Court reverses hiring in Shelton
By Joe Miksch, Register Staff June 26, 2000
SHELTON — Fire commission-ers are circling their wagons in the face of a court decision that de-clared illegal the 1998 hiring of several top Fire Department officials
Public Safety Director Kenneth Nappi said the Board of Fire Commissioners has scheduled a special meeting tonight to discuss the ruling.
"We’re going to ask Corpora-tion Counsel (John Welch Jr.) to lay out the options for the board and go from there," Nappi said.
"I’m sure that the board will take some action to make sure that the chain of command continues to be in effect."
The agenda for the meeting calls for the temporary appointment of fire officials. The meeting will be closed to the public, since it in-volves litigation.
Welch declined to comment.
On Friday, Derby Superior Court Judge George W. Ripley II ordered the jobs of the fire chief and assistant chiefs be declared vacant. The ruling did not set a date for that to occur.
Ripley heard two days of testi-mony on the case in late April.
The suit was brought by seven Shelton firefighters who were upset with the way Chief John Millo and assistant chiefs Justin Sabatino and Steven Nesteriak were hired.
One of the plaintiffs, Capt. Tim Manion of the White Hills Fire Company, said he’s pleased with Ripley’s decision.
"It’s about fairness, and not just for those who did not get the last job, but for those who plan on taking the test for chief or assis-tant chief in the future," Manion said.
Manion said the suit was prompted by changes made in the hiring process, not by the men who were hired.
In his decision, Ripley wrote he believes the fire commissioners unfairly relaxed their hiring stan-dards when they allowed all appli-cants, regardless of performance on a written examination, to take the oral test for fire chief and as-sistant fire chief.
He also wrote the board was in error when it reduced the number of votes necessary to hire an ap-plicant.
Three men who failed the writ-ten test — Millo, Sabatino and Nesteriak — were hired as a result of these changes in hiring policy.
Millo makes $10,000 a year for his work while Sabatino and Nes-teriak each make $4,500 annually.
On Monday, Millo said, "It looks like I have three days left on the job."
Millo was referring to the fact that his term was set to expire July 1. The fire commissioners, how-ever, extended the terms by 30 days while they addressed possible changes to job descriptions and hiring procedures.
Sabatino nor Nesteriak could be reached for comment.