Questions Harkins on EMS director

To the Editor:

Several issues ago in the Stratford Star it was reported that a State Superior Court Judge ruled that Mayor John Harkins illegally hired a new emergency medical services director in 2011. The court ruled that the mayor was in violation of the town charter for hiring Phillip Onofrio without Town Council approval. The town will now seek to appeal the ruling, which could take a full year according to town attorney Tim Bishop. In the mean time I wonder how this affects the morale of the employees within the EMS Department. This situation appears very frustrating and awkward for everyone involved.

Nevertheless, I’m still trying to understand why the mayor would hire another director at a $100,000 dollar salary when there was a director already employed at $82,000. When you do the math we are now paying $182,000 for the same overall services. Was the incumbent director not doing her job and if not, did the mayor offer employment development to improve her performance. If she was not doing the job after development efforts why not address a job performance issue rather than spending money on two salaries and additional attorney fees.

This obviously appears to be a very expensive approach to managing a town already plagued with revenue shortfalls and a need to better control expenses. Seeking guidance and approval from the Town Council on this new hire may have avoided the current situation.

Joe Paul

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  • Dave

    Here’s my perspective on the morale at Stratford EMS…… It has never been better. I’ve been a dedicated volunteer for over 20-years, and I’ve seen good times and bad. Let me start by saying I have not had any issues with Donna Best, although I have heard that others have. When Phil Onofrio was brought in by the mayor in early 2011, I feel the morale was low at that point, as was our volunteer ranks and hours served. The first week Phil started, there seemed to be a new sense of optimism. Even though we had just moved into a new building, there were many things that had to be fixed and changed. When these concerns were brought to Phil’s attention, there were immediate results. He spent countless hours talking to every volunteer and listened to their concerns. He wrote every concern on a white board and has continued to address each one. Old members who had left started coming back. Volunteer hours were up substantially in 2011 and even higher in 2012. Our equipment has never been better and the are many more training opportunities. We are covering more calls than ever before because there are more volunteers willing to give up their valuable time to make a difference in our community. We do this because we care, and because we feel appreciated for giving our time.

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