21 responses to “Simms reaches out to Norwalk PAL – one day later”

  1. DistrictBDem

    Let me get this straight.

    This is the Minority Leader of the Democratic Council?

    A) He lied at the meeting about PAL.
    B) NEON does not control the gym, he has not gotten approval from Parks and Recs Director Mike Mocciae.
    C) He lied about being a 501c3 on his application?
    D) He voted for all amendments and final vote approving his own application?

    I doubt he got approval from SoNoCC to use their building and their address as his business address.

    Why is this guy not being brought up on ethics charges?

  2. anon

    Before anyone spends the money on something so unclear, can someone on the Common Council read Susan Wallerstein’s thoughtful post in today’s Nancy on Norwalk. It does take a village, collective effort, to help kids and do things the right way.

  3. Casey Smith

    @District B Democrat – I think if the ethics complaint had been filed BEFORE this whole mess became public, it could have gone to the Ethics Commission. That was one of the big stumbling blocks a few years ago when Kevin Poruban filed against Nick Kydes. However,to the best of my knowledge, the Ethics Commission can only announce a ruling on something, they can’t enforce it.
    So, I think that having this in NON works out better because we all now know about it. In the Ethics Commission, there would be all sorts of confidentiality issues involved.
    Also remember the Democrats were against Mike Mocciae’s contract renewal, so I don’t know why Travis thought getting Mike’s approval for the use of the gym was a sure thing. I’m sure Travis is also fondly remembered at the Police Station for at least two altercations in the past, so just assuming they would rubber stamp the deal was also flawed.
    Gonna be interesting to see this play out. Do you want extra butter on your popcorn?

  4. SoNoCC

    South Norwalk Community Center (SoNoCC) has absolutely no agreement nor have we ever granted Mr. Simms permission to use our address as his company’s legal address. Furthermore, Mr. Simms has listed our multi-purpose room as a potential site for his proposed boxing program without ever having had discussions with us or having asked for permission of potential use.

  5. EveT

    Aside from the concerns so well summarized by @DistrictBDem, can’t we find activities for kids that don’t involve hitting and punching each other? I’d rather see the money go for nonviolent sports.

  6. Lisa Thomson

    “We have a unique individual in the city,” he said. “It’s more complicated because he’s a member of the Common Council. … We should bend over backwards and not demand that every detail of the application is done the way professional non-profits do them. They’re very good at it. Travis hasn’t been doing this kind of business for a number of years.”

    Bruce… I like and respect you ALLOT…but what were you thinking??!

  7. Marjorie M

    Travis Simms has good intentions, or at least I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He has been a product of South Norwalk and knows how to be more than what he was. HELP HIM OUT! Isn’t that what we want? Participation from the community itself? Travis is offering that. Give him time to find an approved location. He can get overconfident in selling his idea. He just needs time and support. SHALL WE SUPPORT HIM OR CAST HIM OUT ON THE STREET BECAUSE HE WANTED THIS SO BADLY HE BROKE THE RULES.?

  8. John Hamlin

    I think when setting yourself up as a role model for the City’s youth, following the rules, telling the truth, and acting ethically should all be pretty essential. At least one would expect the Common Council to think so.

  9. Scissors

    Can we not trash someone, everyone for standing up and at least trying. This is exactly why our choice’s at elections are so limited. Folks just dont want to deal with all the bs that goes with stepping up to the plate. Mr. Simms proposal is not new to most. Giving Mr Simms guidance on his project rather than character attacks would be more mature, positive and community orientated, would it not? Mr. Simms project, not unlike Larry Johnson’s efforts with his project “Shoot Hoops”, face frustrating barriers. Both men are lifelong Norwalkers, they grew up here and choose to remain here. Norwalkers, like Travis and Larry know whats wrong and even why and are generously giving of their time and efforts to make things better for kids growing up here. Kids that are facing very tough challenges and yes barriers. Mr. Johnson battled and battled for years to get the use of just one gym for just one day. He was faced with all kinds of obstacles from gym rental fees to exorbitant insurance fees, security, clean up costs, yes they wanted the bathrooms restocked with tissue and even union rate referee’s was an issue and the health department inspection for the popcorn to pay for all the fees. A catch 22 carousel. Guy just wanted to get the kids together and play some ball over the long cabin fever holidays to burn up some of that pent up energy positively. Figure he would just go down and see someone and fill out some form, in triplicate paper of course, just like in the 50’s and someone would tell the janitor of the school to go open and close the gym, right? Nooo. This isnt 1955 any more. Even though, the inside of some our schools buildings it may seem like a time warp and that it still is 1955. Duck and cover at the sock hop anyone? Somehow, by pure grit determination, on Mr. Johnson’s part, “Shoot Hoops” has become a reality. Mr Johnson battled for years to get one gym open for just one day of the year. Travis is trying and although the recognized sport can be violent, would you rather a kid full of frustration pop a bag or pop a cap? Pump some iron or puff on pipe?
    There is no single one size fits all answer, no one program. What Mr Simms is starting is just one part of an encompassing integrated package of multiple activities that are positive character influences that leads to building healthy minds and a strong united community. And anyone, anyone that steps up to the plate to help should be supported, guided and encouraged. What is that old saying? Stones and glass houses? Who knows this could be the start of something big. Maybe Travis will hook up with other discipline trainers and a world class training facility is located here and some day Norwalk may have a rep at the Olympics in several categories. This is not the only answer but it is positive outlet for some that punches out for support. Hopefully someday the theatre will reopen on Wall and that facility can be another component of the package of solutions as the schools are yet another. Where are those giant scissors, to cut, at least some, of the red tape?

