Derby Alderman Responds To Mayor’s Request For An Apology

I was away on vacation and not available to respond to the Mayor’s comments following his impromptu press conference (see video) after last week’s court appearance.

Although some may say, it’s been a week, let’s put this behind us, I cannot let my name be misrepresented.

Let’s look at the facts.

  • The Mayor caused his own problems. Except for voting whether or not to settle, neither me or the other aldermen that the Mayor called out publicly had anything to do with the Domurad situation.
  • The Mayor states that people said he forged documents, and in his next breath seeks an apology from Mr. Sill, Mr. Gerckens, and Mr. DiCenso. The insinuation is quite clear that he means the people he named were his accusers. People in the community and perhaps people in social media may have said those things, but the fact is that none of the aldermen made those types of statements. Nobody even came close to making those sorts of remarks. From the beginning, the aldermen in two separate votes sought answers to questions that did not make sense. It is strange that it took a court of law to compel the Mayor to give the answers he did.

FILE PHOTO* The Mayor states party politics were played. Really? There were two votes (8-1 and 6-3 with a mix of both Republicans, Democrats, and Unaffiliated representatives). Despite spending a great deal of time during one memorable BOA meeting discussing my independence from any political party (the Town Clerk, Registrar of Voters, and even the Mayor all agreed that I don’t belong to a political party), the Mayor felt compelled to lump me in with the Democrats and demand an apology. It is interesting to note that the Mayor does not seek an apology or even mention the three Republicans who also voted in the same manner as myself, Mr. Sill, and Mr. DiCenso.

Finally, Mr. Mayor, you stated that you didn’t want a settlement. You said that you wanted the opportunity to clear your name. I think instead of demanding an apology, you should be thanking us for giving you that opportunity.

The writer represents the Second Ward on the Derby Board of Aldermen.


posted by: Linda Fusco on July 13, 2012  6:25pm

Well said, Art. I have also been told that Mayor Staffieri expects an apology from the Democratic party. I don’t feel the party has anything to apologize for. We only asked, respectfully albeit publically, that the terms and the conditions of the settlement be made public, in advance of the 1st Board of Aldermen meeting scheduled to deal with the matter. We strongly felt the community had a right to know the financial impact of the settlement to the taxpayers.

posted by: Sheila M. Parizo on July 14, 2012  5:32am

Apologize!?! After reading the proceedings of the court case, Staffieri owes the City of Derby a HUGE apology! Firstly, he, along with Corporation Counsel, state that Mr. Domurad was not qualified for the position of Finance Director. Yet he hired him anyway. Secondly, the employment contract is lost, yet the undated resignation letter which was signed BEFORE Domurad was hired (allegedly- because the Mayor cannot remember when it was signed) was found in a jiffy! Sounds like another incompetent, unqualified person is working at City Hall. I further underdstand an employee in the Tax Office was escorted out of City Hall this week for questionable activity while performing her job duties. Finally, the Mayoral Administrative Assistant, Phil Robertson, resigned/retired effective Friday, July 6, 2012 and yet showed up for work Monday morning (July 9, 2012) as a “consultant” and being paid the same salary! Double dipping?
How many other “appointees” are there taking care of business in Derby City Hall that are “unqualified”? Leadership starts at the top. There is an old saying that “sewage” flows downhill, and folks, in the Mayor’s eyes, the residents of Derby are at the piedmont!  Staffieri owes Derby an apology for using and abusing a public system that is established to work FOR taxpayers, not against us.

posted by: Tom Lionetti on July 14, 2012  7:06am

Well said LINDA, and SHEILA…You make some very good points. You said just about everything that needs to be said, except, one question that I have..Why did our mayor, try so hard, to give a 58 K settlement of tax payers money to someone that resigned??? Something is VERY wrong with this picture..This is a perfect example of “Back door politics” once again….I hope that our Mayor will publicly apologize to the democratic Party at the next BOE meeting.

posted by: Mark Adams on July 14, 2012  8:08am

Kudos to all. The Mayor needs to look past his own personal interests, remember he is a public servant, and think about the Town at a whole, and for four years put the Town in a bad spot by having an “unqualified”(his words) direct one the most important positions of the Town.

