Monday, October 22, 2012

City 411:New Superintendent Contract in Plain English, Grievances, Settlements, & Dumbed Down Hiring Requirements

    The Middletown Insider has become aware of rumors afloat that there will soon be a special council meeting called to vote on the appointment of a new city attorney.  The city attorney position has been vacant for several years now since the retirement of Trina Solecki.   Deputy City Attorney Tim Lynch was appointed Acting City Attorney under Mayor Giuliano's administration.  When Mayor Drew took office, he decided to advertise for the position which the Personnel Office did.  There were applicants who were certified as qualified by the Personnel Department including the current Acting City Attorney.  At the June Common Council meeting, the job description for the city attorney position was changed in that the required number of years of experience was reduced from 7 to 5 years on the premise of widening the recruitment pool with no change in salary. 
    This was passed by a vote of 7 to 4 (Serra, Klattenberg, Bartolotta, Daley, Santangelo, Kasper and Berch in favor; Faulkner, Pessina, Bibisi and Salafia dissenting and Kleckowski absent).  The new job description reads:  Jurist doctorate with five years of municipal law related experience with an emphasis on employment law, labor relations experience.  It would be now assumed that the recommended candidate is going have a very solid 5 years of experience in that area.   It should be noted that the acting city attorney has indicated that he will be retiring from city service and had withdrawn his name from consideration.  Please note that there is also residency requirement attached to this position.
    At the time the job re-posted, the qualifications were still the more stringent, seven years' experience in municipal law, labor relations version. The Council, over the objections of the Republicans, led by Councilwoman Linda Salafia (if you recall, it was she who asked whether Dan Drew had someone specific in mind, as there appeared to be no other reason why anyone would lower the bar when there were three candidates who already met the higher standard) reduced the seven-year requirement (which had been inserted two years earlier at the insistence of Councilman Loffredo) to five years. Because this was done AFTER the posting was published, the posting had to be extended.
      Also, rumors are out there about the Council being asked to approve a job description for a second deputy city attorney.  This is coming from the recommendation of the Mayor's Bipartisan Task Force on Efficiency in Government, April 2012.  However, this we believe will require an appropriation as only one Deputy Attorney was budgeted.  After the interview for the City Attorney position, that Attorney Phrances Leverton Szewczyk was the choice along with the Michigan candidate and another attorney "from Middletown" (what that means is unclear, as it does not appear that it is currently a resident, but is someone who is "moving in.” The Insider reported before that Szewczyk does not appear to meet even the lowered qualifications, however, is a member of the Democratic town committee.Reader here. Readers should not that Councilman Tom Serra made on the record comments regarding  appointed Chief Patrick McMahon as not being a Middletown resident even though he bought a house here and was in town 5 nights a week- Serra objected and said on record  that McMahon wasn’t a true Middletown resident because he “didn’t worship here.” So kind how is someone from Michigan going to fit the precedent of strict enforcement of residency Serra set forth in the past?
   This report has not been officially presented to the Council, vetted by the Council or accepted by the Council; however, the Council is being (or as rumored d going to be) presented with accepting one of its recommendations that being the hiring of a second deputy city attorney.  This in effect would increase the legal staff in the office from one currently to three.  According to the report issued, the Task Force consisted of three members of the common council and 6 other members of the public plus Attorney Ryan Barry and Joseph Samolis as staff for the Task Force. 
     From the second paragraph of the final report: " Mayor Drew also asked the Task Force to make specific recommendations for consolidations and efficiencies within city government to the Finance and Government Operations Commission of the Common Council, and to make specific recommendations regarding the structure and hierarchical organization of city government."  It would seem that this was not an unbiased study of the mechanisms/ structure of the government operations.  The report indicated how much was spent on outside legal services during the past three years however, it was just a number inserted in the report without detail or explanation or history or comparison to current outside expenses or part expenses.  Oh, and no report or receipts from China... 

