Connecticut: Mega mosque controversy becomes campaign issue

Posted on October 30, 2013 by creeping

The cost of Muslim immigration is enormous. Nevermind the billions in security bureaucracy and inconveniences in travel of all sorts, but the constant legal and zoning jihad being waged by Muslims in every city in every state in the U.S.

In this case, Muslims seeking a mega mosque failed to have zoning laws changed in their favor and as usual ran to Obama’s DOJ. The Muslims not only are willing to sabotage the city they live in and want to build their mosque in (ie, takeover), they get high profile New York City lawyers…pro bono. Taxpayer-funded DOJ dhimmis and pro-bono lawyers are forcing a mosque on local residents and local politicians want to rollover. Their idea of a “settlement” is to give the Muslims $100,000 cash and let them build the mosque. They couldn’t care less about the people they are supposed to represent.

via Mosque controversy re-ignites in heat of fall campaign – Norwalk Citizen.

A Republican campaign flier circulated around West Norwalk has re-ignited controversy over a mosque proposed for Fillow Street weeks before the Nov. 5 municipal election.

The flier, left on doorsteps by Common Councilman David McCarthy, R-District E, and Zoning Commission Chairwoman Emily Wilson, a Republican council candidate, has prompted calls for an apology and cries of outrage from Norwalk Democrats. It’s being called misleading and inaccurate “dirty politics” by Democrats, who say the flier gives Al Madany Islamic Center evidence to support its claim of religious persecution and could potentially cost the city a significant amount of litigation costs because of a lawsuit filed against the proposal’s denial.

But McCarthy and Wilson have refused to apologize for the flier, which promises residents of District E that Republican Mayor Richard Moccia will fight the lawsuit, while implying that Democratic mayoral candidate Harry Rilling will not.

Adding to the controversy is the fact that Rilling’s campaign has accepted a $250 donation from long-time Norwalk resident Farhan Memom, a spokesman for the Islamic center.

That is being portrayed by some as a “donation from the mosque.” Rilling supporters point out that Moccia’s campaign donors include developers and contractors who have projects pending before the city, including two who have given $1,000 each — the maximum allowed — and a husband and wife who have each given $500.
“I promised to run a positive campaign based on the issues,” Rilling said in an email when questioned about the issue. “We have done that since day one and will continue to do that. It is disappointing that others are not doing the same.”

Rilling has refused to comment on the mosque lawsuit, saying that, as a zoning commissioner, he cannot. He was not on the panel when the proposal was voted on.

The application for a special permit to build a mosque and community center at 127 Fillow St. was turned down by the Zoning Commission in June 2012. Al Madany later sued in federal court, alleging discrimination based on religious preference, a violation of the Religious Land Use Institutionalized Persons Act.

“Mayor Moccia is pressing the legal fight to defend the city against this group’s lawsuit,” the GOP campaign flier said in bold type.

It states: “Mayor Moccia, the Republican caucus of the Common Council, and Zoning Commission decided that the fair and just concerns of the residents of West Norwalk are worth fighting for,” and slams Common Councilman Warren Peña, D-At Large, who is running for re-election, and Democratic zoning commissioners Mike Mushak, Nate Sumpter and Adam Blank, as well as Rilling.

The flier said Mushak voted in favor of the mosque. Mushak voted against the resolution to deny the plan, not for the mosque, he said. The resolution was presented by Corporation Counsel Robert Maslan five minutes before the meeting, which he objected to, he said. He was against the mosque proposal itself because of traffic implications, he said.

“It misrepresents the truth,” Mushak said. “It’s a whole list of misrepresentations of the truth. It’s really disturbing that the Republican Party would jeopardize the city’s position in the current appeal that is going on by sending out a flier like this.”

Peña said the flier could “potentially cost taxpayers $2 to $3 million” in legal expenses by politicizing the issue.

Rilling voted in favor of settling the lawsuit, the flier said. What is not mentioned is that Wilson also voted in favor, Mushak said. In fact, every zoning commissioner except one voted in favor of settling the lawsuit, according to minutes of the meeting in question.

The minutes do not say who that one person was. Mushak said it was Republican Joe Santo.

“Harry Rilling was following legal advice given to him and the rest of the commission by a lawyer that the city had hired to protect city taxpayers from liability,” Mushak said. “For the Republican Town Committee to make this a political issue and jeopardize the city’s position in the middle of a federal appeal, a case that is being investigated by the Department of Justice, is completely inappropriate. It is just plain old dirty politics.”
Not only did Wilson vote in favor of the settlement, but as Zoning Commission chairwoman, she negotiated the settlement in court, Mushak said.

The vote for the settlement — a $100,000 payout and approval of the mosque, with stipulations regarding traffic control and other things — took place last November. Moccia subsequently fired the lawyer, Thomas R. Gerarde of Howd and Ludorf LLC of Hartford, who had arranged that settlement, and hired Marci A. Hamilton of the Cardozo School of Law.

“Moccia is playing a shell game, hiring expensive attorneys fully knowing the odds in federal court will favor the mosque,” Peña said.

McCarthy said that isn’t likely.

“I know that that lawyer was not the right lawyer,” he said of the settlement. “The lawyer that they have now is the absolute right lawyer. The first lawyer advised (Wilson) to be a participant in that. It never went anywhere. She walked out. That lawyer was fired.”

Lawyer Peter Viegland, of Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr in New York City, said his firm has spent “many, many hours” representing Al Madany. That is being done on a pro bono basis, but the law provides that the monetary value of that work can be recovered as part of a legal victory if the lawsuit succeeds, he said.

“I would hope that Norwalk would see fit to settle with the congregation,” he said. “I thought that there was a time when that could have happened. I think there are a lot of politics that have made it more difficult. But if that’s the way the cookie crumbles, that’s the way the cookie crumbles, and I look forward to the opportunity to vindicate my client’s right to a trial.”

The next hearing on the matter is Nov. 26, he said, three weeks after the Nov. 5 election.

McCarthy said he is proud to be defending a Norwalk neighborhood from “a destination religious institution,” a 27,000-square-foot facility planned for 1.5 acres, and the traffic it could be expected to generate.

“The concerns of every person I talk to is around being faced with the traffic that would come from the hundreds, if not thousands, of people that come to a developed religious institution of that size, regardless of the affiliation on any given weekend or holiday,” he said.

The Common Council does not have any role in authorizing the city to defend itself in a lawsuit, Maslan said.
“The Republican caucus gets an opinion,” McCarthy said. “The mayor is putting this into action. The Republican caucus supports the mayor in keeping that lawsuit going because we’re fighting for the citizens of West Norwalk. … Personally, if there was ever a question of funding to continue that lawsuit, or a contract to continue that lawsuit, two things that would have to come before the council, my vote would be to continue.”