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Norwalk's Mayor Answers Critic, Denies Rudeness

Update, Feb. 21, 11:30 p.m.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk's mayor has a reply to allegations that he "rudely interrupted" a speaker at last week's Common Council meeting.

Maribeth Becker wrote an open letter to the mayor and council last week, complaining in part that Mayor Richard Moccia had "rudely interrupted" her when she took the lectern during the public comment portion of the meeting.

"Not only was I disrespected as a member of the public, I felt bullied," she wrote. "I chose to sit down rather than engage in unproductive arguing."

The Daily Norwalk missed that meeting and a video is not yet available to the public. Becker was attempting to ask a question about the Department of Economic & Community Development Office of the Arts City grant, which was on the agenda that evening.

Moccia has provided a transcript of Becker's time at the microphone during the meeting:

  • Moccia: "Is there anyone else who would like to speak that did not sign up? Maribeth? Please state your name and address for the record."
  • Becker: "My name is Maribeth Becker and I live at 28 Morgan Ave. I'm just here tonight, I'm not representing anybody other than myself and I just have a comment on the grant application, um, regarding the Commission on the Arts, and my comment is, um, you know the members, the nine member commission was being reformed and encouraged to lead a broadly, inclusive group of citizens wishing to participate in efforts to develop and sustain the arts. Um, my only comment is, um, is that I have not seen anything in writing from this commission or any, know when any meetings are and now there is a grant before you, so I am curious, um ..."
  • Moccia: "You might want to check with Ms. Wallerstein because I put her on the arts commission and she might be able to privately answer that question for you."
  • Becker: "It's, my ... question ... is, as a ..." (She left the lectern.)
  • Moccia: "Is there anything further? If not ..."

Moccia said he directed Becker to Susan Wallerstein, who was at the meeting, because Common Council members would not be able to answer questions about the grant as it came through the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency. He said Becker had paused, and he had attempted to provide helpful information.

Becker also said that the council meeting had left a bad impression on those who were present, including Boy Scouts, because of the lack of respect council members showed to each other and the public.

Moccia said there had been "a debate" during an hour-long discussion among council members about the confirmation of eight of his appointees. "We had a discussion," he said. "Nobody screamed or yelled. That's called a debate."

The Boy Scouts had been there for the start of the meeting and then stayed to watch, he said, adding that they seemed to enjoy the back and forth. "All I know is that they smiled and waved when they left," he said. "When we had the discussion they seemed interested."

The city has posted the video of the meeting on its website.

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