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DOR attorneys halt release of Finance Control Board documents

Date: 8/23/2011

Aug. 22, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — The day before Department of Revenue (DOR) officials had said 40 boxes of documents from the Finance Control Board (FCB) would arrive in Springfield on Aug. 18, City Councilor Tim Rooke was told DOR attorneys had changed their minds.

Rooke said he and the city was “double-crossed.”

The boxes could contain politically damaging information and Rooke said the attorneys could take up to two weeks to determine if the documents should go to City Solicitor Edward Pikula or City Clerk Wayman Lee. Both officials have been mentioned as the individual who would go through the documents and determine what is a public record and what is a private.

Rooke believes that former FCB executive director Stephen Lisauskas should be asked to go through what has been described as the randomly collected agendas, memos, e-mails and notes to separate material that is not legally public.

That news was part of several developments that have come from the revelation of the side agreements the FCB members made with Springfield School Superintendent Dr. Alan Ingram and his resignation on Aug. 15.

City Council President and mayoral candidate Jose Tosado released a statement calling for Ingram’s immediate departure.

“Springfield taxpayers should not have to continue to pay for Mayor Sarno’s expensive mistakes through June 2012 for a lame duck superintendent. Ingram is a $202,000 annual liability. He should leave immediately,” Tosado said.

He continued, “The mayor was one of three people who negotiated the outrageous terms of a contract for a superintendent with no prior experience as a superintendent, a principal, or even as a teacher.”

In reference to the FCB documents, he said, “I still want to see what’s in those boxes. Ingram’s resignation makes me even more interested in the documents surrounding his hiring and contract negotiations.”

Tosado called for the School Committee to identify “an independent and well-regarded expert to guide a transparent and effective search process that can begin as soon as possible. This way we do not hand the selection power back to the person [Sarno] who at three different critical points had the wool pulled over his eyes to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars with only poor performance left to show.”

School Committee member Antonette Pepe, who is also running for mayor, said Tosado’s assertion to have Ingram leave immediately “is one of the worst decisions we could make now.”

She said that Ingram’s contract would compel the city to pay him a year’s salary if he was forced out.

The city could only avoid paying him if there was a violation of his contract. Pepe pointed out that Ingram’s taking trips without the permission of the School Committee and his “double-dipping” on parking expenses do not necessarily make a strong enough case to be considered violations worthy of dismissal.

Pepe said what she is looking for in a candidate “first and foremost [is someone] who has worked in the system as a teacher, a principal and administrator and who is qualified in special education and finance.”

She added that in determining the salary for the candidate if that person, like Ingram, had never served as a superintendent before, the salary should not be comparable to people who have served as a superintendent and have “a proven track record.”

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