Mayor Grebien goes around council, adds a new liaison

Mayor Grebien goes around council, adds a new liaison

Says Zelazo will free him up to pursue new business

PAWTUCKET - Mayor Don Grebien has added a second "director of constituent services and communications" position to his office without the approval of the Pawtucket City Council.

He "didn't want to do it this way," said Grebien, "because he wanted to be above this perception," but he was left with no choice when its members resoundingly rejected two different proposals for new economic development positions.

He "heard the council loud and clear," said the mayor, and decided he had to go in the only direction left to him.

Dylan Zelazo, until now an employee of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, has worked with city officials for months on a number of projects, including consolidation of IT functions between the city and School Department and the privatization of trash services. He will earn $53,200.

Zelazo will join Doug Hadden, the former Times reporter who holds the same position, but the two will have different responsibilities, according to Grebien. Zelazo, with his expertise in finance, will work extensively in that arena, while Hadden will continue in his current duties, which include time spent writing press releases and answering constituent questions.

City Council members last week demanded a written explanation from Grebien on why he hired Zelazo, especially since they were told of no retirement by Hadden.

Council President David Moran said Monday he would have no comment until he had additional information.

According to Grebien, the City Council is responsible for approving "job descriptions." The Pawtucket City Charter allows him to hire as many people within an appointed position as he wants. In theory, he said, he could hire 10 or more people to the liaison position now held by Hadden and Zelazo.

"The council approves the title and they didn't want to do it that way," he said.

Grebien said he hired Zelazo because he remains committed to economic development on a mass scale, and having him on board will allow the mayor and Director of Administration Tony Pires to focus more of their energy on bringing in new business.

"It seems like all we've been doing is finances, finances, finances," he said.

Given all the "attrition" from city positions, Pawtucket has "the money in the budget" for both men, said Grebien, so he's going to utilize both.

Zelazo has both the "background" and "expertise" to flourish in his new role, said Grebien.