‘Invalid appointment’ raises concerns among fire commissioners

The city’s Board of Fire Commissioners is concerned with the mayor’s decision to not investigate the “invalid appointment” of a new fire inspector.

Board of Fire Commissioners Chairman Mike Maglione filed a request for an investigation of Mark Krasner’s appointment on April 11.

Maglione was unavailable for comment as of Thursday, April 20, but stated in his request for an investigation, that Mayor Mark Lauretti’s decision to have Krasner fill the position is going against the general state statute and city charter.

Lauretti said despite the opinions of Maglione and other board members, he doesn’t plan to conduct an investigation.

“There’s nothing else for me to say. They’re all entitled to think and say whatever they want to say,” said Lauretti. “I’ve said what I need to say about the hire, I’m done.”

State Rep. Jason Perillo (R-113) said he was confused by the mayor’s response to the Board of Fire Commissioners’ concerns.

"If the city would like, I can certainly refer this to legal counsel in my office for an interpretation of state statute as it pertains to this issue."

It’s business, not personal

Pine Rock Volunteer Fire Department captain and Fire Commissioner Board member Justin Sabatino said the board’s concerns aren’t personal, they just want the city to follow the same rules it lays out for its employees.

“We’re all very concerned, we just want the procedures to be followed. We don’t want to make enemies. It’s just business,” said Sabatino. “I hate to use the hard words, I work for the mayor, but he’s forgetting the people.”

Sabatino said Lauretti’s decision to shoot down the board’s request for an investigation is “ignorant.”

Sabatino said from his understanding of the general state statute and city charter, the Board of Fire Commissioners are responsible for picking candidates to fill inspector positions which will then be approved or denied by the mayor.

“Basically it’s backwards, it should be the other way, but the city has it set through several charter revisions,” said Sabatino. “This is how they want it.”

That wasn’t the procedure used in the “appointment” of Krasner.

“What I heard the mayor is doing is he’s saying Krasner works for the building department and he’s loaning him to the fire marshal’s office. So it wouldn’t be an appointment, but he’d still have to be sworn into the fire department to act as a part of the fire department,” said Sabatino.

Sabatino said he believes the city was looking for a loophole in the city’s charter.

“If the fire marshal needed more people we would hire them,” said Sabatino. “About a year or two years ago he asked for some help and we appointed two deputies to help him no problem. This time they decided to go around it.”

He said he has no idea why the mayor strayed away from the city’s practice of the last 30-plus years.

“There’s always friction between the city and the volunteer fire department, so it could be that or it could be anything,” said Sabatino.

What started as concerns among board members has turned into a matter that currently is affecting fire department moral, according to Sabatino.

“A lot of my members are upset,” said Sabatino. “There are some people who are qualified to do that job or fill that position that now feel that they were skipped over. We send people to school for that, and now the guys are doubting whether they should take the class or not because they’re not sure if they’ll get a fair shot. It’s been bad for morale. For the last 30 or 40 years this is how we’ve been doing it and now they decided to change it.”

Sabatino said he questions how he should respond to the mayor not following what’s described in the city charter.

“I’m a commissioner and a captain, so if the city says, ‘well this guy did this and this wrong, you need to take action,’ should I or shouldn’t I?” said Sabatino. “If the city’s not going to follow their own rules how can they expect the volunteers to do so or get in trouble for not doing the same thing.”
Shelton Fire Marshal James Tortora said he refused to comment on any personnel matters.