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By Brian Hews
On the heels of Cheri Kelley announcing her exit from the Norwalk city council election, Norwalk chamber executive director Vivian Hanson has retired.
One high-ranking Norwalk official told HMG, “Like rats leaving a sinking ship, first it was Cheri Kelley, now Hanson, I will bet money the chamber is in trouble.”
It was widely known that Kelley virtually ran the chamber, with the help of Hanson, to the eventual detriment of its members.
Hanson’s secretary is now apparently running the chamber, which receives $3000 a month from the city.
Hanson, who is also a Paramount school board member, has guided the chamber for over 10 years; in that time the chamber has remained stagnant in membership.
HMG examined the chamber financials from 2010 to 2014 and found that 75% of expenses went to payroll for the chamber, which was comprised of Hanson and her assistant.
After a series of hard-hitting articles by HMG, Kelley and Hanson schemed to help publisher Jennifer Givens start another paper in Norwalk.
The chamber covertly “sold” the masthead (name of paper) to Givens for $1,500.
Hanson and Kelly were so intent on the paper’s support that Hansen gave the upstart newspaper an office at the chamber rent free.
Questions swirled around that decision since the city gives the chamber $3000 a month stipend, it was arguably an illegal gift public funds.
The paper is still in existence, but frequently is only six pages with very little advertising.
The high-ranking Norwalk official told HMG, “Kelley told Hansen she was not running, and Hanson could see the writing on the wall, so she retired. Now we can get someone in there with experience and bring the chamber back to prominence as it once was before Hansen got there.”
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