Steven Nakano, the executive director of the Derby Housing Authority, resigned his position to take the same job in Ansonia, according to a press release issued Thursday.
The press release from the Ansonia Housing Authority did not include Nakano’s salary information.
The Ansonia Housing Authority’s interim executive director would not release the information. The Valley Indy was referred to the Ansonia housing commission’s chairman for salary info, who said Friday that Nakano will not start work in Ansonia until the end of August and that his salary is still being negotiated.
“When we know the exact amount I’ll certainly pass that long,” the chairman, James Prestiano, said.
Nakano resigned from the Derby Housing Authority Wednesday, though he noted his employment contract keeps him with the authority until the end of August.
The move comes one week after the Derby Housing Authority commission met in an executive decision to discuss Nakano’s employment status.
Two commissioners expressed concerns over Nakano’s management of the Derby Housing Authority. They said they were kept in the dark about the fact the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) has been hounding the authority to pay back $432,120 it drained from its reserves
“Total funds to be repaid at this time is $432,120 to the State property reserves,” Rhonda Caldwell, an asset manager with the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, said in an email to Derby housing officials May 5, 2017.
Click here for a complete Valley Indy story on the internal strife.
Nakano’s resignation letter is posted at the end of this story.
Nakano was identified by Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti Thursday morning as the frontrunner for the Ansonia Housing Authority’s executive director’s job.
The Ansonia Authority’s Interim Executive Director, Carol Mobilio, had said Thursday morning that “an offer was made but we’re still in contract negotiations.”
A few hours later, Mobilio sent the Valley Indy a press release announcing Nakano had been hired as the Ansonia Housing Authority’s new executive director after its board of directors conducted a “national search.”
The press release did not say what Nakano’s salary will be, but he had been earning $107,632 as executive director in Derby.
The Ansonia Housing Authority commission met Monday to interview candidates for the position during an executive session, which is allowed under state Freedom of Information Law.
The Ansonia Housing Authority was due to meet again Wednesday (June 28), but didn’t have a quorum.
In Derby, a new crop of housing commission members were not happy with Nakano’s job performance. But in Ansonia, he already has the support of Cassetti and his administration.
“He’s very good, he’s very thorough with everything. He’s going to be an asset to the City of Ansonia,” Cassetti said.
Asked specifically about the Derby Housing Authority’s financial issues under Nakano’s watch, Cassetti put fault on the administration of Mayor Anita Dugatto’s handling of the Derby Housing Authority’s purchase of the “Barron Block” building on Anson Street, which occurred during the administration of her predecessor.
“They gave him authority to buy that property. I guess the mayor (Dugatto) blocked it,” Cassetti said. “It’s really not his fault. I thought he did an excellent job in Derby and he’s going to do an excellent job in Ansonia.”
Derby Mayor Anita Dugatto strongly objected to Cassetti’s comments Friday morning, and chided the mayor for spreading “hearsay.” She said her administration tried to work with the housing authority to figure out a way to provide parking to make the Barron redevelopment project happen, but the former commissioners were not cooperative.
“I called Mayor Cassetti and told him I was unhappy with his attack on Derby,” Dugatto said.
Ansonia’s housing authority, which operates the John J. Stevens apartments on Central Street and the Monsignor Hynes and James J. O’Donnell apartments on Woodlawn Avenue, is also in the midst of redeveloping the former Riverside Apartments on Olson Drive.
Ansonia’s housing authority has had three different executive directors since last year.
Troy White, who had held the post since 2014, left last February to take a job in Florida. He was replaced by Robert Henderson, the authority’s former operations director.
The housing authority terminated Henderson’s employment at a meeting in April after voting to discuss his employment in executive session. They also voted “to buy out his contract.”
Minutes of the meeting don’t give specific reasons for either of those actions.
“We just felt that the fit wasn’t good for where we need to go in the future,” Prestiano said of the commission’s vote to dismiss Henderson.
In the press release, which is posted below, the Ansonia Housing Authority lauded Nakano’s prior experience in Derby.
“The Authority is certain that Mr. Nakano will direct the Ansonia Housing Authority with the utmost professionalism while increasing the level of public housing assistance services available to Ansonia’s residents,” the press release said.