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.