December 31

CAO Bob Rusten to leave top Burlington position

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced that Burlington Chief Administrative Officer Bob Rusten will be leaving the CAO position on September 1, 2017, after serving in City Hall since 2013.  Rusten played a critical role in numerous key initiatives over the last four years, including the restoration of the City’s credit rating, voter passage of a five year infrastructure plan, and substantial reform of the City’s retirement system. “I am deeply grateful for the tremendous service that Bob Rusten has provided to Burlington as our CAO,” said Weinberger. “I have known this day was coming, but that does not make Bob’s departure any easier. For four years, Bob has served with dedication, precision, and good humor.  Generations of Burlingtonians will benefit from the work Bob led to restore the City’s finances, strengthen its management, and responsibly steward its infrastructure.”“I am proud of the work the CAO’s Office has completed with the Mayor, City Council, and City employees to resolve the City’s longstanding financial issues,” said Rusten. “With a sound financial footing from which to work, and with an incredible Clerk Treasurer’s team and City Department Heads and staff, the Mayor and Council can feel more confident than ever in focusing on the future of Burlington. I look forward to continuing to work with Burlington on City projects.””Bob Rusten leaves an impressive legacy as the City’s CAO, with many significant accomplishments behind him,” said City Council President Jane Knodell. “In his dealings with the City Council, he was always forthcoming and crystal-clear. I admire his integrity, work ethic, and commitment to good government. On behalf of the entire City Council, I thank him for his outstanding service to the people of Burlington.””As a member of the CAO search committee four years ago, I had a great feeling that Bob’s presence in City Hall would be one our City would benefit from for years to come,” said City Councilor Karen Paul. “My only regret is that the end of his tenure has come too quickly. Bob’s involvement in pension reform and collaborative bargaining were instrumental in the significant and ground-breaking advances we have made in the past few years. As an auditor, I respect Bob’s commitment to best practices which has led to a cleaner audit and strong financials. Bob is one of the unsung heroes in City Hall and he will surely be missed.”Prior to becoming the City of Burlington’s CAO, Rusten successfully led financial turnarounds in both South Burlington, Vermont and Wilmington, Vermont. Rusten also brought valuable experience with pension reform and collective bargaining to Burlington, having sat at both ends of the collective bargaining table. At different points in his career, Rusten led union negotiations on behalf of municipalities as well as participated in union negotiations on behalf of a steelworkers union.During his years as Burlington’s CAO, Rusten worked to rebuild the City’s financial integrity, enhance collaboration between the City and unions, and address longstanding Department staffing needs while also producing balanced, forward-looking budgets.With Rusten’s guidance and effort, the City:·        Restored its credit from the edge of junk bond status to an “A” rating. In March of 2017, Moody’s Investors Service not only affirmed the City’s A3 credit rating, but revised the City’s outlook to positive. Moody’s also upgraded the Airport’s credit rating to Baa3, and BED’s credit rating to A3 during Rusten’s tenure.·        Secured a clean management letter and audit for FY16 (in FY12, the City’s auditor found one significant finding and 12 material weaknesses).·        Led successful rounds of union negotiations resulting in substantial pension and health care reform. This reform saved taxpayers an estimated $2.2 million from 2013-2016, and is projected to save a total of $8 million by 2020. Rusten, as part of the City’s negotiating team, and with the active participation from the City’s four bargaining units, helped in drafting contracts that now include a shared risk process to address spikes in the actuarial required contribution.·        Created the five year, $50 million Capital Plan, which will allow the City to properly steward its streets, sidewalks, water mains, Bike Path, and other vital public infrastructure for future generations. Rusten’s work helped ensure the Capital Plan would come at a modest cost to property taxpayers, and would ultimately save Burlington taxpayers money by keeping pace with needed infrastructure improvements, rather than waiting until costly emergency interventions become necessary.·        Addressed long-standing staffing needs within the City, including supporting the addition of staff positions to IT, Police, and Fire Departments. These staffing increases were accomplished with minimal impact to the City’s budget.·        Assembled disciplined, forward-looking budgets that saw the City realize its fund balance target nearly two years early.·        Reorganized the Clerk/Treasurer’s Office, including improvements made to the front desk, licensing, elections, and modernizing land use records that led to better services for taxpayers at lower overall costs.Mayor Weinberger, City Attorney Eileen Blackwood and Rusten are in conversations about Rusten continuing to serve the City beyond September 1, 2017 in a part-time role that would include work on collective bargaining issues and other special projects. Rusten’s substantial institutional knowledge on these matters, and his proven ability to secure benefits for taxpayers, would make his continued service in this limited role valuable. Any such role would have to be supported by the City Council as part of the FY18 budget approval process in June.Burlington Electric Department General Manager Neale Lunderville has agreed to lead the search process for a new CAO.Source: Mayor 5.17.2017last_img read more

