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Easton Sees Police Chief's Termination Letter

EASTON, Conn. — A letter to Easton’s police chief that terminated his contract was passed around a town meeting Monday. The letter, signed by Easton First Selectman Thomas Herrmann, is dated April 8. Police Chief John Solomon officially announced his retirement in early June.

Herrmann said the letter was a matter of procedure – the town had to terminate one contract in order to negotiate a new one. He also said Solomon discussed his plans for retirement in March.

Solomon’s contract states, “Subject to the terms of this Agreement, employment hereunder shall be deemed to have commenced for salary purpose on July 1, 2005, and shall continue until July 30, 2010, and from year to year thereafter unless terminated by either party upon giving prior written notice to the other party or otherwise in accordance with the provisions of this agreement.”

Solomon’s new approved contract states that he and the town agreed to an extension of his employment until Dec. 31, 2011 – when he will retire.

Robert Nicola, chairman of the police commission, said he was not consulted in regard to the April 8 letter to Solomon. “The Police Commission was absolutely never inclined to fire Chief Solomon,” said Nicola. “By giving him written notice, the contract won’t auto-renew.”

The letter from Herrmann to Solomon states, “I write to inform you that the Town of Easton has decided not to renew your contract for the Police Chief position, effective June 30, 2011. As you are aware, the term of the agreement was from July 1, 2005, through June 30, 2010, and was subject to renewal from year to year thereafter unless terminated by either party upon prior written notice. Please consider this letter written notice of non-renewal under paragraph 4. As such, your last day of employment will be June 30, 2011. On behalf of the Town of Easton, I would like to thank you for your years of dedicated service.”

The letter was handed out by CRG: Citizens for Responsible Government. On the other side of the letter was a list of how “Tom Herrmann’s ‘Changes’ for Easton focus on centralized power to the office of First Selectman.”

Among these include:

  • • “Excessive use of costly legal services,” including more than $10,000 spent to challenge the 9/11 Memorial Committee and hiring outside counsel to assist the town clerk in understanding his duties and obligations subsequent to a town meeting;
  • • “Abuse of power pertaining to personnel issues: misled some departments to believe requested budgetary cuts originated from the Board of Finance,” including: “reduced library staff, reduced public health staff, terminated the chief of police, terminated two police clerks, docked employee for insubordination over disagreement with staff reduction decision;”
  • • “Lack of transparency in government,” including, excluding the required $300,000 plus bond principal payment from this year’s town budget;
  • • “Centralizes grant writing: grant funding ability greatly reduced by shifting from department grant submissions to grants solely under the control of the first selectman.”
  • • “Circumvents citizen’s ability to make informed decisions: rushes ordinances through by not making them available in the Town Clerk’s office for citizen review prior to town meeting votes; rushed through land purchase of South Park — land purchase agreement to Town of Easton over $6.3 million. New England Prayer Center’s most recent tax filing indicates cash reserves of merely $75,000 after two years of donor solicitations;”
  • • “Purchasing: reduced department head bid waiving ability from $7,500 to zero. All bids now controlled by the first selectman including all construction and town-related projects.”

What do you think about the Citizens for Responsible Government’s allegations? Leave your comments in the box below.

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