MERIDEN — Despite opposition from the City Council minority caucus, Acting City Manager Ken Morgan will allow Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski to rescind her resignation and continue to coordinate major development projects in the city.
Burdelski resigned in November, stating in an email that she had been interviewed by the FBI about former City Manager Guy Scaife and could no longer work with him. She made no reference to the FBI query in her official Nov. 5 letter of resignation, but said in a Nov. 3 email to Councilors David Lowell and Brian Daniels that the meeting "was very upsetting to me."
Scaife responded to Burdelski's email with his one of his own sent to councilors Daniels and Lowell and the mayor two days later, listing seven incidents during which he said Burdelski's behavior was "unprofessional, unacceptable, and will not be tolerated." He said in a subsequent interview with the Record-Journal that he is confident the FBI will find no evidence of wrongdoing on his part, although he had no additional knowledge as to the purpose of the investigation.
The Democratic majority of the City Council voted to fire Scaife Monday in a move opposed by the minority caucus and Mayor Kevin Scarpati. Following Scaife’s termination, Burdelski offered to remain as director.
“I’ve accepted the rescinding of her resignation and she will continue in that capacity,” Morgan said. “I didn’t want to lose traction on the projects that are going on that are vital to the city.”
Burdelski thanked Morgan for allowing her to stay.
“I look forward to working with all of our partners to complete the pending development projects and advance the city's economic development agenda in 2018,” she said.
Council Minority Leader Dan Brunet said he strongly disagreed with Morgan’s decision.
“My opinion … her performance and attitude have been toxic and detrimental within City Hall and the city has a whole,” Brunet said. “This will be an ongoing personnel issue going forward so that’s about all I have to say on it.”
We the People Councilor Joseph Carabetta III was also firmly against Burdelski remaining director, citing her issues with Scaife.
“I think we can do better with the position and I still think we need to explore and find a new director. That conversation shouldn’t stop,” Carabetta said.
When asked if he received push back from the minority party councilors, Morgan replied, “a little bit.”
“I am looking at what is best for the city, which is what they have entrusted me to do, and I have explained that to them and they will have to make their assumptions or decisions,” Morgan said.
The department’s economic development specialist, Paola Mantilla, will be resigning in January to pursue a career in law enforcement. Morgan said losing two key officials in Economic Development would not be in the city’s best interest.
“The number of extensive projects going on in the city and the the continuity of her assistant leaving made it imperative that we keep someone in that office,” Morgan said.