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Sparks fly over proposed $80K CDBG funding for South Norwalk Community Center

Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large), left, makes an attempt to respond to comments made by
Norwalk Common Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large), left, makes an attempt to respond to comments made by Councilwoman Sharon Stewart (D-At Large) at Thursday’s Planning Committee meeting.

Updated, May 10; reasons why Council members recused themselves.

NORWALK, Conn. — A recent request for federal money to fix the roof at the South Norwalk Community Center was a “ploy,” Common Councilwoman Sharon Stewart (D-At Large) said Thursday, minutes before she and Minority Leader Travis Simms (D-District B) walked out of a Planning Committee meeting.

In their absence, the committee voted 3 to 0 to recommend giving the center $80,000 in Community Block Development Grant (CDBG) funding, a recommendation that the full Council will vote on Tuesday. There was still a quorum, Planning Committee Chairman Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) said, because there had been one at the start of the meeting. But even if there wasn’t, he would use his prerogative as chairman to advance the CDBG recommendations to the Council, he said.

Simms and Stewart came back in, protested that a vote had been held and then walked out of the meeting and left the building.

In a conversation shown in the video below, Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large) complained that he had been accused of lying.

“That kind of behavior has no place in a Council meeting at any level. You just don’t in a loud voice suggest that people are lying to get their way,” Kimmel said. “… It’s the first time – it’s my sixth term, never anything remotely so crude such as that in order to intimidate another Council member.”

“Well, I was called liar tonight, too,” Hempstead said.

Committee members Rich Bonenfant (R-At Large) and Shannon O’Toole Giandurco (R-District D) left the room as the discussion began, recusing themselves from the CDBG vote due to a conflict of interest; Bonenfant said CDBG applicant Norwalk Seaport pays him for services and O’Toole Giandurco said her husband does work the CDBG applicant The Carver Center. Kimmel made a motion to amend the motion that had been put forward, to switch the $80,000 slated for SoNoCC’s roof to funding another first-floor renovation at 98 South Main St.

This would create a third classroom for the After the Bell afterschool program as well as administrative offices. Funding for After the Bell next year is in doubt, but Norwalk interim Superintendent of Schools James Connelly had provided the committee a letter stating that the program is a priority and will continue, Director of Community Development Planning Tami Strauss said.

The city is continuously wasting money at the center, Stewart said, asserting that this plan goes against a statement Hempstead made in March. Hempstead, according to Stewart, said the Council should not fund anything but the roof repair.

SoNoCC Executive Director Kelly Robertson told committee members in March that the roof needed repairing and people were in danger of falling through it. SoNoCC board Chairman Warren Peña said last month that fears about the roof had been exaggerated. It had been inspected and was determined to be serviceable, he said.

“Mysteriously the roof was not in need of repair, but yet they want to take the $80,000 and move it down to another project inside South Norwalk Community Center,” Simms said Thursday. “From my understanding the funding they had previously wasn’t even all used up. So before you come back and request more money from the CDBG, the monies prior has to be spent and we asked for financials and they still haven’t produced anything. BET asked for financials and they haven’t produced anything. So why are we pushing this thing through and allowing these people to just continue spending money at their leisure and at their will?”

“These people?” Kimmel said.

“Well, the South Norwalk Community Center, Bruce,” Simms said.

“The only thing they’ve got going on is that new school thing,” Stewart said. “They don’t have no services, and that’s fully funded.”

The SoNoCC people knew their application for another renovation was going to be denied, Stewart said.

“It seems like it was a ploy in the beginning,” Stewart said. “They actually knew they didn’t need any roof repairs and now they want to take that money that they were going to be refused and use it for something else. I don’t understand how come you keep pushing them with all this money.”

“You are absolutely 100 percent correct,” Hempstead said. “We got to a discussion about choosing one over the other, my statement was, ‘If the roof is leaking and it’s a problem then the roof should be replaced first before we put any other money into the building.’ That is exactly what I said.”

“That’s exactly not what you didn’t say,” Simms said.

