Jared Kupiec, Mayor Pedro Segarra's chief of staff and the focus of recent criticism, has resigned, city officials said Monday. His last day has not yet been determined.
Kupiec, 30, was appointed chief of staff in December 2010. Juan Figueroa, a former state representative and founding president of the Universal Health Care Foundation, will serve as acting chief of staff, officials said.
Figueroa will be on contract with the city for six months to assist in the transition. He will be paid $64,750, with the option to renew his contract at the end of the six months, officials said.
Maribel La Luz, Segarra's spokeswoman, said Monday that it was Kupiec's decision to leave his post. He plans to attend law school, she said.
Kupiec has drawn criticism recently for charging a $700 dinner at Max Downtown on New Year's Eve to his city-issued credit card. The meal was for eight people, who dined on caviar, rack of lamb and oysters, records show. Kupiec and Segarra later reimbursed the city for the meal.
He was also in the news last year after Segarra awarded him a $20,000 pay raise at a time when the city faced a more than $50 million budget deficit. Last month, the city's chief auditor raised concerns about fairness after learning that Kupiec had been given an access card to the public safety complex, where he was using the gym for workouts. His access card was revoked.
Kupiec did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Kupiec announced his resignation in an e-mail to city employees Monday, saying that he would help ensure "a seamless transition and a full recalibration of the mayor's administration."
"I have thought a lot about this decision and know that it is the best one for me at this time," he wrote. "My next step will be to prepare for a new career outside of politics and law school, which has been a life-long ambition that I have put off for far too long. I will always be loyal to our capital city and am eager to continue championing its incredible potential. I look forward to seeing some of the projects I pushed forward grow and develop but there are new challenges and opportunities that I feel compelled to pursue."
Segarra, in a prepared statement, called Kupiec "a loyal and dedicated worker."
"I truly respect his desire to tackle a new challenge," Segarra said. "I sincerely thank him for all his work to my administration and the critical projects that would not have come to fruition without him."
Segarra said the resignation will give him an opportunity to re-build his team at city hall.
Following Kupiec's departure, two high-ranking city positions will be vacant. Former Chief Operating Officer David Panagore left his post in September. Segarra appointed Saundra Kee Borges, the city's corporation counsel, to fill Panagore's position, but later withdrew the nomination at Kee Borges' request after city council members said she did not have their support. The city council must approve the appointment for chief operating officer.
The city has hired former Windsor Town Manager Albert G. Ilg on a temporary, part-time basis to assist with the transition and search for a new chief operating officer.
La Luz said it was not yet clear if the city would conduct a national search for a new chief of staff, but that Segarra would seek candidates with ample experience.
Prior to joining the city as chief of staff, Kupiec worked as a deputy campaign manager for Ned Lamont, who lost the Democratic primary for governor in August to Dan Malloy. He also served as campaign manager for David Zoni, who lost the 16th Senate District race in 2006, as a political action committee treasurer for state Rep. Ryan Barry, D-Manchester, and as a paralegal and office manager for the Hartford-based Katz and Seligman law firm.
Kupiec replaced Jose Colon-Rivas, who served as acting chief of staff shortly after Segarra took office in June 2010.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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