By Nancy Guenther Chapman
NORWALK, Conn. – Folks, I don’t know what to say about this one. I’m going to let Common Council member David Watts’ Facebook announcement speak for itself, with some clarifications beneath it.
- I (have) just been informed that an arrest warrant is being issue(d) for a reporter. As a result, I am introducing the following resolution at Tuesday’s meeting. Please, come and speak out!
- A Resolution of the Norwalk Common Council
- Sponsored by David Watts (District A)
- Whereas. On June 26, 2012, Mayor Richard Moccia had a “private” conversation with Board of Education officials. Mayor Richard Moccia was recorded by a digital recorder making statements that he did not want published. The digital recorder was placed on a ledge at the media table (council chambers). The reporter “accidentally” left the digital device unattended but still recording.
- Whereas. On June 28, 2012, the reporter contacted Mayor Richard Moccia via electronic mail before printing the content of these recordings.
- “Mr. Mayor, As you know, Tuesday night you had an impromptu negotiation session with Tony Ditrio and Bruce Mellion during the Common Council meeting. What you don’t know is that my digital recorder, which was sitting on the ledge where you were standing, was on. I walked away from my computer and forgot to shut the recorder off. It recorded a conversation that was held in a public venue, in a public space. I have listened to the recording several times. Although there is a lot of background noise I am confident that I have most of the conversation transcribed correctly. We have decided that this is a story, which will run in the morning. If you would like to complain about the editorial decision, please call Christine Hall, who is filling in for the vacationing Matt, at (number deleted). If you want to talk about the conversation, call me at 941-716-1012. I will record the phone call for the protection of both of us.”
- Whereas. On June 28, 2012, the Corporation Council Robert Maslan Jr. responded via electronic mail:
- “Dear Ms. Chapman: Mayor Moccia forwarded your email to him regarding your recording of a private conversation involving the Mayor and others. Thank you for bringing your recording of the conversation to our attention before publishing a story about it. Please be aware of the following: Assuming that your characterization of the conversation is correct – that it was an “impromptu negotiation session” with two collective bargaining representatives – the discussion was not a meeting as defined by the Freedom of Information Act. Accordingly, the conversation cannot be considered as public, even if it occurred in a public place. Recording a private conversation as you did, without the consent of the participants, constitutes an invasion of privacy, and may also constitute a violation of the eavesdropping statutes. Publication of the contents of the conversation would raise significant legal issues, and we are considering legal options. You did not have Mayor Moccia’s consent to record his private conversation, and you do not have his consent to publish the contents of the conversation. Please call me as soon as possible to discuss this serious matter. I can be reached at 203-656-3800 or 203-854-7750. Thank you. Robert F. Maslan, Jr. Corporation Counsel City of Norwalk P.O. Box 798 Norwalk, CT 06852-0798 Phone: 203-854-7750 Facsimile 203-854 7901.
- Whereas. The reporter was later contacted by the Connecticut State Police and interviewed regarding a complaint filed by Mayor Richard A. Moccia. This is currently a criminal investigation.
- Whereas, On October 19, 2012, Mayor Richard Moccia sent the following electronic message using city property to Robert Maslan “Ok Bob start the civil lawsuit against Chapman she must have sent it to Watts”
- Whereas, On October 24, 2012, Mayor Richard Moccia made the following statements to The Hour Newspapers. “Mr. Maslan is part time. He’s my private attorney, also,” Moccia said. “It is my own private choice if I decide to pursue any action.”
- Whereas, Mr. Maslan’s dual roles as both private attorney and Corporation Council (sic) Mayor Richard A. Moccia present a conflict of interest.
- Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Common Council of the City of Norwalk that: Mr. Maslan no longer serve as the corporation council.
- Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Norwalk on January — 2013.
For the record, while I have been told a warrant has been prepared, I also have been told it has not yet been signed by a judge, and thus has not been issued. I am hoping that doesn’t happen.
I did not provide Watts with any emails.
Watts is also planning a rally on my behalf for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, before the next Common Council meeting. I have not discussed this or participated in the conception or planning of the event.
For more information on this issue, read The Hour newspaper.