“We also made the statement that their proposal was padded and that wasn’t listened to either,” Stewart said. “Now, you guys keep saying the Council meeting isn’t the place for it, but when we bring up stuff in the committee you guys still got your own agenda. We said this. I’ve said it over and over. At the other meeting when Kelly (Robertson) was there and she made all these false statements, that was proven wrong also. But you guys still volley straight ahead and you ignore all the facts.”

“Did anybody check it out?” Stewart asked. “That’s what’s supposed to happen. We need to make sure they have social services going on.”

Kimmel pulled out his notes from a previous meeting and said he was “being perfectly consistent,” he had made a motion to fund both the roof and the first-floor renovation.

“Bruce, I’m sorry, that’s just totally false and you know it,” Simms said.

“That’s my proposal,” Kimmel said.

“I don’t care what your proposal is. That’s something you have written down probably right before this meeting, before last night,” Simms said.

“That’s not what you said,” Stewart said.

“Are you calling me a liar?” Kimmel asked.

Minutes were produced to substantiate earlier conversations.

“It’s the same old switcheroo, same old same old, you’re pulling the switcheroo on it, that’s it,” Simms said.

Attention turned to Peña. John Kydes (D-District C) asked if the $80,000 would fund the entire renovation. Peña said that was the quote they had gotten.

South Norwalk Community Center board Chairman Warren Peña
South Norwalk Community Center board Chairman Warren Peña talks to Common Council Planning Committee members Thursday in City Hall. Peña served as a Councilman with some of them.

“We would have no need to come back before you for construction or facade improvement in that first floor,” Peña said.

“I just think we should open the door for other folks down the road, but I’m not going to take away from you and what you are doing. You are doing good thins and obviously there is a demand,” Kydes said.

Simms and Stewart walked out while Peña was talking. It came time for a vote.

“I think if I remember correctly the quorum was established,” Hempstead said. “If somebody walks out in the middle of a meeting it does not mean you don’t have a quorum if I remember correctly. If it doesn’t, the chairman is just going to push this on anyhow.”

The amendment to fund SoNoCC passed 3-0. So did the amended CDBG plan. Kimmel made a statement for the record, expressing displeasure over being called a liar.

“I do not like the folks from the South Norwalk Community Center were referred to as ‘these people,” Kimmel said. “I think it was done in a very dismissive way and I didn’t like the direction it was heading. I am certainly pleased it only happened once.”

Simms, Stewart, O’Toole Giandurco and Bonenfant reentered the room. “You needed a quorum,” Simms said.

Mason’s Rules will be consulted, but the item would have gone to the Council anyway on chairman’s prerogative, Hempstead said. There’s a deadline to submit the CDBG plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Hempstead said.

“That just sounds like a dirty deed to me,” Stewart said.

In the hallway, Stewart said they would check with Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola.

“They are taking advantage of a situation and hoping we don’t know enough about Mason’s and Robert’s Rules,” Stewart said.

Simms and Stewart complained that many social service agencies were turned down for funding. The $80,000 should have gone to them, they said.

HUD mandates that CDBG money be split into categories. The social services are in one category; infrastructure improvements are in another. STAR Inc. was the only application in that category that wasn’t fully funded. STAR requested $144,000 and is recommended for $99,155 in funding.

After the pair left, Strauss said the Redevelopment Agency monitors grant spending. SoNoCC has spent all of the $200,000 in CDBG funding that it was previously awarded, she said.

Hempstead said he wasn’t sure, but there was “something quirky” about quorums in Mason’s Rules.

“I think you may be right because there was no official statement they that were leaving the meeting,” Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan said.

Simms and Stewart also walked out of the last Council meeting for a short while, missing a vote.

O’Toole Giandurco found Mason’s Rules with a Google search. She read them before the meeting was adjourned:

“The committee may act only with a quorum. A committee’s bylaws or founding documents designate what shall constitute a quorum. Unless otherwise stated, the number required for a quorum is not affected by vacancies and if a member has withdrawn from a meeting without being excused by majority vote of the remaining members present, he or she shall be counted as present for the purposes of determining whether a quorum is present.”