  10. Seriously, give this man money that doesn’t need to be accounted for? Grants do not have to be “proven” that the money is 100% used for the sole purpose it was intended for when the person sent in their application.
    By simms actions from the get go and given his past history with the law, he has proven himself to be untrustworthy or unable to abide by any laws of the land. Why give him money?
    What fools the city council people are if they do… a bunch of fools (Well, you know that old saying “A fool and his money are soon parted”)

  11. newsfreak203

    I would like to see support for Mr. Simms proposal rather than individuals making a mockery or taking personal attacks because he’s trying to bring about change in the community for our youth, I rather my taxes go to support programs like this, Besides I don’t see anyone else trying to do something positive in the community or for the children but yet because Mr Simms is proposing a positive and a much needed program in the city, some of you people think it is fair to make outlandish and ridiculous comments or take personal attacks… Personally, I think this is wrong, immature, and inconsiderate. I think we should be supporting more initiatives like this. I never quite understood this city… It’s damn if you do or damn if you don’t!

  12. newsfreak203

    This comment has been deleted because it was potentially libelous.

  13. Inquiring Mind

    I believe that this is not the first time that Mr. Simms has applied for CDBG funding, so why didn’t he know the requirements? Also, why didn’t he extend the courtesy of contacting the various potential venues, like the South Norwalk Community Center or PAL to discuss the program before announcing their involvement?
    Personally, I would prefer a Taekwondo or other martial arts course over boxing simply because the entire intent of boxing is to get into the ring and beat the daylights out of one’s opponent. Marital arts teach restraint and how to defend oneself without being aggressive.

  14. This comment has been deleted because it was potentially libelous.

  15. Newsfreak203

    From my understanding, Simms served on the Board of Directors and as I remember… there was some proposal that SoNoCC was planning to put various programs there at NEON including a boxing program… hmmmm!

  16. Newsfreak203


    I gave you the benefit of the dought, however, after doing some research your comments has no validity, Simms record is clean except from a pending case with the Norwalk P.D. where he’s set for trial.

    I’m curious to know what were you referencing regarding his past history with the law?

    I got it… your another HATER because he’s a successful black man… Shame on you irishgirl!!!

  17. Nope – because he is not a successful black man. He has lied about everything in his proposal from the get -go. He is untrustworthy.
    Go ahead and you give him YOUR money and leave us taxpayers out of it – someone who can’t tell the truth from the beginning will only continue to lie in the future.
    PS- “doubt”

  18. SoNoCC

    SoNoCC has a very defined strategic plan which includes a recreational component but it does not and never has included boxing, we can assure you. Furthermore, the use of our legal address by Travis Simms Foundation is unauthorized and sends an unfortunate and confusing message to the public.

  19. Casey Smith

    @Newsfreak203 –
    “…some of you people think it is fair to make outlandish and ridiculous comments or take personal attacks… Personally, I think this is wrong, immature, and inconsiderate…”
    Other than the two comments that were deleted, I don’t see any “outlandish” comments or “personal attacks”. I see people who are concerned particularly after Simms made the following remark as reported by NON: “However, it’s really going to be targeted to inner city children who are at risk, inner city children who are more prone to joining gangs and which is a huge problem, a huge epidemic in Norwalk over the last few years, where you have every summer kids killing each other in the urban community.”
    Let’s all remember that the two existing programs on the chopping block are the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program and the Neighborhood Improvement Coordinator. That’s someone’s job along with a program for a group of kids who were getting real life experience interning in the workplace. Personally, I’m not sure it’s a worthwhile trade off for a boxing program. I’m glad Mr. Simms went to the Olympics – as have a number of other Norwalk residents, but not at the expense of the summer intern program.

  20. newsfreak203

    SoNoCC – your response couldn’t be further from truth, and infact I find it to be perpospous.

  21. SoNoCC

    “perpospous”??? 🙂

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