James Mindek — the Department of Education information-technology chief suspended last year for helping his son and a subordinate’s daughter get hired as temporary state workers — says he was singled out for punishment even though fellow administrators agreed with the hirings, and his boss was “very excited” about them.
In sworn testimony to a state appeals board this past week, Mindek said a fellow manager used the phrase “all for one, one for all” to describe the unanimity of four administrators in favor of the hirings in mid-2015.
But in late 2016, after the department was embarrassed by Courant stories about alleged nepotism, Mindek said he, alone, took the fall. He was hit with a 60-day unpaid suspension from his $144,000 government job, costing him $24,000.
“It was a thumbs-up … a green light” on the hirings in mid-2015 because of critical shortages in IT expertise, Mindek said Monday at a state Employees’ Review Board hearing on his attempt to win a reversal or reduction of the suspension.
It was Mindek’s first testimony in hearings that have stretched out since May — and the hearings aren’t over yet. They have brought out stark contradictions in education officials’ versions of events, and have raised questions about how effectively the education department policed its own ethics rules.
Mindek is one of two high-ranking IT managers at the education department whose children, in their mid-20s, were supplied as temporary computer support workers by a state personnel contractor, Tri-Com Consulting Group of Middletown. The other manager was David Skoczylas, Mindek’s $124,000-a-year subordinate.
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