There was never a good time for Steve Morelli to step away from the Berlin Town Council. There was always another project or another hot topic that he felt needed to be taken care of before he left.
In his fourth term and third as Deputy Mayor, Morelli was presented an opportunity that he could not pass up and as of July 24, the next Town Council Meeting, Morelli will no longer be a member of the Council. Governor Dannel Malloy has appointed Morelli to a spot as a Commissioner for the Worker’s Compensation Commission.
The Democratic Town Committee will make an appointment for Morelli’s spot on the Town Council and Rachel Rochette will assume his duties as Deputy Mayor.
“I approached the Governor right after he was elected to tell him my background and what my interests were,” Morelli said. “There were a couple of positions that they thought might open up in 2013 so I wasn’t expecting anything to come up too quickly.”
When one of the Commissioners passed away recently Morelli was contacted to see if he was still interested.
“When the Governor calls, you’d have to be crazy not to answer,” Morelli said. “It’s obviously not the ideal conditions for a position to open up. He nominated me and it was forwarded to the Judiciary Committee. They then have 30 days to act on the nomination. This is still an interim position. It won’t be finalized until the next Legislative session.”
“I appointed Stephen Morelli to the Workers’ Compensation Commission due to his extensive experience with employment law, and his longstanding service to the public as a member of the Berlin Town Council,” said Governor Malloy in a statement sent by his Communications Director. “It is important to ensure that workers injured on the job receive prompt and fair payment of their lost wages and related medical expenses, and I believe that Mr. Morelli will be a valued member of the Commission.”
The Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) handles compensation laws of the State of Connecticut. The WCC works to provide workers injured on the job with payment of lost work time benefits and attendant medical expenses. Consequently, the WCC primarily manages the facilitation of voluntary agreements, adjudicates disputes, makes findings and awards, hears and rules on appeals, and closes out cases through full and final stipulated settlements.
Because of his appointment, not only does Morelli have to leave his seat on the Town council but also he cannot be on the Democratic Town Committee or attend any political fundraisers. He also has to close his Law Office, Steve Morelli and Associates, which he opened in 2000.
“I have to transition all my acting files to other attorneys,” Morelli said. “I have given my clients as much notice as I could so they could try to pick their own attorney. I have to keep all of my files for seven years. I stopped taking new clients as soon as I went through the background check that the Governor’s Office put me through. There is nothing quick or tidy about closing the office but that is what I’ve had to do.”
Tuesday, July 24th will be his last Council Meeting.
“Generally speaking I’m proud of the fact that we, as a Council, were able to keep Berlin moving forward without breaking the bank,” Morelli said. “I think we have done a good job of figuring of what Berlin needs most and done a good job of handling those priorities. These are very tough economic times. Everyone is feeling it, and we as a town has done a good job of keeping ourselves on solid financial ground.
“In my time, there has always been something to do. When you’re immersed in it, it’s difficult to go. I’m going to miss being a part of the finish of the high school project. We’ve worked really hard to get that to where it is and it will be tough to be watching from the sidelines.”
Morelli said Mayor Adam Salina, one of his best friends, has helped with the move.
“Adam has been very supportive of the move,” Morelli said. “I’m going to miss working with him and spending time with him. I think he is the best Mayor in the state. If people knew how much time he spent working on this job as Mayor for an unpaid position, they would be shocked. He never stops working for the best interest of Berlin.”
The Democratic Town Committee will fill his position. They will talk to a few people to see if they are interested and then appoint someone to finish out Morelli’s term.
Morelli’s new job will be as a hearing officer in Workmen’s Compensation cases.
“There will be some sort of a dispute between the client and either their employer or the insurance company of their employer,” he said. “I will sit in front of either their client or their lawyer and either the employer or insurance company and be the judge in the dispute. It will be interesting to me to be on the other side after being an advocate for one side or the other in my career to this point. It’s also exciting because it’s new. Sometimes it’s good to make a change and I’m looking forward to it. I already feel re-charged.”