Another public works staffer leaves

NASHUA – Another senior staff person is leaving the Division of Public Works, the third departure in a month’s time.

The string of departures is prompting some questions about whether there is trouble in the division causing the top managers to find work elsewhere.

Ward 2 Alderman Tim Nickerson raised the point that the division could be in turmoil.

“It makes you wonder about the environment over there,” Nickerson said at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting.

Deputy Director Jim Mealey is the latest manager in the division to head for the exit. Mealey served for nearly three years in charge of administration.

Mealey’s departure follows on the heels of the departure of Traffic Superintendent Todd Landry, who followed City Engineer Eric Teitelman out the door. Both Landry and Teitelman took high-level jobs in public works departments in California.

Mealey accepted a position as New England regional manager with Crothall Healthcare, a contract management company that provides housekeepingcountry. He worked for Crothall before taking the position with the city in 2001.

Director of Public Works George Crombie insisted his division is in good shape.

It’s natural for relatively young people to seek to advance their careers, he said. The division has a highly capable staff ready to take the reins and get projects done, he said.

The division is highly regarded in the field, he said.

“I’m really proud of them. They have all got great jobs,” Crombie said about his departing staff members, adding that Teitelman is the fourth public works director who trained under him. “You hate to lose good people, but you understand why.”

Mayor Bernie Streeter acknowledged that Crombie has a reputation as a taskmaster, but said the departing staff members have not indicated any problem with Crombie’s leadership.

In the past four years, the division has become one of the best public works divisions in New England, Streeter said.

“He does have some members of the Board of Aldermen question his every move. From my perspective, he gets the job done,” Streeter said of Crombie.

Mealey echoed those sentiments.

The division works in an environment where it appears that some aldermen try to make life as difficult as possible, he said. But that is not the reason for the departures, he said.

“I do know we feel good about what we do and that makes it easier to deal with,” he said.

Everyone who has left enjoyed working under Crombie, Mealey said. Other aldermen also spoke highly of the division under Crombie’s leadership.

Ward 4 Alderman Marc Plamondon said the division is a committed team working together. He called it “untrue and unfounded” that strife in the division is forcing people out.

Alderman-at-Large Fred Britton said the three employees have “all left for better opportunities and for the right reasons.”