Letter to the Editor: Commissioner responds to Stern letter

To the Editor:

As a newly appointed Trumbull Housing Authority Commissioner, the top priority is the safety and well-being of tenants at Stern Village. All THA commissioners, interim acting executive director, and First Selectman Tim Herbst are focusing on these priorities. It is unfortunate and heart-breaking that Gregory Stern, the son of former Housing Authority Chair, Judith Stern, has resorted to personal attacks, supposition, innuendo and lies rather than addressing the very serious issues that have transpired at Stern Village the last few months.

The former secretary at Stern Village resigned voluntarily and was not asked or forced. The video cameras were not dismantled in the community room of Stern Village.  In fact, the cameras actually have Mr. Stern’s mother on video tape removing the portraits of the founders, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Stern.

Furthermore, Mrs. Stern and the former housing authority members failed to implement an emergency readiness plan more than a year after the town’s Emergency Management Department requested they do so. After Irene in 2011, the Town’s Emergency Management Department and the Fire Marshal made clear that the Housing Authority needed to act quickly to install emergency generators at Stern Village, especially in light of the fact that the village runs on electric heat. They ignored the recommendations from the Town and failed to act. Had they acted in 2011, residents would not have had to relocate to a shelter after Sandy in 2012. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, as police, fire and EMS personnel went door-to-door to evacuate residents, Mrs. Stern and the former THA members were nowhere to be found.

When presented with the reports from Emergency Management and the Fire Marshal after Sandy, Mrs. Stern had the opportunity to act to correct the situation. She ignored rather than honor the recommendations of emergency professionals and then held a meeting, went into executive session and voted to extend the contract of the former executive director for another three years. This conduct shows a blatant disregard for the professional integrity of our emergency management professionals and a clear lack of concern for the residents of Stern Village.

Recently, we have seen an invoice for work that was performed at Stern Village by a prior THA Commissioner’s business and was paid by THA, which is unacceptable.

A new generator is needed for the Community Building and soon we may need to purchase a new generator for the Congregate building. The outdoor lighting needs improvement along with a new roof on the Congregate building. I noticed light brown spots on the ceiling in one of the sections of the Congregate building, due to prior leaks. The leaks have been fixed temporarily, but a new roof is needed. Due to lack of resources during storm Nemo, THA Commissioners and Tim Herbst acted quickly to provide a contractor to remove snow. We are looking into other tenant complaints as well. Office organization is needed along with implementation of current policies, job descriptions, performance evaluations and updated state manuals.

Joanna M. Leone