Updated, 9:03 a.m.
By Nancy Guenther Chapman
NORWALK, Conn. – Sure, there was a long discussion about a controversial topic (involving guess who? – ME) at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting. But what else happened?
- It was announced that freshman Common Council member Michelle Maggio (R-District C) is the new majority leader.
- Common Council member Sarah Mann (R-At Large), a replacement for Joanne Romano, had her first meeting. Fun – it went past 11:30 p.m.
- There was a video camera aimed at Common Council member David Watts (D-District A) throughout the meeting – by another council member.
- Common Council member Fred Bondi (R-At Large) spent at least five minutes sleeping during the public comment portion of the meeting.
- The seating arrangement was switched around. Most Democrats are now sitting where the Republicans used to sit. Oddly, the name plate of Common Council member Anna Duleep (D-At Large) was missing.
- Common Council member Bruce Kimmel (D-District D) did not change seats. He stayed in the same place he has had since being elected in 2010, on the end, sitting with Republicans now. Kimmel, who has expressed dissatisfaction with the Democratic caucus, is now caucusing with the Republicans, according to The Hour.
Maggio was sitting next to Democrat Matt Miklave and the rest of the Democratic caucus. When Council President Doug Hempstead announced her new position, he joked that she put a barrier up. Maggio held up a sheet of paper for a moment. He also said Republicans had picked their most attractive member to be leader.
Watts interrupted the public speaking portion of the meeting to ask why there was a video camera pointed at him from in front of Common Council member David McCarthy (R-District E). Mayor Richard Moccia replied, “It’s freedom of the press,” drawing laughter and some applause.
Common Council member Warren Peña objected to the comment. “That is not the press, that is a council member,” he said. “I recall that, at one of our first meetings Mr. Bondi and Mr. Kydes had some issue with signs and TVs over here, and you told them to shut it down. Now you have a video camera specifically pointed at our caucus here, or at the Democrats, I think it’s just very inappropriate and very childish.”
That drew applause.
“All I can tell you is that it’s an open chamber,” Moccia said. “… This is not a private conversation.”
A video camera was shortly thereafter placed on the table in front of Peña, pointed back in McCarthy’s direction. It stayed there for about half the meeting.
Watts said afterward that he requested the change in the seating arrangement. He had been sitting in the middle and is now on the end of the right side. He said he asked for the change because he didn’t like sitting next to Republicans.
And, oh, there was another little thing: There were placards on the press table, specifying where news organizations should sit. I’ve never seen that before. There was not one for me, although I have been a regular attendee at the meetings for more than two years.
Whoever set them out has not noticed that Robert Koch of The Hour always sits on the end. He ignored his assigned seat, as did everyone else.