June 5, 2012

Middletown's Tangled Web of Nepotism & Cronyism

So many connections it is hard for
 anyone to keep straight!
But if you thought Drew is new player
and not entrenched, boy were you wrong.
Irony is Mayor Drew co-sponsoring a job & resume workshop at Russel Library this week when he in fact inflated his resume, and is allowing exactly what he preached against- nepotism, cronyism, and dishonesty in government.
No credit has ever been given  to Former Mayor Seb Giuliano, and for that matter Christine Bourne who uncovered significant wrongdoing at the BOE as far as the million dollar discrepancy and pushed the issue - maybe a little harder than the public wanted, but he got the results. The Democrats consistently tried to block attempts to reform the BOE administration, including Mayor Dan Drew by trying to sweep on going labor disputes under the rug. The new administration was forced to deal with it when the audit came out with huge discrepancies and parents came out rightfully outraged over the "scream room" fiasco The current Democrats on the Common Council are trying to cash in on something that was started by Republicans.  Dr. David Larson is a breath of fresh air, as is Gene Nocera (D), along with new efforts by Shiela Daniels(D) and the new BOE members. However, Mayor Drew and the council have a lot to make up for. Mayor Drew stated in his own words he would end nepotism practices in City government. 

Drew wrote: "Above all, I want to make Middletown’s government honest. For years, the city has suffered through decisions made in the best interests of municipal contractors and private developers who have political or familial connections."

Drew need not look further than his own party, whom he has yet to call out for wrongdoing. In 2009, Drew made statements published in the Wesleyan Argus stating “If the Water Department were a private organization in would be bankrupt.”  Former Finance Director James Reynolds was called in under the Giulaino administration to aid in correcting the accounting problems and when problems continued compounded by labor issues, Giuliano moved the Water Dept. to City Hall for closer monitoring by the Finance Dept. Upon his election, less than one month later, Drew moved the department back to its satellite location on River Road. The Department Director is Guy Russo, cousin of Democratic Councilman Tom Serra.

Democratic Councilwoman Hope Kasper played a huge part in the hiring of her own son-in-law, Joshua Burger at the BOE.  Mr. Burger was first hired as a temporary employee (and given health insurance benefits) to fill a vacancy which is the subject of a union grievance (still outstanding).  While the union’s issues are still making their way through the process with the State of Connecticut, Mr. Burger has been appointed by the Board of Education administration to the Payroll Supervisor position without following union posting requirements.   This was the position that Ms. Bourne was removed from by the BOE and also was part of the settlement agreement brokered by Judge Holzberg between the City and BOE; however, rather than filling the position properly, the BOE stated that they no longer needed the position.  This was called to question by several Republican candidates during the past election, yet the general public ignored this fact and Kasper won anyway.  It should be noted that Judge Holzberg is the spouse of a former Democratic Mayor of the City of Middletown. Holzberg has a close personal relationship with Superintendent Michael Frechette.

 Former Superintendent Michael Frechette openly and vigorously campaigned for Drew and Serra. Board of Education member Ted Razcka's wife is Assistant Registrar of Voters, a fulltime position with benefits but picked and appointed by the Democratic Registrar of Voters; ironically Razcka was the only member to vote EXTEND Business Manager Nancy Haynes contract after the audit showed there was $1 million in deficit. It was voted to get rid of Haynes 8-1. Razcka, ironically of course, was also the only hold out not to get rid of Frechette.  It cannot be ignored by the community that the relationship of Councilman Tom Serra to the Board of Education is also a long one. Allegations have been made repeatedly in public & during Council Meetings by former Middletown public school teacher Sal Carricoglia about Jason Serra, assistant coach at Middletown High and son of Tom Serra, and a cover up of  misconduct regarding the younger Serra's job performance. While yes, these are  rumors, the have never been fully aired, and yes, Carricoglia himself was dismissed from his position for alleged on the job misconduct; it is hard for the public to be able to discern the truth when any statements by Frechette are tainted with that fact he publicly campaigned for Serra and has a long standing personal relationship. Judge Holzberg presided over Carricoglia's latest trial. Councilman Serra stated publically that he did not feel Chief McMahon was entrenched enough in the community because he did not worship here, a statement that was made on record, and therefore Serra did not support the appointment of the Chief. Serra instead pushed for the installment of Chief McKenna, another fine officer. Carrogolia alleges that McKenna and Frechette were both part of the cover up of the misconduct of Jason Serra on the job, and thus support of McKenna for Chief is a favor on the elder Serra's behalf. We at the Insider don't mean to perpetuate slanderous rumors, but we think that the public should be made aware of all ties of those in elected office, and our Mayor should take a stand and bring these allegations to light to dismiss them once and for all.
 Ironically, after McKenna took the position of chief, Serra's nephew was made part of the police force. In a town of 40,000 such as Middletown it is no doubt that there are familial ties; at the Insider we see  nothing wrong with the hiring of relatives so long as they are qualified and all job candidates are given equal opportunity.  With Frechette gone, Dr. David Larson is charged with the daunting task of reviving the Board of Education administration, we can as citizens can only hope that when the position of Head Coach, that is currently on the BOE agenda as becoming vacant in June, that Dr. Larson fully & impartially vet the best person into that vacancy despite family ties, owed favors, or past affiliations if in fact they do exist.
 What happened to honesty in hiring practices?? It is also pertinent that  Mayor has proposed a relaxing of the qualifications for the position of City Attorney, against the unanimous opposition of the Personnel Review Committee and after posting it twice. There are many applicants who meet the current, higher standard so why does the Mayor want to "dumb down" the qualifications? Only one conclusion - he has a crony in mind who doesn't currently qualify. So much for "making government honest" 
All allegations true or false should be brought to daylight and discussed publicly, so that finally the citizens get the truth- and our new Mayor despite a shared political party should do no less than demand it.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You guys are being to nice. You have only touched gently on what's really going on. The PD is full of nepotism and plenty of overtime for high ranking supervisors. This chief has already disappointed his "troops". While he has cut off officers from OT, he and his right hand man have blasted the bank vault to insure they get the OT they want. You want to find answers, all you have to do is follow the money.
Do as I say, not as I do, comes to mind. I'd love to see the insider FOI the overtime and the chiefs new contract. I hear "on the inside" its a sweat deal! But that's only a rumor, I would like to know the truth. Have see if Drew can answer that one. It's public info isn't it?

Anonymous said...

How about the hiring of Mayor Drew's neighbor to an "expirienced only" position in dispatch, who has ABSOLUTLY NO EXPIRENCE at all.

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

You guys are getting pretty good!