There should be more this outcry from the Town to demand a written and public spoken apology from the Mayor to the Town for his bad decisions regarding this whole situation from the day he hired the Finance Director.

posted by: Janet Hyman Weeks on July 14, 2012  9:01am

Tom, you stated exactly what I’ve been thinking.  Why would either side agree to this monetary settlement when it should’ve been a black and white issue with someone’s reputation at stake.  If I was telling the truth, I would want to clear my name.

posted by: Marc Weissman on July 14, 2012  9:19am

Great column. As always, Mr. Gerckens sticks to the issues at hand rather than stoop to ANY level, “so low” or otherwise.

And regardless if some form of “vindication” has been achieved or not - all while wasting valuable tax dollars and city officials’ time to self-admittedly defend one’s own individual credibility verses prioritizing the best interests of the City of Derby at large - some very fundamental issues still remain unresolved:

1) With all due respect to Mr. Domurad’s experience and background, why would ANYONE - especially a high ranking official like a Mayor - hire someone purely banking on the hopes that they will EVENTUALLY become qualified for such a key position? And in this economy? Especially when thousands of out-of-work professionals out there were likely available at that time who were ALREADY qualified?

I find it incredibly hard to believe that someone FULLY qualified could not have been hired in the first place.

2) “I don’t have NO resignation in my pocket. It’s about being professional.” Professional? Really?

3) And lastly, where does the accused get off acting so self-righteous by outright demanding an apology, when…

a) there has been plenty of things in inexplicably FOUR terms of office that certainly warrant an apology on his own behalf, not the least of which are the current state of the Downtown and the escalating mill rate to name but two.

b) if one is going to publicly seek professionalism and politeness from others, the least they could do is take the time to appreciate those who gave him the opportunity to express his viewpoint on camera versus abruptly leaving in such a hurry without so much as a “Thank you.” :(

posted by: Ken Hughes on July 14, 2012  11:10am

Tom and Janet, I can speak on the settlement offer. When a lawsuit is brought against the City, it is the job of the 2 attorneys to come up with a settlement agreement before anything is brought to full litigation. In this case, the settlement, agreed to by both attorneys (not City officials) was for 58K. This tentative agreement is then brought before the BOA for acceptance/rejection. The mayor has nothing to do with the settlement offer, it was negotiated between Gesmonde and the insurance attorney for the City.

posted by: Ken Hughes on July 14, 2012  11:33am

The BOA members, myself included (as well as Boulton, Sill, Moran), are to blame for the hiring, as the mayor just makes a recommendation to the board. It was told to us, on the record, Mr Domurad was going to pursue certification as an educational business manager, which would have fit in nicely with the BOA plan for a joint Finance Director. It is still my opinion that there was no one more qualified, knowledgeable and passionate at that time to be Derbys’ FD. I still stand by my decision at that time, based on the information we were given, to hire Mr Domurad.

posted by: Marc Weissman on July 14, 2012  1:29pm

Fair enough, Ken.

Thanks for clarifying. :)

posted by: Janet Hyman Weeks on July 14, 2012  5:12pm

Ken, as always, thanks for explaining.  I guess this is where I have a problem with lawyers and insurance.  I understand how settlements work, but I don’t believe it’s right to offer anyone money if they don’t deserve it.  And if he was entitled to that money, why would he have to sue to get it?  Either way, it’s a waste of our money.  I’m just glad that the settlement wasn’t accepted to make this all just go away with no explanation to the taxpayers.

posted by: Ken Hughes on July 14, 2012  5:28pm

Thanks Marc. @Janet, I was proud of the decisions of the BOA not to settle. They were’t easy ones to make, followed alot of spirited discussion, and ended up being the right decisions in the end. In a municipal setting, it is typically less expensive to accept a settlement to make the case go away, no matter who is right or who is wrong, than it is to pursue it to the end. In this instance, most of the aldermen realized this situation went beyond money for the residents of Derby.

posted by: Sheila M. Parizo on July 15, 2012  9:12am

Ken - While I appreciate your need to educate the readers on the machinations of the settlement process, my concern is one of oversight. Mr. Domurad was hired 4 years ago with the understanding that he would pursue the necessary education to become “certified”. Since his hiring, who was following up on the credentials end of his employment agreement?  Are there any records of the follow-up?  Or have they too, been misplaced in the great abyss of Derby City Hall? Elected officials are held to a standard of transparency, yet we seem to hit a stone wall with every step in this debacle.

