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Watts rebuts Kimmel in part 2 of Norwalk Democratic dirt show

Common Councilman David Watts (D-District A) waits Tuesday for his chance to offer a rebuttal to comments made Monday by Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large).
Common Councilman David Watts (D-District A) waits Tuesday for his chance to offer a rebuttal to comments made Monday by Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large).

Updated, 2:47 p.m., comment from John Igneri

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk’s Common Council continued to, at times, resemble a circus Tuesday night, but Mayor Harry Riling, who is vacationing but was still part of the proceedings, missed the show.

Councilman David Watts (D-District A) pointed to the mosque issue as part of the reason the Democratic caucus is divided and denied that Rilling had ever been “kicked out,” as Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At-Large) asserted Monday in a district meeting.

Watts, who has repeatedly said he will not run for a third term this fall, has been at the center of the Council storm for the past four years – the first two under Republican Mayor Richard Moccia, the target of Watts’ attack videos, the second two under Rilling, who he has similarly targeted with derisive posts on social media.

“It is absolutely clear that the Democratic caucus did not ask the mayor to leave,” Watts said, after Council President Jerry Petrini (R-District D), acting as mayor, allowed him to speak on the condition that there would not be a personal attack. “Actually on several occasions I asked him to participate in our caucus. He, for whatever reason didn’t show up. That’s his right, that’s his call but he was not kicked out of our caucus.”

Norwalk Common Council President Jerry Petrini (R-District D), left, greets Councilman David Watts (D-District A) before Tuesday's meeting in City Hall.
Norwalk Common Council President Jerry Petrini (R-District D), left, greets Councilman David Watts (D-District A) before Tuesday’s meeting in City Hall.

Petrini had used the gavel on Watts, interrupting comments that were directed toward Kimmel. Petrini said he thought this was political and not Council business, and Watts could have a press conference, but Watts pressed that Council members have the right to make announcements.

“I have been attacked in several different media outlets by a certain Council member, but since the current acting mayor has a gavel in his hand I will skip what I was going to say,” Watts said. “I will not be a target by this Council member or any other person.”

The issue of who would be minority leader and the legal settlement with the Al Madany Islamic Center over the proposal to build a mosque at 127 Fillow Street cracked the caucus, Watts said.

“Some pushed the mosque on my district and wouldn’t bend,” Watts said.

Kimmel was silent on this topic through the 2½-hour Council meeting but handed NancyOnNorwalk a statement afterwards:

“I have no intention of revisiting the mosque issue. To do so would require a review of various Zoning, insurance and legal issues.

“On two occasions during the mosque discussion, Mr. (Travis) Simms told me he did not want Mayor Rilling to participate in the Democratic caucus. It was never clear to me why they wanted to exclude the mayor. Mr. Simms said something about always fighting with the mayor.” 

Kimmel’s Monday night comments were responded to by Councilwoman Sharon Stewart (D-At Large), one of the Democrats who regularly meets as a caucus, which Council members John Igneri (D-District E), Eloisa Melendez (D-District A), John Kydes (D-District C) and Rilling reportedly do not attend.

“Whatever happened and the mayor stopped showing up for the caucus, I don’t even know what happened,” Stewart said. “That was a meeting the mayor had with a select few people, I guess it was the minority leader and the president. … That had nothing to do with me.”

On Tuesday night, after the Council meeting, Stewart said she didn’t know when the meeting had happened as it “was a while ago.”

Both Councilman Jerry Petrini (R-District D) and Councilman Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) have served as president during this term, and both said they had no idea what Stewart was referring to.

Watts pressed on about the mosque.

Kydes accused him of being the person who leaked details of the then-developing mosque settlement to NancyOnNorwalk on Sept. 17, Watts said. He produced text messages to prove the accusation had been made.

NancyOnNorwalk will never reveal who leaked the information, but it wasn’t Watts.

Watts said he has had conversations with Rilling, asking him to come to caucus meetings.

“Obviously the caucus is split over minority leader,” Watts said.

