Romano Quits Norwalk Common Council

  • Comments (34)
Common Council member Joanne T. Romano resigned her At-Large seat during Tuesday night's council meeting. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch

NORWALK, Conn. – Republican Joanne T. Romano resigned her At-Large seat on the Norwalk Common Council Tuesday, citing frustrations with the political discourse among the group’s members.

Romano, who served on the council from 2005 to 2007 and again from 2009 to the present, said in a statement during Tuesday night’s council meeting that the past year was particularly difficult because too much “attention is placed on the grandstanding and personal attacks made by a small group who have sought only to defame others, regardless of party.”

She did not name who those specific members were on the council, nor did she elaborate on the specific issues that led to her decision, but she said she could not serve on a political body where her “contributions are no longer looked at as meaningful and my voice is no longer acknowledged.”

Romano was re-elected to the council in 2011 by one vote over former Council member John Tobin and earlier this month she lost to incumbent Democrat Chris Perone in a bid to serve in the state House for the 137th District.

Her resignation will become effective Friday.  According to Mayor Richard Moccia, the Norwalk Republican Town Committee will vote on a replacement to serve out the remainder of Romano’s term. Because he lost by one vote in the fall of 2011, Tobin has been mentioned as a possible replacement. But Moccia was quick to add that the party will also consider other people.

“After this most recent election, one of the messages that voters sent was that we also have to get younger and more diverse as a party,” Moccia said, adding that he wished Romano had reconsidered and stayed on the council.

During the council meeting, Romano was praised by her fellow members for her dedication and hard work.

“I appreciate you,” said Council member Michelle Maggio. “You showed me the ropes and I will always be grateful for that.”

“I wish you luck in whatever you do next,” said Council President Carvin Hilliard. “I always looked upon you as a solid person on the council and I’m going to miss you.”

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Comments (34)

CeeGee:

Although this letter is a little late, my frustration, dismay and disappointment are in no way diminished by learning of the resignation of Joanne Romano from the Common Council. I had only recently been introduced to Joanne but I have never had someone make such a positive impact on me. My neighbors and I have had many problems in our area that we have been trying to get taken care of for years; problems that need intervention by Zoning, Animal Control, Health Dept., and the Police. Once our situation and issues and concerns were presented to Joanne she immediately stepped up and took action by bringing all the necessary parties together to get our problems addressed and hopefully they will soon be resolved. For years we were trying to get answers/remedies to our issues but nothing happened until Joanne got involved. We are very thankful that we had the opportunity to have Joanne in our corner but I am saddened that she felt the need to resign. It would be nice to have the Council work together and appreciate the efforts of all its members. Someone of Joanne's caliber is an asset to this city and it is unfortunate that she will no longer be there.

Joanne Romano:

Thank you! I am hopeful that this situation will be remedied soon and I am keeping on top of it...

Joanne Romano:

Today is my official last day as a council person!

Ok all, First and foremost, thank you to those who understand why I resigned and were kind enough to inquire as to my reasons and explanation. To those who feel my leaving is a God send, I respect your opinion. To those whom I have served with on various committees, commissions etc. thank you all for the years I learned and grew because of your guidance. But most of all thank you to the citizens of Norwalk who showed their support through thick and thin and kept my feet to the fire when needed and understood that my only agenda was to make the City of Norwalk a better place to live and to assure that all citizens were equally represented.

My hope for the upcoming year is that my former council members, even though there were disagreements and sometimes lost track of respect, I wish them all the best and I am hoping against hope that each one take a moment to realize you are there for a reason and that reason is those who had the foresight to believe you would be the best you could be. Please remember, Norwalk is a wonderful city and you represent everyone, not just those in your district or those you choose to represent. Put party politics aside and look at the whole picture. There's alot of work yet to do and I'm counting on everyone to do the right thing! To my fellow caucus members, I will miss you all...fight the good fight for all the right reasons.

I am planning on staying very involved and I will continue to do what I have always done for anyone who may need my help.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays and a very Happy and Prosperous New Year to all!

Please don't forget "Stockings from Santa" tomorrow at the American Legion 1-5pm ..Lets give our men and women serving overseas a little bit of home for the holidays!

