By Ken Krayeske • 11:05 AM EST
Apparently, department managers requested additional Hartford police officers at City Hall to insure layoffs went smoothly yesterday, Friday, October 24.
Police didn't necessarily escort anyone out of the building, sources said.
"They were present," one source in City Hall said. "The protocol was that everyone had to pack up their stuff by noon, and were escorted out by their boss. The normal detail of one guy was increased. They stepped it up."
This source was less than pleased.
"People are getting laid off, they didn't commit a crime," the source said. "They didn't get fired. Why do you have to dehumanize them further? They are already sad they are losing their jobs."
Another source said the police didn't do anything egregious. The source said that Lillian Ruiz, the manager of Human Relations, and Carlos Rivera, the manager of Health and Human Services, were concerned about staff reactions. Rivera's staff works at Holcomb Street. Neither Ruiz nor Rivera could be reached for comment.
One such layoff was Ed Lazu, who worked in Human Relations. Last month, the Courant reported that Lazu received work from embattled contractor Carlos Costa, who performed work at Mayor Eddie Perez's house.
Lazu could not be reached for comment. Lazu's brother Sixto is the aide for Councilman Pedro Segarra. Neither Sixto Lazu or Attorney Segarra could be reached for comment either Saturday morning.
Segarra is not one of Perez's favorite councilmen. Should astute observers be wondering whether or not Perez vetted the list of those who got cut, imagining that department heads probably submitted a list of possible cuts to Perez prior to the ax falling? And did anyone in Perez's bloated executive branch fall to the budget cuts?
City Councilors had not seen a list of who had been laid off, according to Councilman Matt Ritter. Nor had councilman Luis Cotto heard who had gotten laid off, and who the police presence was there for.
"If it was Ed Lazu, I would think that it was unfortunate," Cotto said. "What can anybody do on a ten minute time? Everyone knew something was going to happen. I have been laid off and let go from jobs before, they wanted to do that with me, and I just found it degrading. It is not a way to end a job that these people put many years in."
The entire situation is unfortunate, Cotto said, from the concept that layoffs were needed to the point of actual termination.
Councilman Matt Ritter expressed dismay first that council members did not know who got laid off, second that police presence could impact morale and third that the layoffs didn’t have to happen.
"We have not gotten a list of who have gotten laid off," Ritter said. "That is the first thing we all would like to see."
Ritter had prior work obligations which prevented him being at City Hall yesterday.
"The last thing you ever want to do is ever lay anyone off," Ritter said. "I have not seen the layoff list. One of the concerns we had as a council, we did not want to see a disproportionate share of people come from Hartford residents and from lower level staff, and none from upper level."
Hartford Courant reporter Jeffrey Cohen reported this morning that of the 132 job cuts, 56 came from layoffs, 26 of whom live in Hartford. Ritter said none of this had to happen.
"One of the proposals we had talked about was cutting salaries of upper level people by 10% - that would have saved 30 jobs," Ritter said. "Let's cut everyone making more than $90,000 a year by ten percent – that would save half a million dollars. Some people above $90,000 you can't cut because they have contracts – but that might have saved 20 jobs.
"Is laying off a guy who just got hired at DPW with a wife and two kids here in Hartford good, or do you want to negotiate with someone making $110,000 a year?" Ritter asked.
Another cost cutting measure the city failed to explore was an offer from State Comptroller Nancy Wyman to join a health insurance risk pool, Ritter said.
"Both the Comptroller and Clarke King [president of the AFSCME union] thought we could save millions with that," Ritter said. "For some reason, we have not entered it. There were a lot of proposals on the table that never really got flushed out. The administration has ability to lay people off. Council controls the budget. Overall there was a lack of discussion both ways."
The lack of knowledge on Council's part makes it difficult for him to respond, Ritter said.
"They can do the layoffs," he said. "I am not here to say what they did was illegal. If they had a more inclusive process, we could have maybe prevented this. It is a painful thing for everyone. It is a last resort."
At the end, it damages the city.
"Not only does it affect services, it affects morale at City Hall," Ritter said.
With more layoffs expected, it can't get any prettier.