NORWALK, Conn. A Norwalk politician has dusted off some old skills to draw attention to what he thinks is a shiny new problem: the city vehicle bearing the plate NW-1.
New Common Councilman David Watts once dreamed of being a hip-hop star. It's been years, but Watts is using rap star skills to accuse Mayor Richard Moccia of "riding around like a movie star."
"I decided to use some creative tactics to bring attention to a problem we have here in Norwalk," Watts said. "I think the mayor is sending a mixed message when it comes to our budget."
Moccia, a Republican, is driving a new 2012 Ford Edge, which the city bought Feb. 22 for $19,345, according to finance director Thomas Hamilton. The mayor had been driving a 2006 Ford Escape, a hybrid, which was bought new for his use in 2006 , months after he became mayor. The vehicle was traded in for $11,000, Moccia said.
"A mayor has to have a city car," he said. "I didn't go out and buy a Cadillac or an Escalade or anything. I bought an SUV. I traded in a hybrid for an SUV. The car was almost 7 years old; it needed a lot of work."
He said he "couldn't understand a word" of the video.
"Look at mayor in a brand new car, riding around like a movie star," the song begins.
"He's trying to imply I'm some kind of elitist because I have a car?" Moccia asked. "What am I supposed to do, not have a car?"
The next line of the song is "Paid for by you and me, so you know he had to get a SUV."
"I got an SUV because I'm out in bad weather a lot," said Moccia. "I want an all-drive vehicle. It's no different than any other (Norwalk) mayor."
Watts, a Democrat, said it's about the budget. He added the trade-in figure with the cost of the vehicle and figures the expenditure cost the city $30,000.
"On the one hand he is saying we don't have money to support the (Norwalk) museum, and we couldn't properly fund the schools," Watts said. "Then he spends $30,000 on a new car. Either the city is having a fire sale or we're in good times."
"I'm not going to apologize for a mayor having a car," Moccia said. "I don't have a driver, I don't have a police escort."
Moccia said he occasionally uses his own money to put gas in the car and keeps track of his personal use of the vehicle, declaring "probably about a thousand dollars a year" as income on his taxes.
"I didn't get anything fancy," he said of the car. "I don't have GPS, I don't have voice-activated (accessories), I don't have any of that stuff. It's a basic model. I bought the standard model."
"That car is not a base model," Watts said. "This one looks like it's fully loaded."
According to Ford's website , the starting price for a Ford Edge is $27,525.
"It's just poking fun at a serious situation," said Watts, who promises more videos. "As we're fighting budget constraints the mayor could be a little more sensitive. As we are talking about tightening our belts he gets into a brand new car. I just thought it was an opportunity to say, 'Hey look at the mayor, riding around in a brand new car.'
"I think it's a catchy little tune that I'm pretty proud of and hopefully it can bring attention to a city issue."
Moccia suggested maybe he should make a rap video about Watts being "rich folk," saying Watts drives a $65,000 BMW. He also said he's tired of "personal attacks."
"He needs to concentrate on being a responsible councilman and not trying to rabble-rouse on everything," Moccia said. "I do my job as a mayor, you do your job as a councilman. He's a pretty bad rapper and a pretty bad councilman."
Correction made, 4:48 p.m.
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