posted by: Renee Sheckfee on July 16, 2012  12:34am

Well Ken,
Tony Staffieri did have the ability to override YOUR decision to fire my dad, Ron Luneau, a few years ago and he didn’t do the right thing. Remember? Two cops were called in on OT (one to try and arrest him 5 1/2 hours after you were allegedly “threatened”, even though you weren’t even present for said conversation? And another to sit in your driveway). Only fair for the taxpayers of Derby to know where their tax money is going. No, I firmly believe one hand washes the other in politics here and I personally want to thank you for chairing the committee (even though it was a HUGE conflict seeing as you futilely tried to have him arrested) that gave him a 14 month PAID vacation. Especially as a homeowner who pays a very large tax bill on my home and cars. You guys need to get your act together. At least the BOA is now better represented by people who truly care about Derby. Well said Art, keep doing the right thing!

posted by: Stan Muzyk on July 16, 2012  12:38pm

Ken Hughes:  Thank you for your intelligent, and honest explanation of events in this unfortunate scenario.

Marc Weissman:  It’s easy to criticize Mayor Staffieri’s decision to hire Henry J. Domurad, Jr. Hindsight is easier that forsight. Henry had a sparkling record of 14 years of public service as a leader of the Derby Board of Apportionment and Taxation, and was well
respected by Derby Democrats, Republicans and Independents. I personally asked Henry to run for Mayor of Derby, twice, when we had a prior Democratic Mayor.

My concern for Henry is—when will this costly legal impasse to Derby taxpayers be settled, so that Mr. Domurad is paid for his performed services, vacation and sick pay, which is long overdue?

After all, Henry must pay his taxes and other bills, besides providing his wonderful family

I question the Derby of Aldermen for refusing to allow former Republican Mayor Alan Schlesinger, an educated financial scholar, to serve as interrum finance director—leaving the City of Derby, as a “rudderless fiscal sinking ship!”

Our elected city officials should pursue the best interests for the City of Derby, and refrain from political gamesmanship which has surfaced—to the detriment of Derby taxpayers.

posted by: Ken Hughes on July 16, 2012  1:33pm

Mrs. Sheckfee, I see you still have some facts confused about the transfer station situation. As I have told the truth all along, and will continue to do so, the alderman subcommittee (myself, Sill, Boulton and Bomba) did not fire Ron Luneau. The subcommittee DID unanimously vote to adopt a report which recommended that disciplinary action be taken, which it was by Luneaus direct boss, the Director of Public works. Based on the information the subcommittee was presented, I 100% stand behind the decision by Ron Culmo to terminate Ron Luneau.

When an envelope full of bandaids are given to my family members, with the message to pass on to me, of course I would call the PD. It was a direct threat to me, by a Union President, and I did what every public official should do in that situation, and that is to hand it over to the Police.

If I was faced with the same set of circumstances today, I would make exactly the same decisions, because those decisions needed to be made for what was best for Derby. We took a grossly mismanaged Transfer Station and turned it into a model for the surrounding communities.

posted by: Renee Sheckfee on July 16, 2012  5:20pm

Still passing the buck on Ron Culmo, huh Ken? You’ve lied south about this you actually believe it.
Please address the police OT issue when they were hired as your own personal body guards please…And YOU were the chairman of that sub committee. How stupid do you think the residents of Derby, who had to pay for his 14 months off and your private security, are???! And I’m not confused at all. I know exactly what you had up your sleeve. Btw, if you felt so “threatened”, why did you wait 2 1/2 hours to notify the police?? Why? Because it took you that long to concoct a “story” of what transpired. Don’t you dare try and turn this around to be confusion on my part. You owe an explanation to why our taxpayers had to foot the bill for the huge OT cost that night. That warrant was laughed out of court and I’m glad they saw just hike confused YOU were that night. Remember, although he’s my dad, I’m just not into frivolous spending to keep someone out of work, who ultimately got paid (and a lengthy vacation to spend with his family) every dime back, and to pay the PD (a lieutenant). If anyone else called that in, patrol would (barely) handle it. No Ken, it’s time people who may not be familiar with your antics, to see the political light. You’ve set precedence and though you’d still make the same decision, you’d still be wrong. And how about this: if you’re so concerned with Derby taxpayers, how about you pay us back for the cop stationed in your driveway ALL night???? Answer that!

posted by: Ken Hughes on July 16, 2012  6:06pm

Contrary to what you believe, I do not make the decisions, nor have I ever made the decisions for the Chief of police. I turned over a perceived threat, and they handled the rest.

