says mayor pledged job to other
Mike Saewitz, Register Staff July 19, 2000
DERBY — Seymour Police Chief Michael Metzler testified Tuesday that Ansonia Mayor James Della Volpe told him not to bother applying for the chief’s job in Ansonia because he had already promised it to someone else.
He said not to bother, that it was already done," said Metzler, who said he applied for the job despite Della Volpe’s statement the weekend before the application deadline. "He said he had made a promise and was going to follow through with it."
Della Volpe took the stand and denied Metzler’s charges.
Two weeks ago, Ansonia Lt. Michael Abbels filed a request for an injunction to stop the Ansonia Board of Aldermen from appointing Sgt. Kevin Hale to replace retiring Chief James McGrath.
Abbels claims Della Volpe changed the requirements so that Hale, brother of former Della Volpe campaign analyst Gary Hale, would qualify.
Della Volpe testified that he ordered the requirements changed so that he could promote someone from within the Ansonia Police Department.
Tuesday was the second day of a court hearing on the injunction request.
Della Volpe denied on the stand he had told Metzler, a former fraternity brother of his at Central Connecticut State University, anything about a promise being made.
The mayor testified that Metzler called him June 7 and asked him if he really planned to promote a sergeant to chief.
Della Volpe testified he told Metzler, "There’s a possibility we’re going to promote a sergeant to a chief," and that he had no particular sergeant in mind.
Connecticut State Police Lt. Richard Brozek, another applicant, also testified Tuesday. He said Della Volpe, a longtime friend, discouraged him in February from applying because he wanted to "promote a younger person" from within the department. Hale is 37. Abbels is 42.
Della Volpe said he remembers the conversation with Brozek but could not say whether or not he used the term "younger person." Della Volpe said, "I told him I wanted somebody to lead the department."
Della Volpe testified that he wanted to promote a sergeant from within the department despite advice from Corporation Counsel Kevin Blake, Shelton attorney Francis Teodosio and Director of Administrative Affairs Linda Gentile. He said all three had suggested they look outside the city because they felt no one in the department was qualified.
Della Volpe said that he told them to change the qualifications so that someone in the department could be hired.
Under questioning by Abbels’ attorney, William Barnes, the mayor admitted he did not consult personnel director and economic development coordinator Claude Perry Sr., or McGrath, about changing the requirements. He said he could not explain what made Blake, Teodosio and Gentile qualified to rewrite the requirements.
Della Volpe also testified that the five other candidates were superior to Hale in both education and experience.
Abbels has spent 20 years as a police officer, while Hale has spent 10 years on the force.
hearing will continue Friday at 10 a.m. at Derby Superior Court with more
testimony from Della Volpe.