“If you don’t have that they can prevent themselves from losing votes all the time,” Kimmel said.

“I slipped a little in my duties; I should have taken control of the meeting,” Hempstead said. “I was called a liar, too. … It’s sad, but it is what it is and we’re going to hear it Tuesday night.”

Comments

33 responses to “Sparks fly over proposed $80K CDBG funding for South Norwalk Community Center”

  1. Sharon Stewart

    According to Mason’s rule, when the journal shows a quorum present, it will presume that a quorum continues to be present unless that presumption
    is contradicted by the journal itself, before we left we stated we were leaving, the person taking minutes was notified we were leaving and why we were leaving, so the presumption that a quorum continued was contradicted, instead of the vote being null and void and the meeting stopped, we were informed we could return to the meeting, according to Mason’s rule if there was no longer a quorum the meeting should have been adjourned.
    there are so many sections to Mason’s rule which is the reason we are going to speak with corporate council.
    we didn’t return to the meeting Simms had to gather his belongings.
    there comes a time when you have to stop playing games, we sit on these committees and try to make good judgment calls, but you have folks who keep changing the rules to fit their needs. the committees we sit on have people who conveniently get amnesia when it suits them, when Hempstead stated he didn’t remember what he said Kimmel looked at him and said you really don’t remember?
    No one blatantly called Kimmel a liar it was stated that’s not what was said, Kimmel labeled himself, then because his antics weren’t working his true colors showed when he tried to throw in the “those people statement” Kimmel mind you is the same person that accused some of us with being “Anti Police” seems to me the only person doing any name calling is Kimmel!
    The bottom line is we wanted to make sure this money gets distributed fairly and not end up always going to the same agencies as in the past.

  2. John Hamlin

    So apart from the childish antics of name calling and running in and out of meetings to disrupt the process, what is the issue here? Not fixing the roof? Funding some other program? Resentment over NEON’s demise? Concern that the money isn’t going to support the right community leaders? Or are our elected officials only concerned with name-calling and stomping out of meetings? This is an embarrassment — no wonder no one with a lick of sense has any patience for Norwalk politics.

  3. Yankee Clipper

    Sharon, I am sure you are very frustrated with all of this … but I think you need a change of strategy. Right now, you are not getting anywhere and, at the end of the day, are not helping those that need your help, those that you want to help. I think you, Travis and Phae need to re-think this….there are potential allies on the Council, you need to cultivate them, not alienate them. Food for thought.

  4. Bruce Kimmel

    In today’s Hour newspaper, there is an excellent feature on the After the Bell program, which began this month at the South Norwalk Community Center. One hundred and twenty elementary school children from South Norwalk, who until this month did not have an after school program (because of busing), applied to attend. Only sixty-two were selected because there is currently only two classrooms in the Community Center. The money approved by the Planning Committee last night will help build a third classroom so thirty more students will be able to attend next year.

    It should be noted that the South Norwalk Community Center submitted two applications to the Block Grant program; one for the roof and one for a third classroom. During the first go-around at the committee level, I moved that both should be funded. But the committee, at that time, only agreed to fund the roof, which we believed to be the top priority. Last night, I showed committee members the notes I had used to make that recommendation; the notes that Council member Simms said I “probably” wrote two nights ago. He essentially accused me of lying.

    Since then, the Council found out that the roof was not in dire shape; plus, the Community Center has been able to get a local roofing company to do some pro bono work to repair the roof. Thus, last night I moved that we transfer the $80,000 that we had tentatively approved for the roof to the After the Bell program so a third classroom could be built. One can only speculate why Council members Simms and Stewart would oppose a program aimed at helping elementary school children in South Norwalk.

  5. Bruce Kimmel

    A very important point I failed to mention, which I do not believe was made clear in the story:

    The money we were discussing last night comes under what HUD calls “facilities,” and cannot be used for any public service programs. We had a certain amount of funds from HUD designated for “facilities,” and we were able to fund all of the requests, except for the request to fund the South Norwalk Community Center’s roof.

