Isn't that corruption? No, because we don't call it corruption
I have a riddle for Stamford taxpayers. Let’s say you’re a high ranking government official. And you’d like to get your son a plum union job working for the city—you know, the kind complete with mandatory paid time off, a full pension, and health care benefits. The kind that doesn’t exist for most private citizens unless you have the “right” connections to the people in power.
But there’s a catch. Your son is a domestic abuser, and likely can’t pass the background check necessary to work for the city. Fear not—Representative Gloria DePina (D-5) has a solution for you.
Let me help you connect the dots on some recent news stories the Stamford Advocate has diligently reported. Rep. DePina’s son (who was arrested in 2013 after he allegedly “smashed his girlfriend in the mouth with a glass”) was hired by the embattled Ernie Orgera to work as a seasonal custodian. Then, the Department of Operations “forgot” to track the days six such employees worked for the city, because, five years into Mayor Martin’s tenure, and 18 years into the 21st century, the city somehow lacks a payroll system capable of this task. This mistake entitled these employees to membership in the local union. Upon discovering this mistake, the union filed a grievance, and the city promised $286,000 of the taxpayers’ money to settle the grievance and upgrade these custodians to full-time. Not a single person working for the city has been fired or otherwise disciplined for this waste of taxpayers’ money.
However, seasonal employees do not undergo the same level of vetting and background checks as do full-time employees. So, Mayor Martin asked the Board of Finance to approve appropriations to satisfy this settlement, and in doing so, asks the taxpayers to upgrade six seasonal employees to full-time—including an alleged domestic abuser—without thorough background checks. (This is of course aside from the issue of whether the city even needs additional full-time employees.)
When it came time to vote on Orgera’s reappointment as Director of Operations, I can spare you the suspense—Rep. DePina voted in favor (perhaps not-so-incidentally, Rep. DePina has served for almost 30 years a district that is electorally uncompetitive, emboldening her to be so nakedly self-dealing without fear of repercussions).
Of course, this quid pro quo need not be explicit to be real and pernicious. Some things can be understood without being said. What can be both said and understood, however, is that the city that works is not working for the people whose interests it allegedly represents. Sadly, under the current administration, this seems to have become a theme. If only there was real integrity and accountability at City Hall, the taxpayers might start getting their money’s worth.