New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

Commentary

Community Organizer Hiring Facts

In this week’s paper we are once again reviewing the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funded community organizer position because we received documents from the City and HUD under the freedom of information act.

We decided to run a timeline so the public can see when actions took place.

If you look at it closely, you will learn a lot of things.

First was that the City was not even sure if they could hire Briggette Brown as it might be considered partisan activities. The fact that the administration thinks that makes you wonder if it was because of her partisan activities?

City Hall did not give us a date as to when Brown was hired. It could have been anytime in June or July. It was first reported on July 24. Do we have positive proof that between the date she started and when HUD was informed that she was not paid using HUD funds? No. According to the timeline it was Aug. 16 when it was decided the position would be paid for with general funds. How was she paid June through August or from whatever date she was hired?

The New Britain City Journal was also not privy to a draft made on Aug. 16 which supposedly was the reason the City did not view Brown’s position as a conflict of interest. It appears that the draft was not given to us (and it is not mandatory that a draft be given to us) because it contained some vital information.

It also appears that the mayor’s office spoke with HUD and HUD did not think the first reasons given were valid. That is validated by HUD on Dec. 6 when it sent Former Alderman Lou Salvio a letter that stated that they advised the Mayor earlier in the year that the appointment did in fact appear to violate CDBG conflict of interest rules.

No, there was no ruling that grant funds were denied to pay for this position because grant funds had already been given to the City. The ruling, if it was followed through, most likely would have been that the City could not hire Brown or it would be considered a conflict of interest. That is why she was not hired using HUD funds.

There is also some confusion about the August 16 letter. The City says it was emailed on Aug. 16. HUD does not show it received it until Aug. 29. And following the New Britain City Journal article on December 7, HUD still questions whether Brown is being paid through HUD funds.

But, of course the most alarming thing to come out of this is the proof that Mayor Tim O’Brien led people to believe Brown was being paid through HUD when in fact he knew as of Aug. 16 that she was not.

In at least one circumstance, he out and out allowed a lie to be told without correcting it. And when Alderman DeFronzo questioned this and said he was unaware of the lie, he was immediately confronted by O’Brien and Phil Sherwood about his statement. From viewing that conversation from the seats in council, the mayor was not happy to be shown to be a liar.

Let it be known that a bi-partisan ethics commission, made up of members chosen by O’Brien, did clear him on ethics charges.

But, this paper among others does not feel justice was done. At the very least O’Brien withheld the truth. He has refused to apologize and probably will continue to do so.

Anyone can make a mistake (even though we believe it was intentional), but admitting it shows you are a responsible and honest person.

We encourage you to read the timeline and see for yourself what happened. We believe your conclusions will easily match ours.