Stonington taking no disciplinary action against highway worker Daniel Oliverio

Stonington taking no disciplinary action against highway worker Daniel Oliverio

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STONINGTON —No disciplinary action will be taken by the town concerning Daniel Oliverio’s alleged cellphone use while working as a town highway department employee, First Selectman Rob Simmons said at Wednesday’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen.

In an April 10 email to Simmons, Oliverio said he believed he was being singled out by Public Works Director Barbara McKrell. It was part of a disciplinary pattern, he said, and in the case he cited, he was questioned over a townwide radio system about the details of his coffee break. 

During the past two Board of Selectmen’s meetings, residents rallied in support of Oliverio and asked Simmons for timely answers to the town’s ongoing personnel litigation. 

Simmons said he couldn’t comment on unresolved legal and personnel issues, but “the issue involving Daniel Oliverio has been investigated and adjudicated and on May 16, the town informed him by letter that there is no disciplinary action being taken.” 

Simmons also accepted Oliverio’s resignation as tree warden, which Oliverio had presented at the April 25 selectmen’s meeting. The position will be advertised and two individuals have expressed interest, Simmons said. 

Residents also asked why the town could not resolve personnel issues without involving attorneys. Some of the comments were in reference to the termination of highway employee Louis DiCesare II, whom McKrell fired in 2015. The town has spent $265,000 in legal fees on DiCesare’s first two grievances, and insurance has paid $76,000. DiCesare has filed two additional grievances and a federal lawsuit against the town. 

Simmons said he would welcome not having to spend money on lawyers, but they were required for certain processes. Simmons also said that Oliverio’s grievance, which was initially sent to him by email, needed to be forwarded to an attorney.

“When I receive a complaint that is not submitted through the grievance process from a unionized employee, my process is to hand it to the town attorney,” he said. “The alternative to that and the preferred method, which costs less, is to file that complaint with the union leader and let the union leader bring it forward as a grievance where it comes up through a process.”

The Board of Finance sets a budget for legal costs annually, which the town has not exceeded, he said.  

In other business, the selectmen addressed the blight lien on 2-4 Mechanic St., which has accrued to about $63,000 at a rate of $100 per day. 

Jim Lathrop, owner of Best Energy at 4 Mechanic St., bought the property from his uncle, Stephen Vacca, on April 17, and the lien was conveyed with the property. Lathrop sent a letter to the town proposing a plan to remediate the blight and develop the property.

The selectmen voted unanimously to stop the clock on the accrual of fines, retroactive to April 17. Simmons also recommended that the board consult with the Economic Develoment Commission and the town attorney to come up with “a reasonable, flexible plan to deal with situations where a property owner wants to extinguish the blight but has substantial fines.”

“This gets into the policy of the blight ordinance,” Simmons said. “Is it designed to be a revenue source for the town or is it designed to promote good behavior with a property owner who at some point has ceased to maintain their property?”

Simmons proposed putting the issue on the board’s agenda in two weeks. 

After the meeting Lathrop said he appreciated the selectmen’s decision. He said he was working to eliminate blight and hoped that the town would forgive the fines.


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