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The New London City Council is making a costly mistake by continuing to block the severance contracts Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio negotiated with three departing police officers. It is also unfair to leave these officers, who long served the city, in financial limbo.
In one of his first acts, Mayor Finizio made the policy decision to clean house in the New London Police Department, reaching severance deals that led to the retirements of Capts. William Dittman and Michael Lacey and allowed Deputy Chief Marshall Segar's contract to lapse. His intent, said the mayor, was to allow Chief Margaret Ackley to put her own management team in place. Her new appointments remain pending.
The mayor made a significant error by signing off on the deals before gaining council approval for the cost. While the council can disagree with Mayor Finizio's strategy, those issues are now beside the point. Both Capt. Dittman and Capt. Lacey have filed lawsuits. The city's legal position appears tenuous. At the very least, the litigation will be costly and potentially ugly. And these officers, having signed deals in good faith, deserve to have the matter settled so they can get on with their lives.
According to the administration, the collective payout is about $255,000 above the normal retirement amounts the officers would receive. Before the filing of the lawsuits, the city could have authorized the expenditure and moved on. Now it may take further negotiation and compensation.
Mayor Finizio tells us he will not be signing any more agreements without necessary council approval. He attributes the error, in part, to confusion associated with the transition to the city's new mayoral form of governance.
If those councilors who blocked the deals wanted to make a point, it's been made. Further obstructionism will only cost the city more money. The collective goal of the council and mayor should be to settle these matters and let everyone move on.