New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

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FOIA Reveals Truth on HUD Funding

The New Britain City Journal recently filed a request to both the Mayor’s Office and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Freedom of Information Act, for information on the hiring of Briggette Brown as Community Organizer for the City. The following is a timeline, according to those documents, of the process that took place that involved questions about the position.


  • Mayor’s Office came up with idea of Community Organizer position & drafted proposal
  • Did not inform HUD about the idea for position


  • Mayor’s Office discusses if hiring Brown is “unallowable partisan activities”


  • No exact date is given when Brown began working in her position


  • Briggitte Brown announces herself as community organizer thru emails.


  • Herald article names Brown as HUD Funded Community Organizer


  • HUD finds out through Herald that Community Organizer position is to be paid thru CDBG funds
  • HUD Advises city not to expend funds to that position
  • HUD states they want to discuss position with Mayor’s Office because of possible conflict of interest with Ald. Rha-Sheen Brown as an Alderman.


  • Mayor wants to change charter so that full common council won’t vote on HUD activities


  • Mayor establishes a draft of a Resolution to setup a committee of council members to approve HUD funds


  • HUD meets with City and questions how grant monies were used and wants to know how remaining money will be used.


  • Mayor sends HUD 1st letter why there is no conflict of interest saying HUD funds were appropriated/allocated before Ald. Brown was in common council


  • HUD tells city they want more info re: process of hiring of position, what role of alderman in grants, etc.
  • Mayor’s office drafts 2nd letter why the position is not conflict (copy of draft not in City packet and not in HUD packet)
  • Mayor notifies HUD position will be funded through General Funds not CDBG (HUD does not record receiving letter on this date)


  • HUD states to mayor that some action is taking place on HUD funds by council after election of Ald. Brown


  • HUD acknowledges they received letter that position is funded through general fund


  • Mayor nods head ‘yes’ as Ald. David Defronzo states Ms. Brown’s position is HUD funded in common council
  • Mayor does not rectify statement during council meeting


  • HUD notifies mayor they received letter from former Ald. Lou Salvio that Community Organizer position is HUD funded.
  • HUD said it advised Mayor earlier in the year that the appointment did in fact appear to violate CDBG conflict of interest rules.


  • NBCJ releases “Conflict of Interest” story
  • HUD questions City on how position is being paid and city says again she is being paid thru general fund


  • HUD states block grant was not denied
  • HUD sends letter to NBCJ & Herald re: clarifications of denying HUD grant


  • During council meeting 4 council members, including Ald. DeFronzo, say they had believed position was paid thru HUD until article was published in NBCJ


  • Ethics Complaint Filed by Dwight Blint against Mayor O’Brien with the City


  • Ethics Complaint dismissed in Executive Session by a bipartisan Commission named by O’Brien