The legislative term began with Igneri serving as minority leader. He was ousted after Ed Camacho was elected Democratic Town Committee chairman over longtime Vice Chairman Brenda Penn-Williams, and replaced by Simms (D-District B).

Watts revealed more intrigue: Kydes wanted to take Igneri’s spot, he said. “Kydes met me at Dunkin’ Donuts and he presented me with a contract to support him,” Watts said, calling that ridiculous. Kydes said he had the votes and would be a better leader because he has a good relationship with Rilling, Watts said.

“He started to make his play and then he didn’t get the support. I said OK, how about Travis finish it, then you go, he said ‘no I want it now.’ Travis ended up staying for a second term, but we had major, major division,” Watts said.

“That’s the honest truth, why the caucus is the way it is now,” Watts said.

Kydes responded in a late-night email:

“The Mayor, John Igneri, Eloisa Melendez and I were never welcomed in that caucus from day one. Unfortunately the egos and political grandstanding by some folks made caucusing as a group completely impossible. My reputation of working well with everyone speaks for itself, but when that door was never open to begin with, we had no other choice but to separate ourselves from the rest of the Democratic Council members. The facts are the facts and you don’t have to dig deep to find the truth.”

“Mr. Watts on several occasions said to me that he would not support the Mayor being at our caucus,” Igneri said in a text message. “He added that I, as minority leader at the time, lost his support for inviting the Mayor to the caucus. Two other caucus members also added that there was no way the Mayor should be in our caucus.”

 

 

Comments

17 responses to “Watts rebuts Kimmel in part 2 of Norwalk Democratic dirt show”

  1. Faye Bowman

    It was Minority Leader Simms who tried to get ALL the Democrats together in a Caucus so that the Democrats could have the majority and Committee Chairmanships. This was even brought up on the Council floor several months ago.

    So ALL were welcome. Democrats outside the four of us were against it.

  2. Non Partisan Voter

    Welcome? Right…..They just realized that their actions would come back to haunt them at reelection time. I have never seen any politicians who are as ineffective as this bunch.

  3. John Hamlin

    This is embarrassing to read — why is it that in the face of all this dysfunction the people of Norwalk don’t demand charter reform and opt for a city manager or strong mayor form of government so that we can put the Council out of its and our misery at last? Haven’t we had enough of nothing getting done? Or is that what the majority of Norwalk voters want — status quo, more mosque debacles, no progress on development, more of the same petty politics and dysfunction? It’s so sad to watch.

  4. Casey Smith

    Hey, somebody pass the popcorn, please!

  5. Norwalk4Life

    Interesting that Watts brings up Al-Madany. He was for the mosque project at Fillow and had his campaign volunteers call up registered Muslims to indicate he was for the Al-Madany site at Fillow prior to winning the caucus vote against Perone. What a two face.

    https://nancyonnorwalk.com/2014/05/watts-stuns-perone-wins-dem-endorsement-for-house-run-in-137th-district/

  6. Sharon Stewart

    I can’t believe what I’m reading, why would you feel nothings being done,new laws have been written in regard to blight and snow removal, schools were renovated, receiving new fields and better lighting, streets were paved, funding given tfor flood prevention, senior taxes the gyms were reopened for the youth, etc, work is happening and we still have old business pending, bike paths on strawberry hill need a little work, more bike paths will be added throughout the town, all work is still being done!

  7. Stephanie

    From what I have read on this website and meeting minutes, you contributed nothing to the Council accomplishments you mention.

  8. Mrs. Ruby McPherson

    Thank you Ms. Steward, yes alot is getting done, but not what we would like to see in SOUTH NORWALK other than more BARS AND EXPENSIVE APARTMENTS. BUT THIS SOUNDS LIKE AND ATTACK ON THE BLACK MEMBERS. EVERYBODY LEFT OUT BECAUSE THEY CAN’T OR DON’T WANT TO WORK WITH THE FOUR BLACK COUNCIL MEMBERS. SOMEONE SAID NORWALK WAS A RACIST TOWN AND IT LOOKS MORE AND MORE THAT WAY.

