Ex-Aide's Car Issue Exemplifies City Hall's Culture Of Sloppiness

When Jared Kupiec resigned last month as Mayor Pedro Segarra's chief of staff, Mr. Segarra saw it as an opportunity to rebuild and restructure his administration.

We urge him to do that; specifically, to find someone with a sharp pencil and a green eyeshade, someone with administrative and financial management experience, and put that person in charge of tightening up the flaccid and sloppy management that is rife at city hall.

The most recent example involves the aforementioned Mr. Kupiec. It was reported Monday, first by blogger Kevin Brookman, that Mr. Kupiec was using a city vehicle two weeks after he left the employ of the city. Police are investigating.

Beyond Mr. Kupiec's potential legal problem — that the law frowns on the possession of cars that belong to others — let's look at what else is wrong with this picture.

The car, a leased Ford Explorer, was the one Mr. Kupiec had when he was a city employee. Why in the name of heaven did the mayor's chief of staff need a city car? He lives around the corner from city hall. He made $115,000 a year. Many other fiscally strapped cities have done away with take-home cars, and saved money.

Also, there apparently is no formal exit policy for senior employees. Somebody should have been in charge of seeing that Mr. Kupiec gave up all of his city property, including all sets of car keys. Nobody knew he had the car?

This comes on the heels of reports by the city's Internal Audit Commission that found faulty fiscal policies and controls at city hall, such as poor control of lease agreements and bounced checks to the city that weren't pursued for payment. The most recent audit report, released Monday, found more than $32,000 in city credit card charges that were inadequately documented.

This is not an earth-shaking scandal, but it is something almost as insidious — a culture of sloppiness. Hartford, which needs to partner with the region, private sector and the state to move ahead, can't afford to be sloppy. So, it is incumbent upon Mr. Segarra to change the culture, to weed out weak department heads and replace them with people who know what they are doing.

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