Jul 28, 2014

‘Patronage’ Squabble Erupts Between Mayor and School Board

Sebastian Giuliano says he will file an injunction to block the Middletown Board of Education's hire.

‘Patronage’ Squabble Erupts Between Mayor and School Board ‘Patronage’ Squabble Erupts Between Mayor and School Board ‘Patronage’ Squabble Erupts Between Mayor and School Board ‘Patronage’ Squabble Erupts Between Mayor and School Board ‘Patronage’ Squabble Erupts Between Mayor and School Board ‘Patronage’ Squabble Erupts Between Mayor and School Board ‘Patronage’ Squabble Erupts Between Mayor and School Board

The turf war between the city of Middletown and Board of Education continued Tuesday with the mayor announcing he intends to file a court injunction to block the filling of an open school district position.

Mayor Sebastian Giuliano, in an afternoon press conference in his office, accused the board of violating the city charter, personnel rules and the collective bargaining agreement with the city’s municipal union in filling the assistant payroll supervisor position — one of two open at central office.

Giuliano said the dispute stems from the mayor's appointment earlier this year of a school payroll position, which the board rejected and later froze. They then created a new position, which they filled with a candidate of their choice, the mayor said. "And what is their next step? They take those duties, call it something else, and on their own fill it." 

A bevy of officials were present at the event, including councilwomen Deborah Klekowski, Republican, and Hope Kasper, Democrat; representatives of the Local 466 AFSCME Council 4, including President Jeff Daniels; and Deputy Personnel Director Kathleen Morey.

Giuliano, who is running for a third term in November, further charged the board of “a blatant act of patronage” in allegedly hiring the son-in-law of Kasper, chairwoman of the Council’s Personnel Review Commission.

The individual, who was not named, was ranked last on a qualification list, the mayor said. “How do you get lower than dead last?” he asked.

“It’s a simple power grab but we will not allow it to happen,” Giuliano added.

The mayor has been in an ongoing dispute with the board over who controls certain school district expenditures.

Responding to the allegations, Kasper said indeed her son-in-law was the person selected. “I was aware my son-in-law was applying for original position,” she said.

Summing up, Kasper said the Board of Education “had the job posted, the mayor made his appointment, apparently the board, as he said, didn’t accept his choice. They froze the position and then I received an email from Linda Salafia saying that they posted a temporary position, so that never came before the Personnel Review Committee.”

Not only did the board usurp Giuliano’s authority in filling the position, the mayor said, it upgraded the pay and benefits for a 35-hour-per week job. A municipal union job starting at $16.38 per hour was reposted by the Board of Education, the mayor says, at $18.69 hourly with full-time teacher benefits.

“The BOE had no authority to create a brand new job and put someone in it,” Daniels said angrily.

Reached by phone, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Frechette and Business Manager Nancy Haynes denied the board acted improperly in filling the position.

“The illegality is up to the courts to determine,” Haynes said.

“All we did was we followed procedure … we told the city and the attorney what we were doing.”

“None of this would have happened if the mayor approved our recommendation,” Frechette said, as Haynes expressed confusion. “We’re a little bit puzzled,” she said.

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