Friday, April 28, 2017

And Justice for All - “Qualifications! We don’t need no stinkin’ qualifications!”

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And Justice For All

“Qualifications!  We don’t need no stinkin’qualifications!” 

Issue # 48                                                                                                              Opinions Of A Citizen
April 25, 2017                                                                                                                     John Milardo

Editor's note:  This opinion piece updated and corrected by the author.

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.

Well, well, well.  Public requests are now officially dead in Middletown.  Your opinions and demands mean nothing to our elected officials.  Time of death was on Monday, April 3, 2017 at 7:00pm, Eastern Standard Time.

Cause of death: The Common Councils approval of Mayor Daniel T. Drew’s nominee, Joseph Samolis, a non-qualified individual, as the Director of the Planning, Zoning & Conservation Department for the City Middletown.

The general consensus of everyone was that the nominee --- and I cannot say applicant as he never applied for the job --- did not hold any of the minimum qualifications for the position.  Joe is Mayor Dan Drew’s Administrative Assistant, which is a political appointment job, and not considered a City employee. 

How people described Joe was that he is a “nice guy”.  I must digress for a minute as I reflect on my own public service career for the citizens of Middletown.  There was this one time, when a person called me a “nice guy”.  How stupid I was not to ask then Mayor Thomas Serra to make me the Director of a department!!  Back to the present.  So the unqualified “nice guy” is going to be more of a public relations/office manager for the PZ&C Department?  That’s what it sounds like to me.  Councilman Gerry Daley and the Mayor stated they will hire a person who is a true City Planner with all the proper qualifications for the department to compensate for Samolis not having any.  That means, Mr. Unqualified Nice Guy, who does not have the minimum qualifications gets to keep the $130K+ per year Director salary, and the citizens will be on the lamb for another $150+ worth of salary and benefits for an additional real Planner.  We didn’t get fleeced, we got slaughtered!!  If this were an election year, this appointment would have never gone through.  Bring back two (2) year terms!!  Too bad if the Council member’s feel there is too much of a burden with a two (2) year term.

There were many people and citizens who spoke of the pros and cons regarding the job description change (an attempt to qualify Joe) and appointment of Mayor Drew’s nominee all in one night.  The use of the words “people” and ‘citizens” is not redundant. People are those who attended and spoke in favor of the nominee because they were asked to by either Mayor Drew or Mr. Samolis himself.   “Citizens” are Middletown residents who wanted the best Planning, Zoning and Conservation Director hired for the town, and they are not political butt kissers.

Almost all of those who spoke in favor of the appointment, less maybe one, were financial contributors to Dan Drew’s election campaigns, and/or City employees.  I watched the meeting on television, and shook my head as the present Directors made the nominee seem as though all past PZ&C Directors didn’t know what they were doing!  How easily they threw those past friends/Directors under the bus for no good reason.  I can understand some of the business owners who came forward to speak in favor of the appointment.  They have businesses to protect, which from time to time must go before the PZ&C department for considerations.  Some of the City employees who spoke are just afraid of what Mayor Drew would do if they didn’t comply.  He is a vindictive little fella!  Others were just sucking up to Dan and the Democratic Council members.  I love Sal Nesci, who works in the Health Department and stated so, but he forgot to disclose he is also the Chairman for Middletown’s Democratic Party.

I had to get a good stiff drink when I heard Republican Councilman Sebastian Giuliano (who I’ve known all my life, worked under him as Mayor, and considered a friend), say he was okay with the appointment as long as this doesn’t become a regular thing.  Seb!  For the love of God!!  What do they put in those goblets in front of you?  You must have been on a bad trip!

Town Clerk Linda Bettencourt spoke in favor of the appointment, likening the job description change to when Mayor Domenique Thornton appointed Debra Moore, now Milardo, as the Director of Personnel.  I guess she was trying to prove the Mayor’s point that this was done before.  There was only one problem with her comment.  It was a lie and it NEVER happened with Ms. Moore’s appointment!!  The only times in recent Middletown history this has occurred is for the current Director of Public Works, William Russo -- newly retired Director of Water & Sewer Guy Russo, who spoke in favor of the approval, and now works for an engineering firm --and current City Attorney Brig Smith.  These job descriptions were all changed prior to the nomination process.  This if how your hire someone without the required qualifications Mr. Mayor and Councilpersons.  Dan knew it, but still didn’t care to do it!