BTW, I was working the night Ron Luneau dropped off the envelope filled with band-aids to my family and was notified 3 hours later when I got out of work and to my cell with the awaiting message. Pretty logical explanation now, isn’t it. You know why?? Its the truth. Once again, every decision, exactly the same.

posted by: Ron Sill on July 16, 2012  6:07pm

Just as a point of clarification.  Alderman Hughes has posted as a comment that I voted to Hire Henry Domurad as Finance Director.  But if you go back and read the minutes from the meeting he was hired at, I abstained and the eight republican memebers of the board voted yes on the Mayor’s reccomendaion.

posted by: Ken Hughes on July 16, 2012  6:08pm

On another note, I made a mistake to say Mr Sill voted to hire Henry Domurad while, if you look at the minutes, he was there, but abstained. Sorry Ron!!

posted by: Ken Hughes on July 16, 2012  6:09pm

Oh geesh Ron, didnt even give me a chance!!! : )

posted by: Ron Sill on July 16, 2012  6:16pm

Thanks Ken, I don’t get involved on these things much, but in THIS CASE there is so much wrong info out there that I didn’t want my name added on the wrong part of the scale.

posted by: Ken Hughes on July 16, 2012  6:20pm

I cant let you off this easy.

Now this begs the question. Did you abstain because you thought something was remiss (but didn’t share it with us), or did you abstain because you would have been hiring your wife’s boss (an obvious conflict)?

posted by: Ron Sill on July 16, 2012  6:33pm

You know me only the truth, because we were voting on hiring Joyce’s boss, but thanks for asking, I even do the right thing by doing the right thing.

posted by: Renee Sheckfee on July 16, 2012  6:41pm

Funny Ken, still haven’t addressed the i$$ue I asked about. Again passing the buck to shift the blame on the police department. Like you aren’t in cahoots with anyone down there. Even the prosecutor laughed at a Breach of Peace warrant. No basis for an arrest, no probable cause and the pd knew that and should not have called in 2 guys for it. Imagine, a city as dangerous as New Haven and BOPs were always handled in patrol (and they were ACTUAL threats, with both parties present). They only wanted to make some money off a bs complaint. I want to know how many times the police were stationed in someone’s driveway, on overtime, for a “perceived threat”. NONE. Ever. The next time I find out someone is threatened, maybe I’ll request a police surveillance in their driveway. Yet, when the city knows of a problem area, they offer zero protection (since we all know you and yours are all looking out for what benefits YOU, not US taxpayers) and murderers result. And as a member of the BOA, it’s your responsibility to get some answers for the residents here. Why don’t you confer with Boulton on that one?? Or maybe Bomba (oh boy). Funny how when the west side has a block watch meeting no police officers or representatives showed up (as promised at the FIRST meeting). And how we held the meeting at city hall in the parking lot because no one could figure out how to unlock the door (while the cops continually circled the block, waving from the confines of their air conditioned cars). Yup, east side gets all the police service (and private body guards) apparently. Tell you what, why don’t you look into who authorized that OT that night? Or do you not want us to know?? Typical politician avoiding the question.

posted by: Sheila M. Parizo on July 17, 2012  5:48am

The art of diversion is prevalent in this steam of comments, but I would like my questions answered:
1. Who was Mr. Domurad’s direct supervisor?
2. In the business/corporate world, annual evaluations are performed BEFORE any raise is granted. Were they done?
3. If they were in fact completed, where are they?
4. Was his lack of “qualifications” noted?
5. Were raises granted?
6. Were warnings/reminders issued?

In light of the embarrassment that has rained upon our little City, I call into question the qualifications of everyone hired at City Hall.
I filed an FOI complaint against the City last year regarding a sub-committee meeting called in the middle of a BOA public hearing/Board meeting and was told by Coporation Counsel, in public, that it was legal, there was no need to post the impromtu meeting, the public was not invited and there would be no minutes.  Yet, the Town Clerk, who is not on the committee was allowed into the closed door session - if no minutes were to be taken, she is considered a public person.  Long and short of it is, I prevailed - the FOI commission has ordered that minutes be produced for that meeting and the City has been warned by the Commission. Clearly, Corporation Counsel needs to “bone up” on his “qualifications” to act on behalf of the citizens of Derby. Again, I ask, who is watching the candy store?

posted by: Stan Muzyk on July 17, 2012  4:00pm

Ken Hughes & Ron Sill:  I like both of you guys, but your political infighting isn’t proving a thing.

Let’s address a serious city problem instead.
When will the board bring in former Mayor Alan Shlesinger as interrum finance director, until a permanent replacement is found?