By Robert Berriault
Mayor Stewart’s Conservation Commissioner Ken Hass had threatened members of the community by threatening to expose private information that the city possesses on them, including their allegedly nonpublic criminal and civil records, in an attempt to embarrass them publicly, in retaliation for publicly stating their opposition to the Tilcon deal.
At 9:21 PM Monday September 19th, 2016 Mr. Haas, in an exchange on Facebook, on a thread in which he was not originally included, tagged in, or involved with, injected himself. Members of the community were having a conversation about the Tilcon deal that the Stewart Administration is pushing, regardless of community sentiment. Hass interjected in this facebook conversation, threatening to embarrass one of the participants, who is a member of New Britain’s community, using government resource’s. Hass said, “You do know I have access to ALL city records. Including criminal and civil, right???”.
When I received several messages expressing alarm at what Ken Haas had said, I assured people that there is nothing that he can legally do. As a public servant Hass cannot use private records that the city maintains to embarrass any member of the community publicly for political or personal retaliation. In investigating the concerns of my friend, I noticed that all the posts that Ken Haas had posted throughout the thread had been deleted by him the previous night.
When questioned online about his threats, Haas briefly posted a comment that his account had been hacked. He also quickly removed this dubious claim.
It is regular practice for members of the Stewart administration, as part of their public relations efforts, to go online on a daily basis, and to search for particular terms relating to current political topics on popular social media sites such as Facebook. If conversations or sentiments opposing the Administration’s own are found, the Republicans or “Team Stewart” post comments on people’s private Facebook pages and other social media websites, in an effort to gain an upper hand politically and to either stop or at least discredit any opposition to their political agendas.
Ken Haas is not in a position to continue to serve in the Stewart administration. This event demonstrates that he experienced a serious lapse in judgment on September the 19th, when he publicly threatened to embarrass members of the community by revealing personal records, kept on them by city government, in an effort to politically retaliate against them for publicly opposing the Tilcon agreement. This sort of behavior – harassment, threats, and scare tactics by members of the Stewart administration including Ken Haas – is unacceptable and we cannot allow them to continue to make excuses such as “my account was hacked” in an attempt to avoid taking any responsibility. We must and we will hold them accountable. If we fail to hold Ken Haas accountable, this will only enable other members of the Stewart administration to continue to threaten, bully, and harass members of the public. This sort of behavior will endanger the democratic process, and will undoubtedly lead to widespread corruption and fear amongst the community. We must not allow that!
The people of New Britain do not deserve this, and no person should live in fear for publicly opposing a political initiative of the Mayor or from sharing their views and opinions on their personal social media pages. I believe that Ken Haas must either resign or be removed from office by Mayor Stewart. No member of the community should ever have to feel scared, threatened, or belittled for stating their personally views online.