NEW BRITAIN - Tim Stewart will remain president of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce despite calls for his resignation after he posted a controversial remark on Facebook.
The discussion that prompted the post occurred after resident Annette Velez criticized members of the North Oak Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Monday night over what she considered inaction on some of the problems in arguably one of the most troubled neighborhoods in the city.
Tim Stewart, a former New Britain mayor and father of current Republican Mayor Erin Stewart, commented on Facebook about the meeting, leading to an online exchange with Velez. Tim Stewart defended the amount of time and money the city has spent on the neighborhood but also wrote, “Unfortunately the inmates are running the neighborhood.”
“Although Mr. Stewart was exercising his right to engage in a private debate in his personal capacity and not in his capacity as president of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce, I know that he regrets his choice of words and understands that his actions, even in a purely private capacity, have the ability to reflect on the entire chamber membership,” attorney Gennaro Bizzarro, chairman of the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce, wrote in a statement to The Herald.
State Rep. Bobby Sanchez, D-New Britain, said he saw the Facebook post and called a press conference Wednesday, giving Velez and several others an opportunity to denounce the comment and call for Stewart’s resignation.
“The Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce is an organization dedicated not only to supporting the economic interests of local businesses, but also to promoting the continued advancement of the greater community from which its members and their customers are derived,” Bizzarro said.
He added, “To that end, Tim Stewart has been a tremendous advocate for the entire City of New Britain during his tenure as president of the Greater New Britain Chamber, and anyone who knows him knows that his use of an age-old idiom during a heated online exchange was meant to serve in no other way than it’s metaphoric purpose of describing a situation where the loudest critics are often the least informed.”
Stewart has since apologized for the remark, saying, “I am passionate about the city I call home. I apologize to anyone in the North Oak NRZ Neighborhood that may have been offended by my poor word choice on social media. Evidence of the good work that was accomplished during my tenure both by the city and area residents, working together, still exists and I am extremely proud of it.”
On Thursday, Stewart posted again on Facebook, this time expressing his frustration with social media.
“We now live in a world where every word someone says gets scrutinized by many with motives to tear people down. Whatever happened to trying to raise people up and being positive? Social media has created a venue for people to hate without consequences. Sorry social media I have had enough of other people’s nonsense. Time to leave. It’s been fun but can’t deal with the ignorance any longer. If I have offended anyone I am truly sorry. Nice knowing you all!”