From My Corner: January 22, 2022

Here we go again… Part 2

Last week I mentioned three jobs being created that went before the Ordinance Committee, poorly drafted without following the customary rules.  The City Council will be taking it up again on Tuesday to send it to the Personnel Committee for discussion.

Mayor Brian DePeña is bringing changes to City Hall and, as was expected, there is controversy and misunderstandings.  In trying to make sense from the outside, I found that under ordinance 2.160.030 (Administration of the Classification Plan) “…New positions are established only with the approval of the Mayor and City Council. After approval, the City Personnel Director shall either: (1) Allocate the new position to the appropriate grade within the classification plan, or (2) recommend that the Mayor and the City Council amend the position classification plan to establish an appropriate grade to which the new position may be allocated.”

            None of this was completed in the case of the Senior Political Advisor and External Affairs.  Someone wrote a description on a piece of paper and decided they should be paid the $150K, without process, fairness, or following the law.

The same goes for the other position of Safety Manager in DPW.

This is not the only concern city councilors have; the mayor is planning to increase his staff to 10 employees by hiring a total of 3 special assistants at $65,000 each; 3 student interns at $40,000 each; an executive assistant at $75,000; a constituent services director at $75,000; a communications director at $45,000; a chief of staff at $75,000; and the senior advisor position at $150,000.

This is all being done backward.  The salary should be established depending on the duties to be performed and the educational requirements for the job.  No intern has ever earned over $25,000.  And what are the duties of the special assistants to make $65,000?  At least the communications director must have good writing skills in English and Spanish.  According to this, he’s way underpaid.


People on the move

When Jorge Jaime was moved to the Department of Public Works, that move told me that Director Franklin Miguel was on his way out.  It happened last week when he was fired for insubordination.  The mayor asked Franklin to be at all department head meetings and he ignored the request.

I have written many times about how he managed to lie on paperwork to get benefits from Community Development for his home improvements.  He holds a job with the Dominican Ministry of the Exterior which pays him several thousand each month and that required him to do lots of traveling.  He would take time off from work regularly to attend meetings and events in the Dominican Republic, Washington and Toronto, Canada and we know that nobody takes attendance at city hall or jots down vacation days.

The timesheets with payroll from the Ministry of the Interior are found online showing all the information I needed in my search and he was the epitome of arrogance posting all his travels on social media for all to see.

Last week was also good-bye for Sandy Almonte.  She worked at the Police Department with cases of domestic abuse.  Mayor DePeña called her to his office to offer her another position in Community Development and she snapped.  Several employees and visitors who were outside the mayor’s office told me she began blurting out obscenities and said to Brian, “I don’t work for you; I work for the city.”  She refused the switch and quit on the spot.

Carlos Morell was also taken from recycling and placed in another position at DPW.  The new Recycling Coordinator is Rosanna Del Rosario.  Just last week Rosanna sent out an email message with the certificate of having completed the Conflict of Interest Law online program.  It was signed as Special Assistant to the Mayor.

Being the wife of City Councilor Gregory Del Rosario, was not a good move having her working in the mayor’s office.

I had faith that Brian’s administration would be refreshing, void of drama and an open book after the past eight years lacking transparency and fairness but I don’t know if he’s going too fast and is overlooking the process of how things ought to be done.


Serve your city: Be a cop!

We are publishing in this edition a flyer from the Methuen Police Department announcing that the deadline for the Civil Service test is February 1st.  Anyone wishing to work with the police department must apply by then.

Also, Mayor DePeña has announced that 20 officers are planning on leaving Lawrence for other cities with better pay.  That is troublesome since we paid for the Police Academy training only to have them leave us for more money.

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