Diane C2:

Joanne, I sincerely mean it when I say "thank you for your service to Norwalk". You know that it's easier for folks like me to stay on the perimeter and participate, but 99.99% would never seek office (time, commitment, tireless, thankless, payless job - though at $50 bucks a month you can still bet I'd pay $100 for some of them to stay home!).

People who stand up and serve deserve our respect and gratitude. That is why, like you, agree or disagree, we respect other's opinions. We respect the process. And we respect public engagement. I'd said earlier I was struggling to find an example of you standing your ground on principle, but I recall a recent event when you showed courage in pulling back the fire exam contract if only to appease one citizen - moi- and I appreciate that you let no one hold you "hostage" on ramming it through while I did my due diligence.
Though leaving mid-term is a no no in my book, I have to admit that your new-found freedom to work on the social issues of our city is a big plus, and I know you will continue your work for the troops (abroad and here).
Enjoy your time with family over the holidays, and don't be a stranger. You know where to find me!
Thanks again for serving and best wishes for good health and happiness in your next endeavors!
dc2

OLD TIMER:

Let's see now, the resolution about discussing eliminating a rank in the police dept is not a proper subject for discussion by the common council and is therefore tabled, but taking the time to honor the Norwalk High School soccer team for a great season is OK ?
Honoring the team was a nice gesture but I do not understand what rules are being followed when honoring a high school team takes precedence over asking, and getting some answers, about eliminating hard earned promotions in the police dept. No wonder Joanne has had enough, the rules are made up as they go along.

lwitherspoon:

"No wonder Joanne has had enough, the rules are made up as they go along."

It's amazing that you would try and claim this when Joanne Romano herself stated below that the key reason she resigned was that she was sick of the nastiness and political grandstanding from Mr. Watts and his gang.

OLD TIMER:

lwitherspoon
Nowhere did she mention David Watts. You might be surprized at how she has been treated by her own party. She is no delicate flower, nothing David said would bother her even a little, if she had support and respect from her own caucus.

lwitherspoon:

Again, your comments are factually incorrect. Joanne specifically mentions David Watts's nastiness and antics on this very page.

david.a.watts:

lwitherspoon,

You have attack me on this site for a better part of a year. Your comment "Mr. Watts and his gang". sends the wrong message. I did not run for council to rubber stamp the mayor's agenda. I was elected by a large margin to move this city forward.

Democracy is messy, however, it is the best system in the world. Read the March 22, 2012 minutes- it is clear- who suggested bringing the police captain issue before the council.

lwitherspoon:

Yes, I have stated facts on this site for the better part of a year. The facts are that during your time on Council you have pursued a very narrow agenda designed to appeal to constituencies whose livelihoods are funded by our tax dollars. These constituencies do important work, but as an elected official your job is to represent ALL of Norwalk. Those of us who pay the bills are far more in number than those who get paid by the City, especially when you consider the fact that so many of them don't live in Norwalk and can't vote here. I would really appreciate it if you would start acting that way. A little civility towards your fellow elected officials - Democrat, Republican, and Unaffiliated - would also go a long way. I must say that I am pleased that you appear to have stopped attacking me and your fellow elected officials via your many different accounts on these pages.

david.a.watts:

l witherspoon,

Let's enjoy the holidays.

offdahook06850:

You have to respect Joanne for her honesty and her diplomacy. It's ok for her to want to spend time with her grandkids instead of going to meetings.
Isn't the hidden story Moccia and his GOP? Word is that Hizzoner was not happy with Joanne talking about Norwalk crime in her race against Perone. Is it possible that Joanne had enough? I'll be curious to see who else jumps ship.

Joanne Romano:

offdahook06850's- it isn't about the grandson's although spending time with them will be a bonus. It's about disrespect, agenda and using the council floor for granstanding and dog and pony shows about things that are not under the council jurisdiction. Believe me, I have talked plenty about crime and whether anyone wants to hear me I do speak my mind and I do get my point across. I'm 60 years old and believe me I have been outspoken every last one of those years! So David and Warren can puff up their chests about how they made sure I didn't get elected, but they should also know, it won't stop me, expect me to be very vocal when I see anything untoward! I, unlike them do not need a tiltle to do what is right for Norwalk! This is all getting tiresome and petty and my resignation is effective tomorrow so I do believe we've hashed, rehashed, chewed this up and spit it out more times than its actually worth. They and their buddies can continue to trash me but it is what it is as they say and there is nothing I can do about it. Bullies on the playground hardly ever learn their lesson until its too late.

