Mystery Still Surrounds Derby Employee’s Departure

The Derby Board of Aldermen took no action on a proposed “employment separation agreement” involving an employee who was escorted out of Derby City Hall June 25.

The elected officials are still not saying precisely why the employee — Katherine Kulhawik — was escorted from the building.

The Aldermen met for about 70 minutes in a closed-door session Monday to discuss the separation agreement which was offered to the Aldermen by Kulhawik’s lawyer, Don Walsh, according to Derby Corporation Counsel Joseph Coppola.

Several sources told the Valley Indy the city has been probing whether funds are missing from the tax collector’s office.

Staffieri seemed to confirm that immediately after Monday’s closed-door session.

“It’s not big. It’s not a big amount of money or nothing like that,” Staffieri said.

“Does it involve money?” a reporter from the Connecticut Post asked.

“There’s some money, but it’s, you know, because it’s legal . . .” the mayor replied, before referring further questions to Coppola.

Coppola said Kulhawik, a full-time employee, has been suspended since June 25..

Coppola repeatedly said he would not comment as to why Kulhawik was suspended, then said: “It’s about record keeping.”

“I wouldn’t even say money’s missing,” Coppola said. “I would say the record keeping — there is a question,” he said.

“It’s due to record keeping,” Staffieri repeated.

Coppola said the city Tuesday would be releasing documents requested by the Valley Indy through the state’s Freedom of Information Act. Last week the Valley Indy asked for documents pertaining to the investigation Coppola undertook in connection to Kulhawik.

He said his investigation involved making sure that people who paid their taxes received credit for paying their taxes.

“We have records for everyone who paid. Everyone who paid, they got credited. That was my investigation, to make sure that everyone paid, the system recorded it,” Coppola said.

Coppola said he was hesitant to talk to the press about the matter Monday night because he wanted to inform Kulhawik’s lawyer of what transpired at the end of Monday night’s closed-door meeting.

The next steps in the process are unclear. Kulhawik is a union member.

“She was an employee who was suspended. She may have rights. He (her attorney) is going to do whatever he feels is right,” Coppola said.

The Derby police are not investigating the matter.

“They were informed,” Coppola said. “They were informed, but that doesn’t mean a complaint was filed.”


posted by: Stan Muzyk on August 8, 2012  8:06am

An unfortunate incident that occurs when money is involved—that should not be used as a Derby political scenario—although already attempted by a city hall agitator.  The City of Ansonia has had a problem in their tax office also, and no one goes political, except in Derby.

posted by: Linda Fusco on August 12, 2012  6:48pm

But isn’t it amazing…and refreshing that when Ansonia has a problem, its elected officials, like the Mayor, talk about it openly??? They make documents available to the press without the media having to go through F.O.I. They actually request the involvement of their police, who are, by the way, trained in investigative techniques, instead of paying their corporation counsel thousands of dollars to conduct an investigation. Are attorneys specially trained to conduct criminal investigations? Maybe Derby should take a page from Ansonia’s book?!? They seem to conduct their business and their government in an open, transparent way.

posted by: Stan Muzyk on August 12, 2012  7:47pm

Linda Fusco:  So far, no one went political in Derby, except you.  But, it’s no secret that you and Mayor Tony Staffieri—“are not kissing cousins.”  Mayor Jim DellaVolpe, is doing a great job in Ansonia, but he doesn’t have “the political interference that exists in Derby.”  Mayor’s DellaVolpe and Staffieri do have a good relationship—which, I feel, is good for both cities.  If everyone could get along, life would be a lot simpler. I agree Linda, unfortunately, not in Derby. Politics seem to derail any progress in Derby, and taxpayers end up paying more legal and court costs as a result.  That’s why Derby is a politically poor city.  Elected officials   seem to love their respective political parties more, than the City of Derby.

posted by: Linda Fusco on August 12, 2012  8:35pm

Oh Stan, with all due respect, this is not about politics…it’s about an open and transparent government. It’s about taxpayers having the right to know up front when there is a problem in City Hall. I don’t blame Mayor Staffieri for the fact that there was a problem. There are unfortunate things that happen in many administrations across the country. The important thing is how these issues are dealt with. I hate the fact that here in Derby, we always take the low road…we always look like we have something to hide, always covering our tush, so to speak. Now if that’s not political, I don’t know what is! As for the Mayor and I not be “kissing cousins,” I think the Mayor would be the first to say that I am always respectful to him, greet him respectfully, speak to him respectfully. I don’t feel like I’m taking cheap shots here, Stan…you know me better than that.

posted by: Stan Muzyk on August 12, 2012  9:03pm

Linda Fusco:  You are well-known, ahd highly respected, class lady in Derby. I’m sure you als have the highest respect for Mayor Staffieri, and everyone else in the area.  Keep up your good work to dispel the political unrest that hurts us all in Derby. It would help if there was more control of political agitators who create discontent at public portions of BOA meetings. The meetings should not allow someone to take “shots at the Mayor,”
which ends up causing political unrest in Derby City Hall, that all of us end up paying for, in Derby, when opposing lawyers fees and court costs must be paid.