Budget problem? What budget problem? The city has paid through the years millions of dollars to outside legal firms. Here’s another example of City Attorney Mark Anastasi’s mantra that he doesn’t have enough inhouse expertise, although he cites the following, according to the accomplishment section of the city budget, “Substantially reduced the office’s reliance on outside legal counsel through enhanced monitoring and oversight, as well as through hiring additional in house trial attorneys.”
Really? The City Attorney’s Office was apparently impacted by the budget crunch last week when two clerical positions were pink slipped, but not the $7,000 each month to pay an attorney who’s a pal of the mayor.
Democrat Edwin J. Maley Jr., a longtime aide to state legislative leaders, is proof that the right political connections can make your retirement years as financially lucrative as when you were a highly paid state employee.
Maley, 56, of Cromwell, retired in 2007 after a 28-year career as a legislative staff attorney, much of the time serving as legal counsel and chief of staff for state Senate Democrats. His annual salary was about $180,000 during his last few years on the job, not bad for government work.
But public records show that he has been able to exceed that in three of his retirement years since then — 2008 to 2010 — because he’s collected his pension while doing part-time work for three government entities. And those three entities are led or influenced by former or current Democratic state senators with whom he worked as a state legislative employee:
•Maley, who operates a part-time solo law practice out of his townhouse condominium in Cromwell, was paid $217,000 between late 2007 and the end of last month by the city attorney’s office in Bridgeport — where former Democratic state Sen. William Finch is now mayor. Bridgeport currently pays Maley $7,000 a month for legal work, a city spokesman said.
•He also has done $94,000 worth of work in three years, $65,000 of it in 2008, for the Hartford-based regional water and sewer agency, the Metropolitan District Commission — where former Democratic state Sen. Majority Leader William DiBella is chairman of the district’s governing board.
•And now he also makes $47,000 a year as one of two part-time state legislative commissioners who oversee an office whose full-time staff lawyers draft and approve the language of legislation passed by the General Assembly. Those two commissioners, one Republican and one Democrat, are appointed by the state legislature, and the nomination of Maley three years ago came from Senate Democrats, led by President Pro Tempore Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn.
There’s been no criticism of any of these arrangements, which have been made under the time-honored rules that apply where official business intersects with political alliances.
But recent years have brought increasing scrutiny of “double-dipping” by pensioners who return to the state payroll after retirement for high-paying part-time work while still collecting pensions. Maley’s case stands out because you could almost call it “triple-dipping.”
Also, it simply provides a good inside look at how things work at the elite level of state politics, where the players can exercise wide discretion in making decisions that taxpayers provide the money for, but don’t often know much about.
Maley was one of those quiet, behind-the-scenes counselors who are mostly unknown outside the state Capitol but are trusted and liked by the powerful legislative leaders they serve. Membership in that sort of club doesn’t necessarily end with retirement; when state legislators move on to other positions in politics, sometimes they’ll want to hire a lawyer at taxpayer expense — and, instead of searching through the attorney listings in the Yellow Pages, they tend to turn to somebody they know.
Those involved in hiring Maley for his post-retirement work say he possesses rare skills and knowledge in the specialized areas of legislation and government action — that he has the experience to advise government officials about what needs to be done and how to accomplish it.
Williams, the Senate president pro tempore, praised Maley’s “abilities, his integrity, his intellect, and his incredible institutional knowledge” in Senate remarks when Williams nominated Maley for legislative commissioner in 2007.
Bridgeport City Attorney Mark Anastasi responded to a Courant inquiry last week with a statement saying, “Attorney Maley has provided invaluable advice and consultation regarding improving the quality of the City Attorney’s office service delivery plan and facilitation [of] our modernization plan.
“In addition, Mr. Maley has been fully engaged in a number of complex, substantive budgetary and development projects on behalf of the City. As you are aware, Attorney Maley has extensive experience in complex economic development projects and public governmental budgetary matters.