Just how much distance is there between City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce? This question has begun to come under scrutiny, as accusations of racism and calls to remove Timothy Stewart from the Chamber Presidency rise in the wake of public outrage created by the former Republican Mayor. The intense public outrage followed a comment by Timothy Stewart that, “the inmates continue to run the neighborhood,” in a Facebook conversation about the North Oak neighborhood that has a large Latino and African American population.
Timothy Stewart’s daughter, the current Republican Mayor of New Britain, Erin Stewart, has sought to distance herself from the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce, which employs her father for a salary that was $68,972 as of 2016.
In a statement quoted in a November 29, 2017 New Britain Herald article, Erin Stewart said, “The Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce is not an entity of the city. It has its own board of directors and oversight.”
But the Chair of the Board of the Chamber of Commerce, employing Timothy Stewart, is attorney Gennaro Bizzarro. Bizzarro is, himself, employed by Mayor Erin Stewart as the city’s Corporation Counsel.
Bizzarro is listed in the city budget as receiving a $31,885 salary from his employment as the city’s Corporation Counsel – a position that is appointed by Erin Stewart, as the mayor.
Yet, Bizzarro was quoted as speaking for the Chamber of Commerce’s Board, as its Chair, when, as the Herald reported on November 30, 2017 and the Hartford Courant reported on December 1, 2017, he asserted that Stewart would remain as President, despite the public outrage.
The Corporation Counsel is in charge of all city attorneys, but its $31,885 salary is only for a part-time position. The person in the position of Corporation Counsel is selected by the mayor. Corporation counsels serve during the term of the mayor appointing them and the person holding the position typically changes when a new mayor is elected.
Bizzarro has actually served as Corporation Counsel under both Stewart mayors, having previously served in the position under Mayor Timothy Stewart.
Active in Republican politics, Bizzarro was the 2014 Republican candidate for the 24th Assembly District seat representing New Britain and Newington.
As outrage and calls for Timothy Stewart’s removal continue, questions continue to rise about the role of the current Mayor Stewart in the continuing employment of her father, the former mayor, in a position of significant influence at the Chamber of Commerce.