Gerri Lewis, whose unexplained firing on July 9 from her job as office manager and ethics compliance officer at the Connecticut Port Authority raised questions, is for the first time offering details on her termination and the professional environment at the authority during her time there.
In a letter emailed to CT Examiner at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Lewis defended her job performance and called into question the behavior of top port authority figures, writing, “Attached you will find a statement from me of the truthful facts surrounding my wrongful termination from The CT Port Authority.”
In the five-page letter, Lewis details her firing, her job performance reviews, and a draft agreement by port authority counsel that would have required her to refrain from making negative statements to the media. She said she was offered severance pay of $5,000, if she signed a “confidential severance agreement and general release of claims.”
Lewis wrote that her July 9 termination notice came from Executive Director Evan Matthews and Diane Wolff, whom Matthews hired as a human resource consultant. Neither Wolff’s name, nor the cost of hiring her, was mentioned during the transportation committee hearings on August 20 in Hartford.
Lewis’ alleged “failure to adequately implement, maintain, and manage certain financial management practices and protocols” was cited as the only specific item related to concerns about Lewis’ performance and conduct. In the letter, Lewis said that these allegations were false.
Later in the letter, Lewis said when Matthews and Wolff met with her regarding her termination, Matthews told her that the real reason she was being terminated was that Reemsnyder “was dissatisfied with the results of a draft audit of the Authority’s books and records performed by the Authority’s auditors, Blum Shapiro.”
“I was told that she said it was ‘unacceptable’ and that he and she decided that I should be terminated. I was not in any way responsible for the deficiencies cited in that report. I was not even working for the Port Authority for the first few months covered by that audit,” Lewis wrote.
Regarding authority spending, which has drawn criticism in recent months, Lewis stated that “I never saw receipts for Mr. Matthews’ expenses as he was not giving them to me anymore, because I always questioned him. Instead he gave them directly to Ms. Berthiaume who did not question him at all and who knew what he was doing. I had discussed this with her several times.”
Lewis also called into question spending by other figures at the authority, and criticized former board chairman Scott Bates’ hiring of Andrew Levigne as manager of special projects, which she said came with a $94,000 salary.
“As far as I could tell, he had no relevant job experience,” she wrote.
Lewis said she did not sign the severance agreement because she was concerned her professional reputation was damaged by the port authority by being terminated without explanation and that potential employers would infer she had done something wrong, making finding another job more difficult. She also said she felt the need to be free to talk about her experiences so that she could clear her name.
She said she issued the statement to make clear she had done nothing wrong, did not deserve to lose her job and welcomed “a full and transparent investigation of events at the Authority, including the termination of my employment.
Reemsnyder was provided with a copy of the letter prior to publication. She said she did not wish to comment other than stating that the letter contained a number of inaccuracies.
Read the full letter below:[embeddoc url=”https://ctexaminer.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Statement-Gerri-Lewis-9-11-2019.pdf” download=”all”]