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Norwalk Letter: NEON Board Needs Better Representation

NORWALK, Conn. ? The Norwalk Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. We reserve the right to edit submissions, but we ask that you keep your correspondence under 500 words. Please send letters to norwalk@dailyvoice.com .

To the Editor:

Several members of the community have voiced their concerns to the A Better South Norwalk Team about operations at NEON. These community members have indicated that the quality of the services delivered to clients and/or treatment of the staff at some of the NEON managed locations are currently subpar. We take these accusations very seriously because NEON is the gateway between a substantial amount of public funds and the citizens that are meant to benefit from them. If NEON does not uphold its end of the bargain, a lot of people suffer. As community activists, we have been informed about the issues and are concerned. Therefore we suggest the following as a first step to ensure NEON is functioning as intended.

We feel that the remaining vacant board seats should be filled by community members. A college degree should not be required for these community representatives because the majority of the families that the organization serves will not have heads of households with college degrees. However, they are the ones that will have firsthand knowledge as to whether or not NEON’s services are reaching the individuals they are supposed to be reaching and they will also have the best knowledge on the quality of the services delivered. Community members who are not willing to blindly support the agenda of certain highly paid staff members at NEON have been turned away because they do not have college degrees. Meanwhile there are current Board Members on the new board who do not have college degrees. So it makes us wonder why these other community members were turned away.

For this reason, the process of selecting community members for the NEON board should be open to the public. The application instructions mention a special selection committee. It should be transparent who these committee members are and there should be the opportunity for an election, if requested by NEON clients and community, like the process we see unfolding with the Norwalk Housing Authority. Once a full board, with these additional community members, has been established NEON will be able to begin to move forward and select a new chief executive officer.

The second step to ensure NEON is functioning properly is to make the new CEO selection process open to the public and transparent. One person should not receive favoritism and an extensive search should be conducted to identify qualified candidates. The new CEO will have to manage a large budget, manage services that provide essential community services, and serve as fiduciary to programs that provide essential community services. The constituents deserve a CEO, board, and central staff that will ensure that everyone is served equally and not only a handful of people benefit from federal, state, and local funding that is meant to serve entire communities.

Signed, The A Better South Norwalk Team Travis Simms Sandra Stokes Ernie Dumas Phaedrel (Faye) Bowman Nabil Valencia

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