After Drunken Encounter, New Britain Leader Steps Down

The Hartford Courant

NEW BRITAIN — The leader of the common council announced Monday afternoon that he's stepping down after showing up at city hall intoxicated last week and loudly berating Mayor Erin Stewart.

Michael Trueworthy acknowledged he's had trouble with alcohol before and plans to seek help.

"For my well-being, the good of my family and the best interests of the city, I'll be stepping down as president pro tem," Trueworthy said Monday.

He is staying on as alderman, but relinquishing the post of president pro tem, which gave him the power to serve as acting mayor in Stewart's absence.

Trueworthy said he's tried to apologize to Stewart and her staff, and said, "I made a mistake by thinking I could control my drinking responsibly. I apologize to anyone I've offended."

Stewart's staff filed a police report after the encounter but didn't pursue charges. She hasn't been able to return Trueworthy's call yet, but "fully intends to accept his apology," her chief of staff, John Healey, said Monday afternoon.

According to the report filed with police, Trueworthy was insulting during a phone call to Stewart late in the morning of July 22 and again when he showed up at her office. He demanded a drink, called her vulgar names and criticized her handling of city business, she told police.

"I ignored these insults because given his manner of speech and erratic behavior, I believed that Alderman Trueworthy was under the influence of drugs or alcohol," she said.

Healey contacted Jessica Gerratana, the council's clerk, to calm the situation, and police sent a captain and a detective to stand by.

Gerratana's husband, Greg, a former council member, showed up with Rep. Rick Lopes to get Trueworthy home safely. Later that evening, Trueworthy went to the West Side Pub, a tavern on West Main Street. Co-owner Izaque Silva told The New Britain Herald that Trueworthy made anti-gay comments about him and his husband.

Former state House Majority Leader David Pudlin said he was having dinner at the West Side when Trueworthy arrived. He said he heard no slurs or insults, but acknowledged driving Trueworthy home because he wasn't in condition to leave alone.

Trueworthy, who is generally soft-spoken even during the most raucous council sessions, said Monday he is deeply sorry for his actions.

"I have struggled with alcohol since I was a teenager. I've tried to control it, and for the past several years was successful. But I fell off the wagon for four days, and I apologize," he said. "I'm taking step to address this."

He said whatever remarks he made to Stewart or at the bar don't represent his beliefs.

"Anyone who knows me knows my intolerance toward any type of discrimination," Trueworthy said, adding that any slurs wouldn't reflect his real beliefs.

Trueworthy has been rumored to be a potential mayoral candidate in several elections, and three years ago was considering a run for the 24th House District seat.

Stewart told police that her top concern is for Trueworthy's well-being, and said his behavior on July 22 was uncharacteristic.

"I take responsibility for my actions," Trueworthy said Monday. "I messed up and I'm asking for forgiveness."

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