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Mike Brodinsky Chairman, Wallingford Town Council 45 Valley View Drive Wallingford, CT 06492 203-284-1131

December 30, 2008 Jeff Knickerbocker Chairman, Charter Revision Commission 8 Brokett Road Wallingford, CT 06492 Dear Charter Revision Commission: I note that at your meeting on December 8, 2008, you decided that the Charter should be amended to provide that the Town Council appoint and remove the Town Clerk, subject to Chapter XVI of the Charter (the Classified Service). I want to share with you my thoughts regarding the Charter provisions that you approved. We agree that the Town Clerk should be hired and enjoy continued employment on the basis of experience, skills, knowledge of the position, and superior job performance rather than on the basis of political connections or personal popularity. I welcome your reference to Chapter XVI in the proposed amendment. It means that the Town’s recruitment and qualification process would apply to the hiring of the Town Clerk just like it would apply to the hiring of any other department head. I support this concept as it gives the Personnel Department the duty to screen candidates. But, I would like to revisit the decision that it would be the Town Council that could conduct the final interviews, and decide who to hire. A Town Councilor should not need or want the “honor” of hiring a Town Clerk. This is not something that Town Councilors typically have experience with or training for. A public hiring process by the Council could be very awkward. Political pressures might surface. An alternative is to allow the municipal authority that has the management responsibility for the Town Clerk be the authority that does the hiring and firing. In other words, this should be handled “administratively” and we are legislators, not administrators. Giving the Town Council the exclusive right to terminate the Town Clerk implies that it could be the Town Council that has the management responsibility for the Town Clerk. I note that Chapter XVI says that although the executive branch determines the grounds for

removal, it is not clear who would determine that there are such grounds in the case of the Town Clerk, if the Town adopts your proposal. It is respectfully suggested, therefore, that the executive branch is best suited to manage the personnel issues in the office of the Town Clerk, determine job performance and decide whether there are grounds for discipline or termination. If the Mayor determined that there were grounds for removal, he might as well do the removing. Additionally, the Town Clerk does not in fact act, and has not acted as the “Clerk of the Council” --- whatever that may mean. She does not do clerical work for the Council. We have a council secretary who does that. The Council secretary is, and should be, our “clerk.” I would not know how to apply a Charter provision that says that the Town Clerk is the “clerk” of the Council. If the proposed Charter provision were adopted, how would the Town Clerk execute her duties as the Council’s “clerk”? What additional duties would she have as clerk of the Council that she would not perform anyway as Town Clerk? The Town Clerk has not been at Town Council meetings because she is not needed. It is a remarkable and breathtaking waste of time to have her sitting there, just to call the roll or make notes. It is a management decision as to whether she is needed, or whether the cost of her presence is worth the benefit. That decision could change from time to time depending upon circumstances. Thus, the decision (to attend or not to attend meetings) should be determined by managers and not by a Charter provision. I am requesting that you give this issue another look, therefore. I am recommending that the Clerk be hired and fired by the Mayor and she answer to him as any other department head; and that the executive branch be totally responsible for the performance of the Town Clerk’s office. It would be speedier and more efficient if you reconsider this matter now rather than later as a statutory requirement. Thank you. Very truly yours,

Mike Brodinsky

cc: Town Council Office by email Law Department by email

brodinsky letter  

Mike Brodinsky Chairman, Wallingford Town Council 45 Valley View Drive Wallingford, CT 06492 203-284-1131 Jeff Knick...

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