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Former Parks Director: Mayor's Reorganization Plan Fueled by Cronyism

A now retired Middletown employee says the 'super departments' plan recommended by the mayor's government operations and efficiency task force members is politically motivated.

 

Editor's Note: This is in response to the letter published Jan. 13, P&Z Commissioner: Mayor's Riverfront Zoning Task Force is Politics as Usual.

The recent letter by Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission member Molly Salafia struck a note with me. The gist of it is about transparency in government and doing what is right for the citizenry of our town; and not just for a political party and their cronies. I totally agree with Ms. Salafia, but the reality is totally the opposite here in Middletown. It may be the same in some other communities — but I live and work in Middletown, so that is what I’ll speak to.

Over the past few years, Middletown’s Democratic party and elected officials have become far more than political. They have become an organization which has only one “voice.” That “voice” goes after anyone who may have a different opinion than him/her. For story purpose, the masculine his will be used from now on.

The “voice” will have you thrown off his party’s town committee because you dare have your own view, see a wrong and want to correct it, or stick up for yourself. The “voice” is all knowing and will go outside the realm of politics to personally attack you and your family to extract his vendetta on you for attacking his Party, or one of his loyal subjects or ladies in waiting.

Middletown’s Democratic Party is a closed secretive organization, with absolutely no room for anyone but those who are hand selected by the almighty, all knowing, all vindictive, his Majesty of Middletown. Least I forget to say, the community has been led to believe the “voice” is an honorable and caring person.

So Molly, you may ask why do I think this way? It is because I have seen it happen to others as well as a member of my own family! All of Middletown has seen it happen! City voters either think nothing of it, or have been fooled by their own elected officials into thinking what they do is truly in their best interest. Or, they have been brainwashed over the years to follow their local party which may no longer stand for what it did once.

We have all seen the Democratic Council go against every issue the past Republican Mayor recommended the city fight due to improprieties. Nothing was done by the Democrats over the six years Mayor Guiliano was in office.

Yet, now that we have a Democratic mayor in office, every single one of those issues has or is being settled, and justifies what the Republican mayor was doing. How is the Democratic Councilmember’s refusal to perform their sworn duty for the people good government?

The government operations and efficiency task force (aka Blue Ribbon Panel) was put together for the sole purpose of tricking the public into believing their government is doing things on the up and up. The panel was hand-selected by Mayor Dan Drew and contained many friends and contributors of Gov. Malloy, whom the mayor worships.

The task force's recommendations are a lot of hooey! All of us on the inside already knew what the findings were going be. It was all political, nothing to do with good government or streamlining. It has to do with complete and total control of operations by politicians.

Molly, you may ask why would politicians need to control city departments? It is a simple rule of politics: If they can take care of complaints by the voters quickly, it makes them look good and keeps their voting constituency happy. A happy voter will most likely vote for their re-election. Our elected political leaders can do “favors” more readily if their people are in charge of city departments.

They can tell these new directors what type of work should be done in the city and point the department in a specific direction. Special interest groups, engineering firms, contractors and companies, who contribute to political campaigns are taken care of in this manner.

The Blue Ribbon panel has recommended three super departments. One of these departments will take over existing personnel who perform different types of maintenance for all city properties and buildings. The departments to be consumed have nothing in common with each other, but they will be placed together anyway.

One of the people who will head a super department is not qualified to run the division he now gets paid to lead. It is amazing how far butt kissing will get you — a quality politician’s love. A move isn’t made without the approval from his political board of director(s) which meet at bars and local eateries. No real business is conducted in the office. Even departmental promotions are determined in saloons.

Another of the super departments will be headed by a director who will control all the money for the city. There is talk that this director may also take over the finances for the Water & Sewer department. This sounds like it would make sense to combine all finances under one roof. If the director and the individuals he oversees don’t fudge numbers for political reasons, it may work.

The last super department will include all matters to do with planning, zoning, tourism and conservation. It could work if everyone knows which way the city is heading and not only department commissions or the political world. All those living in Middletown have the right to know, recommend, and respond to the direction their city is headed.

One of the main reasons the mayor is for the reorganization of departments is so there are less directors which answer to him and he has meet with. That’s all well and good if the three directors have all the answers regarding the operation of their respective super departments.

