Only in Fairfield

Town Hall, Town of Fairfield (Image courtesy of Town of Fairfield)

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To the Editor:

I guess the famous “Only in Bridgeport” moniker needs a stepchild “Only in Fairfield.” I have attempted not to get involved in the controversy involving the payout to former First Selectwoman Kupchick in the
hope that Cathleen Simpson, the current HR director. would address the matter, however, that has not
occurred and I feel obliged to respond.

First, I was the Director of HR for the Town of Fairfield for approximately two and half years prior to Ms.
Simpson’s hire. Second, it is distressing to me and it should be to the public, that Ms. Simpson has not
addressed the appropriateness of the payment as her department would have initiated and approved
it! I see the matter is under review by the same department that created the problem — seems like a
conflict of interest. I do not understand what needs to be reviewed by HR, as the “review” should have
been done BEFORE the check was issued. If there is to be a review, which in my opinion is a waste of
time, it should be conducted by someone other than the HR department.

It is pretty simple, the payment was either made consistent with a policy or practice, or a mistake was
made. The attempt to make the First Selectwoman look as if she did something wrong or inappropriate
is ludicrous. It says something about the character of an individual when they are willing to accept
responsibility when it is not theirs, kudos to the former first selectwoman. The responsibility for this
determination lies with Ms. Simpson, that is the role of the HR department. The concerns about
whether or not these payments should or should not have been made are valid but those concerns
should be directed at the proper place.

The policy at issue was developed under the Flatto administration and revised over the years by various
administrations without formal approvals. I believe the word in the severance language that added
“elected” official was made by Mr. Hibson, my predecessor who worked for First Selectman Tetreau. I
would have assumed the HR department would have reviewed the policy and Mr. Tetreau’s payout to
assist in determining Ms. Kupchick’s payout. My discussion, and the only substantive modification to the
benefits policy made while Ms. Kupchick was in office, related to a global change that was being made in
the vesting schedule for the 401A participants. No other substantive changes were intended and none
affected the First Selectwoman.

Upon Ms. Kupchick’s departure, she certainly would NOT have had specific knowledge of her payout and
had every right to rely on the HR department to process her final payment correctly. It is indeed sad and
and is one of the primary reasons I left Fairfield because it’s not about integrity, it’s about politics.

Finally, I call on First Selectman Gerber to have Ms. Simpson address this matter, release the
information on the final payment made to First Selectman Tetreau, and release all documents and/or
emails generated by the HR department regarding Ms. Kupchick’s payment, the public deserves to
know.

Jim Haselkamp
Fairfield, CT

Haselkamp is former Director of HR for the Town of Fairfield