Thursday, August 9, 2018

General Counsel Commission Votes to Okay Town Planner and Community Development Positions For Planning Office

After a dozen concerned residents expressed the need for the city to have planning expertise in the city's office of Planning, Conservation and Development, the General Counsel Commission of the Common Council voted to approve job descriptions for a Town Planner and a Community Development Specialist.

Community advocates, some of whom serve on commissions that depend on the expertise in the planning office spoke at the meeting expressing general approval of the proposed organization of the planning department, while suggesting edits to the job description of City Planner.

UPSEU union president Geen Thazhampallath said that the job descriptions had his union's approval.

"We as a town, are in need of a planner," Thazhampallath said.  "The decisions made here will have an impact on this town for thirty or forty years."

Stephen Devoto
Planning and Zoning chairman Stephen Devoto (who is a contributor to the Middletown Eye), indicated that plans and objectives raised by planning director Joe Samolis a year ago have not been realized because of the lack of personnel in the planning office.  He also urged the HR department to involve experts in planning in the interview process.

"I hope you 'll encourage all candidates to be vetted by planning and zoning professionals," Devoto said.

Jen Alexander
Kidcity founder Jen Alexander hoped the city would seek a talented planner with vision for the city in the future.

"This is an important time for Middletown," Alexander said.  "The state needs us to excel.  In Connecticut we are the best shot at being a second city where millenials decide to settle and work."

"I'd like to suggest that we need to find someone who doesn't just have basic experience," added Krishna Winston, who serves on the the Resource Recycling Committee.

"We have some big projects going on out there in town," according to Kate Miller who serves on the city's Conservation Commission.  "I really want to be sure there's someone from the planning office out there.  I'm concerned that right now we don't have eyes on the big projects."

Jen Mahr
"I want these descriptions to be written for what we need," said Jen Mahr, representing the Westfield Residents Association.  "Not written for someone we have in mind for the job."

Joe Samolis
City Planner Joe Samolis who wrote the job descriptions, and the new organization chart in conjunction with the city HR Department.  He reminded commission members that the Community Development position was largely funded by the federal government and the Community Block Grant Development (CDBD) program.

Samolis indicated that it was important to consider all positions in the new organization as vital.

Committee members Mary Bartolotta, Gene Nocera, Gerry Daley and Deb Kleckowsky voted to approve the new positions, while Linda Salafia voted in opposition.


EnzoDast said...

But what about their director joe? The director of the department will have less experience and lack the necessary license to oversee his team? How is this even possible? Are we lookin in a twilight zone? Someone please tell me I'm missing something and explain this whole situation properly...

Joe was given 3 years to obtain a license that license takes 18 months to obtain. He is either approaching or has already eclipsed 18 months in the role and hasn't started the license training... Does he lose his job for a contractual violation at that 18 month mark? We shouldn't wait 3 years to fire him if it's impossible to obtain the license by his 3 year anniversary?

Again someone help me understand this... Thank you

BrianK said...

I 100% agree with Enzo. Maybe the best way to deal with it though is to vote in a new Mayor next year who won’t hire people for positions they aren’t qualified for. And who won’t change qualifications of a job just to get his loyalists in. Nothing against Joe, I hear he’s a nice guy. Over his head, but a nice guy.

Hans1976 said...

Businesses are having to change job requirements because they can not get experienced people. Government is no different.

john milardo said...

If the Mayor had hired a Director for this department who was qualified and had the proper credentials, a reorganization would not be necessary. Is Director Samolis' salary going to be reduced? He's eliminating job duties and certifications for his job. Sounds like the new position required more certifications and responsibilities than his.
Hiring Samolis to this most important position only validates that Mayor Drew has created his own form of cronyism. Most of his hires have been with cronies of his, not the Common Council members.
The "inherent" right in hiring practices by the Common Council members he claimed were rampant prior to his arrival has not ended....if it existed, it has only shifted to his dictatorship and pay for play style of governing.

Anonymous said...

Everyone agrees a planner is needed. What I don't get is why so many are advocating for this band aid to the mayor's screw up as John Milardo mentions. No one would ever get a non attorney to be the City Attorney then try and hire a real attorney to do the work behind the scenesfor less money. This is no different. Unqualified fake planner at $120k+ now gets a proxy actually do the job so he can keep acting.

Anonymous said...

How can any objective review of the job being done by the current director / planner be satisfactory? Give him a job as an administrative assistant somewhere, and get him out of our planning office.

Anonymous said...

Ditto to most of the above. Taxpayers are paying a large Samolis salary for him to occupy a position he is not qualified for, appears will never be, and therefore is not necessary as an office occupant. Sad commentary on bad Drew politics - at least find friends who are qualified for jobs and can function in them.