I have personally been involved at meetings where one of these proposed “super directors” cannot answer questions about the department he is currently in charge of, and has to literally run out of the room to get a subordinate to come to the meeting and give the answers. If that is going to be the same case after the consolidation, you gained nothing! All you will do is get subordinate managers angry why they have to do the job for their highly paid director.

And make no mistake about it — the new super directors and some of the other political employee cronies will receive substantial wage increases to head these new departments. To ensure the consolidation looks successful, watch how much additional taxpayer money the Common Council throws at these departments so they and the Mayor don’t get egg on their faces.

No matter what deficiencies there may and will be with the consolidation of departments, it will go through. The mayor would not have offered the retirement incentive to Teamsters directors and managers, and the non-bargaining directors and employees if he didn’t already know the eight Democratic Councilmembers are going to vote for the reorganization, and at least one Republican Councilmember, for a super majority vote.

The only way the consolidation of departments will fail is if there is a large turnout of Middletown residents speaking against it during the two Common Council meetings which will happen in the near future. Mayor Drew wants to fast track this so he can hang his hat on something he’s done during his tenure as mayor.

Ms. Salafia, I know I’ve gotten off the beaten track a bit, but look at other issues which have occurred over the past year, some of them unnoticed. This is our local government form of open

and honest government.

  • The Water & Sewer Department investigation for the Common Council by Professor Douglas Rae, which went nowhere for a $10,000 plus cost to the taxpayers of Middletown. It was approved by the Common Council and quietly and quickly placed on a shelf. Why wasn’t anything done? All you have to do is connect the political and bloodline dots to figure it out. An alleged speeding ticket given by Connecticut State Police while in a city vehicle was recently squashed for this director. How many times does the billing cycle for the Water & Sewer Department get to go out to the citizens and contain wrong information before something is done about it? Isn’t four years in a row enough?
  • How many people know that the personnel director (my wife) had to hire a private attorney to represent her against Mayor Drew because he was attempting to terminate her with frivolous allegations and without just cause? She told me he would try to do this if he was elected mayor, and he did — on her first day of work under him and throughout his first year in office.
  • Two other employees have hired private attorneys due to this mayor’s refusal to recognize and adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • The mayor’s strongarm tactics with certain directors telling them they must support his proposed budgets — no matter how bad they cut the department, and must support his proposed super departments consolidation; or he will consider them insubordinate and discipline them. This is open and honest government?
  • Does anyone know that Teamsters Local 671, which represents unionized city directors and managers, is currently in binding arbitration over contract negotiations? Mayor Drew talked a good game about how he is a “union man” when he was a mayoral candidate. I see what a good union man he really is? Why does the mayor give non-union directors and personnel a better wage and retirement incentive than he did with unionized employees?

Aren’t we all doing the same job and working for the same employer and goals as managers?

My opinion is the mayor is seeking to create dissension amongst the unionized directors and managers to bust the Teamsters.

So Molly, it is a shame what Mayor Drew is doing to the P&Z Commission, but that’s how he does business — load up the panel or commission with members who will do what he wants them do. That is how honest and transparent government works in Middletown under Mayor Drew and the Democratic Party’s regime.

“And Justice For All” is a newsletter involving John Milardo's opinions, views, and commentary as a lifelong 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.

Robert James January 19, 2013 at 12:52 AM
Hey Johnny are u serious I went to high school with you. This letter has your wife's writting skills all over it. Both of you should be happy with the pensions + payouts you two got from the tax payers. You wife and Ray also got a sweet job from Mr Carabetta. Maybe Debbie can get Seb a job so you all can talk about "the way it was"...
William Wilson January 19, 2013 at 03:22 AM
So the truth bothers you Robert? I have seen first hand how the mayor has treated some folks at City Hall. I won't go into here as I don't want to put anyone's job in jeopardy. Also I would like to add I am still waiting for an FOI I sent to the Mayors office a month ago on the cost of the architect he paid to design the add on Senior Center at City Hall. I have sent two request and yet have not heard back from his office.
Darrell Lucas January 19, 2013 at 03:39 AM
ouch....
My Opinion January 19, 2013 at 02:35 PM
To the city of middletown people....You voted for him, now live with it until the next election!

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