    The only facilities request not funded was that roof; plus the $80,000 could not be legally used for social service programs, which is what some Council members seemed to want. To do so, would have been a serious violation of HUD rules and might have jeopardized future Block Grants.

  6. Faye

    There was no quorum. Also, Ed Camacho is listed as a Board member on the application and is also the agent for the SONO CC and it is my understanding that he voted for funding for the SONO CC at the BET meeting.

  7. Faye

    Page 505 of the Mason’s Manual specifically refers to voting and states: “When a vote discloses that there is not a quorum present, the vote is of no effect and the subject of the vote remains as though not vote had been taken”.

    When the vote total came out as 3-0 it was disclosed that there was not a quorum.

    Also, CCM Parliamentary training recommends walking out to remove a quorum as an effective strategy for the minority party.

  8. Faye

    Also, do we know why SONO CC was uneligible for Title 1 funding and also uneligible to be a CAP agency? Has the Redevelopment Agency and other members of the Planning Committee done the same level of research?

  9. Mrs. Ruby McPherson

    Thank you Faye, also do they have a state license on the wall for the facility. Unless they can afford to pay teachers how do you get over a hundred kids in two classrooms right now. You have 10 kids to 1 teacher and the square footage per classroom is set. Someone needs to check out the State guideline? I saw a bus drop off kids and only 1 little black or biracial child out of 5 the rest was hispanic more diversity their please. And what was the qualification. I hope the post there jobs also cause the person out side checking the children off the bus was hispanic. Warren and Kelly do the right thing or we will have another last year like Neon. Post the jobs and diversity on you SoNCC board!!!!

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Ruby

      The teachers are hired by Norwalk Public Schools. Children, 62 total, were chosen by lottery from among the 115 who applied.

  10. Lisa Thomson

    Faye and Sharon, both of you have previously posted some very thoughtful comments on NON regarding education and the servicing of children in South Norwalk. That is why I am having difficulty understanding why both of you would oppose funds for building another classroom that would create the ability to service even more children in their local neighborhood – particularly since the demand is there! I do not claim to know or understand the various intricacies or issues between the various ‘adult personalities’ involved with the building, NEON or SonoCC, but one thing is clear – their are children receiving after school services by certified teachers in their own neighborhood. Regardless, of which CAP or re-incarnation of a CAP that uses that building in the future, investing in classrooms, in that physical location is a good thing. Isn’t time the adults in Norwalk set aside their political differences for the benefit of the kids?

  11. Ed Camacho

    @Faye, I resigned from the Board of SoNoCC some time ago, I have always recused myself from any vote or even discussion, as appropriate, regarding funding for SoNoCC, and the BET did not vote to fund SoNoCC, this year. While you are certainly entitled to your opinions,you are not entitled to your own facts. Please check them.

  12. Things that makes u go hmmmm

    This sounds like NEON voting. Only 3 people voted where was everyone else? Also let’s think about it school in almost over so tell me exactly what they have done. All the money is mainly to pay teachers because I know I do not work for no $11 or $12 an hour. It’s more of $20 or more.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Hmmmmmmmm

      Norwalk Public Schools is paying the teachers (and hiring them). The money is for construction that will accommodate the program now and next fall, when it expands by another 30 children. We have reported this many times, and it has been clarified in comments by me and by Mike Lyons. Also, why only 3 people on the committee voted was very clearly reported in the story. Mr. Simms and Ms. Stewart walked out before the vote. Two people — Ms. O’Toole Giandurco and Mr. Bonenfant, recused themselves because they had conflicts of interest. The decision will not be final until voted on by the full Council.

  13. @Faye
    Ed Camacho has recused himself from voting on anything regarding the South Norwalk Community Center at every BET meeting I have been present at.
    This story mentions him recusing himself: https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2015/04/questions-surround-south-norwalk-community-center/

  14. Susan Wallerstein

    I SERVICE my car, my refrigerator, etc. but I like to think I SERVE (or meet the needs of) people.

