Sources: NEON is going Chapter 7 next week

Norwalk Mayor's Night Out 032714 198
Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) founder Bobby Burgess speaks at the recent South Norwalk Mayor’s Night Out.

NORWALK, Conn. – Bankruptcy papers have been filed by Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) and are effective May 5, sources told NancyOnNorwalk on Sunday.

NEON is going Chapter 7, according to a source close to the situation. That would involve liquidating all of NEON’s assets and dissolving the organization.

The information was obtained while attempting to get various parties to respond to an email copied to the press by NEON founder Bobby Burgess on Sunday. Burgess, in his email, outlined the history of the two organizations from 1984 to 2003, as preparation for a Wednesday meeting in the mayor’s office.
Neither NEON board Chairman Mike Berkoff nor NEON transitional CEO and President the Rev. Tommie Jackson responded to a request for comment about the bankruptcy.

“We are having a meeting Wednesday morning,” Mayor Harry Rilling said. “Right now I do not feel it appropriate to comment on the status until then.”

NEON leaders were not able to collect money that had been promised to them, a source said.
Berkoff said in February that the possibility of about $1.2 million in funding through the state of Connecticut was being looked at as a path back to solvency. The source said that funding did not materialize.

The source said liquor distributor Diageo and Stamford Mayor David Martin had promised NEON money. Both backed out, the source said. NEON therefore has no choice but to go Chapter 7 instead of reorganizing under Chapter 11, the source said.

Burgess’s email sought to explain the power-sharing arrangement between NEON and SoNoCC. Burgess asserted that it was never intended that SoNoCC would be equal in ownership of the building with NEON.

This is in contradiction to other paperwork in the possession of NancyOnNorwalk. Burgess has not replied to an email requesting an explanation.

Burgess’s emails included efforts by the mayor’s administrative assistant, Sally Johnson, to arrange the Wednesday meeting. Invited to the meeting are state Sen. Bob Duff (D-25), state Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140), the Rev. Lindsay Curtis, SoNoCC board Chairman Warren Peña, SoNoCC Deputy Director Pat Ferrandino, SoNoCC board member Ed Camacho, Burgess and Jackson.
Burgess also sought to burnish his own reputation, pointing out that NEON had an annual operating budget of $450,000 and a deficit of $800,000 when he became executive director in 1972. When he retired in 2003, NEON had an annual operating budget of $13.5 million, with $485,000 in unrestricted funds on hand, he said.


12 responses to “Sources: NEON is going Chapter 7 next week”

  1. inquiring minds

    Well its about time. About time all these side show clown acts involved faded away. Now what happens to SNCC? What was the original deal as far as who holds the deed at 98 South Main, the city or the now defunct NEON? Can the city take possession of this community facility and hit the reset button? It is way past time to turn the page and end this sad chapter and begin anew. The mission was, if memory serves, was to eliminate poverty. What does France, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland know, that we haven’t learned yet? http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/23296-poverty-is-killing-us

  2. things that makes you go hmmmmm

    Looks who’s at the table, interesting. Investigation please.

  3. oldtimer

    Inquiring minds:
    City records show NEON as one of two owners of 98 So Main St. with a total appraised value of $2,357,220. for land and building. There are probably lawyers already looking for answers to your “reset button” question.

  4. Dawn

    Its no secret that NEON is liquidating and I’m sure they are trying to avoid playing out their every move in the Press.

    The Stamford Office has laid off most of the staff and has given their summer day camp slots to Glen Cove Community Center.

    Also, First, David Martin, Mayor of Stamford campaign’s promise to be transparent and have an open door policy is an empty promise made to win voters. Like the Mayor of New York City, they play good on Television (can talk the
    rethoric)and for the press but are primiarly empty vessels. His chief of staff Mike Pollard runs the show. At least Rilling is available to talk to and not hiding behind his staff.

