Would-be Norwalk jailbird singing like a canary

I'm proud of my country. It's true: politicians do not have undue influence over the judicial system, at least in my case.
I really was wondering for a while if a connected politician had sway over the judicial system. Answer is no. God Bless America.

NORWALK, Conn. – The drama is over, folks – State’s Attorney David Cohen has declined to sign the warrant drawn up for my arrest, according to my lawyer. The case is closed, unless further evidence turns up.

I’m going to get away with this heinous crime!

I assume you know what I’m talking about: RecorderGate, the topic of a raucous council meeting on Jan. 8. Does anyone care anymore?

I do. I feel like a weight has lifted.

If you’ve been reading the papers you know the story: While working for The Daily Voice, I accidentally recorded a conversation between Mayor Richard Moccia, Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Bruce Mellion and Norwalk Association of School Administrators President Tony Ditrio at the June 26, 2012, Common Council meeting. During a recess, I absent-mindedly left the recorder on and walked away and the group walked over and assembled next to it and held a conversation just a few feet away from several other people. I thought there was newsworthy content on this recording. I ran it by my editor; we decided to do a story. As journalistic protocol dictates, we drafted an email and I sent it to the mayor, giving him a chance to comment or talk to my editor about it. He screamed “Foul!” (well, he didn’t actually say that word, but it’s the gist) and my editor backed down.

Corporation Counsel Robert Maslan sent me a threatening email, accusing me of breaking the law, a “serious matter.” Moccia or Maslan called the state police.

Here’s something you don’t know: I am told this is because the mayor didn’t like my body language on the night in question.

That’s right, I was threatened with arrest because of a smirk, according to Patch reporter Harold Cobin. My family is never going to let me forget this (my husband nicknamed me “Smirky”)!

Some weeks ago, I was given the terms of an agreement, with the promise that, if I signed it, charges would be dropped.

You can read the agreement below.

I hated it. Thankfully, my family supported me in not going that route. I am not signing anything that simultaneously says I haven’t done anything wrong and yet contains an apology and, in places, rewrites history.

So I took the risk of getting arrested. We gave the mayor an alternative version, with the parts I deemed most offensive deleted. I honestly thought that was a reasonable out for him.

Rather than shut me up, the mayor tried to get me arrested. The ball went back to the court of the State’s Attorney, according to Attorney Bob Bello, my lawyer.

Thankfully, Cohen seems to be a reasonable person. No blood, no foul, except that I quit my job over The Daily Voice’s handling of the episode (the final straw in a growing rift over the company’s growing desire to tiptoe around the mayor).

Of course, that led to NancyOnNorwalk, where the mission is to shine the light on Norwalk’s government — it’s decisions and the way it does its business in the taxpayers’ name. It’s a dirty job, but some news outlet has to do it.

Moccia-Maslan proposed agreement

AGREEMENT 032713 (revised version)


22 responses to “Would-be Norwalk jailbird singing like a canary”

  1. Tim T

    It was nonsense from the start.
    The mayor should be ashamed of himself.

  2. oldtimer

    EXCELLENT. Predictable, but a long time coming.
    Several interesting questions remain.
    Why and how State Police Major Crimes ?
    How long will it take for opposition candidates to make this fiasco an issue ?
    Have any of the opposition candidates tried to hire you to smirk at certain public appearances, debates, etc. ?
    Have you and your attorney considered filing a civil suit against moccia ?

  3. oldtimer

    Whatever happened to the recording of that meeting ? City website seems to be missing that one.

  4. Joe Espo

    Although it was a stretch to conclude that your action rose to the level of a prosecutable crime — and I don’t want to diminish your good fortune– but you will have to do more to convince me and others that you “…absent-mindedly left the recorder on…” and that you “…accidentally recorded a conversation…” ‘Nuff said and, anyway, congratulations.

  5. LWitherspoon

    I am glad you have prevailed.
    Did you offer to add a no-smirk clause to your revised agreement? The parties could agree not to smirk at eachother at any point in the future.

  6. I agree with Joe Espo, seems a little to coincidental but hey, you beat the system…this time.

  7. EveT

    Glad the State’s Attorney judged this case on its (nonexistent) merits. What a disgrace that Moccia would attempt to have a reporter arrested for exercising freedom of the press.

  8. BARIN

    Congratulations Nancy, it’s about time it was nonsense from the start, Oldtimer has a point, civil suit!
    Keep up the GREAT work, you must be doing something right because the folks in charge are nervous enough to call the police on you for a stupid reason.
    Harold Cobin stepped up, I wonder if an arrest warrant will be issued for him or maybe he will be shut out by the administration when doing his job reporting the news as you were.
    Did they identify that smirk in a lineup?
    I sure would like to see that smirk, can you post it?

  9. Joe,
    I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. It’s the truth, plain and simple.
    But thank you for the congratulations.

  10. Oldtimer,
    I asked about that recording. Larry Manzi said it’s not on the website because there’s a technical problem with it. However, it’s on Vimeo:
    As I recall, the last time I looked at it (months ago) there was a significant amount of the public speaking portion missing. It’s all there now. If you start watching you may be hooked and watch the entire thing!
    I also asked City Clerk Erin Herring about video techniques. I asked if they left the camera on during the recess and if they use more than one camera.
    “Is there an unedited version?” The answer is no.
    She laughed and said they could barely handle the technical aspects as is. There is only one camera and they do shut it off right away when a recess is called.
    Disappointing… There’s no image of me and my recorder.