  15. Things that makes u go hmmmm

    So in the budget of the Norwalk Public Schools they have a line item to cover the teachers pay for this after school program? And just this after school they come straight from the schools, because when you apply for a after school program there is a separate application and process.

  16. Hugo Ramirez

    I have a question: Don’t Travis and Sharon represent South Norwalk? Why do they constantly oppose the South Norwalk Community Center?

  17. FYI

    That’s easy, Hugo Ramirez…Warren Pena.

  18. Mike Lyons

    Things – yes, this is budgeted in the NPS budget and we provide the educational staff.

  19. As one of the co-authors of the State of CT rules & regulations for After School programing for the State (about 8 years ago and as the NEON Youth Services Planner) I researched, and applied for Title 1 monies for the South Norwalk Community Center, and the Roodner Court Neighborhood Center. I received the money I asked for and installed a state of the art computer learning center for use by the after school program children, and children accompanied by parents in said community, in both locations. NEON, in their infinite wisdom, removed the learning center to build a customer service office. So Title 1 money was sought after, and successfully received for the center. Maybe the mis-step by NEON removing the learning center has something to do with the inability to qualify now. As well as, and I know for a fact that the classroom situation (and bathroom situation) in the NEON building did not meet the state standards (which I helped write). NEON hierarchy had knowledge of this, but did nothing,..except of course stripping the center of the only thing that met with those standards. The Learning Center. The South Norwalk community Center needs an after school program there that fits under the state standards. Hence a classroom that meets those standards, and gives the community what they need is not only a no brainer…but a necessity to the children and families of our South Norwalk community. The future of our children should never be questioned or bartered with….for they are our greatest asset, and our future.

  20. Suzanne

    The issue at hand, who gets money for what, what kind and where, seems beside the point when one views the video and sees the lack of protocol and professionalism by this clearly politically driven group.

    Take a cue from business: have potential improvements inspected by the potential funded groups for need, get three bids for each project from qualified (licensed, insured) and appropriate professional contractors. Put these assessments of one or more projects in appropriate folders for review.

    Have financials for each organization at hand, current and clear. No finagling – numbers straight up. Same folder.

    Be clear from this information, then, what projects are necessary and by priority. And that would be priority based upon community needs stated in a proposal for the funds in the first place. In the same folder. No politics, no personalities.

    Everyone show up for the meeting on time and act like grown ups, each with the clearly delineated funds being requested by what organization for which project in hand. No wishful thinking nor rhetoric allowed. Everyone on the same page.

    Set the agenda and stick to it. Talking over each other as above with emotional outbursts and personal vendettas played out instead of sticking to business? Not acceptable. Not on behalf of one single person living in Norwalk, a direct beneficiary of funding or not.

    No gathering up your toys to go home before the meeting is complete. Public servant. Public service. Whining, reprimanding, accusations, etc., can be left until the latter is through.

    Personality and politics rules Norwalk and not public service as shown through the video and article above.

    Everyone just shakes their head like that is the way it has to be – why? It would be so much easier and so much better for Norwalk just to do the right thing.

  21. Casey Smith

    Actually Suzanne, the lack of maturity and courtesy along with the walking out of meetings speaks very loudly. It should clearly indicate to the residents of the various districts who is and who isn’t qualified for office. Plus it provides great theatrics. I mean, really, what more could you ask for? Pass the popcorn salt, please!

    However, inquiring minds are curious to know whether or not there is a conflict of interest since Ms. Stewart used to work for or was associated with NEON.

  22. Carlos Rodriguez

    Sad to see elected representatives from South Norwalk behave in this manner. It seems there are doers and those who do not do much of anything for their constituents. What has any South Norwalk representative on the council, board of ed, or state done for our community. There should be a story or a news report on just that.

  23. Suzanne

    I say, save the theater for the Bowtie or Garden and start to govern.

    I am a resident who pays taxes and, just like in business, expect value for my dollars. The money is not a donation to people to act like they are governing and, instead, act worse than children (only adults could act this poorly with such weight of responsibility), waste my time and waste my money when the business of governing needs to be accomplished.

