EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 28, 2013

Mayor defends assistant solicitor's job performance

Councilors question effectiveness of Randazzo's dual responsibilities

By Brian Messenger

---- — METHUEN — The mayor is standing up for Assistant City Solicitor Anne Randazzo after City Council Chairman Sean Fountain questioned her work performance at a public meeting Tuesday night.

Fountain’s comments came during interviews for the city solicitor job. He twice questioned the amount of legal work Randazzo does for the city, first before posing a question to finalist Richard D’Agostino and again during an interview with finalist William Faraci.

“The department of law ... is basically a one-person operation,” said Fountain. “I know we have an assistant. I don’t know what the assistant does to assist with the department of law. I haven’t seen much.”

Randazzo was hired shortly after Mayor Stephen Zanni took office in January 2012 to fill the newly-created position of assistant solicitor/human resources director. She makes $80,578 annually.

“Not one councilor has asked me about her work,” said Zanni yesterday. “They make accusations out there that they don’t know about. I think she’s done a tremendous job.”

Since being hired, Zanni said Randazzo has completed all tasks assigned to her by City Solicitor Peter McQuillan, including between 15 and 20 legal cases. In addition to that, Zanni said Randazzo remains busy with her duties as human resources director.

“I am here every day,” added Randazzo. “I answer to the mayor. He’s my boss. I am confident that I’m doing everything I can do and doing the best I can do.”

But two additional councilors yesterday said they share concerns about Randazzo’s hybrid position. Councilor Michael Condon said assigning split duties for both assistant solicitor and human resources director may have been a bad idea.

“Maybe we made a mistake here,” said Condon.

Condon said he believes Randazzo is spending the majority of her time with human resources work. As a result, councilors are concerned the city solicitor is not receiving the support they expected upon approving the new position last year.

“People are wondering where most of the time is being spent or whether any of the time is being spent with the solicitor,” said Condon. “It was our understanding that she was really going to dig in her heels with Peter. And from what we’re hearing, that’s not happening.”

Councilor Jennifer Kannan said she too is disappointed with how the position is being used, particularly after Zanni hired an outside legal firm earlier this year to help negotiate a legal settlement with police Chief Joseph Solomon.

Councilors cried foul when Zanni hired the firm, reminding the mayor of his claim in early 2012 that Randazzo’s addition to the city staff would save “a fortune” in outside legal fees.

“That’s when I started saying, ‘Why aren’t we using her?’” said Kannan. “What’s the position? Should it be reevaluated?”

Yesterday, Zanni said that thanks to Randazzo’s legal work, the Solomon case is the only case the city has outsourced all year.