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R.I. trash agency dumps top deputy

4 other employees fired after audit

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Associated Press / July 24, 2008

PROVIDENCE - The deputy director of the state's embattled trash agency and four other employees have been fired.

Michael O'Connell, executive director of the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, which oversees the Central Landfill in Johnston and the state's recycling programs, said the management shake-up would save taxpayers more than $500,000 a year and make the agency more efficient.

Dennis aRusso, a 21-year landfill veteran and deputy director of the agency, was fired Monday along with the agency's regulatory compliance director, security chief, administrative manager, and facilities manager.

"The sad thing is that the five of us all worked together - our offices were side by side," aRusso told The Providence Journal. "Now we're all gone. It still hurts."

The firings were first reported by WPRI-TV.

The firings follow the release in March of a preliminary forensic audit, approved by Governor Donald L. Carcieri, that alleged mismanagement and cronyism at the agency.

A full audit is expected to be finished this fall.

Several board members either left earlier this year or were removed.

O'Connell said the firings are not related to the audit.

He said he was trying to streamline the agency by eliminating positions that were no longer necessary.

"We're trying to create a stronger, flatter, leaner organization that can better serve the taxpayers," O'Connell told the Journal. "It's a new era."

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