Accidental recording creates civic crisis in Connecticut

Nancy on Norwalk | The Hour | The Norwalk Daily Voice

The Norwalk, Conn., city council defeated a resolution Tuesday evening chastising the city's mayor and corporation counsel for actions they've taken against a reporter who says she accidentally recorded the mayor during a public meeting last June. The mayor's actions prompted an arrest warrant for the reporter, two Norwalk council members charged.

"We shouldn't arrest a journalist for trying to do a story," The Hour's Robert Koch reports Councilman David A. Watts said. "That happens in other countries."

Nancy Guenther Chapman was a reporter for the Norwalk Daily Voice last June when, she says, she accidentally left her tape recorder running during a recess in a council meeting. The recorder captured discussions between Mayor Richard A. Moccia and education officials. Chapman informed the mayor she was planning to use the recordings for an article. Norwalk Corporation Counsel Robert F. Maslan Jr. told Chapman she violated state eavesdropping law.

The state police wrote a warrant for Chapman's arrest. She has since left Norwalk The Daily Voice and now operates her own website about Norwalk news.

Maslan is also the mayor's "private attorney," Moccia told Koch in October. The counsel's dual role was of enough concern to Watts and another councilmember that they proposed the resolution and called for Maslan to resign.

M. Jeffry Spahr, the town's deputy corporation counsel, "said he has never seen 'a higher level of rancor' than what currently exists on the council," The Norwalk Daily Voice's Alfred Branch reports.

He urged the members to try to get along better in the future, stressing he does not want to see “Pennsylvania Avenue come to East Avenue.”

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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