D’Agostino’s career marked with accomplishments and controversy

Jun. 21, 2013 @ 02:07 PM

Monroe’s new city manager, John D’Agostino, will bring to the city years of experience, along with some controversy. 

D’Agostino, 55, has been working in government for 31 years.

He wrote in an email that he was drawn to government work to make a difference. 

“I believe in making a difference in the lives of people,” he wrote. “I have the desire to use my skills to improve upon the city by working with staff, council and the residents.”

He wrote that his favorite part of his job is interacting with residents, working with professional staff and finding creative solutions to issues. He also wrote that his least favorite part, as with most jobs, is making difficult and unpopular decisions, even though they are the right decisions to make. 

In his previous positions, D’Agostino made a few difficult and unpopular decisions.

In Abington, Mass., D’Agostino’s contract was not renewed due to nonfeasance, which was later reversed. There was an issue between D’Agostino and the selectmen when he applied for a job in Key West, Fla. without the board’s permission, something that was stipulated in his contract. 

D’Agostino said in an interview that he put the selectmen on notice that he was job searching. When it became public, he said, it was an issue for some of the members, but not all of them. 

The Abington Enterprise in Massachusetts also reported that D’Agostino also “failed to work in harmony” with town boards and committees.

“I don’t believe those claims have any truth to them,” D’Agostino said when asked about claims that he was polarizing and did not work well with others. “If that was the case, I would not be able to work anywhere.”

D’Agostino noted that he was the town manager in Mansfield for 12 years and that he was not renewed in Abington for a variety of reasons. 

“Somebody who is polarizing and that doesn’t work well with others doesn’t last long anywhere and that’s really not the case from my perspective and also from the people who worked for me,” he said.

While in Abington, D’Agostino grew the town’s stabilization fund from $1,000 to $1 million, he also secured a community block grant, kept a local school open, kept a business from leaving and secured a trash contract among other things, according to local media reports. 

In his previous position, in Mansfield, the town was involved in a whistleblower lawsuit, which it lost.

An employee filed a sexual harassment claim against D’Agostino, which was dismissed due to lack of evidence. After the claim, an employee filed a whistleblower suit.

“He needed this claim,” D’Agostino said. “He needed to have this individual file this claim, which he did, which gave him the ability to file this whistleblower claim.”

He added that the individual had filed these claims before.

Another man filed a retaliation lawsuit against the town and D’Agostino, claiming that he was being retaliated against after testifying against the town in separate lawsuits.

While in Mansfield, D’Agostino renovated a part of the town called the South Common, oversaw road and bridge work, created enterprise funds and added athletic fields among other things, according to local media reports. 

Some Monroe council members said in interviews that they were not concerned by this past, many noting that lawsuits are common in municipal leaders. 

D’Agostino asked people to reserve judgment. 

“I would ask them to judge me for the person that they meet and talk with and get to know,” D’Agostino said.”I would ask them to judge me for the person that they come to know and meet.”

D’Agostino has read the $50,000 study commissioned by council to examine the relationship between city council and city manager. 

“I feel the report identifies the need to provide leadership to the staff and council and at the same time the need to articulate clear and concise guidelines between the council, manager and staff,” he wrote. “There is a definite need to instill trust between the Council, the manager’s office and Staff.  I feel confident in my ability to create a trusting and respectful working relationship between myself, the council and staff for the greater good of the residents of Monroe.”

D’Agostino described himself in an e-mail as a creative leader.

“I am a creative leader and collaborative problem-solver who often seeks input before making decisions,” he wrote. “I view myself as a coach readily available to the council, staff and residents. I am truthful in my responses, confident in my skills and willing to make difficult decisions.”

D’Agostino received a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University, a master’s degree from The University of Hartford and another master’s degree from American International College.

He is married with two children and two stepchildren. He said he enjoys reading, cooking, golfing and sharing stories.

D’Agostino will start his new position on Aug. 12 with a salary of $140,000.