Stonington has spent more than $20,000 fighting DiCesare union bid

Stonington — The town has spent approximately $20,300 through March 9 on its unsuccessful attempt to block Highway Supervisor Louis DiCesare II from joining the union that represents a group of Town Hall administrators.

The State Board of Labor Relations had ruled that DiCesare could join the Stonington Public Administrators Association but the town appealed that decision to Superior Court. A judge dismissed the town's arguments, saying the court did not have jurisdiction over the appeal.

It is unknown what work labor attorney Michael Satti billed the town for as it redacted all the explanations contained in his invoices before releasing them to The Day, which had filed a Freedom of Information request.

In the past the town has always released the full contents of legal bills when they were requested by The Day.

In an email, Director of Administrative Services Vincent Pacileo cited three exemptions in state law that he said allows the town to redact the information.

These include exemptions of "records pertaining to strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims or pending litigation to which the public agency is a party until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled."

The judge in the case has ruled on the appeal and First Selectman George Crouse has said there will be no further appeals.

Pacileo also cited exemptions for "[r]ecords, reports and statements of strategy or negotiations with respect to collective bargaining" and disclosure of "... communications privileged by the attorney-client relationship ... ."

The town had fought DiCesare's attempt to join the 15-member union since last June, when he formally requested to join the SPAA. Ed Haberek was the first selectman at the time.

In January, Director of Public Works Barbara McKrell suspended DiCesare for five days without pay. The suspension cost DiCesare — who earns $78,800 a year — approximately $1,515.

Among the reasons McKrell cited for the suspension in a six-page document were DiCesare telling her that she doesn't trust him, disobeying her orders and making errors that cost the town $125,000.

But DiCesare, who has worked for the town for 11½ years, including six in his current position, disputed the charges and said he never had a single disciplinary incident during his employment with the town. He said he also believed McKrell was retaliating against him for trying to join the union.

j.wojtas@theday.com

Twitter: @joewojtas

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