Some may remember one of my first postings regarding Hartford's former Tax Collector Donald LeFevere and his termination after he accused the dishonorable Mayor Eddie A. Perez of illegal activity. I'm not going to recap the whole incident here, but suffice it to say tha LeFevere was promptly suspended and shown the door at City Hall after he accused Perez of illegal activity and spelled the "illegal activity" out in an e-mail to his boss as well as several others in the Perez Administration. After Lefevere was left on a paid administrative suspension for almost a year at full salary, he eventually terminated. Apparently after his termination, the City realized that legally they may be on shaky ground and made a lump sum payment to LeFevere of almost a quarter of a million dollars, as well as lifetime health insurance for him and his wife.
In LeFevere's suspension letter and subsequent documents, Hartford's Chief Operating Officer Lee Erdmann referenced "complaint's" and an investigation leading to Lefevere's termination. Through an FOI request, I attempted to get the investigative report as well as any statements or supporting documents of any allegations of wrongdoing by LeFevere. No documentation was ever supplied to me, resulting in the FOI complaint and hearing outlined below. I thought it was odd that the Perez Administration would terminate someone and then offer him a settlement agreement in excess of $350,000 plus, and they had no documentation, statements or investigative report. It seems like the height of mismanagement,as well as extremely irresponsible, to open the City and its residents to such liability without being on solid legal ground. Apparently this is business as usual with those that disagree with King Eddie, as we have seen with Lefevere, Deputy Fire Chief Dan Nolan and most recently Public Works Director Clarence Corbin. Fortunately, LeFevere only cost the taxpayers of Hartford around $300,000 (so far) Nolan and Corbin have the potential to be in excess of six figures when they present their cases before a jury.
Back to the FOI hearing. Apparently the FOI hearing officer didn't feel as though it was plausible that you would take action against an employee without documenting the investigation and complaints, and found that the City, under the direction of Erdmann,"failed to prove that they had conducted a diligent search for all responsive requested records in this matter, and therefore failed to prove that they have provided all requested records to the complainant". The next paragraph in the decision, #15, states "It is concluded that the repondents (Erdmann and the City of Hartford) violated the FOI Act in this matter.
This is just another example of numerous violations by the Perez Administration to hide public documents from the public when they will most likely prove embarassing to the administration. Also, this adds to the dollar amount of outside counsel that have been hired to represent the City on these matters,in this case Fenton Guest, a good friend of Corporation Counsel John Rose. These matters appear to be pretty clear cut, public documents are able to be viewed by the public, end of story.
FOI Decision Erdmann