When a Mayor wants a particular person for a job, the job description is modified BEFORE the position is advertised.  If a job description is modified while the City has ALREADY been accepting applications for the position, the City has always stopped and closed the process, modified the job via a Common Council vote, then RE-ADVERTISED the job with the new qualifications.  NONE OF THIS OCCURRED FOR THE SAMOLIS APPOINTMENT! 
For crying out loud, the guy didn’t even apply for the job!!

Some of the citizens who spoke were professionals and gave the Common Council specific information regarding why this nominee was not a good fit for Middletown.  They spoke on the lack of the nominee’s credentials to violations of the Civil Service hiring code. 

The Common Council members knew all the pro-“people” who spoke during the public session of the meeting and why they spoke?  They just didn’t plan on having such a large contingent of citizens speaking against the appointment.  Too bad citizens, it didn’t matter anyway!  How dare you! Who the hell do you think you are anyway!  Sorry citizens, your comments and recommendations regarding hiring someone who had  the qualifications were only heard by four (4) members of the Common Council. 

The eight (8) sheep that followed Mayor Drew’s lead should all be ashamed of themselves!  The eight (8) don’t care about rules, regulations, policies, civil service law, or anything else that matters.  Why should they?  They have turned a blind eye on every violation of ethics and policies of Dan Drew’s mayoral tenure.  How do you look someone in the face and honestly say Joe Samolis was qualified, over someone else with the proper credentials and experience?  How in the hell do you give a Mayor so much power over you?  What is going on in this town!  You want to say Middletown has a Governor so bad you’ll do anything for him?  If he ever became Governor he’d turn on us quicker than he turned on his friend Malloy.  New Milford, his hometown will get to claim him!  One can only hope.

This is what I mean about the Common Council turning a blind eye.

Ÿ        Last year, I posted how much paid time-off Drew took while he was supposed to be performing Mayor duties.  It was amazing how much time off, not away doing business, he took.  It went unchallenged.  BTW, I looked into Joe Samolis’ also at the same time but did not publish them because he was not running for Mayor.  His time-off exceeded that of the Mayors’.

Ÿ        Mayor Dan earned a Master Degree at Columbia University in New York, while he was supposed to be in town performing Mayoral duties.  Receiving his normal weekly salary paid for by the citizens of Middletown.  Missing in action for weeks, and not one Councilperson questions it?  No one was allowed to tell even the newspaper reporters where he was?  Just that he was not available.

Ÿ        He currently teaches classes at Wesleyan University as a faculty member, and brags about it. I would presume he is getting paid for it too? Not one Councilperson questions it? These are clear violations of the City of Middletown’s Charter regarding duties of a full-time Mayor.

Ÿ        Drew, assisted by those eight (8) Common Councilmember’s violated Civil Service hiring law and Middletown’s own Personnel Rules regarding hiring procedures, with the appointment of Joe Samolis to the Planning, Zoning & Conservation Directorship.  Only four (4) out of twelve (12) Councilmember’s gave a damn!

Drew has thumbed his nose countless times at the Charter, Ordinances, and other policies or regulation, all with the approval of this Common Council.

The four (4) Common Council members who opposed the appointment of Joseph Samolis for the Director of Planning, Zoning, and Conservation should be applauded.  They heard the citizens of Middletown and voted no. They were Democrats Mary Bartolotta and Robert Blanchard.  Republicans Deborah Kleckowski and Linda Salafia.

Eight (8) Common Councilmember’s did not care about what the citizens wanted in a PZ&C Director.  They voted because Joe has been a “nice guy” to THEM.  These Councilors didn’t care one bit about what the voters asked for.  There concern was to get Joe a permanent high paying job for which he was not qualified for, while Dan runs for Governor.  The yes votes came from Democrats Thomas J. Serra, Robert Santangelo, Eugene Nocera, Gerald Daley, Carl Chisem, Grady Faulkner, and Republicans Sebastian Giuliano and Philip Pessina. 

The only jobs within the City of Middletown which you don’t need any qualification for, other than the Director of PZ&C are; Mayor, Assistant to the Mayor, and Common Council.  I even qualify for them!

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.
Editor's Note:  If you want to start your own blog, find a more stable platform than Blogger.  It is a piece o' crap.

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