    Roofs on buildings, kids’ programs, classrooms: these are personal to many people and how they are organized and achieved should matter and, frankly, should legally be required to matter in terms of behavior and accomplishment in all of this bureaucratic nonsense.

    I don’t buy from companies that put out a mis-used, poorly created product. Norwalk should treat itself better and show some civic pride by holding itself to a higher standard, the paramount objective being public service with my and other taxpayers’ money.

  24. Casey Smith

    @ Suzanne,

    Whoa, whoa, whoa! I’m not sure what’s got you so wired, but you need to take a very deep breath and count to three or five, and then another deep breath, followed by a few more.

    Let’s clarify a few things here. Norwalk is governed by its Charter and the Council Members are elected by the various district residents. Neither the State of Connecticut nor Norwalk have the right of recall of elected official last time I checked with one of the State’s top Constitutional lawyers.

    I believe our Council Members receive the princely sum of $50.00 a month from the City to serve, which my handy dandy calculator says comes to the $600 a year and I also think they must pay taxes on that money. So, relax. Maybe a penny or two of your hard earned tax dollars actually finds it’s way into the Council Member’s account. Tom Hamilton could probably give a better estimate of what that figure would be.

    Another small point is that the amount of money that is being discussed is CDBG funding, which is from the Federal Government. The Feds audit that money VERY closely and Norwalk does not, I repeat, does not want to find itself on the outs with the Fed over even the faintest whisper of misappropriation of funds. You can verify that with Tim Sheehan.

    Now about the level of civility (or lack thereof), I personally would prefer the Council Members act out in public and show their true character rather than having a stealth representative who presented a smiling face to the public while acting against the best interest of Norwalk residents behind closed doors. I’m sure that neither Mr. Hempstead nor Mr. Kimmel particularly enjoyed being accused of lying. But now, I know exactly what certain other Council Members think of them, even though it was at Mr. Hempstead’s and Mr. Kimmel’s expense. And since I respect both Mr. Hempstead and Mr. Kimmel a great deal, the baseless accusations speak very loudly to me — and hopefully to others.

    I do not condone the actions of certain Council Members and yes, it is deeply embarrassing to watch the kabuki theater play out time after time. However, I am hopeful that South Norwalk residents who are watching these antics stop for a second and ask the question, “Okay, exactly how did that little tantrum benefit my neighbors and my family?” or more importantly “Is this who I want to have representing my district?” Hopefully, more residents of South Norwalk will answer that second question with a resounding “No!!!” come the next election.

    Last point, we need to remind ourselves not to take ourselves too seriously. Yes, it is the City’s budget; yes, it is our hard earned tax dollars, but we need to find better candidates for office. The DTC needs to deal with their Council representatives, not me — thank Heavens. In the meantime, I refuse to let the trouble makers raise my blood pressure or steal my sleep. I’d much rather laugh at their antics.

  25. Suzanne

    This is so interesting. A request for accountability (no deep breathing required) results in all kinds of rationalizations for, again, monies, be they Norwalk taxpayers or Federal funds (which, to my understanding, including State taxes, comes from us, the constituency also known as the taxpayer and businesses made up of people living here, again taxpayers), being spent or not by people who do not know how to handle themselves any better than open season at a wrestling match.

    Who would want to participate in such a process that has any grounded desire to be of service? It would be swimming up stream all of the way.

    Whether it is South Norwalk or other areas of Norwalk, it appears that poor behaviors and lack of accountability remains sadly the same.

    Why objecting to the lack of organization, the silly behavior, the increasing inaction and ineffectiveness is considered somehow hysterical speaks for itself.

    Anyone can sit back and smile about all of it but, frankly, too much of what is discussed in these endless committee and council meetings affect all of us personally.

    Ask Norwalk citizens who recycle, with broken sidewalks, who have a possible inappropriate development next door, who have to deal with lawlessness or trashy neighborhoods, endless traffic, etc., then let’s all sit back and laugh about it.

    This is the problem: Norwalk has zero self esteem. It doesn’t think it is important enough to govern with respect or effectively.

    So, we all continue to put up with less than what we deserve.

