The recent voluntary retirement package offered to Hartford city employees may not be as voluntary as everyone thinks, especially for one individual.
It seems as though Hartford's Deputy Treasurer Donna Nappier had no intention, or desire, to stop serving the people of Hartford. Through an FOI request I obtained Ms. Nappier's "acceptance" letter to the City. Attached to that letter was a detailed explanation as to why Nappier considers her "voluntary" retirement as something that was forced upon her.
In speaking with Ms. Nappier today, she made it quite clear that she fully understands that she serves at the will of Treasurer Kathleen Palm-Devine. The Treasurer is also taking the early retirement package. Nappier also said that she did not plan on running for the Treasurers position in November.
Nappier's letter is detailed below, but the whole matter of offering early retirement incentives to elected officials seems somewhat questionable to me for a couple reasons. The first ,and what seems to be the major reason, is that there will be no cost savings in the resignation of an elected official.
Unlike a regular employee, there is no option of leaving an elected position vacant. The Treasurer and Council positions are mandated by Charter and can not be left unfilled as a clerical or laborer position could be. The fact of the matter is that the medical insurance costs and the early pension payments will actually cost the tax payers of Hartford more.
The only way to save money is if the replacement Treasurer and Councilperson agree to work for free, and I highly doubt that.
The second issue I have is whether it is proper for the Administration or the Council to offer incentives to essentially change the will of the voters. Kathleen Palm-Devine and Veronica Airey-Wilson were both duly elected by the voters of Hartford. There should be no incentive by anyone to circumvent that.
If the Treasurer decides it is time for her to retire or move on, that should be her decision and not because someone dangles the carrot on the stick in front of her. In Airey-Wilson's case, the excuse of accepting the retirement incentive gives her an easy out to escape without addressing calls for her resignation due to her corrupt activities.
In researching early retirement incentives offered by other municipal and state governments, every one that I could find excluded elected officials and in most cases also excluded appointed officials on the State level as well.
Here is an example of the exclusions from a recent offering by the State of New York:
Participation Exclusions for the State of New York program
Individuals serving in the following positions are specifically excluded from eligibility for the Part A & Part B incentive benefits:
* Elected officials;
* Officers described in specific sections of Executive Law, as listed in the legislation and any agency or department head appointed by the Governor, Comptroller or Attorney General;
* Appointed members of boards or commissions of participating employers, any of whose members are appointed by the Governor, or another State officer or body;
In the meantime, there seems to be a lot of questions on why Nappier seems to be being forced out and why the short list of names, actually the one name, being floated for Palm-Devines successor shouldn't be left up to the voters to choose next November.
In Nappier's letter below, she specifically mentions Adam Cloud as the choice Palm-Devine has mentioned as her replacement. She further states that Cloud, according to Palm-Devine, needs to start "learning the ropes". After Kathleen fought off numerous attempts by former Mayor Perez to tap the pension fund to balance the budget, she should know that the Treasurer's office is no place for on the job training.
Donna Nappier has spent over seven years in the Treasurer's Office and I would hope has no need to "learn the ropes"
Nappier Involuntary Voluntary Form