The Bethel City Council meeting on Aug. 11 ended with a long and public discussion of issues and concerns over City Manager Vincenzo "Vinny" Corazza’s management style. The long, hour-and-a-half discussion ranged over many issues, including finances.
Normally such a discussion would take place behind closed doors, but Corazza wanted it done in public. What followed was a long and frank discussion, with council members critiquing the city manager’s communication style, leadership, and even his use of a city vehicle. On the issue of the city’s COVID-19 response, Corazza told the council that he is letting department heads set rules for their staff. That did not cut it with several council members, including Mayor Perry Barr.
“I really would like you to be a leader, Vinny. I really would like you to be that leader and just direct your directors instead of having the directors make up their own policies. We should have a blanket overall policy for every employee of this city,” said Barr.
Over and over again, council members said that they were getting complaints from city staff about the manager, but it was concerns about Corazza’s financial management that seemed to galvanize action. Council member Mark Springer criticized him for using an Excel spreadsheet to track millions of dollars in CARES Act funding. Springer said that the software does not have the kind of security necessary for such an large amount of money.
“I’m just questioning the judgement call to use Microsoft Excel as opposed to, for crying out loud, even QuickBooks has more security on it than Microsoft Excel does.”
At the end of the discussion, city council members unanimously passed a motion to instruct the city attorney to find an independent contractor to review the city’s operations, including employee complaints about the conduct of their supervisors, the city’s financial operations, and the management and accounting of CARES Act funds.