The city’s internal audit commission, capping an investigation into an anonymous complaint, has found that six Hartford workers — including the chief operating officer and chief of police — are unlawfully employed because they retired from the city, but have been back on the payroll for more than six months, a source familiar with the investigation told Cityline yesterday.
Basically, the issue breaks down like this: A city ordinance enacted in 2005 states that retired city employees “shall only be eligible to return to city employment in a temporary … position for a maximum of six months in a fiscal year.”
The audit commission found that six employees (Saundra Kee Borges, the city’s corporation counsel who was recently named chief operating officer; Police Chief James Rovella; Andrew Jaffee, head of emergency services and telecommunication; Nancy Mulroy, a police department spokeswoman; Linda Bayer, a civic engagement consultant; and Betty Szubinski, an administrative assistant) violated the ordinance because they’ve served in their positions for more than six months. All of them are city retirees.
However, the city’s deputy corporation counsel, L. John Van Norden, wrote to the commission that the city charter supersedes the ordinance. He wrote this is an e-mail:
“[The ordinance] is one discrete provision in a much larger comprehensive revision of the city personnel policies and procedures which the council codified in 2005. It is an ordinance and as such is superior to a resolution but subordinate to federal and state law and to the charter. To the extent an ordinance is in conflict with federal or state law or the city charter, the superior laws prevail.
The Charter vests the mayor with authority to make appointments with only one restriction, confirmation of certain executive level appointees (but not all) by the council. Thus, at least for department heads and direct mayoral appointees, the restriction on rehiring city retirees arguably usurps the mayor’s authority since the charter contains no such restriction on eligibility.”
The commission is expected to send letters about their finding to the mayor, city council, city treasurer and corporation counsel soon, a source said. It is not expected to make any recommendations as to how city officials should remedy the situation.
We’ll have more on this in tomorrow’s paper. You can also read city blogger Kevin Brookman’s post on it here.