Letter: Unfair to support six-year contract

To the Editor:

During the course of the Herbst administration, decisions and actions that affect every Trumbull taxpayer have been made that have not been readily shared, despite Mr. Herbst’s continued promise of transparency. Going forward, Trumbull Democrats are going to be proactive in sharing information about which the public should be aware. An example of this is the 6-plus year contract given to the new Director of Labor Relations.

In January 2014, First Selectman Herbst hired James Haselkamp to be the town’s first Director of Labor Relations. This was a newly-created position. Mr. Haselkamp held a similar position in the City of Norwalk, but he was not kept on when the new Mayor took office in December. Shortly thereafter, he was hired by Trumbull at a salary of $120,000, becoming the second-highest paid employee on the town side of the government.

Mr. Herbst did not disclose in any announcement to the public, or tell the members of the Board of Finance or Town Council that Mr. Haselkamp was given an employee contract that goes from March 2014 to June 30, 2020. Why was there a need to give a town employee a contract that spans more than six years? This contract lasts for 4 1/2 years longer than Mr. Herbst’s term of office. Is it a good practice to bind the Town of Trumbull so far into the future, or was there some other reason for bestowing such a contract on Mr. Haselkamp, such as political considerations during Mr. Herbst's run for State Treasurer?

This contract, with salary and benefits will likely be worth more than 1 million dollars over the 6 years and 4 month duration. How many Trumbull taxpayers have a 6-plus year contract at their place of employment? We don’t think many of our hard-working taxpayers have a long-term contract. Trumbull Democrats think it is unfair to ask taxpayers to support this type of guarantee when we do not enjoy the same employment security at our own jobs.

Tom Kelly

Chair, Trumbull Democrats