      There is a special council meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 7 to appropriate funds and approve a settlement agreement between the City and Local 466.  This settlement agreement will basically draw a line from which the city, the BOE and the union start fresh.  We could spend hours and hours debating the history behind the need for this settlement agreement and probably never come to a consensus on the cause.  We've a new administration now at the BOE with a new Superintendent of Schools so we hope that the atmosphere of intimidation and retaliation has ended and it seems as if it has.  However, this agreement comes with a dollar cost attached which is not insignificant, but again we will probably never be able to all completely agree as to responsibility.  Many hours were put into coming to this agreement and much discussion, it was not easy but a settlement agreement has been worked out that both sides seem to be able to work with.  Thankfully the despicable work environment that some of the men and women of 466 had to endure is over, they should be applauded for coming forward and being whistle blowers and doing what is right!
     The story broke today with headlines the Mayor Drew settled 30+ grievances and that according to him "the slate is clean." However,this is highly misleading. Basically, the City has chosen to pay out to the Union for the BOE administrations mistakes and infractions that the State Labor Board declared the BOE administration under Dr. Frechette did in fact commit. As readers should recall, Frechette refused to pay workers who were part of emergency operations at the storm shelter during last summer’s hurricane, and  communicate at all with former Mayor Giuliano when he called for an investigation into the missing $1 million dollars from the BOE budget. Read past explanations of the confusing paradigm here

Other grievances and lawsuits against the BOE still exist and have not been resolved; Drew's statement  that they all have is false. 

 Part of the deal is also that Councilwoman Hope Kasper's son in law illegal hire- Josh Berger, former real estate agent, gets to keep the job as Business Adminstrator at the BOE that was created for and given to him by a hiring committee that Kasper was on. 

     Last week the Insider published the Superintendent's contract ( here) Dr. Patricia Charles .
The legalese is not always easy to understand; so we have broken it down below and done the yearly percentage increases:

For 2012/13 Charles will receive:   Base Salary $187,000 + $15,000 to her retirement fund, $3,000 bonus for having a doctorate degree + $6,500 for mileage = $211,500.00 for the year
For 2013/14 Charles will receive:  Base Salary a minimum of $191,675 + $19,168 to her retirement fund,  + $3,000 for having a doctorate degree + ,$6,500 for mileage = $220,343 for the year
For  2014/15 Charles will receive: Base salary a minimum of $196,467 + $19,648 to her retirement fund, $3,000 for having a doctorate degree and $6,500 for mileage = $225,615 for the year.

The base salary for the last two years is tied into the  district’s highest  principals' salary.  The principals’ contract is up as of 6/30/2013, so school principal's will be negotiating a new contract; basically if they get a raise, Charles will probably get a raise too; to keep the spacing the same.  It appears Charles makes $50,000 more than the top high school principals, and because the contribution to the retirement fund for her is 10% of salary that would also go up.
     Superintendent Frechette also got a payment to a retirement fund in addition to his salary plus money for being a phd, and the mileage stipend. Charles is getting credit for the previous time that she worked for the BOE towards her retirement for medical insurance, plus the BOE are giving her back, reinstating, previously accumulated sicktime that she lost when she left her principal’s position.
Other superintendent contracts and salaries from Ct are available online, and it is a positive note that Charles chose to release the terms of her contract to the public. Superintendents in Ct are typically paid in the six figure range; Frechette's highest salary was approximately $154,000.

Common Council will also decide on upcoming Deputy Police chief position soon. Read background information &  one reader's concerns here:


  1. Wow is all I can say. There is a lot to digest in one reading.

    The superintendent pay is extremely high considering our economy. Not sure how that helps the children in Middletown.

    The City Attorney job should not be politicized and it seems it is. The Mayor should hire the most experienced person for the job no matter what their political affiliation is.

    Time to stop playing games in Middletown

  2. The super didn't choose to release her contract; she did it only after the teachers and administrators were snookered in contract negotiations and the several requests in the media calling for it. Do you think the teachers are happy that they get a measly increase while she gets a 50K raise? Even BOE members didn't know the details of this sweet deal.

    But hey, its only payback for the bull she has to put up with.

  3. What about the kids? Shame on these adults, all they are interested in is themselves and money. This is alot of money that could be spent in the classroom on our students.

  4. Is it true the police chief's wife just got a job at the BOE on the Q.T.? Or that just a rumor? Inquiring minds would like to know.

  5. to Anon 6:03 of course its true. Why don't you ask about the boe deficit too that they are keeping hush hush. Gonna need cuts to afford that super salary and all the other hook ups.


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