May 21, 2009

Rosenthal suspended by mayor

The city’s economic development director, Jonathan Rosenthal, was suspended without pay for five days recently because he failed to show up for a meeting with the mayor and executives of Theis Precision Steel.

The $96,551-a-year head of the Bristol Development Agency was charged with “neglect of duty” by Mayor Art Ward and kept home last week without pay for missing the April 23 session.

Rosenthal, who lost about $1,800 because of the suspension, is appealing the penalty through his union. He said he could not comment on the issue.

“We did what we had to do,” Ward said. “It’s been handled.”

Rosenthal has been under fire for several years, first by Mayor William Stortz and then by Ward, who was the development director’s chief backer during the Stortz years.

Stortz sought to fire Rosenthal, whom he considered sloppy in his work and too often tardy or uncommunicative, but Ward was among the councilors who refused to go along with the move.

Since taking the mayor’s office in 2002, however, Ward has slapped a one-day working suspension on Rosenthal and issued a blistering memorandum about the development chief for skipping an earlier meeting without permission.

A review of Rosenthal’s personnel file -- which the city opened in compliance with a Freedom of Information request filed by The Bristol Press -- shows a mounting case against the development director with steadily increasing penalties.

Three different mayors -- Ward, Stortz and Gerard Couture -- have placed negative memorandums in the 15-year veteran official’s personnel file, though Couture also put a ringing defense of Rosenthal in the file shortly before Stortz took the city’s helm in 2005.

It is unclear whether other department heads have documented track records of missed meetings and other alleged violations of city policy, but it is certainly true that Rosenthal is not alone in failing to show up for scheduled sessions on occasion. Typically, though, there are no long-term consequences.

Rosenthal, however, has been a political piñata since at least the Couture administration, when he absorbed much criticism for the decision to buy the downtown mall and for the long delay in getting a new industrial park underway on Middle Street.

Couture said in his memo defending Rosenthal that the development director “handled his assignments well and with good humor.”

“I trust that in the future he will be evaluated on his professional performance and not political grounds,” Couture wrote.

With the exception of Couture’s memo, there is nothing in the file to indicate that Rosenthal has ever been evaluated on whether or not he’s done a good job keeping and attracting business to town, which is his chief function in city government.

Former Mayor Frank Nicastro, who was Rosenthal’s boss for a decade, frequently said that Rosenthal performed well in his duties.

 

Blasted by the mayor


When Jonathan Rosenthal, the city’s economic development director, skipped a Board of Finance meeting in January, Mayor Art Ward got mad.

In a memorandum he wrote to Rosenthal on Feb. 2, Ward said that Rosenthal’s voice mail explaining the absence “was unacceptable.”

“Your flippant and cavalier attitude with regard to the reason for your absence from the meeting was disrespectful and unprofessional,” Ward wrote.

The mayor said that Rosenthal’s job sometimes demands “your time and attention” even when it conflicts with what the development director perceives to be “normal life.”

Ward said he would not tolerate anything less than prompt and respectful reasons for any future missed meetings.

 

Timeline of Rosenthal’s alleged transgressions


1994 - Jonathan Rosenthal hired as the executive director the Bristol Development Authority

Aug. 2004 - Mayor Gerard Couture cites Rosenthal for being late to a project meeting.

“You are often late for work and late for meetings,” Couture wrote, adding that Rosenthal’s tardiness “is a poor reflection on both you and the city.”

Oct. 2007 - Mayor William Stortz said in a memorandum that Rosenthal missed a scheduled meeting with visitors from China.

“This was a definite insult to not only my office, who was hosting our visitors, but more importantly to our visitors themselves,” Stortz wrote.

He issued Rosenthal “an oral reprimand.”

Oct. 2007 - In another memo, Stortz gave Rosenthal a written reprimand for leaving a Post-It note on the mayor’s secretary’s computer to say he would like the following day off “so that I can do some yard work.”

Rosenthal took the day off without seeking approval or an answer to the note, Stortz charged.

March 2008 - Ward issued a one-day working suspension to Rosenthal.

 

A March 2008 memo from Ward


In a March 26, memorandum from Mayor Art Ward to Rosenthal, the mayor complained that Rosenthal set up a meeting with Steve Rejniak six days earlier and then failed to show up for it. Here is an excerpt from the memo:

“I attended the meeting and when you did not show up, I contacted my assistant, Mary Suchopar, and directed her to contact your office to find out where you were. Shortly after her call to your office, you came to the mayor’s office, appearing flush in your face and you began to yell at Mary.

“You were screaming loudly, pointing at a piece of paper you were holding and also pointing at Mary.

“A summary of your comments to her were that ‘if you didn’t know about these appointments and they’re not in your book, then how are you supposed to be there.’

“Another city employee was a witness to this incident.

