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Two Officials Forced Out

Mayor Unhappy With Their Performance

Carlesso, Jenna

September 13, 2013

Two more top city officials resigned Thursday, the latest in a series of departures as Mayor Pedro Segarra works to rebuild his administration.

Segarra said that he asked Julio Molleda, the city's finance director, and Kevin Burnham, the public works director, to submit their resignations.

"I've made it perfectly clear that I am undergoing a period of recalibration, which has included performance appraisals and reviews of operations in their departments," Segarra said Thursday. "If I spot an area where I feel the city and its residents are better off by asking someone to step aside, I will have no hesitations in having them step aside."

The goal is to "enhance performance" and "streamline and improve city services," he said.

Molleda and Burnham's last day will be Oct. 4. Neither could be reached for comment Thursday evening.

Molleda was criticized after the city's internal audit commission reported numerous organizational issues in the finance department.

In July, the commission released its review of the department's revenue management unit. The report highlighted several problems, from discrepancies in the amount of revenue budgeted and received, to record-keeping for various operations.

In August, after reviewing the department's payroll unit, the commission found that overpayments were made to some city employees and that managers failed to file certain state and federal tax forms.

Management in the finance department hadn't corrected problems pointed out in a 2012 audit, including recovering money from overpayments, commissioners said. One employee, who is not named in the auditor's report, was overpaid about $10,600.

Additionally, finance employees failed to properly document payroll errors and corrections, according to the audit report.

Molleda was also faulted after city auditors reported that finance employees failed to properly oversee purchases made with city-issued credit cards.

An audit of purchases made by employees with city credit cards between August 2012 and March 2013 -- totaling about $225,232 -- found that most transactions were supported by documentation, but that in some cases the paperwork was missing.

The finance department was "not always exercising control over [purchasing] card activity" and did not enforce penalties "related to specific p-card policy infractions," the commission's report said.

Burnham has been criticized through the years for litter and a lack of upkeep in the city's parks and cemeteries. His department also received numerous complaints about the city's snow removal efforts during winter storms this year and in 2011.

Last year, Ultimate Frisbee and soccer players protested after he tried to stop them from playing games in Bushnell Park.

Segarra said that the resignations came after a "global analysis" of the departments, not necessarily one or two specific missteps.

"It wasn't just one thing, but many factors," he said when asked if the audit reports played a role in the departures. "There were some successes and some areas of deficiency."

Molleda and Burnham join several other high-ranking employees who have left the city recently. Earlier this year, Segarra's chief of staff, Jared Kupiec, and Human Resources Director Valda Washington resigned. Last year, Chief Operating Officer David Panagore resigned.

Within the past month, Andrew Jaffee, the head of emergency services and telecommunications, and Rhonda Moniz-Carroll, the deputy public works director, were fired.

Moniz-Carroll was charged Saturday night with driving under the influence and failure to drive in a proper lane after a head-on crash that totaled the city vehicle she was driving and injured another motorist.

Jaffee was fired after several reported issues in his department, including the use of a racial epithet by one dispatcher during a radio transmission.

In June, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto's contract was not extended. Her contract runs through June 2014.

Segarra has appointed Joseph Ruffo as the interim finance director and Keith Chapman as the interim public works director. They will begin work with the city on Monday.

Ruffo served previously as comptroller in Norwich, and was an auditor, accounting instructor and budget reviewer for the Government Finance Officers Association.

Chapman worked previously as the town manager of Newington.


Molleda: Under fire over issues in the finance department.

Burnham: Faced complaints about parks, snow removal.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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