Diane C2:

@david.a.watts and lwitherspoon:
I still want to know when a request was made to either Mr. Hempstead (Personnel) and/or Ms. Romano (Public Safety) and/or Mr. O'connor (Police Commission) to include the item on an agenda and their responses. Did Mr. Watts verbally request the agenda item, or did he send a request in writing that was subsequently denied? If so, when, and by whom?
Also, I wonder if Mr. Watts could direct me to the meeting minutes that include the discussion of this item under his chairmanship.

david.a.watts:

Diane C2,

Here is a copy of the March 22, 2012 HWPS mins. I could email you a copy or you can go online and read for yourself. I respected their views and did not force the issue. The goal was bi-partisan support.

NEW BUSINESS (continued)

Mr. Watts said that he wanted to discuss two items tonight; the Police Department and the Fire Department. He said that the City is moving in a direction where there is going to be a new Chief. The Police Commission decided that they want to eliminate the Captain’s position. He said that he hopes that the City does not decide to go with three Deputy Chiefs and that they keep the Captain’s position in place to permit that person to move up the ranks. He said that Norwalk needs to preserve the Captain’s position that will be the highest union position in the City.

Ms. Romano said that as a Committee she does not feel they have the jurisdiction. She said that they could; however, create a resolution or recommendation to the Common Council.

Mr. Watts recommended that the Norwalk Police department keep the Captain’s position in place. He said that the City is reluctant to hire three Deputy Chiefs because they would be eligible to enter the union. He said that when they try to encourage a Lieutenant to seek the Assistant Chief’s position, they are reluctant because that position does not have the protection of the union.

Mr. Watts said that it is the wrong direction for the Police Department to have one or two Deputy Chiefs. He asked that he wants a resolution that the Committee encourages the Police Department to keep the Captain position in the ranks.

Mr. Petrini said that he understands, but can’t support this resolution until he talks to the Police Chief, and the Rank and File. He said that he needs more information. Mr. Watts said that he understood and asked the Committee members to do their due diligence.

Joanne Romano:

Funny David that you would have those minutes when you chose not to attend a single HWPS meeting since MAY 24, 2012, when I became chair and chose not to do so until October 25th...(because as you have told me time and again, I stole the chairmanship from you) so how important was this to you up until I was running for State Rep and as you said in another online news article, “She paid the price,” Watts said. “It had to be demoralizing for her. It wasn’t even close. She was down about that. Warren and I were out there making sure she would lose. That’s politics. Both Warren and I like her personally, we just don’t like her politics.” Too bad you don't really know me David and too bad you never will!

Nice David, you should be very proud of yourself, I hope you reached the goal you were looking for and I hope your constituents see just what kind of person you are and what lengths you will go to just to rule the roost! and with that, this conversation is over. Perhaps look back at your nastiness and your antics and you will understand why so many of your own party have backed away! Hopefully the rest will wake up and realize its your agenda or no agenda! Enjoy your holidays and enjoy the rest of your term and perhaps take some time in all of this and figure out why you got elected and who you represent!

Joanne Romano:

No Diane, it was never requested of me until October 25th meeting and anyone who says it was is incorrect, the only discussion we had was after the meeting as to whether or not we should/would hold a special meeting. Whether or not it was requested under Personnel or the Police Commission is not known to me and I guess things should be done in writing so there is a paper trail. I have looked at all my HWPS correspondence since I took over and not once was a request made to the committee.

