knopp vs. moccia

Tomorrow we head to the polls again to vote for our mayor and council people, town clerk, etc. Here, in Norwalk, local politics are partisan, which I’ve always thought was a little strange since, where I grew up, city politics were non-partisan. Or, if it was, it so didn’t matter that nobody really paid attention to it. Or maybe it was that everybody was a Democrat so it didn’t matter. My dad, a Democrat since birth, was on my hometown city council (Southgate, MI) for years, so I have a decent grasp of what local politics are like (I’m not talking about big urban areas here, which is a whole ‘nother ballgame).

At any rate, we have here the Dem incumbent, Alex Knopp, being challenged (again) by Republican Richard Moccia. Along with the various slates of council members. I’m unaffiliated, but I tend to vote the Democratic ticket because I’m a Liberal. (And proud of it.) But I’ve realized that, at the local level, party affiliations just don’t really matter. Traffic, and solutions to traffic problems, don’t seem to fall along partisan lines, for example. Somebody has to pay for the roads getting fixed and school roofs being replaced, and that’s not partisan, it’s just budgeting.

This year, Knopp is running for his third term as mayor. And for the second time, I will vote against him. When he first ran, he pledged he’d do something about the insane traffic around here, and about taxes. The first two years, he did nothing. The second two years, he’s still done nothing. In fact, things have gotten worse. Our taxes are higher and no only are they higher, we have to pay more for services that should be included in the tax bill, such as sewage.

Traffic on Strawberry Hill Avenue and throughout Norwalk has gotten much, much worse. It takes me longer to drive to the stores in West Norwalk (where all the big box stores are located) than it takes for me to drive to Bridgeport (except during afternoon rush hour—but then, forget about getting home). Knopp brags about the business he’s bringing in (or plans to bring in) by condemning existing businesses to build office buildings, but has done zilch to address the added traffic and drain on city services these businesses will bring in. Knopp has had studies conducted. Studies! That cost thousands and thousands of dollars and improved nothing. I would’ve sat in my lawn chair in my driveway clocking speed for a day or two for $100—that would’ve been as useful as the studies (which means not useful at all) and cost a hell of a lot less.

We still need a traffic light at the corner of Strawberry Hill Avenue and Tierney Street. We need police officers who will enforce the speed limit rather than speeding themselves. We need the parking mess in South Norwalk to get straightened out before it drives out more small businesses. We need to limit eminent domain takings to public use purposes only. We need our firefighters to have a fair contract. We need a mayor who communicates more than at just election time.

Knopp’s big brag was he got the roofs replaced on many Norwalk schools. Guess what: most of them leak. Gee, thanks.

Are we better off here in Norwalk than we were two years ago? No. Four years ago? Nope. Knopp has had four years and, from where I sit, has done nothing to improve anything (unless you count the bocci courts at the beach!) So it’s time to give someone else a crack at it. It would be good to have a council that wasn’t a rubber stamp for the mayor—while I am going to vote for one of the Dems running for council, Kevin Poruban (because I think he has some brains), I’m not going to vote for Fred Bondi because I think he’s too stuck in a rut to go for any change.

I have no idea what Knopp’s plans are. What are his goals if he should win again? How does he plan to “redevelop” Wall Street and why is his plan any better than, I kid you not, 50 years of attempts that have not worked? (And is it even worth redeveloping?) Why does he have to take viable businesses for private development via eminent domain—what, exactly, are his plans for developing the affected area and why can’t the city work with the businesses that are currently thriving there?

When we attended the city council meeting dealing with passing the resolution opposing the Patriot Act, I was appalled at how gutless so many council members and Knopp seem to be. How much Knopp does not believe in democracy; how little he respects the opinions of the people who elected him. We’ve got some tough problems here in Norwalk and Knopp and his cartel don’t appear to have the vision or the courage to actually do anything effective in solving them. So, time for a change. Two terms is long enough to demonstrate what you can do—I’m not impressed with “nothing.”

At the very least, a mayor needs to be able to communicate with constituents, to rally residents around improving their city, to step in front of the camera or mike as often as possible to let folks know what’s going on. Knopp doesn’t inspire anything.

Yep, time for a change. Am I voting for Moccia? Alas, no. I’m voting for change. I would SO like to be able to vote FOR a candidate for once. (Doug Hempstead, why aren’t YOU running for mayor?)

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