September 16

Resaul records second win, Perasud picks up first

first_imgGuyana’s under – 14 lawn tennis players are finding their feet in the 2019 JITIC U14 lawn tennis tournament currently being contested in the Twin-Island Republic.  Vadeanand Resaul who picked up a win over the weekend, recorded his second triumph of the tournament with a come from behind 2-4,4-0, 10-6 win over Thomas Chung of Trinidad and Tobago on Monday. Saskia Persaud was also in the winners’ row after she picked up her first win by downing Kiara Youssef 2-1 also of the Twin Island Republic. The championship ends tomorrow.last_img

January 17

Liberia’s Judiciary ‘Influenced by Corruption’

first_imgUS Human Rights Reports in 2015 has branded the Judiciary and the entire justice system of Liberia as “corrupt.”Accordingly, acceptance of bribes by judges and juries, police harassment and extortion of money from drivers and biased treatment given alleged corrupt government officials are highlighted in the 2015 report concerning Liberia.In line with the Liberian Constitution, the report says, there should be an independent Judiciary, but the third branch of government that is responsible for interpreting the law is highly influenced by corruption.“The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, but judges and magistrates were subject to influence and corruption. Uneven application of the law and unequal distribution of personnel and resources remained problems throughout the judicial system. The government continued efforts to harmonize the traditional and formal justice systems in particular through campaigns focused on trying criminal cases in formal courts. These cases included murder, rape, and human trafficking, as well as some civil cases that could be resolved in either formal or traditional systems,” the report says.The report went further to note that bribery was a factor in determining which cases were tried and what the outcome of cases would be.“Some judges accepted bribes to award damages in civil cases. Judges sometimes solicited bribes to try cases, release detainees from prison, or find defendants not guilty in criminal cases. Defense attorneys and prosecutors sometimes suggested defendants pay bribes to secure favorable decisions from judges, prosecutors, and jurors. Corrections officers sometimes demanded payment to bring a detainee before the Magistrate Sitting Program.”It is also stressed in the report that there is an overwhelming pretrial detainee problem at the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP), which is in violation of the Liberian Constitution and the international convention on human rights.“Although the law provides for a defendant to receive an expeditious trial, lengthy pretrial and pre-arraignment detention remained serious problems. An estimated 78 percent of prisoners were pretrial detainees as of November, despite the large number of detainees released by the Magistrate Sitting Program during 2014 to reduce Ebola virus disease (EVD) transmission in overcrowded prisons. Unavailability of counsel at the early stages of proceedings contributed to prolonged pretrial detention. A 2013 study of the MCP population revealed pretrial detainees were held on average more than 10 months. For example, an LNP officer was detained for nearly four months without a formal charge on suspicion of manslaughter after a civil disturbance in Paynesville in April.”Juries are also accused in the report of being partial due to acceptance of bribes that influence their decisions.“Trials are public. Juries are used in circuit court trials, but not at the magistrate level. Jurors were subject to influence and corrupt practices that undermined their neutrality. Defendants have the right to be present at their trials, consult with an attorney in a timely manner, and have access to government-held evidence relevant to their case. Defendants have the right to be informed of the charges promptly and in detail. If a defendant, complainant, or witness does not speak or understand English, the court provides interpreters for the trial. Defendants also have the right to a trial without delay and to have adequate time and facilities to prepare their defense, although these rights often were not observed. Defendants are presumed innocent and they have the right to confront and question adverse witnesses, present their own evidence and witnesses, and appeal adverse decisions. These rights, however, were not observed consistently.”The Liberia National Police (LNP) is accused in the report of misconduct and corruption as evidenced by suspension or dismissal of several of its officers.It further indicated that in January of 2015, police authorities dismissed and referred to the judicial system for trial of two officers for alleged misappropriation of L$2.9 million entrusted to them for the EVD control operations.The Report also indicated that “The LNP’s Professional Standards Division (PSD) is responsible for investigating allegations of police misconduct, and referring cases for prosecution. In January 25 officers of the division participated in a three-day training activity related to a plan intended to decentralize its operations into five regions; training covered PSD policy and procedure, investigation, and report writing. “The National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) reported that violent police action during arrests was the most common complaint of misconduct.”However, the report also alluded to the fact that regular LNP officers are poorly equipped, ineffective, and slow to respond to criminal activity; although foot patrols met with some successes in curbing crimes in some areas.Limited transportation, communication and forensic capabilities, and lack of capacity to investigate crimes including violence constitute some of LNP’s challenges.“The lack of a crime laboratory and other investigative tools hampered police investigations and evidence gathering that, in turn, hampered prosecutors’ ability to prepare court cases,” the report emphasizes.In reference to the Constitution on free movement within Liberia, foreign travel, emigration and repatriation, the report noted that the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) and the LNP subjected travelers to arbitrary searches and petty extortion at unofficial checkpoints.Regarding corruption in government, the report said some officials engaged in corrupt practices and went with impunity. It did not state who were involved.It mentioned low salary for civil servants, minimal job training, and little judicial accountability as conditions that exacerbated official corruption and contributed to a culture of impunity.According to the report, the President will dismiss or suspend some officials for corruption, while others will be dismissed and sent to court for prosecution; something that seems to manifest conflict of interest in decision making on the part of the President.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more