The recently released departmental review of the City’s Inspectional Services Division lists many problems and suggested solutions, but strangely neglects to mention that the department head, George Landers, was unqualified to hold that position.
According to Andy Metzger’s Dec 9th article in the SJ [Report knocks Somerville inspectors], Mayor Curtatone created the department soon after taking office in 2004 in an effort to reform the system. (Why did his reforms stall there, as Andy mentions?) We do not know why he then appointed George Landers, who was not licensed by state’s Board of Building Regulations and Standards, as the acting chairman. Mr. Landers was hired on the condition that he pass the required exams.
After exhausting his extension, the SJ ran an article in May 2008 titled State: City’s head of inspectional services holding job illegally. In Nov 2008, the paper ran the headline Acting inspector still acting, four years later which noted that there was a City inspector named Paul Nonni who had passed the exams. We do not know why the Mayor then neglected to replace Landers with someone who was fully qualified, like Nonni.
Landers would continue to lead the ISD without qualifications until Dec 2009 when an opening was posted for his job. The next month, Jan 2010, the SJ reported in Somerville personnel changes that former building contractor Ed Nuzzo took over as interim head of Inspectional Services (salary approx $66k) and Landers replaced Frank Santangelo as Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds (salary approx $68k).
We do not know what precipitated these abrupt personnel changes, but it is worth noting that they occurred just before the City issued its RFP for the review of the Inspectional Services Department [date of RFP comes from section II(A) of the Zucker report] Zucker Systems received the contract in May 2010. Six months later, it issued a report that described extensive problems in the department, but it never connected those problems with the fact that for most of its existence, the ISD was headed by a man who was unqualified for the job, despite the aforementioned news articles. One wonders why that glaring omission was made?
Furthermore, the report neglects to mention the case of Inspector Gene Covington who was put on administrative leave and then fired in 2009 for conflict of ethics violations for which he was ultimately fined $5k by the State Ethics Commision in Nov 2010, as reported by Andy Metzger in today’s SJ article Police made allegations v. Somerville ISD inspector but nothing stuck . Why the 2009 Covington case was not mentioned by the Zucker report is another open question.
In the spirit of transparency, Mayor Curtatone ought to provide some answers to these riddles.