In a move that came as a double surprise to some at Monday night’s Council meeting, Mayor Dan Rizzo called for the re-appointment of several key department heads – all leftovers from the Ambrosino administration – and the Council quickly approved all of them without comment.
Those re-appointed were Department of Public Works (DPW) Superintendent Don Goodwin, Building Inspector Ben DeChristoforo and Assessor Dana Brangiforte.
All had appointments that had expired and, until last Friday, Mayor Rizzo hadn’t given the Council notice of re-appointment.
All three appeared to be hanging in limbo, and more than a few councillors thought that the positions were likely to be part of the new administration’s reorganization plans.
That, however, wasn’t the case.
“When I ran for Mayor I had specific goals to create and maintain a type of city government that works for the people,” Rizzo told the Journal. “Increasing response time to constituent concerns and creating greater access to City Hall are continued priorities of my administration. These reappointments will help achieve the goals of the administration.”
Goodwin has been the most controversial of the three figures, often clashing with councillors in the past. His department had also been the subject of numerous inquiries and situations during the past several years. At the same time, it was one of the most taxed departments with the most difficult staffing situation.
Rizzo told the Council that Goodwin has stepped up since January and has reinvigorated the DPW. The appointment of Goodwin would outlast the current four-year term for Rizzo.
“It’s been my experience working with him as a city councillor and now as the mayor that he’s doing the absolute best job he can under the circumstances,” Rizzo told the Council in a rare appearance at the meeting. “I believe we’re seeing a big change in how they keep our city in respect to potholes, sidewalk repairs and cleanliness. I really believe the DPW is turning a corner.”
For DeChristoforo, many believed that supporters of Rizzo would end up with his job when his appointment ran out. Some believed that there had been political tension between him and Rizzo in the past, but it didn’t seem to be the case on Monday, when Rizzo gave his full support to the Building Inspector.
“We’ve all worked with him and he’s doing a very good job,” said Rizzo. “I’ve had several meetings with Ben about my expectations and he’s responded very, very, very favorably.”
Brangiforte is a soft-spoken member of the city government and not perceived to be political. However, the position of assessor has typically been very political, and there was reason to believe that the appointment might be up for grabs.
That also was not the case.
In a somewhat unexpected move, the City Council did not send the requests to their Appointments Committee – as is common practice – but instead offered a quick approval of the three candidates.
There were no questions asked and the vote was a unanimous 9-0.
Absent from the vote were Councillors Jessica Giannino and Ira Novoselsky.
Goodwin’s new term will last until January 21, 2017; DeChristoforo’s will last until April 4, 2015; and Brangiforte will last until February 2015.