When the city’s Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Richard Fortucci was being investigated for wrongdoing by the mayor a few months back, his arch rival at city hall, Comptroller John Pace, was made acting CFO with a stipend of $500 a week.
When the city council voted 11-0 to keep Fortucci and to reinstate him as the CFO, Pace continued paying himself the $500 stipend and insisted to his friend the mayor that he should continue receiving the added money.
Ironically, Pace’s job is to maintain the integrity of all salaries paid to municipal employees in the city, including his own.
As one former councilor put it: “Mr. Pace is the watchdog of the payroll.”
Mr. Pace went to the city’s legal department and allegedly told the city solicitor that he should be receiving the added $500.
“I don’t think so,” was the apparent reply from the city solicitor.
Enter Mr. Fortucci into the fray.
He suspended Pace from his position last week for allegedly misappropriating public funds.
On May 13, a hearing has been set to question Pace about the efficacy as well as the legality of accepting extra pay as the acting CFO when he was not, in fact, the acting CFO any longer.
By all appearances, it is believed that Pace accepted the extra pay for five weeks – but only after telling Fortucci where to go in no uncertain terms when Fortucci called him on it.
Fortucci claims Pace took $2500 of city money that should not be his.
Unknown to most city government members is that Mayor Judith Flanagan-Kennedy apparently e-mailed Pace and told him he was no longer the CFO.
Pace is close with the mayor.
Fortucci is not.
City hall officials who wished to remain unnamed believe the stage has been set by Fortucci to relieve Pace of his comptroller’s position and in fact, to fire him, placing in jeopardy not only his job but his pension.
Fortucci has not forgotten the treatment he received at the hands of Pace and the mayor.
The May 13 meeting takes on a new context considering what came before.
The great unknown is how Pace could continue taking the added $500 a week after Fortucci was reinstated and after being warned by the mayor and Fortucci.
At the hearing, it is expected that Pace will be terminated by Fortucci.
The meeting is all about revenge and behavior inconsistent with what a comptroller following the law would do.
Pace has made a serious error in judgment not just accepting the $500 a week but by creating an illegal payroll that enhanced his own salary.