Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Vernon’s data processing director fired abruptly

Mayor says only that he’s ‘no longer employed with the town’

By Suzanne Carlson
Journal Inquirer
Published: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 11:23 AM EST

VERNON — The town’s data processing director was fired Monday in an apparent violation of the town charter, which requires that employees outside the classified service have an opportunity to protest their removal in a public hearing.

But Republican Mayor George F. Apel, who spoke through Town Administrator John D. Ward during a conference call today and did not answer a reporter’s questions directly, said the town handled the termination of Arthur Beirn appropriately.

“He’s no longer employed by the town,” Ward said. He repeated the statement in response to other questions, adding that, “this was done in accordance with all applicable laws. … This is a personnel matter; it’s confidential beyond the statement that he’s no longer employed by the town.”

While the data processing director serves at the discretion of the mayor, the charter states that the mayor must inform each Town Council member and give a reason for termination by certified mail 30 days before the proposed removal date.

Within 10 days of receipt of that notice, the employee may submit a written request for a public hearing to each council member, and the charter states that the employee cannot be fired before the hearing is held.

The removal must then be confirmed or disapproved by the council within 20 days after the hearing is convened. During that 30-day removal period the mayor may suspend the employee with pay, according to the charter, but the individual cannot be fired.

Ward said that Beirn is not being paid, and in regard to whether Beirn’s termination followed the charter’s rules, Ward said only that all procedures had been followed. The council is scheduled to meet tonight and when asked if Beirn would be discussed, Ward said the issue is not on the agenda.

Council members did not receive 30 days’ notice of the firing and Republican council member Bill Campbell said today he was told of Beirn’s termination by phone Monday evening but he doesn’t know anything more.

“I was informed yesterday that he had been let go but that’s all I know,” Campbell said.

He also said the firing process could use improvement, “not just with respect to this candidate, but I think whenever the town lets somebody go, it could be better.”

A former Manchester town employee, Beirn was appointed to the position in Vernon on May 1, 2007, after the death of former Data Processing Director Robert Scofield.

Former Republican Mayor Jason L. McCoy made his dislike of Beirn well known, suspending him from the position at one point and criticizing him publicly.

“I don’t think data processing has done a great job in general,” McCoy said at a January Board of Education meeting in which Beirn was in attendance. “The delivery of service certainly should be better.”

Beirn served as the president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 4, Local 818, and union spokesman Larry Dorman declined to comment today.

A resident of Vernon for more than 30 years, Beirn has worked for the town of Manchester’s information services, developing a variety of its computer system projects. He is formerly an information technology consultant with AmeriComm and a Central Connecticut State University professor teaching e-business.

It’s unclear what Beirn was being paid at the time he was fired, but his salary started at $76,752 and was limited to a maximum of $91,208 per year.

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