Thursday, January 28, 2016

Open Letter to Middletown Common Council

Editor's note:  "Sorry for the delay in getting this posted."


Update 1/28/16:
Councilman Gerry Daley has advised that the information I received and reported was incorrect; he writes, “At its regular meeting on October 5, 2015, the Common Council appropriated an extra $45,430 so that there would be sufficient funding for two full time Animal Control positions for the remainder of the current fiscal year.”

He goes on to say he will check with human resources to see why the additional staff hasn’t been hired.

Remainder best said in their own words; Councilman Guliano weighs in, also:

Daily says:
"The Animal Control staffing is currently one full time and one part time Animal Control Officer.  The $45,430 appropriation in October was intended to fund the difference in cost of increasing staffing to one full time supervisor plus one full time Animal Control Officer (two full time positions) through the end of the fiscal year which is June 30, 2016.

“To the best of my knowledge, staffing beyond the two full time positions has not been requested. 

Gerry Daley
Common Council 

Here Daley points out that because vacancies existed, Sec 74-9 of the City Ordinance requires they be in the process of being filled within ten days. This has not happened.

Once the time for a mayoral veto had passed, these actions became operative; at that moment, "vacancies" in those positions existed, triggering the provisions of Section 74-9 (corrected) of the City Ordinances. Under the provisions of that ordinance, the process of filling those positions should have commenced not less than ten days afterwards - or a waiver of that mandate should have been sought from, and granted by, the Common Council. I do not recall this having occurred.

Gerry Daley
Common Council  
_____________________________________________________________

Councilman Sebastian Giuliano

Giuliano can't recall a single application for a waiver since 2011, and points out the General Council Commission at one time, received a vacancy (status) report once a month; and the mayor's office, weekly.  

He replies: 

Gerry,
Your colloquy with Bill Boylan raises an issue that is not exclusive to this particular situation. As you have accurately noted, the Common Council adopted the changes and appropriated the funds to upgrade the part time position to full time and create a new
Councilman Guliano
full time animal control officer position. Once the time for a mayoral veto had passed, these actions became operative; at that moment, "vacancies" in those positions existed, triggering the provisions of Section 74-9 (corrected) of the City
Ordinances. Under the provisions of that ordinance, the process of filling those positions should have commenced not less than ten days afterwards - or a waiver of that mandate should have been sought from, and granted by, the Common Council. I do not recall this having occurred.

I don't want anyone to take this observation the wrong way but between November 2005 and 2011, resolutions to waive the 10-day backfilling requirement appeared fairly often on the Common Council agenda. I am at a loss to remember even one instance of such a resolution coming before the Council since then. It strains credulity to conclude that every vacancy, either in existing or newly created positions, has been filled in full conformity with the City Ordinances over the last four years.

Therefore, while you are inquiring as to why these two positions have not been filled, a broader inquiry should be made about the status of filling all of the current vacancies. As a former member of the General Counsel Commission, we received a monthly vacancy report (as Mayor, I received it every Monday morning). Even though it is called the "Vacancy Report", that is a misnomer, as it is actually a status report of the Personnel Office's active recruitment efforts; it does not necessarily list all vacant positions that may actually exist.


The General Counsel Commission should be given information that includes, in addition to a progress report on recruitment efforts, positions that have become vacant or which we anticipate will become vacant because notice of separation has been given to Personnel. Such reports should also include the amount of sick or vacation time that a separating employee will be "running out". This will give the Commission, and the Council as a whole, a more complete picture of the status of the Classified service. In turn, this will serve us better as we budget and plan for the future.


SebG



Original post from 1/16/16

Dear Members of the Common Council,

Over the last few months I've had occasion to work with Animal Control Officer Gail Petras.  From her, I learned the Animal Control Division of the Middletown PD is not adequately staffed, she being the only full-time animal control officer for the entire city, with but one part-time assistant.

ACO Petras explained that as a result of being understaffed, it was extremely difficult to handle the number of calls that come into her office.

Last month, in a conversation with Sgt. Mazzotta, he illustrated just how great a
problem this really is.  He explained it like this; in a month's time, the average police officer might answer 80 calls; ACO Petras answers 80 call per week!  (The numbers might not be exact, but they serve to illustrate the point.)

Sgt. Mazzotta went on to say that, although Animal Control was authorized to hire two more full-time officers, the Common Council has yet to appropriate the funds necessary to do so.

Not having enough animal control officers to adequately handle the volume of calls generated in a city of 47,000 people leaves residents grossly under served and places a terribly unfair burden on Officer Petras and her one part-time assistant.

While regular police officers can and do respond to urgent calls (such as dog bites),  when the ACO is unavailable, it takes them away from their regular duties and conceivably puts the public at risk.

Recruiting, screening and training qualified officer candidates takes months!  I urge the Common Council to allocate the funds necessary to hire two more animal control officers, at the earliest possible opportunity.  The Community deserves it.


Very truly yours,


William Boylan

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