Monday, April 29, 2013

Guest Blog: Department Merger Begins by John Milardo

 Below is a essay by John Milardo. All opinions expressed are that of the author and not necessarily that of the Insider staff. The essay in its original format can be downloaded here:https://docs.google.com/file/d/1JdYt1P4HN0CPb-B3Mi8qtOXC4yIWrbTyQ7VJbNEG-cDgCfYmgxL7H_1mziVX/edit?usp=sharing

The Common Council will the vote on Mayor Drew's proposed budget just around the corner, the Council will be voting on the government re-org soon. Milardo discusses the impact below. See the Editor's note at the end of the article to read our past posts on the same subject for further background. Past newsletters from Mr. Milardo can be accessed on our site by typing in "And Justice for All" or "John Milardo" into the search area at the top of the page.
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 “And Justice For All” is a newsletter involving my opinions, views, and commentary as a life long
Middletown resident. In my capacity as a former employee of Middletown (retired) for over 41
years, I have a different perspective regarding how and why public figures do what they do.

The merger of City of Middletown departments begins according to an article in the
Hartford Courant by reporter Shawn Beals. ( http://www.courant.com/community/middletown/hc-

middletown-legal-personnel-0426-20130425,0,1041366.story )

The article states that City officials estimate a yearly savings of $92,000 for the taxpayer,
and more efficiency in government because the present Personnel department will be on
the same floor as the legal department. The below is an excerpt from the Courant article.

The city attorney's office and the risk management office are on the upper level of city hall,
while the personnel department is in the basement. The three offices frequently have to
work together on labor issues and other matters, and Smith said proximity would boost
productivity.

"Being in the same office, it's going to have much more efficiency and shared knowledge,
and that comes to saving tax dollars," said Council Democratic Majority Leader Thomas
Serra. Smith said he plans to have weekly staff meetings.

Mayor Daniel Drew said the merger of the three departments, a major shift in internal city
operations, would ensure a smarter approach to labor and legal decisions.

"We're consolidating operations by putting our personnel function in our legal office,"
Drew said. "It will give us the ability to avoid future problems by ensuring that personnel
decisions are not made in a vacuum in terms of the legal effects personnel decisions have."

The newly hired City Attorney Brigg Smith comes from Michigan, and has absolutely no
knowledge of how Middletown government operated. Councilman Serra should know that
just because a department is moved within another does not guarantee more productivity.

Consolidating may have the reverse affect on productivity if the City Attorney is a micro-
manager and there are personality conflicts within the proposed consolidation. Various
past ways to get around the two floor difference was by using phones, emails, stairs, and
the elevator.

Mayor Daniel Drew’s statement: "We're consolidating operations by putting our personnel
function in our legal office," Drew said. "It will give us the ability to avoid future problems
by ensuring that personnel decisions are not made in a vacuum in terms of the legal effects
personnel decisions have."

What past problems is he referring too? His statement about personnel decisions being
made in a vacuum is total hogwash! Every Mayor before him instructed the Personnel
Director which way to proceed on any given matter, and approved the final decision of
ALL personnel issues. That is the Mayors primary function as the immediate supervisor
of all department heads. Let’s call a spade a spade… the Mayor does not want to be
bothered having more than a handful of directors talking to him. That will put a damper
on the amount of time he spends in Hartford.

How the City Officials came up with a $92,000 per year savings is beyond me. Before this
current reorganization of departments, the City Attorney’s Office consisted of one (1) City
Attorney ($120K) and one (1) secretary ($54K). The Personnel Department consisted of
one (1) Director ($102K), one (1) Deputy Director ($87K) and an Assistant ($54K).
Total of $363K.

The newly proposed “Legal Counsel” department will consist of a City Attorney ($130K),
two (2) Deputy City Attorney’s ($120K per attorney), a Human Resources Director
($102K), and a legal secretary ($54K). Total of $526K.

Now, these wages do not include benefits, and are cost out at their maximum wage, as it
seems that is how Mayor Drew likes to hire people. So, let’s do the math; $526,000 minus
$363,000 = $163,000 increase. What! An increase? Can’t be! I must have hit the wrong
keys on my calculator. Let me check my numbers again. 526 minus 363 = 163 no, no, no,
I mean a savings of $92,000 a year. Yeah, that’s right, a savings of $92K a year. Damn
calculator! It just kills batteries.

Perhaps the Officials calculator has different function keys, and can show how there is
such a huge discrepancy – their $92K decrease to my $163K increase – a $255K
difference. It could be moving from two floors to one is where the savings is?

More interestingly though will be to watch the competitive hiring process for the 3rd
Deputy City Attorney. Curiosity is building to see if the top candidate just HAPPENS to
be a former City Councilwoman…

I guess the only fact of this entire article is that Mayor Dan, his Democratic
Councilpersons, and two Republican Councilpersons, believes that the public doesn’t
know how to add.

Stay strong. Stay involved. Stay together. Seek the truth.

 John Milardo

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