NAUGATUCK – A local snow contractor is upset and claimed an altercation between his driver and a prominent resident led the town to request he fire his employee.
Paulo DeSousa, a partner in Canale-DeSousa Property Group, spoke during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Burgesses meeting to express his frustration over the way the case was handled.
The driver, Michael Voz, was plowing the roads in the Indian Hills section of town when Fran Dambrowski, Emergency Management Director for Naugatuck, pulled up behind him. Voz allegedly asked Dambrowski to back up so he could get the plow out and the two proceeded to exchange obscenities, according to DeSousa.
After the incident, Public Works Director James Stewart called DeSousa, threatening to stop using the contractor if Voz continued plowing Naugatuck’s streets, DeSousa said.
DeSousa said he called Mayor Bob Mezzo to appeal his case, but Mezzo told him he couldn’t do anything.
“From the second I called you, I was in the wrong,” DeSousa told the mayor.
Mezzo said DeSousa mischaracterized their conversation and that he had offered to meet with DeSousa to discuss the issue. He defended the town’s right to engage or not engage a contractor for any reason.
“The things that I heard that your driver said were despicable,” Stewart said.
DeSousa accused Stewart of making a decision based on hearsay, saying it wouldn’t have been a big deal if the party involved wasn’t well-connected to the town government.
“If it was Joe Shmoe that did it, this wouldn’t happen,” DeSousa said.
Other people complain about contractors, but nothing happens, he said.
DeSousa defended his company’s record with the town, saying the respond to calls at all hours of the night and plow until the job is done. The company has been working with Naugatuck for three years, according to DeSousa.
“We do everything possible to help this town out,” DeSousa said.
Mezzo said he was still willing to talk with DeSousa and look into the matter.
Burgess Bob Neth encouraged the two parties to sit down and resolve the issues, saying the town can’t afford to loose a good contractor.
Burgess Tamath Rossi echoed his sentiments, saying she was disappointed there hadn’t been an investigation.
“I always like to support local businesses,” she said.
After the meeting, DeSousa said he would e-mail the mayor.
“I owe it to the people who spoke up,” he said. “I just believe it was handled in a very unprofessional manner.”