I have been a resident of Norwalk for the past 28 years. I am a retired Norwalk Police Detective and former school resource officer. I am also a lifelong Republican. The Norwalk Police Union membership voted overwhelming to endorse their former chief, Harry Rilling. This speaks volumes about Harry Rilling’s leadership and commitment. After 41 years as a police officer and 17 years as chief of Connecticut’s sixth largest city, he still has the faith of the department’s members.
The ongoing controversy with the current mayor’s personnel director deeply concerns me. This is the person who oversees my benefits and oversees a work force of several hundred. He has been the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit by a subordinate and most recently went after a DPW representative at a meeting and had to be restrained. The DPW representative was so concerned about the personnel director’s actions; he went to the police department to file a report. This so-called “heated exchange” led to a criminal investigation.
In a recent article I read this same personnel director had gone through a number of jobs before he was hired by the current mayor. He had worked for the cities of Bridgeport, Waterbury, Stamford, Council 15 and The Connecticut Construction Industries Association. What I find very telling about his position on unions is when he took a golf club to the Stamford Police Union sign and destroyed it at a charity golf tournament in 2000. If I held that many jobs and behaved in this manner I would have never been hired as a police officer. As of this date I have not read of any charges being brought against this personnel director or even the mayor taking any action against him.
As a Norwalk taxpayer I am concerned with how much the city spent on defending his sexual harassment law suit. I am concerned with this personnel director’s demeanor and his ability to perform his job. What has this cost the city in grievances, arbitrations, legal fees, delayed contracts and the good will of city workers?
The mayor is ultimately responsible for the actions of his personnel director. With this type of outrageous behavior and no action taken by the mayor, I am sure the workers of this city feel the mayor has turned his back on them. This probably accounts for why no city union has endorsed him.
I worked with and for Harry Rilling for over 26 years. I found him a caring and conscientious leader. It’s time for Norwalk to move from the status quo. Harry has the ability to be a consensus builder and will be able to reach across the political aisle. It’s time for positive change and that’s why I am voting for Harry Rilling for Mayor on Nov. 5.