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Southington water board reinstates employee under investigation - Energy And Water Development Corp

Southington water board reinstates employee under investigation

SOUTHINGTON — While a police investigation into the water department assistant superintendent is underway, department leaders voted in favor of an agreement that reinstates him.

Members of the Board of Water Commissioners haven’t released details of the agreement or the exact complaint against Assistant Superintendent Albert Fiorillo.

The board last week voted 4 to 2 in favor of an agreement that reinstates Fiorillo. The agreement was discussed in executive session and details haven’t been released.

Late last month, the board was deadlocked about discipline with the three Republican members opposing a two-week suspension without pay suggested by the three Democratic members. Republicans at the time wanted a stronger punishment and some wanted him fired.

Last week, one Republican, Ralph Warner, joined the three water board Democrats in passing an agreement that was crafted with help from the department’s attorney. The department has had several closed-door executive session meetings on the issue.

Police investigation

Erika Pocock, a Republican board member, former board president and current vice president, filed a complaint with the Southington Police Department over Fiorillo. On Tuesday, police Lt. Keith Egan said the investigation was still underway.

“Our investigator has met with the current superintendent and he’s waiting on some financial documents to continue the investigation,” Egan said.

When asked about an agreement before the conclusion of the police investigation, Pocock said she was disappointed in the board’s vote.

“I was met with a lot of opposition” for her position, she said.

Pocock said Fiorillo isn’t currently working at the department.

Bob Berkmoes, a Democrat and board president, declined to comment on the issue. Messages for Fiorillo and water department Superintendent Douglas Arndt were not returned.

Pressure on board members? 

During last week’s meeting, Pocock said there was pressure from leading Town Council Republicans on board members to retain Fiorillo and avoid termination. She said Town Council Chairwoman Victoria Triano urged Warner to support that position.

“There was a concerted effort to flip Ralph’s vote. He was definitely the main target on the issue,” Pocock said.

Both Triano and Warner said they’ve never discussed board matters or positions on town issues. The water department doesn’t share a budget with the town and its board members are elected.

“I have no idea what she’s thinking,” Warner said of Pocock’s allegation. “I know Vicky Triano but I never talk to her about water department policy.”

Triano also said the two are friends and occasionally talk but that she never tried to influence his position on any water board issue.

“When we see each other, we sit and chat. Not once did we talk about what’s going on at the water board,” Triano said.

Warner declined to elaborate on the reason for his vote last week.

Ron Lamoreux, a Republican board member, voted with Pocock against the reinstatement. He said it sent the wrong message to other water department employees and could be precedent-setting in other discipline matters.

“I think it was going to create some angst in the ranks,” Lamoreux said. “Any future progressive discipline that’s handed out will be judged by this matter.”

He said he was never pressured by anyone to take a position on the issue or vote a certain way.

Council conflict

Jack Perry, a Democratic councilor, cited the water board meeting as well as Triano’s presence and comments at a Housing Authority meeting as evidence of the chairwoman’s pressure on other boards and commissions. He offered to play the audio of last week’s water board meeting at the council meeting Monday night.

“I’m asking if this behavior is happening that it stop,” Perry said.

Triano said it was not happening and said Perry shouldn’t impugn others on the council floor.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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