    No hysteria here. Just an observation: it affects citizens of this town deleteriously and these behaviors show pathetically low standards.

  26. Casey Smith

    I actually agree that the actions of those particular Council Members shows pathetically low standards and that is something that the votes in their district need to remember come the next election. In the meantime, the best we can do is either grin and bear these antics, or try to convince as many people in their districts that their elected officials are not serving in their best interest.

    You can hyperventilate about the tax dollars you pay being part of the State and Federal taxes all you want along with requests for transparency, but at the end of the day, to use Tim Sheehan’s favorite phrase, SoNo Community Center is a private organization. Feel free to contact HUD and complain.

    Best of luck to you .

  27. Suzanne

    Casey, you are micro managing a systemic problem.

    Why is it so hard to accept that as a very reasonable request, without need for hysteria, upset or hyperventilating, Norwalk’s committees and councils, as evidenced by the behavior shown on this video but certainly not exclusive to it, represents genuine problems to the Norwalk taxpayer, at whatever level of government?

    Norwalk has all of the apologists it needs to continue in this fine tradition – what it needs more of is standards, decorum and a sense of public service when a job needs to get done.

    Whatever the origination of this particular meeting “show”, why is it so hard to accept that this type of interaction is unacceptable?

    What does seem to be acceptable is throwing up of hands, wry “whaddya gonna do’s”, rationalizations and justifications of the status quo.

    Why is it so hard to believe that Norwalk could be and should be so much better than the proffered behavioral/meeting evidence of this article?

  28. Kevin Di Mauro

    Elections are a very helpful thing in Norwalk. The public gets a chance to choose whom they want to represent them. I’ve always preferred the two year term of office for council members and the mayor, because it offers the public an opportunity to make changes if they are dissatisfied with the performance of their elected officials. In a democracy, the majority rules. Hopefully, those who vote will do so with the intention of making Norwalk a better place. If the voters find they’ve made a mistake, they have a chance to correct it two years later.

  29. Casey Smith

    @ Suzanne,

    Of course the behavior of a certain group of Council Members is unacceptable, Suzanne. However, until the election rolls around, they are only answerable to the DTC, rather than their constituents. And I don’t envy Ed Camacho that task, by any means. But it’s important to note that the unacceptable behavior is displayed by the few, not the whole.

    I believe it is you who is objecting to how your tax dollars are being used, not me. I’m merely pointing out the facts and offering potential sources of information.

  30. Suzanne

    Casey, I am objecting to how resources are allocated, or not, by volunteer (or essentially volunteer) committees and councils who seem more bent upon the political rather than public service.

    The facts that you have offered, while I sincerely appreciate the clarifications, are still missing the point: Norwalk needs a paradigm shift, a decision to leave the antics behind and a commitment to not just the bare minimum of Masons and RRO but to an overall consciousness of service to the taxpayer, the voter, the City.

    No candidate is required to value public service as paramount in order to run for office. Why can’t it be made clear that that is the only priority of interest in Norwalk governance?

    Norwalk has tried everything else nearing the gutter in the past few years, why not decide to take the higher ground? Set a standard? Focus on the business at hand rather than the divisiveness of personality, political caucus, neighborhood?

    Conduct should not be a variable thrown to the wind and the spirit with which these meetings, the emphasis, cannot continue to be the minutiae of endless bureaucracy without first establishing that the interests of the Norwalk citizen is why these committees/councils exist in the first place.

    The video and text of this article show why a lack of communal acceptance of a given higher standard of service to Norwalk citizens results in behavioral pyrotechnics that do not serve.

    An elected representative or volunteer walking into a meeting room can have the expectation of process and decision making based upon shared commitment to those they serve or they can show up for a fight.

    We have had plenty of the latter – adopt the former. It does not take away personality and it does not take away conflict: but there can be greater trust in the room that the concerns of every committee/council member is a commitment to public service for every Norwalk citizen.

  31. Regarding the “volunteer” status of Council members, I have been told many times that they spend more being Council members than the $50 a month they receive as a stipend.

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