Stowik demoted, Vadenais promoted in DPW

Stowik demoted, Vadenais promoted in DPW

CUMBERLAND – Longtime Highway Supt. Frank Stowik has lost his leadership position, a move mostly tied to conflicts brought up by the fact that he’s still a union member.

Mayor Jeff Mutter made the decision to remove Stowik from the role and replace him with veteran department member Dennis Vadenais, telling The Breeze that it was in the best interest of the town. He cited the fact that the town charter actually calls for a superintendent of public works, appointed by the director, who shall, under direction of the director of public works, have general charge of the operations of the DPW.

Stowik, a senior foreman, was never appointed to that position, but some of the authority and responsibility of the position was under his purview, whether rightfully or not, said Mutter. The position was an appointed one in the past, he said, but at some point stopped being appointed.

It appears, based on archived stories, that Stowik began going by the title of highway superintendent in 2009.

One of the most problematic aspects of having a member of the Cumberland Town Employees Union in the role, as Stowik was, was that the collective bargaining agreement does not give him the ability to discipline employees, said Mutter.

Asked if a recent move to discipline a highway worker for what were seen as inappropriate comments to residents on local Facebook pages played any role in Stowik’s demotion, Mutter confirmed that there have been some “disciplinary issues related to activities on social media” sites.

“Were they directly responsible for making the move? Not directly, but they played a role,” he said.

Based on observations by The Breeze, the employee in question was particularly outspoken when it came to defending the town from criticism about its plowing operations.

Stowik wasn’t commenting on the circumstances surrounding his demotion other than to say that he didn’t believe there were any issues related to his work performance.

As a union member and acting superintendent, he noted, he didn’t receive extra money for the role.

“I will say, things haven’t been the same since my uncle was murdered,” he said.

His uncle, Stanley Stowik, was murdered in his Cumberland home back in October of 2015, and his killer remains free despite police long having a person of interest in the unsolved case.

Vadenais has the title of acting superintendent of public works, retaining the total of “acting” because there is no salary currently in the salary ordinance for the position, said Mutter, a matter the council will have to deliberate on. The charter doesn’t use an ambiguous word such as “may” when describing the position having authority over the DPW, said Mutter, but the word is “shall.”

Mutter said Stowik “absolutely” did a good job as highway superintendent.

“No one is going to judge his intention and his wanting to do the best job possible for the town. There are no disputes at all about that,” he said.

Comments

HUGE ,HUGE, HUGE MISTAKE . Frank may have been a bit rough around the edges but he was a very dedicated to his job and the Town Of Cumberland. Most mornings passing the town garage @ 5 am ( 7am start time ) Franks truck would be their and the lights on planing his day.Being in a leadership roll you are the one that takes all complaints having to do with your department and their is always someone that"s not happy.Frank was on call 24/7 / 365 and responded accordingly something very rare today . I do not know Mr Vadenais( thought he moved to Maine ) or his quantification's but Frank will be a tough act to follow.For a minute lets let go of the egos and step back to see what we have lost in a moment of anger . Please reinstate Frank ASAP before some other town offers him the position and Cumberland will lose a person that has given his life to make our town a better place to live .

Sounds like there is more to the story but we will never know what really happened. The only person that seems mad is his boss, the mayor. Word to the wise, don’t poke the bear!
Chief, If Stowik was there at 5am, remember he is a union employee. I’m sure he was getting paid for it. Same goes for the on call. Nobody works for nothing. Maybe his constant overtime had something to do with it too. I’m not pointing any fingers just looking at all the facts. More power to him if he was making overtime money every day. Devoted yes, but also getting paid for it.

This may be a lead in (housekeeping) to a salary ordinance the Mayor is looking to put forward to give raises to many town employees. Taxpayers should keep a close eye on this and understand the rationale for these increases when our economy has been hit so hard by Covid. If these are merit based increases and do not impact total expenses through cuts elsewhere in the budget they might make great sense.

The salary ordinance is already advertised online with all the changes on it. I don’t know why you’re trying to make it sound like it’s sneaky. You can examine any changes yourself and it will be discussed at a public meeting.

Sad02864....it states he was also available 24/7....just like a salaried employee would have to be. Paid for OT? I don't know if that's true but available 24/7 during times this town needed leadership...clearly true. Stowik has had many articles regarding various things around this town. (storms, flooding, etc ) and relied on his experience and expertise to guide them through. I find it very hard to believe they are just realizing he was a union member after all these years. Sounds like this town thanklessly did him a disservice.