By DAVE ALTIMARI, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
7:11 PM EDT, April 18, 2013
The foundation charged with distributing more than $11 million donated after the Sandy Hook massacre is bringing in a former federal judge to help decide how that money will be allocated, two sources familiar with the selection said Thursday.
Alan H. Nevas will be chairman of the distribution committee of the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation Inc., now overseeing the $11 million fund. The foundation is expected to announce Nevas' involvement early next week, the sources said.
A foundation spokesman would not comment Thursday on Nevas' role.
"The foundation board is in the process of meeting with the families of those most impacted by [the Dec. 14 shooting] and incorporating that feedback into near-term decisions,'' said spokesman Patrick Kinney. "Out of respect for everyone's privacy, we won't release any further information until that process is complete."
The foundation and the United Way, which has helped collect donations since the shootings, have come under criticism from some of the victims' families for moving too slowly to distribute the money.
Many members of the families of the 26 who were killed and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy say they believe that the bulk of the money should go to the victims' families and be divvied up by an independent arbitrator. The foundation is adamant that the fund was never marketed as a victims' compensation fund but rather as one for the entire community, which has suffered since 20 first-grade students and six women were gunned down.
Some of the victims' families met last week with attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who has advised similar groups including those in Aurora, Colo., the scene of the movie theater shooting in which 12 people were killed and 58 wounded. Malloy had suggested bringing in Feinberg.
The decision to bring in Nevas, 85, is seen as a compromise by the foundation. He will be head of the committee, which will meet with victims' families, teachers, parents of survivors, town officials, and others before determining how the money will be distributed.
Nevas could not be reached for comment Thursday. Sources said Feinberg and Nevas have worked together previously.
Last week the foundation announced that it would release $4 million to 40 victims and families, including the 26 dead, 12 families whose children survived in the two first-grade classrooms attacked by shooter Adam Lanza, and two shooting victims who survived.
The foundation has said it would hold hearings seeking public input on how to allocate the money that flooded into Newtown from around the world after the killings.
Malloy has said that the families have been concerned about a lack of communication from the United Way and the new foundation. The United Way handed over administration of the fund to the local group, although Kim Morgan, executive director of the United Way of Western Connecticut, remains involved.
More than 40 charitable groups, many formed after the shootings, have collected nearly $20.4 million, with about 15 percent of the money already distributed. But the so-called United Way Fund has drawn the most scrutiny and criticism.
Nevas retired as a U.S. district judge in 2009 after 24 years on the bench. Prior to becoming a judge he was the U.S. attorney for Connecticut for four years and before that was a state legislator representing Westport.
Nevas oversaw the long lawsuit against the state Department of Children and Families, in which he appointed a monitor to oversee how that agency was caring for childen in the state's care.
After Nevas retired, then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell named him chairman of a special committee she formed to investigate the Kleen Energy explosion in Middletown in 2010 that claimed the lives of six people. The committee's recommendations led to a ban on using natural gas to clean pipes at power plants.
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