Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
McCoy deserved compensation

Letters to the Editor
Journal Inquirer
Published: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 12:06 PM EST

There are several facets to “McCoy paid $8,200 in overtime during 3 emergencies this year” (Dec. 22 story) to which I must respond.

I volunteered my services to the town of Vernon as deputy director of emergency management for over three years. I co-managed the Emergency Operations Center during the February snow-removal operation and during Tropical Storm Irene. I received monetary compensation for my work during snow-removal operations and I received a firefighter's stipend of approximately $100 a month during part of my volunteer work with the town. I received no compensation for Tropical Storm Irene and I have compensation pending for Alfred.

I resigned my position shortly after Irene in frustration with my futile attempt to compromise between my full-time salaried employment and family commitments and my commitment to the office of emergency management.

The workload involved in managing Vernon’s emergency management department was more than any one or two people could reasonability be expected to accomplish on a part-time basis. Politicians and the public expect 24/7 response but have not provided the funding to make this a reality.

Councilwoman Marie Herbst singled out Director Michael Purcaro and accused him of lax oversight: “(R)esponsibility of overseeing emergency services after storms should have fallen to Emergency Management Director Michael Purcaro, not (Jason) McCoy. ”

I will not comment on the validity of her comment, but Councilwoman’s Herbst comments validates and vindicates my position for a full-time staff and my former job description as deputy EMD is evidence of politicians’ unrealistic expectations. If it is the expectation of the Town Council and the town charter to provide such a service, adequate funding must be made available and the most qualified people hired to manage the emergency management department’s activities.

It’s unfair to compare the salary of Ellington’s first selectman ($70,000 annually) — or any town CEO who receives full-time pay — to former Mayor McCoy’s compensation ($20,000). This argument is non sequitur.

I have little patience for politically driven drivel or media bias over the issue of pay McCoy received during these unprecedented events. He took time away from his private business to lead the town’s recovery and while doing so had no income coming in from his business.

Herbst and other Democrats of the Town Council are outraged that McCoy received payment for leadership he provided during the three emergencies. I’m not outraged: His pay is well-deserved. His leadership speeded up restoration of power by days.

The JI goes on to state: “McCoy has complained that his duties as mayor prevented him from working at his private law firm. Yet in October he said he was too busy to meet with a reporter and perform some of the duties of mayor because he was concentrating on his court cases.”

Was Deputy Mayor Brian Motola sought out? He can speak on the town’s behalf when the mayor isn’t available.

I perceive that the JI is using the power of the press to exacerbate negative public opinion to advance its own hidden agenda.

I challenge the Town Council to establish a full-time Office of Emergency Management and put aside the non-issue of paying McCoy for his extraordinary service that was clearly above and beyond what any previous mayor encountered.

Allen W. Sheridan