Conn. fire union challenges officer promotion at swearing in
Head of the union charges that the acting fire chief and fire board did not follow city charter rules when naming its head of training; the candidate was the top scoring applicant
By Juliemar Ortiz
The New Haven Register
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The city's chief administrative officer is looking into a recent Fire Department promotion after the head of the city's firefighters union said the chief and a fire board did not follow proper procedures.
"I can confirm the city's Chief Administrative Officer and its Office of Corporation Counsel are reviewing the process that resulted in the promotion of Antonio Almodovar," city Communications Director Laurence Grotheer confirmed in an email Thursday.
The review comes after Almodovar was promoted to the director of training position Wednesday morning at fire headquarters. He finished at the top of the list of candidates who tested for the position and already was the acting director of training.
But before his promotional ceremony could begin, fire union President Frank Ricci confronted Acting Chief Ralph Black, saying that although Almodovar deserved the promotion, the steps taken by the chief and Board of Fire Commissioners were not in accordance with the city charter, which states that the fire board "shall have sole power of appointment and promotion of all sworn members and employees of their respective departments."
When confronted, Black said they went through the steps that were needed to promote Almodovar. However, Ricci's audio recording and the city's minutes from the most recent fire board meeting on May 31 do not show that the board voted to promote Almodovar. Therefore, Ricci argued, the promotion was not valid. Ricci said he was concerned that if someone challenged it in court, Almodovar's promotion could be nullified.
Grotheer said as of Thursday afternoon, there were no formal complaints or challenges filed with the city against the promotion, and provided no further information about the incident.
Ricci said Thursday in response to the city's review that he believes it should not take long to come to a conclusion.
"How long can an inquiry take? They have the tape and the minutes that clearly vindicate the union's position and prove that they are both lying. Chief Black may be entitled to his opinion, but even in this high political drama he created by betraying the public trust, facts are stubborn things," Ricci said in an email. "Once again we see that the cover up is worse than the act."
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