“As for your non-attendance at the meeting with Mr. Rejniak, such neglect of duty is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“As a representative of the city whose primary function is economic development, it is imperative that you represent the city in a positive and professional manner.

“Certainly, your actions did not favorably represent your city or further our economic development relations in the community.

“As for your interaction with Mary, your behavior was completely unacceptable. Your actions were rude, ill-mannered, disrespectful to her and to me, and will not be tolerated.

“As a result of your neglect of duty and for your inappropriate behavior toward Mary, you are being issued a one-day working suspension.

“Be advised that further infractions will result in more severe disciplinary action which can include an unpaid suspension or termination of employment.”


*******
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


58 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ward voted to appoint him and now it's biting him in the A_ _! Guess that's what happens when you have Dept. Heads campaigning for you.

Ward....Moving Bristol Back-Ward!

Anonymous said...

John needs to go.......I think the whole town knows that..Its that plain and simple.

Concerned Conservative said...

I think Ward is acting correctly.

Unfortunately I've heard throught the grape-vine that Mr. Rosenthal may have some ammo of his own against the city in regards to innappropriate and unprofessional behavior of a past administration in regards to himself. There's probably a list of things.

Anonymous said...

Art Ward was the BIGGEST opposer of then Mayor Stortz's effort to get rid of Rosenthal.
Now he is experiencing the fruits of his labors.
Too bad he didn't support Stortz's efforts: the city would be better off today.
Maybe Stortz wasn't so bad after all.

Anonymous said...

I'm disturbed by the imbalance of the personnel file, where it appears any mayor can put any dumb thing in but there are no annual evaluations, no record of anyone telling Rosenthal what he should do that he's not doing, no sign that the city has any intelligent human resources system in place at all.
While I don't fault the Press for printing this - in fact, I'm glad to see the paper's still digging - it nonetheless strikes me as totally one-sided. The city should be ashamed of itself for compiling such a ridiculous dossier.

Anonymous said...

9:42 has it exactly right.

Anonymous said...

Good move Art, you cut another $1800 from the budget.

Why not double that and make it two weeks.

But did he still get all his benefits?

Anonymous said...

9:42 Poster,

Rosenthal, go back to work and stop posting on the blog!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Art shoud check to see if JR is posting?

Anonymous said...

9:42 makes a very good point. With respect to Mr. Rosenthal's position, there should be established performance objectives that encompasses all of his responsibilities. This could even include attendance at meetings. Then there should be an evaluation of his performance and if he isn't performing satisfactorily, then that should be handled accordingly.

There's been a lot of negative comments about his job performance but it's unclear how he has performed against his objectives. For example, if you look at restaurants that have been brought to Bristol over the past 10 years, I feel as he has not done a good job. Look at what the surrounding towns like Plainville (First and Last) and Southington (Wood & Tap, Agave, Outback, etc)have done and compare that to what we have in Bristol. I think he's fallen short here.

Mr. Rosenthal is a highly compensated employee and holds a criticl position. As a result expectations for his job performace should be high. And if he's not performing at that level, then it's time for a change. But this can't be a subjective decision.

Anonymous said...

BRING BACK STORTZ!!!

Anonymous said...

Ward voted to keep him and now he's paying for it.

Anonymous said...

Hope Rosenthel doesn;t take it out on his staff

Anonymous said...

As we speak, Rosenthal's union is negotiating a new contract with the city. The union should demand they insert performance evaluation language in the new contract. It's a calculated risk, but the thought of having to actually understand what these people do and having to evaluate them would make Art and Diane s**t.

Rumormonger said...

"Unfortunately I've heard throught [sic] the grape-vine [sic] that Mr. Rosenthal may have some ammo of his own against the city in regards to innappropriate [sic] and unprofessional behavior of a past administration in regards to himself. There's probably a list of things."

Shame on you, Cuckoo, didn't your Mommy ever tell you that spreading rumors is not very nice?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ward

Be careful

Rosenthal is good friends with Russo and Johnson.

Anonymous said...

He should have resigned and left gracefully when Stortz gave him the opening.

But, will Ward reappoint him if he he gets reelected?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Stortz was right after all!

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...

I would be very surprise if there were not performance evaluations included in his file. The article did say that there were no incidents of note during the years Nicastro was mayor.

And that is the thing to take in context of the article. The article is not giving the reader an objective evaluation of positives vs. negatives. That's a discussion the involved people themselves can have with the public. The Press is reporting on what has led to the suspension now over a period of time.

Journalism can only give you so much, then you have to go out there and find the rest.

Steve Collins said...

There were no performance evaluations in the file.

Anonymous said...

Saw Johnathan on the road today eating a donut looking like he had no cares in the word......also for someone making over 90k a year you would think he would wash his car!!!!

Anonymous said...

Who is going to fund raise for Artie now?

Anonymous said...

Performance evaluations are not used in the City - unions do not want people measured on performance, that wouldn't be fair - would it? Might have to do merit raises if you had performance evals. Doubt there are performance evals for non-unionites either.

