2007-10-18 / News

Haddad resigns from yet another administrative post

By Dotti Farrington

Mark Haddad, who briefly served as Jamestown's town administrator in 2005, resigned recently as chief administrative officer (CAO) in Stratford, Conn., after being cleared in that town of harassment charges in a community he worked in prior to serving either there or in Jamestown. He would make no further public comment about his career intentions after his resignation, which is effective Nov. 7.

Haddad was hired last December by Stratford's first mayor, James Miron, under a new charter for that town. His job at $90,000 a year was the second highest paid post in Stratford, with a population of 50,000.

The appointment by Miron became part of a political morass over mayoral actions. Haddad's selection was challenged in conjunction with his role in a situation in Cohasset, Mass., before 2005.

Haddad, a graduate of Merrimack College and Suffolk University, had worked in Cohasset seven years when his effort to discipline two police officers was followed by harassment charges in which Haddad was named as town administrator but not as a harasser, according to information made public during the investigation launched by Stratford about the charges. Haddad said early this year that he believed the charges were meant as retaliation for the discipline.

The process of the Stratford investigation was riddled with fighting over procedures and interpretations of reports about the Cohasset situation, fueled by Massachusetts and Connecticut media stories for which original documents were not made public. One newspaper took media colleagues to task publicly for insufficient sources and specifics.

A full report by a private investigator, hired by Stratford, was aired behind closed doors last month for the Stratford City Council, which then pronounced Haddad cleared of its concerns. Some councilors previously rejected a (Conn.) state police report that Haddad had no record to report.

The Haddad controversy was reported as part of the post-charter change atmosphere in Stratford where a number of key town offi- cials resigned after Miron took office. Haddad was named by Miron to serve as Stratford Town Clerk while Haddad was working also as CAO. The charter there provides for such dual, interim service.

Early this year, Haddad said, "There were never any charges brought against me. I was never charged with anything." He said then that he just wanted to help the mayor. He was praised this month by some officials for help he provided with the budget and other matters.

Miron called the Stratford battle "a shameful example of the politics of personal destruction (by) people with political agendas out to embarrass me." Some of Miron's opponents said they were glad that Haddad is leaving even though he was cleared of wrongdoing.

Haddad worked over 20 years in public and private management. In between public jobs in Jamestown and Stratford, he was executive vice president of business operations for Ventus Networks of Norwalk, an award winning company for its rate of growth, first in Connecticut and fifteenth in North America, for telecommunications.

Miron said he chose Haddad from among more than 50 candidates "as the most qualified and experienced, best of the best." Haddad's references included a letter from David Long, Jamestown Town Council president, who praised Haddad for work here. However, former Jamestown Council President Guy Settipane was quoted in Connecticut criticizing Haddad for a threatening manner with those who challenged him.

Haddad left Jamestown after six months because of a high-paying private job offer. He said then he was trying to meet the Jamestown requirement to live on the island even though it meant downsizing his family's lifestyle because of housing costs, when the private job came unsolicited.

In his letter of resignation in Stratford, Haddad wrote, "I have been personally subjected to undue public criticism and scrutiny." He added, "I am pleased that the extensive investigation into these allegations has exonerated me of any wrongdoing."

Miron praised Haddad as a good administrator and for being well liked by many. "I was surprised at the viciousness of reaction and the whispering campaign," against Haddad, he said. "We conducted one of the most invasive and exhaustive investigations ever," he said, adding that it revealed nothing to raise concerns about Haddad's job fitness.

"Mark has been a steady and reliable team player who will be missed," Miron wrote in an e-mail to town employees. "His professionalism, good nature and job performance (were) an asset to me personally and to the entire administration."

In his resignation, Haddad said, "I have enjoyed my work here and appreciate the opportunity given me." He concluded that leaving the town was in the best interests of his family.

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