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A conflict? 'Not even close,' says port authority member.

It’s with great pleasure that I write the newspaper to not only refute disparaging information provided by David Collins’s column Feb. 9 , but to also talk about the mud-slinging campaign he is waging against the Connecticut Port Authority and its members. It’s uncalled for and serves no purpose other than to undermine the efforts of the authority to rebuild State Pier for the betterment of all of Connecticut – not just New London.

But let me address his accusations and innuendo about my ownership of a 35,000-square-foot commercial building on Crystal Avenue in New London. I have owned that building since 1999, have paid my fair share of taxes, and employed as many as 50 people when I owned a machine shop that I relocated from Essex. To read about Collins accusing me of a conflict of interest by sitting and voting on the port authority makes my blood boil.

Rather than presenting these slanted columns, The Day should feature more reporting on the topic from its great team of reporters, who do such a good job of reporting the news based on research, fact checking and knowledge of the subject. People like staff writers Brian Hallenbeck, Julia Bergman, Rick Koster, Greg Smith, and Joe Wojtas.

Because I happened to have bought my building in 1999 in a commercial district, and it just so happened to be adjacent to the Amtrack railroad tracks — with State Pier being across the road on State Pier Road — gives me a conflict of interest in voting on matters related to the pier? Come on, not even close to reality! Not one of my tenants has any business with or related to State Pier or Gateway, managers of the pier. Not one, from Curtis Wright (defense contractor based out of North Carolina), Northeast Wholesalers (electrical components based out of Florida), to Asplundh Construction (tree surgeons).

It’s time for some of us to stand up to columnists who want to demean the efforts of those of us who are working our fannies off and investing hard-earned funds to make New London a better place to live and work and recreate in. It’s counterproductive for all of us to have to defend ourselves from mean-spirited opinions that border on the slanderous.

Name me a city in this country that has had a rebirth that didn’t have the local newspaper as one of its biggest supporters. There are always going to be disagreements during the process, but stop headlining the controversies and please stop the unwarranted personal attacks. Enough!

John S. Johnson is a businessman and member of the Connecticut Port Authority board of directors. He lives in New London.



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