1). Initially, the Personnel Committee had unanimously agreed to the selection of the highest scoring large, experienced, AND most cost effective law firm of Rome McGuigan, from Hartford. However, when the matter came to the Town Council for its approval, over the objections of Councilor Snyder, an elected, seated councilor from the majority party, Keith Yagaloff, was chosen above all others for the position. This appointment violated Section 301 of our Town Charter.
In the end, the Town Council has hired a less qualified candidate with a higher fee structure, and not the “lowest responsible bidder after public advertisement” when compared to the candidate identified through the objective selection process.
2) The town charter prohibits a member of the council from accepting employment by the town during his term of office. Specifically Town Charter Section 301 states:
"There shall be a Town Council, consisting of nine members hereinafter referred to as the "council". The members of the council, other than the Mayor, shall serve without compensation, but they shall be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in the performance of official duties. The Mayor shall be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in the performance of official duets, and in addition, beginning on December 1, 1977, the Mayor shall receive compensation at the rate of seventy-five dollars ($75) per month.
No member of the council shall be elected or appointed to any office in or shall accept employment by the Town during the term of office for which he is elected. This section shall not preclude any council member from being elected to any office upon his termination as a member of the council.”
Connecticut General Statutes defines “term of office” in Section 9-187, as follows:
"The terms of office of elective municipal officers, when not otherwise prescribed by law, shall be for two years from the date on which such terms begin as set forth in section 9-187a and until their successors are ELECTED and have qualified...."
3) The process for appointing Keith Yagaloff as Town Attorney was also in violation of the Town Council’s Rules and Procedures. Article VIII Section 2 of the council’s rules requires, with limited exception, that when any appointment is submitted to the council for approval, the vote on that appointment may not occur until the next regular meeting. It’s important to note that this rule is the only rule from the Town Council’s Rules and Procedures that may not be suspended by the council. Article XIII.
Keith Yagaloff was appointed on July 7, 2014. The resolution for his appointment had not been presented at a prior meeting, or any subsequent meeting.
At the time of his appointment as town attorney on July 7th, Keith Yagaloff was an active member of the Town Council for a term ending November 9, 2015. In fact at the very meeting he was appointed, Keith was an active participant and only recused himself during the discussion of Town Attorney. Keith Yagaloff’s resignation from the Town Council was not received and accepted by the council until the July 21, 2014 council meeting.
4) A legal opinion was sought, it was the opinion of Harold Cummings that there was a violation of the town charter.
5) This information was brought to the attention of the Town Manager, and Mayor at a closed door meeting. The Manager, and Mayor rejected the opinion and deflected the issue stating it was political in nature.
6) The town manager did request a legal opinion from Robinson and Cole, the town’s bond attorney, who has a financial interest at stake. In addition, there was ex parte communication on at least three occasions between Attorney Yagaloff and Robinson and Cole. This not only gives the perception of Keith Yagaloff pushing Robinson and Cole to make a decision in his favor, it is also a matter that is highly unethical in the legal system.
7) Robinson and Cole submitted an opposing opinion to Harold Cummings.
8) Code of Ordinances – Town of South Windsor Article IV Code of Ethics Section 2-486, Financial Interest
“No member of the town council or any other officer or employee of the town shall be financially interested, directly or indirectly, either as principal, surety, officer, partner or otherwise, except as a minority stockholder or except as a director in a corporation, in any contract with sales to, purchases from, or compensable services made with or rendered with the town. The provision of this section shall not apply to any contract awarded to the lowest responsible bidder after public advertisement”
The failure of the majority of the council to follow its established rules and procedures, as well Article IV in the Code of Ethics is of significant concern, the greatest concern is the violation of our Charter and the precedent this violation will have in years to come.
If the majority of our council will not protect our charter - - who will?