On Monday, March 9, City Council was asked to vote on 13 heads of departments appointed by Mayor Carlo DeMaria.
The body voted, however, to move the matter to committee when concerns were raised regarding their credentials.
Mayor DeMaria is seeking confirmation for the following City employees for a period of two years: Veterans Services Director Jeanne Cristiano, IT Director Kevin Dorgan, Budget Director Laureen Hurley, Water Superintendent Ernie Lariviere, City Solicitor Colleen Mejia, Business Manager Robert Moreschi, HHS Director Jerry Navarra, Operations Manager Kevin Noonan, Treasurer Rocco Pesce, Communications Director Tom Philbin, Inspectional Services Director James Soper and Planning Director Tony Sousa.
Though most of the individuals have been in these positions for years, if not decades, Councilor Michael McLaughlin suggested the vote be postponed until Council procures the résumés of those listed so as to prevent a repeat of “what happened one and a half years ago.”
Since then, some councilors have been wary about confirming appointments by the administration before conducting a check of all resumes.
Earlier in the evening, it was also discovered that the administration was promoting a police officer to a special position, despite the fact the state had no record of her current credentials.
Councilor McLaughlin said he had reached out to Chief of Staff Kevin O’Donnell and HR Director Lara Wehbe for the résumés but had not yet heard back. He made it clear he had no personal objections about the department heads in question.
“Most of these individuals I know personally. These are capable people,” he said. “This is just a postponement so we can get further information.”
Councilor Anthony DiPierro defended the mayor.
“These are all qualified, good-quality people. They answer the phone every time I call,” he said. “I don’t see the reason for the constant roadblocks. We are not the appointing authority in the City. I will not support a delay.”
Councilor John Hanlon said he preferred to revive the old method of bringing each appointee in for an interview.
“Years ago, they came before Council and we had the chance to interview them,” he said. “It wouldn’t be bad if we got the résumé of the new [appointee], but I don’t think our city solicitor is going to have a résumé because she’s been here 18 years.”
Council voted 9-2 to move the matter to the next meeting of the Legislative Affairs Committee, with only Councilors DiPierro and Hanlon in opposition.
“Where a member requested résumés and there are several new members who may be unfamiliar with appointees, it was the most prudent course of action,” Councilor Fred Capone told Independent.
“Time and again, this mayor and his administration are making exceptions for certain people, and that’s not fair,” said Councilor Gerly Adrien. “We should see everyone’s résumés.”
The next meeting of the Legislative Affairs Committee was set for March 19, but has been canceled due to the coronavirus situation.
On Feb. 10, Council confirmed 15 board and commission appointments made by Mayor DeMaria, despite the fact at least some members questioned whether appointees met the standards for those positions. At the time, Councilors Adrien and McLaughlin moved to postpone a vote until the information could be provided – a motion that was not allowed.