Hartford Planning Director Placed On Administrative Leave
Department Undergoing Review
By JENNA CARLESSO
August 23, 2012
HARTFORD —— Roger O'Brien, the city's planning director, has been placed on paid administrative leave for a week while his department undergoes a comprehensive review, according to a source familiar with city hall operations.
O'Brien's leave began Wednesday, the source said. Mayor Pedro Segarra had asked Thomas Deller, the city's new director of development, to review the department and the city's permitting practices, and report back to Segarra in late October.
O'Brien's suspension is part of that review, the source said. Neither O'Brien nor Deller could be reached for comment Thursday.
Jared Kupiec, the mayor's chief of staff, confirmed Thursday that O'Brien had been placed on administrative leave, but declined to elaborate.
O'Brien is the target of a lawsuit filed in May that says he interfered with efforts to develop land at 1400 Main St. The property's owner, Sharon Shapiro, sued O'Brien and the city, charging that O'Brien blocked efforts to develop the site, where Shapiro had planned to build a McDonald's restaurant.
Shapiro also stated in the lawsuit that O'Brien exhibited bias against her, her husband and Northland Investment Corp. Chairman Larry Gottesdiener by saying during a meeting, "You Jews from Boston" were not going to tell him what to do. Northland had been lending its support to the project, the suit says.
O'Brien said in June that he could not comment on the lawsuit because city policy prohibits him from discussing pending litigation.
Shapiro's company is seeking more than $15,000 in damages.
Kupiec said Thursday that O'Brien's suspension was not related to the lawsuit.
"Absolutely not," he said. "There is no connection."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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