Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Zimmitti Relieved of Assistant Registrar Duties by Dem Chair Russo
at 4:24 PM Posted by Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon)
Admittedly, it's a patronage position. While Republican and Democratic registrars of voters are elected, their assistants are appointed by the elected registrars.
But it was with some surprise to Democratic Assistant Registrar of Voters Maria Zimmitti that she was told yesterday that she would not be reappointed when her term ends in January. Zimmitti is paid by the city.
"I've never done anything but a triple-A job" Zimmitti, an 8-year veteran, said today in the office of Mayor Sebastian Giuliano. "I've never done anything to embarrass the Democratic Party. I've worked very hard on elections. I voted for Dan Drew for mayor, and I worked for the Democrats during the last election. I don't get it."
Zimmitti found out about her dismissal when Democratic town chairman Dan Russo walked into her office Monday, and informed her that she would not be reappointed.
"It's a politically appointed position," Russo said in a phone interview Tuesday. "And I told her she was not being reappointed."
Russo refused to comment further on reasons why Zimmitti would be relieved of her duties.
Tuesday, Mayor Sebastian Giuliano appointed Zimmitti as the Assistant Clerk of Records in the Police Department. Giuliano said he was impressed with Zimmitti's work ethic and her record.
"She never received anything but a positive review," Giuliano said. "You can't terminate someone at Christmas. It's just not done."
When Zimmitti inquired about the reasons she would not be reappointed, she was not provided any background by Russo, or by Democratic Registrar Sandra Faraci. However, Zimmitti spoke with Common Council member Ron Klattenberg.
According to Zimmitti, Klattenberg said that he was told that Zimmitti had been disloyal to the party during the last election, and was accused of discarding Democratic campaign signs in her garbage.
"That's untrue," Zimmitti said. "And can you imagine someone going through your garbage to come up with this?"
Klattenberg, in a phone interview, explained that these accusations were rumors he had heard that were being spread about Zimmitti.
"I thought she needed to hear them," Klattenberg said. He also noted that there was "more to the story" that would eventually come out.
In a written statement, Giuliano said: "I am appalled at the back room politics that just played out here - no reasons, no consideration in this economy, no conscience - just 'see you - you're done.'" This is the type of politics that played out in the 30's and 40's."
He also indicated that the dismissal may be illegal by statute. Giuliano indicated that it is the sole responsibility of the Registrar to appoint and terminate assistants, and that it is not within the authority of the Democratic town chair to do so.
"I informed her," Russo said. "But the Registrar was in the room with us."
"I cannot comprehend how or why the Democratic Town Chairman, with obvious support from the elected leaders, would eliminate an individual who has worked tirelessly in the position of Assistant Registrar," Giuliano wrote in his written statement. "Nor can I comprehend how the Democratic Town Chairman could at in violation of the law."
Asked whether his appointment of Zimmitti to a permanent city position would be a problem, Giuliano dismissed an anticipated controversy.
"The Council will tell me it's a frozen position," he said. "But it's a funded position. If a position is open and funded, I can fill it. They're going to be upset, but they can take a flying leap off a rolling donut on that one."
Asked if she would be switching parties as a result of the action, Zimmitti said she no longer felt a loyalty to the Democratic party.
"I'll be loyal to the mayor," she said. "He's been loyal to me."