NEW BRITAIN - The Common Council Wednesday night approved on a voice vote a settlement of $290,000 with Daylon Hudson, a city firefighter who alleged racism in the department last year.
The council discussed the settlement in a closed-door session before voting in public without comment.
Hudson filed a complaint with the city’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, alleging unequal treatment and discrimination due to his race and previous opposition to discrimination. That happened after Hudson had been disciplined for removing the photos of white fire chiefs from a wall at fire headquarters because a picture of the department’s first black chief, Mark Carr, was not displayed.
Hudson said he had acted in protest of what he called systemic racism in the department. Rather than addressing the issue immediately, fire and other city officials instead moved forward with disciplining Hudson for refusing to put the photos back up, according to Hudson and documents obtained by The Herald.
Mayor Erin Stewart called for an investigation into Hudson’s claims that the department was rife with racism. The findings revealed that the atmosphere at the fire department could lead minority firefighters to perceive that racism was occurring.
Fire Chief Thomas Ronalter was placed on administrative leave in August and resigned in October.
Under terms of the settlement, Hudson will resign from the fire department and all pending complaints will now be withdrawn with prejudice.
In addition, Hudson agrees to not file a claim under the Unemployment Compensation Act related to his separation from employment. According to a document from the city, this settlement was made without any admission of any liability.
The settlement recommendation was made upon the advice of Assistant Corporation Counsel Joseph E. Skelly and Associate City Attorney Mary C. Pokorski with the approval and consent of Corporation Counsel Gennaro Bizzarro.
This is the second time in less than a year that the city has settled a lawsuit related to racism in a city department.
In March 2017, the council voted to settle a racial discrimination suit filed by former Water Department employee Vincent Rogers for $177,000. The lawsuit was withdrawn by Rogers and the settlement awarded without admission of any liability by the city.
In other Common Council action Wednesday:
n Aldermen Eva Magnuszewski and Richard Reyes asked for a cost analysis detailing expenses not reimbursed to the city, as well as the overall expense of the city, for several annual events, including Main Street USA, the Little Poland Festival and the Puerto Rican Festival. The petition also asks for any fee waivers granted over the past two years to any organization, group or individual holding events in New Britain.
n The council received a report from the city’s Finance Department detailing “authorized but unissued debt” in the city since May 11, 2005. The spreadsheet, which actually went back to bonds issued in 1997, said the city has had $381,773,198 authorized in that period, $118,990,589 of which has been authorized but unissued. Discussion of the report was tabled.
n The council got another report from the Finance Department on vacant and funded positions in city departments as of the city’s budget book of June 5, 2017. Discussion of this report also was tabled.
n The council issued licenses for April’s Little Poland Festival and July’s Holy Cross Church Bazaar and Carnival, two major events in the city’s Polish community.
n The council accepted a $31,504 grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development grant to promote arts in the city. The city will then issue checks to organizations recommended by the New Britain Commission on the Arts.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.