Attorney Paul Cassidy, who represents Macomb Township General Counsel and Human Resources Director Tom Esordi, seen here, sent a letter to Supervisor Janet Dunn regarding a “public verbal ambush” launched against Esordi by Clerk Kristi Pozzi May 22.

Attorney Paul Cassidy, who represents Macomb Township General Counsel and Human Resources Director Tom Esordi, seen here, sent a letter to Supervisor Janet Dunn regarding a “public verbal ambush” launched against Esordi by Clerk Kristi Pozzi May 22.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Do Macomb Township employee’s 2 positions create a conflict of interest?

Attorney thinks not

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published June 25, 2019

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Once again, the issue of a potential conflict of interest has been addressed in Macomb Township.

Attorney Paul Cassidy, who represents Macomb Township General Counsel and Human Resources Director Tom Esordi, sent a letter to Supervisor Janet Dunn June 6 regarding a “public verbal ambush” launched against Esordi by Clerk Kristi Pozzi May 22.

Cassidy writes in the letter that he represents Esordi, who sought his advice and counsel.

At that meeting, Pozzi requested outside legal counsel to conduct an investigation of Esordi.

“On April 15, three full-time elected officials received a complaint from an HR employee regarding the behavior of employee 2205,” Pozzi said at the May 22 meeting, referring to Esordi. “In my opinion, the complaint warranted an investigative meeting, and I requested one to be conducted.”

After reviewing meeting videos and documents, Cassidy said there is a repeated and misconceived conflict of interest claim in Esordi’s positions of general counsel and human resources director.

Cassidy sees no conflict.

“In fulfilling both roles, Mr. Esordi serves only one master, the township taxpayers,” he writes. “The two roles complement each other and do not conflict in any way.”

Cassidy said that for Pozzi, as a public figure, the rules are different and that “more experienced members of the board” should advise her that Esordi is a township employee, not a public figure.

Cassidy believes that Pozzi’s comments about Esordi at the meeting wrongfully denied him due process owed to every public employee. He also writes that Pozzi’s comments created a hostile work environment.

At the June 12 Board of Trustees meeting, Trustee Tim Bussineau said the tone of the letter sought to tell a couple of board members to be quiet in regard to the two positions Esordi fills.

“Now I got lawyers telling board members to tone it down,” he said. “The conflict of interest is at an all-time high. It was pointed at another board member, but there were comments about me too. It was basically, ‘Quit doing what you’re doing.’”

Trustee Kathy Smith felt the letter was addressed to the whole board, not just a criticism of Pozzi, and she did not appreciate the letter.

“We’re here to serve the residents of Macomb Township, and I believe we’re only as good as the employees that work for us,” she said. “If there’s a problem, we need to fix it.”

At the June 12 meeting, Pozzi said that the letter strongly suggests that she or other board members be prevented from exposing concerns with regard to township affairs and employees.

“I will not be intimidated by a baseless and frivolous letter,” she said.

Pozzi said she stands by her comments at board meetings and her efforts to conduct a review of Esordi’s performance.

“I will vigorously defend myself against any threat of litigation that is filed regarding this matter,” Pozzi said. “I was elected to represent Macomb Township residents and employees, and for me, paying attention is not an option.”

Trustee Roger Krzeminski requested Pozzi be added to a July 10 meeting to have a new position created in the Human Resources Department, a human resources manager.

“It would be a non-union position,” he said. “The HR director will create a position description and present it at that time.”

Trustee Nancy Nevers said she thinks the letter was sent because Esordi’s “good name” was mentioned in open session and that wouldn’t have been done to any other employee.

“We’re talking due process and basic fairness, and that didn’t happen,” she said.

In public comments, AFSCME Local 1917 Representative Denis Martin said a mistake was made by the board in 2017 by combining the HR and legal positions.

Martin claims that Esordi did not fill out an application, turn in a resume or complete pre-hire testing for the human resources director position.

“Those are the same tests required of every other employee of this township,” Martin said. “You would think the HR director would lead by example. The problem is Mr. Esordi believes he is above all other employees.”

Weeks ago, Martin said the management union was led to believe Esordi would be evaluated with input from township employees.

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