Joanne Romano:

lwitherspoon, let me explain, without consulting with anyone about what we can/cannot as council persons be involved with the resolution showed up in our packets, we were not, or at least I was not made aware of its existance until I received it on Friday before the meeting. I like others inquired as to whether or not it was a valid stance we could take and was advised that the council has no juridiction over the hiring, firing/promotions of any fire or police officials. I was actually not present at that particular council meeting when it was originally presented and voted tabled due to another obligation...I was not asked to present it until my HWPS meeting which took place on October 25th .No matter how anyone puts a spin on this, it is not under council jurisdiction and no matter who people want to blame it is just one of many instances when this was all for political grandstanding and I might add, I feel that had we been able to be involved, I personally would have chosen to support the Captains positions, not against the decision of the Police Commission or the Police departments decision back in 2007 to do away with Captains but because I'm someone who believes in chain of command and having grown up seeing Captains as part of that command it is just in my nature to believe they belong there and those who work hard and are eligible have the right to apply. But on that note, I urged my fellow council persons to seek advice from the commission and former chief and inquire as to why the positions were eliminated and come back to the other council members with their findings. I was however appalled when I read articles/blogs depicting the elimination as a racial bias because one of the officers in question was latino and the other of another minority group. Let me tell you something, these officers are not looking for promotion due to race color or ethnicity, they are looking for it because they have worked hard and have dedicated themselves to the City of Norwalk and deserve promotions. I personally feel this was disrespectful to those fine officers who do their job each and every day and don't pick and choose who they protect based on race, color or ethnicity. While everyone has weighed in on my decision to resign, and some understand and some don't, I want to say this...Since 1995 when first appointed to the Human Relations Commision which I served 3 terms and was infact vice chair for one term to being elected in 2005 to the council, I have never once made a decision based on my own personal gain nor for anything other than what I believed was in the best interest of ALL Norwalk Citizens, not a chosen few...and on that note, I do believe my resignation to be old news and those on the council need to learn to get along and work together for the residents of the city and get over the personal attacks and personal agendas. Elections are coming up once again next year and those who wish to run and win can then play their dialogues to the public but the council floor is not and never has been the place for campaigning!

lwitherspoon:

Joanne,

Thank you for the explanation. It's especially interesting to know that David Watts boycotted committee meetings where this matter could have been discussed - that's a story we hadn't heard before and it deserves reporting. I guess the issue of Police Captains wasn't important enough for Mr. Watts to bother showing up for a committee meeting to discuss it.

I'm sorry you resigned but I completely understand. What angers me most about this situation is that a select few members of Council (Watts, Pena, Miklave) behave consistently in a despicable manner, looking to pick fights and play games to gain political advantage. Their awful behavior is in sharp contrast to the reasonable, thoughtful, and open-minded Democrats like Bruce Kimmel. I wish Mr. Kimmel would run for Mayor, I probably wouldn't agree with him on everything but if he won I would be glad that a thoughtful and reasonable person was looking after the city.

I had to laugh when I saw the comments by David Watts in response to articles about you resigning. He claims to have great respect for you and like you as a person, yet the very same day that he's saying nasty things about you to the media. He's fooling no one.

I completely agree with you that Council is not the place to campaign. Watts, Miklave, and Pena accuse others of being "power hungry" yet all of their own actions are geared towards gaining more power for themselves. How ironic.

Hopefully you will continue to make your voice heard and share your knowledgeable, independent perspective on Norwalk issues.

Tim T:

Hopefully Moccia will also do the right thing and resign.

OLD TIMER:

Any council meetings I ever attended were pretty orderly, even when there were considerable differences. When the mayor feels that he is losing control and the meeting is getting rowdy, he calls a recess for a few minutes and everybody cools down. There have been times when he himself spoke in anger, but most everybody else has been well behaved. I must have missed the really bad meetings.
I understand there was a lot of anger at the recent meetings when discussion on a proposal to talk about eliminating police captains was tabled. One side felt they were treated badly when a resolution was tabled, and others felt the resolution was innappropriate.
Innapropriateness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. At minimum, discussion on the appropriatness could have been allowed and tempers on both sides kept in check. Refusal to allow discussion riled a lot of people. What harm would have been done if the proposers had been afforded the courtesy of hearing them out ?
Just because we don't always agree, that doesn't make either side right, or wrong. A little courtesy and polite discussion would have nipped this issue in the bud, unless, of course, the mayor and police commission are embarassed at being caught doing something they shouldn't and hoped would go unnoticed.

lwitherspoon:

If discussion is so important, why wasn't the issue introduced at the committee level, where discussion and analysis typically takes place? What harm would have been done by following that Council protocol? Sounds to me like when you refuse to follow standard Council protocol, you yourself are the one who is displaying a lack of courtesy, and opening yourself up to charges of political grandstanding to boot.

