HARTFORD — Only in Hartford.
The not-yet-permanent Police Chief James C. Rovella said on Monday that he wants a guaranteed life-time health benefits package for himself AND his family paid for by Hartford residents, some of whom are unemployed, underemployed, or barely surviving the current economic woes.
None of this socio-economic reality matters, however. Mayor Pedro Segarra and the city council, elected by Hartford residents to make responsible decisions on matters that significantly impact them, want to hire this man. Segarra and others apparently think this man is entitled to the job. Rovella, who currently serves as the interim police chief, didn’t even apply for the job as the permanent police chief, which should be suspect. Usually, employers want people to demonstrate that they want the job.
But not in this case.
Some people are seemingly skipping down the yellow, brick road to the installation ceremony. A ceremony that was apparently planned by the mayor and his administration that has deliberately kept his public calendar from, well the public, so that savvy reporters cannot detect his maneuverings while in office. This kind of deception observed by The Hartford Guardian has emerged from Segarra’s administration since his inauguration in January. Now, it has manifested itself in the decision he made to hire Rovella. Get this: Segarra hired a staffing agency located in Massachusetts called Strategic Policy Partnership, spent $50,000 on a six-month national search, bypassed a “stellar” candidate who lives in Bloomfield and brought in three candidates from outside the state to meet city residents. Then Segarra called a select group of reporters to announce Rovella’s appointment as permanent police chief. The announcement came so quickly, the administration didn’t have time to write a press release.
Even to the uninitiated, this search process doesn’t represent clear thinking or responsible action.
Of course, we don’t blame Rovella, a cancer survivor, for trying to get as much as he can from the city’s coffers. He served 20 years before he retired in 2000 to work for the state. And, may we add, might soon retire again, only to start another search process. Rovella is already collecting a $60,000 pension from the city. So we have to wonder if he could negotiate this kind of entitlements in Wethersfield or any other city.
This is for the council to ponder because the procedural ball is now in its court. And with this silly thing called fairness in mind, it would be interesting to see if they select Rovella, as if there was absolutely no one else on earth qualified for the job.
The thinking displayed during this search is indicative of what’s to come from the Segarra administration–unless city council members find their spine and stand up for city taxpayers, who already shoulder some of the highest taxes in the state. Council members should forget the back room deals made during their campaigns and actually show people in Hartford that one of the city’s most educated council in decades can make a difference in how they govern the city.
We didn’t go through a corruption trial and a fairly recent election only to see the same kind of nonsense continue: changing a law to benefit one person who does not live in the city. What?!
Hartford residents voted for change. And they expect change.
The council can start with a change in how the city hires a new police chief.
The featured photo is courtesy of dennishouse.com (L to R: Interim Police Chief James C. Rovella, Mayor Pedro Segarra and WFSB’s Dennis House).