HARTFORD —— David Panagore, the city's chief operating officer, said Monday that he has resigned from his post.
He said his last day with the city would be Sept. 14.
Panagore called the departure "amicable" and said he made the decision to resign while on vacation at Cape Cod last week.
"I decided I got done what I wanted to get done here so I'm moving on," he said Monday. "I think I'm leaving the city better than we found it. I'm proud of the team we built for the mayor."
Asked repeatedly whether he was leaving under pressure from Mayor Pedro Segarra or others at city hall, Panagore replied: "This is my decision and I'm happy about it. I'm happy with the decision I've made."
Panagore's department came under fire recently for billing problems within the livable and sustainable neighborhoods initiative, an anti-blight effort started by Segarra and Panagore six months ago.
The city was owed thousands of dollars for private-property cleanups — some that occurred as far back as six months ago — but it hadn't billed any of the property owners because of a series of missteps. The issue is under review.
Segarra dismissed claims Monday that he had put pressure on Panagore to leave.
"David and I have had a very good relationship and anybody that has observed us knows we're very good work partners in terms of getting our job done," Segarra said. "It was very, very amicable. I think David has reached a point where he wants to move on to other things."
Panagore was hired by former Mayor Eddie Perez in October 2008 as the city's director of development services. He was appointed chief operating officer in July 2009.
Panagore served as both chief operating officer and development director until last April, when Segarra named Thomas Deller the city's new director of development.
Panagore said he did not have another job lined up.
"I just didn't feel it was fair to undertake a job search while on the city's payroll," he said.
Saundra Kee Borges, the city's corporation counsel and a former city manager, will take over as interim chief operating officer until a new person is appointed to the position.
Segarra said he received Panagore's letter of resignation around 2 p.m. Monday, and has not yet begun to consider replacements. He said he does not know if he'll conduct a national or state-wide search for a replacement.
Segarra said he does not plan to hire an independent search firm to assist in the process, as he did with his recent search for a new police chief. Instead, he said, he plans to put together a group of national, state and city officials to help voluntarily with recruiting.
When Segarra took over as mayor in June 2010, he asked all of the city's department heads to submit letters of resignation so he could decide who he wanted to stay. Panagore was one of the key cabinet members of Perez who Segarra allowed to stay.
Perez resigned from his post a week after he was convicted of five felony corruption charges.
Segarra said Monday that he kept Panagore on because of his dedication to the job and his oversight of crucial projects.
"David had been working on a series of projects," Segarra said. "He has [since] completed some of those projects. What kept David on is the fact he is a hard-working, talented person who has good project management. He's done his job.
"It's a great loss for the city."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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