Kupiec, Segarra's Chief of Staff, Resigns

Jun 3, 2013

Hartford City Hall.
Credit Heather Brandon / WNPR

There is shakeup in the administration of Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra. Jared Kupiec, Segarra's chief of staff, is resigning. Kupiec's resignation comes after a series of political missteps -- including one in which he used his city credit card to pay for a New Year's Eve dinner for Segarra, the mayor's spouse, and others. The dinner was at a high-end downtown restaurant and included champagne and caviar.

Both Segarra and Kupiec declined interviews. But in emails released by the city, Kupiec says he was moving on to prepare for a career outside of politics, possibly in the law. Meanwhile, Segarra is bringing in Juan Figueroa as a special advisor. Figueroa recently ran for and lost the Democratic nomination for governor.

Shawn Wooden is the city council president. He welcomed the move, and said that Kupiec and the mayor's administration showed a "pattern of bad judgment." And that bad judgment takes a toll.

Wooden: It undermines credibility with city leadership, it undermines credibility with those that we are reaching out to to help Hartford.
Cohen: And had you lost confidence yourself in Jared?
Wooden: Yes. John Kennelly is a friend and advisor to Segarra. He knows Kupiec well.

"I know he felt that he wasn't being as effective as he felt a chief of staff should be." And, Kennelly said the series of reports about Kupiec -- from the New Year's Eve Dinner to a pay raise last year -- got to be distractions. "When you're talking about that stuff and you're not talking about the budget, and you're not talking about economic development, and you're not talking about the schools, that's a problem."

This also gets to the debate over the role of the chief of staff to begin with. David Panagore worked for the administration until last year as it chief operating officer. He says that, regardless of the personalities, there's a basic conflict in the city charter between chief operating officer and the mayor's chief of staff. Panagore says that causes constant irritation. "Both are direct reports to the mayor, neither is differentiated as being in charge, and the responsibilities overlap."

And now, as Kupiec departs and Segarra calls for a recalibration of his administration, figuring out who is in charge may be more important than ever.