Joanne Romano:

By wallflower I meant now that I am not on the council, meaning I won't just sit back with my feet up and do nothing...why does everyone assume that everything is my party's fault? My problem and the reason I left the council is because there is a faction who has visions of grandeur that they will soon rule the world and to hell with who gets in their way! They have no idea about what can and cannot be brought to the council floor, they feel as though because they believe in something it should be agreed upon by all no matter what and like bullies on the playground they will do anything to get what they want even if it is humiliating and degrading others in the process. Please don't for a minute believe that everything is under council jurisdiction because its not. If they want it to be that way by all means change the city charter but until they manage to do that they must conform to city protocol. The police Captains is just one of many items they have tried to shove down others throats. I for one have my own opinion on the matter but like someone who knows the rules, I chose not to go against council rules and act upon it. say what you might but some things just don't belonlg on the council floor. Perhaps watch some of the video's from past meetings to see just how disrespectful some individuals can be.

Diane C2:

It’s unfortunate that Ms. Romano won’t finish her term and stay committed to her values and ideas for the next 12 months as she was elected to do. Much in the same way I think it is inappropriate for an elected official to change their party affiliation during their term, I also think it is unfair to voters when an elected official resigns their seat mid-term, unless for only unavoidable circumstances (health, relocation, financial hardship, etc). Having said that, I sincerely hope John Tobin, who, like Ms. Romano, brought a non-partisan, open-minded approach to the Council, will replace her.

With all due respect for Ms. Romano, who has a big heart and only the best of intentions for Norwalk, I'm not sure what she means when she says her 'contributions are no longer meaningful' or 'her voice is not acknowledged' or she’d be a “wallflower”. Is she suggesting that her party has limited her contributions to the council by ignoring her ideas, or by censoring her input?

Has she sought to speak on an issue and been silenced by a great and powerful Oz? I've never attended a committee or council meeting where a councilor was not allowed to speak, unless of course an item was already voted on and closed, or unless the item was tabled and no longer open for discussion. In fact, the committee chairs allow all members of the council to contribute during meetings, even if they don't sit on that particular committee. The opportunities to contribute are almost overwhelming when you think of the eight committees and countless boards, agencies, authorities and commissions that produce the business for council attention.

I'm truly sorry for Ms. Romano that she feels she is not being awarded the opportunities and respect necessary to continue; it can be very uncomfortable and frustrating to participate in your city only to find close-mindedness and personal attacks at every turn. But I admit I feel even sorrier for the Council and our city that we have allowed an environment as she describes to not only develop, but apparently to flourish and become great theatre & bloviation instead of sound leadership, vision and a positive direction for our city.

DaveMcCarthy:

Diane, I think you could have called Joanne if you had these questions. It seems like you are trying to make some other point here, which isn't correct. Joanne is referring to being bullied, no, beyond bullied, verbally harassed and almost physically assaulted by 2 councilmen, 1 of whom subsequently had to be taken to task by the police for continuing his rant. As a woman of a certain age, that isn't want she signed up for. Quite frankly, I didn't either, though these 2 hooligans only appear to threaten women.

Joanne might have felt and acted differently on a number of issues, in my opinion, and engaged in more discussion and debate, but for the fact that the yelling, name calling and general display of ignorance has really prevented any meaningful discourse. That is what I think she means by silenced.

david.a.watts:

Norwalk Native,

Thank you, for posting your feedback. I hope you enjoy your holiday season.

Norwalk Native:

Mr. McCarthy, it is a wonder that good people remain on the council at all! I recently viewed an October council session which completely disgusted me. Let's not mince words here. The antics of Mr. Watts and Mr. Pena are positively revolting. The have set a consistent tone that is belligerent and combative. I care not about politics or partisan ideologies. If you cannot be effective by working with others, then you are simply ineffective. The trick is not to argue or demean; rather, it is to CONVINCE others to see your point. Quite honestly, do these men really hold jobs for a living? Are they not aware of how to get the most mileage out of a positive approach? I am truly embarrassed that they represent the good people of Norwalk. Unbelievable! What REALLY upsets me the most is that the council meetings are prime time. By that, I mean the children of our city will view council meetings for Social Studies assignments. The very thought of our youth trying to sort out how uncivility conducts itself in Norwalk's Common Council meetings is unfathomable. These men should be ashamed of themselves!!

