HARTFORD —— Saundra Kee Borges, the city's corporation counsel, has been named chief operating officer.
Kee Borges, 53, replaces David Panagore, who announced he would resign the post in August and left in mid-September. She had been serving as interim chief operating officer since Panagore's departure. She was appointed corporation counsel in 2010.
Mayor Pedro Segarra sent a resolution to the city council Wednesday saying he appointed Kee Borges as chief operating officer on Monday, and asking the council to approve her appointment.
"There is absolutely no doubt that Sandy is qualified to serve as COO," Segarra said. "She understands the capital city and my vision … She is a trusted member of my cabinet, is respected among her peers, and is one of the most thoughtful and analytical individuals I have ever worked with."
Segarra named Juan A. Figueroa, the former state representative, assistant attorney general and founding president of the Universal Health Care Foundation, the new corporation counsel.
"Juan is a well-respected, true expert in his field," Segarra said. "He has dedicated his career to public policy locally and nationally and has established strong relationships with his peers because of it."
Kee Borges was appointed the first female city manager in 1993 under former Mayor Mike Peters. She served before that as deputy city corporation counsel.
She left the city manager's job in 2002 at a tumultuous time — former Mayor Eddie Perez had just taken office and the city was preparing to switch to a "strong mayor" form of government, meaning the city manager's post would be eliminated.
On her way out, she became the focus of criticism over her generous severance package, though she had worked for the city for nearly 20 years. When she retired at 42, she walked away with an estimated $72,000 annual pension and $41,667 in severance pay.
The package, generous in the public sector but meager by corporate standards, was roundly criticized. Kee Borges told The Courant in 2010 that she didn't get anything she wasn't entitled to. City law allowed nonunion employees to collect a pension after 20 years of service, regardless of their age.
"I think people forget I was working toward a retirement like anyone else," Kee Borges said in 2010. "They didn't give me any special incentives."
After her retirement, she opened a law practice in Hartford's Parkville neighborhood and began teaching public policy at her alma mater, Trinity College.
Kee Borges and Segarra, who worked together in city government in the 1990s — she as deputy corporation counsel and Segarra as corporation counsel — first met at the University of Connecticut Law School when both were students.
Figueroa, 59, was formerly the president and general counsel of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York.
He moved to Minnesota from his native Ciales, Puerto Rico, in 1973 to attend Macalester College on a full scholarship. There, he met his wife, Helene. They moved to Connecticut in the early 1980s. They have one daughter who is a senior at Trinity College.
Kee Borges and Figueroa could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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