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Tetreau Responds to Concerns Over CFO's Resignation

The following was issued as a press release from the Office of the First Selectman.

The following was issued as a press release from the Office of the First Selectman:

"I would like to address the r (“CFO”), and the circumstances leading up to , as First Selectman on behalf of the Town. 

To address any concerns that the CFO may have been engaged in illegal or unethical conduct, or was asked to leave because he discovered illegal or unethical conduct, let me be clear – to the best of my knowledge, neither one occurred.

Towns and cities across the country are facing issues that require a shift in direction in how to compensate employees, contain costs, and manage funds and finances in order to continue to flourish. Fairfield is no exception. As First Selectman, trying to plan for the future of our community and its continued excellence, I determined it was in the best interest of the Town to evaluate our approach and consider a change.

After reviewing these issues with Mr. Hiller, we came to a mutual agreement that the settlement approach was the best resolution for everyone. It acknowledges Mr. Hiller’s extensive work for this Town and allows him to evaluate other options, while providing transitional guidance to the Town. It also allows the Town to move forward and develop other aspects of the department which are important for the future of our community’s financial well-being.

Concerning the CFO’s temporary absence from work, when I considered that it was in the best interest of the Town to make a change, and I presented the CFO with a number of possible avenues, our outside legal counsel advised that it was best for the CFO not to be at work during the time he was considering his options.  That is the reason the he was placed on administrative leave.  There was no wrongdoing, or suggestion of such. I believed then, and do now, that following legal counsel’s advice was the prudent thing to do under the circumstances.  Reports of the CFO being “escorted” out of the building are simply not true.  

It is the practice of this Town, and most others of which I am aware, not to comment publicly on personnel matters.  There are many good reasons for this practice, not the least of which are the privacy expectations of the employee, and that job expectations and an individual’s performance are generally private matters between any employee and his supervisor.  In the private sector, there are statutes prohibiting employers from publically discussing an employee without their permission. Although we in the public sector are not bound by the same statutes, they do help define the way we deal with information regarding employees.  

Some have questioned the First Selectman’s authority to enter into an agreement with the CFO that transitions him out of the position somewhat earlier than he had planned, under terms that were fair to him and reasonable from the employer's perspective. During the process, I sought legal advice on this issue from a firm experienced in municipal labor matters and was advised by independent outside counsel that the First Selectman in fact has the authority to enter into this agreement.   I have reviewed this advice with the Town Attorney and he also confirms that the First Selectman has the authority to enter into such an agreement.

In hindsight, had I been able to know the questions that have been raised since I made this decision and acted on it, I might have shared the information in this message at an earlier time.  I remain committed to transparency and collegiality in government, and will take the lessons learned here to do better in that regard.

It is my sincere hope that this helps address all concerns and ends the speculation regarding the CFO so we can move forward from this point with the important business of the Town."

