March 14, 2007
Story and Photos by Ken Krayeske • Hartford • 12:30 AM EST
Correction: State Rep. Doug McCrory works full time for the Hartford Board of Education, half time as a vice principal at an elementary school, and half time as a minority recruitment officer. The 40-Year Plan regrets any inconvenience the error in reporting may have caused.
To avoid any appearance of impropriety in the recent hiring of State Representative Kelvin Roldán as a $90,000 a year fundraiser for the Hartford school system, Roldán should voluntarily agree to work half-time and take a commensurate salary.
Roldán's new job (documented here first) as a cabinet-level official in Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski's office - after Roldán lead the search committee to find the new superintendent - set off red flags for nearly everyone. Or at least those of us with an ethical compass.
The situation got Courant columnist Helen Ubiñas' dander up, in a column she called "Protége's Promotion a Blunder."
"So what do we have now?" Ubiñas asked in Sunday's paper. "A guy who works for the superintendent helping decide how much money the schools are going to get from the state. And a guy who can vote to raise or lower corporate taxes working with companies the schools lean heavily on."
I spotted Roldán Monday night milling about City Hall at Mayor Eddie Perez's State of the City address, and I asked him point blank if he would take a part-time salary to assuage those of us who perceive that this was cronyism at its worst.
He assured me that he was qualified for the position.
But, I said, how can you go to school part-time, work at the state legislature, which is full time when it is in session and work a full time job? See, I said, I'm in law school and trying to work full-time too, and I just don't see throwing a third responsibility on top of it.
Roldán tried to ease my mind. He promised me that he works 90 hours a week. I don't doubt him. But I know about burn out, and I understand that one of the responsibilities is going to suffer.
Yet I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. I want to give him time to see if he can do all three. But because his boss is Mayor Perez, I just can't.
I found Mayor Perez at the State Legislative Office Building Tuesday afternoon and asked him if he thought Rep. Roldán should take a half-time salary.
He told me to take it up with Superintendent Adamowski.
But you're Adamowski's boss, I said. You're chair of the school board.
"I don't go around supervising every employee of the school system. He does that," Mayor Perez said.
But you supervise Adamowski, Mayor.
And I wasn't quick enough on the draw in person to say this, but in print, I can: if you won't deal with the perception of favoritism in the school system and you won't supervise your new superintendent, then resign from the school board and find real leadership.
You are already persona non-grata in the Governor's office because of the Pathways to Technology Magnet School blunder, which deserves a quick update: last week city workers took the signs down on the corner of Farmington and Broad, and this week crews have been leveling out the mounds of dirt. The question remains: When will the Mayor apologize to Knox Parks for his mistake?
Word on the street is that Roldán's hiring was in the works for weeks before it was announced. People in the know knew maybe six weeks ago that the wheels were in motion and nothing could be done to stop it.
It makes me angry to realize that people were aware, but city council members and citizens alike felt powerless to do anything to stop Mayor Perez.
People – next time that happens – tip me off sooner. Let's shine a light into the dark rooms of this Mayor's administration. Let's bring transparency to local government.
Monday night, Mayor Perez said he was listening to the city. Well, this city resident is speaking, so I hope, Mayor Perez, you will fulfill your promise: The hiring of Kelvin Roldán for a $90,000 a year job, which could become a $129,000 a year gig, is an ethical breach for your administration.
It is a stain on the city, and Mayor Perez, you can rectify it. Our tax dollars are not your personal treasury to buy political favors and loyalties.