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Independent counsel retained to review past conduct of Brookfield Board of Finance Chair

An independent counsel is being retained in Brookfield to review past conduct of the Board of Finance chair and the potential liability it may create for the town, and steps to eliminate such further conduct in the future. 

The issue came to a head last week when members of the Board sent an open letter to the Selectmen asking that a partner in the law firm retained by the town not work on Brookfield litigation.  The Finance members accused Attorney Tim Herbst of maligning Chairman Glenn Rooney.  The Board of Finance meeting agenda for Wednesday included an item simply titled Town Attorney Firm.  First Selectman Tara Carr noted that members of the firm were not invited to attend.  She called that a potential conflict between the town and the Town Counsel.

Rooney, a Republican, says the item was on the agenda to clear up rumors about the invoices from the law firm.  He says the former attorney would invoice the town for $5,000.  The new firm outlines all billing hours on the invoice, but caps the charge at $5,000.  The former attorney had a monthly retainer of $5,000 and didn't itemize the bills whereas the new attorney provides great detail.

Herbst's statement challenged the tone and demeanor Rooney used when addressing town staff and officials.

Former First Selectman Steve Dunn provided Carr with correspondence about a December 3, 2020 incident involving Rooney and town employees at Town Hall.  He was seeking to have documents notarized, but employees didn't recognize him and asked for two forms of ID, as per standard procedure.  According to the correspondence Rooney allegedly became irate and threatened to have the employee fired, or eliminate the position from the budget.  The correspondence goes on to say that the employees feared retaliation during the budget process.

No formal investigation was taken at the time to examine his conduct in the context of possible violations of the Brookfield Code of Ethics.  Carr says in March 2022, the town's Human Resources Director was so upset with how Rooney spoke about Town employees that she attended a Board of Finance meeting to read a detailed statement.

Carr says she'll take all necessary steps to ensure the Code of Ethics is fully and fairly enforced as to all incidents discovered during the town's expanded inquiry.  She also encouraged Rooney and the Board to seek independent legal advice prior to take further action which could potentially create further liability for the Town, including a First Amendment retaliation complaint.

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