Diane C2:

Mr. McCarthy, I see some real value in asking questions in the public domain (meetings, blogs, news posts, letters to the editors, etc), especially in Norwalk! Her comments were in the press, and therefore a conversation here about them is a valid dialogue.

YOU can ask her in private, but I'm willing to bet she'd admit even publicly that much of her frustration on the council started years ago, and at the hands of her party and leadership. She'd been one tough cookie to try and stand her ground against the boys club. That said, in the end, I'm struggling to recall any votes where she didn't end up towing the yellow brick line....

I like Joanne - we've worked hard together in past years for the food drive - in fact, lending her name recognition and reaching out to her many personal and professional contacts during the first-ever Election Day Food Drive was a major driver in ensuring there ever was a second. Her work to support our troops and first-responders is above reproach. She is a fun lady, a dog person (not that I don't like cats - I do - they taste like chicken!), is a proud and doting grandmother, and would take the shirt off her back for anyone in need. I hope she will stay involved (in her own words, not be a wallflower) as she is probably best suited to really get folks to buckle down and address some of the crime, education, socio-economic issues here. Maybe she would lend her knowledge and talents back on the NEON board as they begin to reconstruct themselves?

DaveMcCarthy:

Diane...then ask a question, don't write your conclusions and force someone else to point out that you are testifying. Your honor, I object.

ps...you did it again here. Joanne has written plenty and none of it mentions any of the conjecture you're putting forward. You would hang someone on any board or commission for doing that.

Joanne Romano:

Old Timer, the problem does not lie in debate it lies in lack of respect for the office held and those who count on us to make the right choices. We may not always make a decision that everyone agrees with but as I learned from my former colleague and someone I consider my friend, Phyliss Bolden showed how easy it was to agree to disagree with dignity and respect! Unfortunately some have not learned this lesson. I will truly miss the Council but I won't be a wallflower, will continue to volunteer, raise funds for worthy causes and hope to see everyone saturday at my fundraiser "Stockings from Santa for Our Troops" check the events calendar for more info!

OLD TIMER:

As part of the voting majority, it is hard to understand her frustration. A certain amount of dissent and strong argument for dissenting opinion is inevitable on the council and should not be that troubling. Democracy can be messy. If, on occasion, some of the debate has slipped to the level of personal attack, that is unfortunate and should not be allowed. She will be missed.

sononeknows:

Old timer I agree but you know the Mayor has attacked for years anyone who disagrees or gets in the way,payback may involve collateral damage or an innocent victim if Joanne is either one well thats politics.I supported her over the years but enough is enough.

Norwalk hurts the media can only cover so much its what is slipping thru the news cracks that has now become concerning.Norwalk residents hurt and with all the pony shows given the last few weeks before and after the election most of us are getting tired of seeing such a nice photo op and nothing is getting done.

Lets not take our eyes off the ball we as a city needs leadership clearly we are growing tired of seeing poor decisions by the council and absolutely no facts supporting bad decisions.When will the council get a staff to help with the facts?We all know the pay for serving in Norwalk is nothing yet when a developer comes into chamber he comes with lawyers etc and simply chews and spits out councilors when will that stop?

The Mayor agreed to a truce just recently didn't anyone find that odd?

News coverage in Norwalk needs to improve even the things that have been passed by the council in recent months deserve another look at bad decisions hurt all of us a lot of bad decisions destroys the city,why let it go on?

lwitherspoon:

Councilwoman Romano,

I agree wholeheartedly that the level of discourse, gamesmanship, and grandstanding by certain members of Common Council is way over the top. There are members of BOTH parties who feel this way and have said so publicly. Council should be a rational, thoughtful body of our friends and neighbors, not a microcosm of the dysfunction that we see 24/7 on Fox News and MSNBC.

Sorry to see you go. Your service to Norwalk is greatly appreciated.

Ken P Jr:

Sad to see you go Joanne, we are losing a good one. I wish you all the best in your future endevours. I'll see you around.

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