"Seriously, it's my space, and I don't mean to be arrogant about it – I get a designated space," she said. "I didn't worry about it."
Then came Alphonse's March 11 memo, which Katz said "expedited" her removal of the BMW.
"I got it out [the] next week – because, frankly, I had a second driver with me. My husband and I were up here for a social event," she said. "We brought the keys and we drove it home."
Katz said that she couldn't remember when she left the BMW at the state garage, and that she could only be sure it was "before Christmas."
"The day I drove it in -- I know it was a while ago, I cannot tell you the date definitively, or I would – was the day that I got [a] new state car [assigned to her].. So [then] I have two cars. So … what am I going to do? … I got stuck with the Beemer here because [I can] only drive one car at a time. And living in Fairfield was not easy. It's not like I lived Hartford where I could say to a neighbor or friend 'Do me a favor we're going to run down [and] let me get my car.' So, it sat here."
However, it was pointed out to her that the new state vehicle merely replaced one she already had, and so the number of cars in Hartford did not change for her. A day later, she sent word through Kleeblatt that she'd been mistaken about getting the new state vehicle on the same the day she put the BMW in the state garage.
Katz said she took the car out once while it was in Hartford, but returned it to the garage.
Alphonse insisted Friday that the BMW was in the garage since early September. She said she noticed it a few days before a Sept. 10 meeting that she had with union represenatives for 22 DECD workers, who were losing their parking spaces at 505 Hudson St. and being moved to a lot nearby.
Meanwhile, after The Courant asked questions about Katz's state car use and mileage, Kleeblatt Friday issued a statement saying that her "use of a state vehicle … represents sound business practice. … The department maintains 15 offices and three facilities throughout the state, all of which the commissioner visits regularly and frequently." Also, he said, she "often attends meetings involving sister state agencies, as well as other functions arranged by a wide variety of service providers, civic organizations, educational institutions, etc."
However, Kleeblatt said, in looking into the newspaper's questions, "we became aware that certain record-keeping requirements were not strictly adhered to. A monthly mileage log was maintained but not a daily log as required." He said that "a daily log will be maintained moving forward." Also, he said, DCF's transportation administrator "will now approve occasional overnight at-home parking consistent with state guidelines."
"Similarly, we became aware that parking a state vehicle in a commuter lot, as the commissioner sometimes does, is permitted only in limited circumstances," Kleeblatt said. "Thus, we are looking for a suitable parking alternative for those occasions…."
He said records indicate Katz "is using the state vehicle to attend to business on either the way into or out of" the Hartford office about "70 percent of the total days she works."
Jon Lender is a reporter on The Courant's investigative desk, with a focus on government and politics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 860-241-6524, or c/o The Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115 and find him on Twitter@jonlender.