The following is a letter to the editor from Marc Bradley, chairman of the Norwalk Democratic Town Committee:
The recent arrest and ensuing felony larceny charges filed against Tanya McDowell – the single, homeless mother of a 5-year-old Norwalk student – should challenge all of us to consider exactly what our government is in place to do.
Although the circumstances leading up to the child's departure from Brookside Elementary School remain unclear, the decisions made thus far by Mayor Richard Moccia and the state's attorney leave plenty of reason for outrage.
In the history of Norwalk, there is not a single instance in which a parent has been charged with a criminal offense for erroneously enrolling a child in the Norwalk Public School system. Not one. In pushing precedence aside, the mayor and the state's attorney's office have called for McDowell to be punished to the furthest extent of the law – to set an example for future wrongdoers. What Moccia has callously overlooked is that a 5-year-old child has been caught in the middle of his political grandstanding.
The mayor would like us to place blame on McDowell because of her troubled past. But it is too easy to channel fault toward a single mother, however imperfect, who is only trying to do best by her son. The fact remains that without thought or compassion, a 5-year-old child has been displaced and separated from his mother.
These events shed light on the growing disconnect between Moccia and a large number of Norwalk residents. It appears that Moccia has forgotten that one of his primary responsibilities as mayor is to protect our city's most vulnerable; a responsibility that he has, in this case, failed at miserably.
Life for many in our city, Mr. Mayor, is simply not that easy.
At the end of the day, sending McDowell's son back to Bridgeport may prove to be the legally justified decision. But legally justified and right are not always the same.
The mayor has shown us how ill-considered leadership can tear apart a family and hurt a child; how thoughtless leadership can embarrass a city.
We deserve better.
Chairman, Norwalk Democratic Town Committee