Council Holds off on Confirming Mayor’s Department Heads

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.

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