5:25 PM EDT, July 12, 2013
Jared Kupiec, recently deposed chief of staff for Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, came under renewed scrutiny last week because he supposedly:
a. Snorted caviar off a city-owned iPad.
b. Tried to sneak stolen lobsters through the Stop and Shop self-checkout.
c. Was still using his city-owned car two weeks after termination.
The correct answer is "c," but if you guessed "b," possibly you were thinking of a Hartford police officer who resigned last year while under investigation for Stop and Shop lobster theft. This one continues to puzzle me. Of all the things you could sneak through the self-checkout, why would you pick the one thing they sell that's actually alive and moving?
Seafood will be the undoing of the mighty. Part of Kupiec's saga included a lavish meal, originally charged to the city, that included oysters and caviar.
Kupiec theoretically turned in his car, a leased Ford Explorer, on June 21, his last day after resigning. The car was left in a parking lot behind the Hartford Public Library, but last Monday, a police officer found the car, broken into, very near Kupiec's Capitol Avenue apartment.
Since June 13, the car has been driven 1,200 miles. At the Colin McEnroe Forensics Lab, I have attempted several reconstructions. For example, Kupiec could have driven it just a few incidental miles from June 13 to 21. Then, two drunken librarians could have somehow gotten inside it and driven to the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, where Kid Rock was playing July 2. During the concert, the car could have suddenly realized that it was in the wrong place and that it missed its former master. The car could have driven home and parked itself outside Kupiec's place, panting and taillights wagging. The librarians could have taken a cramped bus ride back to Hartford, scoured the neighborhood, found the car and administered a savage beating that resembled a break-in.
I'm not saying this is what happened. I'm saying it fits the fact as we know them.
The Segarra administration is saying Kupiec continued to use the car after his last day. They originally planned to send Kupiec a letter demanding that he pay them $3,000 for damage to the car. They weren't kidding around, either. My sources tell me this was going to be a very strongly worded letter.
Now it turns out that there's a police investigation because, if you really get technical about it, taking a car you are not supposed to use is almost like stealing. In fairness to Kupiec, he has been saying he wants to go to law school, so he's obviously interested in boning up on this kind of thing.
Kupiec has been a wobbly table leg since last year when Segarra, in the midst of financial misery, gave him a $20,000 raise. It's the ultimate paradox. If he were worth an extra $20,000, he would have talked his boss out of giving it to him.
But wait. There's a big fat silver lining on the horizon! Mayor Segarra has announced that this is a great moment to take stock of his administration and make some sweeping changes. "It's time for me to evaluate what's working and what can be improved," the mayor said. These exact words were spoken, in Latin, by the Emperor Honorius after the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410.
Segarra is so right. There are five major unfilled positions at city hall. The city council has taken to treating the mayor like Jughead begging Veronica for a date. I smell a fabulous opportunity to rebuild. For example, Hartford blogger Kevin Brookman reported that during a recent audit of expenses charged to the city, Acting Chief Operating Officer Saundra Kee Borges explained that the missing receipt slips were stored in a shoebox the whole time. Boom! There's an opening for change. Move the city away from Zappos-based accounting.
Yes, yes, you could counter: Isn't it kind of weird to suddenly say, "Starting now, I am going to be an effective mayor?"
That's loser talk. No free car for you!
Let's focus on the positive. Nobody has stolen a large crustacean for months.
Colin McEnroe appears from 1 to 2 p.m. weekdays on WNPR-FM (90.5) and blogs at http://courantblogs.com/colin-mcenroe/. He can be reached at Colin@wnpr.org.
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