  11. Barin,
    Harold didn’t step up. We had a testy conversation. He’s as honest as I am, he told me what he knew openly. It’s not like he came to me and told me things to help me.
    In fact, the testy conversation stemmed from a caustic letter to the editor that he wrote, which was published in The Hour.
    I hope he’s not blacklisted but he’s not covering politics anyway.

  12. LWitherspoon,
    I can’t sign onto a no-smirk clause! If that’s all it takes I’m in trouble…
    Though all I’ve gotten in the past was a smack from my mother. No one ever tried to get me arrested before!

  13. Mark Chapman

    Irish Girl (and Joe),

    I really can’t continue to sit by and watch my wife’s integrity be impugned by people who have no idea about who she really is – probably the most honest person I have ever met.

    In addition to her honesty, she is quite absent-minded. She has left the recorder and her flash drive behind on multiple occasions. In fact, she has misplaced the recorder on more than one occasion.

    Anyone who believes she intentionally left the recorder on to eavesdrop on the trio’s conversation probably still believes that President Obama’s parents dummied up his birth records and announcement in August 1961 just in case their African American son would one day run for president of the United States. Nancy had no clue the mayor would wander over to the spot where she sits and engage anyone in conversation.

    That is how it went down, whether you care to believe it or not. And, I.G., as to whether she will cover the Dems as aggressively as the current administration if the Dems ever get in a position to have any power, the answer is yes. I have been in this business for 35 years, and can claim responsibility for bringing Nancy into it much more recently. And she has listened to me preach for decades that the media has become little more than stenographers for politicians: Don’t question, just copy and regurgitate. Our belief is to ask the tough questions, something the other local media don’t do. It doesn’t matter who they are, D or R. Fact is, she has turned down several requests by D’s to write stories about various things.

    We realize that any negative press toward one’s preferred party is often perceived as biased, the fact is that everyone will be held to the same standard.

  14. Dorothy Mobilia

    Do the other reporters who use recorders at meetings, even when they step away or perhaps keep them running during a recess, have to get the administration’s clearance first? Clearly, you make certain officials nervous. Congratulations for that, and for not being the one to back down.

  15. Tim T

    Thank You for speaking up. It seems to me the ones screaming political bias are in fact the ones that have political bias. With that said on a beautiful day like this what are any of us doing in front of a keyboard.
    GREAT CAR SHOW at taylor farm I am off to it . As for Mark and Nancy you guys should be celebrating that this nonsense is over.

  16. Dorothy Mobilia

    Mark, I believe your and Nancy’s accounts. I’m just not sure it makes any difference whether she is absent-minded or just recording as every other reporter does at these meetings. The administration’s reaction–sending out the state police, etc.–should shock every Norwalker.

  17. McFadden Biancatesta

    Inquiring minds want to know: What was on that tape that Moccia wanted to hide at all costs? Anyone wondering if he’s trying to hide a “friendly” relationship with the union presidents?

  18. oldtimer

    I understand there was nothing of any significance in that conversation. All three participants have been around a long while and would not get into a serious private conversation in the council chambers, with lots of people around, with a private (caucus) room only a few feet away.
    Why on earth did the State Police MAJOR CRIME squad take the complaint (according to the agreement moccia’s people proposed). I wonder if their bosses knew what this was about and approved getting involved. I doubt it. They are kept pretty busy with real MAJOR CRIMES. To this day, moccia has no idea who else may have had very high tech recording equipment recording that same conversation.

  19. Tim T,
    Your posting can’t get any more ironic if you tried. (“It seems to me the ones screaming political bias are in fact the ones that have political bias)” WOW, did you look in the mirror when you wrote that piece of gem?

    It is nice to see that her husband is standing up for her but only time will tell to see if Mark preaching from his soapbox is telling the truth

  20. Woodward and Bernstein

    I wouldn’t call this wiretapping exactly and the pursuit of criminal action was ridiculous and petty. Good for Nancy, but she should really consider allowing priveledge of conversations not intended for public record in good faith. It would enhance her credibility and give her better access to those who might clam up in her presence from now on because of this. She’s has a nice little blog here with decent content and lively conversation. I think she can continue this long past the current political players, if she can keep things above board.

    But, let’s not forget the biggest losers in all of this were Miklave, Watts, and Duleep, who embarrassed themselves and the city with their two hour plus side show while ignoring city business. I would be interested to hear their take and see if they can admit the political folly of their actions and dereliction of duty as council persons.

  21. Old timer

    If I was running an opposition campaign, I would be looking to get a copy of the state police major crimes report on this case. Now that it is no longer an active file it should be available, even if it takes an foi request. There is something fishy about the process that needs to be exposed. It was, after all, nancy who made moccia aware before using any part of the recording.
    Claiming criminal intent was a joke in the first place.

  22. Mr Norwalk Ct

    Old Timer
    You make some very good points. Why do you think the State PD would get involved in such a nonsense matter?

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