Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Town’s new zoning officer also mayor’s law client

By Suzanne Carlson
Journal Inquirer
Published: Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:37 PM EDT

VERNON — In addition to being the town’s new zoning enforcement officer, Tolland landscaper Andrew Marchese is a legal client of Republican Mayor Jason L. McCoy, who is representing him in an ongoing lawsuit against a ladder company.

The situation is similar to that of Shaun Gately, who McCoy was representing in a personal injury lawsuit when he was hired May 17 as economic development coordinator.

Gately dropped the suit June 15 and a grievance filed by former Democratic Town Chairman Timothy Morrissey was later dismissed by the Tolland Judicial District Grievance Panel, which determined that McCoy did not violate any rules because the Town Council approved Gately’s hire.

Council Republicans voted 6-4 along party lines to hire Gately.

But council approval was not required for Marchese, who was hired Aug. 15 and began work Aug. 22.

As zoning enforcement officer, he is a member of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 4 Local 818 union with a 20-hour work week.

Marchese’s hourly pay rate is $27.59 and his benefits package includes a defined contribution retirement plan that will begin vesting town contributions after six years, according to his letter of hire.

He also will receive medical, dental, and prescription health insurance coverage for him and his family, and either can enroll in an HMO with a 10 percent employee premium co-share or a PPO plan with 15 percent employee co-share.

In addition, Marchese will receive a $50,000 life insurance policy, $100,000 accidental death and disability coverage, and vacation, sick, and personal time off.

But according to a complaint against Marchant Ladder Inc. filed Jan. 23, Marchese “suffered a reduction in his ability to carry on and enjoy all of life’s activities, including but not limited to a reduction in his capacity to earn a living,” after a ladder he was standing on collapsed.

Marchese fell and broke his right wrist on Jan. 26, 2008, and he has demanded compensation in excess of $15,000 for medical expenses and lost wages, according to his complaint.

Marchese’s earning capacity “has been greatly diminished, impaired, or reduced,” as a result of the “great mental and physical pain and suffering” he endured, and he may “forever be restricted in activities of daily living,” the complaint states.

The responsibilities of the zoning enforcement officer include inspection, review, and enforcement duties related to town building and zoning ordinances and regulations related to health and safety, according to an advertisement for the job posted July 20.

Marchant and co-defendant OESCO Inc. have filed a motion to dismiss Marchese’s lawsuit on the grounds that McCoy did not file paperwork before the statute of limitations had expired and a lack of subject matter jurisdiction and insufficient service of process.

The Connecticut Product Liability Act requires that a plaintiff commence action within three years of the date of injury.

Marchant’s lawyers said in the motion to dismiss that the statute of limitations on Marchese’s wrist injury would have expired on Jan. 26, but Marchant was not served with the lawsuit until Feb. 1.

Marchese lives at 63 Tolland Stage Road, which is also the business address for his private landscaping company that was incorporated in 2001. McCoy is listed as Marchese’s business agent in documents filed with the state’s commercial recording division.

Marchese Landscaping also purchased $250 worth of advertising in McCoy’s 2009 campaign program book, according to documents filed with the state elections enforcement commission.

Assistant Town Administrator Peter Graczykowski has denied the Journal Inquirer access to Marchese’s job application and resume for the position he currently holds, saying a town attorney told him state law requires a written request and 10 days’ notice to allow the employee to protest the release of personnel documents.

But Freedom of Information Commission Public Education Officer Thomas Hennick said Tuesday the law applies only to documents that would reasonably constitute an invasion of privacy.

An example might be a form containing an unredacted Social Security number, but, Hennick said, job applications and resumes are not exempt under the law and should be available for public inspection during normal business hours.

McCoy said today it is up to Graczykowski to release Marchese’s application and resume.

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