    Second, David Martin cannot promise what is not his to give. The Board of Finance is incharge of the shoestrings, which someone should be. He can promise, but in the end its the Board of Finance to deliver and they cut his budget by 7 million dollars. He should have said, He will look at it as a budget item increase and depending on the vote he will come up with a plan.

    NEON is having its problems, CTE which is also NEON is having their problems, Yerwood Center in Stamford is having its problems. However, No one that is said to be in power seem to care what happens to our children, our parents and our communities. Its more obvious, calling to do the bashing instead coming up with a solution.

    For most of us, we know where and when our next bread is butter; we can put gas in our cars, and walk into the Mall and make a purchase.
    Question: Whats going to happen to the fmilies that are so in need of the services these agencies offer.

    Its easy to say close it. Instead of take from the no do gooders and change the climate and the discourses that are not working instead of ignoring the need that exists because at the end of the day the second question is:

    How does these closing of programs affect us? And if the answer is pure vindictiveness against those who have garner our distrust and instead of removing them and purging the system, this sure will happen oven and oven again.

    Its NOT the mistake, but what happens afterward that makes a differnt in moving forward.

  5. NEO scam

    What Bernie Madoff did is more excusable than these people. For their own sakes, I hope they’ve made a long healthy confession to their maker. It doesn’t get much lower than stealing from the most vulnerable in society.

  6. Casey Smith

    I’m concerned about how the families who received services from NEON will also make out, but I think that since NEON was in the news so often with negative stories, people became very, very aware of the situation. Those same stories also might have had something to do with the potential donors backing out of the situation. But before anyone sneers at Diageo and Stamford Mayor David Martin, remember that both have to account for the funding and prove it was well spent.
    As for future services, I’ve been patiently waiting to see if Person-to-Person would step up to the plate in terms of the heating fuel assistance. I’m sure that once NEON closes for good and doesn’t come back like Banquo’s ghost, the various non-profit service groups will start picking up the slack. Is it going to be inconvenient for the families needing service? Oh, yeah, there’s no doubt about that, but the clients never seemed to be high on NEON’s priority list. As a matter of fact, they were on the other list next to paying the staff and the utility bills.
    I’m kinda going to be sorry to see NEON finally go. It’s been something similar to a long running dramatic soap opera. Each day, when I signed on to NON, it was like, “Oh, man, let’s see what NEON comes up with now?” or “They did WHAT?” But it is time to move on. Time to sweep up the broken pieces and start building a new service provider system for those who need it.
    Bon Voyage, NEON. May your sunset be brilliant.

  7. Don’t Panic

    Did I miss an early adjournment of the legislative session? Did we really expect Sen. Duff and Rep. Perone to skip out of the busiest week in Hartford for an emergency meeting about NEON to deal with a bankruptcy that NEON has been heading towards for months?

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Don’t Panic

      To clarify, Rep. Perone was not on the email list of invitees to the meeting. Rep Bruce Morris (D-140) is on the list, along with Sen. Duff. Also, an invitation does not necessarily equal an acceptance, although Duff has been very involved in the situation for months, and NEON exists in Morris’s district.

  8. things that makes you go hmmmmm

    Election time will be very interesting. Duff and Morris has been very involve since the beginning alalong with everyone else that is at the table. Investigation please so the questions can be answered.

  9. Don’t Panic

    Correct. I misspoke. I meant Morris. The point still stands. Suggesting that they are not making themselves available for this is unfair. This is the last week of the session and they should be in Hartford dispensing with a long list of legislation still pending. This bankruptcy has been brewing for months and if their involvement was necessary it could have waited a few days

  10. piberman

    NEON has received more press attention than any other story in recent years. Yet the apparent reluctance of Norwalk’s minority community’s leadership to take a positive role restoring services to NEON’s clients sadly remains the most compelling and puzzling part of this trajedy. Such apparent lack of leadership among elected officials and community activists/organizers has no parrallel in modern Norwalk.

  11. Bill

    Ding dong the witch is dead, but if only those that made $150k while the poor suffered with no services were also held accountable, we would say it was a good day.

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