Tired of Mike August 24, 2012 at 12:49 PM
So the person who is often credited with maintaining Fairfields prized AAA credit rating is let go because he wouldn't fall in line with Tetreaus rhetoric... Wow... This Tetreau really is a great leader. So far Tetreaus legacy in Fairfield is bullying, coverups and extended vacations. Way to go!!! And he's not even a year in yet...
jk August 24, 2012 at 01:14 PM
So Tired of Mike - who did you vote for in the last election. People got who/what they vote for - or don't bother to go and vote for. How many of our elected politicians in this town have been there far too long? Same goes on the state and national level - election day is the time to voice your opinion and make some changes.
Chuck E. Arla August 24, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Answers nothing.
Mikeylikes August 24, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Mike wants all town employees to take a 401k plan then why did he take a pension for himself? Will the press ask him that one?
Gideon Tomlinson August 24, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I am not sure where you get your "facts", "Tired of Mike." Lets start with the last one first: "And he's not even a year in yet ..." Actually, he started last June because Flatto resigned during a term and Sherri Steeneck decided to only serve until a successor could be officially chosen. I would think someone who was "Tired of Mike" would know that. If you want to call a week or so off after running a 200 million dollar a year entity for over a year "extended vacations", I guess that is a matter of opinion. As for Fairfield's AAA credit rating, it was John Sullivan and Bob Lee who got us that. The biggest threat to it this year was the Republican RTM's gutless cuts of the contingency fund which was needed for the long overdue contract settlements. Mr. Hiller himself called that action "Financial suicide." As for Mr. Hiller, he's a nice person, he did nothing improper or illegal, he showed up for work, he has a lot of knowledge about how the Town operates, but things did not always go well while he was there and maybe he could/should have done more. Lets hope the next person is really great at the job because I think we can all agree that these will be very financially-trying times.
Lucile Darcy August 24, 2012 at 03:21 PM
interestung comments, please keep them coming!
Erin E. Harrison August 24, 2012 at 03:50 PM
This statement is unacceptable and explains nothing and another case of "too little, too late." "In the private sector, there are statutes prohibiting employers from publically discussing an employee without their permission. Although we in the public sector are not bound by the same statutes, they do help define the way we deal with information regarding employees." This statement is nothing more than a contradictory excuse for bad behavior. Tetreau rightly says that the public sector operates differently than the private sector and is held to a different standard, but then he goes and says that he uses the private sector to "help define" the way he deals with information. WHAT? Mr. Tetreau, you are accountable to the people who elected you to your position and the people that pay taxes in this town. You cannot have it both ways when it works for your agenda and manipulate the rules when it suits you.
Laura August 24, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Mr. Tetreau, Thank you for responding about your actions to remove Mr. Hiller as Fairfield’s CFO. I appreciate that you "remain committed to transparency and collegiality in government". What exactly does that mean from your point of view? Transparency usually means openness. It builds trust, which is now sorely lacking. Collegiality implies cooperating and collaborating with others. Since it’s taken over a month for any reply from you and you’ve ignored requests from other town leaders to explain your actions, this is not collegial or transparent. If anything, this behavior fosters divisiveness and lack of trust in your ability to provide leadership to this town in the best interest of all constituents. Why was it so important to move quickly and secretly to remove Mr. Hiller? How are you moving the town "forward and develop other aspects of the department which are important for the future of our community's financial well-being?" What are your plans to conduct a search for a replacement? Or, are you just comfortable appointing your chief of staff as CFO without a talent search? I would love to believe that you didn't anticipate your actions would be questioned. Really? Then why the need in advance for legal advice? Why not be transparent with the governing team of our town and get their input upfront? There is a difference between doing what might be "lawful" and doing what's right. I'd love to take your response at face value, but it does not add up.
Heron Beaverbrook August 24, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Thank you Laura, My thoughts exactly.
Chuck E. Arla August 24, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Well said!
BobRyffel August 24, 2012 at 06:58 PM
I agree with Erin. The Town should release all documents relating to this matter so we can determine for ourselves whether all that happened was justified. The First Selectman himself says that he has the legal authority to do this, I don't see why he won't. No doubt many FOIA requests will be made, and we will find out the facts, after a long expensive [to the taxpayers] legal wrangle.
Chuck E. Arla August 24, 2012 at 07:06 PM
If I recall from the original "news" on this didn't Hiller and the Town sign a non-disclosure agreement on this. That forces Hiller to keep his mouth shut [under penalty of losing his financial settlement] even if he wanted to tell his side of the story. I guess the question becomes: Is the Town/Tetreau permitted to enter into such an agreement?
steve sheppard August 30, 2012 at 02:57 PM
As CFO for over a dozen years I never understood how all the non-essental bonding took place. Once we made a financial commitment with the third train station we should of never been bonding softball field that benefits less than 1% of the population. The same with bonding a skate board park. Hiller (to my understanding) never said any of those or other bonding deals were financial suicide.......I do not ever remember him saying NO more bonding as we have a huge financial responsibility with the third train station and school rebuilding. As CFO I would of liked to of seen him go before the RTM and explain the financial impact that all these bonding deals add up to on a compounded basis. For me they all added up to financial suicide and should of never happened.
Chuck E. Arla August 30, 2012 at 07:12 PM
ibh, " . . . how much Mr Hiller stole..." Wow! That is a defamatory, if not libelous, statement. I'd be carefeul if I were you.
Jim Eastwood August 30, 2012 at 07:38 PM
To All Hiller stole NOTHING !!!!! He simply did his job. This whole thing is simple Politics---Kenny Tetreau wanted his Guy to get the job !!! Don't you all get it?? Have a Great Day and get ready to pay and pay(Your taxes !!!)

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