CALLS FOR SULLIVAN
Lawrence At-Large City Councilor and mayoral candidate Marcos Devers today demanded that the mayoral administration of Michael Sullivan and his appointees end the games and stop the sweetheart deals for his political cronies that are threatening the potential investment in economic development on the city.
Devers and his fellow city councilors, as a result of questioning of the Director of Office of Planning and Development and the Department of Inspectional Services in a budget hearing on Wednesday (July 13th) evening, revealed that the administration and its appointees have failed to take the basic, common sense steps required in city management to address chronic economic and quality of life issues in the city for the last four years.
I want to compliment the skill and knowledge demonstrated by my fellow councilors and their sometimes pointed questions which resulted all too frequently in painful answers. We learned, and the citys residents observed first hand, why this is a failed administration, Devers said.
The heads of each of these agencies and those that work for them are people who, I choose to believe, do care about the city, but they revealed that there are those in this administration who have demonstrated that they have no ability to do their jobs competently.
The Director of Inspectional Services, in her testimony calling for the addition of two new building inspectors, admitted that the agency is under continued state review for the competency of its operation; that of the current complement of three inspectors only one is actually working, one slot is vacant, and one is under indefinite paid suspension with no reason revealed to the Council for that suspension; and that none, including the head of the agency, are certified building inspectors.
And still there is no proposed plan to get any of these inspectors certified.
The director also is taking comp time for time off instead of using vacation time as she should. This is unheard of amongst the city managers and threatens our fiscal condition even more. This department needs to take care of the basic inspectional needs of the city a neglect that threatens the quality of life of every one of our neighborhoods. It is evident we need more on the ground protection and not more bureaucratic overhead, and that the entire department needs to be overhauled, Devers commented.
Devers continued, In addition we heard a similar bleak story from the temporary director of Office of Planning and Development, the most important agency in the city for creating and guiding economic development here. For going on 14 months the mayor has failed to send up a name to the council either to make Fred Carberry the permanent director or to name someone else in his place. This is not only a disservice to Mr. Carberry but also fully demonstrates that the mayor really does not care about economic growth.
Further, for this entire administration, the position of director of Economic Development for the city does not have the qualifications under federal HUD guidelines to hold this position.
This has jeopardized the delivery of at least $3.2 million in HUD monies that could have been used for city interests. We learned under the direct questioning by Council President Blanchette that this director is being compensated additional monies in longevity pay on top of his $92,000 annual salary and generous management benefits and pension. This longevity pay benefit is reserved for union positions and has no place for salaried management personnel. In a city where the per capita income is almost $14,000 with a double-digit unemployment rate, to have such personal feather-bedding going on is nothing less than outrageous and an insult to taxpayers.
To heap injury upon insult, we also learned that this individual does not even formally report to the OPD director as he should but only serves at the direct pleasure of the mayor.
No wonder the mayor has not had the time to search for a qualified director. The mayor is apparently more interested in making certain that his cronies are well rewarded for their political help, for I can think of no other reason why an unqualified person should hold any job in city hall.
Finally, to put the nail in the citys economic coffin, we do not even have access to the HUD monies we were told we would have, Devers said.
With great fanfare the mayor announced that the city was cleaning up its administrative problems and that HUD was releasing the $3.2 million in frozen monies. However, this is not true. We learned the truth Wednesday night: HUD continues to freeze $1.6 million because the mayor has failed to follow HUD guidelines and employ a municipal infrastructure plan. As the clock ticks and as opportunity after opportunity is wasted by this administration because it cannot comply with the rules, our community falls deeper and deeper into an economic hole.
Devers concluded, It is time to end the games and stop the sweetheart deals. As mayor I will make sure that every manager we hire and the personnel they oversee have the qualifications needed for that particular job. I have pledged to take full advantage of all federal, state, and private investment opportunities to bring true sustainable economic development to the city.
We cannot as a city continue to rely on federal and state government to bail us out. We cannot continue to afford an administration that operates with blinders and has both hands tied behind its back as other communities beat us for jobs and true business opportunities.
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