Anonymous said...

So Ward "saved" us $1800....but in the longrun it will end up costing us WAY more to defend his action. I guarantee Rosenthal's appeal to the Union is going to cost us plenty to defend Ward's actions. Not to mention we won't have any City lawyers at this rate, lol. I wouldn't doubt if we end up having to pay back Rosenthal with interest and legal fees. The union IS the problem with Bristol. City workers know they can be lazy and do whatever the F they want...they know they will get away with it and nobody can do crap about it. Give'em an inch and they will take a mile. Unions should all be outlawed nationwide and replaced with more strict employee rights and laws to protect workers. The U.S.A. can't afford Unions anymore. They are overly greedy and demanding. Why do you think GM has the problems they do now and can't compete with China? It's because of the Unions! They are bringing the entire country down.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry Jonathan, your two big local developers/supporters will put he pressure on the mayor to back off.

Relax.

Anonymous said...

If the union succeeds in overturning this suspension - Jon ends up with an extra week paid vacation right? He's already had the week off, if they get him paid for it they're not going to make it vacation time. I'd be fat and happy eating donuts, too.

Odin said...

We do have "strict employee rights and laws to protect workers". But who makes sure those laws are enforced and employees don't get screwed? The unions. If we didn't have unions doing it, there would have to be a legion of "public defender"-type government employees making sure management plays by the rules. You want that?

Anonymous said...

I didn't know Ward was Mayor in 2002, I thought he was in his first term? Am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

Fire his * !!!

Anonymous said...

As a taxpayer (and a conservative one) I would make an exception and tell the mayor to just can Rosenthal. Whatever the ultimate cost, Bristol should hire whomever does economic development in Southington or Plainville. They are getting the job done.

Joanathon Rosenthal has cost us more opportunities than the taxpayers will ever know.

He is rude, judgemental, slovenly and unprofessional. Fire him now and suffer the consequences. Period!

Anonymous said...

slovenly...LOL

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:16 - You couldn't be more wrong! Trying to stir the pot? Shut your door and go back to sleep.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if Ward wil admit he was wrong in not supporting the effort to get rid of Rosenthal???

Anonymous said...

Ward, you mad your bed. Now sleep in it!

Anonymous said...

Ward is two-faced, when Rosenthal was fund-raising for him, Ward didn't care if he missed meetings. Ward is just trying to prove his power. Ward is such a blow hard.

Anonymous said...

Was that picture taken before or after the suspension?

Anonymous said...

Political pinata!...you got that right!

frank longo's ghost said...

I didn't know Richie Cunningham from Happy Days works for Bristol. Too bad Ralph Malph Ward and his pals Potsy Weber and Chachi are running City Hall from Sporty's, I mean Arnold's. At least times were good under Fonzie Nicastro.

Anonymous said...

Okay Bill, once again, you were't bad...you were the worst Mayor in Bristol's history.

Anonymous said...

How long do we have to document problems before he can be fired??
This is a total embarassment for Bristol!

Concerned Conservative said...

I agree, fire Jonnie boy.

Mike Werner said to do it a decade ago and he was correct.

Anonymous said...

No evals? Talk about not accountability of employees.

Odin said...

"Fire Jonnie boy". Just the kind of dispassionate, professional analysis we have come to expect from you, Concerned Conservative. Thank God you're not on the city council.

Concerned Conservative said...
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Concerned Conservative said...
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Concerned Conservative said...
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Concerned Conservative said...
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Anonymous said...

Word in city hall is that coutures memo supporting rosenthal was written between the time he lost the election to stortz and when stortz took office.

also, wording was not like couture: did rosenthal write it?

Concerned Conservative said...

Odin:

Coming from a neo-socialist government groupie like yourself your critique bears little if any weight.

But I'm always flattered by your attention.

Concerned Conservative said...

"Dispassionate" is a good word, and why not? Not only has Rosenthal become non-productive (if he ever was), the position shouldn't exist at all.

Anonymous said...

WHAT DOES DIANE FERGUSIN SAY. BET SHE COVERS FOR HIM TOO. SHE CANT GO AGAINST THESE GUYS IF SHE DOES THE STORY WILL GET AROUND QUICK.

Anonymous said...

What took Ward so long to catch on?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Fergie is covering for Rosenthal, as she covers for all dept heads.

THEY stick together: unfortunately the elected officials do not!

Anonymous said...

Steve, is it true that Jonathan took vacation time, so in reality he didn't lose anything?

How does that show up in his file?

Anonymous said...

Rosenthal for Mayor!

Anonymous said...

How about "Karma" ?? Unfortunately , it is now biting all of Bristol.
I have a great idea, how about we cut another $100,000.00 off the budget??

Anonymous said...

Fergie needs to get a back bone and stand up to the managers, and the Mayor.

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