  9. J Corbett

    Yes, work may be getting accomplished, but think about how much more could be done if the council members avoided the personal attacks and political gesturing. There’s a city to run and the voters and residents deserve better.

  10. Suzanne

    Now, Mr. Watts, why don’t you get in YOUR corner of the sandbox with your allies and everyone else get in THEIR corner, outside what is called the COMMON Council meeting, and make all of these caucus statements there. Be careful, though. Those on the Council that might want to do real work on behalf of the Norwalk taxpayer, might get some sand in your eye.

    In your declining days of Councilperson hood, would it be too much to ask you NOT to retrospectively review every last caucus dispute that spited you? Could you just be a bigger person? Maybe look at some of the ISSUES that concern NEIGHBORHOODS and life improvements?

    I think, Mr. Watts, you are a fine speaker. You know how to deliver your message. But, what you have to say appears to be another call for attention that you apparently are not getting enough of during this elected term of office that detracts from any good work you have accomplished on behalf of your district (and, one would hope, beyond.)

    It is just not about you. It just isn’t.

    Make a pinky promise with all of your other Democratic friends: caucusing topics and meetings about which the entire Council are not privy and have no business, really, considering during a bi-partisan (or tri-, depending upon what year it is) meeting, precious time, that the citizen of Norwalk needs, should be discussed OUTSIDE of this time with other caucus members.

    All of the apparent disrespect, ignoring, exclusion, refusals, lack of communication, etc., etc., etc., whatever else you want to add to the list? Bring it to the proper forum. Leave the COMMON Council out of it and get back to work on behalf of all taxpayers. (Who, by the way, can make their own decisions about who dissed who at the ballot box.)

  11. Bill

    Yes, Norwalk is a racist town, Shirley Mosby wanted to pull every white hair out of Mike Lyons head, and the “Black caucus” claim not enough is being done for “their people”.

    What about the 70%, and growing, of South Norwalk that isn’t black, but rather Latino or White?

    That is some straight up racism right there. Racism against whites and latinos that no one wants to talk about because it isn’t PC. Apparently racism against whites and latinos is no longer considered racism, just supposed “disrespect”, by calling out elected officials for acting like children, is racism….whatever, get over yourself.

  12. Eric Parrish

    HAHA! Crybaby Watts!

    It’s nice to see his frustration day in and day out…

    It’s too bad that he doesn’t put his energy into solving problems as a councilman instead of continuing the playground shenanigans.

    The David Watts Show is coming to an end!

    November can’t get here soon enough.

  13. John Hamlin

    There is little being done. The supposed blight ordinance expansion is a great example. An ineffective blight ordinance is being expanded to include commercial properties so it can be ineffective with respect to more property. You think that the blight ordinance works? Look at the Ganga Duleep atrocity on Wall Street for starters. The Council enacts ordinances that accomplish nothing. it’s a do nothing bickerson joke. And this article reports more of the same. If the council stayed home and didn’t show up at city hall for 6 months, would anyone really know the difference?

  14. Steve Colarossi

    This drama (and all the other Peyton Place sagas about local political party bosses trying to dictate who can and cannot stand for election) illustrates (yet again) that the Charter reform we need is to have non-partisan elections for local offices.

  15. Sharon Stewart

    I spoke on progress made because I sat on those committee’s and helped accomplish those tasks!
    Once again you were given the wrong information.
    The disaster on wall Street was before my time.
    We are still dealing with a lot of old stuff.

  16. Mr. Ludlow

    I just want to make sure I understand all of this. A bunch of people who throw chairs and punch walls get to decide who we can vote for.

    I don’t think I need any more articles about Mad Magazine, parking lot brawls or Mr. Kimmmel’s self-promotion to know why the Board of Education and Common Council can’t get out of their own way.

  17. Rod Lopez-Fabrega

    Mark and Nancy:

    With all due respect, we already are aware that Norwalk’s Common Council-type government is dysfunctional. Do we need to read any more minutiae about the junior high school tattle, back-biting and infantile exchanges that go on behind the wall of City Hall whenever the Council meets?

    Norwalk is becoming a political joke to all our neighbors. It’s embarassing!

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