Monday, March 06, 2017

And Justice for All - PUTTING A SQUARE PEG IN A ROUND HOLE



And Justice For All
A NEWSLETTER

And Justice for All is a newsletter involving my opinions, views, and commentary as a lifelong Middletown resident.  As my capacity as a former employee and staunch Labor Leader of City of Middletown Unions (retired with 42 years of service), I have a different perspective of how and why public figures do what they do.


   PUTTING A SQUARE PEG IN                   A ROUND HOLE
Issue # 48                                                                                                              Opinions Of  A Citizen
March 4, 2017                                                                                                                     John Milardo
 


According to Mayor Dan Drew‘s statement, his nominee appointment for the Director of Planning, Conservation & Development will take place either Monday, March 6th, or at the April 3rd Common Council meeting.  There was no on-line agenda for the March 6th Common Council meeting on the City of Middletown website this weekend.  So legally under the FOI Act, I’m not sure it can be brought to the March 6, 2017 Common Council meeting.

There are issues related to this appointment which need to be looked into for transparency reasons and public scrutiny.

How did the City advertise for this vacancy?  Locally, nationally, periodicals, electronically, City website only?

How did the Mayor’s nominee qualify for this job without any of the educational minimum requirements?

 Did the nominee apply for this position as prescribed by the City of Middletown Personnel Rules, Charter and Ordinance, and Civil Service guidelines? 

Was the interview panel made up of individuals from the Planning, Zoning, and Conservation field?

Who were the individuals on the interview panel and what was the process?

It has been said the Mayor’s nominee participated and/or was an observer during interviews of the qualified applicants? 

This is a huge problem if in fact it is true.  It would have given him an unfair advantage over anyone else if he applied and was interviewed by the very same panel.
Basically, it would be like an open book test.  Nice to have someone else give you the answers needed for your test.
(From what I can decipher from the Mayor’s statements, his appointee did not apply or test for the job. He was appointed without involvement in the testing procedure.)

If the Mayor’s nominee was interviewed, was it by the same panel and same criteria as the other applicants which the nominee may have been in attendance? 
Or, was it at a subsequent meeting with the Mayor and perhaps someone else?

Did any of the applicants qualify (pass the test) and placed on the City’s “Eligibily List”, which was sent to the Mayor for review and/or appointment?

If none of the applicants qualified and there was no “Eligibility List”, why wasn’t the position advertised again publicly?  (It’s done for much lesser positions than this)

The Mayor has recommended the reduction of minimum qualifications for the current job description.  He wants to eliminate “Economic or a related field with Master’s level course in the field as well as “with 5 years of urban planning/conservation/development experience”.  The Mayor also wants to eliminate the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) certification requirement in the current job description. He wants to change it from having the certification prior to hiring, to being able to earn it within so many years after being appointed to the Directorship.  In addition to the Mayor’s nominee lack of educational requirements, he also does not possess his AICP certification, as were the other candidates required to have.

If the recommended job changes are approved, it would change everything!  First of all, you make job description changes before posting a job, not after appointing or nominating an individual.  Many more professionals in the Planning world will be qualified to apply for this job if the requirements are changed.  The position should be re-advertised publicly with the new changes, and another test given to all new and old qualified applicants.  Also, if you are modifying (reducing) educational and certification requirements, how is it that the position retains the same pay grade?  Should the salary not be reduced?

These are some of the questions which need to be addressed.  Having the Mayor tout what a great job his nominee did for the PC&D Department over the past few years is a disservice to the citizens in Middletown and a slight to those who work(ed) in the department.  There is one thing I have learned regarding politicians - they prey on their voting constituencies’ loyalty and naivety that you will believe everything they say.
Mayor Drew’s statements in local news papers (click on below links) regarding his appointment are grandiose and a bit far fetched.  Read the articles in the Middletown Press and The Hartford Courant links.

For the Mayor to say his Chief of Staff was part of ALL City projects is ridiculous!  Was he involved in every variance and resident request - in every commercial/industrial request? 
I don’t think so.  I’m sure every Mayor wants to be apprised of significant projects coming into town, but to say "He's been a critical player in bringing all the deals we've been successful on to fruition in the past several years," (Hartford Courant) is just not the truth!  The absurdity continues with the Mayors remark that his Chief of Staff and nominee for the PC&D position was the reason Middletown’s “unemployment rate fell from 7.2 percent in 2011 to 3.6 in December.” (Middletown Press)  Come on now!  You’ve got to be kidding me!  If that is the case then the Chief of Staff should be running for Governor of Connecticut, not Drew!!!!

Point of information:  According to the City of Middletown Charter, there is no such official position in the Mayor’s office titled Chief of Staff.  It’s a make believe job Mayor Drew has concocted.  There is a position called Administrative Assistant to the Mayor in the City Charter.  Somehow, Mayor Drew violated the language of the Charter without a word from anyone!  Including the Common Council or the Legal Counsel Department.  Let us not forget the Administrative Assistant to the Mayor/Chief of Staff is not a City employee.  It is a political appointment made by each Mayor.

Understandably, the Mayor is trying to prove his nominee is qualified for the position.  Proving it factually is more difficult than just telling everyone he is the best person for the job.  How would his nominee qualify for this position in another town?  I’ll bet his application wouldn’t even be considered!

According to the November 2016 Common Council meeting Minutes, the outgoing Director of Planning, Conservation & Development, Michiel Wackers, was presented an Ordinance citation for all the great work he had done.  I will assume the citation is accurate as attested by all members of the Common Council.  Especially Councilman Gerry Daley who has been a member of the PD&C Commission for many years.  You can read Resolution #129-16 (page #5) in full on the City of Middletown website and Councilman Daley’s comment regarding the Fed-Ex project, which the Mayor’s intimates his nominee was responsible for? 
 
The Councilman praised the outgoing Director on his hard work for bringing the Fed-Ex project to fruition.

http://www.cityofmiddletown.com/filestorage/737/83/234/1307/11059/16nov7regmin.pdf

In the Middletown Press article, you can see how the Mayor and Councilman Gerry Daley are already laying the groundwork for an additional position within the PC&D Department - I’ll bet it’s that of a true and credentialed Planner.  That person would have the knowledge and perform the duties of a Planning and Development Director.  That person would be required to have the qualifications which the present nominee needs but doesn’t possess.  Someone has to have them!

Councilman Daley, the Democratic Party’s most dedicated “point man” and the Mayor are trying to diffuse the nominees lack of minimum qualification requirements by stating what the PC&D Department really needs is an “administrator”, not someone who possess’ the qualifications and certifications of a Planning Director.  That my friend is hogwash!  That is not what the current job is about.  They are speaking of a completely different job, which does not exist.

If the Common Council buys all this garbage and does approve the nominee with job changes for the position, Middletown will have the first and only Planning, Development & Conservation Director in the State, and probably nation, who does not possess the required minimum qualifications, degrees, and certifications for the job.  Middletown is poised to reclaim its waterfront with smart development.  Having a person who does not possess even the minimum requirements of the position in the department to oversee this massive development opportunity is frightening! 
I hope the Common Council does the right thing for the people of Middletown and not just their Party leadership, and rejects the Mayor’s nominee.

In Brotherhood and Sisterhood.  Stay strong, stay involved, seek the truth!  


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter reflect the opinion and view of the author, and should not be construed as fact of advice.  The author is a life long Middletown resident and taxpayer, and is sharing his opinion as such.  The opinion and commentary do not reflect of any political party, organization, or citizen group.  This newsletter reflects commentary and opinions which the author wishes to share with his friends.
  

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