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Councilman Says He Knew Hiring Violated Charter

Matt Catalano reacts to judge's ruling that the town illegally hired an EMS director in 2011.

Stratford Councilman Matt Catalano says he knew the town was violating its charter when it was about to hire Philip Onofrio as director of emergency services in March 2011.

"I made it very clear when this hire was taking place that it was in violation of the charter," Catalano, a Republican representing the town's Third District, wrote in the comments section of an article on Patch titled, .

Catalano continues, "The town attorney issued an opinion at the time that said it was in the mayor's purview to do just what he did. I still believe it's a charter violation and, it seems, the judge in this case agreed with me."

Last week, a judge ruled that Onofrio's hiring was illegal because his appointment was made at a time when there was already an EMS director in place. That action violated a section of the town charter that restricts the position to one individual, Judge Howard Owens ruled in his 10-page decision.

"The charter defines the position a singularity," Owens wrote. "It does not allow for a second director to be created."

Onofrio could be stripped of his job as a result of the ruling.

"Once a court ascertains that the person is not the de jure office holder he must be removed," Owens wrote.

The town, however, plans to appeal.

"We respectfully disagree with the court's ruling," said Mayor John A. Harkins.

Donna Best brought the lawsuit against the town after she was ousted from her EMS directorial position when Onofrio was hired. She had served as director since 2000.

disheartened resident December 12, 2012 at 09:35 PM
John, John, John, oh what a tangled web we weave when we conspire to be thieves. If the Patch or anyone else is doing any investigative journalism on this besides the Bauer/Perillo emails I hope they also get a copy of yout last campaign donor list and compare that to recent events, promotees and tax funded payments to Town hired attorneys. All of this funded with OUR tax dollars!

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